Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain on 'FOX and Friends': Transcript (9-30-08)

McCain gets interviewed by the Republican parties propaganda arm, FOXnews, by those three airheads, Doocy, Kilmeade, and Carlson. Read the complete transcript.

MCCAIN: I have talked to the president this morning and recommended an increase from $100,000 to $250,000 FDIC-insured on deposits. I also strongly recommended that the exchange stability fund that the Treasury has has available $250 billion to shore up these institutions. Also the Treasury has at its disposal about $1 trillion that they could begin without congressional authority buying up some of these terrible mortgages and help stabilize the situation.

So I’ve talked to the president. I know that we have to act. Even though we failed yesterday, even though I went back and was able to get more Republicans on board, or help get more Republicans on board, we will go back to this, and I will be engaged always where I think America needs engagement.

CARLSON: So, Senator, are you saying that you went back to get more Republicans on board, so then you were in favor of voting “yes” yesterday, and in essence, then, going back to...

MCCAIN: Oh, absolutely.

CARLSON: OK, well, then, going back on last week did not change enough Republicans’ minds?

MCCAIN: No, it didn’t change enough Republicans’ minds. We’re going to have to change enough Republican and Democrats’ minds. It was 95 Democrats that voted against it.


MCCAIN: People’s credit is at risk here. The ability to buy a car, to make your home loan payments, to -- for small businesses to get credit. Look, this is affecting Main Street, America. And we’re going to have to resolve it, and we’re going to have to act.

$1.2 trillion of American savings, pensions, IRAs, mutual funds, investments, et cetera, was wiped out, and that hurts Main Street. I’ve got a plan for cutting spending, for keeping taxes low, for making sure that people can keep -- stay in their homes, and a long- term plan.

In the short term, we’ve got to take these measures I just outlined to you, and let’s go back, and let’s make Americans understand, who are opposed -- I was watching your program earlier -- how this affects not Wall Street, but Main Street and working families of America.

They Put Politics over Patriotism

Representatives yesterday chose to put fear of voters at the poll booth in November over doing the right thing. And it wasn't a partisan issue since 40% of Democrats voted against it. If you listen to the politicians they make it sound as if it were the fault of one party over the other. Nonsense. Both are to blame. We have a Congress that has failed the American people for decades. The mess we've gotten into was because that body failed to curb the excesses of big business. The same big business that lobbied them and paid them off. Because it is the lobbyists whom control our government.

Then there is this disastrous President. He is principally to blame. This psycho has bought great harm to our country.

But there is plenty of blame to go around. How about a press that chose to ignore the greed on Wall St. Then again, they wouldn't criticize something that pays their salaries. Real journalists would've warned about the fragile economy sustained by debt and a housing bubble.

The politicians running this country should've have put their country first and kept their mouths shut. Instead we had politicians appearing in the press as the negotiations were going attacking the other party, and some cases Bush's plan. You even had a presidential candidate threatening to pull out of a debate so that he could save his floundering candidacy. In the process he poisoned the negotiations helping to the voting down of the bailout. The debate should have gone on in private. It should have included the best people on Wall St., economists, and representatives from abroad. This is a worldwide crisis. No grandstanding. And then the Congressmen and women should have done a better job of explaining the plan to the public, which would've decreased opposition to the plan. The people opposed it because they didn't understand it.

The politicians should have followed the example of founding fathers whom put their pride and prejudices aside and gave us a great document and nation.

McCain, Palin Interviewed Together by Couric: Transcript, Video (9-29-08)

This essentially part 3 of the ongoing interview done by CBS' Katie Couric of Governor Palin. This segment includes the running mates together. Read the complete transcript and see the video (below) of the interrogation interview.

Katie Couric: Over the weekend, Gov. Palin, you said the U.S. should absolutely launch cross-border attacks from Afghanistan into Pakistan to, quote, "stop the terrorists from coming any further in." Now, that's almost the exact position that Barack Obama has taken and that you, Sen. McCain, have criticized as something you do not say out loud. So, Gov. Palin, are you two on the same page on this?

Sarah Palin: We had a great discussion with President Zardari as we talked about what it is that America can and should be doing together to make sure that the terrorists do not cross borders and do not ultimately put themselves in a position of attacking America again or her allies. And we will do what we have to do to secure the United States of America and her allies.

Couric: Is that something you shouldn't say out loud, Sen. McCain?

John McCain: Of course not. But, look, I understand this day and age of "gotcha" journalism. Is that a pizza place? In a conversation with someone who you didn't hear … the question very well, you don't know the context of the conversation, grab a phrase. Gov. Palin and I agree that you don't announce that you're going to attack another country …

Couric: Are you sorry you said it?

McCain: … and the fact …

Couric: Governor?

McCain: Wait a minute. Before you say, "is she sorry she said it," this was a "gotcha" sound bite that, look …

Couric: It wasn't a "gotcha." She was talking to a voter.

McCain: No, she was in a conversation with a group of people and talking back and forth. And … I'll let Gov. Palin speak for herself.

Palin: Well, it … in fact, you're absolutely right on. In the context, this was a voter, a constituent, hollering out a question from across an area asking, "What are you gonna do about Pakistan? You better have an answer to Pakistan." I said we're gonna do what we have to do to protect the United States of America.

Couric: But you were pretty specific about what you wanted to do, cross-border …

Palin: Well, as Sen. McCain is suggesting here, also, never would our administration get out there and show our cards to terrorists, in this case, to enemies and let them know what the game plan was, not when that could ultimately adversely affect a plan to keep America secure.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

'FOX News Sunday' Transcript (9-28-08)

Campaign surrogate Senators John Kerry and Lindsay Graham were interviewed by Chris Wallace. Read the complete transcript.

WALLACE: Let's start with a tentative agreement on a financial rescue plan.

Senator Graham, what's better about this proposal than the deal that was rejected at the White House on Thursday?

GRAHAM: The House is on board. The best thing that could happen for all of us up here politically is to hold hands across the aisle and bicamerally.

If you can get House Republicans saying, "This is a good product for the country," then confidence will be built around the product. And having everybody inside the deal politically is much better.

I would not want my Democratic colleagues, quite frankly, to have to walk off a cliff in the House and have no Republicans on board. So I think it's a better deal for the taxpayer. There's an insurance component that didn't exist before. It's a phased-in product.

But the main thing is that the House is involved now. Then every corner of American political life is embracing this deal, which will help us as a nation.

WALLACE: Senator Kerry, let's talk about a little bit of the details. As Senator Graham mentioned, instead of buying all the securities, now the government will just insure some of them.

And there's also a provision that if the government doesn't get its money back within five years, a fee is imposed on financial security companies. Isn't that a better deal for taxpayers?

KERRY: Well, it's very important -- well, these -- the four principal components of this deal, Chris, represent the exact four principles that Senator Obama laid out two weeks ago. They represent the exact principles that we put forward and almost agreed on last Thursday before politics entered into this.

Now, I agree with Lindsey. Let's go beyond that now. It is important to have everybody there. But those principles are number one. We wanted to protect the taxpayers.

We were not going to turn billions of dollars over to any institution connected with Wall Street, given the experience of what had happened without protecting taxpayers. We have done that in this.

Secondly, we were going to limit executive compensation. We weren't going to turn money over and have millions of dollars paid out to executives. That's been done.

Thirdly, there's a very important concept here about helping homeowners. There had been no talk about the homeowners. We want to keep people in their homes. This specifically helps to keep them there.

And finally, oversight. The administration came and said, "Just give us $800 billion." And we said, "No, not given this experience," so we're going to give first the 250. There'll then be a letter from the president requesting another 100, and then there's another 350, depending on how it goes.

So I think we have accountability. We have the principles that Senator Obama offered leadership on.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

John McCain on ABC's 'This Week': Transcript (9-28-08)

Read the complete transcript of McCain's interview with George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It looks like Senator Obama is also going to support the deal. He put out a statement this morning, but he said it’s also time now for Washington to show that it gets the urgency of the crisis on Main Street, as well, says Congress has to pass a stimulus plan for the middle class, which extends unemployment benefits, adds infrastructure funding, and sends money to the states to shore up their budgets.

Are you for that, as well?

MCCAIN: I am for keeping taxes low. I am for whatever steps we think we need to be taking right now.

But, first of all, let’s get this off the table. Let’s get this deal done, signed by the president, and get moving, because the real effect of this is going to restore some confidence, and get some credit out there, and get the economic system moving again, which is basically in gridlock today.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said keep taxes low...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... so not necessarily for another stimulus package?

MCCAIN: I’ll have to look at it. But, look, I’ll be glad to look at anything to help our economy. We did a stimulus package a few months ago, as you well know. It had very little beneficial effect.

I would like to see incentives for businesses to grown and locate. That’s lower taxes. That’s ways of making credit and funds available for them. Of course we have to rebuild our infrastructure.

I’d like to save -- see along with that stimulus package, if it comes up, a commitment that there would be no earmarks. That was one of my criteria also, no earmarks. Stop all the pork-barrel spending.

There were just 2,000 earmarks in the continuing resolution that we just passed.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, that was a...

MCCAIN: The outrageous pork-barrel spending, earmark spending...

STEPHANOPOULOS: That was the vote yesterday to fund the government...

MCCAIN: ... earmark spending goes on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... through -- through next year, also funded defense through next year. It included loans for the auto companies to help them get through...


MCCAIN: That’s the way they always do. You put in the -- you put in the good deals, and then you put in the pork, as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why didn’t you come in to vote on that?

MCCAIN: I was working on all of the other stuff that I was working on, and contacting people, and working away. But the point is -- the point is, it’s the classic package, where they give you the things you know that you really need in it, and then they load up and lard up the pork. That’s why...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you would have voted against it had you come in?

MCCAIN: I certainly would have done everything in my power to remove those earmarks. But I may have voted for it if -- I probably would have ended up voting for it, but I decry a system where individual members are -- are faced with taking all this unacceptable, outrageous stuff that has contributed to the largest growth in spending since the Great Society.

We’ve grown government by 40 percent and, by the way, the tripling and quadrupling of pork-barrel projects and earmarks in the -- I can’t tell you how many billions of dollars.

And so we would be faced with a Hobson’s choice there, and it shouldn’t be like that.


MCCAIN: People should be able to vote on separate issues.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also mentioned this immediate credit crisis we’re facing in the banks. That’s why you feel we have to pass this financial bailout right now.

MCCAIN: With the taxpayers and middle-income Americans of America.

Barack Obama on Face The Nation: Transcript (9-28-08)

Read the complete transcript.

OBAMA: Well, look, first of all, I think we have to understand that this was an urgent situation and is an urgent situation. And by the end of the week, I think everybody recognized that something needed to be done.

What I’m pleased about is that it appears at least-- and I haven’t reviewed the actual language-- is that some core principles that I’ve set forth at the beginning of this crisis were incorporated. The issue of making sure that we had strong oversight, the insistence that taxpayers share in the gains if there are any when the market recovers, the insistence that homeowners get additional relief so that there’s some reciprocity. If in fact we’re bailing out or helping banks, they in turn have to help rework mortgages for people who are potentially facing foreclosure.

And the final thing, the issue of executive compensation, making sure that taxpayer money is not going to pad bonuses or golden parachutes.

It appears that those principles have all been incorporated into the core agreement. And I’m going to be reviewing the language over the next day to make sure that those provisions actually stick.

Ultimately, I believe that we have to get something done. And so if I feel that those are meaningful provisions that provide some constraints on how the treasury operates and this is not going to be welfare for Wall Street, then my inclination is to support it, because I think Main Street is now at stake.

This could affect every sector of the economy. If the credit crisis continues or worsens, then suddenly small business people can’t make their payroll. You have large businesses who can’t sell corporate debt, which could bring the entire economy to a grinding halt.

The last point I want to make on this is we have to remember how we got here. Not so much to allocate blame, as to understand the choices that are going to face the next president. Unless we update our 20th century regulatory framework for a 21st century global financial system, then we’re going to continue to be vulnerable to this kind of situation, and I think the next president has to come in with a very strong package of reforms.

OBAMA: We’re going to have to fight off the lobbyists and the special interests. And, finally, we’ve got to understand that, contrary to what John McCain suggested at the beginning of this crisis, the fundamentals of the economy are not strong.

And some of the root causes of this crisis have to do with the day-to-day struggles that ordinary people are going through, with flat wages and incomes but constantly increasing costs.

That puts pressure on them to take out more debt, to use home equity loans, to try to refinance. It created an environment in which this kind of crisis potentially could occur.

SCHIEFFER: So, as it stands now, from what you understand about it, you will support this?

OBAMA: As it stands now, if the four principles that I laid out 10 or 12 days ago are, in fact, contained in a meaningful way -- the tax payer protection, the investor participation of taxpayers, the corporate, or the CEO compensation issues, as well as the homeowner assistance -- if those are contained, my inclination would be to vote for it, understanding I’m not happy about it.

We should have never gotten into this place in the first place. And I think this is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policy.

Bill Clinton on Meet the Press: Transcript (9-28-08)

Also on the program were opposing presidential campaign heads, David Axelrod and Schmidt. Also, a debate between the Colorado Senate candidates (obviously only includes the two major parties). Read the complete transcript.

MR. BROKAW: But has he been making specific suggestions about what needs to be in this bill? When he came back on Friday, the House Republicans said to him, "This won't fly because we want an insurance program, not just a buyout."

MR. SCHMIDT: Does appear that there will be insurance as part of the final package. But importantly, Senator McCain laid out a number of principles, saying, for example, that CEOs cannot benefit from taxpayer dollars, the CEOs of these firms who have ripped off the American people. That there be oversight, that there be accountability. Those principles appear to be contained in legislation. But what Senator McCain was able to do, the reason he suspended his campaign, the reason he came back to Washington was to help get all of the parties to the table. There had been announcements by Senate leaders saying that a deal had been reached earlier in the week. There were no votes for that deal. Senator McCain knew time was short and he came back, he listened and he helped put together the framework of getting everybody to the table, which was necessary to produce a package to avoid a financial catastrophe for this country.

MR. BROKAW: Mr. Axelrod, I think it's fair to say you have a skeptical expression on your face. Your candidate left Mississippi, however, and resumed campaigning. He didn't come back to Washington. Has his role in this been primarily as a man who's been getting information from Democrats on the hill?

MR. AXELROD: Well, I'll tell you what his role has been from the beginning. He's been in touch with Secretary Paulson, Chairman Bernanke, the leaders of Congress, and he is the one who has been urging these principles that Steve has now embraced today. The fact is, when the--when this crisis emerged, Senator McCain's first reaction was to say the economy is fundamentally strong. The next day he suggested a commission to study this and by eight days later he said it was such a crisis that he was going to suspend his campaign. He showed up a day later in Washington. It isn't clear what his role was, so it's a little bit of fiction to now claim credit for it. That's not the important thing, though. The important thing is that the principles that Senator Obama outlined originally are now embraced and taxpayers will be protected.

[...]MR. BROKAW: But the picture economically is darker with every passing day, and here's what Robert Bixby, who is with the Concord Coalition, had to say about your two candidates. "I don't think either candidate is treating the deficit, or the debt, seriously. I don't see any proposals from either one that would make the situation any better." This is a nonpartisan observer who is looking at it. Senator Obama the other night was asked to name one program that he would cut given the economic realities. We're going to be at war in two countries, he wants to reform healthcare, have alternative energy and early childhood. He didn't name one program, Mr. Axelrod.

MR. AXELROD: That's not true, Tom. He talked about the Medicare Advantage program, which is a big giveaway to the insurance companies within the Medicare program. That's $15 billion a year right there. Another big item that we have to deal with is the $10 billion a month we're spending in Iraq while Iraq has a $79 billion surplus. Senator McCain would like to continue there indefinitely. The American people want to come home from Iraq, to send some troops from Afghanistan, and to begin investing that money here at home. So there are many things that we can do. Obviously, we're going to have to look at the budget, and Senator Obama said he's going to go through it line by line, and he's going to get rid of things that don't work. We have, for example, a one--a reading program that was installed by the Bush administration that turned out to be a big boondoggle. It's not helping any kids learn. We ought to say that doesn't work, let's get rid of it. And that's the approach he's going to take. If we're going to do the things we need to do, the things you mentioned, the things that are going to strengthen the middle class in our economy, we're going to have to be very, very flinty-eyed about what we can keep and what we don't.

Tina Fey Plays Sarah Palin, Again: Video (9-27-08)

This skit includes Amy Poehler playing Katie Couric. They reenact the infamous interview done this past week. Partial transcript below.

FEY AS PALIN: "Like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this. We're saying, 'Hey, why bail out Fanny and Freddie and not me?' But ultimately what the bailout does is, help those that are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy to help...uh...it's gotta be all about job creation, too. Also, too, shoring up our economy and putting Fannie and Freddy back on the right track and so healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reigning in spending...'cause Barack Obama, y'know...has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans, also, having a dollar value meal at restaurants. That's gonna help. But one in five jobs being created today under the umbrella of job creation. That, you know...Also..."

[...]POEHLER AS COURIC: "On foreign policy, I want to give you one more chance to explain your claim that you have foreign policy experience based on Alaska's proximity to Russia. What did you mean by that?"

FEY AS PALIN: "Well, Alaska and Russia are only separated by a narrow maritime border. (using her hands to illustrate) You got Alaska here, this right here is water, and this is Russia. So, we keep an eye on them."

POEHLER AS COURIC: "And how do you do that exactly?"

FEY AS PALIN: "Every morning, when Alaskans wake up, one of the first things they do, is look outside to see if there are any Russians hanging around. And if there are, you gotta go up to them and ask, 'What are you doing here?' and if they can't give you a good reason, it's our responsibility to say, you know, 'Shoo! Get back over there!'

- Related Post:
Tina Fey as Palin on SNL: Transcript, Video [Posted: 9-14-08]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Palin Interview with CBS' Couric: Transcript (9-24-08)

Read the complete transcript of the interview on foreign policy.

Katie Couric: As we stand before this august building and institution, what do you see as the role of the United States in the world?

Sarah Palin: I see the United States as being a force for good in the world. And as Ronald Reagan used to talk about, America being the beacon of light and hope for those who are seeking democratic values and tolerance and freedom. I see our country being able to represent those things that can be looked to … as that leadership, that light needed across the world.

Couric: In preparing for this conversation, a lot of our viewers … and Internet users wanted to know why you did not get a passport until last year. And they wondered if that indicated a lack of interest and curiosity in the world.

Palin: I'm not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world.

No, I've worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs all my life until I had kids. I was not a part of, I guess, that culture. The way that I have understood the world is through education, through books, through mediums that have provided me a lot of perspective on the world.

Couric: Gov. Palin, you've had a very busy week. And you're meeting with many world leaders. You met with President Karzai of Afghanistan. I know the McCain campaign has called for a surge in Afghanistan. But that country is, as you know, dramatically different than Iraq. Why do you believe additional troops, U.S. troops, will solve the problem there?

Palin: Because we can't afford to lose in Afghanistan, as we cannot afford to lose in Iraq, either, these central fronts on the war on terror. And I asked President Karzai, "Is that what you are seeking, also? That strategy that has worked in Iraq that John McCain had pushed for, more troops? A counterinsurgency strategy?" And he said, "yes." And he also showed great appreciation for what America and American troops are providing in his country.

This infamous part of the interview where Palin is unable to answer the question. Even Conservatives were shocked by her non-response.
Couric: You've said, quote, "John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business." Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie - that, that's paramount. That's more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

Couric: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

Palin: He's also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about - the need to reform government.

Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you've said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

Couric: I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.

John McCain Interviewed by CBS' Katie Couric: Transcript (9-24-08)

Read the full transcript.

Katie Couric: Sen. McCain, why is it necessary for you to take this extraordinary step of suspending your campaign?

John McCain: 'Cause these are extraordinary times. The financial crisis is on the verge of a very, very serious, most serious crisis since the end of World War II. That's according to Mr. Bernanke, Secretary Paulson and others. Any expert. This is a most serious situation. And it could … not only be United States markets, but world markets as well.

Couric: In fact, you met with economists this morning, and a number of financial experts, and it seems to me they really shook you up.

McCain: All they did, really, was confirm what we're already hearing from people we most admire and respect in America. The most respected people. I don't, in fact, I don't know anyone that doesn't believe that … this crisis is of such enormous proportions that it has the possibility, I don't think it's gonna, 'cause I think we're gonna act, but could have the possibility of wrecking the economy in ways that we've never contemplated.

Couric: Do you and Sen. Obama agree to the changes that need to be made in this bailout package?

McCain: We certainly agree the some. We said - we have - we have some, not all. But, certainly some. We have some common ground, yes.

Couric: And what are your primary objections to the way it stands right now?

McCain: There are numerous ones. One is that there's not the transparency that I think is necessary. I think we need to have, clearly, oversight. People that we respect and admire from both parties. Like Mayor Bloomberg of New York … and Mitt Romney and others … to oversight this.

And I also think we need to seriously consider something along the lines of what we had during the Depression. To guarantee home loans. I think that's necessary. There are a number of other measures that I think need to be taken in order to convince the American people that a trillion dollars or $700 billion, depending on who you talk to, of their money, that's $10,000 per family in America.

Couric: I know that Sen. Obama initially called you this morning at 8:30 to talk about issuing a joint statement about this bailout. You decided to go a step further by suspending your campaign and asking that Friday debate be delayed. Political observers say whoever gets out front on this issue will benefit the most in November. Was this an effort to do that? And was this at all, Senator, politically motivated?

McCain: Well, I don't think, at this time, that we can worry much about politics, Katie. I think the American people expect more of us. And I would hope that we would respond that way. Senator Obama called this morning. We - I called him back. We discussed that we do agree, and I'd be glad … to join in a common press release or statement, but now is not the time for statements. Time is now to act. And … most experts …

Couric: Did you suggest suspending both of your campaigns?

McCain: Yes. Sure. Yeah. I said …

Couric: And what was his response?

McCain: Well, I'd - I, frankly, I think he … has to consider it. I don't know if he had considered it or not. But I did tell him that I thought we both ought to do that. On the subject of delaying the debates, we've got 41 days left in this campaign. We could move it up a few days. Because we know we have to act. Everybody that I, well, look, it's clear to me we have to act before the weekend. We have to show the markets, the world markets, that we're gonna address this issue seriously.

Ralph Nader Decries Country's 'Two-Party Dictatorship'

The current economic crisis was created by a corrupt two-party system that favors big business. Some of us are fighting it. So should you. You are losing your country.

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader lambasted the Democrats and Republicans on Friday as a "two-party dictatorship" that has squandered decades of power and allowed corporate greed to dictate American policy.

As he kicked off a five-day California swing at USC, Nader noted that Barack Obama and John McCain, the parties' presidential nominees, have similar views on increasing military spending, offshore drilling, the proposed $700-billion bailout of financial firms and Israeli-Palestinian relations. Nader, who is on the ballot in 45 states, said dissenting voices must grow louder.

"How many more decades are we going to give them before we get rid of this least-worst, this lesser-of-two-evils mind set and start breaking this corporate grip . . . and have alternative candidates from alternative parties that stand as if people mattered first and foremost?" he asked more than 100 people who gathered in an airy college auditorium.

Every four years, Nader said, politicians trot out the "same tricks" with a different motto.

"This year, it's hope, change. Hope, change. Hope, change," he slowly chanted. "Am I starting to hypnotize you?"

Nader was in California as part of an effort to visit all 50 states before election day. He said that because of Obama's double-digit lead in California, neither of the major party candidates planned to visit the state except to raise funds.

"That's disrespectful" to voters, said Nader, who will make stops at UC San Diego and in Encinitas today, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Sunday, Monterey Peninsula College on Monday and San Francisco State on Tuesday.

He and running mate Matt Gonzalez spoke at USC hours before the first presidential debate, which he derided as "a parallel interview." Nader also criticized the media for ignoring him despite national polls that show him receiving 5% to 6% support and slightly higher percentages in some battleground states.

Nader warned the crowd against political apathy, asserting that Americans need to know as much about politics as they do about sports.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Presidential Debate Transcript (9-26-08)

Read the full transcript (NYTimes; also includes full video) of the first presidential debate held at the University of Mississippi.

LEHRER: All right, let's go back to my question. How do you all stand on the recovery plan? And talk to each other about it. We've got five minutes. We can negotiate a deal right here.

But, I mean, are you -- do you favor this plan, Senator Obama, and you, Senator McCain? Do you -- are you in favor of this plan?

OBAMA: We haven't seen the language yet. And I do think that there's constructive work being done out there. So, for the viewers who are watching, I am optimistic about the capacity of us to come together with a plan.

The question, I think, that we have to ask ourselves is, how did we get into this situation in the first place?

Two years ago, I warned that, because of the subprime lending mess, because of the lax regulation, that we were potentially going to have a problem and tried to stop some of the abuses in mortgages that were taking place at the time.

Last year, I wrote to the secretary of the Treasury to make sure that he understood the magnitude of this problem and to call on him to bring all the stakeholders together to try to deal with it.

So -- so the question, I think, that we've got to ask ourselves is, yes, we've got to solve this problem short term. And we are going to have to intervene; there's no doubt about that.

But we're also going to have to look at, how is it that we shredded so many regulations? We did not set up a 21st-century regulatory framework to deal with these problems. And that in part has to do with an economic philosophy that says that regulation is always bad.

LEHRER: Are you going to vote for the plan, Senator McCain?

MCCAIN: I -- I hope so. And I...

LEHRER: As a United States senator...


LEHRER: ... you're going to vote for the plan?

MCCAIN: Sure. But -- but let me -- let me point out, I also warned about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and warned about corporate greed and excess, and CEO pay, and all that. A lot of us saw this train wreck coming.

But there's also the issue of responsibility. You've mentioned President Dwight David Eisenhower. President Eisenhower, on the night before the Normandy invasion, went into his room, and he wrote out two letters.

One of them was a letter congratulating the great members of the military and allies that had conducted and succeeded in the greatest invasion in history, still to this day, and forever.

And he wrote out another letter, and that was a letter of resignation from the United States Army for the failure of the landings at Normandy.

Somehow we've lost that accountability. I've been heavily criticized because I called for the resignation of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. We've got to start also holding people accountable, and we've got to reward people who succeed.

But somehow in Washington today -- and I'm afraid on Wall Street -- greed is rewarded, excess is rewarded, and corruption -- or certainly failure to carry out our responsibility is rewarded.

As president of the United States, people are going to be held accountable in my administration. And I promise you that that will happen.

LEHRER: Do you have something directly to say, Senator Obama, to Senator McCain about what he just said?

OBAMA: Well, I think Senator McCain's absolutely right that we need more responsibility, but we need it not just when there's a crisis. I mean, we've had years in which the reigning economic ideology has been what's good for Wall Street, but not what's good for Main Street.

And there are folks out there who've been struggling before this crisis took place. And that's why it's so important, as we solve this short-term problem, that we look at some of the underlying issues that have led to wages and incomes for ordinary Americans to go down, the -- a health care system that is broken, energy policies that are not working, because, you know, 10 days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound.

LEHRER: Say it directly to him.

OBAMA: I do not think that they are.

LEHRER: Say it directly to him.

OBAMA: Well, the -- John, 10 days ago, you said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. And...

MCCAIN: Are you afraid I couldn't hear him?

LEHRER: I'm just determined to get you all to talk to each other. I'm going to try.

OBAMA: The -- and I just fundamentally disagree. And unless we are holding ourselves accountable day in, day out, not just when there's a crisis for folks who have power and influence and can hire lobbyists, but for the nurse, the teacher, the police officer, who, frankly, at the end of each month, they've got a little financial crisis going on.

They're having to take out extra debt just to make their mortgage payments. We haven't been paying attention to them. And if you look at our tax policies, it's a classic example.

LEHRER: So, Senator McCain, do you agree with what Senator Obama just said? And, if you don't, tell him what you disagree with.

MCCAIN: No, I -- look, we've got to fix the system. We've got fundamental problems in the system. And Main Street is paying a penalty for the excesses and greed in Washington, D.C., and on Wall Street.

So there's no doubt that we have a long way to go. And, obviously, stricter interpretation and consolidation of the various regulatory agencies that weren't doing their job, that has brought on this crisis.

But I have a fundamental belief in the goodness and strength of the American worker. And the American worker is the most productive, the most innovative. America is still the greatest producer, exporter and importer.

But we've got to get through these times, but I have a fundamental belief in the United States of America. And I still believe, under the right leadership, our best days are ahead of us.

- Related Links:

Russia Offers Hugo Chavez $1 Billion for Weapons

Could this lead to a new missile crisis in the next Obama administration.

Russia will loan Venezuela $1 billion for arms purchases and military development, a Kremlin spokesman said Friday, the second day of a visit here by President Hugo Chávez aimed at tightening a relationship that has caused increasing discomfort in the West.

Mr. Chávez , who is on his second visit to Russia in two months, met with Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin on Thursday, and on Friday traveled to the southern city of Orenburg near the border with Kazakhstan to meet with President Dmitri A. Medvedev.

A Kremlin statement released Thursday night said Mr. Putin and Mr. Chávez had spoken on enhancing economic cooperation and trade in commercial goods as well as military technologies.

The $1 billion loan will help finance programs related to military-technical cooperation, the statement said. The Kremlin spokesman, who spoke anonymously under normal diplomatic ground rules, would not elaborate on the details of the deal.

Between 2005 and 2007 Venezuela has signed 12 contracts for weapons purchases from Russia for a total of more than $4.4 billion, the Kremlin statement said.

The move is the latest gesture of military friendship between Russia and Venezuela, two counties that have increasingly positioned themselves as mavericks vis-à-vis the West. The Kremlin says its economic and political stability have allowed it to broaden the scope of its military and economic cooperation beyond what it calls its traditional sphere of influence.

Moscow is also frustrated with what it considers aggressive military posturing from the West, particularly the United States. Washington’s plans to deploy elements of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as its support of NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, have set Russia on edge.

In turn, Russia has sought to expand its military footprint in recent years, inching closer and closer to American shores. Russian bombers have flown sorties close to Alaska and its naval vessels have been pushing deeper into the Atlantic.

Latin America, and Venezuela in particular, has become has become a major theater for this expansion.

Earlier this month a pair of Russian Tu-160 long-range bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons received a warm welcome when they landed in Venezuela. Russia has also dispatched a squadron from its North Sea Fleet to the Caribbean to take part in joint naval exercises with the Venezuelan Navy sometime in November.

WAMU: Largest Bank Failure in American History

The crisis continues regardless of what the politicians are doing.

Washington Mutual, the giant lender that came to symbolize the excesses of the mortgage boom, was seized by federal regulators on Thursday night in what is by far the largest bank failure in American history.

Regulators simultaneously brokered an emergency sale of virtually all of Washington Mutual to J.P. Morgan Chase. The remainder of WaMu, the nation's largest savings and loan, will be operated by the government. Shareholders and some bondholders will be wiped out. WaMu depositors are guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. up to the $100,000 per account limit. WaMu customers are unlikely to be affected.

J.P. Morgan Chase is to take control Friday of all of WaMu's 2,300 branches, which stretch from New York to California, and will oversee its big portfolio of mortgage and credit card loans. It will also acquire all of WaMu's deposits with the sale.

For weeks, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department had been nervous about the fate of WaMu, among the worst-hit by the housing crisis, and pressed hard for the bank to sell itself. As panic gripped financial markets last week following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the government stepped up its efforts, working behind the scenes, and at points going behind WaMu's back to work privately with potential bidders on a deal.

The seizure and the deal with J.P. Morgan came as a shock to Washington Mutual's board, which was kept in the dark: the company's newly-minted chief executive, Alan C. Fishman, was in flying from New York to Seattle at the time the deal was finally brokered, according to these people.

The action removes one of America's most troubled banks from the financial landscape, and helps to avoid sticking taxpayers with a huge bill for the rescue of another failing institution.

As with Lehman Bros., the government allowed Washington Mutual to fail because it was less entangled with the rest of the financial system than a behemoth like American International Group Inc., which the government spent $85 billion to take over last week while it faced collapse. On Sunday, the government approved emergency measures to help stabilize Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Federal regulators had been trying to broker a deal for Washington Mutual because a takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. would have dealt a crushing blow to the federal government's deposit insurance fund. The fund, which stood at 45.2 billion at the end of June, has been severely depleted from the sudden collapse of IndyMac Bank. Analysts say that a failure of Washington Mutual would cost the fund upwards of $20 or $30 billion.

There are other major banks facing crisis.
Global bank HSBC Holdings (HSBA.L) is cutting 1,100 jobs in its investment banking operation, or 4 percent of the unit's total, as it weathers the global financial crisis.

[...]The cuts add to more than 80,000 job losses across the banking landscape in the past 18 months as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression deepens. It has caused unprecedented change on Wall Street and the demise of venerable firms such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers (LEHMQ.PK).

[...]In August, the bank posted a 28 percent fall in first-half pretax profit to $10.2 billion as it took a $14 billion hit from bad debts on U.S. home loans and asset writedowns.

Meanwhile the politicians fiddle.
What began as high-stakes negotiations over the proposed $700 billion bailout of the nation's financial system dissolved into bickering, begging and a roiling battle between parties Thursday night.

One day after President Bush said the nation's economy is at grave risk, lawmakers argued over competing counterproposals and wound up without any apparent financial bailout deal on the table.

Even Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson got down on one knee to half-jokingly beg Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders not to go to the television cameras and blast the failed negotiations, according to two senior Democratic aides.

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama left a White House meeting, described as at times "contentious," having made no progress toward a resolution.

Obama, appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room" afterward, said there "has to be a sense of urgency on the part of everybody. ... We've got to move rapidly."

Obama said a deal will come eventually, but there is still work to do, including reaching a consensus among Bush, Paulson and House Republicans.

Shortly after 10 p.m., Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the lead House Democrat on the issue who had been in close talks with Paulson for days, accused Republicans of refusing to negotiate, CNNMoney.com reported.

"At this point, we have absolutely no participation or cooperation from House Republicans," Frank said.

McCain told ABC News on Thursday night that Republicans "have legit concerns. Some of those have already been satisfied, such as accountability and oversight board and CEO executive pay. Members are aware of the crisis situation that we are in."

However, McCain said, "They do have concerns, which I think when you're talking about $700 billion to a trillion dollars, that need to be addressed."

Obama, who spent Thursday night in Washington, once again railed against infusing presidential politics into the negotiations over the $700 billion economic bailout. McCain's campaign said he also stayed in the Washington area for the night.

"One of the concerns I've had over the last several days is that when you start injecting presidential politics into delicate negotiations," Obama said, "then you can actually create more problems rather than less."

Democratic sources said that House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, threw a wrench into the meeting when he brought up issues from conservative Republicans that negotiators thought had been settled.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Warren Buffett: Crisis is 'Economic Pearl Harbor'

If Mr.Capitalism says it then it must be really bad.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett called the $700 billion U.S. bailout plan "absolutely necessary" to help pull the financial system out of an "economic Pearl Harbor."

Speaking on CNBC television on Wednesday, the 78-year-old Buffett also called on Congress to leave no doubt by Friday that a bailout would be adopted, or risk throwing markets and the economy into further turmoil.

"We were very, very close to a system that was totally dysfunctional, and would have not only gummed up the financial markets but gummed up the economy in a way that would take us years and years to repair," Buffett said, referring to recent events.

[...]Buffett's insurance and investment company, announced a $5 billion investment in Goldman Tuesday.

"I'm not buying a cross-section of banking institutions," Buffett said. "I certainly have confidence in Goldman, and you could say it's a vote of confidence in Congress to do the right thing."

As lenders try to reduce balance sheet risk, Buffett said the government should buy some of the assets they unload, but not at inflated prices.

"There is no one that can leverage up like the United States government," Buffett said. "If they do it right, and I think they will do it reasonably right ... they'll make a lot of money."

It looks pretty bleak. But the solution lies with listening to people like Buffett. He should be at the White House in those meetings on the government "rescue plan."
One Congressman questioned whether the bailout is necessary, since Mr Buffett's purchase suggested confidence was returning. But Mr Bernanke said: "Mr Buffett said on TV this morning that he thought Congress would act, and if Congress didn't act we would go over a precipice." It seemed increasingly likely yesterday that the Treasury would accept legislation to limit executive pay as a quid pro quo. Democrats were also pushing for the government to take equity stakes in companies that receive assistance, and some suggested the $700bn should only be released in increments.

Financial markets remained on tenterhooks. Investors bought short-term US government bonds as a safe haven, fearing a credit market meltdown if legislation is not passed. In Hong Kong, thousands of savers mobbed the offices of the Bank of East Asia amid text message rumours that it was about to go under. The bank vehemently denied the rumours.

"The market could not have taken another week like what was developing last week," Mr Buffett told CNBC. "Last week will look like Nirvana if they don't do something. I think they will. I understand they're very mad about what's happened in the past, but this isn't the time to vent your spleen about that." He predicted that the taxpayer would make a profit on its investments in toxic mortgage debt. "If I had $700bn on the government's terms to buy distressed assets, I would," he said. "Unfortunately, I'm tapped out."

The value of trillions of dollars of mortgage-related derivatives has collapsed since the housing market turned down, and their ultimate value rests on where house prices settle and how widespread foreclosures become. The latest data on the sale of existing homes, out yesterday, showed 10.7 per cent fewer transactions in August than a year ago, at an average price down 9.5 per cent.

In his testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress yesterday, Mr Bernanke painted his bleakest outlook yet for the US economy, and he warned it would get even worse if the bailout is not successful.

"Ongoing developments in financial markets are directly affecting the broader economy through several channels," he said. "When worried lenders tighten credit, then spending, production and job creation slow. Real economic activity in the second quarter appears to have been surprisingly resilient, but, more recently, economic activity appears to have decelerated broadly." He said that the market turmoil was causing problems overseas that would hold back exports – which has been the most robust plank of economic growth and kept the US out of recession since the credit crisis broke.

Bush is perfectly correct on the root cause of the problem. But he doesn't mention is that his administration's policies accelerated the conditions that led to the bubble bursting.
First, how did our economy reach this point? Well, most economists agree that the problems we're witnessing today developed over a long period of time. For more than a decade, a massive amount of money flowed into the United States from investors abroad because our country is an attractive and secure place to do business.

This large influx of money to U.S. banks and financial institutions, along with low interest rates, made it easier for Americans to get credit. These developments allowed more families to borrow money for cars, and homes, and college tuition, some for the first time. They allowed more entrepreneurs to get loans to start new businesses and create jobs.

Unfortunately, there were also some serious negative consequences, particularly in the housing market. Easy credit, combined with the faulty assumption that home values would continue to rise, led to excesses and bad decisions.

Many mortgage lenders approved loans for borrowers without carefully examining their ability to pay. Many borrowers took out loans larger than they could afford, assuming that they could sell or refinance their homes at a higher price later on.

Optimism about housing values also led to a boom in home construction. Eventually, the number of new houses exceeded the number of people willing to buy them. And with supply exceeding demand, housing prices fell, and this created a problem.

Borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages, who had been planning to sell or refinance their homes at a higher price, were stuck with homes worth less than expected, along with mortgage payments they could not afford.

As a result, many mortgage-holders began to default. These widespread defaults had effects far beyond the housing market.

See, in today's mortgage industry, home loans are often packaged together and converted into financial products called mortgage-backed securities. These securities were sold to investors around the world.

Many investors assumed these securities were trustworthy and asked few questions about their actual value. Two of the leading purchasers of mortgage-backed securities were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Because these companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government. This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk.

The decline in the housing market set off a domino effect across our economy. When home values declined, borrowers defaulted on their mortgages, and investors holding mortgage-backed securities began to incur serious losses.

Before long, these securities became so unreliable that they were not being bought or sold. Investment banks, such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, found themselves saddled with large amounts of assets they could not sell. They ran out of money needed to meet their immediate obligations, and they faced imminent collapse.

Other banks found themselves in severe financial trouble. These banks began holding on to their money, and lending dried up, and the gears of the American financial system began grinding to a halt.

McCain, Palin are Ridiculed by David Letterman

McCain bailed out on David Letterman. The famous talk show host was not amused.

The Republican presidential candidate said he was halting his campaign activities Wednesday, citing the need to deal with the nation's financial crisis, and called Letterman to drop out of the show's late-night lineup. On the air Wednesday night, Letterman assailed McCain's rationale and, with prickly humor, questioned whether the nominee — now trailing in some polls — was in trouble.

"This doesn't smell right," Letterman said. "This is not the way a tested hero behaves. Somebody's putting something in his Metamucil."

And there was more:
During his chat with Olbermann, Letterman used the in-house CBS cameras and monitors to show McCain being readied for his interview with Couric on the set of the CBS Evening News.

“He doesn’t seem to be racing to the airport, does he?” Letterman said referring to McCain's call earlier in the day when he told Letterman he was canceling because "the economy is cratering" and he has to rush back to Washington to work on a Wall Street bailout plan.

“Hey John, I got a question! You need a ride to the airport?” Letterman yelled at the TV monitor as the in-house camera showed McCain talking to Couric.

The audience howled in delight at the merciless edge of Letterman's anti-McCain barbs. The comedian also repeatedly asked why McCain didn't send Palin in his place -- suggesting the GOP handlers were afraid that she couldn't handle it.

But its been a comedy of errors for the Republican ticket for weeks. How can anyone argue these people are fit to run the executive branch of the government (includes video).
It was a bad day at CBS for Republican candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin. It started with CBS News anchorwoman Katie Couric and ended with late night host David Letterman, and between the two, it looks like some serious damage might have been done to the GOP ticket.

In a particularly wild day on the campaign trail, TV news was at the center of events -- mostly in the person of Couric. Beyond getting two exclusive interviews with John McCain and Sarah Palin, the veteran newswoman served viewers extremely well in her superb handling of the Republican candidates.

The headlines: Palin told Couric she thinks "America may find itself on" the road to "another Great Depression."

Then in a separate interview, when Couric repeated Palin's answer to McCain, he had to try and do damage control saying: "I, I don't know if, if, if it's exactly the depression..."

[...]Here's Couric pressing McCain on Palin's talk of American being on the road to another Great Depression:

Couric: “But isn't much of this, Senator McCain about consumer confidence?”

McCain: “Sure.”

Couric: “And using rhetoric like the Great Depression, is that the kind of language Americans need to hear right now?”

McCain: “Well, listen, I've heard language from respected people who are staring at the abyss. I've, I've heard all kinds of, of things from people. I don't think we need to scare people. …”

And here's Couric pressing Palin on a claim that McCain is the right man to "reform government" and Wall Street.

Couric: “But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation -- not more.”

Palin: “He's also known as a maverick though. Taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. …”

Couric: “I'm just going to ask one more time, not to belabor the point -- specific example in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.”

Palin: “I'll try to find you some, and I'll bring them to you.”

It is becoming increasingly clear that Palin is unfit to be running for VP.
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said Wednesday that the United States could be headed for another Great Depression if Congress doesn't act on the financial crisis.

Palin made the comment in an interview with "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric while visiting New York to meet foreign leaders for the first time in her political career. As Palin sought to establish her credentials in world affairs, first lady Laura Bush said Palin lacked sufficient foreign policy experience but was "a quick study."

Recent surveys have shown that Palin's popularity, while still strong, has begun to fade.

Earlier this month, an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll showed more people viewing Palin favorably than unfavorably, 47 percent to 28 percent. But an ABC News-Washington Post poll released Wednesday showed that in a two-week period, the number seeing Palin positively dropped 6 percentage points while 10 points more see her unfavorably. On Monday, a CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll said her favorable rating dropped 4 points and her unfavorable rating rose 8 points over two weeks.

This from the Huffington Post:
John McCain has tried to convince Americans that his sense of stability and leadership is the only choice for Americans. Instead, John McCain has shown so little stability that he makes a Slinky seem sturdy.

One week ago, John McCain claimed (again) that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Just one week later, he now says the economy is in such dire straights that he's suspending his campaign.

Mere days ago, after claiming for months how inexperienced Barack Obama was, John McCain tried to claim that Sen. Obama was so experienced that the economic crisis was somehow his fault. And then mere days after that, on Bad Wednesday, he offered that Mr. Obama should join him in resolving the crisis he'd supposedly caused.

Wednesday was, indeed, a bad day for John McCain. While trying to show his great stability and leadership qualities, he told the American public that he was unable to chew gum and walk at the same time. That he was unable to have his scheduled debate with Barack Obama because he'd be having meetings in Washington.

Sen. Obama figured out how to handle both.

A NYTimes blog wonders:
“Do you get the impression a McCain presidency would be a bit exhausting?” writes Mickey Kaus, the Slate blogger. “No convention today! … OK, it’s on! … The economy’s sound… No, wait, it’s going to fall apart unless I go to Washington tomorrow! … We need a commission! … We need to fire somebody! … Get me Andrew Cuomo! … I want ten more debates! … But let’s postpone the one we’ve scheduled!”

They quote a pro-Republican magazine (American Spectator) that is similarly annoyed with the McCain-Palin soap opera:
She clearly stumbled twice — when asked how McCain has fought to reform Wall Street and about Rick Davis’s ties to Freddie Mac. Her answer that not supporting a bailout could mean a Great Depression was off message and irresponsible. For the rest of the interview, it was just lots of tired cliches, and random jargon that made it seem as if she was reading off of mental index cards. I know a lot of conservatives like Sarah Palin and always rush to her defense. But it’s absolutely not meant as an insult to say that she simply is not ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Here is proof that the debate pullout was a cynical ploy by McCain:
Early on a day when national polls showed Barack Obama pulling away from McCain, the Democrat called him and privately suggested that the two issue a joint statement in an effort to keep presidential campaign politics from becoming an impediment to bailout package deliberations. The offer echoed a similar one Obama had made that resulted in the candidates appearing at Ground Zero earlier in the month on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

McCain huddled with his advisers. He finally accepted several hours later, but only after he rejected Obama’s call for the bailout package to include oversight provisions, cap executive salaries and help foreclosed homeowners. His campaign then announced then that, in so many words, it was pulling the rug out from under the entire purpose of the joint statement and injected a huge shot of campaign politics into the deliberations. McCain was suspending campaigning, was rushing back to Washington and would skip the first presidential debate tomorrow night.

As the day went on and McCain preened before the cameras not in Washington but in New York City, with timeouts for Katie Couric and Lady Lynn de Rothschild but not David Letterman, one of the candidate’s leading surrogates added a further wrinkle: That the first presidential debate should supplant the only debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

It is not known if Palin is suspending campaigning since she wasn’t doing any of substance in the first place.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain Debate Pullout is an act of Desperation

Does anyone really believe that McCain's debate pullout was motivated by selfless patriotism?

"I think this is a gimmick, pure and simple," said Tom Schaller, a political commentator and professor of political science at the University of Maryland. "McCain is losing the national conversation on the economy, so he's looking for some attempt to prove he is high-minded and above mere campaign and debate politics.

"It looks like he's trying to call a time out in the middle of a presidential campaign and then take credit for it."

He wants to distract people from the polls showing a tidal wave favoring Obama.
The decision by Mr. McCain came on the same day that a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that Mr. Obama now holds a nine-point lead in the race because of the pessimism surrounding the economy.

The military man who was tortured during wartime can't take the heat of a presidential debate.
Toni-Michelle Travis, professor of government at George Mason University in Washington, thinks that Mr. McCain will be perceived as "ducking and running" from a fight. She also said that the recent bank bailouts and the ensuing market volatility has "changed the campaign."

"I think there's something about our culture that when you back off for a potential fight that does not play well," said Prof. Travis. "I think he's trying to find his way and he's not showing leadership. It's a short coming if you look like you're ducking and running from the debate and I think it's going to be perceived negatively. I think he's trying to regroup."

She said in any debate Mr. McCain would be portrayed as being part of the current mess, part of the "non-regulatory Republican gang."

"How many houses does McCain own? How close can you tie him to the filthy rich? I think Obama could easily say he's closer to them than he is to you because you're working class, you're punching the time clock or a single parent trying to make ends meet. And our retirement plans are eroding away and we don't want to think how badly."

It's not unlike McCain:
Threatening to boycott Friday's debate in favor of full time focus on the nation's financial meltdown is one way to at least temporarily upset the course of a race that isn't going your way. Whenever things aren't going well for McCain he comes up with something to change the narrative.

So much is stacked against McCain. Republicans are politically on the run. His party's president is unpopular. And the sudden national obsession with big-finance economics is keeping the GOP nominee on the defensive, even threatening to ensare his own campaign manager for doing business with a troubled company.

This supporter of the McCain pullout puts their finger on the real reason for the Republican nominee's ploy.
This move also halts Obama's momentum. McCain was taking a bath in the polls as this economic crisis grabbed ever more attention. Regardless of reality, public perception is that the left are better stewards on economic issues. Obama has gained on the economic crisis while McCain has been flailing in response, still not yet responding effectively. This move stops the Obama camp in their tracks from attacking McCain on economic issues while McCain is in Washington. To do otherwise would reflect very poorly on Obama.

There is a solution for McCain supporters. This "idea" comes from the 'Draft Palin for Vice President' website:
This leaves McCain in a tricky position. If he has the courage to stay at work, Obama could turn the "debate" into an infomercial and harangue McCain for not coming. If he shows up, however, he will be going back on his word and possibly letting the negations disintegrate at the eleventh hour. While most people think that this puts McCain's back to the wall, they are failing to consider a third potential option: McCain could stay at work and offer to send Gov. Palin as a surrogate if Obama continues his temper-tantrum. I know that this sounds rather crazy[...]

It's it also about doing something dramatic. Selecting Palin hasn't worked, although initially it looked brilliant.
"McCain needed to do something dramatic to change the tone of the conversation," said Dan Schnur, a top aide in McCain's 2000 campaign. "It may work. It may not work. But it's got a much better chance of working than just sitting there and letting this crisis roll over him."

Democrats -- noting that until recently McCain had opposed government intervention in the financial crisis and insisted the economy was fundamentally sound -- cast his move as politically convenient. "Transparent, vapid publicity stunt," Democratic pollster Mark Mellman scoffed.

McCain essentially tried to cast Obama in the position of junior partner, following McCain's lead on the dominant issue of the day.

Obama made clear that he was the one who first called McCain Wednesday morning to ask that the two campaigns issue a joint statement outlining their principles for a deal. Obama said he only learned of McCain's plans to return to Washington from TV.

[...]McCain's move came as his campaign faces trouble on several fronts. National polls by ABC-Washington Post and NBC-Wall Street Journal showed Obama gaining favor as the economy dominated voters' concerns. There's also a brewing controversy over payments to a lobbying firm founded by McCain campaign manager Rick Davis from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have been taken over by the government.

The Democratic leadership realizes this is a stunt and are not falling for it.
On Capitol Hill, McCain's move could complicate sensitive negotiations on the bailout. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made it clear McCain wasn't welcome.

When McCain called Reid and said he wanted to sit down with congressional leaders, Reid read him a statement he had released to reporters characterizing McCain's move as a gimmick. Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the Nevada Democrat told McCain "it would not be helpful" for the candidates to get involved in the talks and risk injecting presidential politics in them.

"We need leadership, not a campaign photo op," Reid said.

Wouldn't have anything to do with an alleged affair by Palin exposed by the National Enquirer? Before you scoff, the Enquirer exposed the Edwards sex scandal as well.
REPUBLICAN VP hopeful Sarah Palin has been accused of having an affair with her husband's business partner.

The Alaska governor, a mother of five, is alleged to have cheated on her husband Todd – a 44-year-old fisherman – in an affair which almost ruined her career.

The National Enquirer claims the relationship was being widely discussed in Alaska, and that Mr Palin had severed all connections with the friend.

McCain has a history of pulling out of debates when he is behind in the polls. This belies his dishonest contention that he is doing it for patriotic reasons.
[...]this is not the first time the Arizona Senator has withdrawn from a presidential debate; he did it in California in 2000 against George W. Bush.

At the time, polls showed he was lagging seriously behind the then-Texas governor, and he said he would appear with the candidate on Sunday talk shows instead."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McCain, Palin Speech in Reading, Pennsylvania: Transcript (9-22-08)

Read the full transcript.

OK, Pennsylvania. Over the next 43 days John McCain and I are going to take our message and our mission of reform to voters of every background in every party or no party at all and with your vote we’re going to Washington to shake things up.

Pennsylvania, this is a time when principles and political independence mean a heck of a lot more than just a party line. And Americans are tired of the old politics as usual and those who only run with the Washington herd and that’s why we need to take the maverick of the Senate and put him in the White House.

John McCain and I believe that now is the time to put government back on the side of the people. And you know, as mayor and then as governor I always knew that I was accountable to the people who hired me, that was the people of Alaska. And in a McCain/Palin administration we will never forget that we’ll be there to work for you, the people of America.

John and I, we have a plan, and if we are so privileged to get to serve you, I’m going to have some new responsibilities as vice president. Government reform, energy independence.

And helping families and children, those with special needs. That’s going to be at the top of our list.

First, I will help lead our reform effort. John and I are the only candidates in this race with a track record of truly being able to make change happen, not just talking about it but making change happen.

I want to ask you a few questions, Media. Let me ask you a few questions. Our opponent, he likes to point the finger of blame but tell me has he ever lifted a finger to help.

[...]PALIN: John McCain and I want reform. We want transparency in Washington. As the governor of Alaska I just think (ph) like, put the state’s checkbook online so that everybody can see where the money is being spent. We want to do the same thing in D.C.

John wants to do the same thing with the Treasury bill. We believe that the American people have the right to know which firms the Treasury is helping and what that selection is based on and how much that help will cost you. It’s your money and you do have a right to know where it’s going.

Truly in this race there is only one man of action, one proven reformer who will clean up Wall Street and Washington and that man is John McCain .

OK. The second thing that I’ll be leading in a McCain/Palin administration is our mission of energy independence.

Here in Pennsylvania I know that high gas prices, they’re making a full tank feel like a luxury and the cost of living is going up and the cost of groceries is going up. Everything is going up. But the value of your paycheck is going down all because of energy costs.

Now, our opponent says that he wants to help Americans who are struggling with high energy costs. He says he wants to but time and time and time again he has sided with special interests and against solutions that would help Americans keep their homes, fuel up their energy tanks and pay their energy bills.

Now maybe if he had been the governor of an energy rich state maybe he’d get it or maybe, maybe if he had been on the front lines helping to secure our nation’s energy independence, maybe then he’d understand.

As governor of Alaska and former chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, I’ve overseen a very large portion of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and through a heck of a lot of competition, a lot of hard work, recently I got agreements to build a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to bring Alaska’s North Slope gas reserves down to the very, very hungry markets here. It’s going to help you.

We know what it’s going to take, John and I do, we know that it’s going to take American ingenuity and produced by American workers.

And that’s why we’re going to expand our use of alternative fuels also and we’re going to drill now to make this nation energy independent.

AUDIENCE: Drill, baby, drill. Drill, baby, drill. Drill, baby, drill.

PALIN: And finally, friends, helping families who have children with special needs, it is an issue very near and dear to my heart. With the recent birth of our perfectly beautiful baby boy, we joined so many other American families know that some of life’s greatest joys sometimes come with some unique challenges.

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Obama on NBC's 'Today Show': Transcript (9-23-08)

Read the full transcript.

LAUER: Forty-two days until this nation elects a new president. Today Barack Obama is coming here to the Tampa Bay area for a rally, and to prepare for Friday night’s presidential debate. On Monday, I caught up with Senator Obama in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where he was campaigning. And we talked about this massive federal bailout package of $700 billion. And I said, despite the pressure to get this bill passed quickly, what would cause you in the Senate to stand up and vote no?


OBAMA: Well, there are a couple of core principles that I think have to be in place.

LAUER: Deal breakers.

OBAMA: Deal breakers. I think you have to have a some mechanism of oversight. You can’t get...

LAUER: But both sides agree on that.

OBAMA: Both sides agree on that. But the administration hasn’t been entirely clear on whether they agree with it. But the bottom line is, you can’t give one person authority over $700 billion without any oversight whatsoever. So I think that’s going to be important.

A second thing that is going to be important is to make sure that the criteria by which people -- firms participate, the way it’s set up assures that taxpayers are going to get the upside and not just the downside.

We want to make sure that taxpayers are benefiting. Third principle is it can’t be simply a bailout for investors, CEOs, shareholders. They’ve got to take a hit for the bad decisions that they make.

LAUER: But how much time do you have to vet this? The talk is this has to get done within the next week or two weeks.

OBAMA: Right. Yes.

LAUER: If you’re lucky enough to be elected president and it turns out this plan has flaws, they’re not going to want to hear from you, “We were rushed into this.” They’re going to say, “You voted yes, pal. It’s yours.”

OBAMA: Well, this is why we’ve got to think about this in two phases. We’ve got a short-term crisis that has to be dealt with in a bipartisan fashion, and then we got a long-term structural set of problems that we’ve got to deal with.


OBAMA: If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums.


LAUER: You’ve laid out an ambitious plan. You want to improve health care, you want to improve education, the infrastructure...

Obama: Right. LAUER: ... investment in energy. And, oh boy, here comes this $700 billion bill that wasn’t a part of your thinking when you laid out this plan.

OBAMA: Right.

LAUER: If I’m a voter and I’m trying to decide whether I want to vote for you or Senator McCain, don’t I have a right to know right now from you which of those things are going to get hit by the budget axe before I vote for you?

OBAMA: Although we are potentially providing $700 billion in available money to the Treasury, we don’t anticipate that all that money gets spent right away and we don’t anticipate that all that money is lost.

How we’re going to structure that in budget terms, it still has to be decided.

Does that mean that I can do everything that I’ve called for in this campaign...

LAUER: Probably not.

OBAMA: ... right away? Probably not. I think we’re going to have to phase it in. And a lot of it’s going to depend on what our tax revenues look like.

LAUER: As part of this whole economic picture was the AIG situation. On Tuesday night, the Fed decided to bail them out -- huge amount of money.

OBAMA: Right.

LAUER: That morning, prior to the bailout, John McCain said that the federal government should not bail out AIG. You chastised him.

OBAMA: Right.

LAUER: On the campaign trail.


OBAMA: He said the government should stand aside and allow one of the nation’s largest insurers, AIG, to collapse.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LAUER: So the message to those voters: “ John McCain didn’t grasp the scope of the situation...

OBAMA: Right.

LAUER: ... and get the fallout from the failure of AIG?

OBAMA: I think what has been clear during this entire past 10 days is John McCain has not had clarity and a grasp on the situation.

McCain Aide’s Firm Was Paid by Freddie Mac

This major story on McCain campaign corruption comes from the NY Times.

One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

The disclosure undercuts a statement by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.

Mr. Davis’s firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said.

They said they did not recall Mr. Davis’s doing much substantive work for the company in return for the money, other than speak to a political action committee of high-ranking employees in October 2006 on the approaching midterm Congressional elections. They said Mr. Davis’s firm, Davis & Manafort, had been kept on the payroll because of Mr. Davis’s close ties to Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, who by 2006 was widely expected to run again for the White House.

Mr. Davis took a leave from Davis & Manafortfor the presidential campaign, but as a partner and equity-holder continues to benefit from its income. No one at Davis & Manafort other than Mr. Davis was involved in efforts on Freddie Mac’s behalf, the people familiar with the arrangement said.

A Freddie Mac spokeswoman said the company would not comment.

Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for the McCain campaign, did not dispute the payments to Mr. Davis’s firm. But she said that Mr. Davis had stopped taking a salary from his firm by the end of 2006 and that his work did not affect Mr. McCain.

“Senator McCain’s positions on policy matters are based upon what he believes to be in the public interest,” Ms. Hazelbaker said in a written statement.

The revelations come at a time when Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama are sparring over ties to lobbyists and special interests and seeking political advantage in a campaign being reshaped by the financial crisis and the plan to bail out investment firms.

Mr. McCain’s campaign has been attacking Senator Barack Obama, his Democratic rival, for ties to former officials of the mortgage lenders, both of which have long histories of cultivating allies in the two parties to fend off efforts to restrict their activities. Mr. McCain has been running a television commercial suggesting that Mr. Obama takes advice on housing issues from Franklin D. Raines, former chief executive of Fannie Mae, a contention flatly denied by Mr. Raines and the Obama campaign.

This follows a previous story on the McCain lobbying scandal by the NY Times.
Senator John McCain’s campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations, current and former officials say.

Mr. McCain, the Republican candidate for president, has recently begun campaigning as a critic of the two companies and the lobbying army that helped them evade greater regulation as they began buying riskier mortgages with implicit federal backing. He and his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, have donors and advisers who are tied to the companies.

But last week the McCain campaign stepped up a running battle of guilt by association when it began broadcasting commercials trying to link Mr. Obama directly to the government bailout of the mortgage giants this month by charging that he takes advice from Fannie Mae’s former chief executive, Franklin Raines, an assertion both Mr. Raines and the Obama campaign dispute.

Incensed by the advertisements, several current and former executives of the companies came forward to discuss the role that Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager and longtime adviser, played in helping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat back regulatory challenges when he served as president of their advocacy group, the Homeownership Alliance, formed in the summer of 2000. Some who came forward were Democrats, but Republicans, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed their descriptions.

McCain NY Times Interview: Transcript (9-21-08)

"The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator John McCain by John Harwood of The New York Times and CNBC." Read the full transcript.

HARWOOD: You've been briefed on this massive bailout the Treasury's proposing. Should it happen? Should foreign-owned firms be eligible for it? And will it work?

Sen. McCAIN: I haven't been--I've talked to Secretary Paulson, and I haven't gotten into all the details of it. Obviously the rescue is absolutely called for. But I have focused my attention on two things. One is that I respect and admire Secretary Paulson, but as far as I can dell--can tell, we're placing all those responsibilities in the hands of one person. I think we need to appoint an oversight board of the most respected people in America, such as maybe Warren Buffett, who's a Obama supporter; Mitt Romney, Mike Bloomberg, so that there can be some kind of oversight of, instead of just putting all this responsibility on a person who may be gone in four months.

The second thing is, this CEO executive compensation. I notice at Lehman, aren't bailed out but went bankrupt, that some $2.5 billion in compensation. If they're bankrupt, where did they get that? But the major point is that no CEO of any corporation or business that is bailed out by us, that is rescued by American tax dollars, should receive any more than the highest paid person in the federal government and in...

HARWOOD: And foreign-owned firms?

Sen. McCAIN: On the foreign-owned firms, there's so much mixed ownership and there's questions about who really runs things and who is there, I'd have to look at that more precisely, and I'm sure that we can sort that out. But I think the major thing is that, as much as I admire Secretary Paulson, we've got to have more people that're respected by Americans. We're sending--we're spending as much or more than a trillion dollars on this. We all know, this is the greatest crisis we've faced, clearly, since the end of World War II.

HARWOOD: What do you say to conservatives in your party who look at the--look at this and say, `Wow, this is a lot closer to socialism than to free market capitalism'?

Sen. McCAIN: I say to them, `I'm with you in spirit, but I remember the S&L crisis, and we had to go in, we created the RTC, and we had to go in and fix these problems.' The Japanese, as we know, had a crisis some years ago. They didn't fix it, and their economy has limped along, as we all know. So this is going to require drastic action. The role of government in our society is clearly that we help Americans who are being hurt by circumstances beyond our control. This is Washington cronyism in excess and Wall Street cronyism in excess that has caused this. Meanwhile, the innocent bystanders are having their very life threatened, or certainly their futures threatened by this crisis.

HARWOOD: You mentioned cronyism and corruption on Wall Street and in Washington, and you've criticized Obama for self dealing here. How do you square that with the fact that your campaign manager, Rick Davis, was involved in some lobbying activities on behalf of Fannie Mae? And secondly, what specifically would you prevent, would you outlaw--what activity would you outlaw in Wall Street to make sure this doesn't happen again?

Sen. McCAIN: Now, on Wall Street, I'd--obviously we need to stop--we need to more--have more transparency. We need to take the regulatory agencies and merge them together in one effective agency. These regulatory agencies, this alphabet soup, was really designed for a different era. We're now in global transactions. We need more transparency. We need to combine the regulatory agencies, and we need to give them some more authority, if necessary, to do so. You know, Secretary Paulson had a package of recommendations sometime ago that basically did not really go anywhere. Maybe we can look at those and other recommendations in the future.

Obama NY Times Interview: Transcript (9-21-08)

"The following is a transcript of an interview with Senator Barack Obama by John Harwood of The New York Times and CNBC." Read the full transcript.

HARWOOD: You've been briefed on this plan the Treasury is putting forward, working out with Congress. How confident are you that this is going to work?

Sen. OBAMA: Well, I don't think it's completely a plan yet. What we have is a request, a massive amount of money that the Treasury would have discretion over, and we know that it's going to potentially take a while to work this thing out. We haven't seen all the details. But we have to remember, first of all, how we got here. We had years of regulators looking the other way. We had, I believe, a economic theory that's failed, that says anything goes at the top and we're not going to worry about what's happening on Main Street. Regardless of how we got there, we now have a situation where people's jobs, people's savings, people's retirement accounts, their job security, all that is at risk. And so we've got to take some firm and decisive steps. I think that it has to be bold, and I am supportive of the need for quick action, but there's some principles that I think have to be included.

Number one, I think we have to have oversight. I don't think it can be a blank check. We can set up a system where there's an independent overseer, maybe the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank and the Democrats and the Republicans each appoint somebody to oversee the system. But we have to make sure that this is--there's some accountability mechanism in it.

A second principle that we have to have is that the taxpayers have to share in the upside of this process. If we are buying up assets and are eventually selling them, we want to make sure that it's structured in a way that taxpayers aren't left holding the bag and it ends up costing a lot more than it should.

Third principle is that we've got to have relief for the homeowners. The underlying problem in this whole situation is that home values are declining, foreclosures are going haywire. We've got to make sure that we're addressing that underlying problem and that relief flows to homeowners and it's not just a bailout for Wall Street.

And the fourth principle that I think is important is that as we increase liquidity in the system as we restore market confidence; that we're also making sure that CEOs and executives, large investors, that they are not walking away with billions of dollars in profits or added value. I think there's got to be some constraints on what they benefit in terms of making sure that the program works and the taxpayers aren't paying for multimillion dollar bonuses.

HARWOOD: It looks as if there's the bipartisan will to move this through quickly in Congress, and if that happens then the government will have just taken on $700 billion of obligations that you haven't planned on throughout your two-year campaign for president. So how do you adjust your agenda in light of that, whether it's the scale of your plans for spending on health care, energy or other issues, whether it's on the advisability of raising taxes on capital gains and dividends, even staffing your administration? Would you ask Hank Paulson, for example, to stay on as Treasury secretary?

Sen. OBAMA: Well, I'll take the last question first. I think that the transition from the current administration to the next one is going to be something we've got to pay a lot of attention to; not just because of the financial crisis, but also because we're in the middle of two wars and we are still vulnerable to terrorist attacks. So without saying specifically what we'll do, I think it's important to make sure that that transition is seamless and that we pass the baton effectively.