Gore Vidal Goes Coo-Coo For Cocoa Puffs About Election on the BBC

Simply priceless.

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Go Vote. Get Free Starbucks.

Batman as Barack – McCain as Penguin

This is beyond funny – consider the parallels between this old clip from the Batman television series and our current election. Burgess Meredith is the bomb.

The Deeper Problem: Where is Congress?

In November either Barack Obama or John McCain will be elected president. Either man faces a host of issues. The economy is a blanket term but broken down it encompasses the unemployment problem, the credit crisis, the mortgage crisis, and the overall crisis of confidence in the US. That problem will no doubt hamper their ability to deal with major issues like social security and healthcare.

Look overseas and the issues get no better. Winding down a fragile but hopeful and expensive situation in Iraq. Reengaging in Afghanistan, a major offensive that will take as much by way of resources as Iraq is right now. The troubling relationship with Russia and it’s satelites. Our beleagured non-policy in dealing with Iran. And the single greatest issue facing the world today, energy, how we collect it, how we use it and how we stop killing the planet in order to get it.  You are starting to see a short list of issues that will confront the next American President.

However, I will offer to you another issue, one that strikes to the core of our democracy and is boring a hole in the fabric of who we are as Americans and has been since the early part of the twentieth century.

The problem I’m speaking of is that of the modern presidency. The president today is no longer simply head of the executive branch of government and commander-in-chief of our armed forces. He is something more of a God-King, enabled by a do-nothing congress and a myoptically focused media to set and drive the legislative agenda for the entire nation.

It’s only as I watch this election unfold that I realize exactly how much weight we give to one branch of our government. The presidential race is given the vast and overwhelming majority of media coverage. When John McCain sneezes there’s a blogger there to tell us how long it took for an aide to hand him a tissue. Yet this is a national election year and half of congress is up for reelection. No media outlet, not even the local news is covering that campaign with even 1/100th of the vigor of the presidential race. 

We expect one man in one office of government to solve the issues I listed earlier with hardly any help. The God-King will sit on high and solve the nation’s issues without the deliberative body politic. This is not the way our founders designed our government to work. Nor is it the way we teach our children that democracy should work. The president’s office was never designed to be CEO only reporting to the board of directors every four years at election time. Rather we are supposed to have a fully functional and representative congress speaking to the needs and desires of it’s local districts in the hopes of drafting laws that fit the will of the people. It is staggering to think that in our day and age of overwhelming communication ability most people cannot even name their congressional representative. The simple fact that we have come so far away petitioning our members of congress is not just disheartening it’s threatening our way of life.

When President Bush began the march to war in Iraq, congress in a bipartisan fashion did little to oppose him. There was little demand for evidence or for explanation. In short, congress stepped aside and let it happen. We stepped back and wondered how we could let a president become so powerful, we chastised President Bush for becoming an emperor, we blamed 9/11 for giving the President political carte blanche to rule his own way. 

But what we didn’t realize or recognize is that we the American people are the enablers, and we’re going it again. Mincing every word these candidates say and allowing single individuals to dictate not just the agenda as is proper, but the actual legislative packages for taxation, our entitlement programs, our energy programs, our infrastructure, our healthcare. I ask, where is Congress? Where are the American people demanding that their congressman/woman represent their issues? 

We need a more politically active and vigorous congress willing to make the bold initiatives and broker deals to get things done with enough support that president would be foolish not to sign it. Bring back congress America for the sake of all of us.

William Kristol Begs: Let McCain be McCain

In his NY Times Column this week, William Kristol wants McCain to fire his campaign staff and work from the gut. He writes:

The McCain campaign, once merely problematic, is now close to being out-and-out dysfunctional. Its combination of strategic incoherence and operational incompetence has become toxic…. 

…What McCain needs to do is junk the whole thing and start over. Shut down the rapid responses, end the frantic e-mails, bench the spinning surrogates, stop putting up new TV and Internet ads every minute. In fact, pull all the ads — they’re doing no good anyway. Use that money for televised town halls and half-hour addresses in prime time…

The problem of course with this line of reasoning is that it somehow separates McCain from the campaign he is running. Kristol seems to believe a more coherent, more economically learned candidate is buried within the McCain campaign somewhere. That deep down America really wants John McCain, they just don’t know it because the spin masters have done such a terrible job. Kristol would have us think that the wild machinations from “the fundamentals are strong” to this being economic armageddon don’t instill a lot of confidence in most voters even if Sarah Palin calls them “Joe Six-Pack.”   

Or maybe Kristol is doing what pundits always do, blaming the campaign staff for their candidates slide, instead of the candidate himself. McCain’s campaign has made some missteps, but we will never know which were generated by Rick Davis and his team and which came from McCain himself. This election was supposed to be all about Obama, yet McCain can’t seem to keep himself out of the spotlight and out of the realm of judgment. The non-suspension of his campaign is the biggest case in point. Only John McCain could decide it was time to make himself the center of attention during an economic hurricane. And we’ll never know if it was the campaign or John McCain that decided Sarah Palin would be the Hail Mary Pass that would win this game. What we do know is McCain approved it. 

The real problem the McCain campaign is up against is there’s no good way to couch his economic message, foreign policy views, or general shoot-from-the-hip demeanor as anything other than very similar to George W. Bush. Sure people may see McCain as more competent, but on policy there is little separating the two. That’s not spin, it’s fact. 

If anything a candidate with such a flawed platform in these times needs to commend his staff for keeping it this close. I thought Obama was supposed to have been up by double digits by now? Let’s leave the campaigns alone and just see this for what it is a candidate misshapen for the times is against a candidate of the moment, no amount of non-campaigning will fix that.

Why can’t we get this (voting) right?

The NY Times is up with a story on voters being illegally removed from the rolls across the country to to misinterpretations of the law. Many of these voters are not even aware they are no longer on the rolls and therefore cannot contest in time for the election. Why can’t we seem to get the simple act of voting right?

McCain Advisor: “Quit Doling Out Bad-Economy Line”

While the financial markets are reeling this morning from weekend drop off of historical proportions, Donald Luskin, a McCain campaign advisor’s op-ed is still fresh from its Sunday printing. Some of my favorite excerpts:

Sure, there are trouble spots in the economy, as the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and jitters about Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers, amply demonstrate. And unemployment figures are up a bit, too. None of this, however, is cause for depression — or exaggerated Depression comparisons…..

…Even if Obama is right that the foreclosure rate is the worst since the Great Depression, it’s spurious to evoke memories of that great national calamity when talking about today — it’s akin to equating a sore throat with stomach cancer. According to the MBA, 6.4 percent of mortgages are delinquent to some extent, and 2.75 percent are in foreclosure. During the Great Depression, according to Wheelock’s research, more than 50 percent of home loans were in default….

…Full disclosure: I’m an adviser to John McCain‘s campaign, though as far as I know, the senator has never taken one word of my advice. He’s been sounding a little pessimistic on the economy of late, too…

…A housing “slump,” a housing “crisis”? A “severe” price decline? According to the latest report from theNational Association of Realtors, the median price of an existing home is up 8.5 percent from the low of last February. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median price of a new home is up 1.3 percent from the low of last December. Home prices may not be at all-time highs — and there are pockets of continuing decline in some urban areas — but overall they’ve clearly stopped going down and have started to recover. So why keep proclaiming a “crisis” after it’s over?…

…McCain campaign adviser and former U.S. senator Phil Gramm was right in July when he said that our current state “is a mental recession.”…

…Whatever the political outcome this year, hopefully this will prove to be yet another instance of that iron law of economics and markets: The sentiment of the majority is always wrong at key turning points. And the majority is plenty pessimistic right now…

While I certainly don’t agree with the overall assessment, on a morning like this one, it is worth reading an opposing view. Panic sets in quickly sometimes, the essential question we all should be asking is…”is this just a severe, necessary market correction or the start of something far, far worse?”