Sunday, September 28, 2008

Debate Reaction

Now that a couple of nights have passed, and the dust settled a little, I thought I'd post my reaction.

On the first part of the debate, neither candidate looked very ready regarding the 'bailout' questions. McCain did, however, come across as snide in his attacks on Obama, a theme that carried along throughout the night.

When they moved to foriegn policy, McCain clearly showed he has been around, and has considerable experience. However, McCain didn't do what he wanted to do, which was to paint Obama as inexperienced and/or uninformed. In fact, if anything, Obama appeared at least as capable on the subject as McCain. McCain struck some points when he pointed out his 'surge' success, and again on his attack on Obama's reaction to Russia's invasion of Georgia. Past that, frankly, McCain didn't seem to have much to say. He seemed to repeat the same old message (the surge worked) over and over again. My reaction was, "Is THAT all you've got?" You're going to claim someone is unready, and all you can complain about is someone feeling, that after 3 and a half years, there was no reason to believe the Bush administration any longer - and so be skeptical of the surge?

Obama, for his part, appeared calm, even Presidential. He didn't have much meat to his answers, though, even on things which should have been easy for him. He DID however, do the one thing the McCain camp could NOT have him do. He appeared ready, informed, prepared. He also stripped away the veneer that McCain was foolish enough to paste over himself, specifically, that the 'surge' was the only topic on Iraq worth mentioning. He pointed out the repeated mistakes and missteps of the administration, and of it's chief cheerleader, McCain. If there was a defining moment in that debate for Obama, it was him pointing out to McCain, the repeated mistakes, and saying, "It's as if you think that war started in 2007."

On the intangibles, the things which often tip debates, clearly Obama came across as more likaeble, more someone whom you could see in the role, could stand watching for 4 yeears on television. McCain appeared smug, even at times conceited. He also appeared cold, even wooden. He didn't even look at Obama once during the debate, a sign of disrespect, or so it would seem. The tracking meters all nose-dived whenever either candidate began attacking the other one, and mostly, McCain only attacked (small wonder, he has little positive to point to).

On balance 60/40 Obama - which means a loss for McCain because this was his favorite topic, the place where he 'has all the experience', and because Obama appeared MORE than able to hold his own.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Charlie Rangel

Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), must go, meaning, he must be replaced as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee

He has on-going allegations and factual substantiation of failure to pay taxes on properties in the Dominican Republic, failure to report taxable income in other investments, and sweet-heart deals in New York City on rental property.

As Chairman of Ways and Means, he chairs one of the most important committees in Congress. Among its duties is oversight of tax policy. Clearly Mr. Rangel has become too cozy, too comfortable with the power and the temptations his position offers.

If this were one allegation, I'd agree that it's much ado about nothing, as he asserts, but it isn't. It's at least two serious charges of failure to pay taxes, along with tax deferements on properties he has no legitimate need to be renting or having government subsidy expended against.

The bottom line is to lead, is to set an example. His example is intollerable, and he must go. Let the hypocrtical hyper-polemics defend their crookss as they will (e.g. Tom Foley or Tom Delay), but the right example is demanding of BOTH parties that they live up to the public trust they are graced and honored to be given.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Fall of Giants

It may be that in 20 or 100 years, they will look back on today and call it "Black Monday."

It certainly is a bell-weather, a day to recall - the fall of the two largest investment banks in the country, coming only days after the bailout of the two largest lending institutions (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

I work in this industry, I have friends at Lehman, my peers at my current company all come from Merril. It's a sad, sad day.

There are a few fools who attributed Fannie and Freddie to Henry Paulson, that's just because they don't know anything, but let me be clear, FM/FM failures stem from the market they were required to play in - backing FHA loans regardless of the risk taken on by the originator.

Lehman and Merril represent collapses due to unsound investment, sure, but why did they invest unsoundly? What caused the liquidity crisis? What caused people with good credit and sound income to declare bankruptcy? These aren't sub-prime loans, these were ARM's, or Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs), or Home Equity Loans (HEILs). Why are so many defaulting? Why did someone at Merril estimate that a huge percentage of their HEIL's are at risk of default?

The answer is frankly simple, peoples income have not kept up with costs of living - they can't absorb these continuing inflationary pressures. What they absorbed through their home equity in the past, is no longer available. When you include the massive debt burdened/heaped on them by the admninistration for Iraq, for FM/FM bailout, for unfunded infrastructure - all to give more money to the top, who then DIDN'T invest it in America - well, not just Joe Average is bankrupt - so to is the ability of the public to pay these debts.

As a result, make no mistake, the rocks have been hit - the hull is leaking - and no BS about ear-marks is going to make it all go away. We have huge problems, not the least of which is that good friends of mine are packing their desks for things they didn't cause, being held accountable for something they didn't do. Those who ARE responsible for this mess have cashed their stock options and fled to Bermuda. Perhaps we can brand them with a big fat black 'G' - for greed - and they can try to tell us all how greed is good.