Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What would a "Main Street" rescue package look like?

I'm pretty convinced now that it's a good thing that Congress didn't pass the big bailout bill yesterday. We know now that there's no way "Club for Growth" Republicans like our own Tim Walberg will permit spending money to benefit the middle class or re-regulating the financial system.

Here's a link to an article by Dean Baker at Talking Points Memo. What he says about the root of the problem being the dramatic loss of the home equity we have been using to get credit for our purchases makes sense to me. I agree with his proposed solutions: have the federal government buy direct equity stakes in the failing institutions to provide them with capital, and send money to state and local governments to use for infrastructure projects and other expenditures to stimulate the economy. This approach seems to me to be much more "Main Street"-friendly.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Trust Obama & Biden to Lead in Reforming the US Fiancial Systems

What a mess our financial system is in! And John McCain has been contributing to it all the time he's been in the Senate by voting consistently for deregulation. (Can we call that one year of experience repeated 25 times as it concerns finance?) In choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, he has done nothing to shore up the economic leadership credentials of the ticket.

On the other hand, Barack Obama and Joe Biden are leaders who have shown excellent judgment in support of rebuilding the middle class in America. They understand just how complex the current financial crisis is and what the Executive Branch can and cannot do to address the issues. In addition, the Democratic Party's track record on the economy is far better than the Republican Party's. If you'd like to see charts and graphs that show this, here's a link to an article by Reed Hunt at the blog Talking Points Memo.

It's my opinion that Barack Obama and Joe Biden have the qualities of character most needed to navigate the rough waters we're in. To get a sense for what they are thinking, read the transcript of Obama's September 17 speech in Elko, Nevada and his remarks today calling for bipartisanship to address the crisis and craft a plan for Main Street as well as Wall Street.

Update: September 24 - McCain's knee-jerk reaction to the debate between Congress and the Bush administration about how to deal with the financial crisis: Suspend his campaign, go to Washington (where he has no official role in the negotiating), and cancel Friday's first debate with Obama. I agree with this article by Joe Klein - it's a gimmick.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Getting ready to vote in the General Election - Registration, Absentee Ballot

First, make sure you are registered to vote. The deadline for registration is October 6 for the November 4 General Election. Go to the Secretary of State's web site and make sure you are registered and your address is correct.

If you are not registered to vote yet and want to vote using an absentee ballot, download both the Voter Registration form and the Absentee Ballot Request from the Secretary of State's web site and take them in person to the clerk's office of your city or township during their posted hours of operation.

If you are registered but have never voted in person at your designated polling place before, download the Absentee Ballot Request from the SoS website and take it in person to the clerk's office of your city or township during their posted hours of operation.

If you are registered and have voted at your designated polling place in the past, you can mail your Absentee Ballot Request form to the clerk of your city or township.

Did you know that if you are 60 years old or older by November 4, you can cast an absentee ballot for that reason alone? Or, if your work takes you to a community that is a distance from the one you live and vote in and there is a chance your work could keep you away from the community you vote in during polling hours on election day, consider requesting an absentee ballot.

Here's the list of all categories for requesting an absentee ballot plus some additional info from the Michigan Secretary of State's office:

"The statutory grounds on which you can base a request to vote absentee are:

□ I expect to be absent from the community in which I am registered for the entire time the polls are open on election day.
□ I am physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another.
□ I cannot attend the polls because of the tenets of my religion.
□ I have been appointed an election precinct inspector in a precinct other than the precinct where I reside.
□ I am 60 years of age or older.
□ I cannot attend the polls because I am confined to jail awaiting arraignment or trial.

Your request for an absentee voter ballot must be in writing and can be submitted to your city or township clerk. (For assistance in obtaining the address of your city or township clerk, see www.Michigan.gov/vote) Your request must include one of the six statutory reasons stated above and your signature. You must request an absentee voter ballot by mailing the online application, with a letter or post card, or you can obtain a pre-printed application form at your local clerk's office. Requests to have an absentee voter ballot mailed to you must be received by your clerk no later than 2 p.m. the Saturday before the election."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain's sleazy ads crowd out real issues

How can John McCain say he approves those ads?! What is he trying to accomplish? The ads seem designed to deceive and divide people. Here's some analysis from Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

There is a clear strategy emerging (from the McCain camp) for the campaign's homestretch. The more the McCain campaign comes up with new disgusting attacks and blatant lies, the more the Obama campaign has to respond. To leave attacks unanswered, or obvious distortions unacknowledged, would be a mistake. At the same time, the more time the Obama campaign has to respond to McCain's sleaze, the less time Obama has for his own message.

In other words, if Obama responds to McCain's sleaze, McCain benefits. If Obama ignores it, McCain benefits.

Remember, McCain's own campaign manager (said) last week, "This election is not about the issues." And the only way to ensure it's not about the issues is to run nauseating ads...
As Involved Voters, I think it's time we said "enough is enough," turned off these ads and started asking how the candidates will address the issues we care about.

For example, today I had the good fortune to attend a gathering of about 50 people at which Susan Rice, an expert on foreign policy and adviser to Barack Obama spoke. She laid out clearly the differences between McCain's "worse than Bush" approach to dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, China, etc and Obama's 21st century approach based on knowledge of the complex world we live in. Good solid information on the issues is out there; but we sure won't be getting it from "info-tainment" TV or McCain's campaign ads.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

This election IS about the issues!

The texts of both the Democratic and the Republican Party Platforms are now available. You'll need Adobe Acrobat software, which can be downloaded for free, to read them.

Involved Voters know that researching party platforms is an important way to determine in what direction the administration of a presidential candidate will take the country.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Good at politicking, bad at governing

John McCain says one thing with his words and another with his actions. His choice of Sarah Palin for VP is an example. Palin is a poster-child for a large part of what's been wrong with the Republican Party for the last eight years. She's been pretty good at getting herself elected, but has governed poorly. We all know people who can claim some executive experience, but were basically incompetent in their positions. Remember "Helluva job, Brownie"?

How can McCain claim to represent the kind of change America needs when he has selected a person who as mayor and governor fired people because they weren't sufficiently loyal to her; as mayor considered getting books she didn't like banned from the library, was threatened with recall and left her town in debt when she ran for lieutenant governor (and lost); and campaigned for governor in support of earmarks like "the bridge to nowhere" but dropped that project once in office, instead taking the federal money and using it for her own pet projects - some of dubious value. Now, in her stump speeches, she continues to include a line bragging that she told Congress 'Thanks. But no thanks' to the Bridge to Nowhere when the statement is a flat out lie.

There's no denying that Sarah Palin is likable in much the same way as President George W Bush has been. But, there are too many things about the way Sarah Palin has governed and about her mind-set that remind me of the worst things about him. This, combined with McCain's record of voting with Bush's positions 90% of the time, leads me to believe that the McCain-Palin ticket will keep the country headed in the wrong direction.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Questioning John McCain's Judgment

Why did John McCain pick Sarah Palin as his choice for VP? It's looking more and more like she was not properly vetted, and that the choice was based entirely on political factors such as her potential to appeal to those on the far, far right on social issues.

Here are some things that have surfaced since McCain made the announcement of Palin as his running mate:
...Palin had actually supported, not opposed, the Bridge to Nowhere; that the true scope of the "Troopergate" scandal she's enmeshed in is a wee bit larger than she fessed up to; that she raised taxes and public debt substantially as mayor of Wasilla; that she supported a windfall profits tax on oil companies as governor of Alaska; and that she's skeptical about human contributions to global warming.

McCain's team talked to very few people in Alaska who knew Palin, didn't do much (any?) archival research on her, and McCain himself had barely even met her before he offered her the job.

So why did she get the nod? Hard to say. George Bush met with Vladimir Putin for couple of hours back in 2001 and immediately announced that "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul." McCain, likewise, after campaigning with Sarah Palin for a few hours on Saturday, went on TV the next day to announce, "She's a partner and a soulmate."

...(T)his is vintage McCain at work. His choice of Palin was naive, cynical, reckless, and impulsive.
- quote from blogger Kevin Drum in a 9-1-08 post

McCain's recklessness and impulsiveness were also on display in his reaction to the Russia-Georgia situation. One gets the sense that he will "shoot first, ask questions later."

He seems to lurch from one seeming (to him) crisis to another. McCain's decisions to go to Mississippi to check on preparations for hurricane Gustav and also put the the plans for the Republican National Convention on hold show his tendency to make snap decisions, skipping what could be useful consultation with others who are affected. It reminds me a bit of lighting "fires" so you look like a hero when you put them out.