Although, as a conservative, I’m inclined to believe that much of the current economic crisis is the result of Democratic politicians forcing banks to provide loans to those who would not be able to pay them back, I’m not so ideological as to believe that the Republicans had no role. This was clearly a bipartisan effort, and while notions of social justice were surely a factor, the Republicans controlled Congress for much of the Bush Administration and should have pushed harder to stem the tide that these bad policies had unleashed upon the market. Today, my brother offers his thoughts on how a lack of regulation contributed to the current economic crisis:

 

The best way I can answer this is by pointing you to this video:

 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/10/05/60minutes/main4502454.shtml

 

It provides a great overview of the mess we are in, and perhaps the best part is in its layman terms description of why the deregulated CDS market has been so pivotal in creating this disaster.

 

Me, personally, I am usually inclined to support deregulation and making markets as free and hands-off as possible. I like to believe that the forces of supply and demand can do an infinitely better job of controlling the flow of goods and services in the best interest of the most people. For the most part, supply and demand does this better than government ever could. Even though it is not under the umbrella of regulation, you can see this in capitalist economies by looking no further than the number of companies/industries that have been privatized over the years and have performed far more efficiently after the switch. The market participants know business better than government ever could. And yet, this is exactly why deregulation may be needed.

 

A lack of regulation has created enormous problems for the economy. Again, I will defer to the 60 Minutes piece, as it basically says everything I was planning on discussing. At the end of the day–and I realize this argument may sound simplistic–I genuinely believe that people are simply too damn smart, and the broader investing public too damn ignorant. If you leave these financial professionals and engineers to themselves, they are going to create admittedly brilliant financial products, but ones that are potentially destructive. Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) are an excellent example of this. If you read up on how these products are created, and how they allocate risk, the ingenuity is amazing. These types of securities, if backed by higher-quality assets, would be touted as revolutionary (in fact, they pretty much were considered such until recently). The problem, in this case, is that they combined this great innovation with a crappy product, and out of shortsightedness and greed, sold it to an unsuspecting body of consumers across the entire spectrum from large companies to individuals. The public, in turn, simply believed they were getting a great return on a safe product (frequently rated AAA by the rating agencies), made possible by the wonders of financial innovation.

 

I just don’t think it is realistic to expect the purchasers of such products to truly understand these types of products. The degree of sophistication is extremely high, and even relatively intelligent people like you and I would have trouble understanding the true degree of risk they possessed. I know we buy products (microwaves, cars, etc.) that we don’t truly understand all the time, but this is clearly different–in this day and age, where nearly everyone’s life savings are in the form of investments, you simply cannot allow such a massively popular yet massively complicated investment product to go unmonitored.

 

At each step of the way along this crisis, it is obvious that some form of regulation could have helped. Even the slightest degree of scrutiny over the banks’ mortgage lending practices would have made it apparent that the loans were doomed from the beginning. It is borderline criminal that ratings agencies, who are supposed to utilize all sorts of complex financial models and methods to assess the riskiness of investments, willingly slapped on AAA ratings to the mortgage-backed securities. You have a huge CDS market wherein people are told that they can hedge any perceived riskiness in these products through an insurance product, and meanwhile the insurers don’t even have the capital necessary to pay out in the case of a massive default scenario. To allow all of this to go on unfettered, when it is going on on such a massive scale, involving the life savings of individuals incapable of properly assessing risk, just doesn’t sit well with me.

 

This current crisis is just one example. There are countless numbers of ways through which anyone with enough money can manipulate the financial markets to their own benefit. In my opinion, laissez-faire capitalism simply cannot be applied successfully to financial markets, especially one dominated by the presence of a handful of gigantic participants as in the case of the US (courtesy, in part, to Glass Steagall).

 

Unfortunately, the biggest problem with regulation is that it ultimately comes down to how well the government executes it, and that is usually quite poorly. It is all too easy for these regulatory bodies to either waste massive amounts of taxpayer dollars or to simply end up aligning themselves with the very companies they are designed to regulate. However, financial professionals are simply too clever and too greedy to be left entirely unwatched, and they wreak their havoc with borrowed money. I realize that even with strict regulation in place, they will inevitably find loopholes and ways to still make a quick profit at other people’s expense. Still, that’s no justification to just sit idly by. Regulation has to be a continual process, constantly evolving to new innovations in the financial realm. How such regulation can be structured in such a way that it is effective in protecting people’s interests without overly inhibiting business, is admittedly beyond the scope of my knowledge.

From my brother, a financial analyst and all-around brilliant guy:

In my opinion, what they should have done from the first place is force the banks to hold on to the bad assets, and instead of buying those assets, the Fed should have simply invested in the companies. Determine which banks are completely screwed, and let them fail. Take the rest of the banks, and give them capital in return for preferred equity with attractive terms (i.e. something like a 10% dividend, and the ability to convert the preferred stock into common stock).

Preferred stock is similar to common stock, except it has priority ahead of common stock. Typically, preferred stock pays a fixed dividend (unlike common stock, where the company can choose if it even wants to pay a dividend at all). In most cases, a company can defer a preferred dividend to a later period, but they still have to pay it eventually. Whatever they don’t pay accumulates over time, and no common stock dividend can be paid out until the preferred stock gets paid what is owed to them.

 

Also, in the case of a bankruptcy, the preferred stockholders have the right to claim any assets, etc. prior to the common stockholders. However, preferred stock still falls below debt on the priority chain. Debt > preferred stock > common stock in the case of a bankruptcy.

 

This works for the banks (at least the good ones that deserve to survive), the economy, and the taxpayers. With the current approach of just buying the assets, the real winners are basically all banks (they get money to get rid of their worst assets) and all of their debt/equityholders of those banks (people who willingly invested in the company, knowing the risks inherent to such a business, and who should be the ones facing the repercussions!!). Basically, the government gives them money for crap assets (and likely overpays for them), and when/if those banks recover, and the stock does better, the banks and their stockholders benefit, while taxpayers are left to hope and pray that these terrible assets end up providing a nice return… which is unlikely. Thus the taxpayers get screwed, and it’s also not even clear that this will help the economy. There are many out there saying that $700B won’t be nearly enough.

 

With the approach of recapitalizing the banks by investing in them, the good banks, the ones owning the least amount of these mortgage-backed securities, will instantly receive an inflow of capital. No waiting around for the gov. to determine how much to pay for the assets, etc. This infusion of liquidity will allow banks to immediately resume borrowing and lending, getting the credit markets moving ASAP, which is above all else the single most important problem that must be addressed. By investing in the good banks, the government stands to benefit substantially once the banks turn the corner and return to profitability. This money can be passed along to taxpayers. Once the taxpayers are paid back (of course, this assumes the gov. is competent and ethical enough to actually return the money to taxpayers), the gov. can sell down its investment in the company slowly over time–I’m not looking to nationalize our entire banking/insurance industries. Sweden took this approach in the 90s and had great success with it.

 

Fortunately, I was reading an article about the bailout bill that said that it DID grant the government the ability to recapitalize these banks in the ways I just described. However, it’s unclear just to what extent they will actually use that approach as opposed to simply buying the debt, which as of right now is still the main approach being pursued.

 

Also, to describe this situation far better than I could, and some of the key issues, check these articles out. Roubini is an NYU Professor who, although noted for being quite a pessimist, has been pretty much on point about this whole crisis. People will call him a bit of an extremist, but he is certainly looking to be the better prognosticator at the moment than those naysayers. Like I said, don’t completely buy in to his doom and gloom, but do realize that the issues he is focusing on (esp. regarding the corporate debt markets) are absolutely critical right now. The big issue is that even though companies may have GREAT long-term growth prospects, in the short-term, many of these companies literally depend upon short-term borrowing to finance their day-to-day operations. Right now, these companies simply cannot borrow that money with the way the credit markets are now. This CANNOT last for more than a very short period of time, or these companies will be screwed once their recent batch of debt expires and they need to roll it over.

 

http://www.rgemonitor.com/roubini-monitor/253853/financial_and_corporate_system_is_in_cardiac_arrest_the_risk_of_the_mother_of_all_bank_runs

http://www.rgemonitor.com/roubini-monitor/253907/the_fed_keeps_on_wasting_time_while_the_mother_of_all_bank_runs_is_underway

 

Also, I like some of his suggestions, but am not a strict adherent to any of them. I really think the sky is the limit, and I won’t pretend to know what the solution is. The government needs to think outside the box and take unprecedented steps, or I really do think the panic/irrationality that has taken hold, both in the financial markets and the credit markets, could potentially lead to a catastrophic collapse. This is exactly what happened to my company, and there is literally no reason why the same can’t happen to the national, or even global, economy. 

What is mark-to-market and what impact has it had on the current crisis? 

Mark-to-market just means that on a company’s balance sheet, the assets/liabilities are recorded at their fair market value (literally, what they would be worth if you tried to buy or sell them in the market). Thus, the values of the assets/liabilities, as they are reported on the balance sheet, are updated over time as the price they fetch in the marketplace changes. This is in contrast to recording an asset/liability at book value. Recording an asset at book value typically means that the value you attribute to it on the balance sheet is the price you paid when you bought it, adjusted for different accounting conventions that try to adjust that value for the fact that the value of most things degrades over time (cars break down, buildings need renovation, etc.) Book value is used for things like property and buildings because it is hard to determine what these things are really worth in the market. People see different value in the same piece of property, and property is rarely traded. Financial assets, on the other hand, are far more abundant and traded constantly, so you can simply just look at the last price they were bought/sold for, and there’s your market value.

 

The issue with mark-to-market is as follows. Typically, mark-to-market is touted as being much better for financial assets than book value (or any other option). This is because, in theory, the market price is the best reflection of what an asset is worth, which is basically true. However, now the prices of these mortgage backed securities are plummeting, and at least some of that is because there is no liquidity in the market (no one wants to trade in that market for them, so prices are sinking). So the question now is–is the current market price -really- what the asset is worth? Or is its price being pushed artificially lower because of the -temporary- lack of liquidity in the market. People will argue that, in fact, mark-to-market should not be used in the case of illiquid (= thinly trading) securities, because the fundamental value of the securities is higher than what they are selling for. However, not everyone buys this argument (for instance, if this were the case, then that would mean that anyone with enough money and a long enough investing time horizon would be jumping at the opportunity to buy these supposedly undervalued assets and make a killing… but this clearly is NOT happening). So basically, is the current market price an actual reflection of the fundamental value of the asset, or is it artificially low because of the lack of liquidity in the market?

 

The reason mark-to-market has been disastrous is because of the impact it has on the balance sheet. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but what is happening is this: the market value of the mortgage backed securities is plummeting, and so these companies are being forced to continually write down the value of their assets to reflect the most recent market prices. This is throwing the ratio of assets:liabilities completely out of whack. For example, suppose I have $10 billion dollars in mortgage backed securities that is being supported by $10 billion in debt (1:1 assets:liabilities). Now, all of a sudden, the market thinks (and probably rightfully so) that the mortgages backing these securities are crap and so the securities are really only worth $5 billion. Now, my balance sheet, under mark-to-market, will show that I have 2x as many liabilities as I do assets. This does two things: first, it spooks stockholders. Second, and more importantly, it leads to debt defaults. Typically, debt contracts are written so that the company who is borrowing the money must maintain certain ratios (say, assets:liabilities must be 1:1). The contracts typically state that if that ratio is not sustained, then the company can be considered to be in default of their agreement, and be forced to pay back the debt ASAP. But now, their assets are worth basically nothing, and most of these companies have little cash on their balance sheets. They can sell their assets, but they’d get pennies in return. So they can’t repay the debt are forced to default, potentially even leading to bankruptcy. 

 

The following is a recent exchange between myself and my good friend (and Obama supporter) Martin, regarding last Thursday’s debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. The comments in italics are Martin’s, the responses are mine. To be fair, Martin made his remarks within the constraints of Facebook wall posts while I spent an entire Sunday constructing my retort:

1. Re: Bush-McCain. Facts matter. Voting records matter. Given how unfortunate it is to be a Republican now, the basic political situation is such that if you’re from the same party that’s been in power for the past eight years, and YOU are attempting to claim ownership of the change mantle, America has every right to ask: Change from what? And how exactly? One of Biden’s strongest moments last night was the whole, “you haven’t shown me how you’re going to be different” litany. Palin would’ve done herself, and McCain, a much greater service by answering that question. Are they really so different in their policy proposals, or in their records? You suggest as much, Scott. Then why not show how? And I think the simple answer is that she wasn’t prepared to do so. Or capable yet.

 

The twin arguments upon which Obama and Biden have based their campaign are as follows: 1) John McCain is a dogmatic Republican who will continue the failed policies of George W. Bush that have ruined our nation and 2) Barack Obama is an agent of change who will bring hope back to the American people through a bipartisan effort of reform. To drive home the former, Obama and Biden frequently cite a statistic that notes that John McCain votes with George Bush 95% of the time. This is a half-truth: while McCain did vote with the President 95% of the time in ’07, it neglects the fact that his role as a Senator had already become subordinate to his campaign efforts by that time. It also disregards the fact that McCain’s support of Bush has been as low as 77% in ’05 and that his support for his party’s position has been as low as 67% in ’01. The argument that McCain and Palin have made in response is that John McCain has earned his reputation as a “maverick”, splitting from the President and the Republican party on a number of very important issues during the course of his House and Senate careers. Whereas Barack Obama has voted in line with his party 97%, 96% and 97% of the time in the years 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively, John McCain has never been afraid to fight for reform, even when his own political allies disagree with him.

 

You ask, “How will McCain represent change from the failed policies of the Bush administration?” I ask you: what policies, specifically, have failed? How is the Bush administration responsible for the current economic crisis? Was it his tax cuts? No, those stimulated the economy following the recession that began at the end of Clinton’s term and which was exacerbated by 9/11. What, then? Was it Bush’s fault that the Community Reinvestment Act was updated in 1999, ordering banks to provide loans to subprime lenders or face penalties? Or that it ordered Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy those mortgages on the secondary market, thus allowing banks to grant additional loans to those who could not afford them? No, but Bush and later McCain did try to establish oversight over the Government Sponsored Enterprises, namely Fannie and Freddie, and their efforts were soundly rebuffed by the likes of Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QBRIsCkGQ0) You can’t argue that McCain and Palin need to establish specific differences with the Bush administration when neither Obama nor Biden have enumerated which policies have aversely affected the nation.

 

The argument in this election should not be “Who is going to be the most unlike Bush?” Are we simply a country of ideologues who can only vacillate between one extreme and the other? The question should be “Who has displayed a willingness to put the best interests of the country first?” You’re right, Martin. Facts matter. Voting records do matter. And while it’s very easy to cite the misleading “95%” statistic, it obfuscates the 25-year history of a man who has been tireless in his efforts to do what he felt was best for the American people (an instinct that Obama has never shown during his short and undistinguished Senate career). Who truly deserves to lay claim to the change mantle in this election? Who has the track record of bipartisan reform? Is it Barack Obama, clinging to a Lugar Bill that received unanimous support, or is it John McCain, whose Wikipedia page cites the following:

 

1983 – Opposed keeping the Marines deployed in Lebanon under Reagan; embassy later bombed, killing hundreds

1989 – Partnered with Democrat Al Gore on the 1989 Missile and Proliferation Control Act, which established sanctions on companies and nations that engaged in the trade or development of long-range missile systems, and the 1992 Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act (commonly known as the Gore-McCain Act)

1994 – Began working with Democrat Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform, attempting to limit “soft money” contributions

1995 – One of only four Republicans in Congress to vote against the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act

1996 – The only Republican Senator to vote against the Freedom to Farm Act

1996 – One of only five Senators to vote against the Telecommunications Act of 1996

1996 – Supported the Line Item Veto Act, giving the President power to veto individual spending items, in a effort to eliminate pork barrel spending by Congress

1998 – Took on the tobacco industry, proposing legislation that would increase cigarette taxes. Opposed by Republicans, the bill failed to gain cloture

2001 – Voted against the Bush tax cuts

2001- Worked with Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman to create the 9/11 Commission; co-sponsored the Aviation and Transportation Security Act with Democrat Fritz Hollings, federalizing airport security

2002 – McCain-Feingold passed, prohibiting national political party committees from accepting or spending any funds not subject to federal limits and limiting the proliferation of issue ads

2003 -2006 – Began publishing lists on his Senate website exposing pork barrel spending by his fellow members of Congress. Has refused to request a single earmark

2003 – Began publicly questioning Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s handling of the Iraq war, saying that “All of the trends are in the wrong direction” and that more U.S. troops were needed to handle the deteriorating situation in the Sunni Triangle. By December 2004, was bluntly announcing that he had lost confidence in Rumsfeld

2003 – Co-sponsored the Climate Stewardship Act with Joe Lieberman, which would have introduced a cap and trade system. Strongly opposed by Bush and the Republicans

2005 – Led the “Gang of 14” in the Senate, establishing a compromise that prevented Republicans from deploying the “nuclear option”: constitutional changes that would have prevented Democrats from filibustering

2005 –Helped expose the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal while chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee

2005 – Introduced the McCain Detainee Amendment to the Defense Appopriations bill for 2005, prohibiting inhumane treatment of prisoners, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Bush initially threatened to veto the bill if it included McCain’s amendment

2006 – Worked with Democrat Ted Kennedy on comprehensive immigration reform, which would involve legalization, guest worker programs, and border enforcement. Strongly opposed by Republicans

2006 – Began strongly advocating a “troop surge” in Iraq, a plan described as “McCain’s idea” in a January 2007 Moveon.org ad. Opposed by many Republicans

2007 – As a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of moderate members of the party that tends away from the dominant social conservatism of many Republicans, voted for the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. Vetoed by President Bush

 

Martin, the level of ignorance and hypocrisy displayed by liberals on this issue amazes me. Here you are excoriating Palin for not citing specific examples of change, when the only reason why your candidate won the nomination is because he ran a primary campaign based on vapid idealism. He and Axelrod created a cult of personality because they knew that Barack Obama had NO RECORD of which to speak. Where was this clarion call for specifics back in January, February and March? When Obama was making people faint talking about “hope”? I just showed you a long list of examples, culled in just a few brief minutes, that display a consistent, bipartisan record of fighting for change and reform on the part of John McCain. What have you got for me? Show me anything that Obama has accomplished that should make us believe he will achieve what he promises.

 

2. Biden thoroughly discredited the “voting against the troops” point even before the post-debate spin could get underway. That Sarah Palin was able to regurgitate it in the first place represents a major improvement over last week, but then, my ability to type at all also represents a major improvement over my ability to do so when I was 5.

This is one of the benefits of having Sarah Palin on the ticket: unlike Biden with Obama, the Democrats can’t go back and find clips of her criticizing McCain. The simple fact is, no matter what he says now, Biden attacked Obama for that vote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55Kc9TR-Rbk

You can delve into all of the political nuances of, “Well, it was attached to this bill that had these conditions that I didn’t agree with…”, but using Biden’s own words against Obama is an effective attack.

3. The questions she dodged (is her favorite sports team the Mavericks or the Dodgers?) can’t get swept under the rug. What’s astonishing is that, for as much as you care about spending tendencies, neither she nor McCain was able to answer the question of what spending initiatives, if any, would have to go by the wayside in order to offset the bailout package.

Obama had no answer to this question in his debate either. Moreover, is this really an issue on which you want more attention focused? Honestly, Martin, whose overall policy will be more affected by recent events: a man with a long track record as a fiscal conservative, or a man who is promising to provide everyone in the nation with federally-funded health care? Since you seem to love details so much, how is Obama going to cut taxes on 95% of the population (despite the fact that roughly 30% of the population doesn’t actually pay taxes), yet pay for the nearly $1 trillion bailout bill, as well as $293 billion in annual spending on such proposals as nationalized health care and an extension of welfare benefits? (http://www.ntu.org/pdf/P080925_ObamaAgendaCostUpdate.pdf) Specifics, please.

4. Correcting the proper phrasing of “drill baby drill” isn’t tantamount to providing an energy solution. Every expert has noted, and McCain has conceded, that the effects of offshore drilling wouldn’t be felt for a decade. What in the interim? And frankly, what then? Was Sarah Palin unable to account for McCain’s repeated votes against alternative energy because she had no answer, or because there was none?

 

The “10 years” argument promulgated by liberals is the most asinine rebuttal I’ve ever heard. First of all, it’s demonstrably false, as many economists are quick to point out. In fact, when Newt Gingrich’s group recently tried publishing an article in the Energy Journal contending that drilling now will lower prices immediately, they were told it was being rejected. Because their thesis was already known to economists. And has been since the ‘60s. http://s3.amazonaws.com/newt/public/Newsletter072408_rejectionletter.pdf

Follow the bouncing ball: imagine you’ve invented a product (say, some sort of kitchen appliance) that’s unlike anything else on the market. You have a monopoly on it, and can sell it at whatever price sustains the demand. So you start selling it at $40. After a while, somebody takes out a patent on another product that does basically the same thing. You know that in a few years, you will no longer be the only game in town. What do you? You start flooding the market with your product. Clearly, you want to sell as much as you can now while there is no competition and the price is high. However, once you saturate the market, suddenly, there is too much product and not enough demand. So you lower the price. Perhaps you start selling it at $38 for a while. Once the demand slows down again, you lower the price a second time, maybe to $35. And so on, and so on. Future supply changes reduce prices, as they would in the case of oil. To suggest otherwise is to accept the liberal propaganda of Pelosi and Reid.

 

More than that: how long are we supposed to sit on our own massive supplies? Should we be having this same discussion 10 years from now as well? Republicans, including McCain, support an “all of the above” strategy that includes solar and wind. However, it recognizes that those sources have never worked without massive government subsidies, despite liberals calling for them since the Carter administration. Unlike many on the left, or, to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi, the “handmaidens of the environmentalist movement”, Republicans also support expanding nuclear technology and investing in our own supplies of coal, oil, natural gas and oil shale. What is the downside of drilling here, Martin? Why should we put all of our stock in alternative energy that has not worked? Because of global warming hysteria? Should we continue, like Barack Obama, to support ethanol, which has starved people the world over by depriving them of needed food supplies and which actually wastes more energy than it produces? How long should we continue to pay Saudi Arabia for its oil so that they can then funnel that money into fundamentalist mosques and terrorist organizations?

 

5. The vague generality-o-meter was off the charts. “John McCain knows how to win wars, he’s been there, you betcha.” What has he won? Where’s the record of this?

Are you still refusing to recognize the success in Iraq? The surge, the idea that he advocated, has us on the edge of victory there. I think she was also alluding to his heroism and bravery as a soldier in our military.

6. Does anyone other than the democrats care about where the actual power within Iran lies? Hint: It ain’t Ahmedinejad.

I’m not sure what your point is here. I’m assuming that you don’t believe that Khamenei and the other ayatollahs are more moderate, but that meeting with Ahmadinejad would, in and of itself, be classified as a “lower level” meeting. From Wikipedia: “Iran’s president fulfills many of the classical functions of a head of state, such as accepting the credentials of ambassadors. Since a change in the constitution removed the post of Prime Minister and merged most of the prime ministerial duties with the President’s in 1989, the once figurehead Presidential post has become a position of significant government influence. In addition, as the highest directly elected official in Iran, the President is responsive and responsible to public opinion in a way that the Supreme Leader is not. Although he is responsible to both people and the Supreme Leader, he is independent in his decisions and developing the policies of the government.” It is not the Supreme Leader attending the United Nations meetings of world leaders, or openly promising that Israel will be “wiped off the map”. It’s Ahmadinejad. And to meet with him would give him recognition that he does not deserve and will only inspire a belief that he can continue his dangerous course without impunity.

7. I’m sorry, I gotta go back to the “looking at the past” thing. How do you run on a change platform, as McCain now claims to be having run out of other options, and simply ignore the past? That doesn’t mean owning all of Bush’s failures. It does mean recognizing them, calling them what they are, and distinguishing yourself. The problem is that Sarah Palin couldn’t do that, in part because in certain areas there has been insufficient difference and in part because even where there might have been, she just wasn’t familiar enough with the details.

 

See answer to question 1.

 

8. Similarly, saying you’re a “maverick” over and over again in response to legitimate, substantive questions isn’t a sufficient response to some of us. Sorry. If facts count, and records count, you’ve gotta do more than that. At around this time when I was four, I put on a mask and said, repeatedly, that I was a Go-bot. Who gave a shit? Who should’ve?

 

Again, who is more likely to offer “reform”: the man who has voted with his own party on nearly every occasion, or a woman who challenged corrupt members of her own party, like Ted Stevens, and broke up oil monopolies in her state? Of course, in the liberal media, politics in Alaska don’t seem to count, unless they involve firing insubordinate employees or shooting wolves out of helicopters.

 

9. Did the degree to which Palin repeatedly called for “strict oversight” with respect to the economy and two seconds later said that “government should get out of the way” of American business stir anything at all within you?

In a word, yes. This is my biggest disagreement with the McCain campaign: instead of attacking the Democrats on issues like the Community Reinvestment Act (where government regulation contributed to the subprime mess), he has chosen to go populist, which sickens me and many other Republicans. I don’t think that Palin believes in more regulations, but these are the McCain talking points right now. It may very well be his undoing, because, while he’s afraid to go partisan on this issue, and instead, talks about protecting the folks on Main Street from the “corruption” on Wall Street, the Democrats, like Pelosi, have been unrelenting in laying the blame at the hands of the Bush administration.

10. “Hockey moms” is not a substantive rebuttal to anything. it wasn’t a month ago, and it’s still not.

Yes, but Joe and Jane Six-pack love it. Again, don’t forget that there’s that vast, red swath of America, full of hard-working parents who can empathize with someone like Sarah Palin. There’s a reason why she’s drawing massive crowds wherever she goes.

11. Take it from someone who’s taken a constitutional law course: Palin’s interpretation of Article I with respect to the powers of the vice president is one of the dumber things I’ve heard in a long, long time.

 

From Stephen Dinan in the Washington Times: “In attacking Vice President Dick Cheney, Mr. Biden said the vice president’s only role is to support the president and to preside over the Senate “only in a time when in fact there’s a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.”

The Constitution, though, actually says the vice president is always president of the Senate and legal scholars say he has the right to preside at any time. Early vice presidents, such as Thomas Jefferson, actively exercised that role, the vice president still keeps offices at the Capitol, and scholars say it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that the vice president had an office at the executive office building… Mr. Biden, who’s been in the Senate for three decades, also mistakenly stated that the executive branch is defined in Article I of the Constitution. In fact, Article I describes the legislature, while Article II lays out the executive.” (http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/oct/03/biden-gets-veep-role-wrong/)Were you sick from class that day? What’s Biden’s excuse?

Also, a good opportunity to look at the other lies told and idiotic statements made by Biden during the debate, which you seemed to have no problem with:

– Biden in the debate: We’re for clean coal. Biden the week before: We’re not supporting clean coal. No coal plants here in America. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yjx8RnDfdvM

– At what point did NATO remove Hezbollah from Lebanon? I would like the so-called “foreign policy expert” to enlighten us all.

 

– And as someone who took a constitutional law class, do you really think it’s appropriate for a Senator to say we should be nominating Supreme Court judges based on ideology, rather than a sound ability to interpret the Constitution?

 

On the off chance you were to consider that records actually matter, here’s something you can respond to that Palin cannot: “He voted four out of five times for George Bush’s budget, which put us a half a trillion dollars in debt this year and over $3 trillion in debt since he’s got there.

He has not been a maverick in providing health care for people. He has voted against — he voted including another 3.6 million children in coverage of the existing health care plan, when he voted in the United States Senate.

He’s not been a maverick when it comes to education. He has not supported tax cuts and significant changes for people being able to send their kids to college.

He’s not been a maverick on the war. He’s not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around their kitchen table.”

Scott, without simply saying the word “maverick” a lot, what have McCain’s maverick credentials been over the past 4 years? Surge, ok. And?

 

See number 1 for some pretty big examples of how McCain has been a “maverick” the last four years. How can you take Biden seriously when he says that McCain has not been a “maverick” on the war? The surge nearly cost him a shot at the nomination. The rest of that soundbite is nothing more than a litany of liberal, candy-coated populism. McCain didn’t support SCHIP because it was a Trojan horse for socialized medicine and would have increased the burden on taxpayers, so it’s a cheap shot to say that he didn’t want to provide health care for kids. How about mentioning the countless dollars that line every Democratic politician’s pocket, flooding in from teachers unions and other school administrators, insuring higher salaries, protected bureaucracies, and HIGHER TUITION COSTS at universities?

 

And while we’re at it, how about talking about how Obama’s policies will increase the cost of living and cost Americans jobs? Sure, you can lower taxes on the middle class, but what happens when you raise taxes on corporations? Are we to believe that these companies will just accept such taxes as the new cost of doing business? Or, will they increase the cost of their products, thus passing it on to the very middle and working classes that Obama claims he wants to protect? What will he do when companies decide to move their plants to China and India, where their overhead costs are cheaper? Or when they cut jobs in America because the Democrats have raised the minimum wage?

 

And then there’s Ayers and Wright and Rezko, all of which were reported on extensively and pressed hard by none other than Hillary Clinton. And to what end?

Perhaps the question is this simple.

Scott, do you think Barack Obama is a terrorist? Do you think he hates his country? Do you think he’s out to become president of this country solely to destroy it? Do you think he hates white people? If the answer to any of the above questions (and I don’t doubt you’ll find a way not to answer them) is “no,” is it for any reason other than you’ve simply ignored the issues? Or is it possible to have been suffused in coverage of them, to have examined them and the man himself, and to have reached some other conclusion than Obama’s first goal as president would be to FUCKING KILL US ALL? (And by us, of course, I mean you, my white friend…)

[Separate Post] Sometimes, while sifting through a mound of distortions this high, you miss the obvious ones.

With this in mind:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081400950.html

 

You responded to this question in the same way that most liberals have responded to it: by taking it to an extreme so far out of bounds that the question itself is then deemed off base. No one but the most radical right-wingers have suggested that Barack Obama is a terrorist, that he hates his country or that he is some sort of “Manchurian Candidate” seeking its destruction. Nor do we think he hates white people or that he is secretly a Muslim. What his associations with people like Wright and Ayers display is a tendency on Obama’s part to blame America first, to look at our nation as the cause of, rather than the solution to, many of the world’s problems. That is why he stands before crowds in Berlin and apologizes for the US’s failure to live up to their expectations. Why he tells a little girl at a town hall that his country is not what it once was. Why his closing remarks in last week’s debate spoke about elevating our standing in the world. In his view, our actions have let the world down and we must atone for them.

 

That is what Wright expressed when he attacked America as “the US of KKK A”: it is an imperialist regime, suffused with racism and hatred. If Barack Obama is completely opposed to such sentiments, why did he sit and listen to them, regurgitated on a weekly basis, for 20 years? Why would he develop a close friendship with such a man, to the point where Wright performed his marriage ceremony as well as the baptism of his children?

 

William Ayers spent over a decade bombing various government agencies, from police headquarters to the Capitol to the Pentagon. Three of his associates in Weatherman were working on a bomb that was meant to go off at an officers’ dance in Fort Dix. Many soldiers would have been killed if the bomb had not detonated in their apartment while they were building it. Ayers and his group advocated the overthrow of the government, hoping to replace it with a Communist regime. They consorted openly with the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War and conspired to bring about the victory of the Vietcong by weakening our resolve from within through a campaign of violence. Several members, including Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, received rings from the Vietnamese made from metal taken from the aircraft of downed US pilots, which they wore proudly. Why would Barack Obama begin his political career with a fundraiser held at Ayers’ home? Why would he agree to sit on several boards and work closely with him in the 1990s? Ayers has not repudiated his actions, and he is a free man only because of illegal evidence gathering conducted by the FBI. Does it not speak to Obama’s character and judgment that he would associate with someone who has such disdain for our country? Would you associate with someone like that? Would you have any respect for me if I were friends with such a man? Why does Obama get a pass?

 

What scares Republicans so much about Obama isn’t that we believe he would be unwilling to respond to the overt acts of aggression taken against our country, but that he would fail to resist the more subtle instances. No, I do not believe that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim. But he was certainly raised by a Muslim stepfather. He attended Qur’an study, by his own admission, and was probably friends with a number of young Muslim boys and girls in Indonesia. Would someone like Barack Obama, with that background in mind, have the resolve to, say, increase profiling of Muslims traveling on airplanes? Would he pass measures to restrict Muslims from accepting high profile government positions? Or would he be more apt to move in the opposite direction in the name of diversity? Would he crack down on the mosques that are springing up within this country preaching hate against the US and Israel, or would he sympathize with their anger, believing it is a result of poverty and Western imperialism? Would he stand up for freedom of speech, or would he kowtow to Muslim civil rights groups crying “Islamophobia” at every turn?

 

If Barack Obama sees the United States in such flawed terms, would he have the nerve to pressure our so-called allies in NATO to increase their support for the War on Terror? Or would he simply ask them what we need to do to absolve ourselves in their eyes? If Barack Obama receives intelligence that, say, a nation like Syria is supporting terrorists and is allowing them a base from which to plan attacks, would he launch a pre-emptive strike? If Iran attacked Israel, or seemed likely to, would he have the nerve to defend the Jewish State? Or would he wait for UN approval?

 

The biggest threat to our society right now is the doctrine of multiculturalism, openly embraced by liberalism. Multiculturalism goes beyond preaching tolerance for others; it states that our way of life is no better than anyone else’s. It removes any reason to be proud of Western Civilization, because it says that there is nothing uniquely special about the values upon which our country was built. When you combine that with the views of men like Wright and Ayers, such a worldview becomes toxic: in their eyes, not only is the United States not better than anyone else, but because of past sins such as slavery, it is far worse. Clearly, some of this has shaped Obama, based on the way he constantly diminishes our nation’s role as a leader and a champion for justice. Since 9/11, we have liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, crippled al Qaeda, thus decreasing their ability to launch attacks on targets worldwide, toppled a cruel dictator in Saddam Hussein, and given millions of Iraqis the gift of liberty. We’ve also provided billions of dollars in aid to Africa to fight AIDS and millions more to help the tsunami victims in Indonesia. Yet in Barack Obama’s mind, we should be ashamed of our actions over the last 8 years.

 

Re-examine that Obama quote, raised by Palin in the debate, where he states that our soldiers are “just air-raiding villages and killing civilians”. Set aside the fact that the article you link to admits that “tracking civilian deaths is a difficult task”, particularly, I would add, when dealing with a country whose populace still resents our presence and whose President has clearly played both sides. Someone wishing to become Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces should not publicly assert such an attitude with regards to our military. There are other ways to say what Obama was trying to say; for instance, “Our mission should be to have enough troops so that we minimize the number of civilian casualties.” Saying it in such a manner respects that the fact that civilians do die during war, but shows sympathy for our soldiers. Saying what Obama said blames our soldiers and presents them as callous murderers. To be honest, I’m shocked to see you try to defend it.

 

The Left seems to think that the phrase, “giving aid and comfort to the enemy” is just something stodgy old Republicans thought up to repudiate those who stand in the way of their warmongering. But I assure you it is not. There’s a reason why Osama bin Laden parrots the talking points of the Far Left (http://alistishhad.wordpress.com/2007/09/11/as-sahab-shaik-usamah-a-message-to-the-american-people/), decrying corporations, the threat of global warming and quoting Noam Chomsky. Comments like the ones Obama made, along with the actions of groups and people like Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, and Keith Olbermann, undermine our efforts every bit as much as Hanoi Jane Fonda and Bill Ayers did during the Vietnam War. Again, what Obama said about our troops is an example of blaming America first rather than attacking the true villains.

 

Martin, this issue goes well beyond political debate. We are facing the most dangerous enemy in the history of our nation, one that is single-minded in its purpose and supremely confident in its ideology. If we do not wage this war with the same sense of self-assurance, our entire civilization is at risk. Men like Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers serve only to weaken our resolve, and for Barack Obama to embrace their ideologies in any way is both disgusting and extremely perilous.

An interesting article by Jerry Bowyer defending the economy under the Bush administration. He argues that the economic downturn, and the recent GDP growth that followed it, coincide with the President’s tax cuts:

The 2003 tax cuts increased wealth in every segment of the economy, sparking a multi-year boom. But these tax cuts were passed with expiration dates, and the first Bush-tax-cut expiration occurred at the end of last year when small businesses lost some of their ability to take a tax deduction on purchases of business equipment… [T]his event coincided with a trough in the economic cycle. This past winter, congressional Republicans successfully fought to add the small-business tax breaks to what otherwise was a useless stimulus package, and the market for business equipment recovered in the spring. Voilà — the economy snaps back to 3.3 percent GDP growth.

Additionally, he contends that the collapse in the housing market was not the result of conservative, free-market principles but was due to the liberal ideology of big government intervention:

In particular, the crisis is rooted in a raft of government regulations that forced banks to ignore traditional lending standards — such as credit history, income, and neighborhood economic conditions — and instead embrace non-culturally “discriminatory” lending practices based on racial-identity politics. Once the banks were forced to make loans based on political, rather than financial, criteria, and once Fannie and Freddie were forced to buy these loans in the secondary mortgage market, collapse was inevitable.

Ladies and gentlemen: the one, the only, Michael Moore. When are people in this country, particularly the twenty-somethings, going to wake up to this man’s hypocrisy? He’s a socialist, yet he’s made millions of dollars in capitalist America. He rails against the military and evil corporations like Halliburton, yet he owned shares of their stock. And now, after spending years chastising the Bush Administration for what he views as the senseless destruction of Iraq and its citizens, he openly roots for a hurricane to make landfall on U.S. soil during the Republican Convention. Please just go away.

Brilliant, if not quite as eloquent as “the Boys of Pointe du Hoc” or the Challenger address. Regarding Olbermann’s “analysis” of the Obama speech:

“I’m actually putting a little edge on my criticism just to make up for the fact that on MSNBC last night somebody said, quote, ‘it wasn’t a speech: it was a symphony.’ I’m sorry; I won’t even name who did it. I am here to balance that bit of fatuous — fatuous suck-upping!”

And her own reaction to the same speech:

“My way of saying it would be: that was not a sissy speech. It wasn’t that kind of usual… oh, the poor child born with two heads and no medical insurance and they’re using him as a bowling ball… You know the terrible things they say. Everybody is sick in their world! Everybody is an unhappy, unwed, single mother whose feet are exploding… They don’t exactly see the bright side of America.”

She nails it, as does the author of this article. Obviously, if Obama is going to run a campaign based on the theme of “Change”, the members of his party must convince the American public that a break from the last eight years is necessary. However, they may have overplayed their hand by depicting America as not simply a flawed country but one that is, in the infamous words of Michelle Obama, “just downright mean”. Rather than that “last best hope of man on Earth”, America, according to the Democratic narrative, has become a place where we’re locked into senseless wars, where we’re hated by the international community, where our economy is at its lowest point since the Depression and where we’ve created a society that rewards the very rich and punishes the poor. Tossing in a “God Bless America” at the end of such diatribes does not erase the negativity expressed therein. And while such populism may appeal to those who have legitimately suffered through hard times, the vast majority of the public, which tends to vote conservative during national elections, tends to tune out such an endless stream of doom and gloom.

Contrast that to the wave of exuberance that was elicited by the Palin announcement yesterday. Here was a fresh, energetic, enthusiastic candidate, so antithetical to Washington insiders like Joe Biden, delivering a speech filled with hope, national pride and and optimism for the future. That is what the American public responds to. That is, in fact, what initially drove people to Obama. How ironic that it may also prove to be his downfall.

A gaffe-tastic highlight reel that proves that running for President is above Barack Obama’s pay grade.

While this blog will focus mainly on politics viewed through a conservative perspective, I will also occasionally write about my favorite baseball team/bane of my existence, the New York Mets. Much of it will involve me either venting in disgust or looking for an outlet for the rollercoaster of emotions that this team causes on a day-to-day basis; for full coverage of the team, please check out Matt Cerrone’s famous Metsblog (which I’m sure you already know about if you’re a Met fan). Once again, the Mets eeked out a win in the most nervewracking way possible. Down to their final out in the top of the ninth, they loaded the bases against Marlins closer Kevin Gregg before Carlos Bel-TRAN unloaded them with a grand slam, giving the Mets a 5-2 lead. Mets “closer” Luis Ayala then entered the game in the bottom of the frame, turning what should have been a comfortable lead into a nailbiter. Ayala allowed 2 runs and put the go-ahead run on second before inducing Wes Helms into a game-ending groundout. Throughout the latter innings, I was reminded of the Marlon Anderson triple game from last season, during which the Mets scored 4 times in the top of the ninth before Jorge Sosa blew the lead in the bottom half. That one still hurts.

This game was a good microcosm of the Mets’ season post-Randolph: they received good starting pitching from Ollie Perez, played sound defense (with the exception of a Reyes error early on) and hit when they needed to. They also showed grit and a comeback-ability that was sorely absent in 2007 and the early parts of this season. However, once again, the bullpen did not make it easy. Whether or not they make the playoffs this year will be determined almost entirely by how their relievers pitch down the stretch. Since Billy Wagner’s injury, the Mets have been piecing the final innings together, simultaneously pushing their starters to go deeper while attempting to ride whatever relatively “hot” hand has emerged. The very fact that Luis Ayala was on the mound in the ninth, weeks after bringing a plus 5 ERA to New York, just shows the dire straits of this bullpen. Aaron Heilman, despite his heroic three inning performance on Tuesday night, cannot be trusted in a big spot. Duaner Sanchez is still struggling to regain his fastball, while Scott Schoeneweis, Pedro Feliciano and Joe Smith are erratic at best. The most consistent performer of late has been starter-turned-reliever Brian Stokes; I would not be surprised to see him get some closing opportunities in the near future.

I do believe that the combination of the Mets’ pitching and defense, combined with their resurgent offense, should keep them in contention until the very end of the season (at least they’d better, as I’ve now dropped well over $200 for the privilege of attending the final two regular season games at Shea). However, no Met fan will be able to feel any sense of comfort during the final month, for the only guarantee this bullpen offers is that it will continue to remind us of the horrors of The Collapse.

One of the most blatant lies repeated during the Democratic Convention, and throughout the Presidential campaign, is that the policies of George W. Bush have worsened the plight of the poor. As this Wall Street Journal article asserts, the disparity between the wealthy and those living in poverty has increased, but the overall standard of living for the poor has gone up as well:

“While there is some substance to these fears of widening inequality and middle-class stagnation, the situation is not nearly as clear-cut. Demographic changes in the size and composition of U.S. households have distorted the statistics in important ways.

First, we can easily dismiss the notion that the poor are getting poorer. All the Census Bureau tells us is that the share of the pie consumed by the poor has been shrinking (to 3.4% in 2006 from 4.1% in 1970). But the “pie” has grown enormously. This year’s real GDP of $14 trillion is three times that of 1970. So the absolute size of the slice received by the bottom 20% has increased to $476 billion from $181 billion. Allowing for population growth shows that the average income of people at the bottom of the income distribution has risen 36%.

They’re not rich, but they’re certainly not poorer. In reality, economic growth has raised incomes across the board.”

The results are based on Census data collected annually each March. The purpose is to take a snapshot of the overall populace; individual progress is not tracked from year to year. As such, this particular survey does not quantify the number of “poor” individuals who have moved up the economic ladder. The supposed decline in prosperity, statistically speaking, is largely a result of the influx of immigrants, both legal and illegal, who often begin at the bottom rung.

The Democrats, from John Edwards to Hillary Clinton to Biden and Obama, have run this year on populist pledges, fancying themselves as knights in shining armor who will save the poor from the tyranny of the Bush administration. These numbers, combined with yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. economy grew by 3.3% during the second quarter, shows that things are not nearly as bad as they would have us believe.

Tim Kaine: You may now remove your lips from Senator Obama’s fanny (nice work on that ceasfire!). Evan Bayh: Go back to doin’ what you were doin’… whatever that is. And Chet Edwards: Who are you, again? After weeks of rampant speculation, the Obama campaign finally announced its selection for Vice-President early Saturday morning to an audience of sleeping journalists and inebriated twenty-somethings. In yet another gaffe on the part of the all-too-fallible Messiah, the much-hyped text message which was to deliver the decision directly to supporters was not sent until 3am ET – hours after it had already been reported by several prominent media outlets.  While some commentators view the timing as a not-so-subtle swipe at Hillary Clinton and her infamous ads during the primaries, the focus now shifts to Senator Biden and the pros and cons of his addition to the ticket.

David Brooks does a good job of summarizing the strengths: Biden has a working-class background and is viewed as a “lunch bucket Democrat”, a champion of the common man. Such appeal could help Obama win over those “bitter” folks who so soundly rejected him during the primaries and combat Republican accusations of liberal elitism. Biden’s direct way of speaking and blunt rhetoric will also temper the soaring platitudes that have come to define Obama’s speeches. Most importantly, Biden brings a much needed sense of gravitas to the ticket, counterbalancing Obama’s youth and inexperience with his vast breadth of both political and life experience. Much has been made of Biden’s knowledge of foreign policy (he is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations) and legislation in general, but he is also a man who has overcome serious personal tragedy and heartache: Biden’s wife, Neilia, and daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car crash shortly after Biden first became a Senator in 1972, and he survived two brain aneurysms in 1988.

However, despite his merits, the selection of Biden is questionable on a number of levels. For one, it nullifies a number of the arguments that the Obama campaign had used against McCain: Like McCain, he’s old. He’s been a member of the Senate since Obama was in grade school. He’s accepted $5,133,072 in contributions from lobbyists and has a son, Hunter, who is a registered Washington lobbyist. He voted in favor of the Iraq War. He rejected Obama’s belief that we should meet with our enemies without preconditions. In addition, Biden’s supposed expertise on foreign policy has been undercut by several ludicrous suggestions that were roundly criticized: Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey reminds us of an October 2001 profile in The New Republic, which captured Biden suggesting that “this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran.” He hoped to placate the Arab world that had just attacked our nation, forgetting that the Iranians are Persians, not Arabs. More prominent has been his idea to partition Iraq into separate Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions (the Biden-Brownback Resolution), an idea which was so bad, it actually brought those warring sects together in common disgust.

But aside from policy issues, beneath the portrait of Dr. Jekyll that Mr. Brooks tries to paint in the Times, there lurks a Mr Hyde that Republicans are eager to introduce to the American public. Biden’s mouth has been known to get him into serious trouble, and may very well prove to be problematic in such a close race.  Some notable examples from over the course of his career:

– During the 1988 Presidential campaign that launched him to national prominence, Biden was forced to withdraw amidst a storm of controversy. A video put together by the Dukakis campaign showed that Biden had lifted portions of speeches from a British politician named Neil Kinnock. Days later, it was revealed that he had also plagiarized a law review paper while he was a first-year student at Syracuse Law School. Further investigation into his academic career led to a testy exchange in New Hampshire, during which Biden told a questioner named Frank, who had asked about his law school grades, “I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do.” He then added that he “went to law school on a full academic scholarship,  the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship,” and that he “ended up in the top half… with three degrees from college.” It was later revealed that Biden had achieved only one degree, a B.A., and had graduated 76th in his class… out of 85 students.  His excuse? “I exaggerate when I’m angry.”

While the controversy over Biden’s grades can be written off 20 years later as “just words”,  the plagiarism issue may get some traction in this election cycle, seeing as how the Messiah has been accused of pilfering as well.

– In 2006, Biden, attempting to pander to an Indian-American supporter, noted that, “In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.”

– Appearing on Chris Wallace’s show in 2006, Biden was asked how thought he would be able to relate to Southern voters in South Carolina. His response: “Better than anybody else. You don’t know my state [Delaware]. My state was a slave state. My state was a border state. My state has the 8th largest black population. It’s anything but a Northeast liberal state.”

– During a Presidential debate in 2007, Biden derided a gun owner who had asked about his stance on gun control by saying: “I don’t know that he’s mentally qualified to own that gun.”

– In response to a speech on appeasement that President Bush gave before the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, which many interpreted as a subtle jab at Obama, Biden declared, “This is bulls***.”

– And of course, there are the two remarks which will get the most play in the coming days, those regarding Senator Obama. Upon announcing his campaign, Biden gazed in awe at “the first, sorta mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean, a nice-looking guy” before throwing him under the bus a few months later by saying, “I think he can be ready but right now I don’t believe he is. The Presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”

It is that latter sentiment that conservatives will use to bludgeon Obama’s newfound running mate about his plug-laden head. In fact, almost immediately after the VP announcement. the McCain campaign released an ad highlighting those comments, along with positive remarks Biden had made regarding McCain on The Daily Show.  Yes, Biden’s bombastic mouth can be a liability, especially at a time when one inappropriate remark can cost a candidate the race, but it is his mere presence that will be the biggest drag on the ticket. The very fact that Obama felt he needed Biden, a member of the establishment who is so antithetical to the “Change” theme upon which Obama has based his campaign, subliminally connotes that which Biden had earlier overtly declared: Obama is not ready. He needs a mentor. He needs someone to guide him, to sherpa him over the craggy cliffs of international relations and through the crevasses of legislative intrigue. As this realization sets in, many voters will begin to wonder, “Why is the one with no experience at the top of the ticket?” Obama surely accelerated this process by welcoming Biden as “the next President” at their introductory rally.

Although Joe Biden brings a fiery, loyal, attack-dog mentality to a campaign that was sorely in need of a spark, Republicans now have over thirty years of ammunition in their arsenal. I, for one, can’t wait to hear what Rush has to say on Monday…