"Take our politicians: they're a bunch of yo-yos. The presidency is now a cross between a popularity contest and a high school debate, with an encyclopedia of cliches the first prize."
- Saul Bellows
I am not sure which politicians Saul Bellows is referring to with that quote, but it certainly seems to fit our current choices. I guess some things never change. Sigh.
So, did you watch last night's presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain? I did. In fact, I had been looking forward to it all week, as I sat glued to the news regarding the seemingly imminent Stock Market collapse, and the failure of our economic system.
In an effort to understand things better, I have been playing a little game with myself for the last couple weeks. I chose a stock that had been struggling, and invested a nominal amount of fantasy cash, $200.00, just to learn about what it must feel like to those men and woman who are standing at the brink of financial ruin. I chose the amount, based on a percentage of what we have been able to save lately. It's a fair amount for such an exercise I think. If nothing else, the recent financial mess we found ourselves in, with the California Budget stalemate, forced us to tighten our belts, and the result was a bit of a savings in the bank.
Every day, when I logged on, I checked the opening quote and then watched the stock periodically throughout the day. Some days it didn't move much, other days it did a great deal of moving, mostly in a downward motion. I read financial articles about the stock, and what was causing it's downturn, and I watched as it held on for dear life, and then finally fall into an irreversible coma late Thursday night. Yep, you guessed it, I was watching Washington Mutual. See, I felt I kinda had a stake in it already as a depositor there. I should have know it didn't have a chance when I bought the original stock a couple weeks ago for $2.10 per share. But I saw some possible light when a week later it had risen to about $3.60. Oooh, bliss.
I had some hope at that point, maybe, just maybe, if they could hold on and ride out the storm, it would work out for the troubled savings and loan. Alas... along came nervous investors, and the market fell off sharply, and Washington Mutual didn't have a chance. It might have survived if the bailout had been implemented as soon as Bush and Paulson requested it... but wouldn't that have been a scary proposition?As I watched the whole thing unfold last week, all the twists and turns and political maneuvering, I learned a lot more then I bargained for.
I learned that you can only cry WOLF so many times, after that you are pretty much left in the woods, some very dark and creepy woods, with your own devices for finding your way home again. If you don't believe me, just ask President Bush. Actually, I learned the moral of that story in kindergarten, from the story, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, but apparently not everyone has read that book, and as a result, Bush has lived his presidency crying wolf, and now he has learning the lesson.
He has lied, and demanded and generally gone about thinking he is king of the world his entire time in office, so, last Monday he and Paulson submit a 3 page report to Washington that basically said, there is a big, snarly, farty, mangy, drooling, flea infested, cross eyed, one lipped, 7,000 lb wolf in the forest behind the red houses and blue houses, and he is going to pounce if we don't get him NOW! We got to nip him in the bud. PRONTO! Otherwise, we will all be eaten up and farted out. To which Washington, said, wait a second... not so fast... maybe we don't have to nip him in the bud, maybe we can accomplish the same thing by starving the wolf to death, as opposed to nipping him in the bud... if indeed there is really a wolf.
Now with all that in mind, along comes the first presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. I was looking forward to finally hearing something about what kind of future we are in for. Both men were asked about what they will do about the economy, how they felt about the proposed bailout of Wall street, and how we will dig ourselves out from the brink of disaster. Neither candidate could really say, because the bailout situation hasn't been decided upon, we did however, get some idea of what areas might be cut, due to the overwhelming deficit one of them will inherit. As I sat, listening to the two sniping at each other, and the never ending condescending "I don't think he understands" from McCain, it occurred to me, that I wasn't going to make up my mind until I read the analysis from Factcheck.org, that would be in my mailbox today when I woke up.
I wish Factcheck.org had been around years ago. I like knowing who is lying to me, and who is stretching the truth. When all was said and done last night, John McCain had lied again and again, and misrepresented Obama again and again. Don't get me wrong, there were misrepresentations on both sides throughout the night, but McCain has seemed to circulate more and more negativity since the very beginning, and even when he has been called on his lies, half truths, and misrepresentations, he has dug in again and again, rather then relying on the truth to make his case for the White House.
I used to have some respect for John McCain, but it has eroded greatly. As for Obama, while I haven't always believed he could deliver what he has promised, I do think he is more in touch with what's happening right now. By all accounts, when he attended the meeting at the White House this week regarding the bailout, he at least asked a series of questions about the package, and it's consequences for America. By some reports, McCain did little for the process, and indeed may have been more of hindrance, then any real help. Obama showed some strength and leadership to me.
So, while I am looking forward to upcoming debates, especially the Sarah Palin/Joe Biden face off next week, I think it will be more of an exercise in amusement, rather then anything that will affect my decision making come November. In truth, I have already decided how I will be voting. See, I will be voting for the candidate that lies to me less. It's just that simple. Go Read FactCheck.org's,Whoppers of 2008, and make up your own mind.
My 2014 Reading List
11 months ago