Lancaster’s Rally For Change

The Lancaster County Democratic Party is hosting a large Rally For Change Saturday afternoon at Binns Park.  Gov. Rendell is headlining the event featuring all three statewide candidates:  Jack Wagner, John Morganelli and Rob McCord along withe the local slate of candidates including 16th Congressional District candidate Bruce Slater.

The event is scheduled from 2 pm to 7 pm.

Congress Rejects Bailout

The House rejected the proposed Wall Street bailout program by 228-205 today killing the plan for now.  Some Members of Congress said their constituents were saying No by a ratio of 100-1.

There were a number of problems with the proposed plan.  First taxpayers don’t see why they have to bail out Wall Street.  Instead of borrowing more money Congress should have paid for the plan with taxes on large securities trades and income taxes on the rich who profited from this mess.

The GOP plan to throw a monkey wrench of an insurance plan in there which everyone said would do nothing to solve the problem was another issue.  Thank John McCain for that mess.

Also since there were no provisions to aid homeowners facing default and/or bankruptcy many voted nay.  People can’t see a plan where only Wall Street gets saved.  The powers being bestowed on the Treasury Secretary, even with oversight, are scary.  It isn’t wise to invest so much power in one person.

The Dow Jones reacted by falling 777 points and Wachovia Bank failed.  Another week and another giant bank goes under.  In this case CitiBank snapped it up after the Fed intervened and got it for a song.  Someone may be singing the blues eventually as they assume all this bad debt.

There’s $45 trillion of bad paper circulating around the global markets and if anyone thinks that amount of loss isn’t going to be felt globally they’re nuts.  Still some sort of plan has to be developed that will pass muster.  Congress knows what’s necessary and now is the time to hunker down and do it right.

I’m having trouble accessing the House website to get the votes from the PA delegation but I’ll add those when I can.  

Update:  The vote:


Peterson (only Republican)





P. Murphy











T. Murphy




Meanwhile some Members of Congress issued statements:


House Expected to Revote on Economic Rescue Package in Several Days

WASHINGTON – Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11), the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises, today issued the following statement regarding the consideration of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008:

“Today the House of Representatives voted down the economic recovery plan that the President, Treasury Secretary Paulson, and bipartisan leaders in both the House and Senate told us was necessary to avoid the collapse of the American economy.  People must understand that we are not bailing out Wall Street; we are rescuing the middle class on Main Street.  

“Congress must get this job done no matter how long it takes.  It is my hope that over the next several days we can all work together to agree upon a plan which puts the interests of average Americans first, as their retirement savings, pensions, and investments continue to dwindle by the minute.

“Already I have spoken with local businesspeople who are having difficulty obtaining credit to cover their payrolls or borrow money to expand their operations.  Unless we unfreeze our credit markets very quickly, these problems will only increase.

“I will work for as long as it takes until we are able to reach a majority to enact legislation which both protects American taxpayers and stabilizes the American economy.”

Schwartz Statement on Emergency Economic Stabilization Act

Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz released the following statement following the House vote on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.

           “Just a short while ago, the effort for a bipartisan solution to stabilize the financial crisis and protect average American taxpayers collapsed. In spite of 10 days of around-the-clock effort to fix the mistakes of the original Bush-Paulson proposal to ensure protections for everyday Americans, and the willingness to make this solution bipartisan, the Republicans offered only 65 votes for the recovery proposal and the bill failed. We do not know what the short term economic consequences will be. But, be assured that I will continue to work for appropriate Congressional action that protects Americans and responds as necessary to financial crisis facing our nation.”  U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz

Following below is Schwartz’s full statement entered into the Congressional Record prior to the vote.

“During the past eight years, the economic policies of President Bush have failed American families and destabilized our nation’s economy.

“Now my constituents and hard working families across this country are rightfully concerned about what this all means to them.

“Let us be clear – it is the Bush policies of deregulation, non-existent oversight, disregard for our nation’s infrastructure, irresponsible tax policies, and excessive deficit spending that exploded our national debt and led us into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

“The action we take today is difficult, but it is the responsible one.  The potential downside for everyday Americans is simply too great not to act.

“The instability in the financial markets creates serious difficulty for every company seeking to meet payroll, every retirement plan seeking to meet their obligation to retirees, and every family who needs to borrow money for a car, for college, for a home, or for just getting by.

“My constituents want to trust Washington to do the right thing to turn the economy around, but they want us to protect their interests and address their everyday concerns.

“That is why the American people and members of Congress were appalled when President Bush asked us to hand over $700 billion with no oversight, no accountability, and no reforms to the fundamentally flawed policies that allowed this crisis to occur.

“Because of Democratic leadership, this economic recovery proposal is fundamentally different than the proposal first brought to us by President Bush.

“We now have an economic recovery proposal that will protect the interests of hardworking Americans by:

·       Restoring investor confidence in our economy and the financial markets;

·       Protecting taxpayers by requiring full transparency of actions taken by the Treasury Secretary, creating a strong oversight board appointed by Congress, and establishing an independent Inspector General to guarantee compliance;

·       Ensuring fiscal responsibility by making resources available in installments that require Congressional and Presidential approval, and guaranteeing that the financial services industry repays any losses to the U.S. Treasury;

·       Helping distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure by facilitating loan modifications; and

·       Limiting the compensation for the corporate executives that created this crisis, by eliminating multi-million dollar golden parachutes.

“Responsible action to stabilize our economy is required and warrants bipartisan support.  But, efforts to rebuild our economy cannot stop here.

“Moving forward we must focus on the regulation of our financial markets, strong enforcement, and sound fiscal policies in government and in the private sector that are all necessary to restore the economy to one of prosperity, opportunity and growth – not just for a few – but for all Americans.”

Bruce Slater issued this statement:

Congressman Pitts has chided President Bush, calling his proposed bail out a socialist plan. He apparently forgot that he voted for the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, allowing banks to operate without regulation or oversight and opening this era of greed and irresponsibility which has led to this financial crisis.

Congress voted down the bailout plan today, Monday, Sept 29th.  Pitts voted NO. The bill was a 110 page document that gave an enormous concentration of power to the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a George Bush political appointee formerly of Goldman Sachs.  There was some provision that the Treasury would have to “consult with” the Federal Reserve, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Home Finance Agency.  It was unclear whether any agency had any veto power over any discretionary decision of the Secretary.

Equity was to have been available for lenders in exchange for stock warrants.  This would have allowed taxpayers (as a nation) for a chance to share in the ownership and profits from any debts and mortgages bought by the USA with the $700 Billion.

A new form of insurance – like title insurance – was built in.

Accountability was to have been in a bipartisan Congressional panel, a special inspector general, with audits by the GAO and “public accountability.”

Executive compensation would be limited.

Most importantly, the government would be required to approve REASONABLE adjustments on mortgages it took over.  This is important because Congress has refused to allow mortgage relief in the newly revised Bankruptcy Code.  This provision would have provided relief for homeowners who


     were victimized by predatory lenders,


     lost their jobs due to the outsourcing of jobs, or


     who, because of illness cannot work at the same pay scale they once did.

If and when the bill is re-submitted to Congress, we must be assured the taxpayers and homeowners are protected.  We are the ultimate beneficiaries of the bailout, just like we are the ultimate victims.  Main Street, not Wall Street, should be dictating terms of remedy.

In response to the President’s bailout proposal, Pitts’ continues his call for more tax cuts for the wealthy and elimination of capital gains taxes.  Both of these proposals would exacerbate the financial crisis.

Pitts is unfazed by the hard facts that the median income of families in this congressional district has actually decreased by $8,100 in the last 5 years, and that the poverty in this district has actually increased 2.1% in the same time period.

Bob Roggio’s statement:

8 years of Bush/Gerlach Policies Lead to Economic Collapse

House Fails to Pass Rescue Package

MALVERN, PA – The US House of Representatives failed to pass a financial relief bill today, plummeting the stock market to a record-setting low.  Jim Gerlach took advantage of another opportunity to pander while failing to act.

“Jim Gerlach took a pass at confronting an enormous challenge and strengthening our economy,” said Roggio Campaign Manager Liz Conroy.  “For 6 years, he has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with George Bush and supported the disastrous policies that have led to this massive meltdown.  He has accepted almost $1.5 million from the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate sectors, but claims to have the leadership and independence to solve this problem.  Jim Gerlach has failed in his representation of middle class families who are struggling to protect their retirement and save for college.  This was his chance to act.  This was his opportunity to lead.  This was his time to show some guts and find solutions and he foundered.”

After 8 years of the Bush/Gerlach policies that led to this enormous crisis, voters of the 6th district deserve new leaders who can bring a fresh perspective to Washington and work to fix our problems.  We cannot trust those who got us into this problem to find a way out.

From Sam Bennett:

Statement from Sam Bennett on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

The Wall Street meltdown is affecting all of us, and has the potential to cause even more damage to our economy in the future.   Nearly eight years of “anything goes” Republican policies brought us to this point, and the events of the past weeks only highlight the need for change in Washington.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 is a patch, not a permanent fix.  I support the bill because it meets four key criteria:


     This is not a blank check for the Bush Administration, the plan provides for oversight and transparency as taxpayer money is spent.


     It contains major efforts to prevent foreclosures that threaten home values, including expanded eligibility for FHA refinancing programs and loan modification.


     It limits excessive compensation for the executives who got us into this mess.


     Taxpayers will be protected, with financial institutions sharing the burden for losses and ensuring that taxpayers will benefit from any future growth that companies participating in the program enjoy.

This plan is only the first step toward stabilizing our economy, and we need new leadership in Washington to ensure we follow through.  Congressman Dent has taken over $643,000 from the financial sector in just four short years.  People in the 15th District know that the policies of George W. Bush and Charles W. Dent have not worked.  Not only is Congressman Dent out of step with his constituents, but he owes his political career to the very people who created the meltdown.


No Deal…now what!

That’s the big question this evening.

I know everyone sees this bailout as a lifeline to Wall Street but that is not exactly what this bailout does.

$1.2 trillion was lost today on Wall Street and average Americans lost money today…lots of money. Tomorrow will be worse.

For all intents and purposes the credit markets will NOT function tomorrow. Companies that need to borrow money for operating expenses are going to find things order of magnitude more difficult starting tomorrow. Payrolls may not be met and bills may not get paid.

If you are planning to buy anything on credit (from furniture to a house) you are likely to have a tough time doing that. Even your credit cards are likely to be affected. Don’t be late now or you’re likely to find your limit being dropped significantly…actually that might happen anyway.

Gonna get ugly folks…hang on tight!

Bush Cuts Funding For River Gauges

The US Geological Survey runs a series of river water gauges across the Commonwealth which serve many purposes:  warning of flooding for those living near these tributaries and water temperatures and depths for the thousands of us who use the rivers for recreation.  Emergency personnel are dependent on gauges to tell them when the rivers are running high, about to flood, and when to order evacuations.

Twenty seven of the USGS gauges are being decommissioned due to budget cuts.  If you live along a major river in Pennsylvania such as the Susquehanna, Delaware, or Lackawanna your life could be put in danger by these budget cuts.  The website for Pennsylvania lists all the gauges due to be put out of operation.

From the viewpoint of a recreational kayaker I and thousands of others use this data regularly.  I consult the gauges to see whether a river section is paddleable:  there could be either too little water or too much for recreational use.  This could cots lives of those seeking to kayak or canoe rivers if they aren’t aware that water levels are too dangerous.  It also tells us the water temperature so we can dress properly for conditions.

Contact your Member of Congress and Senators to restore this funding.  It only costs $100,000 to operate these river gauges and how many lives might be lost with the next major flood without them?  Maybe yours.

Update:  Congressman Paul Kanjorski assures us that funding will NOT be cut:

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski (PA-11) stated that funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for stream gauge funding on the Susquehanna River will stay at the current levels though March 2009 once the President signs the House and Senate passed budget.  Recent reports based on the President’s budget cuts have stated that the funding levels will drop on October 1, at the beginning of the new fiscal year.  Rather, due to recent Congressional action, funding levels will remain the same through March 2009.

“I am working to make sure stream gauge funding is not reduced along the Susquehanna River,” said Congressman Kanjorski.  “The stream gauges provide data to allow for early flood warnings, which would help ensure the safety of residents and allow residents to preserve their property by moving items out of basements and to higher level ground.”

Congressman Kanjorski added, “One of my top priorities in Congress has been to protect the people of Northeastern Pennsylvania from flooding, including ensuring the completion of the Wyoming Valley Levee Raising Project.  This system has already prevented flooding in Northeastern Pennsylvania in the summer of 2007.  We must do everything that we can to prevent and foresee future floods.  This includes making sure that the federal government provides the funding needed to have all of the stream gauges along the Susquehanna River fully operating to protect residents.”

Because the fiscal year ends today, Congress recently passed legislation to ensure continued funding for our domestic and international programs called a continuing resolution. On September 24, the House passed the continuing resolution which the Senate then passed on September 27.  Once the President signs this continuing resolution, it will extend the current level of funding for the stream gauges on the Susquehanna River until March 6, 2009.  In the new year, Congress will vote on funding levels for the remainder of 2009.

Previous reports stated that stream gauge funding levels for the Susquehanna River would decrease based on the President’s budget cuts.  However, the Bush Administration’s funding proposal only provides the Congress with a blueprint for next year’s budget.  Under our Constitution, Congress has the ultimate authority for deciding how the nation spends its money.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS); the National Weather Service; and other federal, state, and local agencies also provide some of the funding for the stream gauges along the Susquehanna River.  If there are any budget shortfalls affecting the Army Corps of Engineers, the USGS and other agencies are committed to trying to find funding so that the stream gauges can remain in operation.

Stream gauges are used to monitor and gather data on the water levels.  Additionally, some of the data is used to help predict flooding.

McCain/GOP Joined At the Hip

John McCain keeps pandering to voters that he now supports deregulation and is a reformed fair market supporter but the ads you’re watching on TV belie that argument.  The Republican National Committee believes in a free, unfettered and unregulated market.  They’ve been slamming Democrats for government regulation for as long as I can remember.

Why then is John McCain relying on Republican National Committee ads for his campaign?  Are we to believe he’ll take their money and their nomination but not support their platform?

How stupid does John McCain think we are?

The RNC is running ads all over television.  Here’s one:

Note the disclaimer at the end which discloses who paid for the ad:  The RNC.  John McCain and the RNC are joined at the hip.  This means Jack Abramoff, ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, Ted Stevens and everyone else who has supported the Republican Party.  John McCain wants you to think he’ll take their $94 million war chest and support then act against everything the Republican Party stands for.  Not a chance.

They’ll own him lock, stock and barrel just the way Charles Keating did when he needed a rescue from his corrupt banking practices.  Just like the casino industry is doing now.  Just like Fannie and Freddie did while paying his campaign manager’s firm to stave off regulation.

McCain says he now believes in government regulation, that greedy Wall Street tycoons robbed everyone on Main Street of our savings and investments.  Now they want another $700 billion of our tax dollars to rescue the economy.  People are justifiably outraged.

Where was this outrage when George W. Bush passed and John McCain supported a federal budget with a ONE YEAR deficit of $500 billion?  Where is the outrage over a national debt which has doubled in eight years?  We’re talking about $5 trillion in debt rung up by Bush and McCain in eight years, double what we accumulated in our entire history up to now.

Where is the outrage over McCain’s harping on $18 billion in pork barrel spending when the Pentagon budget has increased $250 billion under Bush?  That doesn’t even include the cots of their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Let’s keep earmarks in perspective:  they are an insignificant portion of federal spending.  Yes they’re a lot of waste but John McCain, while prattling on about spending for grizzly bear DNA research in Montana for which he voted.

It turns out this is quite important research:  

“This is not pork barrel at all,” says Richard Mace, a research biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP). “We have a federal law called the Endangered Species Act and [under this law] the federal government is supposed to help identify and conserve threatened species.”

The grizzly has been listed as a threatened species since 1975 and scientists say that it is essential to get a handle on the population to preserve it. But, according to Kendall, until the feds decided to invest in this grizzly bear DNA study, researchers lacked the funds to conduct research at the scale necessary to get a reliable measure.

So much for McCain’s claims he’s an environmentalist!


McCain on “This Week”

John McCain made a woeful appearance on ABC’s “This Week” this morning.  Unable or unwilling to allow his host to speak or ask follow up questions he was, again, in his bully mode.  That may have worked for his idol Teddy Roosevelt but in the media age it’s backfiring.

McCain was asked about his refusal to publicly state he’d go after Osama Bin Laden if he knew where he was in Pakistan.  Under a President McCain it appears the man who attacked us on September 11, 2001 would again be Osama Bin Forgotten.

Of course his running mate said, publicly, in Philadelphia yesterday that he would.  Then McCain did just that to George Stephanopoulos.  Oops, didn’t he just do what he condemned his opponent for?

Th emost disturbing parts of this interview were the host’s inability to hit with obvious follow up questions and McCain’s childish, petulant act of defending his lying ads by saying he wouldn’t have crawled into the gutter of smear politics if only Obama had agreed to a series of town hall meetings.

How infantile!  The GOP presidential candidate is saying he’s spreading lies and smears about his opponent because he couldn’t have his way!  How four year oldish…

He also tried defending his rude behavior towards his opponent by saying he was reading and trying to connect with the audience.  I don’t buy it and neither will the public.  The man is being rude and childish because he’s angry he didn’t have his way.

He also lied about his own adviser’s ties with Fannie and Freddie.  He stated none of his campaign staff has been “personally” paid to lobby for these institutions.  We know his campaign manager Rick Davis’ company was being paid until last month.  McCain’s parsing of words is cute and untrue.  Does he think we’re going to believe that Rick Davis receives no benefit form his company’s revenues?

Does John McCain think we’re stupid?  He lies with impunity because he isn’t being called for these lies.  Shame on you George Stephanopoulos.

Fact Checking McCain’s Lies

John McCain spent much of the debate last evening lying.  This was when he wasn’t being petulant, rude and nasty.  Didn’t he seem the personification of an angry old man?  The DNC did some fact checking on the statements McCain made:

Washington Post Fact Checker blog: McCain “Seriously Misstated: Lebanon Vote. “McCain seriously mistated his vote concerning the marines in Lebanon. He said that when he went into Congress in 1983, he voted against deploying them in Beirut. The Marines went in Lebanon in 1982, before McCain came to Congress. The vote came up a year into their deployment, when the Marines had already suffered 54 casualties. What McCain voted against was a measure to invoke the War Powers Act and to authorize the deployment of U.S. Marines in Lebanon for an additional 18 months. The measure passed 270-161, with 26 other Republicans (including McCain) and 134 Democrats voting against it.” Washington Post Fact Checker McCain Voted for $3 million to study the DNA of bears. “We’ve heard that one before. McCain’s been playing it for laughs since 2003. The study in question was done by the U.S. Geological Survey, and it relied in part on federal appropriations. Readers (and politicians) may disagree on whether a noninvasive study of grizzly bear population and habitat is a waste of money. McCain clearly thinks it is — but on the other hand, he never moved to get rid of the earmark. In fact, he voted for the bill that made appropriations for the study. He did propose some changes to the bill, but none that nixed the bear funding.” (Fact Check.Org, 9/26/08)

Washington Post: McCain Repeats Lie That Obama Voted To Raise Taxes on Anyone Making More Than $42,000. “John McCain claimed that Obama voted in the Senate to raise taxes on anyone making more than $42,000 a year. This is misleading on several levels. The vote that McCain is talking about was a non-binding resolution on the budget that envisioned letting the Bush tax cuts to expire, as scheduled, in 2011. But these budget resolutions come up every year, and do not represent a vote for higher taxes in future years. In fact, Obama has said that he will continue the Bush tax cuts for middle and low-income taxpayers. He says that he will cut taxes for all but the wealthiest tax-payers.” Washington Post Fact Checker blog

AP: McCain Repeats Troop Funding Lie.  “MCCAIN: McCain said Obama voted to cut off money for the troops in Iraq.  THE FACTS: Despite opposing the war, Obama has, with one exception, voted for Iraq troop financing. In 2007, he voted against a troop funding bill because it did not contain language calling for a troop withdrawal. The Illinois senator backed another bill that had such language – and money for the troops.” AP

ABC: McCain Falsely Invokes Eisenhower Letters.  “Calling on President Eisenhower to deliver a lesson about accountability, Sen. John McCain invoked two letters authored by the 34th president the night before the Normandy invasion during Friday’s presidential debate. One letter, McCain said, was authored in the event that the D-Day invasion was a success and the other, a resignation, in the event it was a failure. According to the National Archives, late on the afternoon of June 5, 1944, Eisenhower scribbled a note intended for release accepting responsibility for the decision to launch the invasion and taking full blame in the event the effort to create a beachhead on the Normandy coast failed. In the letter, Eisenhower takes responsibility but makes no mention of resignation.” ABC News

Boston Globe: McCain Repeats False Claim on Funding For Troops.  “McCain: ‘And Senator Obama, who after promising not to vote to cut off funds for the troops, did the incredible thing of voting to cut off the funds for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.’ Fact Check: Obama did vote against a 2007 spending bill that did not include language calling for withdrawing troops from Iraq, but then voted for the version that did. That version was vetoed by President Bush, though McCain does not say Bush cut off funding for the troops. Overall, Obama voted yes on at least 10 other war funding bills prior to the single no vote.” Boston Globe

Boston Globe: McCain Lied About Alternate Fuel Votes. “McCain: ‘I voted for alternate fuel all my time…. No one can be opposed to alternate energy, no one.’ Fact Check: In his 26 years in Congress, McCain has voted against several bills and amendments calling for new investments in renewable energy, according to official Senate records. In March 2002, for example, McCain voted against an amendment to require utilities to generate 10 percent of electricity from renewable energy facilities by 2020.” Boston Globe

AP: McCain Leaves Out Key Vote on 2005 Energy Bill.  “MCCAIN: ‘We had an energy bill before the United States Senate. It was festooned with Christmas tree ornaments. It had all kinds of breaks for the oil companies, I mean, billions of dollars worth. I voted against it; Senator Obama voted for it.’  THE FACTS: Obama did vote for a 2005 energy bill supported by President Bush that included billions in subsidies for oil and natural gas production. McCain opposed the bill on grounds it included unnecessary tax breaks for the oil industry. Obama voted to strip the legislation of the oil and gas industry tax breaks. When that failed, he voted for the overall measure. Obama has said he supported the legislation because it provided money for renewable energy.” AP

AP: McCain Distorts on His Call to Fire SEC Chairman.  “MCCAIN: ‘I’ve been criticized because I called for the resignation of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.’ THE FACT: McCain did eventually call for the resignation of SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. But he first said that if he were president he would fire him, a step a president cannot take with the head of an independent regulatory agency. This is what McCain said on Sept. 18 during a rally in Iowa: ‘The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president and, in my view, has betrayed the public’s trust. If I were president today, I would fire him.'”  AP

Washington Post: McCain Overstates Iraq Opposition.  “John McCain correctly asserted that in 2003 he began to question the Iraq war strategy, which is correct. In November 2003, he criticized the Bush administration’s conduct of the Iraq war, saying the United States should send at least 15,000 more troops or risk ‘the most serious American defeat on the global stage since Vietnam.’  But he has also made later, more rosy pronouncements. After visiting the Shorja market in Baghdad in April 2007, where he was protected by more than 100 soldiers, McCain said, ‘Things are getting better in Iraq, and I am pleased with the progress that has been made.’ Privately, according to a recent book by Bob Woodward, he was more critical, telling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, ‘We may be about to lose the second war in my lifetime.'”  Washington Post Fact Checker blog

Washington Post: McCain Repeats Health Care “Canard.” “John McCain raised an old Republican canard, repeated often in the primaries, when he claimed that Obama’s health care plan would eventually turn the health care system over to the federal government. The Illinois senator proposes helping individuals purchase health insurance through a system of subsidies and tax credits. He is also in favor of mandatory health insurance for children. But he is not advocating a state-run health system, such as the one that exists in Britain and some European countries. Under the Obama plan, individuals will still be free to choose between different types of health insurance, and will be able to choose their own doctors.” Washington Post Fact Checker blog

Washington Post: McCain Exaggerates Growth of Earmarks. “McCain, rebutting Obama’s correct observation that earmarks are a small part of the budget, said, ‘But the point is, that you see, I hear this all the time. It’s only $18 billion. Do you know that it’s tripled in the last five years? Do you know that it’s gone completely out of control to the point where it corrupts people?’  But while federal earmarks tripled in size from 1996 to 2005, they have actually dropped in recent years. According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, in fiscal year 2005 Congress inserted 13,492 earmarks totaling $18.9 billion for appropriations accounts. In fiscal year 2008, there were 11,524 earmarks totaling $16.5 billion for appropriations accounts.” Washington Post Fact Checker blog

Washington Post: McCain “Kicked the Evening Off With a Wild Exaggeration” About Normandy.  “John McCain kicked the evening off with a wild exaggeration by describing the allied invasion of Normandy as “the greatest invasion” in history. Such historical comparisons are always dangerous. In scale, the D-Day landings were far exceeded by Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, in June 1941, and the Soviet invasion of Germany at the end of World War II.

A total of 326,000 allied troops took part in the initial D-day Landings in June 1944. By comparison, Hitler’s sent an army of 4.5 million men into the Soviet Union in June 1941along a 1,800 mile front.” Washington Post Fact Checker blog

Boston Globe: McCain Distorts on Surge Comments. “McCain: ‘Senator Obama said the surge could not work, said it would increase sectarian violence, said it was doomed to failure.’ Fact Check: Obama said at the time that the increase in roughly 30,000 US troops in Iraq could improve security in “certain neighborhoods” but that it would not solve the long term political strife between Iraq’s ethnic and religious groups. “I don’t think there’s been any doubt that if we put U.S. troops in that, in the short term, we might see some improvement in certain neighborhoods,” he said in March 2007. In a September 2007, speech Obama said “the stated purpose of the surge was to enable Iraq’s leaders to reconcile. Our troops fight and die in the 120 degree heat to give Iraq’s leaders space to agree, but they aren’t filling it.'”  Boston Globe

Debate Analysis

Last evening’s debate illustrated deep differences between the two candidates and remarkable agreement on nuclear power, coal and other issues I found repugnant.  Unfortunately Sen. Obama left a bad impression by constantly trying to interrupt Sen. McCain.  I don’t think he helped voter’s impressions with that performance.

On substance Sen. McCain began very badly.  It was as if he was refusing to answer the first question and I’m not sure he ever did so.  Will he support an economic recovery plan?  He appeared unsure and erratic.

Sen. Obama seemed to hold his own against McCain on foreign policy and each man got several hits against his opponent.  I wasn’t sure why Obama didn’t challenge the erroneous premise that the surge has been successful.  He needs to make this case but he completely ignored the issue and it’s McCain’s entire case for being president.  Debunk this and Obama sails into the White House.

The Nation has debunked this rather well:

But to say the surge worked is misleading in three ways. First, it confuses the temporary surge of US forces in 2007-08 with a number of other factors that reduced violence. As US officials in Iraq have admitted, the decision by Sunni groups to rein in Al Qaeda-oriented extremists, along with the US military’s decision to pay former Sunni insurgents who joined the Awakening Councils–both of which began well before the surge–deserves much of the credit for the decline in violence. So does the decision by Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr to order his militia to stand down during this period.

Second, the surge has had an ugly flip side. To reduce the violence, the US military built concrete walls to separate Sunnis and Shiites, which facilitated ethnic cleansing by both sides but especially by Shiite militias against Sunni residents of Baghdad. The drop-off in violence reflects the fact that ethnic cleansing led to the internal partition of Iraqi cities and regions, reducing the opportunity for sectarian killing.

Third, the surge has not created the conditions for political reconciliation or a stable Iraq, which, after all, was its main purpose. The “success” of the surge was based on Sunni repression of jihadi extremists, ethnic cleansing and separation walls, not compromise. The Shiite-led government seems no more willing to compromise on key issues than it was before the surge. Indeed, the Maliki administration is now targeting Sunni leaders of the Awakening movement, threatening to undo the fragile progress that has been made. Thus the surge has emboldened the government to consolidate its sectarian gains and buck the wishes of its American supporters, even to the point of demanding a timetable for the end of the occupation.

It was nice to see a debate where the candidates don’t simply stand on a stage and answer questions but engage with each other.  Obama appeared not able to refine his demeanor though while being attacked by McCain.  Late in the debate McCain also did the same.

Obama did successfully fend off some of the inaccurate allegations levied against him by McCain.  This served to keep him on the defensive but also revealed McCain as a serial liar.  Which had an effect on voters?  We’ll have t wait and see.

The real tragedy of elections is that stupid people like these have as much influence over the election outcome as the rest of us:

ACORN Issues Statement on Debate

ACORN has been working to raise awareness of the vast inequities in our housing, banking and foreclosure markets for years.  Few have been listening until now.  John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich, for example, were the only presidential candidates who attended and spoke at ACORN’s presidential event in Philadelphia in 2007.

Here is their statement on last night’s debate:

Given the recent turmoil in our financial markets and the ongoing negotiations around a bailout package for Wall Street, it’s not surprising that much of the debate focused on the current economic crisis, which was in many ways predictable.  ACORN has been sounding the alarm for years as more and more deregulation stripped protections for consumers and basic safeguards of sound lending.

Senator McCain failed to acknowledge the trigger of this explosive crisis: predatory lending, which entrapped hundreds of thousands of homeowners into toxic mortgages they could not afford fueling record numbers of foreclosures.  If Mr. McCain is unwilling or unable to acknowledge such facts, how is he suitable to lead our country out of the worst financial mess since the Great Depression?

Senator Obama acknowledged foreclosures as the root of the financial crisis and has pledged to help homeowners.

ACORN is calling on both candidates to support a bipartisan approach to a legislative solution that includes help for ordinary homeowners who are on the verge of foreclosure, and not just the big financial institutions. Specifically, any bailout proposal must include provisions that assist struggling homeowners, including greater access to loan modifications and a change in the bankruptcy law to allow homeowners to restructure their mortgages in bankruptcy court as is allowed with vacation homes and yachts.

Ordinary taxpayers are being asked to bail out financial institutions that caused this crisis. If Main Street is footing the bill, it should also reap the benefits.