Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

Chuck Hagel: The “Perfect Fit” for Secretary of Defense

December 31, 2012

One of the first ways I got involved with politics was being part of the Internet movement that supported former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) for President back in 2008.  Back then I ran the Michigan for Hagel 2008 blog and co-ran the Students for Hagel blog.  Once Hagel announced he wasn’t running, the group disbanded, but a few of the leaders of the movement have stayed in touch.  When rumors came out that President Obama was considering Hagel for Defense Secretary, we decided to come together and ensure that the smear campaign against Hagel wasn’t successful.

He has combat experience—having served in the Vietnam War as an infantry squad leader, he achieved the rank of Sergeant and was awarded multiple medals including two Purple Hearts.  After leaving the military, Hagel was dedicated to helping American troops and veterans.  He was appointed Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, where he fought for funding for VA programs, and he served as president and CEO of the USO.

Hagel also had a successful career in the private sector, co-founding a cell phone manufacturing company and serving as CEO of American Information Systems.

In short, Hagel has the military and administrative experience needed to be America’s next Secretary of Defense.

And despite the arguments made by some, Hagel’s positions do generally fit with the Republican Party.

Yes, it is true that Hagel was critical of many of President George W. Bush’s policies, including the Iraq War, but much of his disagreement with the Bush Administration dealt with the lack of transparency.  Throughout his Senate career, Hagel fought for transparency in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and encouraged open Congressional debate, rather than quick votes on such important issues.  Isn’t that at the heart of the Republican Party—encouraging open public debate instead of shady, quick votes to ram legislation through? Hagel captured this principle in saying, “To question your government is not unpatriotic—to not question your government is unpatriotic.” Considering that right now, the GOP is fighting for transparency on the issues of the conflict in Libya and Benghazi, doesn’t it make sense to support someone who fought for DoD transparency, from both a Republican President and a Democratic Senate?  The fact that Hagel’s fight for transparency transcended political boundaries is exactly the reason he’s perfect for the Department of Defense.  The Defense Secretary shouldn’t be loyal to a party; he should be loyal to American and her national security.  And Hagel has agreed with this, saying, “I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn’t take an oath of office to my party or my president.”

And labeling Hagel a liberal based on his Iraq policy is absurd.  Hagel’s plan for Iraq was different than both the mainstream Republican and Democratic plans at the time. Rather than withdraw as soon as possible or stay indefinitely, Hagel advocated for moving our troops out of the areas of civil war and to the borders. This would ensure that terrorists did not flee or enter the country, while leaving the Iraqis to resolve the inner conflicts, a job that they, not the U.S., were best suited for.

On the issue of Israel, he has defended “our continued commitment to Israel’s defense” and acknowledged the “special and historic bond” between the U.S. and Israel. At the same time, he realizes that peace with its neighbors is the best thing for Israel.

While acknowledging that the defense budget needs to be cut, Hagel has never come out in support of across-the-board sequestration cuts.  In fact, it was because of reckless Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives that we are facing such drastic across-the-board cuts.  The defense sequestration cuts would come about as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was supported by 174 House Republicans and 28 Senate Republicans.  Passing such a bill to allow across-the-board cuts was reckless, and Hagel has never come out in support of sequestration; however, like many Republicans, he agrees that the Defense budget is bloated and should be cut where possible.

And Hagel supports continued sanctions against Iran and has never ruled out military action against Iran to prevent them from achieving nuclear capabilities.  But as a result of his experience in Vietnam, he realizes that we shouldn’t be putting our servicemen and women in harm’s way unless combat is absolutely necessary.  And that’s a good principle that the GOP should agree with.

Does Hagel agree with every single word in the Republican platform? No; but then again, who does? In fact, he had an 84% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union. Republicans could not ask for a better nominee for Secretary of Defense from a Democratic President, and instead of hounding Hagel for disagreements in the past, Republicans should rally around him as a defender of many conservative principles and causes.

Republicans can’t just oppose Hagel because they want to oppose the President.  It’s time to stop being the party of “No”.  Hagel is one of our own, and while he may lean more moderate, he’d make an excellent Secretary of Defense.  It would be a shame if his nomination or confirmation was destroyed because the GOP wants to oppose Obama.  There is no good reason the GOP should oppose someone like Hagel.

For those who would like to show their support for Chuck Hagel, I would encourage you to like the Facebook page that was started, and if you’re on Twitter, I would encourage you to use the hashtag #SupportHagel in your tweets on the subject.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Michigan Legislature Needs to Get to Work on Permanent Budget

October 5, 2009

Last week, Michigan saw its second government shutdown in the state’s history.  In the history of this country, only two other states have had government shutdowns because of a budget crisis, and Michigan is the only state to have more than one shutdown.  What’s even more sad is that the 2 shutdowns came only 2 years apart.

I ended up watching most of the late-night sessions last week, as I followed the budget crisis, and while there were some humorous segments (such as “I can count!” coming from the chairman of the Senate), most of what I saw was just sad – it’s sad that the Michigan legislature can’t pass a budget on time.

So why does Michigan have problems passing a budget?  There has been a fundamental failure in leadership, as well as the overall impacts of having the state in such a poor economic state.

Michigan is essentially the same position as it was for the 2007 shutdown: a Democratic Governor with terrible economic policies, a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with Andy Dillon (D-Redford) as Speaker of the House waiting until it is too late to work on the budget, and a Republican-controlled Senate who tried to get the budget done on time, but was unable to overcome the incompetency of the House.

In both the 2007 and 2009 shutdowns, work on the budget started too late, and many legislators (including Republicans) weren’t committed to finishing the budget on time.

While portions of the budget were being passed by the Senate late Tuesday night, the House had already recessed for the day.  We saw the same thing in 2007: Andy Dillon would go would only have the House in session once or twice a week over the summer, and he even took a five-day weekend trip to Mackinac Island after acknowledging that the state was facing a budget crisis.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) had been getting Senate budget bills passed and sent over to the House faster than House bills were coming to the Senate.

But this isn’t to say that all Republicans were trying to finish the budget on time or that all Democrats were uninterested in finishing on time.  While the Senate Republicans seemed to generally work harder as the deadline got closer, NOBODY was working hard enough in the month and weeks beforehand.  Instead of passing a budget 2 hours into the government shutdown, the legislature should be passing a budget weeks or even months beforehand.

Representative Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe) has suggested that the Michigan Constitution be amended to require the budget be done by July 1st, and legislators wouldn’t get paid after that date until a budget was passed.  Bledsoe told the Detroit Free Press, “We’ve had every opportunity to get this work done earlier in the year.  There’s no excuse to be moving the budget as late as we did.”

Senator Hansen Clark (D-Detroit) has suggested fining legislators $1,000 a day for each day after the fiscal year that a budget isn’t completed, with the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leaders paying $3,000.  He told reporters, “Even though many of us work long hours, we don’t have the same incentives as other sectors of the work force.  Typically, our incentive would be to do a good job so we can get re-elected, but apparently that’s not enough. … The leaders have to be accountable for results.  If you don’t perform the core mission of your job, and that’s to enact a balanced budget … there should be a penalty.”

Former Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R) said that the problems run deeper than just legislators not cracking down in time: “The gap between revenue and spending is so large that there isn’t any structural issue that can compensate for it.  It’s a much deeper issue that legislators don’t want to deal with.  Michigan as a state can’t continue the level of spending it’s enjoyed for many years.  The economy has downsized underneath it.  Until you change the tax structure and the spending process, this kind of paralysis is likely to continue.  There is no process change that is going to make this a rational, timely, decision-making process.  Until there are fundamental changes, you can’t avoid this kind of chaos.”

And in part, I would agree with that.  The Democrats in the legislature have refused to accept that spending cuts are an inevitable result of the state’s deficit.  Taxes can only be raised so many times and only to a certain level, and when you’ve exhausted that option, you have to cut spending.  Michigan is not in a position to raise taxes.  Businesses won’t come to Michigan if we raise taxes, and we’ve even seen film companies come to Michigan now that we have a tax credit for film companies.  Raising taxes is only going to hurt the economy more and drive more people out of the state.

Fortunately, an interim budget was passed and signed by Governor Granholm only 2 hours into this year’s shutdown, but we aren’t in the clear yet.  The legislature gavels into session tomorrow, and a permanent budget still needs to be passed for the new fiscal year.  Unless legislators understand that spending cuts are not and option, but a necessity, and that they have to start cracking down and getting to work, we will wind up seeing a full government shutdown when the interim budget expires.

And we need to learn from our mistakes – this cannot happen in 2010.  It’s just unacceptable.  Fortunately, 2010 is an election year, and lawmakers will be trying to pass a budget on time so that they can get reelected, but unless things change, we will see ourselves back in this same position in 2011.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Kansas Can Now Afford to Pay Tax Refunds and State Employees

February 18, 2009

Yesterday I was watching America’s Newsroom, and Megyn Kelly did a story about the budget crisis in Kansas. According to the Governor, Kathleen Sebelius (D), the state was not going to be able to pay tax refunds or state employees on time.  Sebelius wants to borrow money from other state accounts within Kansas; however, Republican legislators want budget cuts because they feel Sebelius’s solution is irresponsible.  Republican leaders in the state House and Senate (both where they’re in the majority) argued that the internal borrowing wasn’t legal until the Kansas had a balanced budget for the fiscal year (the fiscal year ends June 30).

Watch the video, and I’ll discuss it below (video courtesy of FOX News):

Since that video, the Governor signed a budget-balancing bill, and the Republicans have said that the internal borrowing is now legal.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal told reporters, “I’m extremely pleased that she signed it, because that’s what needed to happen.”  Senate President Steve Morris also told reporters, “This action gives us reassurances that we will have the resources to repay this.”

Meanwhile, Sebelius said, “I’m just sorry that we had to have high drama and worry a lot of Kansans about our ability to pay our obligations in order to get to the end of the process.”

Personally, I agree with Megyn Kelly.  And while she may have been a little mean to Treasurer Dennis McKinney, she has a point – it’s bad management if you need to do borrowing within your state.  The state should be able to balance their budget and pay taxes back to people and pay their employees.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the discussion that went on on FOX News yesterday, but they brought up a point to citizens: Don’t give the government so much money when you fill out information for withholding.  You have the option to withhold more, and if you’re doing that now, just don’t.  I’m not saying lie and withhold less than you should.  I’m saying, only have them withhold the minimum that you legally have to.  That way, when states like Kansas can’t pay you back on time, you’re not getting screwed.  If you don’t pay the government their taxes, you get penalized.  When they don’t pay you back, what happens to them?  NOTHING!  It’s unfair!  So, just don’t give them extra money!

I’ll try to find that discussion video and post that and discuss it in a later blog post, but right now, FOX News’s search for videos isn’t working right.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Some Republican Governors Break Party Ranks and Support Stimulus Bill

February 6, 2009

Alright, this news article is a few days old, but since the Senate hasn’t voted on the stimulus package yet, it’s still applicable.  I read an AP article that a friend showed me, and while I won’t post the whole thing, I’ll highlight some key points.  The article talks about Republican Governors who are urging Congress to pass the stimulus bill.  The full article can be read here.  Then I went looking for more positions on the bill and found a few other governors’ positions.

Here’s what some of the Republican Governors have said:

  • Vermont Governor Jim Douglas went to Washington, D.C. earlier this week to push the Senate to pass the bill.  His deputy chief of staff, Dennise Casey told the AP, “As the executive of a state experiencing budget challenges, Governor Douglas has a different perspective on the situation than congressional Republicans.”  On another occasion, Douglas said that he “believes that the federal government should pass some form of federal recovery to assist states that are struggling right now.”
  • Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said, “States have to balance their budgets.  So if we’re going to go down this path, we are entitled to ask for our share of the money.”  He did go on to say later though, “I’m quite concerned about the federal government spending money it doesn’t have.  We’re on an unsustainable path of deficit spending and borrowing.”  A spokesman for Pawlenty also said, “Governor Pawlenty has serious concerns about the stimulus package passed by the House.  He believes the bill should focus more on tax cuts and addressing the housing crisis and not the buffet of Democrat spending initiatives the bill now contains.If a bill does pass, Minnesota will accept its share of the money because we are a significant net contributor to the federal government.  A study shows Minnesota receives about 72 cents for every $1 sent to Washington – so we’re paying more than our fair share.”
  • Alaska Governor Sarah Palin released a statement saying that she “has asked the nation’s leaders to look at these issues to ensure fairness in the stimulus package and that the package does not harm the long-term fiscal health of the nation.  Contrary to some news reports, she looks forward to continuing to work with Alaska’s congressional delegation to accomplish the state’s goals.”
  • Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons’s spokesman told reporters, “The state of Nevada’s economy is in a deep financial crisis and any financial assistance, including the stimulus package, would be welcome.”
  • Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell “supports the idea of a federal stimulus intended to help states create jobs and help states pay for soaring health care costs.  She has written Congressional leaders as well as the state’s delegation on several occasions advocating for such a package; in fact, as far back as Senator Lieberman’s Subcommittee hearing last March on corn, ethanol prices and the food supply, she mentioned in written testimony provided to the Subcommittee that some form of second stimulus package was needed.”
  • Florida Governor Charlie Crist  also backed the plan, saying, “If it passes, which I believe and I hope that it will, I want to make sure that Florida gets her fair share.  I know it’s important in terms of infrastructure, education, making sure that we have good roads that are stable and strong, bridges that are secure, that we have an education system that is second to none.”
  • 19 governors sent a letter to President Obama supporting the stimulus package, including 4 Republican governors: Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA), Jodi Rell, Charlie Crist, and Jim Douglas.

Personally, I am ASHAMED of those Republican governors!  Just because they can’t get their state to balance their budget doesn’t mean that MY tax dollars should go toward stimulating their state.  Heck! I’m from Michigan – we probably need the money more than any other state, but you don’t see me going around saying, my state deserves YOUR tax dollars.  And the fact is, my state doesn’t deserve your tax dollars.  We got ourselves into this, we need to get ourselves out.  Spending money through some pork bill is NOT going to stimulate the economy!

Stand up to this wasteful spending.  I encourage all of you to call up your Senators and Governors and express concern over this bill.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of Governor Granholm’s Michigan State of the State Address

February 3, 2009

The Michigan State of the State address is about to begin.  I will be live blogging the event, giving my analysis (so my apologies for any spelling errors – I’ll fix them eventually).

Alright, she’s entering the chamber (I’m not sure if this is the House or Senate – probably House since  it’s bigger).

Oh – my roommate (Democrat) just about made me die of laughter – he said, “Where is she?”  I said, “Right there.”  And he goes, “Oh, I thought that was a dude.”

Alright – she’s making her way up to the podium – about half the room is still clapping – probably the Democrats.  There’s Lt. Governor John Cherry up in his chair.

There’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R) and Speaker of the House Andy Dillon (D).

She’s saying welcome and thank you.  She’s welcoming and congratulating the new representatives.

She’s now welcoming Supreme Court Justice Dianne Hathaway, elected this year.  And she’s congratulating the longest serving president of the State Board of Education.

Now thanking the servicemen and women from Michigan as well as the first responders.

We just gave a moment of silence for those who lost their lives defending this country and state overseas.

“I will not sugar-coat the crisis facing this state. … Our auto companies fought for their very existence, and as the bottom fell out of the national economy” Michigan “went from bad to worse.”  She’s absolutely right about that.  “Any honest assessment of our state’s economy must recognize that things are likely to get worse before they get better. … Things will get better … because Michigan citizens are resilient … because our battle plan is focused on the three things that matter most: fighting for more good paying jobs in Michigan, educating and training people to fill those good paying jobs, and protecting out people.”

“This is not time for pet projects or special interests.”

Now talking about Michigan now having “a friend in the White House who now shares our agenda.  I say this based on pragmatism, not upon partisanship.”  BULL CRAP!

She’s talking about him being focused on energy jobs, education, and protecting people.  COME ON Madame Governor, the Republicans are interested in all of those things too!

“We’ve made many tough choices in our budget.”  True, but you could have done a lot more to fix the state, but you didn’t, and that’s why we’re as bad as we are now.

“I have a veto pen, and I will use it. … The President’s economic plan is a one-time opportunity.”  Really?  Because so far, I count THREE bailout bills.  What’s to stop three more?

She’s saying that our problems will be here after the economic stimulus money is gone.  Lt. Governor Cherry will be in charge of downsizing government, reducing number of departments from 18 to 8.

Something about we can’t have “9-5 government in a 24/7 world.”  Good point there – I’ll give her that one.

Her and Cherry are reducing salaries of all elected state officials in Michigan by 10%.  That’s a good move – I COMMEND HER on that, but I don’t really see how she can directly do that.

“Already, I’ve cut more than any other Governor in Michigan.”

She’s saying that a national survey showed that MI has done more to cut spending than other state in the country.  I’d like to see the details of the survey, but if it’s all true, I commend her on that.

She’s cutting funding for the state fair – because it’s not essential to government.  GOOD CALL!

Talking about preserving our wetlands.

Talking about reducing corrections spending.  We’re going to close 3 more facilities in the coming months.  Reinvest in more law enforcement on the street.  More law enforcement is good, but I’m not too keen on closing 3 facilities – that means more criminals on the streets, since our prisons are already TOO FULL!

Funding for roads, bridges, and transit systems – um, we’ve needed that for the past FEW years!

We can focus on jobs when we spend within our means.

We need to diversify, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing our number one industry, the auto industry.  When pundits and ill-informed politicians take cheap shots at the auto industry and its workers, we (she’s saying this) will defend the auto industry.

Talking about the green auto industry being great.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost since 2000.  “These losses have fueled our determination to bring new industry to Michigan.”  Good – we can’t JUST depend on the auto industry anymore.

Talking about film and TV project coming to Michigan after the tax breaks to film companies.

Three major announcements:

  • Wonderstruck Animation Studios – $86 million in Detroit.
  • Stardock Systems (digital gaming) – build in Plymouth
  • Motown Motion Pictures – $54 million in Pontiac (former GM plant)

Motown MP alone will create 3,600 jobs.  That’s great news – especially for the Pontiac area.

“But our success with the film industry is not an isolated example.”  Talking about renewable energy industry – solar panel production companies are building here in Michigan.

Just like the auto industry “it creates all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people.”  And that’s a good thing – I am VERY enthusiastic about renewable energy, as long as it’s not expensively forced on the people.

She’s talking about wind turbines (and wind power is something I have always been really excited about – that  and nuclear power).

Jobs for manufacturers and engineers – for solar panels and electric car batteries.

She’s getting really intense about this.  “The fact that these jobs are in Michigan is no accident.”

We bring them here by beating out other states and countries.

We passed incentives to make sure those batteries are made in Michigan.  Within weeks of passage, GM said that they’d make batteries for the Volt automobile will be made here in Michigan.  5 million electric car batteries to be made a year, creating 14,000 jobs.

She’s saying that we want electric cars researched and designed here as well as all kinds of renewable energy companies.

She set a goal for becoming more dependent on renewable energy.

  • 3 wind turbine manufactures to expand in Michigan.
  • Unisolar to build solar panel factory in Battle Creek.
  • HSC – $1 billion for solar panel expansion
  • Dow-Corning – more solar panels.
  • Great Lakes Turbine to build in Monroe (where my roommate’s from!)

“We all know that  we need more jobs – a lot more.”  I agree with you there.

President Obama has demanded more use of renewable energy.  This will increase jobs in Michigan.

“By 2020, Michigan will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity by 45%. … We’ll do it through increased renewable energy and gains in energy efficiency.”  Sounds like a good idea to me, but I think 45% is high.  I have no problem with it as long as it doesn’t jack up prices.  But if it makes energy unaffordable, don’t do it.

Instead of importing coal, we’ll spend energy money on Michigan wind turbines and solar panels and energy efficiency devices, all installed by Michigan workers.

Ask Legislatures to allow for Michigan homeowners to become entrepreneurs by installing solar panels on roofs and selling money back to power company.  Sounds good to me – it’s giving people the choice to do this, and enables people to eventually make that money back.

Asking utility companies to invest in energy efficient products.  Good.

Unlike the coal we buy right now, the money that we will spend on energy efficiency will create jobs in Michigan.

Create Michigan Energy Corps – creating jobs and turning natural resources into renewable fuels and weatherizing houses.

Saying that we’ll need less coal power  plants here in Michigan.

I’m kinda mad that she hasn’t said anything about more nuclear here in Michigan.

Talking about how she’ll bring new jobs to Michigan – that she’s gone all over the world to get jobs.  Yeah, well you haven’t been too successful so far.  You can go places to bring jobs here, but that doesn’t matter until you bring some here.

Saying she’ll require (I think it was universities) to buy Michigan.  I have a problem with that though, because she wants a tuition freeze in order for universities to get stimulus money.  How can they do that if you FORCE them to buy Michigan-made (more expensive at times).

Saying people should buy Michigan products.  Buy everything from Ford to Faygo.

Talking about the Michigan $4,000 putting college in the reach of all students.  Um, $4,000 really doesn’t do that much.

Michigan will be the first state to replicate the Kalamazoo promise on a large scale.  Something about free education, and I missed the rest.

#2 in the country for well qualified teachers in the classroom.  How are we #2 with the Detroit Public School system?

No Worker Left Behind: Talking about free college tuition – $5,000 per year for 2 years.  Training people for jobs, such as nurses, electricians, computer technicians.  52,000 people.  Helping us to remake Michigan.

Added more resources to the unemployment system – THAT’s what we need – to allow more people to rely on welfare!

Asking universities and colleges to freeze tuition for the next year.  The problem with that is, what if THEY can’t afford it?

Give people 90 days without the fear of foreclosure.  That’s absolutely insane.  If people buy a house that they can’t afford, then they should lose it.

Talking about asking auto insurance companies to freeze rates on auto insurance.  Sure, if they want to, but don’t make it mandatory.

She’s saying we’ll use every administrative tool to ensure that affordable rates are given to consumers.  That should be up to the companies, not the government.

Saying that we shouldn’t strip people of health coverage in order to reduce spending.  We shouldn’t HAVE state sponsored health care!  She’s saying we should protect those whom people of faith often call “the least of these.”  Well, people of faith need to step up and help the poor.  That’s their duty as good Christians (as it is my duty), NOT the governments.  When did Jesus ever say that the government should help the poor?  He didn’t!  He said his followers should – that’s why it makes me angry when people give that as a reason that Jesus would be a Democrat!

And wouldn’t “the least of these” refer to the unborn babies as well?  I don’t see you protecting them, Madame Governor!

“Is it harder to balance the state budget or the budget of a family who went from 2 paychecks to 1?”  Talking about the harships of family being much greater than the hardships of politicians as leaders.

She’s now giving an example of a guy on unemployment who used No Worker Left Behind to go to a university and now he’s working for Dow Corning.

Sorry – my news station just stopped covering it – ABC needed to go back to “regular scheduled programming.”

OK – I’m back.

Talking about hope and strength.  “We together will build a better Michigan.  God bless you all, and God bless the great state of Michigan.”

Tim Skubik is on now – saying that “Doom and Gloom” only got 2 paragraphs.  He’s right – I think she could’ve shown that things are bad more than she did instead of just saying, “This is what we WILL do,” since she’s been saying that for YEARS now.

She never really said exactly how much she wanted to cut out of the government.  I will commend her for some of her pro-energy efficient plans, but I think she may wind up driving up costs at a time that we can’t afford it.  Allowing people to sell back energy from solar panels is a GOOD thing, because it gives individuals the choice to do it, instead of  mandating it.

And now Mike Bishop’s response:

He’s saying that “we all want what’s best for our state.”

“Each one of us has felt the effects of this economy.”

Saying that the Governor wants to use federal funds to fix the state, but a quick infusion of money “will never be the antidote. … You can’t increase spending and debt and somehow hope to resolve a serious budget crisis.”  The Republicans will submit a plan in the next 45 days for instant stimulus – it incentives job providers instead of increasing spending.

The House must pass Senate Bill 1.  Get rid of the 22% business surcharge.

Talking about manufacturing complexes and other companies coming in due to tax cuts, proving that business tax cuts DO work.

The second part of the plan would bring property taxes in line with home values.  Third, a tax credit for purchases of new homes will be created.  This would spur the housing market.  And he’s absolutely right – that was one of the things my parents looked into was the huge jump in taxes we would’ve payed if we moved this past summer.

Review each item in the state budget and find savings – good!

We must “be certain that state resources are used efficiently.”  Absolutely!

Talking about opportunities coming with adversity – leaders need to rise up and “take the reins that will lead us back to prosperity. … Time for us to fix Michigan. … Thank you … God bless you, our families, and our great state of Michigan.”

Alright – I’m off to a meeting – I’ll spell check this and finish my analysis when I get back.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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House of Representatives Passes $819 Billion Economic Stimulus Package

January 29, 2009

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1, Congress’s latest economic stimulus package.  That bill passed 244-188; 11 Democrats broke ranks, while all of the voting Republicans voted against it.  First, I would like to commend the 11 Democrats who voted against the $819 billion “stimulus” bill.  This bill is an atrocity to the Congressional system of appropriations.  Instead of focusing on true STIMULUS (after all, it is an “economic STIMULUS package”), the Democrats in the House packed the bill with billions of dollars of un-stimulating spending.  For those of  you who want to read the sources, here’s the version of the bill as it was introduced (it has been slightly changed, but not too much), here’s the summary from the House Appropriations Committee, and here’s the cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.  And here’s the link to the roll call vote, Roll number 46.

Let’s take a look at the  following, keeping in mind that this is just a fraction of the spending packed in the 647-page bill (which I unfortunately didn’t have the time to quite get through, although I skimmed most of it): $650,000,000 for digital TV converters, $400,000,000 for habitat restoration, $250,000,000 for NASA climate research, $600,000,000 for the government to lease plug-in and alternative-fuel vehicles, $500,000,000 for airport security, $150,000,000 for bridge removal by the Coast Guard, $1,700,000,000 for National Parks Service maintenance, $200,000,000 to clean up leaking underground sewage storage tanks, $850,000,000 for wildland fire management, $150,000,000 for maintenance at the Smithsonian Institution, and $50,000,000 for the National Cemetery Administration to make cemetery repairs.  And this is all after some apportionments were taken out.  The Republicans urged Democrats to take out some of the unnecessary spending, such as making funds available for “family planning” and contraceptives, as well as $200,000,000 to revitalize and re-sod the National Mall, but I think those were the only 2 spending things that were cut out of the bill.  Either way, the point is – there’s a heck of a lot of spending.

Now, I am not saying that the expenditures in this bill are unimportant.  Clearly bridge removal, airport security, wildland fire management, etc. are very important; however, Congress has an apportionment process for a reason.  This bill takes the traditional apportionment process and throws it out the window, and that is absolutely unacceptable!  The Democrats essentially drafted this bill telling THEIR caucus members, “If you want money apportioned for something, stick it in this ‘stimulus package’ and we’ll get it passed no questions asked,” and that’s exactly what happened.  Keep in mind, a normal apportionment bill is debated for days, but here the House Democrats crammed what would have been hundreds of apportionment bills into one bill and debated it on the floor for ONLY THREE DAYS.  That’s right folks – this was introduced on January 26, and it was passed on January 28.  That is both unacceptable and just plain DANGEROUS.  Half of the Representatives don’t even know what all is in the bill!

If Congress wants to spend money, that is perfectly fine, but they need to do it through the proper channels of apportionment, not by hijacking the taxpayers’ wallets under the guise of an “economic stimulus package.”

So where were the Republicans in all of this?  I’ll tell you.  They were left out until the very end.  Not ONE Republican had any real input while this bill was drafted.  Sure, Obama met with Republicans and “took their input,” but no Republican ever put a pen anywhere near this bill as it was being written.  The only input they had was on the floor of the House during debate and when they were proposing amendments.  And how many Republican amendments were passed?  Only two, neither of which spared us from the utter fiscal disaster that this bill is.

I was watching C-SPAN on-line late last night (waiting for the House to upload the Congressional record so I could look stuff up and write a story on this for my newspaper column) and quite a few Republicans took a strong stand against the bill.  In particular, the Representative from the Central Michigan Area, Dave Camp (R-MI4) submitted an amendment that would have changed the stimulus package to a pure tax-cut instead of this ridiculous spending spree / tax-cut combo, but that substitute bill (labelled as an amendment) failed along party lines, with 2 Democrats crossing over.

Personally, I don’t think that a spending spree is what we need right now, but even if the Democrats insist on increasing spending, they need to do it through the proper means of apportionment instead of shoving it into one big bill.  That way, maybe at least some of the frivolous spending will fail, but the way it’s going right now, the Democrats are on board with this “all or nothing” crap.  I really don’t see how the Democrats think that all this spending is going to stimulate the economy, especially since some of this stuff is just so focused, like repairing graves at national cemeteries.  Sure, it’s probably a good expenditure, but it’s not economic stimulus.

Hopefully the Senate votes against their version of this bill, but somehow I don’t see that happening.  If they could at least cut out some of the spending though, it’d make me a little happier.

We’re gonna be in for a rough period if Congress keeps this kind of stuff up.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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53% of Rescued Homeowners Still Not Paying Mortgages on Time

December 12, 2008

I was watching FOX News the other day, and Neil Cavuto the Great (yes, I’ve now given Cavuto the Republican Ranting honorary title of “the Great”) was discussing a bill before Congress that would help bankrupt homeowners restructure their mortgages.  Cavuto discusses the issue with Wall Street Journal editorialist Steve Moore.  Watch the video, and I’ll discuss it below:

Folks, I’ve been saying this all along: these bailouts will not work.  There is an attitude at the heart of this problem, and that attitude is, “If I can’t pay my mortgage, it’s the bank’s fault for giving me that loan.”

And  the way that this bill was sent through doesn’t help matters either.  If you’re at least 3 months delinquent on your mortgage, you’re eligible for federal help.  Well who doesn’t want free money?  What you have happening is people falling a month or 2 behind in their payments and then just realizing, “If I just keep this up for another month or so, I can get the government to help pay for my mortgage!”

As I’ve said NUMEROUS times before (such as here and here), the majority of the blame in these instances falls on the HOMEOWNERS for trying to buy homes that they can’t afford.  If you can’t afford something don’t buy it.  And if you try to buy it and fail, you should lose that home.  It’s unfair to the mortgage companies to just let you get a free pass and keep your home because you were financially stupid.  Then again, a lot of these people who “can’t afford” these homes actually can.  They would just rather spend their money on other things.  We have so many people wasting money on cable TV and iPods and cell phones when they can’t make a simple mortgage payment.  If you have cable TV and you’re having a hard time making mortgage payments, stop buying cable.  That’ll save you $30+ a month.  The same with cell phones.  Depending on how many family members have cell phones, you could save over $100 a month.  High speed Internet – get rid of the Internet, and if you REALLY need it, get dial-up (it’s like $12/month).

Trust me, a lot of the people who “can’t afford” their homes simply have terrible budget skills.  And it’s not the bank’s fault, and it’s certainly not the government’s job to fix that.

We have to stop this cycle of “helping” homeowners, otherwise, we’re going to have  the government pay for everybody’s houses (except those of us who would be decent enough to refuse government help because we’re committed to paying for what we bought).

These people need to learn to live within their means, and if that means losing their house, then so be it.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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The Problem with the Republican Party

November 18, 2008

So, I was taking a shower a couple days ago, when I had an epiphany (it’s where I always do all my great thinking).  I came up with this phrase: “A tax-and-spend liberal is better than a tax-cut-and-spend conservative.  At least the liberal can balance the budget.”

And this is a principle that the Republican Party (or at least a large part of its members) have forgotten.  The Bush Tax Cuts do NOTHING for us, unless you CUT SPENDING as well!  In fact, if we are going to keep up our spending habits, we need to RAISE taxes.

So should we raise taxes?  Absolutely NOT!  What we should focus on doing is cutting our spending.  Start with earmarks.  Eliminate them altogether.  Then move on to the welfare system.  Reform the welfare system.  And reform the school system.  There’s plenty of money in Michigan, worked around the right way, so that we can pay teachers decent wages and not have to continue closing down schools in Detroit.

Until the Republican Party begins to understand basic business principles (can’t have your expenditures higher than your income), they will continue to suffer election after election.  We need to return to our fiscally responsible principles.  Cut taxes.  Cut spending.  That right there will raise the quality of life for all Americans.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the Final Presidential Debate

October 15, 2008

Alright, we’re moments away from the beginning of the debate.  As always, I’ll be watching CNN, who will have a focus group (undecided voters in Ohio) with a tracking rating of how people like what they’re hearing (broken up by men and women).  WordPress just added an option to add polls, so I’ll see if I can get that working after the debate is over and post a poll about who won.

Tonight’s debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer (CBS’s Face the Nation).

We’re about 2 minutes away.

Schieffer: Why is your plan better than your opponents?

McCain: Thanks to everybody, my prayers go out to Nancy Reagan.  “Americans are hurting and angry.”  They’re innocent victims of greed.  “They have every reason to be angry.”  We have to have a short term fix and long term fixes.  Short term fix: Fannie and Freddie cause the sub-prime lending situation, that caused the housing market to collapse.  We need to reverse the decline in home ownership.  People need to know that they can stay in there homes.  Let’s take $300 billion of the $750 billion and buy mortgages so that people can stay in their homes.  What about people who could already afford to stay in their homes?  It’ll drive home value down if there are abandoned houses.  I didn’t like the answer (because I’m staunchly against any of the bailout), but it’ll go over well with voters, and the focus group liked it.

Obama: I think this’ll take some time to work itself out.  We need an economic package for the middle class.  The fundamentals of the economy were weak before this crisis (it depends what you’re defining fundamentals of the economy as).  Tax cut for people making less than $200,000.  Buying mortgages could be a bailout to banks, so I disagree with McCain there, but we do need to help homeowners.  Need to fix energy and health care.

McCain: Obama had an encounter with a plumber, Joe (somebody) Wurzelbacher.  Joe wants to buy the business that he’s worked in, and  he looked at Obama’s plan, and he saw that he’d be put in a higher tax bracket, and that’d cause him to not be able to employ people.  Joe, I’ll not only help you buy that business and keep your taxes low, and provide a way for you to provide health care to your employees.  You want to increase people’s taxes, like Joe the plumber’s.  And he’s right there – he’ll kill small businesses if he raises taxes.  The  focus group liked that.

Obama: McCain wants to give tax breaks to some of the wealthiest companies, including oil companies.  I want to give tax cuts to 95% of Americans.  Income tax, capital gains tax.  THAT’S A LIE ABOUT CAPITAL GAINS!!!  He wants to take capital gains taxes back to levels before Clinton lowered them!  I want to give small businesses tax breaks.  He lies here – 11.5% of Americans don’t even PAY income taxes, because they don’t make enough money!

McCain: Obama says, “We need to spread the wealth around.”  “I want Joe the plumber to spread the wealth around.”  Why would you want to raise taxes?

Obama: I want to cut taxes for 95% of Americans.  Not true!  I want to cut taxes for Joe the plumber before he was able to make $250,000.  I want to give families with kids going to college a break.  I’d prefer that nobody pay taxes, but we have to pay for the core of the economy to remain strong.

McCain: Companies will go overseas if we raise our business tax rates.  “Of all times in America, we need to cut taxes and encourage business, not spread the wealth around.”  Great answer – McCain actually did better with the focus group there than McCain, and that surprised me.

Schieffer: Talking about reducing the budget deficit.  Won’t some of the programs you’re proposing have to be trimmed or eliminated?

Obama: If the $750 billion works as it’s supposed to, taxpayers will get their money back.  I have been a strong proponent of pay-as-you-go.  Some of the cuts we’ll need are subsidies to insurance companies.  “It’s just a giveaway.”  I’ll go through the federal budget line-by-line, and eliminate what’s unnecessary.  We need to invest in the American people.  We need to prevent diseases when they’re young, so they won’t spend as much Medicare money.  The same with college – they’ll drive up the economy.  He’s getting very high ratings right now – he’s appealing to the average American people.

McCain: Back to home-ownership.  During the depression, we bought homes and home values went back up.  This was a plan that Senator Clinton proposed.  We need to become energy independent.  I need an across-the-board spending freeze.  I oppose subsidies for ethanol.  Sorry – got interrupted there.  I will veto earmarks.  Senator Obama put in an earmark for a projector in a planetarium in his hometown.

Obama: An across-the-board spending freeze is a hatchet, and we need a scalpel.  Senator McCain talks about earmarks, but they account for 0.5% of the federal budget.  Eliminating them will help, but it won’t solve the problem.  When President Bush came into office, we had a budget surplus, and now we have a deficit.  Pursuing Bush-esque budgets will worsen the situation, and McCain voted for Bush’s budgets, 4 out of 5 times.

McCain: I will give a new direction to this economy.  I’m not President Bush.  If he wanted to oppose him, he should’ve run 4 years ago.  Mayor Bloomberg just put in a spending freeze in New York, so it can be done.  I’ll eliminate spending.  Obama voted for the last 2 budgets that Bush proposed (the only 2 that came up since he’s been in office!).  I have fought against spending and special interest.  When have you stood up to your party?  He’s getting good ratings, and I really think that he’s appealing to American people.

Obama: The first major bill I voted on was against tort reform.  I support charter schools.  I support clean coal technology.  I have a history of reaching across the aisle.  If I mistaken your policies for President Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues, taxes, spending, etc…, you’ve been a supporter of President Bush.  You’re been against him on stuff like torture, and I commend that, but for the majority, you want 8 more years of the same thing.

McCain: It’s been clear that I’ve disagreed with Bush and my party: climate change, opposition to earmarks, torture, conduct of the War in Iraq, Medicare prescription drugs, HMO patients’ bill of rights.  I have stood up to my party’s leadership.

Schieffer: Both of you promised to take the high road, but both campaigns have turned nasty.

McCain: This has been a very tough campaign.  If Obama had responded to my request to do town hall meetings, like he originally said, the tone of this campaign could’ve been better.  The tone of this campaign has taken a nasty turn.  I apologize for some of the negativity that has come out of my campaign.  I hope OBama will repudiate the remarks made by Congressman John Lewis.  Obama didn’t keep his word about taking public financing.  He’s getting high ratings from men here, but average ratings from women.

Obama: 2/3 of the American people think McCain’s running a negative campaign, versus 1/3 of the American people thinking that of mine.  100% of your ads have been negative (BULL CRAP!).  There’s nothing wrong with having a vigorous debate like we’re having now, but not having town hall meetings doesn’t justify the ads that have come out from your campaign and 527s.  I don’t mind being attacked for 3 weeks, but we can’t afford 4 more years of failed economic policies.  He’s actually getting negative ratings from women, and average from men here.  He’s really attacking McCain during a question about negativity in campaigns, and I think he’s really making himself look bad here.

McCain: If you turn on the television, every other ad was an attack ad on my health care policy, saying that I oppose federal funding for stem cells.  I don’t.  Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money in negative attack ads on me.  Of course we’re talking about Joe the plumber and restoring jobs to America.  That’s what my campaign is all about.  Again, I didn’t hear a repudiation of Congressman Lewis.

Obama: Lewis, made a statement with what he was troubled with hearing some of the rallies that your running mate was holding.  People were yelling “terrorist” and “kill him,” and your running mate didn’t stop them.  I do think that he gave a good comparison between what’s happening now and the civil right’s movement.  What the Americans want is for us to focus on the challenges that we have now.  We have serious differences on health care.  When people bring up me being with terrorists, that’s not the issues.

McCain: Whenever you have big rallies, you’ll have fringe people, and that’s not appropriate.  But for the majority of people, they’re not saying anything negative.  These people are the most patriotic people in this nation (veterans and wives of veterans).  There’ve been thingsat your rallies that I’m not happy with either.  I have always repudiated out of line statements, and I will continue to do that, but we cannot stand for the things that have been going on.  I haven’t.

Schieffer: Do you take issue with that?

Obama: What I think is most important is that we recognize that in order to solve 2 wars, a financial crisis, creating jobs, then we all need to be able to work together.  “We need to disagree without being disagreeable.  What we can’t do is try to characterize each other as bad people.”

McCain: We need to know the full extent of Obama’s relationships with Ayers and ACORN.  If there’s nothing there, I don’t care about it, but we need to know what all went on there.

Obama: Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of McCain’s campaign.  Bill Ayers is a professor in Chicago.  40 years ago, he engaged in despicable acts.  “I have … condemned those acts.”  I served on a school board with him 10 years ago.  “Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign … and he will not advise me in the White House.”  ACORN: Apparently, they were paying people to get people registered to vote.  The only thing I did with them was represent them with some thing in Illinois – I didn’t catch it all.  I associate with Warren Buffet on economics.  On foreign policy, it’s Joe Biden or Dick Lugar, or General Jim Jones.  “Those are the people who have shaped my ideas and will be surrounding me in the White House.”

McCain: While you and Ayers were on that board, you gave money to ACORN, and you launched your campaign from Ayers living room.  In 2001, he said he’d wished he’d have bombed more.  We need to know all the details here.  And my (not McCain) view is that with Ayers – it’s no big deal if Obama’s honest.  With ACORN, there are some serious problems there – ACORN has supported Obama, and Obama has supported ACORN, and ACORN has shown to have some serious legal problems.

Schieffer: Why is your running mate better than his?

Obama: He’s been there a while – he knows what he’s doing, especially when it comes to foreign policy.  Biden has never forgotten where he came from.  He fights for the little guy.  He has always been fighting for working families.  “After 8 years of failed policies [we] will have to reprioritize … give tax cuts to small businesses … and individuals who are struggling.”  We need to become energy independent, and make sure that our kids afford can go to college.  Biden has always been on the right side of the issues.

McCain: Palin is a reformer.  She took on the old governor, who was part of her party.  She’s given money back to taxpayers and cut the size of the government.  “She is a reformer through and through, and it’s time that we have that breath of fresh air and sweep out” the old politics of Washington.  “She understand special needs families, and understands that autism is on the rise.”  She has united people all over America, and I’m proud of her.

Schieffer: Is she qualified to be President?

Obama: That’ll be up to the American people to decide.  Her work on special needs kids has been commendable.  He didn’t answer the question!  If we have an across-the-board spending freeze, special needs kids will suffer.

McCain (on Biden): Biden is experienced, but he’s had some bad foreign policy ideas, such as dividing Iraq into different countries, and we’ve seen Iraq become united as one country.  Every time Obama says we need to spend more.  Why can’t we have transparency of these government organizations.

Schieffer: Energy and climate control.  Presidents have said that we need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.  Give us a number of how much you believe we can reduce foreign oil during your first term.

McCain: We can eliminate our dependence on Middle East countries and Venezuela.  Canadian oil is fine.  We need nuclear power plants, and that’ll be how we eliminate those 2 sources of foreign oil.  We need wind, tide, solar, gas, clean coal.  He’s getting huge ratings, and for good reason – it’s a good energy plan.  Especially the nuclear part!!!!

Obama: In 10 years, we can reduce our dependence so we don’t have to import oil from the Middle East or Venezuela.  “Nothing is more important than us borrowing … money from China and sending it to Venezuela.”  We need to expand domestic production, by telling oil companies, “Use them or lose them” in terms of oil fields being leased here in the U.S.  We need to drill offshore, but that won’t solve the problem.  We need wind, solar, biofuel.  We need efficient cars built here in America, not in Japan.  And he’s got good ideas too, but I WISH he would’ve said he wants nuclear power – nuclear power is safe (we use it on subs) and VERY efficient.  NAFTA didn’t have enforceable environmental agreements, and we should’ve included those.  When it comes to South Korea, we have an agreement with them, and they’re sending more cars here than we are to them.  That’s not free trade.

McCain: “Obama said, ‘We will look at offshore drilling.’  Did you catch that?  ‘Look at.'”  We need to do more than look at it, we need to do it.  AGREED!  Our businesses are paying money into Columbia, but because of previous agreements, they’re getting their goods into here for free.  We need a free trade agreement with Columbia, which Obama has opposed.  Obama hasn’t even travelled down there, and he doesn’t understand Columbia.

Obama: I understand it.  Labor leaders have been persecuted, and we need to stand for human rights.  Workers who are trying to organize for rights shouldn’t be persecuted, and that’s why I supported a free trade agreement with Peru.  When I talked about automakers, they’re getting hammered right now, not only because of gas prices, but with the financial crisis.  People can’t get car loans, so we need to get loan guarantees.  We need more efficient cars and cars of the future.  That’ll help create new jobs.  He’s getting VERY high ratings – he’s maxed out with women, and men are rating him high too.

McCain: Obama doesn’t want a free trade agreement with our best ally in the region, but wants to sit down with Hugo Chavez without preconditions.  Jobs and businesses will be created if we open up those markets.  Obama wants to restrict trade and raise taxes, and the last President who did that was Hoover.  We went from a deep recession to a depression.  I won’t let that happen.

Schieffer: Would you first lower health care costs, instead of providing more health care?

Obama: We need to do both.  My plan will allow you to keep your plan if you have health insurance.  We will lower costs so that cost savings are brought back to you.  If you don’t have insurance, you can buy into the same kind of federal pool that federal employees enjoy.  Insurance companies won’t be able to discriminate against people with preconditions.  Drugs will be lower, and we need to look at preventative care.  This will require more money up front, but will lower costs in the long run.  VERY high ratings at the end there.

McCain: Premiums and copays are going up, and health care costs are going up and inflicting pain on Americans.  We need walk in clinics and community health care centers.  We need nutrition and physical fitness programs in schools to keep kids healthy.  I want to give all American families a $5,000 tax credit.  Under Obama’s plan, if you have employees and they have kids, if you don’t have a health care plan, Obama will fine you.  I still haven’t heard what that fine will be.

Obama: Your fine will be $0.  I exempt small businesses for the requirement that large businesses have to provide health care.  Well, Senator Obama, what do you consider a small business???  The average family is paying higher premiums because of the uninsured.  I’ll give small businesses a 50% credit so they can afford it.  If not, you can buy into the plan I have.  McCain will give you the tax credit, but what will happen to older folks who can’t afford the health care plan?  McCain will tax the health care benefits you have from your employer, the first time in history this has ever happened.  Insurers right now are restricted statewide.  Those rules would be stripped away, and you’d see companies excluding people.

McCain: People like Joe are rich, because Obama said about him that we need to “spread the wealth,” so he’s rich enough that he would be fined.  Under my plan, people will be able to go across the country, giving them the chance to choose their futures.  “Senator Government–Senator Obama wants government to do the job.”  Senator Obama and the Democrats have been in charge the last 2 years, and things have gotten worse.

Obama: Under McCain’s plan, there’s a strong risk that you will lose your health care from your employer.  All I want to do is lower costs.

Schieffer: Could either of you nominate a Supreme Court Justice who disagrees with your view on Roe v. Wade.

McCain: I have never had a litmus test.  I think the Court decided incorrectly there, but I’m a Federalist – it should be left up to the states.  We need to nominate people based on qualifications, not if I agree with their ideology.  There should be no litmus test.  These nominees should be picked based on qualifications, who adhere to the Constitution, not people who legislate from the bench.  (But people who stick to the Constitution would oppose Roe v. Wade).  I’ll have no litmus test.

Obama: I’d agree that we shouldn’t have a litmus test.  Fairness and justice should be given to the American people.  It’s very likely that one of us will be making 1 or more appointments, and Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance.  I support the decision in Roe v. Wade.  I believe that women are in the best position to make this decision.  The Constitution has privacy built into it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum or popular vote.  “I will look for those judges who have an outstanding record … intellect.”  McCain and I disagreed when the S.C. made it harder for some woman to bring suit for equal pay for women.  The Court said that she waited too long.  If a woman is being treated unfairly, the Court needs to stand up if nobody will.

McCain: You can’t waive the statute of limitation 20 to 30 years.  Senator Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide medical attention to babies who were not successfully aborted (essentially passive infanticide).  Then he voted present on the floor.  He did the same with partial birth abortion.  Men are liking this, but women not so much.

Obama: That’s not true.  There was a bill put forward that said that you need life saving treatment that would undermine Roe v. Wade, but there was a law alreay on the books.  On partial birth abortion: I’m supportive of a ban on late term abortions as long as there’s an exception for the safety of the woman’s life.    Both men and women are rating him a bit above average now.  Surely there is some common ground, when both sides can come together and prevent unintended pregnancies.  Communicate that sex shouldn’t be engaged in carelessly.  Adoption choices should be out there.  Those things are now in the Democratic platform, for the first time ever.

McCain: “Health of the mother” has been stretched to mean almost anything (such as mental health in some cases).  Cindy and I are adoptive parents.  We need to promote adoption and protect the rights of the unborn.

Schieffer: A question about education and national security – I missed what all it was.

Obama: No nation has had a bad economy and a good military.  Education is a huge part of this.  We need better pay for teachers.  We need college to be more affordable.  We’ll offer an exchange of community/military service with money for college.  We can’t do this just in schools.  Parents need to show responsibility too – encourage thirst for knowledge.  And he’s absolutely right here.  It starts at home.  People rated him as high as they could.

McCain: Choice and competition among schools are some of the key elements – New York and New Orleans – where we find bad teachers another line of work.  We need to give parents a choice in sending kids to good schools.  Charter schools are one option.

Schieffer: Should the federal government play a larger role?

Obama: The states need to be in control, but the federal government needs to step in and help struggling local school districts.  Bush did this with No Child Left Behind, “but unfortunately, he left the money behind.”  That was a good line.  McCain and I agree on charter schools.  I think we need to encourage competition between schools.  Bad teachers need to be replaced.  “Our kids need to have the best future.”  We disagree on vouchers, and we disagree on college accessibility.  McCain doesn’t have programs that help college groups.  (That’s because he’ll simplify the tax code to make finding tax credits for college easier to find).

McCain: Vouchers need to be provided, because parents WANT vouchers.  They wanted to chose the schools where their children go (this was in Washington, D.C.).  As far as NCLB, it had its flaws and problems, but it’s the first time we looked at this from the national perspective.  Head Start is a great program.  It’s not doing what it should do, so we need to reform it and fund it.  We can’t just give more money, we need to reform it too.  We need transparency, rewards, and funding.  We’ll find and spend money to find the cause of autism, but to have a situation that the most expensive education is in America means that we also need reform.  We can’t throw money at a problem without reform.  Vouchers work.

Obama: On vouchers in D.C.  The D.C. school system is in terrible shape.  The superintendent there is doing a great job (McCain interjected that she supports vouchers).  There’s not proof that vouchers solve the problem.  We need a President who will tackle this head on.

McCain: Obama said that because there’s not enough vouchers, we shouldn’t have any.  That’s wrong.

Schieffer: Closing statements.

McCain: Thank you.  We need a new direction.  “We cannot be satisfied with what we’ve been doing for the last 8 years.”  I’ve been a reformer.  I’ve opposed my party.  I’ve been a good steward of your tax dollars.  We need to make health care and education affordable to all.  We need to stop this wild spending.  All of these promises made tonight will be made based on whether you trust us or not.  I ask you to examine both my record as well as my proposals for this country.  I’ve put my country first.  “It’s been a great honor of my life, and I’ve been proud to serve, and I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to serve again.  I’ll be honored, and humbled.”

Obama: Washington has been unwilling to address the problems.  We cannot adopt the policies of the last 8 years.  We need change.  You’ve invited me into your homes.  “Our brighter days are still ahead, but we have to invest in the American people.”  College needs to be more affordable.  Wages need to be higher, and we need to grow the middle class.  “It’s not gonna be easy.  It’s not gonna be quick.”  Republicans and Democrats will have to come together.  “If you give me the … honor of being President, I will work tireously and  honorably to ensure the future of our children.”

Bob Schieffer: As my mother would say: “Go vote now.  It’ll make you feel big and strong.”

McCain/Obama: Thank you (to each other).

Alright, overall, I think this was BY FAR the best debate we had.  I commend Bob Schieffer.  He was by far the best moderator we had.

Overall, I think McCain won this won.  This is the first time I’ve called a debate (other than the VP debate, where I called Biden the winner), and I think McCain won.  He was VERY strong toward the beginning.  I think Obama was weak at the beginning, but picked it up toward the end, but overall, I think that McCain was the winner.

Again, I think McCain was definitely stronger here.  I think Obama was too weak.  This was definitely the debate McCain needed, but I’m not sure that it’ll be enough for him to recover.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the Vice Presidential Debate

October 2, 2008

We are waiting for the debate to start.  Tonight’s debate will be between the VP candidates, Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) and Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), and will be starting in about 1 minute.  It’ll be moderated by Gwen Ifill, from PBS.

OK – now we’re about to start.

Ifill: Talking about the Senate bill.  “Was this the worst of Washington, or the best of Washington?”

Biden: Neither.  The economic policies of the last 8 years were the worst part.  Obama laid out rescue plan: Oversight, “focus on homeowners and folks on mainstreet, treat taxpayers like investors, and lastly, make sure CEOs don’t benefit.”  “We will fundamentally change the … economic policy.”

Palin: “Our economy is hurting, and the government has not provided the sound oversight that we need and deserve.”  Women undecided voters in Ohio (the group they’re surveyin is Undecideds in Ohio) arereally liking her, now she’s mentioning McCain, and she’s dropped a bit – talking about his  policy will accomplish what we need.

Biden: Talking about McCain saying “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” – well he was talking about the PRINCIPLES of CAPITALISM and the American workers, not the details of our current economy!  Women, liking Biden more than men, a trend that seems to carry no matter who’s talking.

Palin: Basically correcting Biden’s statement about McCain, saying what I said.  Americans are craving reform.  Men had liked her more, then women climbed back on top.

Ifill: Subprime lending meltdown.  Who was at fault?  Lenders or buyers?

Palin: “Darn right it was the … lenders.”  And the women are as HIGH as they can go on  the chart – wow.  Talking about not living outside of our means, that we do need to take responsibility – and both categories are as high as they can go.  Basically saying that this isn’t the people’s fault, but that we can learn a lesson from it, and take steps to insure that we don’t live above our means.

Biden: Saying McCain let Wall Street run wild.  That his stances for deregulation were bad, and Wall Street can’t regulate itself.  Well, it can and should, Mr. Biden.  Saying that McCain wants to deregulate the health care industry.  I got interrupted there – lost what Biden said.  I did notice the chart, women liking him more than men, but not as high as Palin.

Palin: OK, I’m back – something about tax reduction and letting private sector keep more of what we produce.  We need tax relief.  Undecided Ohio voters are loving her.

Biden: Palin lied: Obama didn’t raise taxes.  Saying that Palin didn’t answer the question about deregulation.  Saying that McCain DID pursue deregulation.

Palin: Wants to correct Biden’s misstatements on taxes first.  Now talking about what she did in Alaska for taxes.  Now on to talking about McCain pushing for more regulations: citing tobacco and campaign finances.

Ifill: Time is up.  Next question: Tax benefits on health care.

Biden: “The middle class is struggling.”  He’s right – middle class families are struggling, and the voters understand this and are agreeing with him.  He’s hitting it home here, and the focus group is liking it, women more than men.  Saying that Obama will cut taxes for people under $200,000.  Talking about McCain wanting to raise taxes, but as soon as he went negative, his ratings went down, now back up.  But Biden did hit it home to the average Joe voters – it was good for Obama.

Palin: Talking about Biden saying that paying higher taxes is patriotic, and that she disagrees, coming from the middle class.  Saying that private sector and  families should grow, thrive, and prosper.  Talking about Obama’s spending being “the backwards way in growing the economy.”  Talking about McCain’s health care plan: $5,000 tax credit – “that’s budget neutral,” unlike Obama’s plan which will cost the government money.  Her ratings aren’t doing too well right now.  Saying that McCain will promote crossing state lines to purchase plans – and that’ll increase competition.

Biden: Talking about not redistributing money to big businesses.  Talking about health care – he’s kinda stuttering and bumbling around during this part.  He’s talking about health care, specifically McCain taxing health care benefits, which will have money going to insurance companies.  Having to replace a $12,000 plan with $5,000 because 20 million people will be dropped.  “The ultimate bridge to nowhere.”  Good quote – the focus group didn’t like it, but I thought it was clever.

Biden: talking about tax cuts, and not going through with the Bush tax cuts.  Not gonna support tax cuts for corporate wealthy.  Not gonna support tax cuts for Exxon/Mobil.  Saying we can’t slow up on education.  And  the women are  rating him as high as they can right now, but men putting him at neutral now.  Saying he and Obama will eliminate wasteful spending, one which is a tax dodge by putting their post office box off shore.

Palin: “McCain doesn’t tell 1 thing to 1 group” and something else to another group.  Talking about the energy plan: Obama voted for a plan that gave oil companies big tax breaks.  Saying that she took on those oil companies.  They were doing what they need to do, but they’re not her biggest fans, because she broke up monopolies, and she was at a neutral rating all through that, but is now a little bit positive.  Reemphasizing that Obama voted FOR that energy plan.  Saying that her area of expertise is energy.  Saying that she’ll do what is right for the American people, and stop greed on Wall Street, and that the rescue plan needs oversight.  She dipped pretty negative there, but balanced it out at the end.

Biden: Talking about Obama voting for the bill.  Saying it was the first bill that really allowed for alternate energy.  Why is McCain adding tax cuts for oil companies? (he asked).  Saying that we should be able to give back money to everybody just like Palin did in Alaska, but under McCain’s plan, it’ll all go to companies.  Saying he hopes Palin will convince McCain to support windfall tax, like Palin supported in the past.

Ifill: Something about economy and something about debt – I didn’t hear exactly what it was.

Palin: We need to be appreciative of McCain’s call for reform.  And emphasizing reform is a very good strategy for her (and Biden) in this debate.  Put politics and campaign aside and fix this “toxic mess on Main Street that’s affecting Wall Street” (I think she switched the 2 of those up).

Biden: Saying that McCain and Palin don’t support certain ways to help the people through one of the bailout bills, I missed the specifics – women liked him, men didn’t.

Palin: Talking about doing all we can do to become energy independent.  She dropped really low, and is coming back now, talking about having to rely on foreign countries, instead of “dollars circulating here creating 10s of 1,000s of jobs. … Energy independence is the key to this nation’s future.”  Talking about not giving oil company tax breaks.  She rose pretty high there, but dropped down at the end.

Ifill: What’s true and false about climate change.

Palin: Talking about Alaska often changed by climate, since it’s an arctic state.  Some of it’s human-caused, others of it is cyclical.  Doesn’t want to argue about causes, but wants to discuss how we’ll clean up the planet.  That’s a great answer – and she’s right.  Who cares HOW we got here, as long as we know HOW to fix it!  We need an all of the above approach to tap into energy as well as conserving fuel – and she got pretty high ratings there.

Biden: “I think it’s clearly man-made.”  And he dropped down a bit there.  Saying that we can’t get a solution unless we know the cause.  Well, Mr. Biden, even the National Climatic Data Center doesn’t know the cause, and it’s their job to figure these things out.  Talking about ways to stop greenhouse gases from being emitted.  Saying that China is building new dirty coal plants weekly – we need to export technology to help them and their environment.  Saying McCain voted against alternative energy 20 times.  Biden got some pretty good ratings there.

Palin: McCain supports caps on drilling.  Saying that we need to tap into oil, and that’s what the people want.  She gave the “Drill baby, drill!” quote and that dropped her pretty bad.  Saying that Biden called drilling “raping” the continental shelf.  Saying that we need an all of the above approach.  Saying that Biden didn’t support clean coal, saying that he said there’s no such thing as clean coal.

Biden: Saying that the comment was taken out of context, and that he’s supported clean coal for 25 years.  If the only answer you have is oil, and not everything, how will that help?

Ifill: Do you support, as they do in Alaska, benefits to gay couples?

Biden: Absolutely.  In our administration, there will be no difference between gay and straight couples.  And  here’s where I disagree – it’s a states’ rights issue.  He brought up visitation in hospitals, and I do agree there.  Although he’s remaining barely above neutral ratings.

Palin: I wouldn’t do it if it redefined marriage, but I will be tolerant.  Saying that she has a diverse group of family and friends – I can’t tell if she’s implying gay friends?  Saying that McCain wouldn’t ban visitation rights, but supports defining marriage between 1 man and 1 woman.  She did pretty good in ratings.

Biden: Neithe me nor Obama want to redefine marriage.  That’s a decision to be left by the faith institutes.  Saying that Palin doesn’t want differences in rights, so they’re on the same page.

Palin: Says that she doesn’t want to redefine marriage, so they agree.

Ifill: On Iraq – exit strategy.

Palin: Saying that we have a good plan, and that the surge worked, is working, and  Obama shouldn’t have voted against troop funding, and she’s glad that Biden stood up to him on that.  Saying that we can start putting more troops in Afghanistan.  She’s rating right around neutral right now.  Saying that we’re getting closer and closer to victory, and it’d be a travesty if we quit in Iraq.

Biden: I didn’t hear a plan.  Outlining Obama’s plan: Train the Iraqis.  McCain voted the same way in no funding for troops.  Said he won’t fund them with a timeline.  He’s rating pretty decent now.  Although he dropped a bit with women when he attacked McCain.  Saying it’s time Iraqis spend their own money, and he’s now maxed out at the women’s rating and is almost there with men.  “For John McCain, there’s no end in sight to end this war.”

Palin: “Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq” and thats’ not what our troops needed.  The surge worked, and Obama can’t admit that.  Saying that Biden would’ve been on McCain’s ticket because he supported McCain’s stance on Iraq, and that he flip flopped when Obama picked him.  Saying Obama voted against troop funding.

Biden: Saying McCain voted against funding for troops.  Voted against it because it had a timeline in it to end the war.  Saying McCain has been dead wrong on fundamental issues on the Iraq War.  “There are the facts.”  He got pretty good ratings back there.

Ifill: Which is more dangerous: nuclear Iran or unstable Pakistan?

Biden: Pakistan already has nukes.  Could hit Israel.  Iran is not close to getting nukes, so both are very dangerous.  Saying that John still thinks that the battlefront on terrorism is in Iraq.  Ratings are really high, especially among women – he’s doing pretty good here.  Saying that we need to help them build schools (in Pakistan) and that’s where bin Laden lives.  We need to go after him.

Palin: Saying that both Petraeus and Al Qaeda said that the central battlefront was Iraq.  The only thing they agreed on.  Saying that Ahmadinejad is unstable (quoted him on Israel).  Talking about Obama meeting with nations without preconditions, showing naivety on Obama’s part.  And her ratings went from pretty good to neutral.

Ifill: Secretaries of State have advocated talking.  Are they wrong?

Palin: No.  We need diplomacy, but with dictators who hurt America cannot be met with just sitting down on a Presidential level like Obama said he’d do.  “Diplomacy is hard work by many people.”

Biden: That’s not true.  He didn’t say sit down with Ahmadinejad.  It surprises me that McCain doesn’t know that he doesn’t control the security apparatus of Iran.  Saying that McCain and Palin said they have passion for diplomacy, and we need talks with our friends and allies, yet our allies said, “Sit down and talk,” but we didn’t.  Rating pretty good there.  McCain said he wouldn’t sit down with Spain, a NATO ally who has troops in Afghanistan.  “I find that incredible.”  Rating great there – and yeah, that was a really dumb moment by McCain.

Palin: Forging peace will be top of McCain/Palin agenda.  We will never allow a second Holocaust, even if that’s what Iran warns of.  Saying we need more peace, but we need commitment, and we’ll give that commitment.  Great ratings there.

Biden: “Nobody has been a friend to Israel in the Senate as much as Joe Biden.”  What about Bernie Sanders?  I’m just assuming that since he’s Jewish he supports Israel, but I could be wrong.  Talking about Hezbollah and that they’re a legitimate part of the government of Lebanon.  We will change this policy, and stand with Israel, not insist that policies are past.  Rating great there.

Palin: Saying that she’s glad Biden cares so much about Israel.  Saying that we can’t keep finger pointing at Bush (like Biden just did – I left that out when I typed above).  Put partisanships aside – he’s known as the Maverick.  It’s good that she’s bringing that up.

Biden: How different will McCain’s policy be different than Bush’s?  He hasn’t heard how it’s different.  On Israel, Iran, Pakistan.

Ifill: What should be the trigger when nuclear weapons use is put into play?

Palin: Dangerous regimes cannot be allowed to get nukes.  “Period.”  Saying we need sanctions on nations like North Korea.  On Afghanistan, McCain’s stance is different than Bush’s – McCain will use surge principles, just like we did in Iraq, and it worked.  Saying we’re fighting terrorists and securing democracy and building schools.

Biden: On Afghanistan–commanding general said that the surge principle will not work in Afghanistan.  And Biden’s ratings are pretty good now.  Spent more in 3 week on Iraq than 6 1/2 years in Afghanistan.  Ratings are pretty good there.  Saying that McCain hasn’t supported nuclear test ban treaties.

Palin: Saying that the general didn’t say that the surge principles wouldn’t work.

Biden: Saying that the general DID say that.  Obama, Hagel, Biden, and Lugar have called for more money in Afghanistan.  McCain said we had already succeeded in Afghanistan.  We need to spend more in Afghanistan than on Iraq.

Ifill: Biden, you’ve had an interventionist stance.  Should America continue this?

Biden: It worked in Bosnia (this is something Ifill brought up), and he supported it and was the first for it.  On Iraq, he voted to let us go to war, but opposes it.  We needed to have our allies with us.  In Darfur, we cannot allow for the genocide – we need to provide helicopters.  And the ratings skyrocketed.

Palin: Saying that she must be a Washington outsider, since she doesn’t get why he switched his views, and compared him to Kerry.  Saying that he opposed Obama’s strategy and now is for it.  We can agree on Darfur, specifically the no-fly zone.  And her ratings are going up decently.  Talking about not using money that would look like we will allow travesties in Darfur.

Ifill: When is the line to be drawn to go to War?

Biden: Can we afford it?  When a country engages in genocide / terrorism, that country forfeits their right to say that we can’t intervene.  Saying that he predicted Sunni/Shia conflicts.

Palin: I disagree with you on whose strategy you supported.  John Mccain has faced challenges and knows what evil is, and will know how to implement commanders, and will know how to win a war.

Ifill: If the worst were to happen, how would a Biden administration differ from an Obama administration?

Biden: I’d carry out policies – accurate health care, an energy policy that creates new jobs.  A foreign policy that gives power to Iraq.  Reject the Bush doctrine.  He’s rating as high as he can among womenn, and VERY good among men.  It’s the most important election you’ll have voted in since 1932.  I agree with Obama on every major suggestion.

Palin: Talking about disagreeing on drilling in ANWR, continue good work he started – getting rid of greed in Washington and Wall Street.  The money needs to be put to the average family.  And her ratings are skyrocketing – maxed out for women, very high for men.  Talking about Obama’s plan being bad for our economy.

Biden: Saying that it’s been Bush’s economic policy that hurt us.  Saying that McCain says he’s different, but he really isn’t.  “The middle class has gotten the short end.”  Very good ratings.

Palin: Saying that teachers need more pay.  We need better education.  Her ratings are doing pretty good.  Education in America is just accepted to be a little bit laxed, and that’s unacceptable.  We need to reform No Child Left Behind.  Very high  ratings among women and pretty good for men.

Ifill: What does the Vice Presidency do?

Palin: Talked about her saying a lame joke, “and yours must’ve been a lame joke too because nobody got it.”  Pretty funny.  Talking about presiding over the Senate.  Saying “McCain has tapped me and that’s where he wants me” – dealing with special needs children – might’ve been education, I missed part of it.

Biden: “I would be the point person for legislative initiatives.”  Saying that he’ll give Obama his best advice.  Sahying that he won’t be afraid to tell Obama if he disagrees.  Pretty good ratings.  And he’s showing himself being somewhat of a Maverick or independent, and willing to disagree with HIS president.

Ifill: Opinion of Cheney’s Vice Presidency.

Palin: Talking about doing best for the American people in cooperating with the President’s agenda, and that there’s a lot of flexibility.  Talking about her executive experience, and those years will be put to good use.

Biden: It’s been the most dangerous we’ve had.  Only preside over Senate when there’s a tie vote.  Give President advice.  His ratings are VERY high right now.  Criticizing Cheney’s defining the VP as a legislative job.

Ifill: What are your Achilles heels?

Palin: Responding to Ifill (who asked if it was her experience).  I was experienced in being a governor and mayor, and I’m tapped into average families.  Talking about standing for tolerance, freedom, and equal rights.  Combine that with being a team of reform and it’s a good ticket.  Pretty good ratings.

Biden: Responding to it being his lack of discipline.  I’ll place my record against McCain’s.  Talking about crime bills.  Talking about it knowing what it’s like to be a single parent.  Saying that he’s much better off than many Americans now, but the notion that because he’s a man, he doesn’t know how to raise to kids alone.  And he’s getting emotional here – and it is really appealing to the focus group – that was Biden’s best moment right there – and it was a GENUINE moment.  It’s going to be hard for Palin to make any comeback from that without looking bad.

Palin: Americans aren’t looking for more of the same.  Talking about John McCain’s Maverick position.  And she’s not doing well with the focus group, just as I predicted.  Talking about not allowing Wall Street greed, and now she’s picking up ratings.  “Change is coming and John McCain” will bring reform.

Biden: McCain is not a Maverick – he voted for Bush’s budget.  He voted against putting children into health care coverage.  Not a Maverick on education, on the war, on virtually anything that affects the average people.  He’s rating pretty high.  “Maverick he is not on the important issues that affect people at the kitchen table.”

Ifill: Single issue where you had to change a long-held view to accommodate circumstances.

Biden: Yes, the only thing that mattered for a judicial nominee was a moral person who hadn’t committed crime.  Now I realized that ideology matters, and he gave an example of somebody he opposed.  Women liked his response, but Men are rating him neutral.  “I’m glad I did [change on that].”

Palin: There’ve been times when I was governor and mayor that I didn’t like, but didn’t veto.  Times when I wanted to cut taxes, but didn’t have enough support.  Never a time when I had to change my views because up in Alaska, we’ve been able to compromise and work things out.  That’s what I’ll do in Washington, and that’s what McCain has done.

Ifill: How do you change the tone and promote bipartisanship, after looking at the bailout vote?

Biden: I’ve worked across the aisle and changed opinions of my party and the Republicans.  Saying that people shouldn’t question motives of members of the Senate.  Question their judgment, not motives.  And he got pretty good ratings there – that was a pretty good statement.

Palin: Do what I did as Governor – walk the walk and appoint people from both parties.  Work together.  Let policies and proposals speak for themselves.  Lower taxes on workers and businesses.  Rein in spending.  Don’t support a ticket that will increase spending.  And her ratings were doing really good, but she’s dropped a bit.

Ifill: Closing statements.

Palin: Glad to be here and glad to meet Biden and debate him.  Wants to speak to people without filters – just speak to them.  We’ll fight for the average American people.  Always been proud to be an American, and so has McCain.  We need to fight for freedoms.  “Freedom is always a generation away from extinction.”  We will fight for freedom, and only McCain has fought for you.

Biden: Thank you, and it was a pleasure to meet you Governor.  This is the most important election you’ve ever voted in.  There’s a need for fundamental economic and foreign policy change.  Obama and I don’t look at that based on CEOs and tax credits to Exxon/Mobil, but when sending a kid off to fight in a war.  They should be guaranteed best health care and education.  Really good ratings right now.  Talking about believing in selves and accomplishing things, and that’s why him and Obama are running – to reestablish that mood.  It’s time for America to get back up together.  May God bless you, and may God protect our troops.

Ifill: Thank you to the Commission, the University, Governor Palin and Senator Biden.  “Good night everybody.”

Palin: “Thank you so much!  Thank you Gwen.”

Why is her mic still on?  that’s weird.

So, my analysis overall:

  • I didn’t like the fact that Palin avoided some of the questions at the beginning.  She lost some points with me here.
  • Biden got a little wordy and confusing toward the end at some points, but it wasn’t a huge issue.
  • I give a lot of credit to Biden for being a single dad.  When he started getting emotional, that was a powerful moment, and I felt for him – I could feel the emotion just watching him.  It didn’t affect the outcome of the debate (at least not in my mind), but I think credit needs to be given to him for that.

Overall, I call it a Biden victory.  Perhaps it’s just because I was going into this thinking that Palin wouldn’t perform well, but I didn’t think she did too bad, but I would definitely say that I am confident that Biden won.  I really don’t think that either campaign will get a bump from this, but if anybody will, I think it’ll be McCain.  Like I said earlier today, it was Biden’s debate to lose.  He performed very well, but Palin did as well, and for Biden to help the Obama ticket much more, he would’ve needed to blow her out of the water, and that just didn’t happen.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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