Reid to McCain: Stay Away

September 24, 2008

McCain who it is fair to say has defined his campaign with abrupt and unexpected decisions decided to skip the debate, threatening to turn the rather delicate negotiations about economy into a circus of partisan politics.  This was apparently a stab at seizing the momentum in a rapidly declining campaign.  McCain is certainly not disinclined toward drama and theater in politics.  This unfortunately has not served him well in the long run and is unlikely to serve him now.

After McCain’s announcement that he was needed more in Washington D.C. than in the campaign for the presidency, Harry Reid responded as follows:

This is a critical time for our country. While I appreciate that both candidates have signaled their willingness to help, Congress and the Administration have a process in place to reach a solution to this unprecedented financial crisis.

I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Senator Obama’s suggestion. But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op.

If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now.

McCain’s “suspension” of his campaign apparently has had limited effect on those outside the McCain campaign, as the debate is proceeding as scheduled.

Palin Could Fill in at the Debate

September 24, 2008

McCain has suspended the campaign without any warning whatsoever virtually on the eve of his debate on foreign policy. Here is a good opportunity for him to show up the nay sayers. Sarah Palin isn’t busy. Why not let her fill in at the debate Friday?

After all she has lived closer to Russia than Obama and has now met with world leaders.

This could put a lot of voter angst to rest. The last vice president who was notoriously obscure was Millard Fillmore, who ran with Zachary Taylor. Fillmore was thought to add to the ticket by counterbalancing Taylor’s status as a slave owning military man but no one knew much about him. To the surprise and dismay of many Fillmore became president after just one year and presided over his party’s (Whig) slide into factionalism and eventual obscurity.

Sarah Palin stepping into the debate would show her readiness for succession to the presidency and could be just what the ticket needs to regain momentum. Here is her chance to walk her talk and serve the democracy as well, by showing us what is behind all the assurances about readiness.

Campaign of Disinformation

September 24, 2008

This comment is a good example of the disinformation that is circulating as fact:

The Senate bill was replaced by the House bill H.R. 1461 [109th]: Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005.  Chris Dodd the democratic chairman let it die in committee. Look up how much money Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac donated to Chris Dodd.

Once told something that is false, people will tenaciously hang onto it regardless of the facts. The reference in the comment is to a bill that passed the house, then was killed in the Senate.  In 2005 there were no Democratic chairmen of any committees.   Chris Dodd was a minority member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.  He had no power to do anything, as shown by the committees rules that I linked to on an earlier entry.

McCain Plays Politics: S. 109 is a Red Herring

September 24, 2008

People vehemently say that McCain was a champion of regualtion despite his voting record and point to S. 109, a bill introduced in 2005. The bill was introduced by Charles Hagel on the Senate floor and several months later, after it had gone to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, McCain announced a in brief speech in the Senate that he was a co-sponsor of the bill.

People argue that it was over the valiant efforts of Republicans, particularly McCain, that the bill was defeated by the Democrats. The first thing that struck me as odd about this is that McCain stood up for the bill only after it had been in committee for several months and no action had been taken. He then said absolutely nothing about the bill.

Could the Democrats have blocked the bill in committee? This seems like an odd thing to say of the minority party. The Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs was chaired by a Republican and Republicans held a clear majority of the seats on the committee.

I found the committee’s rules of procedure for the year 2005 and the Republican chairman alone, without any vote could have launched an investigation into the financial trouble of the day that the bill was supposed to address. There was no investigation.

According to the rules the Democrats were powerless to block anything coming out of the committee to be voted on by the Senate but the was no such vote. All it took for the bill to get out of committee was a majority, which was held by Republicans. Instead the Republicans on the committee amended the bill in a way I have not been able to discover.  It was reported to the floor where it was never even voted on.

Palin Makes a Mockery of the Election

September 24, 2008

Here in Washington we have a female governor who is a policy wonk and rated by Pew as the among the very best governors in the land; we have two very capable women serving as Senators. Our newest Supreme Court Justice is a capable jurist, who also happens to be female.

From this perspective it is strange to see a female politician being treated as if her gender were an infirmity. She is handled as if she is supposed to look good and be quiet. Criticism, even just lack of deference, is treated as it were an assault on the fair sex and extremely inappropriate. She is not expected to answer questions from the media as her delicate sensibilities are given more weight than the needs of the democratic process for candidates who are known to the electorate. She is being presented as nothing more than a pretty face with slogans favored by her party.

Her treatment by her party does I think ring of sexism. It’s as if girls should not be expected to have substance if they are pretty. This is a mockery of what Hillary Clinton represented, regardless of whether your views coincided with hers.

Elections are sometimes derisively called beauty contests. Now we are presented with a beauty queen who is being treated as if this election were a beauty contest. She has no sense of duty to the people to inform them of where she stands on issues and to defend her qualifications for office. Instead of talking to journalists she gives photo opportunities.

She is being presented as nothing more than image and slogans and that we are told is enough. After all she is just a small town girl. Forty seconds of viewing her idly chatting with foreign leaders is enough to get her picture in the news and that is enough for the American version of democracy.

Where did the deep cynicism about our form of government come from?

Men from McCain’s campaign have taken over her role in Alaska and rescinded her statement that she would cooperate with the investigation of her there. She dutifully smiles for cameras and submits to McCain’s mandate that she keep quiet when not reading a script. In her two unrehearsed interviews she agrees with everything McCain has said but does not seem to know what it means.

From what we know about her she and Jesse Ventura would make a good third party ticket, although Jesse clearly has more experience.

How can one of these statements not be true: (1) McCain has bad judgment; (2) McCain has a low opinion of women; (3) McCain has a low opinion of the electorate; (3) McCain does not subscribe to the Jeffersonian ideals about democracy that he talks about; (4) McCain thinks that running the White House is such an easy job that it does not matter who is there; (5) McCain will do or say anything to get elected.

George F. Will said yesterday that about the only legitimate reason to elect McCain that was being offered was that he would pick conservative Supreme Court justices. Will found that McCain’s judgment was so impaired that there is no basis to imagine that he could pick good people to join the Court. Can anybody dispute that?

Bad News for McCain; Obama with a 9 Point Lead

September 24, 2008

The Republican Convention carefully avoided reference to the economy.  This was clearly a wise move as recent news of the economy has caused McCain’s support to plummet like the stock market.  Obma now has a nine point lead according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Voter confidence in McCain could not have been bolstered when after McCain denied that his advisers had any connection with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and he falsely accused Obama of such a connection, the New York Times reported that from 2005 until taken over by the government Freddie Mac has been paying a firm owned by McCain’s campaign manager $15,000 per month.

This comes on the heals of the revelation that while McCain condemned golden parachutes given to executives who run companies into the ground, it was discovered that one of his top economic advisers, Carly Fiorina, received a $21.4 million severance package (a.k.a. “golden parachute”) when she was dismissed by Hewlett Packard in 2005 after laying off thousands of people and taking the company down the road to insolvency.

McCain right now is having trouble taking a stand on economic topics that do not make him look hypocritical.  He is even being accused of sexism on CNN in his treatment of Sarah Palin.

The Bradley Effect

September 24, 2008

There have been a few recent news items about white supremacists campaigning against Obama.  Obama’s racial identity will of course have an effect on the election, but it is unclear how much negative impact his race will have on the white vote.  This could be determinative in an election in which there is a large majority of white voters.  It was the strong preference for Bush among whites (58% to 41% for Kerry) that accounted for Bush’s second term.

While a surprising 20% of the people admit that race will play a part in their vote, most people do not admit racial bias of any sort, many I am sure are unaware of it.

In 1982 Tom Bradley, a popular Los Angeles mayor, ran for governor of California and led in all the polls.  When he lost a variety of explanations followed. There was a gap of seven percent between how people said they were going to vote and how they actually voted.  One explanation was that the polls could not accurately predict the voting habits of whites with respect to a black candidate.   This unexpected gap of seven percent between what all the polls predicted for Bradley and the number of votes that he actually got is sometimes called the “Bradley Effect” by those that attribute the gap to racial bias that is not uncovered by political opinion polls.

If there is a Bradley Effect, then Obama is not even with McCain until the polls show a lead of 7% (assuming standard deviation with the one 26 years ago).  My point is that this is not a time form Obama supporters to feel smug.

The primaries may suggest that the Bradley Effect is still strong facotr with many voting results not matching exit polls and uniformly favoring Clinton over Obama.