Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

VP Debate Makes No Difference at All

That’s the conclusion of the Rasmussen study. Biden was judged the winner by almost exactly the margin separating the two presidential candidates at the moment. with partisans on both sides saying almost unanimously their guy or gal won. The only interesting stat: Palin comes out much higher than Biden on both the Very Favorable and Very Unfavorable front. Clearly she really has solidified the base, but she hasn’t converted many undecideds.

Sowell on Fannie, the Democrats, and the Crisis

Thomas Sowell reminds us of the large role government pressure played in the explosion of the subprimes. He also reminds us of the many close connections between Fannie Mae and the Democrats, not to mention how much Fannie has contributed to Obama in just a few years and the role the mismanager Franklin Raines has played in advising his campaign. The narrative of the unregulated free market being the cause of what ails us doesn’t hold up that well under close examination. McCain has to understand and use this stuff to restore morale and credibility to his campaign. He shouldn’t exaggerate it, but just say what’s straight-talk true. He should also, of course, lay off the earmarks.

What Sowell says is basically confirmed by the long and meticulously researched article on Fannie Mae in the Sunday NYT. That article doesn’t mention the connections with Obama etc., but if you read it carefully it’s clear what really happened.

Why Obama Might Really Carry Georgia

McCain’s comfortable double-digit lead has dropped to only six, according to the latest study. And Obama is clearly organized in the state, and McCain isn’t. Here’s a conversation I overhead between two average white businessmen at the local PANERA this morning:

First guy: "I’ve already voted. I just don’t like what’s going on."

Second guy: "Maybe I’ll vote for Bush for dictator. Don’t you think it’s sketchy he wanted to give $700 billion dollars with no strings to someone he appointed?"

First guy: "I had to cancel a trip this week because I couldn’t get any gas. That damn [Republican Governor] Sonny Perdue should have had a plan ready, but he didn’t." [There’s been a severe gas shortage in Georgia, with almost all stations out at times. And the charge that the governor decided not to have an emergency plan ready is semi-true, as far as I can tell.]

Whatever the true facts might be in each case, it’s clear who’s been blamed and why.

Opening Up a Mortal Wound on Obama? (Updated)

The New York Times attempts to dismiss the notion that Obama and unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers have a close relationship. But read closely the article raises more questions than it settles, many of which have been more thoroughly investigated by Stanley Kurtz’s NRO columns and other writings. McCain touched on the issue once a few months ago but failed to follow through on it.

As vital as it is for the McCain campaign and its supporters to focus on facts and ask pointed questions, it is also incumbent on our side to shoot down crazy allegations, which are readily refuted and discredit those raising the real problems of Obama’s associations. In a recent talk WSJ reporter John Fund referred to Obama as a potential "facilitator president"--one who would appear moderate but make possible the wildest dreams of the most extreme leftists, through funding their non-profits or appointment to lower-level government positions.

Stanley Kurtz skewers the article on NRO today.

Language analysis of Biden/Palin debate

According to CNN something called Global Language Monitor says that "Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at a more than ninth-grade level and Sen. Joseph Biden spoke at a nearly eighth-grade level in Thursday night’s debate between the vice presidential candidates." It turns out that newspapers are written on a sixth grade reading level, while "Abraham Lincoln spoke at an 11th-grade level during his seven debates in 1858 against incumbent Stephen A. Douglas in their race for a Senate seat from Illinois." Liberman was next highest, then Reagan, then Kennedy, then Palin. Here is the site for the "media analytics and analysis company." I wonder if the Gettysburg Address (circa 280 words, only 32 or so are Latin based words, the rest Anglo-Saxon) would come in at about a third grade reading level? Amusing.

"Corporate greed"

Yes, I’m tired of hearing that line from people who should know better. But when was the last time you heard a defense of corporate responsibility (i.e., creating more wealth for shareholders) from the corporate world? If those who are getting the brunt of the criticism aren’t willing to defend themselves, don’t expect politicians to do the dirty work of defending every twist and turn of the capitalist/free market system. It’s the equivalent of defending Sen. Larry Craig’s rights in the name of protecting the dignity of the U.S. Senate.

Wine Review: Palin Syrah!

I cracked open my first bottle of Palin Syrah tonight, to accompany a BBQ grilled, butterflied chicken, Alton Brown-style.

An unusual wine--full bodied in color and texture but at the same time light on the palate. And while dark, it was also quite clear--it has been filtered. I thought it would open up more with some air (like our Sarah), but not much. Not at all tart! But very drinkable and enjoyable. Solid, I’d say. Especially at a mere $12 a bottle. Maybe not a wine to make you wink at the world, but I’d definitely recommend it. Liberal wine snobs will definitely turn their nose up at this wine, just as you’d expect them to. It’s a wine for the rest of us.

NB: There is no vintage year on the label; must be a blend of more than one year’s grapes. Hmmm. . . This could be symbolic, too. A wine for more than one year? I expect so. . .

Bar Stool Economics

Our tax system explained.

President Bush speaks at our conference

The Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs and The Cincinnati Lawyers Chapter of the
Federalist Society are co-sponsoring a conference on The Presidency and the Courts on Monday, October 6th, in Cincinnati. The panelists include: Charles Miller, Wendy Long, Robert Alt, Jeffrey Sikkenga, Louis Bilionis, Ed Whelan, Doug Cole, Michael J. Gerhardt, David Forte, and Paul Clement. Former Attorney General Edwin Meese will speak at lunch and

President George W. Bush will speak in the afternoon. It is fair to say that it will be a great conference (see the themes of the panels) and then to have the President, who has done so much good for the Federal Courts (think of his Supreme Court appointments), talk about his judicial philosophy is about as exciting as it gets! His trip to Cincinnati is mentioned in today’s White House Press Briefing.

Yuval on Biden’s Self-Confidence

Just about every time Joe sounded really sure of himself, he was saying something that just isn’t true. That’s not an insignificant talent, and one Sarah still needs to acquire. Levin is especially concerned about the truth about McCain’s portable, affordable, and sustainable health-care plan. Sarah, of course, didn’t saything really to counter Biden’s mischaracterization. I think that’s in part because some decision had been made not to make a big deal out of any real change in our anxious times. But Mac needs to get Yuval on board before the next debate--or at least he needs to get this article in the highest priority part of his briefing book.

The Symbolic Constitution

Several commentators have noted that Senator Biden does not seem to know that the legislative branch, not the executive is article I of the constitution. Moreover, he does not know what jobs the constitution assigns to the Vice President: John Hinderaker conventinetly highlights Biden’t mistakes:

Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history. The idea he doesn’t realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.

And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there’s a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.

The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he’s part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.

Biden, a longtime liberal leader of the Judiciary committee, is trying to make a technical argument. The trouble is, he, like many liberals, he does not know, or perhaps even care, what the constitution says in exact detail. He knows platitudes about separations of power, and, as a longtime Senator, that the Vice President can cast a deciding vote. He does not seem to know much beyond that. For someone who believes in a "living constitution," the actual text of the constitution, of course, is a secondary consideration. Instead, they take platitudes about liberty, equality, and separations of power and the like, and reinterpret them to suit what they thing the needs of the day are.

I am reminded of Senator Obama’s comment about going to the UN after Russia invaded Georgia. The details of the UN Charter matter less than what he takes to be its fundamental aims. Senator Obama seems to believe in "living" international law.

First-class Intellect and Termperament

Those are the qualities, according to Charles Krauthammer, Obama has displayed, and they have trumped questions about his experience and convictions. He certainly has passed the "Reagan threshold" of 1980. Charles’ column is, in fact, "defeatist."

The general pundit consensus on Sarah this morning is that she won by not losing or losing badly. She no longer deserves to be ridiculed and all that, and she still will get the job done of energizing the base. But she did nothing to substantially change the character of the campaign, and she certainly said nothing to make Joe or Barack sweat.

The remarks of Mickey Kaus Peter links below are, as usual, astute and fair and balanced. He says Sarah helped herself but in no way hurt Obama, which was, finally, her job. He also says that Biden seemed pretty authentic, which, I will add, he also seemed in his convention speech.

David Brooks, who’s also authentic and astute in a somewhat confused way, surely exaggerates when he claims that our Sarah
achieved DEBATING PARITY with their Joe. He does well in reminding us that her debating strategy was to present her ticket and especially herself as a RADICAL ALTERNATIVE by severing all ties with the Bush administration. Mavericks never look back. To me, that strategy is a Hail Mary pass if there ever was one. Mickey and David seem to agree that our Sarah has a promising future, but that future is probably not now.

Sarah vs Hillary

For those of us who like to pretend to look into the future and talk about a Sarah-Hillary contest in the next cycle or two, I note Mickey Kaus’ comment: "Big loser, again, is Hillary. In two years Palin will be so much better she won’t even be in the same league."

Experts Say Palin Exceeds Expectations

The instant experts (such as Gergen and Holmes on the CNN webpage agree that Sarah exceeded expectations and held her own. Strangely enougn, Biden is being underrated a bit (in my opinion) by the MSM at this point. His was certainly a strong performance, probably on an objective scoring system the best of the four. At this point, in the spirit of the shameless self-congratulation of NLT, I praise myself for saying that Barack and Mac each made the best possible choice in running mates. But I still say nothing happened that will initiate another McCain surge, and he better be able to defend his health policy in his next debate.

UPDATE: ON the same webpage, we now have the CNN instant poll. It shows Biden winning the debate, but not by an overwhelming margin. Palin is judged much more likeable, but Biden by a large margin more qualified to be president. This doesn’t confirm the "stomping" theory of jwc on the thread below, but it does confirm my view that nothing happened to stem the trend in the Obama/Biden direction. So, unfortunately, I’m inclined to agree with the jwc judgment that McCain will be very, very lucky to get within 5 of Obama again.

ONE MORE UPDATE: The CBS poll showed a decisive win for Biden among undecided voters and that the debate gave the Democratic ticket a small but real bump. I have to say, ever ready to modify my judgment in light of new evidence, that the voters seem a bit more pro-Biden that most of the experts.

Palin’s Lost Opportunity et al.

She did not tag Biden on judges, and the wacky world view which liberal lawyers occupy. Here’s where Sarah’s good sense plays well. Probably the McCain polling showed no profit on the subject. As Bush finally did on Iraq with the generals: fire your pollsters and hire others. And, concededly, the format stifled development of the issue.

The issue that the courts point to: Do we want the most leftist ticket in American history (of major parties) to take control of the Presidency and Congress, and subsequently the Supreme Court? Someone needs to sound the alarm, which the McCain camp’s themes don’t raise.

All this "maverick" talk reminds me of the individualists who comprise "the herd of independent minds." It reeks of process and style and avoids substance. Is eccentricity a virtue?

Michael Barone addressed the election to a group at the White House the other day. He gave the group no encouragement whatsoever.

I am more optimistic: Once the bailout/rescue bill passes, McCain’s numbers should stop tanking. (If McCain had a chance to lead a revolt defeating it, that would have been another thing.) But he needs to strip Obama of his moderate mask and make him the issue.

Finally, McCain could get a boost from President Bush, who will receive obligatory poundings from McCain-Palin. Conscious of his low approval ratings, the President has pulled back from the political scene--which has been the theme of his second term disasters, when he failed to calculate the political consequences of his policies and decisions: Iraq, Katrina, and immigration, for openers. The result of this shrinking of the executive branch has been to convert our regime of separated powers into a parliamentary one. Parliamentary regimes directly translate the passions of the people into policy and law--with disastrous consequences. Fighting his instincts and his past practice, Bush has to be pulled back into his constitutional responsibilities. That activity may not avert a Katrina for Republicans and a dark night for America. But it is Bush’s constitutional duty.

She Was Great

Only caught the last half-hour, but from what I heard, she was great.

More thoughts tomorrow. Long day; I’m going to bed now.

Sarah Palin passes the test

My quick reaction is this. Lawler’s comment below is entirely sensible, although the comment about this not being a "game changer" I question for two reasons: There are two many variables to talk about one thing being a game changer (largely because of the economic conditions and the confusing political realities circling them); second, Palin was perfectly sensible and was able to reveal her disposition toward the questions. In other words, her character was revealed enough so that those who may have started to drift from her will come back. The base that she brought back when she accepted the nomination will come back to McCain now. The fact that she was a bit nervous is not the issue, that is normal. The fact that she was pretty good substantively and gutsy and not as artificial in her manner as expected by some (the over-coaching effect) is entirely to her advantage. She will, again, be seen as the normal--read, more like us, less like the Washington types--person in the campaign which is, especially important for, for example, mid-Western folks. People like her and relate to her. In this sense, she has done good work for the McCain campaign. By the way, I thought that Biden was very good, perhaps the best I have ever seen him. But his running mate is Obama.

Our Sarah and Their Joe: Both Good

I said before that I thought McCain and Obama both did well. But I enjoyed both Sarah and Joe more. Biden was quick and well informed and did very well in dissing the Bush administration and connecting McCain to it. He was somewhat boring but no windbag and behaved like a gentleman. Sarah clearly didn’t know quite enough to "call him out" (as she said) some of the times he was quick and loose with some facts. But she was feisty and folksy, was prepared, kept her cool, and performed admirably for someone, as she said, who’s been on the national stage for only five weeks. It was more her night than his, I would say. My guess based on no facts: If this debate had been a couple of weeks ago, Americans would have given their hearts to Sarah and declared her the winner. But they might be going with Biden because they’re starting really to buy the idea that Barack is safe and needed change. I doubt the debate was a "game changer," but I bet it stopped Mac’s bleeding, at least.

What Palin Should Do

Jennifer Rubin offers some solid and specific advice for Sarah Palin to use in tonight’s debate. I especially like her second point: "hone in on the dangers of a tax increase during a recession" and do so making good use out of Biden’s claim that paying high taxes is patriotic. She should talk about the high spending proposed by Obama/Biden and ask how that will help our troubled economy. She might also make good use out of the fact that Biden is such a tightwad when it comes to spending his own money on charitable causes. And then, top it off with questions about this story (h/t: Michael Medved’s show). Isn’t it interesting that both of the guys on the Democrat’s Presidential ticket have managed to avoid getting into mortgages that were over their heads even as they managed to get into houses that were beyond their means? Gee . . . I wonder how they did that? They must both be some kind of real-estate geniuses.

GOP bleeding and the VP debate

John Hinderaker�s opinion on the GOP drop in polls, and tonight�s debate, is entirely reasonable. It may be odd (even unheard of?) that a VP nominee could stop the bleeding in one evening. No pressure on her at all, I would say.

No Predictions

I have no idea how things will go tonight for our Sarah. I’m inclined to agree with the idea that she’s got a case of the jitters, like a pitcher with a blazing fastball and wicked curve brought up quickly from the minors who is roughed up in his first start by a Manny Ramirez line-drive through the box. Reagan had some bad outings in California back in the 1960s when he was first getting started, but he was not on the national scene. I also suspect some of the McCain people, being conventional political consultants, are trying too hard to turn her into Henry Kissinger overnight instead of playing to her strengths, or worse--they may have been slightly jealous of her popularity and wanted to keep her under wraps so McCain could keep the limelight for himself.

My half-case of Palin Syrah wine arrived yesterday. Alas, I’m going to miss the debate altogether, so I’ll have to give my review later on. I suspect it is a "full bodied and tart" wine. Tonight I’m attending the world premier of the documentary film Do As I Say (based on the Peter Schweizer bestseller) because, well, I’m in it--somewhere. (You can hear my voice briefly on the trailer, but no pic. I’m told I get some decent screen time.)

Things Look Really Bad

...for McCain now. The RCP map is now 353 for Obama, and MaCain’s favorable rating is slipping. Mac is clearly behind now in all the key battleground states, with Obama opening up big leads in Florida and Virginia. The big switch in the last few days is voters between 50 and 64 who say they fear that a combination of White House and Wall Street criminal irresponsibility has threatened their retirement. Right now, truth to tell, such people would much rather have the security of an old-fashioned pension than a shrinking and shaky
These are times that favor railing against deregulation and the promise of paternalistic competence. People are already voting in Ohio and elsewhere, which is sure to help the better organized Democrats. The advantages of Mac and Sarah--their characters--seem a lot less important right now. If McCain could choose a running mate tomorrow, he’d surely go with Mayor Bloomberg, who would have been booed out of the convention way back then. (Lieberman, of course, wouldn’t have helped then or now.)

Whoa! Penalty Flag At Least

So I’m flipping channels, and I happen upon MSNBC’s new Rachel Maddow show, and she’s doing a segment on conservatives who have turned against Palin (David Frum, Charles Krauthammer, etc), and much to my surprise, there was my photo and name (misspelled-"Stephen"--common mistake) as being among those conservatives in the list.

I must have missed this article. Have I been sniffing too much glue? When did I do this?

I’m wondering how to register a complaint with MSNBC. Probably a waste of time, given how far gone they are.

UPDATE: Video now up on the MSNBC site. My Post Office mug and name come up about the 1:15 mark.

A Pox on My House??

That’s the title I gave to an op-ed I wrote for a local paper, reposted here.

For a less, er, "creative" title and a picture of my ugly mug, go here.

Happy Birthday Jimmah

If people supposedly get wiser with age, maybe we can still hold out hope for Jimmy Carter, who turns 84 today.

But probably not. Over to you, NLT Southern Command, Knippenberg and Lawler.

Scarcity and Decade Analysis

The so-called challenges of the 21th century getting you down? Then go back to THE SIXTIES with ME.

What Role Did the Media Play in the Popularization of Loose Lending?

Steven Malanga of Real Clear Markets and the Manhattan Institute tells a convincing narrative about how the notion that it should be "ok" to give loans to people who may not be able to pay them back got a foothold first, in our politics and next, in the banking industry. I don’t know why I am surprised to see that it may have come from the media--in fact, I’m not--but I am surprised to see such a clear and direct link established. Malanga shows that a prevailing journalistic meme from the early 90s regarding the injustice of local banks to minority lenders, gained popularity through the assistance of deeply flawed computerized model. It was developed, primarily, for lazy investigative reporters and a desire to duplicate the Pulitzer Prize winning efforts of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for it’s story on the theme.

These sets of stories accusing banks of blatant racism took hold--despite severe criticism from academic reviewers who questioned the validity of the model and its use of incomplete data. Eventually, they began to affect the political climate in Washington and a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston seemed to lend some credence to the general theme of these newspaper stories--even as it proved them to be greatly exaggerated. Nevertheless and despite severe criticism even of this study from independent researchers as well as an FDIC economist, government went on a campaign to encourage banks to lower their standards to make more minority loans. Of course, the standards had to apply to all . . . not just minorities.

In the midst of this and to convince banks to accept this new regime, sophistry followed. All sorts of clever arguments were developed to explain why up was down and down was up. Banks bought it--no doubt, in part, because the competition was buying it too and there was a lot of money to be made . . . for the time being. In addition, when Freddie and Fannie began easing up on their standards for mortgage purchases, the housing market boomed and banks were only too happy to embrace these new standards. Moreover, those CEOs who did this with the most gusto, like Angelo Mozilo of Countrywide, were heralded as geniuses and pillars of the community. They were honored and celebrated to such an extent that it is hard to imagine the case of whiplash they must be suffering now.

It would be wrong to say that the media is to blame for the mortgage crisis. But I think Malanga ably demonstrates that what is to blame is a kind of misplaced and compassion-driven logic that patronizes the needy at the same time that it inadvertently victimizes them. It is the story of the last 60 years (or more) of American politics.

Character vs. TV Competence

Joe Carter gives an eloquent case for our Sarah against her conservative critics. The comparison with the unfortunate Admiral Stockdale is a bit confusing, though. Sarah’s TV incompetence remains puzzling. I thought the interview with Charlie was mostly fine. Why has she gotten worse? It’s not just the liberal media and all that.

The Cheering Stops (and the Drinking Begins)

Craig shared with us a very disturbing study. Obama has large leads in the key battleground states--including Ohio and Florida. The reasons given for his surge: the debate, confidence in Obama’s economic competence, and growing concern over Sarah’s competence.

Cheer Up!

Here’s the ABC/WaPo Poll, which shows McCain gaining considerable ground and lurking around the margin of error. The two things holding him back: the economy and the incredibly unpopular President Bush, who apparently has gotten even more unpopular.

The Senate Races

...look pretty bad. There are two polls out today in Georgia showing the challenger Jim Martin surging and now within the margin of error of Senator Saxby Chambliss. Martin is an attractive candidate, and he’s been runing some focused, witty commercials link Saxby with President Bush. Chambliss is listed on RCP as the 12th most likely Republican to lose, and the blurb says he’s heavily faovred for reelection. (And until very lately nobody much in Georgia thought Martin had a chance.) The RCP most recent poll has Dole down eight in NC, Smith down five in Oregon, and McConnell up only one in Kentucky. There is more than one way the Democrats could get to 60.

More political capital

Our friend Jon Schaff offers his response to my earlier post here. My question: will products of the system change the system? If they can change the system, do we really need to change the system?

Sarah Palin on Hugh Hewitt

I note that Sarah Palin will be appearing on the Hugh Hewitt show in about 15 minutes . . . of course, Hewitt will re-air the interview in the third hour if you miss it.

"Crap Sandwiches As Far As the Eye Can See?"

So concludes Jonah Goldberg in his L A Times column today. There are a number of interesting (and scathing) shots taken at our all of our fine elected officials--including, especially, Republicans. But I cannot write this without noting one particularly interesting quote from Barack Obama discovered in this article.

Apparently, yesterday as the Dow sank 777+ points, Barack Obama proclaimed the following while campaigning in Colorado: "We’ve got the long-term fundamentals that will really make sure this economy grows." So let me get this straight . . . he now agrees with McCain?

As Jonah says, "Perhaps after Al Qaeda seizes Baghdad, a President Obama would finally declare, ’Hey, we can win this thing!’"

Sowell on the Bailout

Tom reminds us that it was the Bush administration that tried and failed to regulate Fannie. More than that, there were prescient warnings from the administration that the prospect of the inevtiable bailout would enable their excessively risky business, which the Democrats hailed. Fannie and Freddie don’t deserve to be bailed out, but rather phased out. But it’s still the case the ordinary guy shouldn’t be forced to bear most of the burden of all this irresponsibility.

And just to show you how quickly my thinking can "evolve," it’s no longer clear to me that voting NO yesterday was all that stupid. Individual representatives didn’t think their vote should cost them their seats, and their calls and letters really were suggesting that they would have to pay the ultimate price. Meanwhile, the Democrats can’t afford to act without the Republicans, given the unpopularity of any kind of bailout. So the Republicans remain in a good bargaining position and can certainly get more concessions.

A genuinely bipartisan deal would create a situation where neither party could campaign for or against the bailout. It seems that Pelosi really did violate the "subtext" of the deal, if deal there was. McCain would obviously benefit from getting the perception of crisis behind us, and by anything tht would improve the economy short-term. But maybe the Democrats don’t obviously benefit from extended national reflection on why the bailout is necessary.

Political capital

This WaPo article points to a political problem that complicates immensely our efforts to deal with our economic problems: people don’t trust our political institutions to deal competently with these issues.

Part of that is simply emblematic of the gap between our political (and business) elites and those folks who live in flyover country. Part of it is also an unwillingness to look in the mirror and recognize how our unrealistic expectations (of the appreciation of our houses, the size of our houses relative to our incomes, the returns we can expect on our investments) left us open to the, er, creativity of various sorts of financiers.

So we face at least a threefold challenge. The first is putting together a package that has enough votes to pass Congress. I’m confident that after Rosh Hoshonnah, our "leaders" will look at the markets and the polls and find the will to do something that restores a modicum of confidence to our financial industry. That’s the easy part. Yes, you read that right.

Second, we have to come to grips with the fact that in our fabled competitive global marketplace, hard work and even harder savings are going to be rewarded with more modest returns than we were accustomed to. Those who want to get rich quick (most of us) will have to learn that that often also means getting poor quick and that the royal road to "commodious self-preservation" doesn’t get us there quickly and effortlessly. We’ll have to learn that cleverness is not a virtue, and that self-restraint and patience are. That’s hard, but there are plenty of places where we can learn it, if only we turn off our televisions and talk to our grandparents or go to churches (with the noteworthy exception of those that preach the gospel of prospertity).

Third, our political and economic elites are going to have to rebuild public trust in our institutions. I don’t have a magic prescription here, but a little less clever talk, a little less pandering, and some genuinely sober action are surely good places to begin. If there is a human nature, courage will be recognized and admired, even by people who don’t see much of it.

Truth and Beauty

In these confusing and almost depressing times, it’s a fine idea to divert yourself from your troubles with a very tasteful website that features a picture of and silly sayings by ME.

It Was Really, Really Dumb

...for so many Republicans to vote against the "bailout" or "rescue." Dean Barnett gives the reasoning of the two factions who voted against it. Neither is impressive. Sometimes you have to have the courage to just do what has to be done, even if it’s unpopular and somewhat contrary to your basic principles. It’s the ordinary guy, obviously, who’ll take the biggest hit if a Depression-type meltdown actually occurs. And that would hardly be the ticket to the Republicans doing at least not terribly in the election. If you scroll down, you’ll see that Bill Kristol recommends that McCain once again suspend his campaign until something is done. I’m not forgetting that lots of Democrats also voted NO for very different and even less credible reasons.

Capitalism to the Rescue

If the danger to our financial system is as serious as many of our most intelligent and most informed people fear, and if, as we have seen in the past few weeks, our political leaders are not up to the task, could the private sector step up, as as J. P. Morgan famously did in 1907?

Presumably, our ten biggest private equity/ hedge funds, plus our biggest pension plans (CALPERS, etc.), plus groups like TIAA-CREF could raise $200 billion, perhaps much more in a hurry. Moreover, their balance sheets would suffer if the market tanks and if we have a severe recession. Hence it would be in their interest to act.

If we want to show Americans that they need not look to government to solve their problems, what beter time than the present?

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Did community activists, threatening banks with lawsuitscause the housing bubble?

Obama and Iraq

Andy Busch looks at Obama’s opinion of the war in Iraq and and how he conflates the war with the occupation to suit his purposes. McCain should stay after him on this.  

Kristol on How McCain Can Still Win

Bill seems to say that the point has to be hammered home that Obama is way too liberal domestically and not really a friend of the middle class. Obama’s invocation of Wright’s hostility to middleclassness should also be employed. And the assault should begin with Sarah on Thursday. I completely agree that Sara has been mis- or overhandled, and I even predicted that would almost inevitably happen and warned against it. But she’s not really the one to turn things around at this point. I mainly posted this to show that Bill agrees that the McCain situation is fairly desperate and some new strategy (and, of course, tactics) is required to save the day.

More O Mo’

The two polls that include 9/27, Gallup and Rasmussen, have Obama at 50% and definitely beyond any margin of error ahead. The RCP electoral vote tally now has Obama at 301 and Intrading is Obama at about 58%. So it appears that Obama did get a very small but very real bump for the debate. He seemed safe and presidential enough. It would be amazing if the later debates are strikingly more favorable to McCain than this frist one, and the VP debate won’t really make much difference, assuming our Sarah has her groove back and Biden doesn’t say something really, really stupid. McCain’s main hope is that economic fears will get under control over the next couple of weeks and other concerns and issues become more important again.

The Saturday Poll on the Debate

...shows a small but real tilt to Obama, especially among the independents and undecideds. (Despite the fact that almost all the debate experts called it a drawn or small victory for McCain.) The big reason: Obama came off as a plausible president. So did McCain. But people want change, as long as it’s safe. One important difference between this election and 1980, of course, is that McCain isn’t the incumbent. Not only that, he’s the self-proclaimed maverick who, at this point, contends (as Saturday Night Live mocked last night) that he was a relentlessly severe critic and never a reliable ally of the President Bush. My own view, to repeat, is that that maverick stuff plays pretty well in foreign policy, but doesn’t work very well on the economy etc.