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Random observations from last night

(Credit: Politirazzi)

(AP)

By Jeff

The main thing that struck me during last night’s debate was how physically uncomfortable McCain looked while walking around. I guess his handlers told him to walk around the stage while Obama was talking in order to distract the viewers, but what I noticed was just how unstable McCain looked. I realize his shoulders were seriously injured during his time in Hanoi, so I’m absolutely not mocking him, but walking around the stage made him look very old. Not only did his shoulders look awkward, but his knees/hips also seemed injured so he walked with a gait that resembled Danny DeVito’s Penguin in "Batman Returns." It’s odd because this was supposed to be right in McCain’s wheelhouse. He did seem more comfortable, passionate and personable in the town hall than the previous debate, but his seemingly aimless roaming around the stage was very disconcerting.

Those audience meters on CNN can become very distracting. More importantly, if I were a right-wing conspiracy theorist, I’d be very upset that CNN was showing the audience reactions of 25 “randomly” selected people throughout the debate. The needles for Obama were perpetually pinned as highly favorable as possible, while McCain’s were barely above par — even during his populist messages. It saddened me that the audience meters were there highest when both candidates spoke of some new government giveaway.When McCain dropped the bomb that he was going to just buy up all the troubled mortgages and renegotiated them (which is even more intrusive than the bailout package that just passed) his favorability was off the charts. When he talked about the need to cut spending or how this generation’s Social Security benefits may not be as robust as previous generations’ — they flatlined. Additionally, when Obama promised the magical formula of really great health care that was both really cheap and available for everyone — the needles could go no higher.

It was also depressing how the candidates blamed the entire liquidity crunch wholly on “greed” (McCain) or “deregulation” (Obama). Consumer idiocy of overextending, using ARMS, putting little money down on their houses, and then taking equity out to spend instead of paying off debt was a much bigger cause. Of course no politician could ever dare to point the finger at the actual people who took on debt they couldn’t afford. Another major factor was the Fed’s hyper-regulation (not deregulation) by keeping interest rates historically low in order to artificially prop up the economy post 9/11. This greatly increased the size of the housing bubble. More than “greed”, it was systematic incompetence in the banking industry which caused this. The mortgage originators (Fannie, Freddie, Countrywide, WaMu, etc.) gave people mortgages that they couldn’t afford. Giving away money you have little chance of getting back isn’t “greed.” In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite of greed.

Paulson (who was in charge of Goldman Sachs at the time) led a group of five brokers (three of which are now gone) that got the SEC to allow them to increase their debt ratio from 12:1 to 30:1. I would blame incompetent banks more than idiotic consumers mainly because it’s no secret that people are ignorant and banks are in business to know risks better. Suffice to say, there were a lot more moving parts to this crash than what the soundbites say. Neither McCain or Obama choose to correct the misconceptions.

Obama was better at answering direct questions while McCain sidestepped some, including Brokaw’s about prioritization and one of the first questions about what the bailout means for regular folk.

I’m pretty sure I heard Obama say that the government created the computer. It’s simply not true. I think he meant the Internet.

It was great for McCain to talk bluntly about the need to cut government spending. Unfortunately, it didn’t realize resonate with me because he also talked about vast sums of government money for health care, to bailout people from their bad mortgages, foreign conflicts and a host of other pet spending projects. Both candidates recognize that we have a $10T debt another $500M more in deficit spending each year, yet both of their solutions was more spending. Both of them project to increase the debt by at least $3T in the next decade. In keeping with the current administration being the antithesis of fiscal conservative, McCain’s plan calls for $2T more deficit spending than Obama’s.

If Republicans continue to be the borrow-and-spend party they have been for the last decade, I don’t see why anyone would vote for them. They have moved from being great champions of freedom to being socially repressive and more drunk on spending than even the most liberal of liberals. I’ll still vote for Bob Barr, but between Obama and McCain, it’s looking like I may prefer Obama by default.

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