The Alabama Moderate

Painting the Red State Purple.

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Archive for September, 2008

I Love Scott Stantis!

Posted by ALmod on September 30, 2008

Scott Stantis parodies The Scream.

Scott Stantis parodies "The Scream".

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The New “Liberal Media” Rallying Cry

Posted by ALmod on September 30, 2008

Remember when we said that the news was a good thing?  It reported on what leaders were doing and, bias or no bias, when we knew what leaders were doing, it was a good thing. It kept them honest.  And then came the rallying cry for the right:  “liberal media.”  Suddenly people quit listening to the news as if everything they were reporting was blatently false.  Indeed, the best way to keep the masses in line is to keep them ignorant as to what you are doing.

Then there were the political ads.  People thought, “Well, they’re not allowed to lie, so the ads must be true.”  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  So when we got organizations like Politifact and FactCheck.org and Snopes to tell us what was true and what was not, we were happy.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle embraced these services and have even quoted them (albeit incorrectly at times) for their own purposes.

But then there was a problem.  These organizations started fact checking the claims made by these politicians and groups backing them (as they’d promised to do), and they started making these ads and the groups behind them look like liars.  I mean, one or two or several “factual inaccuracies” repeated constantly and not retracted after being pointed out doesn’t make you a liar, does it?

So what was a politician and his loyal spinners bloggers to do when he ends up on the wrong side of the fact checking organizations more than twice as much as any other candidate?  Why, we debunk the fact checkers!  We point out that they’re wrong and unreliable!  The day is saved!

Such is the case in blogs such as this and this.  I’m seeing these pop up more and more these days.  Nevermind that John McCain has (incorrectly) quoted FactCheck.org in his own ads.  Nevermind that Obama is targeted for his own errors.  Nevermind that FactCheck.org DOES correct any errors that they make and post them to their front page.  They are now the new “liberal media” and “unreliable.”

And what is the basis for this claim?

FactCheck.org used as it source for a particular piece such shoddy sources as the senator’s roll call votes and copies of the laws in question.  They looked at quotes from the senator.  And they even dared to ask the senator’s campaign what their stance was.

What did they ignore?  Well, the main offense seems to be that they asked the NRA (the group that put out the false ad) for their take, but they looked at the solid facts rather than the way that the NRA interpreted and spun those facts to the masses.  And they dared to only use quotes from the senator in full context rather than cherry picking.

And who’s behind this slamming of FactCheck.org?  The organization who put out the ad that was questioned in the first place– the NRA, who is continually running their attack on FactCheck.org on their front page.

Now there’s a “fair and balanced” opinion.  The very group who was proven to have their pants on fire calls the person holding the fire extinguisher wrong.

In fact, upon reading most of these blogs and spins of how FactCheck.org is so completely unreliable, one has to wonder if the person doing the blogging and spinning even looked at the FactCheck.org article at all.

From the Factcheck.org piece:

“The flier looks almost as though it comes from the Obama campaign. It uses the same color and font scheme as well as the campaign’s sunrise logo. And on some points it is right; Obama has called for national legislation against carrying concealed firearms, and he would revive and make permanent the expired ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons,” for example. On other points it exaggerates. Obama has spoken in favor of government registration of handguns, for example, but has not called for registration of all “firearms” including hunting rifles and shotguns. But the TV spots and fliers also make claims that are directly contrary to what Obama actually says about guns.”

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I Miss Brett Blackledge

Posted by ALmod on September 29, 2008

I understand that the lawmakers in Alabama are breathing a sigh of relief, but it was nice to have him while we did.

These days, he’s digging up dirt on Palin.

h/t to Birmingham Blues.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Everybody wants a piece of the pie…

Posted by ALmod on September 29, 2008

Well it appears that everyone is making a grab to get a small piece of the proposed $700 billion bailout that Congress is pondering.  Rudy Giuliani is now using this opportunity to pitch his law firm.

Classy.

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Banned again!

Posted by ALmod on September 27, 2008

The good folks at al.com apparently have banned be again from their message boards.  My crime this time?  Apaprently pointing out that yes, you can register as a Republican in Alabama.  (You have to use the national voter registration form, Box 7.  The Alabama registration form doesn’t have the option.)  The “Register to Vote” widget on the right side of my blog actually directs you to the form that allows you to do this.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

The Morning After – The Presidential Debate

Posted by ALmod on September 27, 2008

FactCheck.org has it’s first installment of their take on the debate, so I see no need to repeat any of it.  It looks like they caught the same things I did plus a few more.  I can’t think of anything else that caught my eye.

By the way, here’s a transcript of the debate, in case you missed it.  And here’s the CBS poll that was taken afterward.

My own thoughts the morning after?  I’m still in shock for the most part.  McCain’s noted strength is in foreign policy and defense, and I fully expected him to excel in his answers on those subjects.  He did have a few good moments, but it wasn’t the spectacular performance I was expecting.  At some points, he seemed unprepared.  It just seemed out of character.

At the same time, Obama didn’t necessarily deliver a spectacular performance in these areas, but he didn’t flop, either.  I was fully expecting a flop, but he seemed to at the very least hold his own against McCain.  He definitely dominated on the subject of the economy, but that was what was expected.  He’s no Ron Paul, but he does at least have a good grasp of how a lot of things work.  McCain has admitted on several occasions that he’s pretty uninformed when it comes to economics.

Neither candidate has ever fared very well in debate.  Both have improved a great deal.  There was noticeably less stumbling on the part of McCain, though he still seemed to have problems selling his own talking points.  Obama had the biggest noticeable improvement.  I immediately picked up on the lack of “um” and “uh”– an Obama trademark.  And he spoke directly to the camera, as if speaking to the American people– a Clinton trademark.  If you were watching the debates to study mannerisms, then I’d say that Obama definitely looked and felt more presidential.  I could picture him addressing the U.S. from the Oval Office.

My biggest beef with both of them was the question about what each of them would cut if elected president.  Neither candidate addressed this question to my satisfaction, although I did think Obama got a bit of a one up on McCain by saying that he’s trying to use a hatchet when you need a scalpel.

All in all, I declare Jim Lehrer the winner of this debate.

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Blogging the Debate – LIVE!

Posted by ALmod on September 26, 2008

I’ll be blogging live to give my thoughts as things unfold.  I will be updating this post every few minutes starting at 8pm CST.  I’ll be watching on CNN this year.

8:00 – Okay, here we go.  Let’s hope my Internet connection holds out.

8:03 – That was an excellent first question.  Go ahead and get it out of the way.

8:05 – I’m not fully on board with any bailout, but I think that Obama did a decent job of outlining his various points.  They’re the same points that he made on Wednesday.  Great job expressing himself as the champion of the middle class.

8:06 – John McCain is looking at the moderator instead of the camera.  That’s the first thing I noticed.  Bipartisanship seems to be his main message.  He’s not being specific on what he wants.  Obama seemed to be a lot more detailed in what he wanted while McCain seems to be very generic.

8:08 – Let’s let ’em duke it out and see what happens.

8:09 – Someone has been working with Barack Obama on his speaking.  I’m noticing a significan’t lack of um’s and uh’s.  There seems to be a very striking contrast between the two candidates, and that doesn’t bode well for McCain.  McCain seems very boring and lackluster when speaking right after Obama, but also there’s a very noticeable lack of detail in what he says he wants to do when compared to Obama.  I’m looking at the audience reaction as well, and it appears that they’re having the same reaction to these candidates.  Barack Obama’s reaction goes up almost immediately when he starts talking.  (Ooh!  Joke from McCain!  Good one!)  For McCain, it takes a while, and the audience eventually warms up, but not quite as much as with Obama.

8:13 – McCain seems to be optomistic, but again…  Very generic.

8:14 – McCain talking about reigning in spending again, but he’s mainly talking about earmarks.  That just doesn’t account for very much of the deficit.  It’s a very small fraction, and I want to hear him talk about some other ways that he’s going to reduce spending.  What is he going to cut?

8:16 – Obama talks about trickle down v. trickle up.

8:18 – McCain goes negative.  So does the audience reaction.

8:19 – Barack, it’s rude to interrupt.

8:20 – McCain got his numbers wrong again.  It’s the same incorrect statistic that Ron Paul supporters pointed out in the primaries.  The U.S. does not have the second largest business tax.  Regardless, I don’t exactly sympathize much with businesses.  I’m more worried about my own income.

8:23 – Ooh!  I like how this is going so far.  I like that the two candidates are taking over and really having it out.

8:24 – McCain has stated the same thing that FactCheck.org got onto him for that Obama raised taxes on folks making $42K.  It’s not true, but I can’t remember the details at the moment.  He’s repeating a few more now…  You can go to FactCheck.org and check them out.  Tax breaks to oil companies is another one.

8:26 – What will you cut?  Great question!

8:26 – Apparently now it’s time for Obama to be generic.  He’s addressing alternative fuels, but he’s not answering the question.  He’s getting a very positive reaction, though.  Now he’s addressing other items, but again, he’s not being specific on anything that he’ll cut.  I’m hoping that the moderator will call him on that.

8:28 – Same old “cut earmarks” answer from McCain, “liberal” attack on Obama, but still no specifics on what he’d cut.  Something about defense systems, but it’s not registering well with the audience.

8:30 – Go moderator!  He called them both on it!

8:31 – Hrm…  Obama now…  Subsidies to private insurers…  I need to look into that.  I was unaware of that in particular.  His database seems to be getting high marks.

8:32 – Have I mentioned that I absolutely LOVE this moderator?

8:32 – Obama FINALLY hit the big one.  Why send so much to Iraq when they have a surplus?

8:33 – Neither one of these guys appear to be fooling anyone when it comes to tip-toeing around this question of what they’ll cut.

8:34 – Whoever told John McCain to go negative gave him some really bad advice.  Every single time he starts, the audience reaction to him goes further negative.

8:37 – “Orgy of spending”?  What a visual!

8:38 – That’s the second time McCain has said “Miss Congeniality”.  Sandra Bullock fan, maybe?

8:38 – Lessons of Iraq.  Great question!

8:39 – Why is McCain choking on this question?  Iraq is his strong point.  His numbers should be through the roof, but they’re going very low on this question.  Maybe it’s his body language.  His voice is a lot shakier than normal.

8:40 – How did that just happen?!  I was expecting Obama to completely tank on this.  But that was a good answer to the question.  A lesson learned…  More caution before entering these things.  We shouldn’t have gone in to begin with.  Audience reaction just went through the roof!  (I’m looking at the Independent (green) line, by the way.

8:43 – Okay, McCain smiling…  Officially creepy.

8:45 – These two are getting on my nerves with all the shouting down of the moderator.  I’m glad that they’re not scoring any real points for it.

8:46 – Again with the “cut funding for the troops” comment.  FactCheck.org.  Good to see Obama address it.

8:48 – Who is this moderator?  Jim Lehrer?  He needs to open up a can on both of these guys.

8:50 – Jim Lehrer is too nice.  More troops in Afghanistan?

8:50 – Obamaspeak translation:  Yes, we need more troops.

8:51 – I’ve noticed that there don’t seem to be many strong reactions to these foreign policy/defense questions.  Maybe it’s just because that’s not on their minds right now.  I know that they were interviewed before and NONE of these people listed foreign policy as their top issue.  That includes Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

8:52 – John McCain isn’t prepared to stop sending aide to Pakistan?  Didn’t they just fire on some U.S. planes yesterday?  News for McCain…  Afghanistan and Pakistan is not Iraq.  Totally different situation.

8:58 – Yes, Sen. McCain.  You have a record.  I’m very well aware of that record.

9:00 – I find it interesting that Sen. McCain isn’t getting as high marks as I thought he would.  Obama actually seems to be getting higher marks.  And I completely DID NOT expect that.  McCain seems to be doing poorly, and I fully expected him to do well.

9:02 – Iran and their threat?

9:03 – McCain’s answer seems a little vague starting off, but now he’s using the “H” word– Holocaust.  Seems to be getting mid to high marks on this one, but nothing spectacular.  So far, McCain has gotten higher marks in his responses on the economy, but like I said before, I think it could be because the economy is a much more important issue to a lot of folks right now.

9:06 – On a completely unrelated note, my husband is bringing home ice cream, so I may take a few steps away from the laptop for a bit.

9:07 – lol!  McCain stumbling over Ahmadinejad’s name!  I can’t blame him much, though.  I have trouble, myself, and he’s doing a heck of a lot better than Bush.

9:13 – McCainspeak translation:  “Talking with Iran is bad.”  I’m sure we didn’t score any points with North Korea with a presidential candidate sarcastically saying “dear leader.”

9:15 – Apparently John McCain doesn’t watch CNN.  Kissinger did in fact say that.

9:18 – WOW!  VERY low marks for McCain just now.  Audience does not like condescendig remarks about Obama being naiive.

9:21 – Okay, now that he’s flexing his muscle and showing his grasp of defense issues, McCain is getting some high marks on the Russia/Georgia situation.  And he deserves them.

9:23 – Obama has somehow spun this into being about alternative energy rather than talking about Georgia and Russia.

9:24 – Does anyone else want to see Jim Lehrer go all Incredible Hulk on these two?

9:26 – This is a 9/11 question…  Why isn’t McCain getting higher marks?

9:31 – McCain is losing them.  HOW?!?!  Obama just killed.  How is this happening?!  My world is askew.

9:33 – Veterans issues from Obama.  Good call, and apparently the audience agrees.  Chocolate ice cream is good.

9:34 – This is getting to be nuts!  This is a subject that’s supposed to be considerd McCain’s strong point, but it’s amazing just watching the audience reaction…  He starts speaking and the reaction numbers just go down, down, down.  I don’t think at this point that it has so much to do with the importance of this issue to the audience.  I heavily suspect at this point it has more to do with McCain going negative against Obama rather than addressing his own stance.

My final thoughts:  This was by and far a HUGE win for Barack Obama.  He didn’t address any of the issues and concerns that I have– neither of them did.  But while I expected Barack to dominate on the economy, I fully expected John McCain to dominate on defense issues.  I was completely surprised to see the opposite happen.  I’ll chime in with fact checking tomorrow.

Posted in Debate, Elections, Federal Government, LIVE | 1 Comment »

Time Out

Posted by ALmod on September 26, 2008

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Ron Paul vs. John McCain

Posted by ALmod on September 26, 2008

A throwback to the Republican primaries, where I felt like Ron Paul really shined.  (Oh, how I miss him!)  But I also wanted to show exactly why John McCain should NOT be heavily involved in any planned solution for the current economic situation.

In particular, note how McCain never actually answers the question but rather talks about how his staff is more suited to the problem and he spends the rest of the time name-dropping.  Also notice how Phil Gramm is one of the names mentioned.

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A Message From Ron Paul

Posted by ALmod on September 26, 2008

Dr. Ron Paul is probably THE person I trust most when it comes to the U.S. economy.  I was sad to see his presidential bid slowly crawl to an end.  But here’s what he had to say about the current economic situation:

Dear Friends:

The financial meltdown the economists of the Austrian School predicted has arrived.

We are in this crisis because of an excess of artificially created credit at the hands of the Federal Reserve System. The solution being proposed?  More artificial credit by the Federal Reserve. No liquidation of bad debt and malinvestment is to be allowed. By doing more of the same, we will only continue and intensify the distortions in our economy – all the capital misallocation, all the malinvestment – and prevent the market’s attempt to re-establish rational pricing of houses and other assets.

Last night the president addressed the nation about the financial crisis.  There is no point in going through his remarks line by line, since I’d only be repeating what I’ve been saying over and over – not just for the past several days, but for years and even decades.

Still, at least a few observations are necessary.

The president assures us that his administration “is working with Congress to address the root cause behind much of the instability in our markets.”  Care to take a guess at whether the Federal Reserve and its money creation spree were even mentioned?

We are told that “low interest rates” led to excessive borrowing, but we are not told how these low interest rates came about. They were a deliberate policy of the Federal Reserve. As always, artificially low interest rates distort the market. Entrepreneurs engage in malinvestments – investments that do not make sense in light of current resource availability, that occur in more temporally remote stages of the capital structure than the pattern of consumer demand can support, and that would not have been made at all if the interest rate had been permitted to tell the truth instead of being toyed with by the Fed.

Not a word about any of that, of course, because Americans might then discover how the great wise men in Washington caused this great debacle.  Better to keep scapegoating the mortgage industry or “wildcat capitalism” (as if we actually have a pure free market!).

Speaking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the president said: “Because these companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government. This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk.”

Doesn’t that prove the foolishness of chartering Fannie and Freddie in the first place? Doesn’t that suggest that maybe, just maybe, government may have contributed to this mess? And of course, by bailing out Fannie and Freddie, hasn’t the federal government shown that the “many” who “believed they were guaranteed by the federal government” were in fact correct?

Then come the scare tactics. If we don’t give dictatorial powers to the Treasury Secretary “the stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet.” Left unsaid, naturally, is that with the bailout and all the money and credit that must be produced out of thin air to fund it, the value of your retirement account will drop anyway, because the value of the dollar will suffer a precipitous decline. As for home prices, they are obviously much too high, and supply and demand cannot equilibrate if government insists on propping them up.

It’s the same destructive strategy that government tried during the Great Depression: prop up prices at all costs. The Depression went on for over a decade. On the other hand, when liquidation was allowed to occur in the equally devastating downturn of 1921, the economy recovered within less than a year.

The president also tells us that Senators McCain and Obama will join him at the White House today in order to figure out how to get the bipartisan bailout passed. The two senators would do their country much more good if they stayed on the campaign trail debating who the bigger celebrity is, or whatever it is that occupies their attention these days.

F.A. Hayek won the Nobel Prize for showing how central banks’ manipulation of interest rates creates the boom-bust cycle with which we are sadly familiar. In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, he described the foolish policies being pursued in his day – and which are being proposed, just as destructively, in our own:

Instead of furthering the inevitable liquidation of the maladjustments brought about by the boom during the last three years, all conceivable means have been used to prevent that readjustment from taking place; and one of these means, which has been repeatedly tried though without success, from the earliest to the most recent stages of depression, has been this deliberate policy of credit expansion.

To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about; because we are suffering from a misdirection of production, we want to create further misdirection – a procedure that can only lead to a much more severe crisis as soon as the credit expansion comes to an end… It is probably to this experiment, together with the attempts to prevent liquidation once the crisis had come, that we owe the exceptional severity and duration of the depression.

The only thing we learn from history, I am afraid, is that we do not learn from history.

The very people who have spent the past several years assuring us that the economy is fundamentally sound, and who themselves foolishly cheered the extension of all these novel kinds of mortgages, are the ones who now claim to be the experts who will restore prosperity! Just how spectacularly wrong, how utterly without a clue, does someone have to be before his expert status is called into question?

Oh, and did you notice that the bailout is now being called a “rescue plan”? I guess “bailout” wasn’t sitting too well with the American people.

The very people who with somber faces tell us of their deep concern for the spread of democracy around the world are the ones most insistent on forcing a bill through Congress that the American people overwhelmingly oppose. The very fact that some of you seem to think you’re supposed to have a voice in all this actually seems to annoy them.

I continue to urge you to contact your representatives and give them a piece of your mind. I myself am doing everything I can to promote the correct point of view on the crisis. Be sure also to educate yourselves on these subjects – the Campaign for Liberty blog is an excellent place to start. Read the posts, ask questions in the comment section, and learn.

H.G. Wells once said that civilization was in a race between education and catastrophe. Let us learn the truth and spread it as far and wide as our circumstances allow. For the truth is the greatest weapon we have.

In liberty,

Ron Paul

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