Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I was deliberately mysterious about the Swamp's future because I didn't know its fate. Plainly, the demands of work and the hassles of being the only poster were getting to me. I took a break of a few days, and the relief was amazing. I can't go back to posting as before, that's fer shur.

But I've had people volunteer to share the posting duties -- namely qdpsteve and the Swamp's original founders, David and Julie Scott. They have my thanks and gratitude.

So expect posts from these folks, and perhaps others, in the near future. We do want people from across the political spectrum.

Apologies for the confusion, over the past few days from my absence, but there you have it. I shall be one of several, now that I am handing back The One Ring of Swamp Control. See, those dopey Bored of the Rings references had a point after all, besides making me giggle uncontrollably.

And now for the political question: What about that $700 billion bailout being defeated? I was delighted. What about you? How did your congresscritter vote?

Oh, and the SEC has relaxed that dratted "mark to market" rule blamed for this meltdown. How about "mark to fantasy"? That, along with the ban on short selling more than a thousand stocks, will help hide that depressing negative information.

Don't you feel more prosperous already?

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So I Was Late! --- Here's Part Of The Tale!

"If I were thee," said Goodgulf, "I would start on thy journey soon."

Frito looked up absently from his rutabaga tea.

"For half a groat you can be me, Goodgulf. I don't remember volunteering for this Ring business."

"This is not the time for idle banter," said the Wizard, pulling a rabbit from his battered hat. "Dildo left days ago and awaits you at Riv'n'dell, as will I. There the fate of the Ring will be decided by all the peoples of Lower Middle Earth."

Frito pretended to be engrossed in his cup as Spam entered from the dining room and began tidying up the hole, packing up the last of Dildo's belongings for storage.

"Lo, Master Frito," he rasped, pulling a greasy forelock. "Just gettin' the rest o' the stuff together for your uncle what mysteriously disappeared wi'out a trace. Strange business that, eh?" Seeing that no explanation was forthcoming, the faithful servant shuffled off into Dildo's bedroom.

Goodgulf, hastily retrieving his rabbit, who was being loudly sick on the carpet, resumed speaking. "Are you sure he can be trusted?"

Frito smiled. "Of course. Spam's been a true friend of mine since we were weanlings at obedience school together."

"And he knows nothing of the Ring?"

"Nothing," said Frito. "I am sure of it."

Goodgulf looked dubiously toward the closed door of the bedroom. "You still have it, don't you?"

Frito nodded and fished out the chain of paper clips that secured it to his tattersall bowling shirt. "Then be careful with it," said Goodgulf, "for it has many strange powers."

"Like turning my pocket green?" asked the young boggie, turning the small circlet in his stubby fingers. Fearfully he stared at it, as he had so many times in the past few days. It was made of bright metal and was encrusted with strange devices and inscriptions. Around the inner surface was written something in a language unknown to Frito.

"I can't make out the words," said Frito.

"No, you cannot," said Goodgulf. "They are elvish, in the tongue of Fordor. A rough translation is:

"This Ring, no other, is made by the elves,
Who'd pawn their own mother to grab it themselves,
Ruler of creeper, mortal, and scallop,
This is a sleeper that packs quite a wallop.
The Power almighty rests in this Lone Ring.
The Power, alrighty, for doing your Own Thing.
If broken or busted, it cannot be remade.
If found, send to Sorhed (the postage is prepaid)."

"Shakestoor, it isn't," said Frito, hurriedly putting the Ring back in his shirt pocket.

"But a dire warning nonetheless," said Goodgulf. "Even now Sorhed's tools are abroad sniffing for this ring, and the time grows short before they smell it here. It is the time to set off for Riv'n'dell."

The old magician stood, walked to the bedroom door, and opened it with a jerk. With a heavy crash, Spam fell forward ear first, his pockets full of Dildo's best mithril-plate tablespoons. "And this will be your faithful companion."

As Goodgulf passed into the bedroom, Spam grinned sheepishly at Frito with a lop-eared stupidity Frito had learned to love, futilely trying to hide the spoons in his pockets.

Ignoring Spam, Frito called fearfully after the Wizard. "But--but--there are still many preparations I must make! My bags-"

"Have no worry," said Goodgulf as he held out two valises. "I took the precaution of packing them for you."

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Friday, September 26, 2008

All Wil Be Explained Later This Weekend

"This Great Ring is much desired by all, then," said Frito.

"And they desire a curse!" cried Goodgulf, waving his wand with passion. "For as surely as the Ring gives power, just as surely it becomes the master! The wearer slowly changes, and never to the good. He grows mistrustful and jealous of his power as his heart hardens. He loves overmuch his strengths and develops stomach ulcers. He becomes logy and irritable, prone to neuritis, neuralgia, nagging backache, and frequent colds. Soon no one invites him to parties anymore."

"A most horrible treasure, this Great Ring," said Frito.

"And a horrible burden for he who bears it," said Goodgulf. "For some unlucky one must carry it from Sorbed's grasp into danger and certain doom. Someone must take the ring to the Zazu Pits of Fordor, under the evil nose of the wrathful Sorbed, yet appear so unsuited to his task that he will not be soon found out."

Frito shivered in sympathy for such an unfortunate.

"Then the bearer should be a complete and utter dunce," he laughed nervously.

Goodgulf glanced at Dildo, who nodded and casually flipped a small, shining object into Frito's lap. It was a ring.

"Congratulations," said Dildo somberly. "You've just won the booby prize."

* * * * * * * * * *

The elf looked doubtfully at the boggies. "You guys know how to ride?" Without waiting for an answer he whistled loudly through his gold teeth.

A clump of high sedge rustled and several overweight merino sheep bounded into view, bleating irritably. "Mount up," said Garfinkel.

Frito, more or less athwart an unpromising ungulate, rode last in the procession away from the Gallowine toward Riv'n'dell.

He slipped his hand into his pocket, found the Ring, and took it out in the fading light. Already it was beginning to work its slow change upon him, the transformation of which Dildo had warned.

He was constipated.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

"This, too, is grave," declared Orlon. "It is only a matter of time before they come here," he said, pulling a shawl over his head and making a gesture of throwing something of a conciliatory nature to a shark, "and as neutrals, we would have no choice..."

Frito shuddered.

"The Ring and it's bearer must go hence," agreed Goodgulf, "but where? Who shall guard it?"

"The elves," said Gimlet.

"The dwarves," said Legolam.

"The wizards," said Arrowroot.

"The Men of Twodor," said Goodgulf.

"That leaves only Fordor," said Orlon. "But even a retarded troll would not go there."

"Even a dwarf," admitted Legolam.

Frito suddenly felt that all eyes were on him.

"Couldn't we just drop it down a storm drain, or pawn it and swallow the ticket?" he said.

"Alas," said Goodgulf solemnly, "It is not that easy."

"But why?"

"Alas," explained Goodgulf.

"Alackaday," Orlon agreed.

"But fear not, dear boggie," continued Orlon, "you shall not go alone."

"Good old Gimlet will go with you," said Legolam.

"And fearless Legolam," said Gimlet.

"And noble king Arrowroot," said Bromosel.

"And faithful Bromosel," said Arrowroot.

"And Moxie, Pepsi, and Spam," said Dildo.

"And Goodgulf Grayteeth," added Orlon.

"Indeed," said Goodgulf, glaring at Orlon, and if looks could maim, the old elf would have left in a basket.

"So be it. You shall leave when the omens are right," said Orlon, consulting a pocket horoscope, "and unless I'm very much mistaken, they will be unmatched in half an hour."

Frito groaned. "I wish I had never been born," he said.

"Do not say that, dear Frito," cried Orlon, "It was a happy minute for us all when you were born."...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It Was Fun

Keeping up a blog can be a huge task if you're diligent about it. But now I have three blogs, this one, another about science and another about biotech.

It's too much, and something has to go, namely this blog. I have to put more energy into my work-related activities. The Festering Swamp, fun as it has been for most of the year and a half I've devoted to it, isn't something that I can spare the energy for. And there are many other blogs by Cathy's fans. I'll update this final post later with the names and links to some of them.

If anyone wants to take over, let me know in the comments, and I'll give them the information.

Thanks for playing!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Happened To The Fannie/Freddie Reform Bill?

McCain supporters have been touting his cosponsorship of a 2005 bill that would have put tighter controls on failed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

McCain certainly had the right idea with the bill, whose main sponsor was Sen. Chuck Hagel, (R-Neb).

Sadly, that bill, the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, never passed. McCain supporters say Democrats killed the bill. You can see that meme repeated on dozens of blogs. But I'd like to see more evidence on this point.

Republicans controlled both houses at the time. They had 55 of 100 Senate seats, giving them a margin of 10 seats. And in the House, the GOP controlled 232 of 425 seats, a margin of 29. But the bill never saw the light of day.

So what happened to the legislation? Were any Republicans opposed to it? What part did Democrats play in its defeat? Did they threaten a filibuster? What was President Bush's view of the legislation? How much of a priority was the bill for McCain?

I'd like you, dear Swampers, to find out. Dig into the records. Use the habit of historians, and go back to contemporary accounts. News articles, blog posts, government records, etc, are great. These will have the advantage of being written at the time, closer to the events. And, they will not have been skewed by the partisan lens of this election.

I will post what you find.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dictator Clause -- Or, Rabid Right-Wingers To The Rescue

“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”
-- From the $700 bilion bailout bill the Bush administration is trying to rush through Congress.

Michelle Malkin has much more about why conservatives should not trust Paulson.

Malkin did what I like best in such controversies -- she looked at the record and showed how Paulson had made a slew of falsified predictions about the housing and financial crisis since last year. Why trust him now? Malkin rightly asks.

Lefty and exposed sock puppeteer Glenn Greenwald writes about conservative opposition. Amusingly, even while trashing the "rabid" right, Greenwald reluctantly admits that support from those Neanderthals is essential to stop this power grab.

Right-wing opposition to the Paulson plan is vital for having any meaningful chance to stop it. Does anyone have any confidence at all in the Democrats' willingness and/or ability to impede this bailout train if the Bush administration and the Right were vigorously behind it, warning the nation of impending doom unless we submit to vast, unchecked government power of the type Henry Paulson is demanding? The instances of complete Democratic acquiescence under those circumstances -- including when they "controlled" the Congress -- are far too numerous to allow any rational person to think Democrats, standing alone, would stop the Paulson plan. As sad as it is, meaningful right-wing opposition is critical for that to happen.

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McCain's Mortgage Lobbyist -- And Obama's Smear Team

Glass houses and all that.

The McCain camp has strongly criticized Obama for having links to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the failed mortgage giants. But McCain has his own ties, and one of them was revealed recently: McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was paid $30,000 a month for five years to defend Fannie and Freddie against government regulation. (H/t to commenter doug.)

“You can say what you want about free-market distortions, but people like the system because it gets them into houses cheap,” Mr. Davis said to Institutional Investor magazine in 2000, adding that he would run the advocacy group out of his Alexandria, Va., lobbying firm.

That article appeared in today's New York Times. But U.S. News & World Report had it first, in a Sept. 19 blog post.

As John McCain said in remarks today:

The financial crisis we're living through today started with the corruption and manipulation of our home mortgage system. At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It seems a little bizarre then that McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis was hired—after running McCain's failed 2000 presidential campaign—to head up a group called the Homeownership Alliance, a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac advocacy group, which the Wall Street Journal reported (in August 2000) had a website creed of being dedicated to: "exposing and defeating trends that would harm consumer access to the lowest-cost mortgage option." The group viewed as threats those who are "seeking to spread unfounded fears about risks to the housing system."

* * * * * * * * * *

Commenter Mike K. pointed out that Obama's campaign very likely is linked to a smear campaign against Sarah Palin. This is the result of a considerable amount of digging in the blogosphere.

Michelle Malkin neatly summarizes the evidence:

A collaborative investigative effort by our friends at The Jawa Report to expose an apparently astroturfed, anti-Sarah Palin smear campaign seems to have caused late-night panic in Barack Obama-linked p.r. circles. The bloggers digging into the provenance of anti-Sarah Palin smears on the web got results last night/early this morning while most elite journalists were still in their pajamas sleeping.

First, read this. Read the whole thing. Rusty Shackleford — with help from Jane of Armies of Liberation, Stable Hand, the Jawa team, Dan Riehl, Ace of Spades, and Patterico – traced a Palin-bashing YouTube video to a Democrat public relations firm, Winner and Associates, and one of its employees, Ethan S. Winner. They believe the voiceover for the ad — which spreads the lie that Sarah Palin belonged to a fringe third party, the Alaska Independence Party — was done by a professional whose voice they believe was also featured in several Obama ads and other spots produced by Obama top strategist and astroturfer extraordinaire David Axelrod’s firm.

UPDATE: Astroturfing is a particularly loathsome form of deceptive PR that creates the illusion of public sentiment for something by such tactics as planting manufactured evidence and ginning up phony support for some cause by operatives claiming to be just folks.

Here is a link to a Businessweek article describing Axelrod as the "master of Astroturfing".

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Excuse -- If Obama's Defeated, It's Because Of Racists

Yes, it's those racist folks called "Bubba" who may do in The Messiah, despite the polls (allegedly) showing him cruising to victory.

That's according to a Gannett News Service article, which seems to me like the first draft of revisionist history in case Obama loses. In the spring, Obama was supposed to be the Democrat's invincible candidate. Now that The Precious is looking like a mere mortal, who could actually lose to McCain, some people are ginning up a politically correct answer.

Of course, that answer is racism.

Ever since Tom Bradley got defeated for governor of California by George Deukmejian, despite being in the lead in polls, there has been talk of a "Bradley effect" -- that some people were reluctant to vote for Bradley as a black person, but didn't want to say so because racism is socially unacceptable.

WASHINGTON -- Former Republican House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey calls it "the Bubba vote." Democratic Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland says Barack Obama's race is "the elephant in the corner."

No matter how bluntly it is put, the race question is one of several fuzzy variables in the 2008 presidential campaign that are giving pollsters fits. Much careful thought and second-guessing are going on throughout the nation's political polling industry.

Pollsters wonder if some Americans are lying when they say they are uncommitted or plan to vote for Obama in November, raising the question of whether the so-called Bradley effect has clouded the 2008 race. . .

"There's an awful lot of people in America, bless their heart, who simply are not emotionally prepared to vote for a black man," Armey said in an interview during the Republican National Convention. "I think it's unfortunate. I think it's deplorable. But it's there and it's real and it will affect the vote."

Let's stipulate that some people are racist, and would not vote for a black man (or woman). But there are also others who preferentially cast their vote for black people. Obama won the support of black Democrats in overwhelming majorities, far disproportionate to the Democratic populace as a whole, which was more closely divided. Why is that not also racism?

What was most lacking from this article was evidence to back up its claim of closet racist voters. Here is what passes for evidence, in its entirety:

In the 1982 California governor's race, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a black candidate, led in preelection polls but lost at the ballot box. Since then, there have been questions about whether poll respondents always speak truthfully about race.

A black candidate led in polls, but lost an election in 1982. So that raised "questions" about people speaking truthfully about race. And from questions, a conjecture is made, one that conveniently exculpates pollsters from any blame. There is no research cited to back up this conjecture -- it doesn't deserve to be called theory -- just a bunch of quotes.

Perhaps there is research backing the "Bradley Effect." If so, the reporter should have cited the evidence instead of writing such a slapdash article, one that places those who don't vote for Obama under suspicion of being closet racists.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who's Your Prevaricator? (UPDATED)

(Since certain Swampers so strongly object to the word "lie" in describing politicians, I have rewritten this post to remove the l-word). I never knew the public was so solicitous about not hurting the feelings of politicians!)

Like Pinocchio, politicians prevaricate.
Instead of just looking at political prevarications one by one, it's time to do a comparison between Barack Obama and John McCain about their respective fibs, stretches of the truth and misleading statements. -- what they are, and how serious they are.

So I'm opening the floor for nominations. I'll examine the tall tales and come up with a comprehensive judgment of how badly each candidate has stretched the truth.

And I'll kick things off with the prevaricating palaver I think each candidate has told, directly or through their campaigns. I am going to count a fib told by a candidate's campaign as equal to one told directly.

His claims about not knowing of Jeremiah Wright's extreme anti-American views have to rank among the top truth-stretches. Obama was in his church for 20 years, and by Obama's own account was made a Christian, married and had his children baptized by Wright. And when Obama finally threw Wright under the bus, it was for statements Wright had made that were the same as he'd been making for years. And Wright said last year in a New York Times article that Obama had told him he'd have to distance himself politically from Wright in the election.

Obama also flatly said in 2004 that he would not run for president in 2008.

Obama promised to seek an agreement with McCain so they could both run publicly funded campaigns. When McCain offered earlier this year, Obama turned him down.

Obama has also shaded the truth about his close relationship with Tony Rezko, the crooked real estate mogul.

Worst of all, Obama has dissembled about the closeness of his friendship with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, who has never apologized for his role in bombings with the Weather Underground.

New Addition: Factcheck.org says Obama told a "whopper" by saying McCain's Social Security plan would have put recipients' money in the stock market.

In Daytona Beach, Obama said that "if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would've had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week." He referred to "elderly women" at risk of poverty, and said families would be scrambling to support "grandmothers and grandfathers."

That's not true. The plan proposed by President Bush and supported by McCain in 2005 would not have allowed anyone born before 1950 to invest any part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. All current retirees would be covered by the same benefits they are now.

Obama would have been correct to say that many workers under age 58 would have had some portion of their Social Security benefits affected by the current market turmoil – if they had chosen to participate. And market drops would be a worry for those who retire in future decades. But current retirees would not have been affected.

New addition: Obama's campaign may be linked to a series of lies and smears of Sarah Palin, according to the Jawa Report.

Extensive research was conducted by the Jawa Report to determine the source of smears directed toward Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Those smears included false allegations that she belonged to a secessionist political party and that she has radical anti-American views.

Our research suggests that a subdivision of one of the largest public relations firms in the world most likely started and promulgated rumors about Sarah Palin that were known to be false. These rumors were spread in a surreptitious manner to avoid exposure.

It is also likely that the PR firm was paid by outside sources to run the smear campaign. While not conclusive, evidence suggests a link to the Barack Obama campaign.

The research is pretty detailed. While short of absolute proof, it very strongly suggests an "Astroturf" campaign of the sort Obama media strategist David Axelrod, a PR flack, specializes in.

McCain claims to oppose lobbyists, and not to get advice from them yet his campaign staff is full of lobbyists. Campaign manager Rick Davis co-founded a lobbying firm, and McCain has dozens of lobbyists on his staff. (They don't lobby while working for McCain, but that's their profession before, and likely, after).

McCain has claimed a number of accomplishments for running mate Palin that are not factual. Among them, selling the governor's jet on eBay for a profit, that she told Congress that Alaska didn't need the Gravina Island bridge, and that Palin had never asked for earmarks for Alaska. (She asked for nearly $200 million this year).

Some of McCain's ads attacking Obama have been not entirely truthful -- according to Karl Rove!

So this is my starter list. These, just off the top of my head, show Obama as having told bigger fibs and prevarications than McCain -- but with his tall tales about Sarah Palin, McCain may be catching up. Still, I don't want to lend a sense of false equivalency. Obama's factually challenged statements are worse, because they are fundamental falsehoods about his own life and political beliefs. McCain's truth-stretchers about Palin are more in the line of puffing up credentials that were positive, if a bit thin.

Add your own favorite prevarications in the comments, and let's do a comparison!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Johnny Mac, Your Economic Ignorance Is Showing

Taking his pander act to a new level of inanity, John McCain has blamed SEC Chairman Christopher Cox for the current financial meltdown. McCain said if he were Bush, he'd fire Cox.

The idea that one person could have prevented the vast assortment of ill-advised investments and schemes that has made markets around the world shudder is nonsense. And attacking Cox, a champion of the free-market policies McCain supposedly supports, is something one would expect of leftists Democrats who know nothing about economics, not a Republican presidential nominee.

If any one person deserves blaming for our economic mess, it's not Cox, but Alan Greenspan. The former Federal Reserve Chairman -- who had a lot of help --inflated two bubbles, each bigger than the other.

The first was the tech bubble, which collapsed in 2001. The second was the credit bubble, of which the subprime market was just a part. Desperate to avoid a nasty recession, Greenspan got the Fed to lower interest rates in a dizzying downward staircase spiral from 6.5 percent, bottoming out in 2003 at 1 percent.

Taking inflation into account, 1 percent or anything in that territory was a negative interest rate. The staggering implications of this were overlooked at the time, until Economics 101 caught up with us: What you owe you will eventually need to pay back.

A negative interest rate means that saving money is punished, and taking out debt is rewarded. It's the very opposite of sound financial policy, and millions of Americans were encouraged to go into debt, supposedly for the good of the economy. Elaborate rationalizations were invented for this debt, the fallacy that residential real estate is a surefire investment being the biggest of them.

By the time Cox was appointed to the SEC, in 2005, the real estate and credit markets were topping out. There were no more vast pools of homebuyers to be tapped, because credit requirements were so lax.

There were not only subprime loans, but even scarier loans that required no documentation of income. Borrowers merely had to state their income, with no documentation required, to get a loan. These stated income loans popularly became known as "liar loans," because lying was implicitly encourged. After all, if a borrower couldn't pay, another borrower would come around ready to take the home off his hands, for an even higher prices.

At the end, "liar loans" were topped in audacity by loans that could be obtained without any verification: no income, no job no assets - so-called "NINJA" loans.

All these mortgages were used as the base of toxic debt securities repackaged and sold around the world. And in other parts of finance, other insane financial models were built on the assumption of ever-increasing wealth. Cox didn't crack down on these, of course, but had he tried opposition would have been fierce. And it wasn't an issue the likes of McCain were concerned with anyway.

The most vexing lie from all of this is the "lesson" that government regulators were lax, and should have intervened more diligently to prevent this financial excess. Government intervention brought on this mess by deranging economic fundamentals in a way that was doomed to collapse catastrophically once the greatest fool had entered the market and bought a home he couldn't afford.

Short-selling, the bugaboo McCain and some leftist Democrats invoke as the reason for the financial market's latest turmoil, is a symptom of what had gone wrong. In a market blinded by unthinking optimism, short sellers were the skunk at the garden party, revealing the nasty truth.

So-called "naked shorting," in which the seller of securities doesn't even arrange to borrow them or ensure a later purchase, is controversial, and McCain is reasonable when he condemns the practice. But he also condemned the entire practice of short-selling for supposedly destroying good companies. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, that's a fundamental misunderstanding of what short-selling does for a market economy:

"It adds valuable information to the market about what investors believe to be the price direction of a stock. Demonizing short-sellers as a band of criminals, or barring short-selling outright in financial stocks, as regulators in the U.K. did Thursday, removes information from the market," the WSJ stated.

Removing information reduces market transparency and increases risks for investors. The logical result will be risk-shy investors, who already take enough risk in the market as it is, will be frightened out of stocks altogether, or at least lower the price they'll pay for them.

That's easy to understand for anyone except a pandering politician like McCain who is so desperate to become president he will say nearly anything if he thinks it will get him votes. (I'm being charitable to McCain here, by assuming he knows he's spouting nonsense. More chillingly, McCain may be truly ignorant of the basics of a free-market economy. Just like Barack Obama.)

The WSJ adds a further zinger to correct McCain's torrent of economic malarkey:

In case Mr. McCain is interested, overall short interest in financial companies actually declined by 20% between July and the end of August. That's right: Far from driving this crisis, shorts were net buyers of financial stocks this summer, as they must buy stocks back to close their positions and realize their gains (or losses).

McCain has previously admitted economics is not his strong suit. If McCain is to be worthy of the presidency, he should go back to school on the subject and stop proposing remedies that won't work for issues he doesn't understand.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Politician And His Terrorist Pal

One of the faults of the press is that we gloss over stuff that happened long ago as "old news," even when it is significant. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's friendship with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant ex-Weatherman terrorist, is one of those issues.

Obama's refusal to disavow Ayers, who won't disavow his participating in a terrorist bombing campaign, renders him unfit to be president.

A little history: Ayers and the Weathermen fought violently against the Vietnam war. They were overtly inspired by communism. Ayers sports a red star on his own blog, which is worthy reading to see what a longterm chum of Obama's thinks of America.

Fortunately, the only casualties of their bombs were fellow Weathermen. Ayers went into hiding, and ultimately re-entered society after evading the statute of limitations for his crimes.

"I don't regret setting bombs," Ayers infamously said, in a 2001 New York Times article.

Obama, who worked with Ayers on the failed Annenberg Challenge, a multi-million dollar flop of a project to improve public education in Chicago, gives this explanation when asked about his refusal to disavow Ayers: Obama was 8 years old when Ayers committed his terrorist acts. And naturally, we're expected to believe, Obama today, when he presumably has learned of Ayers' bombing campaign, doesn't have to take that into consideration.

Click on the link above to see the Obama campaign's attempt to exculpate The Precious. You'll see a lot of quotes from various news organizations and individuals downplaying the importance of Obama's association with Ayers. But nowhere in that piece is Obama actually quoted condemning Ayers' terrorist actions, let alone calling on Ayers to apologize for them.

Obama denounced his former mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, after his pastor uttered hateful, racist and anti-American statements. But Wright never actually committed or planned terrorist acts. Ayers did commit terrorist acts -- he has admitted to being "guilty as sin" -- and has never apologized for them. Still, Obama refuses to disavow Ayers.

The conclusion is inescapable: Making politically inconvenient statements is a much bigger sin in Obama's book than being an unrepentant terrorist. That alone renders him totally unfit for the job of president, a position in which being able to distinguish between friend and foe is a prime requisite.

While there's plenty of fault to find with Republican presidential nominee John McCain, his record consists of opposing those who make war on America -- even at great personal cost -- not palling around with them.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Palin/Hillary On SNL

If you missed Saturday Night Live's Palin/Hillary parody, here it is. Just click the photo to see a video of goofy American politics almost as surreal as the actual thing.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thag You Very Buch

Bilbo Baggins' cold-distorted words spring to mind, as I enjoy the company of what appears to be a rhinovirus. So I'll just make a few comments today, and do what the boggies do in Bored of the Rings, which is to say, lapse back into a coma, or at least a delirium, or uneasy drowsiness.

Where was I? Oh, yes, thank you very much for sticking with the Swamp in its vicissitudes. In a week or two, I plan to migrate this peripatetic blog to the new digs at WordPress, which I haven't yet finished. So . . . here's your chance to help out with some suggestions.

Mosey on over to the link and then give me your advice.

Links? What more should be added? I've got a fair amount, but I will miss some.

Design? Any thoughts on what's there? Ways to make it better? Things you like?

Commenting? Shall we use Haloscan? Mike LaRoche is using it over at SouthTexian. Nancy Catmull Matocha and cassandra may have some input as well. Mike K., too. And check out his post on how tax-loving Democrats ruin the fiscal structure of the states they move to.

Now here is an unplanned political rant goaded by what Mike K. wrote:

I emphatically agree that the most active Democrats, such as those who control the California Legislature, look on rich people and companies as suckers to be fleeced. They just assume this wealth will always be there, and don't know what to do when it leaves. They believe that social services are a natural right. And as Ayn Rand pointed out, this means those with the wealth and skills to provide these services are treated as slaves by those who don't have the skills.

It is one thing to say that it is a good deed for the wealthy to support the poor; quite another to make it an obligation to be enforced at the point of a gun. If you penalize wealth and success and reward poverty, guess what you're going to get?

Arnold showed some promise of being able to stem this tide. But he failed, and went along with the Democrats in supporting huge spending plans that have wrecked the state's budget again. Sadly, from my point of view, the Republicans who get it economically most often bring on a social conservative agenda I don't support. Moreover, social conservatives are motivated and energetic by their religious beliefs, while those who wish for economic and social freedom aren't similarly motivated.

Or to put it another way, libertarians (small-l and big-L) don't seem to have much support in either major party, the way Ronald Reagan managed to do with his grand coalition. So as someone of that libertarian persuasion, which rights do I vote to give up? My answer now is neither. I'd rather vote for a losing candidate, who stands for what I believe, than vote for a winner who doesn't stand for what I believe.

California doesn't even offer that bad choice now. California is sliding into a sea of Democratic welfare statism that if unchecked, will ruin its economy. I'm a native Californian, but Mike K. has lived here two years longer than I have. And what he sees of the Golden State's future should frighten all the state's citizens. It sure does me.

Don't laugh at our plight, Texas. You'll get your experience with Democratic nanny-staters before too long.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

A Plea From The Bowels


One of the best things about this country is that when emergencies or disasters take place, people pitch in to help each other, without regard to race, religion or political beliefs.

The Republicans showed this solidarity in their recent convention by suspending most of the first day's activities, in recognition of the threat by Hurricane Gustav. They asked for relief supplies and donations, instead of political contributions.

Texans near the coast are faced with an even bigger threat now from Hurricane Ike. Swamper Mike LaRoche, in San Antonio, thankfully appears to be well out of harm's way. I don't know where our other TexaSwamper, TexasJew, is located, but I hope our oilman is far away from Ike, and his crew and equipment will be unscathed by Ike's passage.

McCain and Obama put aside partisan differences to appear at a memorial on Sept. 11. That, of course, was not a natural catastrophe, but the product of human hatred and violent Islamist extremism. The principle remains, however, that in times of dire need Americans cast aside all other differences and help each other.

So here's a weekend wish that the McCain and Obama campaigns will tone down the sniping for the time being. The right should stop with the phony lipstick on a pig talk about Obama. The left should show some decency and stop treating Sarah Palin as a Christian ayatollah in pumps. And online magazines that aim for respectability should think twice before they publish ill-informed drivel such as Cintra Wilson wrote about Palin.

And during this pause from the insanity, people of the left and right should try to understand one another. I'm not saying agree with each other, but understand where their ideological opponents are coming from.

The Palin nomination has revealed a huge gulf of incomprehension between her backers, who in some instances verge on cultish admiration, and opponents, who often treat her as a moose-eating Terminator programmed to destroy American democracy.

The wildly inaccurate Internet rumors about Palin, picked up by no less than Maureen Dowd, indicate that to many people, facts don't matter. A perfectly reasonable statement by Palin about praying that Americans are doing God's will in Iraq was transformed into a call for Christian jihad by a sloppy or biased Associated Press reporter. (The two possibilities are not mutually exclusive).

Far worse, ABC's Charles Gibson repeated the doctored quote in his interview with Palin. That's really inexcusable, but it's too often how the press works. If one reporter writes it, a falsehood become
s transmogrified into a "fact" cited by other reporters. At the least, Gibson owes Palin an apology. And Gibson should be more careful with his facts from now on.

For all of us, a little forbearance is in order, and a little less certitude. Whatever one's religion, or the lack of one, Oliver Cromwell's advice to the Church of Scotland is worth pondering:

"I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."

And with that, here's a hearty wish that Mike L. and TexasJew will spend the weekend in a safe place, with friends and loved ones, sipping mojitos or downing Patron shots (or other favorite concotions) and avoiding the insanity.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Basking In The '80s

Ah, those 1980s. Ronnie and Maggie, a couple of decrepit Soviet leaders, then Gorby. "There you go again . . . make my day . . . Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" "Follow me around . . . they'd be very bored."

But this is not about politics. This is about another activity altogether, one that reached remarkable heights in that glittering decade . . . music.

MTV. Video killed the radio star, with style. And the bands. R.E.M. Devo. Berlin. The B-52s. The Beat Farmers.

So for a moment, leave behind the lipstick on a pig, earmarks, Barry O giving H-Rod the finger and all the other present puerilities. Walk
through the transdimensional ovoid appearing in front of you . . . and give yourself an aural blast from the past.

Click the photo above to begin the musical journey.


Nah. This trip is courtesy of the Belle Stars. A sign of great musical times.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sully And The C-Word

The c-word is Christianist, a word Andrew Sullivan flings about quite liberally when speaking about conservative Christians. It's a word with really odious connotations, and Sullivan demeans himself by using it so freely.

"Christianist" is a parallel construction to "Islamist," which refers to those Moslems who wage war to establish an Islamic theocracy. Since Sept. 11, it's also been associated with terrorism.

There are certainly a few on the fringes of Christianity who could rightfully be considered Christianist by such a standard, but only a few. They don't represent most conservative or evangelical Christians, who live and advocate entirely peaceful lives.

Sullivan recently put James Dobson on his list
for the awful crime of praying for torrential rain during Obama's outdoor convention event. Dobson's prayer -- which went unanswered, by the way -- is scarcely to be compared with the hateful prayers that emanate from Islamists daily for the destruction of Israel and the United States. It was nothing more than a cheap stunt.

Sullivan put Sarah Palin on his list for inquiring about possibly banning books from the city library. That was disturbing, to be sure, but Palin never actually acted on that idea. And of course, Palin never advocates violence, which Islamists routinely do. And Palin, despite her worrisome flirtation with creationist rhetoric, has not pushed for such an agenda in Alaskan schools.

As an atheist, I don't like the attempts by some conservative Christians to attach the trappings of their faith to government institutions. But I know enough to distinguish between certain conservative Christians (not all by any means) who are overzealous and not heedful of the equal rights of others; and of violent psychopaths who take shelter under the name of religion.

Those Islamist psychopaths, by the way, would gladly dismember Sullivan and his "Christianist" opponents alike. Sullivan, despite his hysterical rantings, is in no such danger from the likes of Dobson or Palin.

It doesn't speak well for Sullivan's grasp of reality that he can't tell the difference.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Fiscal Reality Catches Up To The Precious

Suddenly, the presidential campaign of Barack Obama is in deep doo-doo. Not only is it struggling to deal with the GOP vice-presidential selection of Sarah Palin, it's facing a serious financial disadvantage.

The New York Times describes Obama's financial woes in a new article. But the news isn't news for those who read the doughty blogger Patterico. His guest poster, WLS, has been saying for the past couple of weeks that Obama's victory balloon was more in need of money than hot air.

Obama, WLS calculated, had set himself an unsustainable burn rate to fund his vast, expensive campaign apparatus -- remember his boast of contending in all 50 states? That's gone now, as fundraising slows up, but the expenses remain.

And McCain, by collecting public money and keeping a lower burn rate, will have cash but also the time to campaign. He won't have to be kept busy fundraising like Obama will. And the Republican National Committee is getting plenty of money that can help McCain.

Obama has had trouble handling large sums of money before. When he and unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers worked on Chicago's Annenberg Challenge to improve education, nearly $50 million was spent with very little to show for it.

It is good that we're finding out Obama's trouble with fiscal discipline now and not before he becomes president -- an event that now seems increasingly unlikely.

It is also fitting that Obama is now hoist by his own petard for breaking his promise to seek public funding. Obama cynically broke his promise for political advantage, but he would have been better off taking the money. It's a nice mini-morality play about the perils of lying.

WLS did a fine job of cutting through the numbers to tell the story, earlier than the MSM did. That's what can be done by someone who, unlike many in the MSM, isn't besotted with The Precious.

Go over to WLS at Patterico's, read the articles, and give your thanks.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bread And Circuses From The Rs And The Ds

Both Democrats and Republicans say they want to discuss substantive issues; it's that other party which seeks to distract the conversation with trivial controversies. Both are wrong, and right. And two examples this week, one from each party, reveals the sorry state of political debate among the parties.

Lets start with the GOP: Fox News published a melodramatic claim by the McCain campaign that Democrats left thousands of American flags used in their convention in the trash. McCain supporters waved the flags allegedly rescued.

The move was an overt swipe at Obama from a campaign whose motto has been “country first.” But Democratic convention organizers claimed the flags were not going to be discarded — but instead were snatched from the site of Obama’s historic address to carry out a “cheap political stunt.”

McCain supporters said the flags were discovered by a vendor at Denver’s Invesco Field after the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention. The vendor supposedly found trash bags full of flags in and near garbage bins, and turned them over to the McCain campaign.

This is one of the stories both parties use to strengthen their narrative. It has nothing to do with issues, everything with perceptions. But David Harsanyi, columnist for the Denver Post, did a little more digging. He talked with the person who found the flags:

He thinks both sides are exaggerating a bit. He claims the majority of the bags with flags were near the trash and it was probably an "oversight" by the Democrats rather than a nefarious plot against the flag, but he doesn't believe anyone was coming to get them. "The flags were there for a week and a day and no one came looking for them," the person said.

* * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, Democrats and the left are having fun with an even more meaningless story: the apparent glitch in putting the Los Angeles-area Walter Reed Middle School on the screen behind McCain. (The McCain campaign denies there was any mistake, but just what connection the school has to McCain remains a mystery)

The lefty blog Talking Points Memo speculated that the GOP intended to put Walter Reed Medical Center on the screen, but the tech guys grabbed the wrong image:

One other interesting development: The California Democratic Party is actually holding a press conference in front of the school within minutes, where Dems will hit McCain for not knowing the difference between the school and Walter Reed Medical Center, which is believed to be the backdrop the McCain campaign really wanted. . .

Late update: Shortly after posting this, we got an email from Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Tamar Galatzan who represents Walter Reed as part of her district. She had her own thoughts on McCain's use of the middle school:

"Though I am flattered that Senator McCain chose to use a school from my district as backdrop to his remarks at the Republican National Convention, I wished he had checked with me first. As a strong believer in public education, I don't think the Senator is the most appropriate person to showcase one of the premier schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is unwilling to bring fairness and equity to No Child Left Behind and ensure that schools like Reed get the resources they need from the Federal Government. From what I've heard, that's not a priority for the McCain/Palin ticket."

There you have it: The two main parties of the world's most important democracy are busying themselves with meaningless posturing and attacking. Meanwhile, the economy continues to deteriorate. Jobs are being lost and mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are being taken over and bailed out.

As cassandra pointed out in the comments to the last thread, we are getting the grim truth from the likes of the Housing Bubble Blog. I would add Mike "Mish" Shedlock, who writes for Minyanville and on his own blog, Global Economic Analysis. There, the facts are being laid out that the Democratic and Republican national leaderships won't honestly discuss with the public.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Obama Weekend Special

"Lies, lies, lies, ye-eah!
(They're gonna get ya!)
Lies, lies, lies, ye-eah!
Lies, lies, lies, ye-eah!"
-- Thompson Twins, "Lies"

Promises, dedication, -- and betrayal. Love? My 80s nostalgia kicking in? No, I'm talking about politicians, and the lies politicians tell.

This weekend, we're going to explore the lies of Barack Obama. Not just differences of interpretation, but palpable, proven lies. Swamper Eric Blair pointed out one obvious lie by Obama, put into the news by the Associated Stenographers, er, Associated Press, and noted by the National Review. Obama lied that the Republican National Convention hasn't discussed economics. (I'll post some examples later this weekend where it did).

No doubt Obama supporters would call this a non-story, a molehill that doesn't relate to policy issues. Any manipulation to divert attention from the fact that Obama blatantly lied about a fact that can be easily determined.
But an impartial search for truth shouldn't be intimidated by propagandists who want you to focus only on the candidates they oppose.

So as part of my look at political lying in this season's crop of candidates, let's see more examples of blatant Obama lying. Post your nominations in the comments, and let's have at them.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Here is my take on the Obama lie Eric Blair pointed out. First, the lie, bold text mine:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Thursday that Republicans at their national convention are attacking him to avoid talking about the sagging economy and housing problems.

"You're hearing an awfully lot about me — most of which is not true — but you're not hearing a lot about you," Obama said. "You haven't heard a word about how we're going to deal with any aspect of the economy that is affecting you and your pocketbook day-to-day. Haven't heard a word about it. I'm not exaggerating. Literally, two nights, they have not said a word about it."

Now, the debunking.

Remember, Obama can't be excused on the grounds of being rhetorical. Obama said he was not exaggerating.

As the convention speech transcripts show, considerably more than a word was said about how to deal with the economy.

From Sarah Palin's convention speech Wednesday: Bold test that shows the Obama lie mine:

When a hurricane strikes in the Gulf of Mexico, this country should not be so dependent on imported oil that we are forced to draw from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

And families cannot throw away more and more of their paychecks on gas and heating oil.

With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.

To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world energy supplies ... or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia ... or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries ... we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas.

And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: we've got lots of both.

Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems - as if we all didn't know that already.

But the fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.

Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines ... build more new-clear plants ... create jobs with clean coal ... and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources.

We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers.

Now from Rudy Giuliani's speech Wednesday night, again, bold that proves the Obama lie is mine:

John McCain will lower taxes so our economy can grow. He'll reduce government to strengthen our dollar. He'll expand free trade so we can be more competitive. And he will lead us to energy independence so we can be free of foreign oil. And -- and he'll do it with an all-of-the-above approach, including nuclear power and, yes, offshore oil drilling. . .

This and a lot more is the kind of change that will create growth, jobs and prosperity, not what they want to do: tax us more, increase the size of government, increase tariffs, hurt jobs, send jobs elsewhere.

Fred "Mr. Excitement" Thompson, on Tuesday:

We need a president who understands that you don't make citizens prosperous by making Washington richer -- and you don't -- and you don't lift an economic downturn by imposing one of the largest tax increases in American history.

Now, our opponents tell us not to worry about their tax increases. They tell you they're not going to tax your family. No, they're just going to tax "businesses." So, unless you buy something from a business, like groceries or clothes or gasoline --or unless you get a paycheck from a business, a big business or a small business, don't worry, it's not going to affect you! They say they're not going to take any water out of your side of the bucket, just the other side of the bucket! That's their idea of tax reform.

* * * * * * * * * *

Obama could and will argue that the Republicans' ideas on the economy are wrong. But they were discussed in the convention, with far more than a word.

Stubborn facts don't matter much to politicians like Obama, when they get in the way of a good story.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Enquiring Minds Want . . . More Than Trashy Rumors

The National Enquirer recently took the political scalp of former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards (D-Priapus). As most of you know, it's now going after Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin with similarly salacious material, including an alleged Palin affair.

I bought and read the Enquirer, so you don't have to: Palin should be able to breathe easy. There is much less to the charges than the wild headlines imply.

The Enquirer made very specific charges against Edwards, including naming times and places he met his mistress, and published a photo. The reporting was solid.

But the Enquirer article on the Palin "affair" never actually says there was an affair. If you read it closely, the charge is attributed to a family enemy. An Alaskan blogger said the "affair" was actually just a flirtation 10 years ago that was never consummated. I am not vouching for this unverified tale, btw, just pointing out that's how rumors can mushroom.

The Enquirer twice referred to the charge of an affair as "incredible". One meaning of "incredible" is "so implausible as to elicit disbelief," which may provide a legal out in case the Enquirer is sued.

While the Enquirer article is just unverified gossip, there's a worthwhile question it raises: Why did the Enquirer print such a groundless article? Perhaps the Enquirer is trying to show it's bipartisan in scandal-mongering. If so, that's the wrong way to do it.

Alternatively, the Enquirer might think that hyping a Palin scandal would sell more papers. That's also wrong. Unless the Enquirer backs up its sensational coverage with something more credible than an enemy's trashy gossip, the tabloid's reputation may itself be headed back to the trash.

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Lies, Damned Lies, And Narratives

Sarah Palin has been a reformist governor by the standards of Alaska, a state steeped in corruption. Palin fought sleazemasters in her own party. She tussled with the oil companies to wring out more money for Alaskans. She even cautiously began to tell Alaskans that their penchant for earmarked funds was making them unpopular in the Lower 48.

That's a decent narrative, especially compared to her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden. That fixture of Washington is an undistinguished and ethically dubious politician, a serial liar and plagiarist who has a higher IQ than you. (Watch the YouTube video proving it).

But merely good was not enough for the GOP. This year's meta-narrative demanded heroics. So the Republican party exaggerated Palin's record. Palin herself has not only exaggerated but made blatantly false claims about opposing that infamous "bridge to nowhere". Palin unwisely repeated that lie in her speech last night.

Alaskan newspapers have pointed out that Palin was perfectly willing to accept federal money for the Gravina Island bridge, and only turned against it when it had become an object of national ridicule, and a symbol of wasteful spending that Congress was not likely to fund.

Hardly the stuff of heroism, it's more like pragmatic politics. What would have been heroic: If Palin had actually sent back to Congress money the state had already been awarded. But she never did that. And the now-useless road to the bridge that will not be built is still being constructed.

Moreover, Palin actively lobbied for many other projects, even sending a lobbyist to Washington D.C. to push for more pork -- er, I mean necessary projects for the good of her city.

Even more fatal to the narrative, some of Palin's projects ended up on the pork list of . . . wait for it . . . John McCain.

In 2001, McCain's list of spending that had been approved without the normal budget scrutiny included a $500,000 earmark for a public transportation project in Wasilla. The Arizona senator targeted $1 million in a 2002 spending bill for an emergency communications center in town -- one that local law enforcement has said is redundant and creates confusion. McCain also criticized $450,000 set aside for an agricultural processing facility in Wasilla that was requested during Palin's tenure as mayor and cleared Congress soon after she left office in 2002. The funding was provided to help direct locally grown produce to schools, prisons and other government institutions, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group. Wasilla received $11.9 million in earmarks from 2000 to 2003. The results of this spending are very apparent today. (The town also benefited from $15 million in federal funds to promote regional rail transportation.)

The Anchorage Daily News pointed out Palin's exaggerations in her speech last night (emphasis mine):

PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million.

In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation, although she has cut, by more than half, the amount the state sought from Washington this year. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."

Even McCain has exaggerated his record as pork-buster, according to Factcheck.org. It wrote
in November, 2007:

It is indisputable that McCain has been a vocal opponent of earmarks, and indeed of all government spending that he considers wasteful (he has said that Congress spends money “like a drunken sailor”). He has been recognized for his efforts both by the media and by taxpayer advocacy groups. But the three examples of spending highlighted in the ad – a “bridge to nowhere,” a study of bear DNA and a museum dedicated to Woodstock – seem chosen more for their impact than for any direct involvement McCain had in attacking them. In fact, he voted in favor of the bill that included the bear study funding; he was absent for key votes on the Woodstock museum (including one on an amendment he co-sponsored); and he never specifically tried to eliminate the bridge earmark and missed some crucial votes on that one, as well. . .

The transportation bill did include a total of $223 million (not $233 million, as the ad says) earmarked for the Gravina bridge – $100 million for construction, plus $18.75 million a year for four years, and an additional $48 million to build an access road. McCain tried, unsuccessfully, to add a “sense of the Senate” amendment to the bill, stating a general objection to earmarks; in the end he voted against the legislation.

Several months later, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) tried to divert the Gravina funds to a bridge in need of repair over Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans. McCain was not present to vote on Coburn’s amendment proposing this change, which did not pass. Instead, Congress removed Gravina’s earmarks, tossing that money into Alaska’s general transportation pot to be used however the state chose. McCain wasn’t there for that vote, either.

Like Palin, McCain has a penchant for exaggerating his accomplishments and fabricating narratives which don't coincide with the facts. That's hardly unusual in politicians. But it doesn't mesh with the heroic meta-narrative the GOP is peddling to voters.

No wonder Peggy Noonan was unhappy. But she made a mistake in saying so.

She stepped on the narrative.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Palin's Speech -- Let's Hear From You - FINAL

Kevin Drum, The Reasonable Lefty™, says Palin did a very good job:

As expected, she's doing a very good job. In a way, she's every bit the pit bull Giuliani is, all the way down to the withering scorn and sarcastic asides. But she brings it off better than Rudy: it's more straightforward, more earnest, and yes, more small town. I don't think this speech will stop the questions about her selection, but it's certainly going to have an impact. She's coming off very well in her appointed role, and making a tough, smart, and very appealing first impression.

But holy cow, can this woman pull off the culture war stuff, or what? I gather that she didn't, in fact, ever really support Pat Buchanan, but she's every bit his disciple and successor in spirit. Wow.

And maybe just one more comment: for all that both Giuliani and Palin attacked Obama for being too full of himself, I don't think I've ever heard two more adulatory speeches in my life. You'd think John McCain was the second coming of George Washington the way they sang their nonstop panegyrics to him.

But the crowd is definitely on its feet tonight. Quite a contrast from Tuesday.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Now for the Swamper liveblogging:

Praises McCain's "resolve" to persevere in his candidacy, and in Iraq.

There's a time for politics, and a time for leadership. A time to campaign, and a time to put our country first . . . a true profile in courage.

victory in Iraq is now "in sight".


Gravatar Anyone else tired of hearing about McCain? Or the "McCain narrative" or whatever it is? Too late now..

She's too cute. It's practically a drawback! As if she couldn't possibly be serious. Oh dear.

Gravatar Discusses son Track, who will leave for Iraq on Sept. 1l, and refers to other children. Refers to birth of latest child .. ups and downs in her family. .. to the families of special needs children .. . says they will have a friend, an advocate in Palin.

Gravatar cassandra,
I was just thinking the same thing. She needs to get back to more serious topics, not just small-town reminiscences. "Every woman can walk through every door of opportunity," a pitch for the XX vote . . .

Gravatar Yeah you're right. Needs gravitas. Thatcher had it in spades.

Gravatar What the hey????

Gravatar Now she is talking about reform in Alaska ... about time! Her signature issue.

Gravatar There's your favorite line LOL

Gravatar Gawd, she is repeating her lie about the "bridge to nowhere"!

Gravatar She said "thanks but no thanks" to a bridge with a $329 million funding gap. Such a profile in courage!

Gravatar I've heard so much of this before. She had a speechwriter, according to NRO.

Gravatar Just one?!

Gravatar American energy sources. I like that. Her voice is better than I expected. Voice is so important and women often have problems coming across strong without soundling like screech owls..

She's got good delivery.

Gravatar Now she's getting into meaty matters, taking on Obama, which is what she is supposed to do.

Gravatar Man those projections on the big screen behind her are distracting.

Gravatar I am just getting the audio . . . maybe I will look at the video later.

Gravatar It doesn't show that often, just on the long shots. Must drive the delegates crazy.

Oh, enough about McCain. LOL

Gravatar Now she gets into the POW stuff.

Gravatar "Voice is so important and women often have problems coming across strong without soundling like screech owls.."

I was thinking that its a good thing her voice is a bit adenoidal - its slightly annoying and that keeps one from being distracted by the attractiveness.

I think she's solid, comfortable and cool, not too girly. The family stuff is good - most of America doesn't know her (other than crap on MSM) and it was an easygoing introduction.

Energy stuff was great.

Best line: the presidency of the United States isn't supposed to be a journey of 'self-discovery'.


Ok, folks, your considered verdicts?

Gravatar Mrs. Fantastic!


I feel Chrissy Matthew's thrill running up my leg.


LOL! You know, all I can think is she's so damn cute - but it's not a bad thing. It's a whole new sort of personam for politics. I'm not used to it. She doesn't come across as cerebral or intellectual. Not sure that would fly anyway.

So, I'll bet the MSM is calling it a disaster, yes? I haven't checked yet.

The people will love her.

Gravatar From the althouse thread going on concurrently. Dave here was responding to someone asking him, as an Alaskan, why he was expressing surprise at Palin's new porkbuster image, as well as national level readiness. But Gofer doesn't give a damn, an anti-vote is an anti-vote, no matter if it's a write-in or a Palin-drome, bub. She may not bust as much pork as Gofer had hoped, but she has shown she can bust a few chops. I'm thinking Obama takes the championship, but then I thought New England would annihilate NYG. Obama does have that Tom Brady smirk, and Biden would definitely secretly tape opponents signal calling. So, just maybe....take it, Dave.

Dave said...

Whoa there. Ease up. Take a breath. I'm not slamming her; I voted for her, and I approve of her job as governor. But we saw her as national-ticket material in another four or eight years, after she had put together a more substantive record. There's a difference between being popular and having a large record of accomplishments.

You've got to understand a few things about Alaskans. We just got through with Governor Murkowski, a corrupt and unpopular leader. In comparison, anybody would be better than he. So part of Palin's popularity comes simply from being Not Murkowski, not necessarily because of things she's done.

We also love pork projects. This state is built on pork. That's why we keep electing Ted Stevens. Honestly, we need it. We'd shrivel and die without it. Governor Palin ran on promises of getting us more federal money, including money for our bridge to Gravina Island which outsiders have come to scorn. So that's another reason why we're shocked -- McCain campaigns against earmarks, and this state can't survive without them. It's the cold hard truth. Palin has cut back some on the amount of pork that comes in, but if she cut back too much, she'd cease to be an effective (and popular) governor of this unique state.

We also know that she doesn't deserve as much of the credit for ethics reform as she's getting. That was a legislative project that she was receptive to, so it was as much our legislature as it was the governor that got it done.

We've got more tax money from oil revenues than we know what to do with, thanks to the high price of oil. Fair or unfair, she doesn't get much cred in the state for creating a budget backed by such a surplus.

And I know this will rub some people the wrong way, but she's only been at it for 19 months. It's just not a long time. [refraining from comparing to Obama]

Sorry for the length... you asked.

Gravatar Sarah Palin is probably more electable. You can't be a CEO without leaving a messy trail of electronic tidbits that can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion.

I was over at some Dem sites. Has there been some major TCP/IP breakthrough? I could swear the smell of fear was wafting from my browser.

Gravatar Palin included some subtle (or what I'd term as subtle) digs at Obama. I think she could have also alluded to the pathetic, very telling nature of a person who listened to years to a fanatic like Jeremiah Wright, and not only happily remained a member of that individual's flock, but made him a close advisor, a "sounding board." And then stopped sidestepping or excusing----or rationalizing away----the nature of that person's ideology, or theology, or sociology, only when public controversy grew too loud and too strong.

I see McCain and Palin and I think of grown-ups, of adults, in which there's at least a fair amount of honesty and integrity, and then I think of Obama and Biden, embraced by the brats of Hollywood (among others), who are saddled with an excessive degree of trial-lawyer mendacity and flaky attitudes.

And, quite honestly (and sincerely), I'm trying not to filter my impressions through the ideological differences between one camp and the other.

Gravatar Well, it's easy to see why she moved up rapidly in the "list" after speaking with McCain. Damn, he was strutting around the stage like a proud father at his daughter's debutante ball.

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