Thursday, September 25, 2008

Burning questions (and other thoughts)

-- Someone explain to me why John McCain can't debate on Friday night. Is it really because he has to rush to Capitol Hill to rescue our biggest financial institutions? Is that happening Friday night? After a high school football game, perhaps? Is the maverick going to crack open a few and stay up all night solving the problem, despite his lack of standing in any financial committee, admitting to not having read the Paulson plan and having not voted in the Senate since April? Did the legislative branch get together and say, "What we really need is that guy who says he knows little about the economy to inject politics into this process. Yeah, the one running on Bush's successful policies?"

I'm sorry, but McCain's huff to "put politics behind" in this time of crisis smacks of convenience, not to mention desperation. Kind of like the guy who calls his ex-girlfriend after a report of a car accident, "just to make sure it isn't you, and by the way, will you take me back?" If only I could think of some other example, preferably from politics - like, say, a deeply unpopular president with no verbal skills excused from a speech at the Republican convention so he can monitor Hurricane Gustav from hundreds of miles away. Or, perhaps, a vice presidential nominee so woefully unsuitable for the national stage that her current seclusion makes Dick Cheney look like a ray of Sunshine Law.

And why exactly does the financial meltdown preclude Sarah Palin from debating, anyway? Some are actually suggesting this, as if she's rearing to go, but dangit, there are some things more important than talking about the issues, and the governor of Alaska is somehow a pivotal player in the battle in Washington. Maybe they need to harness her direct line to God, you know, the one that blesses her with oil pipelines but not the slightest hint of intellectual curiosity. Divine deference, perhaps?

-- Is it just me, or did George W. Bush blame the financial crisis on the people in his speech last night? Yes, a lot of people took out loans and took on mortgages they couldn't ultimately afford, leading to a massive jump in foreclosures and the virtual collapse of the housing market. But shouldn't the lenders themselves shoulder some of the blame? After all, they did take advantage of deregulation to offer risky subprime loans that used to be against the law. A homeless person can't buy a Bentley, but that doesn't mean he won't try if some strip mall opens an "E-Z Bentley" joint that takes payment in food stamps. What's the worst that could happen? To paraphrase Barack Obama, "Bush talks about the 'ownership society.' What that means is, 'You got owned.'"
All hail unfettered capitalism!

-- Obama insists the debates are going forward as planned. Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney has reportedly offered to step in if McCain bails. That would be the coolest thing ever, except maybe for McCain facing what he doesn't want to face. Obama critics complain that he says "um" way too much when speaking off-the-cuff, and he does. As annoying as that can be, however, what he says in between is always measured, intelligent and decisive. Maybe we should try a president who actually thinks for once.

On a side note, I'm surprised so many people deride Obama for saying "uh," when it's a hugely common speech pattern. Don't we want people Just Like Us in the Oval Office, or that does that count only when the candidate isn't too smart?

--Has anyone else noticed that our presidential tickets hail from Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Panama and Idaho? And that they currently represent Illinois, Delaware, Arizona and Alaska? I can only imagine how this is playing out among southern rednecks. Heartland values, indeed.

-- Was yesterday Spam Wednesday? I was bombarded with mass e-mails from seemingly every activist group, charity, foundation, magazine, alumni association, credit bureau and blog ring I've ever heard of (and many more I haven't). If an e-mail went out with a CC in America yesterday, I got it. Might also explain this other message I received:

"Dear John,
By the time you read these lines, I'll be gone.
Love, Banks."

-- A woman on the radio just referred to "wacko Islamic terrorists" in a cheerful voice while talking about Paul McCartney's upcoming Israel concert. You know that show "Mad Men," the one about the ad executives in 1960 who drink at work, chain-smoke and treat women like pieces of meat? When a show like that is made about these times, "wacko Islamic terrorists" is going to be a defining phrase.


Nick said...

"But shouldn't the lenders themselves shoulder some of the blame? After all, they did take advantage of deregulation to offer risky subprime loans that used to be against the law."

Yes, irresponsible lenders should also take some of the blame. But how about political forces, mostly coming from the Left, who seemed to add the Right to Home Ownership to the Constitution and forced alot of banks to approve very high risk mortgage applicants?

Personally, I think this bailout plan is absurd, and have e-mail my U.S. Senators and Rep. to reject this $700 billion ticket.

Ian McGibboney said...

Well, Nick, I did say deregulation was to blame here. Definitely a political force. But let's not confuse government programs with predatory capitalism. They both have their faults, but they're not equivalent.