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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bipartisan Ship Sinks: Bailout Fails 9.29.08

In a decisive vote on Monday September 29th, the US House of Representatives voted down the 110-page Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.  Following the surprising floor vote, the stock market in New York fell over 700 points.  A gasp from the Congressional leadership could be heard on Wall Street, K Street and over at the White House.    The Treasury Secretary Paulson, whose name was informally on the bill was very disappointed.    So what happened?   Why did the Members of Congress veer off the appointed script presented in press conferences by their leadership (both parties)?     Even the presidential candidates had to rewrite their speeches on the campaign trail.  And the pointing fingers of blame were out in force as the Members surveyed the vote results.

            The simple “blank check” for the US Treasury Secretary began as a three-page solution to the looming financial crisis was cooked up by the Bush administration, working with Secretary Hank Paulson (former Goldman Sachs executive) and the Democratic leaders in Congress.   The minority Republicans were excluded from the process.    While bipartisan by definition would include both the House and Senate (Democratic and Republican), in this case the majority lawmakers and the “lame duck” President were ready to cut a deal.    So confident were the Democrats in Congress that the initial talks to hammer out the Bail Out Bill were held with a just a few key Congressional leaders.    The minority Republicans could come along later, but didn’t need to be (as per the Dems) involved in negotiating the bill language.  

            But as the pig was being readied for market, a few things happened that slowed down and changed the original script.    First, while the folks on Wall Street were desperate for quick action by the politicians in Washington DC, the folks on Main Street were livid that a blank check from the taxpayers was being considered for the financial players in New York.    For the past 10 days, the taxpayer calls and communications from back home have been overwhelming in their “non-support” of the Bail Out Bill.     Second, the majority Democrats realized that they needed cover (a bipartisan vote) to pass the bill.    The final vote outcome indicates that most freshman (Dems & Reps) opposed the bill, so did those in tight races back home or those Members like the Democrat Udall cousins  (Mark from Colorado and Tom from New Mexico) who are running in contested races for the US Senate.  Third, presidential politics entered in as both McCain and Obama took differing approaches to the bail out package and debate.    In a grand gesture, Senator McCain suspended his campaign to head back to Washington to help broker a deal.    Senator Obama continued to campaign and prepare for the debate, but eventually flew back to Washington to be involved.    Finally, despite a plea from the President at a joint leadership meeting at the White House last Thursday, the tension and partisanship in Congress continued to mount going into the weekend. 

            So what about the bipartisan support, talked about by all sides but barely practiced in the process?    The House Republicans, who originally were considered not relevant by the House Democratic Leadership, were inspired by their Presidential candidate (John McCain) and began to weight in on the bill.    The House Democrats had to give nearly 100 of their members a “pass vote”, that is if the individual Members in tight reelection races forced them to do so, they could vote “No”. Thus, the Democrats realized that they still needed a number of GOP House Members to vote in favor of the bill.    As the Speaker of House delivered her prepared remarks on early on Monday afternoon, she departed from the script and delivered partisan diatribe on the eight years of Bush and GOP “fiscal irresponsibility, combined with an anything goes economic policy”.   For a video clip of Speaker Pelosi’s ad lib remarks, see or In a city that is “all politics, all of the time”, the Democratic Leader iced the cake of bipartisan defeat.   40% of her own members voted “No” and the Republicans voted “No” by a 2 to 1 margin.  Congress maintained their 10% voter approval rating as Congressional leadership began the “blame others” debate immediately following the Bail Out Bill failure.   A call has gone out to the US Navy for a salvage vessel to come to Wash DC to refloat the bipartisan ship.   Maybe Obama or MaCain would be willing to captain that ship?

© 2008, Four Corners Media,  Jasper Welch

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tie Goes to the Runner

Tie Goes to the Runner   Prez Debate 9.27.08   jazzman3

In baseball, the tie goes to the runner.   At this point, the first one-on-one debate in the 2008 Presidential race, the runner is John McCain and the 1st baseman is Barack Obama.  Senator McCain is stretching to win the race, while Senator Obama is holding on to stay in the race.  According the left leaning MSM, the script calls for Senator Obama to continue his soaring campaign all the way into the White House.  The Republican nominee, Senator John McCain is not supposed to be this competitive in the Presidential horse race.  Can’t he just fade away like the last Republican war hero, former US Senator Bob Dole?   However, this 2008 Republican nominee is looking presidential and the Democratic candidate is looking for more experience, as reflected in his VP pick of Senator Joe Biden.

In this first debate, both men held their own generally in the debate.  But the real goal is not who won the debate (that the MSM naturally gave to Senator Obama), but which candidate looked presidential and ready to lead the United States of America?   To me Obama knew about the subjects and was well prepared for the debate, but McCain really knows the world and he is well prepared to be President.     This is what will convince the US voter…is this guy ready to be the President?

Based on Senator Obama’s own words, “John you are absolutely right on that”, the junior Senator from Illinois was the follower as he acknowledged the Senator from Arizona articulate his position on the issues.   Byron York noted that Senator Obama make this statement of acknowledgement eight (8) times during the Friday night presidential debate   There was plenty of disagreement during the debate, but it was clear that McCain’s experience, judgment and determination was substantial as compared to Obama’s smooth and well rehearsed subject matter answers.

Both men weighed into the debate with vigor, resolve and determination, as the national stage was set to discuss the issues.     The moderator, PBS newsman Jim Lehrer made the decision to have the presidential candidates respond to each other, in addition to answering the questions.    In a sense the Mr. Lehrer was also a winner in the debate, as his approach kept the topic and responses by the candidates more spontaneous, and less rehearsed.  

Three areas stand out in this debate:  Taxes and spending, the war in Iraq and dealing with the rouge nations of the world.   Moderator Jim Lehrer asked each candidate, based on the potential cost of the financial bail out, what would each man do in response in terms of the Federal budget?   Senator Obama wavered as he realized that with less tax revenues at the Federal level, many of his spending priorities would be in jeopardy.  But where to cut, that was beyond his experience and way of thinking.    Senator McCain on the other hand, weighed right in with suggesting a freeze on US government spending, with exceptions for national defense, veterans and some entitlements. 

Both candidates differ on the war on Iraq.   Barack Obama built his political career and campaign at the national level on an anti-war position, regardless of the consequences or situation on the ground in Iraq.    John McCain, on the other hand, took the approach that while war is something to avoid and only to be engaged in as the last resort, we better get the mission accomplished in Iraq, and leave with victory, honor and dignity.   McCain knew his bracelet, it’s story and the young man’s name whom he committed to his mother that his battlefield sacrifice was not in vain.  Obama quickly responded that he had a bracelet to, but struggled to remember the young man’s name.   He knew the reason he wore it for the soldier’s mom, but in a political way that supports his anti-war position.

Then the question of what to do with Iran came up, and the contrasts of the candidates became even clearer.  Senator Obama wove a delicate set a statements as he backed away from his primary campaign position of “I’ll talk to anyone and anytime, with out preconditions”.   Senator McCain schooled the younger senator in diplomacy 101, making the airtight case for preconditions prior to the US President meeting with any rouge state or enemy head of state.   While Obama was ready for the Presidential debate, McCain came across as ready to be the President of the United States.    He looks like he is now off and running to 2nd base, the site of the October 7th Presidential debate.

© 2008, Four Corners Media, Durango, CO  

Friday, September 26, 2008


Deal or No Deal?     What happened in Wash DC?   9.27.08      Jazzman3

Deal or no deal?   So did the Democratic (party) controlled Congress actually have a deal by Thursday 9.26.08 in Washington?   Well it depends on what “agreement in principle” means, or what your definition of “close to a deal” is.   With news coming out of Washington, the RNC, the DNC, the MSM, the Obama campaign, the McCain campaign and on the blogsphere plus alternative media, it is pretty confusing as to what actually happened.  [See Stephen F. Hayes article Depends on the Meaning of Close: Blaming McCain for the bailout fallout at 9.25.2008] The $700 Billion bailout, as proposed by the Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and being advocated by the Democratic leadership in Congress, is very unpopular with the US voters.   According to recent Rasmussen Reports  only 30% of the American public thinks that the US government should fund the Wall Street leaning bailout.   So if the majority Democrats can pass a massive bailout bill (without Republican support), why are they waiting for the minority Republicans?     Why was the MSM press reluctant to report the massive amount of phone calls from the American people that are coming into Congressional offices with real concerns?   Each and every member of the House faces re-election in early November, so this bailout vote will be very visible and will have political, as well as financial implications.

Now we inject Presidential politics into the mix, and, as is always the case, political considerations supercede all other considerations.    While New York City may be the (weakened) financial capital of the United States, Washington DC is still the political capital of the Nation.   And in Washington, it is all about politics all of the time.   So in order for the Dems to gather political cover for a massive and unpopular $700 bailout, they are desperate for enough Republican votes to pass the massive bailout to have political cover before they face the voters back in their home districts.   But the Dems have some serious political problems, including never really including the Republican members of the House in the preliminary work on the bill, and the need for Democrats to deny any credit (and to lay blame for any fallout) to GOP nominee John McCain.     It is very hard to claim the bipartisan credit that Democrat leadership of Congress yearns for, if the Republicans don’t support the massive bailout in its present form.  

So was there a deal?    You decide, but until there is an actual vote in Congress and the President signs the bill, there is no signed deal.    In the meantime, the bailout deal and the election cards on the table are being managed by political magicians for their own purposes.   

© 2008  Four Corners Media, Durango, CO


Presidential Politics 9.26.08

As a recovering elected official, I’ve been watching the Presidential (and other) race(s) closely.  Actually I served as the Mayor of small town in Colorado…kind of like a community organizer, except with some actual responsibility.

Each day, I’ll get my start with and and, plus the Weekly Standard and National Review on Line.   Various pundits, columnists, polling data and video clips of the day, will get me off to a good start on the daily campaign chatter.

Sarah Palin was a very good pick by Senator McCain, and the liberal media (NYT, big three TV, AP & Time) totally over reacted and blew their “balanced coverage” facade (which was already left leaning, but now the MSM has fallen into leftist hands as their propaganda organs).  Obviously the Main Stream Media (MSM) thought Palin was a good pick (and needed to be defined in their liberal MSM terms).  This viewpoint is based on the MSM atom bomb approach to disable the newly minted conservative VP before she could define herself with US voters.   It is now very clear that the national press (MSM) is in the tank for Obama, and they will trash the GOP ticket at every chance they have (which is now being done on the 24/7 basis).  Some of the unfounded rumors and over reaching media bias towards Gov Palin is ridiculous.... and in my opinion is helping the GOP, because the average person is saying, “Wait a minute, this is an emerging woman leader and Governor isn’t getting a fair shake”.

And the Democratic VP nominee, US Senator Joe Biden, is Mr. Gaffe extraordinaire.   As the golden-tongued senior Senator on the Democratic ticket, he is a sound bite machine, with a disdain for historical accuracy.    Let’s see, FDR as president on TV dealing with the Depression?   President want to be Biden was only a decade and a major technology away from the truth!   More history in the remaking by our US Senator from the teeny tiny state of Delaware. If president-elect Obama was looking for change, Biden’s role in the “Change ticket” is apparently to keeping changing the stories daily. McCain clearly made the better VP choice, and he looked to the future in selecting a proven reformer and Governor with a record on energy, cutting spending and actually leading a state as the chief elected executive.

 Colorado is a battleground state this year, so we are getting pounded by ads, mostly negative and from out of state 527 groups just carpet bombing the state with “over the top” TV and radio ads.  Do the 527’s or campaigns really think that anyone is listening?  Maybe the money could be better spent on helping orphans around the world?

Only 40 days to go, and it is getting interesting.   McCain’s decision to suspend on the campaign Thursday (9/26) and head back to Washington (and try to actually get something done) shows his leadership.  Obama was trying to figure out what to do, but apparently rolling up his sleeves to actually get something done in Wash DC, was taking a back seat to debate prep and press conferences!   Then, when he and the Obama advisors realized that “debate prep in Florida” was not exactly the “Change We can Believe in”, they were relieved that that President Bush gave them a call to head back to Washington for some actual work.   For all the Dems whining about “injecting Presidential politics into the massive bailout debate”, both Obama and McCain are sitting US Senators, and in my opinion, they should weigh into the “massive bailout” debate as the emerging leaders of their respective parties.   The Dem majority and a weakened “lame duck” president need supervision in Washington, prior to screwing up the present financial mess up even worst than it is now!

We’ll see what the big economic summit in Washington DC brings today.