McCain gets testy

Angry McLame strikes:

Tuesday, during a question and answer session with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register in Iowa, that infamous McCain temperament seemed to surface. The entire interview is fascinating, with McCain appearing far less restrained and carefully managed than he has for much of the campaign.

McCain became testy when asked about whether Sarah Palin had enough experience to assume the role of president if necessary, answering, “So, with due respect, I strongly disagree with your premise that she doesn’t have experience and knowledge and background.” McCain added that Palin has “been a member of the PTA, been a governor, been a mayor.” Then, seeming to realize that he’d lost his cool somewhat, McCain said “I’ll stop there.” He went on anyway, however, concluding, “But you and I just have a fundamental disagreement and I’m so happy that the American people seem to be siding with me.”

McCain became especially sarcastic when asked about backlash from some conservatives over his selection of Palin. “Really? I haven’t detected that,” he said. “Now if there’s a Georgetown cocktail party person who quote calls himself a conservative and doesn’t like her, good luck.”

And adding to the confrontational nature of the interview, McCain challenged a questioner who asked whether the Straight Talk Express had been derailed by less than truthful attacks on Obama. Saying that he “always had 100 percent truth” in his political career, McCain supported the claims made in one of his campaign ads, that Obama supports comprehensive sex education for children in kindergarten. Many news organizations have judged that a perversion of Obama’s actual policy stance on the issue.

Perhaps McCain’s reaction to his Iowan inquisitors came out of the fact that he seems to have little chance of winning the state. Polling results consistently show Barack Obama firmly in the lead there.

A clip from the interview is [here]. The entire series of videos can be found on the Des Moines Register’s Web site. (While you’re there, you can also check out the paper’s footage of the Iowa Oktoberfest festivities, which included keg rolling and beer balance beam competitions, assuming you can watch that sort of thing without being jealous because you’re stuck at a computer.

[From McCain gets testy]

Hey, sign me up for beer balance beam contests, I’d do great! As far as Angry McSame, I would doubt if that aspect of his personality emerged in the constrained atmosphere of a debate, but I’d love to see it. Well, as long as it doesn’t cause McCain to have another stroke. I don’t wish death on McCain, just electoral defeat, humiliation even.

Palin is flailing

One of the most compelling reasons not to vote for John McCain is because of his perplexing selection of a neophyte as Vice President. Sarah Palin should not be anywhere near the levers of power in Washington, especially with Cranky John looking fairly old already, and the election hasn’t even occurred.

Bob Herbert transcribes the train-wreck Palin Couric interview from this week:

When asked again this week about her puerile linkage of foreign policy proficiency and Alaska’s proximity to Russia, this time by Katie Couric of CBS News, here is what Ms. Palin said she meant:

“That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land — boundary that we have with — Canada.”

She went on, but lost her way midsentence: “It’s funny that a comment like that was kind of made to — cari — I don’t know, you know? Reporters …”

Ms. Couric said, “Mocked?”

“Yeah, mocked,” said Ms. Palin. “I guess that’s the word. Yeah.”

It is not just painful, but frightening to watch someone who could become the vice president of the United States stumbling around like this in an interview.

Ms. Couric asked Ms. Palin to explain how Alaska’s proximity to Russia “enhances your foreign policy credentials.”

“Well, it certainly does,” Ms. Palin replied, “because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there—”

Gently interrupting, Ms. Couric asked, “Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?”

“We have trade missions back and forth,” said Ms. Palin. “We do. It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to our state.”

It was surreal, the kind of performance that would generate a hearty laugh if it were part of a Monty Python sketch. But this is real life, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. As Ms. Palin was fumbling her way through the Couric interview, the largest bank failure in the history of the United States, the collapse of Washington Mutual, was occurring.

[From Bob Herbert – Palin’s Words Raise Red Flags – Op-Ed –]

Not to mention that the trade missions allegedly conducted with Russia are so top secret, nobody will discuss them on the record.

I spent some time on the Governor’s Web site seeking more details about her trade negotiations with Russia. There’s a press release about Gov. Palin’s meeting with a trade mission from the Yukon, but nothing about Russia anywhere in the archives. Tony Knowles, a Democrat who was governor from 1994-2002, led a trade mission — back in 1997, while Palin was running Wasilla — to the remote island of Sakhalin, off the coast of Siberia. That seems to be about it for Russia-Alaska trade missions lately.

When asked for examples of trade missions with Russia that have taken place under Palin’s watch, gubernatorial spokeswoman Kate Morgan refused to answer the question. Morgan said she could not legally discuss any trade missions with me because she’s a state employee and I had first heard this claim through the Couric interview, which was part of Palin’s campaign for the vice-presidency. When I pointed out that any trade missions that occurred would have been official state business, Morgan again noted that I had learned about them in the context of the campaign. “The law is very stringent,” she said, and recommended that I contact the McCain-Palin campaign. Two spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment.

Debate 1 Notes

I’d score the first debate as mostly a draw, which means Obama, as the new guy, won. I don’t recall any sound bites tailor-made for repetition on the 24 hour news shows, nor any obvious gaffes. McCain couldn’t help himself from lying a few times about Obama’s record, but that’s typical behavior. McCain has never been constrained by the truth.

As far as demeanor, McCain seemed petty by not ever looking directly at Obama, nor calling him by his first name. Perhaps McCain was afraid of mangling the word, “Barack”? McCain did mangle nearly every world leader’s name1. McCain fidgeted and smirked while Obama spoke, while Obama was calm and cool, and able to speak in coherent sentences. Again, Obama won this aspect of the debate by looking presidential.


More than anything, Mr. McCain seemed intent on presenting Mr. Obama as green and inexperienced, a risky choice during a difficult time. Again and again, sounding almost like a professor talking down to a new student, he talked about having to explain foreign policy to Mr. Obama and repeatedly invoked his 30 years of history on national security (even though Mr. McCain, in the kind of misstep that no doubt would have been used by Republicans against Mr. Obama, mangled the name of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he stumbled over the name of Pakistan’s newly inaugurated president, calling him “Qadari.” His name is actually Asif Ali Zardari.).

But Mr. Obama seemed calm and in control and seemed to hold his own on foreign policy, the subject on which Mr. McCain was assumed to hold a natural advantage. Mr. Obama talked in detail about foreign countries and their leaders, as if trying to assure the audience that he could hold his own on the world stage. He raised his own questions about Mr. McCain’s judgment in supporting the Iraq war.

McCain made a big deal about earmarks, even as his own running mate requested millions of dollars in earmarks this year. Earmarks are not the biggest economic problem our country faces however, and represent a miniscule part of the annual budget2.

Obama managed to work in the point that McCain forgot who the president of Spain was, even though his delivery was not quite as harsh as it could have been3. For all of McCain’s vaunted foreign policy experience, he seems to have trouble remembering facts about places. McCain also seems to emphasize going to a country makes one an expert. Not sure how relevant setting foot on foreign soil and being escorted around by Secret Service equivalents in a dignitary’s motorcade is to actually learning details and nuance about a country. Similar reasoning to saying that one is a Russian expert because of proximity of one’s house to Russia. You learn more about a subject by reading about it, and talking to experts, at least in my experience. Simply setting foot in Afghanistan is not relevant. Also, Madeleine Albright is not a Republican, so McCain cannot claim her, especially when the Republicans used to ridicule her for attempting to have dialogue with North Korea.

As far as North Korea is concerned, our secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, went to North Korea. By the way, North Korea, most repressive and brutal regime probably on Earth. The average South Korean is three inches taller than the average North Korean, a huge gulag.

(via transcript of the debate)

A brief roundup of some pundit reaction to the debate here including this:

Jonathan Alter on MSNBC: The biggest loser? Sarah Palin. The debates set a standard she cannot live up to.

  1. such as calling the new president of Pakistan “Qadari” instead of Zardari []
  2. somewhere less than 1% []
  3. though apparently McCain muttered under his breath, horse shit []

Wild day, no deal

Damn, I wish there was video footage of this massive temper tantrum, and especially of Still-President Bush “struggling to maintain order”. What, he was yelling at folks? Offering to refill their sippy cups with Jim Beam? Why would anyone, on either side of the aisle, even bother to listen to Bush? He’s so obviously out of his element when the topic isn’t about blowing things up.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) angrily accused the minority of trying to undercut Paulson by crafting a late-breaking alternative proposal—with the tacit support, Frank said, of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Both McCain and his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, would leave the White House without comment, and the meeting was described as among the wildest in memory. A beleaguered President Bush had to struggle to maintain order and reassert himself. And when Democrats left to caucus in the Roosevelt Room, Paulson pursued them, begging that they not “blow up” the legislation.

The former Goldman Sachs CEO even went down on one knee as if genuflecting, to which Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) is said to have joked, “I didn’t know you were Catholic.”

[From Wild day, no deal – David Rogers –]

John McSame wants to make sure the whole charade turns into a partisan snipe-fest for his own reasons, and so he can avoid losing a debate to a better prepared candidate.

(via Whet Moser)

A Contrast

McCain’s weird day yesterday should be remembered for posterity. McCain just made voting for Obama a lot easier for a lot of on-the-fence people1. There is a definite contrast in styles between the two men, Obama has the Presidential demeanor2 in a way that John McCain could only wish he had.

Anyway, Henrik Hertzberg had this to say:

What a contrast yesterday. First, out comes McCain, looking drawn, jittery, and (to my admittedly jaundiced eye) guilty, with his announcement that he doesn’t want to debate on Friday because the financial crisis is too awful for a thing like politics to occur. He reads his statement and exits quickly. A couple of hours later, Obama appears. He looks and sounds like a President of the United States. He is preternaturally calm. He explains the chronology of the day: he called McCain at 8:30, the call was returned at 2:30, they discussed the idea of putting out a joint statement about the crisis. He says not a word about postponing the debate.

Then, unlike McCain, Obama takes questions. It becomes a full-fledged press conference. He eventually mentions the postponement. He says that during their phone call McCain had said it was something that ought to be looked at, and he had replied that they should get their joint statement out first. He makes it clear, in an offhand way, that McCain had blindsided him, but he does it without rancor. Perhaps there was a miscommunication, he suggests generously. He stresses his agreement with McCain that the crisis is neither Republican nor Democratic but American. He outlines some conditions he would like to see attached to the bailout bill but adds that both parties should refrain from loading it up with extraneous desiderata. He mentions a couple of specific examples of Democratic pet causes, including bankruptcy protection, that he doesn’t think should be in the bill. His manner with respect to the crisis is grave and businesslike, but he treats McCain’s debate-postponement demand as a minor matter that need not be taken too seriously. He notes dryly that both candidates have big airplanes with their names emblazoned and can easily travel to Oxford, Mississippi. He suggests that a potential President ought to be able to cope with more than one problem at a time.

[From Hendrik Hertzberg: Online Only: The New Yorker]

There’s more in that vein, if you’re interested, including an observation that Obama handled McCain’s cheap gambit with aplomb, by ignoring it.

  1. not me, obviously, as I would abstain rather than vote for McCain, but you probably know somebody who isn’t quite sure if Obama is Presidential enough, mostly because they haven’t been paying much attention to the campaign yet []
  2. again, whatever the hell that is. []

Bookmarks for September 24th

Some additional reading September 24th from 09:30 to 16:35:

Running on plenty

“Harps & Angels” (Randy Newman)

The new Randy Newman album, Harps and Angels, is growing on me the more I listen to it. I was unfamiliar with his prior work, with the exception of the over-played classic, I Love LA, but I’m increasingly intrigued by his non-film work.

In an apathetic age, only Neil Young among his original peers still consistently sounds any musical alarm against injustice and corruption. Browne agrees with Gore Vidal’s assessment that America’s largest political party is the “nonvoting party”, so such opinionated motivation is nothing short of admirable. Don’t ask me, ask Randy Newman. On the ever-laconic Newman’s new album, Harps and Angels, a song called A Piece of the Pie mischievously measures America’s collective languid self-interest against the undimmed commitment of one man. “The rich are getting richer, I should know,” he writes. “While we’re going up, you’re going down, and no one gives a shit but Jackson Browne.”

So, is Browne the last protest singer? “He didn’t really say that,” he says of Newman’s portrayal. “What he said was even funnier, that no one else gives a shit. Not true, of course, but very funny. My friend Don Henley referred to [the actor] Ed Asner, who’s active for social change, and Henley called it the Dreaded Asner Syndome. I guess I’ve contracted it, and am proud to be afflicted. I don’t think there’s any choice but to throw in with those people who are doing what they can to make the world inhabitable and beautiful. I’m a card-carrying member of hedonists for peace. I just don’t think peace and prosperity should only be for the wealthy.”

[From Jackson Browne: Running on plenty – Times Online ]

I actually was unfamiliar with Jackson Browne’s music up until about two months ago, but his first albums are excellent, and I’m slowly working through his back catalog.

We had mentioned John McCain’s keen urge to steal from artists without compensating them previously, but here’s Jackson Browne’s direct response to the situation:

This is more than benign idealism, as John McCain recently discovered. Browne is suing the Republican campaign, seeking damages of $75,000, for using his 1977 song Running on Empty in an “attack” ad against Barack Obama, in the apparent belief that a lifelong liberal would either not mind or not notice. “They broke two very clear laws,” he says calmly. “That they can’t use your song without your permission, and that they can’t imply you endorse a candidate if you don’t. Either they don’t know the law or they think they’re above it. Either way, it speaks volumes about the style of governance.” Browne has given $2,300 in support of Obama’s presidential campaign, according to public record.

“McCain’s campaign [managers] are trying to say he knew nothing about the ad,” Browne adds. “Do we believe that? It may be that it plays well to his constituency to steal my song, unapologetically take whatever you feel like using, and work out the details later. I’m sure I’ll prevail, because the laws are clear-cut, but I think the Republicans have a culture of impunity.”

Now three weeks off his 60th birthday, a bearded Browne may be looking just a little older at last. As in a similarly long dialogue at the time of his 2002 album, The Naked Ride Home, however, he is likeably low-key. “The inspiration’s not a problem,” he says. “I’m not less inspired, I’m less free to shut myself away long enough to finish a song. I’m also not in a hurry. That’s the odd thing that’s happened, that there’s less and less time left, and I’m less in a hurry. Maybe I’ll get desperate towards the end. You want the things you sing about to be about life and other people’s lives, and if I shut myself away and tried to ramp up the output, it might limit the interest I take in things that are pretty universal.”

“Time the Conqueror” (Jackson Browne)

Loan Titans Paid McCain Adviser Nearly $2 Million

Since McCain is complaining about this article, I had to seek it out to see if I missed anything. Not really, just more of McSame.

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.

A 2004 photograph from a report by the Homeownership Alliance, an advocacy group for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, shows John McCain with Ken Guenther, a former chairman of the group, left, and David Lereah of the National Association of Realtors.

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.

[From Loan Titans Paid McCain Adviser Nearly $2 Million –]

McSame often lies about lobbyists and their connection to his campaign. Nothing new here.

MoDo channels Jed Bartlet

“The West Wing – The Complete First Four Seasons (4-Pack)” (Jason Ensler)

Maureen Dowd channels Aaron Sorkin (the producer who created the fictional President, Jed Bartlet for the television show, The West Wing) to give Obama this bit of advice:

GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!

[From Maureen Dowd – Aaron Sorkin Conjures a Meeting of Obama and Bartlet – Op-Ed –]

Not bad advice actually for a change.

McCain and the POW POW POW coverup

I will reserve judgement until I’ve read this more thoroughly, but quite an intriguing bit of journalism from Sydney Schanberg. Could John POW POW POW McCain be a war hero like George AWOL Bush is a war hero1? What exactly happened in Vietnam?

Unaccounted For

John McCain, who has risen to political prominence on his image as a Vietnam POW war hero, has, inexplicably, worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn’t return home. Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents. Thus the war hero who people would logically imagine as a determined crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.

Almost as striking is the manner in which the mainstream press has shied from reporting the POW story and McCain’s role in it, even as the Republican Party has made McCain’s military service the focus of his presidential campaign. Reporters who had covered the Vietnam War turned their heads and walked in other directions. McCain doesn’t talk about the missing men, and the press never asks him about them.

The sum of the secrets McCain has sought to hide is not small. There exists a telling mass of official documents, radio intercepts, witness depositions, satellite photos of rescue symbols that pilots were trained to use, electronic messages from the ground containing the individual code numbers given to airmen, a rescue mission by a special forces unit that was aborted twice by Washington—and even sworn testimony by two Defense secretaries that “men were left behind.” This imposing body of evidence suggests that a large number—the documents indicate probably hundreds—of the US prisoners held by Vietnam were not returned when the peace treaty was signed in January 1973 and Hanoi released 591 men, among them Navy combat pilot John S. McCain.

[Click to read more of Nation Institute’s McCain and the POW Cover-up The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam]

War Memories

I would be very surprised to read of this perspective anywhere in the corporate media. Most remember the TANG Rove kerfuffle and would be hesitant to wade into those fetid waters again, especially since Karl Rove is advising McCain.


  1. in other words, a fake hero []

McCain and the Tuna Meltdown

I’ve always considered Phil Gramm to resemble a week-old tuna-fish sandwich for some reason. On white bread, with lots of mayonnaise, and not much else. He was a Senator from Texas during many of the years I lived there, and to be honest, a reason for leaving. He’s been back in the news recently, saying several of those peculiar Grammarian phrases that endeared him to oil industry honchos, Wall Street Republicans, and other scum.

Froma Harrop of Real Clear Politics writes:

McCain’s former economic adviser is ex-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm. On Dec. 15, 2000, hours before Congress was to leave for Christmas recess, Gramm had a 262-page amendment slipped into the appropriations bill. It forbade federal agencies to regulate the financial derivatives that greased the skids for passing along risky mortgage-backed securities to investors.

And that, my friends, is why everything’s falling apart. That is why the taxpayers are now on the hook for the follies of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns and now the insurance giant AIG to the tune of $85 billion.

And do you know where the problems lay at AIG? They weren’t in its main insurance business. They were in its derivatives-trading unit.

Last February, Fortune Magazine called Gramm “McCain’s Econ Brain.” Gramm lost the official title of economic adviser for making an impolitic remark about this being “a nation of whiners.” But Gramm’s belief in letting speculators do as they please was never an issue. And even after he left the campaign, Gramm had been mentioned as a possible treasury secretary in a McCain administration.

Another Gramm contribution was the “Enron loophole,” which prevented federal oversight of Enron’s electronic energy trading. Such favors proved very expensive to consumers but profitable to the Gramms. Enron CEO Ken Lay chaired Gramm’s 1992 re-election campaign, and wife Wendy Gramm spent years on the Enron board, earning as much as $1.8 million, according to Public Citizen, a consumer advocate.

So McCain’s reassurances to the little people that he won’t let what’s happening to them happen again is rather unconvincing. McCain now talks about the need for more regulations, but he’s been highly stingy with the for-instances. He wants a commission to look into it.

[From RealClearPolitics – Articles – McCain and the Meltdown]

Hagel Is Not Impressed

Senator Chuck Hagel may be a Republican, but he isn’t an idiot, so the selection of Sarah Palin as Johnny McSame’s running mate puzzles the Chuckster.

Wrong Bus
[Wrong Bus, Juneau, Alaska]

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is the nation’s most prominent Republican officeholder to publicly question whether Sarah Palin has the experience to serve as president.

“She doesn’t have any foreign policy credentials,” Hagel said Wednesday in an interview. “You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don’t know what you can say. You can’t say anything.”

The McCain campaign has cited the proximity of Alaska to Russia as evidence of her international experience.

Hagel scoffed at that notion.

“I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, ‘I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,'” he said. “That kind of thing is insulting to the American people.”

[From Elections Section]

You got that right: Johnny McSame and his Karl Rovian advisors thinks American voters are a bunch of rubes who can be easily misled. We’ll see in November if he’s right.

McCain and His Spain gaffe

John McCain seems uncertain whether Spain is located in Latin America, or on some unnamed plain that gets heavy rainfall. Josh Marshall has the back story, if you missed it.

Oliver Burkeman of the Guardian UK writes:

So, to clarify matters for McCain: Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is the lefty prime minister of Spain. The Zapatistas are armed revolutionaries who have declared war on the government of Mexico. Zippy is an irascible non-human character in the children’s TV series Rainbow, and Captain Zep was the star of an awesome 1980s British children’s sci-fi drama. Franco Zeffirelli is a celebrated Italian film director who I once pretended to know the first thing about in order not to look stupid in a conversation in a restaurant.

By the way, this must be a truly depressing day for our friends at Spain For McCain. We can assume they’re not Zapatero fans, but still: their hero isn’t even sure where their country is located? How dispiriting.

[From Oliver Burkeman’s Campaign Diary: John McCain’s Spain gaffe | World news | ]

Foreign policy expert indeed, like his intellectually-challenged running mate, Sarah Palin. No wonder McCain hasn’t been doing many press conferences of late: either the election is tiring him to the point of mental exhaustion1; or he’s had some minor stroke or similar.


Frank Zappa

  1. which doesn’t bode well for his ability to be president – that’s a hard job []

McCain Echoes that Great Republican Herbert Hoover

John McCain strives to be as successful a President as Herbert Hoover

Responding to the collapse of several major investment banks this week, John McCain reassured us, “I think still — the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” That move comes from an old playbook: On Oct. 25, 1929, Herbert Hoover declared, “The fundamental business of the country, that is the production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis.”

The day before Hoover insisted that the fundamentals were strong was the day that came to be known as Black Thursday, when in heavy trading the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 9 percent of its value. And while, in endless stock-footage documentaries showing images of dumbfounded traders over a soundtrack of mournful jazz clarinets, the crash is supposed to begin the Great Depression, it wasn’t quite so. The real cause was the collapse of the banking system, which followed the crash in part because Hoover believed strong fundamentals would protect the economy from disaster.

For the likes of Hoover and McCain, asserting the strength of fundamentals is shorthand for saying that business leaders, with maybe a little cheerleading, can sort out the crisis and that Congress should not try to regulate their behavior. It’s too soon to know if McCain will be proved right (I doubt it), but Hoover certainly turned out to be wrong.

[Click to read more of McCain’s Dangerous Do-Nothing Economics | The American Prospect]

Of course, Herbert Hoover did actually win an election first, so he’s already more successful than John McSame.


McCain and his Radical Agenda

Bob Herbert picks up a theme that’s been percolating on the blogosphere for a few days1 – John McCain wants to screw you over while privatizing healthcare. I’m sure there will be a few corporations that will prosper handsomely under McCain’s plan, but not anyone that you know, especially after McCain’s poison pill has a few years to wreck havoc.

A study coming out Tuesday from scholars at Columbia, Harvard, Purdue and Michigan projects that 20 million Americans who have employment-based health insurance would lose it under the McCain plan.

There is nothing secret about Senator McCain’s far-reaching proposals, but they haven’t gotten much attention because the chatter in this campaign has mostly been about nonsense — lipstick, celebrities and “Drill, baby, drill!”

For starters, the McCain health plan would treat employer-paid health benefits as income that employees would have to pay taxes on.

“It means your employer is going to have to make an estimate on how much the employer is paying for health insurance on your behalf, and you are going to have to pay taxes on that money,” said Sherry Glied, an economist who chairs the Department of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

[From Bob Herbert – McCain’s Radical Agenda – Op-Ed –]

The Dallas Morning News wrote, back in August:

Democratic health care proposals may have gotten more attention during the primaries, but Republican John McCain’s plan just might be more revolutionary.

The GOP nominee-to-be wants to tax workers on the value of the insurance they receive from employers.

At the same time, everyone would be offered a federal tax credit to help them pay for insurance – whether a company plan or one purchased on their own. Buyers could subtract up to $5,000 from their federal tax tab come April 15. Or they could simply sign over the credit to an insurer in order to purchase coverage.

North Texas employers are not saying they would drop employee coverage altogether if Mr. McCain’s plan were enacted.

But some do say the plan, which Mr. McCain detailed in July, would encourage young and healthy workers to forgo company coverage, purchasing insurance on their own rather than paying income taxes on the benefit. That would leave employers with only the costly sick workers to insure.

And that, they said, could eventually lead to the death of company-provided health plans.

[From McCain’s health insurance plan: More radical than Democrats’? | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News ]

Parking Garage Crosses

Bob Herbert continues:

Taxing employer-paid health benefits is the first step in this transition, the equivalent of injecting poison into the system. It’s the beginning of the end.

When younger, healthier workers start seeing additional taxes taken out of their paychecks, some (perhaps many) will opt out of the employer-based plans — either to buy cheaper insurance on their own or to go without coverage.

That will leave employers with a pool of older, less healthy workers to cover. That coverage will necessarily be more expensive, which will encourage more and more employers to give up on the idea of providing coverage at all.

The upshot is that many more Americans — millions more — will find themselves on their own in the bewildering and often treacherous health insurance marketplace. As Senator McCain has said: “I believe the key to real reform is to restore control over our health care system to the patients themselves.”

Yet another radical element of McCain’s plan is his proposal to undermine state health insurance regulations by allowing consumers to buy insurance from sellers anywhere in the country. So a requirement in one state that insurers cover, for example, vaccinations, or annual physicals, or breast examinations, would essentially be meaningless.

In a refrain we’ve heard many times in recent years, Mr. McCain said he is committed to ridding the market of these “needless and costly” insurance regulations.

This entire McCain health insurance transformation is right out of the right-wing Republicans’ ideological playbook: fewer regulations; let the market decide; and send unsophisticated consumers into the crucible alone.

You would think that with some of the most venerable houses on Wall Street crumbling like sand castles right before our eyes, we’d be a little wary about spreading this toxic formula even further into the health care system.

  1. I read it here first, and subsequently other places too numerous to cite []