Financial Rescue and the House Vote

Yesterday vote must have been difficult for each of our representatives. Do they listen to their constituents or not? Do they follow their political ideology or not? Do they buy into or ignore the politics of fear? Do they vote to protect or jeopardize their upcoming re-election? Let’s face it, our representatives are politicians, they were between a rock and a hard place, and they don’t want ever to take a hit.

There’s also the American public. The majority hasn’t taken any economics class beyond high school (and some didn’t have that much). Those that took it in college didn’t have more than a course or two. Most of us don’t understand financial systems, especially the nature of today’s global markets – and none of us want to take a hit.

Many citizens were quick to focus on the word “bailout” and assume it simply meant to keep failing businesses in business – and of course, fund those CEO payments. Did they understand the issue? Others demanded a taxpayer foreclosure protection over the rescue plan. Are they placing individual needs over the needs of our nation? Was the public sufficiently informed about the situation, the pros and cons of the proposal, and possible consequences of passing and failing the proposal?

Yesterday, the market not only took a hit as the vote was unfolding, but the effect rippled throughout the global financial sector. Will today bring more of the same? Our individual finances plunged. Credit has tightened to business and individuals. I wondered how many people who called their representatives to vote “no” also whined about their personal financial loss. I wonder how many representatives regretted their vote as the market tanked. I wonder how many representatives boasted about “that’s how the free market works.”

I’m not an economics guru by any means, but I do understand that one role of government is to assist the economy when necessary – and yes – get out of its way when all is well. This plan was about creating a prop for the troubled financial credit sector. Ah yes, the original three-page proposal needed many amendments; but that’s the role of our elected officials.

  • So to the representatives saying greed is to blame and they were against bailing out financial foolishness on Wall Street, I say thank you for promoting the deregulated environment that encouraged such behavior.
  • To the representatives saying they were protecting the taxpayer’s financial interest, thank you for decreasing the value of my portfolio.
  • Thank you for tightening the door to the credit vaults for the financially prudent public.
  • Thank you for keeping credit away from financially responsible companies and their use of credit to promote business and employee people.
  • Thank you Speaker Pelosi for your ill-timed remarks.
  • Thanks to all for demonstrating bipartisanship.
  • Thank you Rep. Virginia Fox (R-N.C.) for protecting the Constitution as I’m sure it was in trouble.

The market may be down, but the Constitution is up!

Where do we go from here? President Bush is unpopular and somewhat powerless. House leaders of both parties were on the losing side. The public is fickle, and our elected government officials are sensitive to their personal election needs. Good or bad, something will happen – and we’ll discover if this situation was the politics of fear or reality. Time will tell. After all, it can’t be that serious as our representatives are off for two days. And many probably returned home at taxpayer expense.

I love Jay Leno’s line of wondering if help from a failing president and a failing congress seeking funds to help failing businesses would work. Meanwhile, let’s re-elect our 435 representatives who cast a country-first vote over personal convictions, political ideology, and special interests. Hmmm – I wonder which special interests would benefit from the proposal and which would benefit from its defeat.

A Moderate’s Dilemma

The race for the presidency is inside 40 days. Although polls remain close, the independent undecided voters are going to determine the outcome. Some independents have a preference, but they also know that is subject to change. As the list below shows, the choice for independent moderates isn’t easy.

  • Too conservative vs. too liberal
  • One special interest group vs. another
  • One form of rhetoric vs. different rhetoric
  • Experienced vs. less experienced
  • Diplomacy vs. military
  • Less details vs. even fewer
  • Eloquent vs. straight talk
  • Multi-party government vs. single-party control
  • A history of partisanship vs. a hope of bipartisanship
  • A vision vs. a continuation
  • Charismatic vs. heroic
  • Spending too much vs. spending even more
  • Cool vs. quick hit
  • National security vs. national economy
  • Calculating vs. risk taking
  • One special interest conglomerate vs. another

They’ve Earned It Rankings: Week 5

For new readers, this ranking system uses an old-fashion approach: Who played and who won. Factors as expectations, traditions, and numerous other meaningless factors don’t count. For more information about the criteria, visit Week 1.

Meanwhile, this was quite the week as USC, Georgia, Florida, and Wake Forest were the cause of that resounding THUD heard by all college football fans. Byes continue to create havoc, but the gradual unfolding of the season adds to the intrigue.

They’ve Earned It Top 10 Countdown
10. Utah
9. Auburn
8. Connecticut
7. South Florida
6. Oklahoma
5. BYU
4. LSU
3. Penn State
2. Vanderbilt
1. Alabama

Previous Weeks

Week 4

Week 3

Week 2

Week 1

Upcoming Debates

The first day of the first debate has arrived, yet there’s uncertainty on whether it will take place. I guess all of us will learn the answer as the day unfolds.

Nonetheless, if I were running the debates, here are some of the rules I would enforce.

  1. If the candidate doesn’t answer the question, turn off their microphone.
  2. If the candidate strays from the question, turn off their microphone.
  3. If the candidate stresses the faults of the other candidate’s position over emphasizing their position, turn off their microphone.
  4. If a candidate cuts off the other, turn off their microphone.

With these rules, here are two scenarios:

  • Given 30 seconds should be sufficient for each candidate, think about all the questions that could be asked.
  • Given 3-5 minutes per answer, think about the unsaid-until-now details voters would learn.

Welcome to La-La Land.

Real Change

There’s no doubt in my mind that we overestimate the value of a presidential election as well as the president’s job; and at the same time, underestimate Congress’s importance. Doesn’t Civics 101 tell us about the three branches of our government and how they intertwine?

At the present time, our Congress has a lower approval rating than our president. Considering President Bush’s low rating and popularity, Congress’s much lower approval is quite the accomplishment.

Depending on poll, Congress’s ratings over the past six months are in the following ranges: Approve (13-23%) and Disapprove (67-81%). Of course the topping on the cake is the fact that slightly over 50% of those polled approve the job of those representing them. Now let me get this straight. The far majority of the electorate disapprove of Congress, but also have the “but my reps are ok” attitude.

Personally, three points about that contradiction:
1) That’s pathetic!
2) We the people are getting what we ask for.
3) Being that 60% of voters are partisan oriented anyway, many people are clueless about change.

Fortunately, the presidency/Executive branch is one-third of our government. Unfortunately, many voters over emphasize the presidential vote and underestimate the importance of selecting representatives and senators. After all, Congress (not the Oval Office) serves as our policy makers.

Let’s see. All 435 House seats and 34 senators are up for re-election this year. I guess 80% of more of incumbents will win. Given Congress high disapproval rating, is that acceptable? Is something wrong with this picture?

In the 90s I told people that there were two problems in Washington and it wasn’t Bill and Hillary. Again, the two major problems that past eight years are not GW and Chaney. It’s the Democratic and Republican parties! Both parties are greatly influenced by special interests, and both parties apply pressure to their members to vote certain ways. Both parties can withdraw support for anyone bucking the party. One could argue that the Democratic and Republican parties are the two biggest special interest groups in Washington serving as a conglomerate for other special interests.

So it’s this simple. A Frank Angle’s solution for those desiring change: Vote the bums out! If they vote 80% or better with their party, vote the bums out! If they vote for earmarks, vote the bums out! If they participate in wasteful spending, vote the bums out! If they violate ethic standards, vote the bums out! What is so difficult?

My story is straight forward as I practice what I preach. I will vote against my incumbent representative (for the challenger) on the first Tuesday of November. And, if the challenge wins, I will be against the challenger on the first Wednesday of November saying “get the bum out.” Not giving the challenger a chance is simple: it will take several purges for Washington to get the message and start working for the people instead of working the party.

In a classic film, character Howard Beale best sums up my feelings.

Defining “Change”

Change – the word that has turned into a central theme of this campaign season. Change – the word that the partisans don’t understand it’s meaning beyond the sound bites by their candidate.

Going back in times allows anyone to discover that the change theme isn’t anything new to presidential campaigns. Anytime there’s a transition from one party to the other, change is the theme. Running against an incumbent, change is a theme. Campaigning on a particular issue, change works again.

I’ll give Senator Obama credit as change has been his theme from the start. On the other hand, Senator McCain is returning to a previously-used change theme that apparently is gaining traction. Hmmm … I wonder if that has anything to do with partisanship! Of course identifying the meaning of change could be a post in itself.

So for the sake of everyone, here’s the bottom line about the meaning of change in this election.

  • McCain-Palin: In general, continue current policies but go about it a different way with different personalities.
  • Obama-Biden: Change current policies, change the personalities, but retain the basic processes and practices (although the party would disagree).

It’s difficult for Washington to change for the following reason:
1) Too much inertia; thus an object at rest remains at rest. The more massive the object, the greater the force needed to change its position. If so, the change is ever so minor, thus needs massive amounts of energy to get the job done. Surely everyone agrees that the federal government is a massive organization.

2) Each party continues party-first ways of behavior.

3) Special interests influence both parties, thus minimizing governing by the people, for the people.

So regardless of the outcome, change will occur, but it is doubtful that it will be the real change that many Americans actually desire.

It’s Great Being an Independent Moderate

Independent moderates view bumper stickers, laugh, then shake their heads.

Independent moderates see the best and the worst of the two parties at the same time.

Independent moderates view the political landscape as a football field, thus never let the ball cross either 30 yard line.

Independent moderates know all media is naturally biased, thus pick their preferred network on other factors.

Independent moderates honestly criticize or praise both sides.

Independent moderates have a better understanding of issues and positions because they study and don’t automatically side with a partisan party.

Independent moderates don’t jump on a party bandwagon because they don’t trust where the wagon is going.

Independent moderates don’t like nick-picky bickering, campaign BS, nonanswers to questions, and lack of specifics.

Independent moderates not provoke fear if candidate X in party Y is elected.

Independent moderates balance government programs with fiscal responsibility.

Independent moderates listen and reflect.

Independent moderates see through campaign BS.

Independent moderates are the ones who change the direction of the political pendulum.

Independent moderates listen to new ideas (such as President Bush’s social security reform) but also ask the tough questions about financing the transition from one system to the next (a subject the Bush administration did not address).

Independent moderates have a clear, grounded view that is a response of the far left’s heads-in-the-clouds view and the far right’s head-up-their-butt view. (Or visa versa.)

Independent moderates prefer a Supreme Court balanced with different legal ideologies rather than a court dominated by one.

Independent moderates do not vote based on red or blue, gender, race, or a single issue.

Independent moderates disapprove of negative campaign ads by either party, and despise special interest ads.

Independent moderates know legislation dealing with morality, patriotism, civic responsibility, and faith-based issues are doomed for failure.

Independents trust our country’s election outcomes more than party partisans.

Independent moderates long for campaigns based on issues.

Independent moderates favor people-driven, country-first solutions over party interests.

Independent moderates want the victor to be successful – no matter how they voted.