Bill Scher's LiberalOasis

Home of the This Is Not Normal podcast, Bill Scher columns and other liberal commentary

Month: September 2008 (page 1 of 4)

Any Signs of a Bailout? Or something?

I have no idea what happened on Wall Street today. If part of the stock drop from yesterday was because there was no bailout deal then, what was the almost 500 point rise today about? There is no bailout deal. There is a lot of speculation there may be a deal in the works. The more I look at this bailout, the less I like it. The politics of it are all wrong. Fiscal conservatives feel that such an expenditure just is not warranted. There are some conservatives that believe the market needs to take care of the market. On the other side, because there is a significant number of Democrats who did not vote for this bill, Democrats are wondering why should we bailout Wall Street when they created this mess. Overall this is the specter of politics. All of the House members will be up for election in a little more than a month. You have a president who is clearly a lame duck. He has no clout with Democrats or Republicans. He went on TV this morning… did anyone know that he was going to be on TV this morning?
Maybe the Dems need to throw out the White House/Paulson bill and pass something that is progressive.

Obama in Greensboro earlier today

I don’t want to say or even suggest that Senator John McCain lost the race for the White House last night in the first presidential debate, but I will say he really didn’t help his cause. He spent most of the debate trying to flash his experience and trying to belittle and label Barack Obama. He was forceful and serious. He railed against earmarks. As if eliminating earmarks would solve all of our problems. It won’t.

One of the most frequent lines that John McCain used last night was that he knows how to cut government spending and how to cut government waste and will do that as president. My question is this: John McCain has been in the Senate for 26 years, so why hasn’t he cut government waste and government spending in those 26 years? He is a Republican senator. Republicans have been in power for approximately 28 years. He has had sympathetic presidents in Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush I so where were all the spending cuts? He is telling us that he has all of this leadership ability yet we have never seen him “take the weed wacker” to earmarks and government spending.

Barack Obama clearly laid out his plan on economics and on foreign-policy. He stood up and pointed out the flaws in John McCain’s logic and presented an alternative to business as usual. I think, overall, the debate was a draw.
Here’s Senator Barack Obama discussing what he saw in the debate. John McCain did not mention the middle class once. John McCain did not offer any plan to help the middle class. He did not back away from tax cuts for the rich.
After Obama’s appearance in Greensboro, North Carolina he made an appearance in Virginia. He drew a huge crowd which stood in the rain to hear him.

The LiberalOasis Radio Show: Post-Debate Edition

Today at 10 AM ET, a special post-debate The LiberalOasis Radio Show was broadcast on WHMP in Western MA with debate highlight, analysis and the latest polls.
The audio podcast is available here: iTunes / XML / MP3

The Week In Blog: Bailout Edition

The latest edition of The Week in Blog is up at, where Conn Carroll of the Heritage Foundation and myself discuss blog reaction to the proposed bailout, McCain’s debate drama and the end of the coastal drilling ban. Watch it below.

Leadership! Experience! Change!

Good thing McCain dropped everything to go to Washington:

Mr. Boehner pressed an alternative that involved a smaller role for the government, and Mr. McCain, whose support of the deal is critical if fellow Republicans are to sign on, declined to take a stand.

Sarah Palin crashes and burns, again
I would like to see what Governor Sarah Palin’s preparation entails. It doesn’t seem that she actually prepares for anything. Tonight, she was on Katie Couric’s CBS evening news.
She’s asked about Rick Davis, the campaign manager, whose lobbying firm has lobbied for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She really does not have a coherent answer. Now, this is a softball question. She should have had the answer memorized. There was no way that Kate Couric wasn’t going to ask a question about Rick Davis. How can she fumble the ball so badly? Palin said, “It is my understanding.” What? Give a strong statement like, “I have spoken with Rick Davis personally. He has assured me that he hasn’t received any money from Freddie or Frannie in over 18 months.” In my opinion, this is a much better answer. It is positive and forceful. It stops you from looking like a moron and puts the responsibility on Rick Davis where it belongs.

One of her talking points is that Americans are waiting to see what John McCain is going to do. Interestingly, Katie Couric asked her why she believes that. Her answer is fascinating and na├»ve. She said that she does not look at poll numbers (remember Bush says this years ago) which suggests that Americans trust Barack Obama more than they trust John McCain with the economy but instead, Palin says that she believes that Americans at the end of the day we’ll look at John McCain’s track record. Track record equals experience. Something she doesn’t have.

Maybe the problem is that she is overprepared. She has learned to many talking points and cannot put together a coherent sentence without throwing in a talking point. Maybe that’s the problem. I know, I’m grasping at straws.

Katie Couric asked are we looking at another Great Depression. The answer that any intelligent politician who could be one heartbeat away from the presidency should give would be “we are not to let that happen. We’re going to roll up our sleeves and do the interventions necessary to prevent another Great Depression.” (My wife doesn’t like this answer. She thinks that it sounds too canned. Maybe she is right. I know that I don’t like a major politician saying that we maybe headed into a Great Depression.) How hard is that? Obviously, it is incredibly hard because that is not what she said. “Unfortunately, that is the road that America may find itself on. Not necessarily this, as it’s been proposed, has to pass or we’re going to find ourselves in another Great Depression.” What? Can someone help this lady, please?

Would you support a moratorium on foreclosures? She can’t answer the question. So, Katie Couric tries to get Sarah Palin to explain the pros and cons of a moratorium on foreclosures. Governor Palin can’t do that either. She throws out some gobbledygook about predatory lenders and then drifted back to her talking point on a comprehensive long-term solution. She never mentions what that solution is. Or how she and John McCain will get us to this mystery solution.
Sarah Palin has become painful to watch. This is worse that watching a train wreck. This is like that scene in the movie Misery where James Caan gets his ankles broken, it is that painful.

Not Maverick. Erratic.

When David Letterman announces that Sen. John McCain canceled his CBS Late Show appearance so he could focus on the financial crisis, then shows the live feed of McCain getting makeup applied for an interview across the hall with CBS’ Katie Couric, it’s pretty devastating (6:35 in the below clip.)
The McCain gambit is in order to build a narrative that he puts “Country First” over politics. But he is potentially creating the opposite narrative.
Pick Sarah Palin. Fire Chris Cox. Appoint a Cuomo. Demand Town Halls. Postpone The Debates. These are all political stunts, not serious governing choices.

There’s a fine line between “Maverick” and “Erratic.
” A maverick is a leader with a philosophical governing vision not constrained by party.
But when you’re pulling random political stunts untethered to any vision, especially during a crisis situation, that’s just being erratic.
Whatever value one gets for being experienced is the presumption that one can respond assuredly to a crisis. But when the less experienced candidate responds with more clarity and calm, that presumption vanishes.
And as far as this stunt goes, I suspect McCain has fundamentally misread the electorate.
Most folks are not saying to their elected officials, “Why Aren’t You Getting Something Done?” They are saying “What The Hell Is Going On Here?”
Going to Washington to work the back rooms doesn’t answer that question. Public debate does.

Updated: McCain suspends campaign

Desperate times call for desperate measures. When you are sinking in the polls like a brick and the Atlantic Ocean, you have to do something. one of his top campaign advisors, Rick Davis, is under fire for his lobbying efforts for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. One of his chief political adviser is Carly Fiorina is under fire for her $42 million or $45 million “golden parachute.” Using this financial crisis as a political opportunity, this is John McCain. This is John McCain at his best. He is pretending to be patriotic (John McCain is a patriot but this is different) and putting his country first when in fact he’s being self-serving. He would like to postpone the debates and suspend his campaign. He has asked Barack Obama to do the same. If he is able to suspend his campaign then he is able to stop the hemorrhaging. He’s able to freeze his numbers in the polls while he figures out what to do.
There is no doubt that this is a historic crisis but John McCain has not put together any proposals to fix this crisis. He has been incoherent. Therefore, his input on Capitol Hill would be helpful? How? Can’t he still attend meetings on Capital Hill and prepare for a debate with suspending his campaign? This is another Hail Mary pass, like choosing Sarah Palin as a VP candidate, to save his sinking campaign.

From Harry Reid:

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.

From Barack Obama’s campaign:

At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama’s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.

Missing The Target

This attack ad from the McCain campaign and the RNC is notable in how it misses the mark.

It doesn’t just go at Obama. It tries to argue that “Obama and his liberal allies” in congress have no plan, while “McCain and his congressional allies” do.
This would seem an oddly short-sighted attack, as it is Obama’s “liberal allies” Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank who run the key banking committees that will draft any legislation, and each has already released proposals.
(Obama has laid out principles he believes should guide legislation, but he is not on the Banking committee charged with drafting such legislation.)
Granted, McCain is premising his campaign on a “facts don’t matter” strategy, and Dodd and Frank are not yet household names. Obviously he hopes that the perception of Obama as lacking leadership on the economy is what sticks (according to recent polls, it isn’t).
But as this crisis unfolds — and it appears that it’s unfolding with congressional Democrats pushing back on Bush’s blank check boondoggle — it’s going to be hard not to notice that it’s Obama allies Dodd and Frank taking the lead, not “McCain and his congressional allies.”
(McCain’s “plan” is literally less than 300 words, not exactly what’s driving the debate on the Hill.)
Why then is McCain directing his attack on “Obama and his liberal allies?”
Because while Obama opted out of public financing of his campaign, the cash-strapped McCain had to stay in and accept caps on his spending.

The only way for McCain to keep pace financially was to raise fat checks that largely go to the Republican National Committee. But under the law, that money cannot be narrowly spent on the presidential campaign.
Hence, McCain and RNC need to lump in Obama with congressional “allies,” so technically, it’s not just about the presidential campaign.
Even when the charge doesn’t make any sense.
That flaw is far from the main reason why McCain is failing to either articulate a consistent message on the economy or offer a reassuring presence in a time of crisis.
But it highlights one of the difficulties McCain has in spending campaign money, even though McCain and the RNC combined started this month with more money in hand than Obama and the DNC.

News round up

Monday evening news Roundup

  • For the second straight day, let’s start overseas. North Korea is miffed that the United States has not lived up to their obligations in the nuclear nonproliferation Treaty, according to North Korea. It appears that they are beginning to start up their nuclear reactor, again.
  • Record jump in oil prices today as if we don’t have enough to worry about.
  • Wall Street seems to be having a difficult time figuring out what Congress is doing, just as I am. The Dow lost 372 points today.
  • An Iraqi top official testified in front of the Senate today. The former chief inspector of Iraq’s Commission on Public Integrity told US senators that approximately $9 billion of American reconstruction money had been lost, stolen or misused. $9 billion. That’s one third of a Bear Stearns bail out.
  • The New York Times had a large article on Senator John McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis. McCain with Freddie and Fannie lobby group Rick Davis received approximately $30,000 per month for five years as a president of an advocacy group for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Senator McCain has been hammering Barack Obama on his ties with these loan agencies. The McCain campaign cried foul. They began whining that the New York Times is partial to Barack Obama. Then again, they’ve been whining on a variety of subjects recently. They just aren’t being treated fairly. The New York Times responded with an official statement.
  • Details of the $700 billion loan bailout are slowly emerging. Questions about McCain and his economic decisions are bubbling to the surface. Did he almost bankrupt Arizona with his electric cars? BTW, as long as, we are talking about this bailout, we know that President Bush loves corporate insiders. Well, where did Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson come from? Goldman Sachs. He was the former chairman who received $38 million as chairman in 2005. Sweet package. He has surrounded himself with Goldman Sachs ex-employees. Who stands to gain from this corporate bailout? Not Goldman Sachs. Never.
  • The final game of the regular season has been played in Yankee Stadium. I’m not a New York Yankees fan. On the other hand, I do appreciate the history and the significance of Yankee Stadium. The House that Ruth built will be torn down. If it wasn’t so big, it should be made into a museum. The new Yankee Stadium was built across the street and will be ready for the New York Yankee home opener in April of 2009.
  • Congratulations to Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart!!!
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