Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Postscripts and Parting Shots

Five years ago I started a weblog. At the time, I only knew a couple of bloggers, mostly the original crew over at Midwest Mindset. While they started in July of 03, I didn't join the conversation until early 04, after I'd been blogging on my own for about a month or so. In those "early" days, Blogger didn't come with the comment option, so one had to be a member of the blog to post response, and those responses had to be entire posts. It made for some really interesting discussions -- discussions that I think were soon lost after a comment section was added. And it was a blast just arguing with far away pals, truth be told.

When I started this blog, it was part of a personal website I created (that no longer exists). The blog was really just a side note. But I liked it. Much more than the website part. It was a way to communicate with friends even though I was far, far away in rural Montana.

Then came the 2004 election. And suddenly I was writing a political blog. I didn't really mean to, it was just natural after my experience blogging with Midwest Mindset to start focusing on what was going on in the news, too. That first year, whilst living in Montana and Wisconsin, away from friends, was the heyday of TBCBYL. Bush won, but I kept on going, because dammit, people were linking to me. At the time, I thought I'd blog through his entire second term. That didn't happen. Chicago did.

So this blog withered. It sort of become a pop culture blog for a bit after that, focusing on music, movies and lots'o'television (especially after I discovered TV Squad). But moving to Vermont killed that. I tried to revive it every couple of months, but to no avail. I kept up with Xanga and Myspace intermittently, but eventually gave up on those as well. I gave it one last go this fall again with another election, but my heart just wasn't in it. I said as much back in October. So now, it's time to officially retire the thing.

When I started, I remember having three of four links: Midwest Mindset, Erica and Andy Sikora. Andy's been through two or three blogs since. Erica's still around, but in different digs. And MM is dead dead dead. I'm still going to keep updating the (new) xanga (which could really use a name change), I'm currently having some fun on Saniel Bonders's list page, and I'm working on a blog for my workplace (check the new xanga in a few weeks for more info on that).

But this blog is ready to retire. Thanks to everyone who stopped by at some point or another to check it out, in whatever incarnation it might have been in at the time. I leave it up as a document, just like every other dead blog I've been apart of (except for Catfish Haven, Jake be damned), because even though there's so very, very much to be embarrassed about on this blog, I wouldn't have it any other way.

So long, this blog could be your life! It was fun. We should do this again some other time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

City of Big Shoulders

On why voting for Chicagoans comes easy:

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
     so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
     job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
     little soft cities;
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
     and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
     Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
     Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
     Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

from Chicago by Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Notes on Nov 4th

Three Loves

We do love Thomas Friedman around here.
"Given that Times columnists are not allowed to “formally” endorse candidates and given that the context of this election has changed so much from the policy positions the candidates started with, all I can suggest is that you vote for the candidate with these character traits....Vote for the candidate you think has the smarts, temperament and inspirational capacity to unify the country and steer our ship through what could be the rockiest shoals our generation has ever known."
And we do love British neo-liberals, too.
"For all the shortcomings of the campaign, both John McCain and Barack Obama offer hope of national redemption. Now America has to choose between them. The Economist does not have a vote, but if it did, it would cast it for Mr Obama. We do so wholeheartedly: the Democratic candidate has clearly shown that he offers the better chance of restoring America’s self-confidence. But we acknowledge it is a gamble. Given Mr Obama’s inexperience, the lack of clarity about some of his beliefs and the prospect of a stridently Democratic Congress, voting for him is a risk. Yet it is one America should take, given the steep road ahead."
And finally, we cannot help but love Ralph Nader with all our hearts.
"I believe in I.F. Stone's dictum that in all social justice movements, you've got to be ready to lose. And lose and lose and lose. It's not very pleasant, but you have to accept this if you believe in what you're doing."
Happy voting.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Me and John McCain Break Up Over 7 Things (I Hate About Him/You)

Once upon a time, when this blog was updated near-daily, with weird Larry-King-like posts, I wanted to see John McCain run for president, so that I could vote for him and Christine Todd Whitman, and life would become better and better every day. Because he was a Responsible Conservative who would Rescue the Republican Party from People like this. And thereby usher in a new era of bipartisanship where Dems and Pubs got along and ate cotton candy and rode ponies together. Pony rides!* In Washington! O what a day it was going to be!!!11!!!!1!

But then something happened. John McCain ran for president again. And he promptly lost his frakkin' mind.

A not-so-comprehensive list of reasons I used to love John McCain but now can't because he believes something completely different now that he started trolling for votes in Hillsdale, MI and Huntington, IN.**:

1) Sen. McCain used to be a fiscal moderate [Part I]. I know this because he originally opposed the Bush tax cuts. McCain on the Senate floor: "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who need tax relief." Now he wants to make them permanent. Ostensibly it's because of the financial mess we're in. And I get that from a Righty McRight-Right perspective. But this is "The Maverick starring Mel Gibson" we're talking about. Why not extend them for another year or two until we're out of this mess, then let them quietly expire, so we can get back to balancing this crazy-ass budget deficit? Or am I making too much sense for you right now, Senator? 

2) Sen. McCain used to have principles [Part I]. He used to oppose the torture of human beings. "We’ve sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists," he said while asking President Bush to support a bill that would ban all sorts of torture for anyone in US government custody, including waterboarding. He even made a good case against waterboarding, too: "All I can say is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition, it was used in Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, and there are reports that it is being used against Buddhist monks today…It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture." Then he voted against a bill which would have made the CIA abide by the same rules in the Army Field Manuel, which specifically bans waterboarding as an information gathering tactic. I don't get it. I really, really don't. I guess everybody needs a buddy sometime.

3) Sen. McCain used to stick up to bullies [Part I]. Once upon a time, McCain stood up to the NRA. After saying that "the NRA is entitled to their advocacy. I don’t think they help the Republican Party at all, and I don’t think they should in any way play a major role in the Republican Party’s policy making," the NRA labeled him "one of the premier flag-carriers for enemies of the Second Amendment." That is until he spoke these words at the NRA's national convention: "President Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton would put the rights of ‘law-abiding’ gun owners at risk." More buddies! The list just keeps on growing.

4) Sen. McCain used to stick up to bullies [Part II]. Another once upon a time, McCain called a duck 'a duck.' He railed against Jerry Falwell and other leaders of the Religious Right as “agents of intolerance.” After announcing a run for president, however, he delivered the commencement address at Liberty University, Jerry Falwell's school, after which he was the guest of honor at a reception and private dinner which included a number of conservative church leaders. Sure, endorsements are nice. But so are principles.

5) Sen. McCain used to have principles [Part II]. John used to be a big fan of immigration reform, including creating ways for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship without forced deportation. He even co-sponsored a bill in Congress (that eventually failed to pass). This year he admitted that he wouldn't even vote for his own bill today “because we know what the situation is today. The people want the borders secured first.” Mr. McCain, the people are often wrong. Two and a Half Men is the most watched sitcom in America. Yet How I Met Your Mother is clearly funnier. Sometimes, you have to fight for what you believe in. I believe in Slap Bets. You believe in sorting out this immigration mess without resorting to building huge fucking walls along the entire length of our southern border. Good for me. Good for you.

6) Sen. McCain used to be a fiscal moderate [Part II]. He used to argue for the "essential morality" of the estate tax, explaining that he “consistently voted against repealing this tax because of the impact it would have on the deficit, as well as the possible chilling affect it could have on charitable giving in this country." Now he calls it "one of the most unfair tax laws in the book." I like taxing dead people. Because over-taxing the living just plain sucks. We earn what we have as Americans. Everything else is just plain royalty.

7) Sen. McCain used to have principles [Part III]. Sen. McCain used to oppose a federal ban on gay marriage: “The constitutional amendment we’re debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans. It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them.” Wow. Now that's great statesmanship. And plausible conservatism in an age when conservatives can't tell whether they love big government or hate it. Yet, one more time, while on the Votes and Endorsement Trail, he told Jerry Falwell he would support a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution if a federal court were to strike state constitutional bans on gay marriage. Not a complete about-face, but he's definitely trying to have his small government cake and eat it, too.

Conclusion: Sen. McCain, I used to love your freakin' guts. Now, I just feel sorry for you. Sorry that you felt you had to turn your back on evertything that made you "you" in order to appeal to the American public, or at least the part of the American public that is pro-America. Because those anti-America parts of the country can fall into the ocean and die. Or they can elect our next president. I forget my point...

Oh, that's right. Sen. McCain, you just lost my vote.***


*Pony rides do solve everything. Because ponies are constitutionally non-partisan.

**Town names chosen completely at random, having nothing to do with those two great institutional influences of my formative years.
***Well, you kind of did about a year ago, but you know what I mean.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sarah Palin, you're breaking my heart.

I love Sarah Palin. She's basically every mom of every friend I had growing up in the Midwest, only way hotter. She's the new face of the new feminism (I can't even remember who the old face of the new feminism was anymore). She's everything Bush Republicanism could hope for in a not-so-much-ugly-old-white-man package. She's funny, she charming, she's got great taste in eye wear. She can shoot a gun and bake cookies and manage an entire state while raising a family. In other words, I want to build a time machine and marry her in place of the that bozo, pretty-boy Todd McGoofyPants. Why should he be so lucky?

But I don't want Sarah Palin to be my vice-president.

Gov. Palin has been/will be the downfall of the McCain campaign. For all the people who love her for all the same reasons I do (but who also plan on voting for her), there are even more Americans who see this selection for what it is: a desperate attempt by the McCain camp to seem younger, less Beltway, and more family friendly.

It's no secret McCain is old. It's no secret McCain has been involved in Washington politics for almost 30 years. And it's no secret that McCain has leaned centrist in the past when it come social conservatism. Picking Sarah Palin was supposed to solve all that. And for the Republican base, it did. But for the rest of America, it pretty much scared the bejesus out of us. I love Sarah Palin with all my heart. But she cannot, under any circumstances, be our vice-president in 2009. And this is why:

1) According to (and check out their sources for further reading), until Palin became a VP candidate, she had no problems with the types of congressional earmarks John McCain has spent a good part of his career opposing. (McCain is on record as criticising three specific earmarks that went to Mayor Palin's old Wasilla stomping grounds; earmarks secured by a Washington lobbyist hired by Palin during her tenure as mayor.) She also failed to come out against the "Bridge to Nowhere" until after it was dead in Congress. And she still accepted the earmarked, pork-barrel funds anyway, spending them on her state's general transportation budget. We need someone who understands this budget mess. And Sarah Palin is not that someone.

2) Palin (along with McCain) also seriously misunderstands Obama's tax plan. Palin is on record criticising it as "painful tax increases on working American families." This in spite hard data that shows Obama's plan will lower taxes for 81% of all households (and 95% of those households with children), while raising them for those at the top of America's income bracket (those families making over $250,000 a year). Yes, rich people work, too. But chances are Joe Sixpack is making much less than a cool quarter-mil a year. Obama's tax plan takes care of him. And it's time for McCain-Palin to kill this stupid misconception/lie.

3) She has absolutely no experience in either of the biggest problems we are mired in today: managing a messy war in Iraq while simultaneously governing over a sluggish 13.8 trillion dollar economy. At the very least, McCain, Obama and Biden have congressional experience in these matters. Palin has managed the 45th largest economy of the United States of America for 22 months. This gives me pause. And these things tell me she just isn't ready for this position.

Two and half weeks ago conservative columnist David Brooks was quoted as saying that Palin was in no way ready to be vice-president:

"The more I follow politicians, the more I think experience matters, the ability to have a template of things in your mind that you can refer to on the spot, because believe me, once in office there's no time to think or make decisions."

What Brooks is saying here resonates tremendously with me. Presidents need to have wisdom, experience and a worldview in place before they take office, because once you're there, there's little time to formulate these things. You can't be catching up on William Buckley, Russell Kirk and Richard Weaver in the middle of a heated presidential campaign.

Maybe once Palin is safely ensconced in her vice-presidential office, she would have time for such things. But with McCain's age being what it is, she could be called on to serve as president before she is actually ready to be president. And because of that, I can't in good conscience vote for her. We just elected (and re-elected) a president who wasn't ready for the job, and look where that got us. We need to learn from our mistakes and vote for folks with the experience to lead from Day 1. Even Obama, with his political career only 12 years old, is light years ahead of Palin in that regard.

As a country in the midst of a teetering economic crisis, drawn out wars in the Middle East and Asia, problems with a resurgent Russian state, run-away health care costs and record budget deficits, we deserve a presidential team that's up to the task. And unfortunately, with Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket, the Republicans have failed to provide us with one. It's time to look elsewhere for a president if this is the best that McCain and the Republican Party can do.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I'm just not that into you.

Oh, man, political blogging is dead. Ever since the markets imploded, I've basically stopped listening to Tweedle-Dum and Cranky-Pants-Dee. This blog will oficially retire come November whatsit.

But first, I'm working on a good old blog post about why Sarah Palin scares me to death and simultaneously ought to raise if not bear my children.


* Awesome pic courtesy of oh-who-cares-because-the-internets-are-done-anyways.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Where do we go from here?

I had been working on a post yesterday about a recent op-ed piece by Thomas Friedman, titled "Green the Bailout" -- A little ditty that encouraged our government to look beyond the bailout and work toward a Green buildup.  The idea is that plenty of countries do fossil fuel extraction and gasoline fueled autos better than we do. So why don't we switch our focus to the next step in energy -- green energy. If we can't be number one in the old way of powering the World, why not be number one in the new way? Why not replace lost blue collar jobs with what author Van Jones is calling "green collar" ones? It was going to kill.

Then the shit hit the fan and Congress gave into millions of Americans who can't bother to read a newspaper.

Whoops. Guilty as charged. I'm a print-journalism elitist. CNN and Fox News can kiss my ass.

The House of Representatives should be ashamed of themselves. Instead of taking the lead, getting out on the stump, bumping elbows with folks at potlucks and community centers and Wal-Marts all across America, convincing Americans that though this plan isn't perfect, it would help regular Janes and Joes as much as it would help the Big Bad Banks on Wall Street, they sat back and went with whichever way the wind blew. Good job, Leaders of the Free World. You may have just won re-election....but you're completely responsible for where we go from here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

(Sort of) live blogging the first presidential debate

Not only have I been (sort of) live blogging the debate, but in the spirit of Tony Reali's Around the Horn, I will dole out points arbitrarily to whomever for whatever reason I deem appropriate. This is what blogging is all about!

9:06 Kick-off!

9:07 I hate the lazy "Main Street" vs. "Wall Street" comparison. Our Main St is called Merchants Row. Or Highway 7. O-1

9:08 A 4-point plan for the bailout, GObama! O+1

9:09 Teddy's sick again. Really, McCain? M+0-1

9:10 Bipartisanship! The mark of old McCain. Where did he go? M+0

9:12 Blah, blah, I can't say whether I approve this plan. Blah, blah, Hillary had bigger balls than both of us. O/M -1

9:14 And forever....Go D-Day! M+0

9:15 They're being waaaaaay too nice. This just proves the point I've been trying to hammer home. These guys don't know enough about economics to have an honest conversation about the Economy. O/M -1

9:20 Yeah! Burn that tax plan to the ground Obama! Check out the Obamaculator to see your tax cut under the distinguished Senator from Illinois. O+2

9:22 "The sheriff". Nice nickname. I guess. M-1

9:24 "Pork-Barrel Obama". Much better nickname. True. O-1

9:26 Close the loopholes! Close-close the loopholes! O+1

9:27 Why can't they just be buddies? JK. Interruptions+1 

9:30 Ohio! Michigan! Electric cars! O+1

9:32 Ethanol subsidies? McCain's right. Stoooopid! M+1

9:33 Eliminate the waste. M+1

9:35 Google the govt. O+1

9:35 Why is the eagle facing McCain? PBS-1

9:36 Education. Mmm-hmm. Woulda given you another point had you mentioned after-school education. O+1

9:37 Nuclear power. It's gotta be on the table. There's no way around it if we want to decrease our coal burnin' ways. M+1

9:37 Nuclear does next to nothing to wean our dependence on foreign oil. That's an outright lie. M-2

9:39 Health care needs the govt's help. Plain and simple, Johnny. M-1

9:40 Cutting taxes helps a hurtin' economy. But so does increasing spending on domestic projects that create American jobs. M+1-1

9:41 "Orgy of spending"! Great quote! O+1

9:41 Yes, McCain you've opposed him at times, but you've really fallen in love with Bush since 2004. M-1

9:43 The troop surge worked. McCain is right, and he was right when it wasn't popular to be right. M+3

9:44 You opposed the war in the Illinois Senate. Good job. O-2

9:45 Sports analogies. Took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan. Double points. O+2

9:47 Don't lean on Joey too much. O-1

9:48 Take him down, Obama!!! We screwed the pooch in 2003, no doubt. O+2

9:48 Tactic/Strategy? Ass-hole-ish joke, McCain. M-1

9:50 Troop funding. John McCain, don't lie about your opponent's record. M-1

9:52 Move the troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.  I agree. But we can only do that successfully because the surge worked. O+1-1

9:53 Yeah, Obama! That's not true! Call a liar a liar. O+1

9:54 Obama can talk foreign policy and not sound like a novice. I guess we should expect that from a candidate, but I'm still giving him a point. O+1

9:55 3-point plan for Afghanistan! O+1

9:56 I have a soft spot for politicians who admit mistakes. M+1

9:56 Pakistan's a crazy/precarious situation. Walk softly is the correct way to handle it. M+1

9:57 No matter what happens, at the very least, we're going to have a sharp, whip-smart president. Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning? M/O+1

9:58 Call him on it, Obama.We don't attack Pakistan on a whim. Ending bin Laden, no matter where is resides, is the right strategy. O+1

10:02 I like success as much as the next guy, but at what cost, Senator McCain? M-1

10:03 Who can tell the most heart-warming troop story. Why, o why??? M-2 for bringing it up; O-1 for stooping to his level.

10:05 We didn't put enough emphasis on Afghanistan after 2003. McCain, you may have visited the area, but you and the Republicans dropped the ball. M-2

10:06 There's only a connection between Iraq and Afghanistan because we created that connection by mistakenly going after Iraq. M-1

10:07 Yes, John. We cannot allow a second Holocaust. Way to go out on a limb. M+0

10:07 I love the name "League of Democracies". It sounds like an awesome superhero group. And not necessarily a bad idea. Easy points because I'm a sucker. M+2

10:09 We cannot allow the situation in Iraq to spill into Iran. Shame on McCain O+1

10:10 We need the Ruskies and the Chinese, too. O+1

10:11 Preconditions. I really don't care, to be honest. But only if we can talk directly to the Dalia Lama as well. Jonny+3

10:12 Ahmadinejad's a crazy bastard. I know no one's arguing that, but still give him a point. M+1

10:14 Talk to North Korea, John. Il's crazy, too, but we weren't getting anywhere by ignoring him. O+1

10:18 I just microwaved some pizza. Are we really still talking about preconditions? M/O -1

10:18 I've never met Kissinger. He's not been my friend for 35 years. But I know this: He's a crazy bastard, too. Jonny+1

10:20 Cold war dumb. Reagan+1

10:21 Soul jokes! O+1

10:23 Prof McCain. Teach it! M+2

10:26 Russia's kind of boring. Russia-1

10:27 Clean coal. What happened to that?!! Has it been delayed along with my flying car? O+1

10:28 Offshore drilling will not help anytime soon. M-1

10:30 9/11 Commission. Oh man, I loved the old McCain. What happened to that guy? Straight-Talk+1

10:30 Torture is bad. M+1

10:31 No just our borders, but our ports, too! M-1


10:33 Obama loves 'merica! O+1 (and I'm sure McCain does, too M+1)

10:34 Missile defense if a ridiculous boondoggle. M-1

10:34 How much longer does McCain feel we need these sort of troop levels in Iraq? Even Bush is ready for a phased withdrawal. Whaaaa? M+1

10:36 I love investing in science! Go NASA! Go NOAA! Go Scientists! O+1

10:38 "I love veterans, and I'll take care of them." One of the least political moments of the night. McCain was wearing his heart on his sleeve there.  M+1

10:39 We need more kids loving 'merica! Obama's Dad+1

10:40 Like I said, these guys are two smart cookies. I don't think this election is as black & white as we tend to make it. (If i say' no pun intended,' does that make me an asshole?)

Let's see who won according to this ridiculous scoring system.

Obama +16      McCain -1

I have no idea what this means. Also, I have no desire to check my figures. Good debate, though.

Okay fine. Obama wins.

Let the spin begin!

A Debate! A Debate!

Ha! Ha! I shamed McCain into debating tonight! Booyah!!!

More to come this weekend. Yezzir.

EDIT: Now let the game of lowered expectations begin!
Obama spokesman Bill Button sent an e-mail to reporters quoting news stories indicating McCain was the stronger debater, particularly on foreign policy.

"If he slips up, makes a mistake or fails to deliver a game-changing performance, it will be a serious blow to his campaign," Button said of McCain.

McCain, for his part, praised Obama's debate skills this week, suggesting his rival's performances against Hillary Rodham Clinton during the primaries had helped him win the Democratic nomination.
Next up, insane amounts of spin! I can't wait!!!

More of the same....but better

Seriously America. Let's all take a deep breath and read.

Issue Is Payback, Not Bailout (NY Times)

Take it away, David Leonhardt:

"The first thing to understand is that a bailout plan doesn’t have to cost anywhere close to $700 billion, so long as it’s designed well. The $700 billion number that you see everywhere is an estimate of how much the government would spend to buy deteriorating assets now held by banks. Eventually, the government will turn around and sell these assets, for a price almost certain to be greater than zero. So this $700 billion is very different from $700 billion spent on a war or on Medicare."

In other words, we'll spend money, but we'll get some of it back.

"Figuring out how much to pay for the assets is the first problem. The drop in house prices and rise in foreclosures have made it clear that these securities are worth considerably less than banks expected. But there is enormous uncertainty about how much less.

Based on the underlying fundamentals (like the current foreclosure rate and the one forecast for the future), many of the securities appear to be worth something on the order of 75 percent of their original value. But thanks to the fear now gripping the market — not necessarily an irrational fear, given that most forecasts have proven far too sunny over the last year — very, very few of those securities are trading hands. Among those that have, the sales price has been roughly 25 percent of the value."

This is a much better way of saying what I tried to explain in my last post. The Treasury (and more accurately, we, the taxpayers) doesn't want to overpay too much more than these assets are actually worth. If we do, we could very well end up losing a large chunk of that $700 billion when we sell these assets back to the market.

"It [The Government] clearly shouldn’t pay 75 cents on the dollar, or anything close to it. That would mean the Treasury Department — which, in the end, is really you and me — was assuming nearly all the risk. But it probably can’t pay 25 cents. That might fail to fix the credit markets, because it would do relatively little to improve financial firms’ balance sheets. Firms might then remain unwilling to lend money to businesses and households, which is the whole problem the bailout is meant to solve."

BUT, BUT, BUT! We can't pay the low price either, because no matter what these assets are worth, if we pay too little, it might not be enough of a cash-kick-start to get the markets going and banks lending and borrowing again.

"The most obvious solution is to pay more than 25 cents on the dollar and then demand something in return for the premium — namely, a stake in any firm that participates in the bailout. Congressional Democrats have been pushing for such a provision this week, and it’s one of the most important things they have done.

The government would then be accomplishing three things at once. First, it would take possession of the bad assets now causing a panic on Wall Street. Second, it would inject cash into the financial system and help shore up firms’ balance sheets (which some economists think is actually a bigger problem than the bad assets). And, third, it would go a long way toward minimizing the ultimate cost to taxpayers.

Why? The more that the government overpays for the assets, the larger the subsidy it’s providing to Wall Street — and the more it is pushing up the share prices of Wall Street firms. As Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, notes, the equity stakes allow the government to recapture some of the subsidy down the road. It’s a self-correcting mechanism."

In other words, if this works, we spend cash, and then down the road, we make some of it back. All $700 billion? Who knows!? But this isn't money thrown down the drain. If we pay enough for these assets to get the economy flowing, but not so much that we won't get a healthy return when we decide to sell, this plan really does become a Payback, not a Bailout.

Now it's time to tell your friends and family. We need to understand this. And then we need to tell our elected officials to get off their rears and make it happen. And hey Obama. Hey McCain. Why you don't you try leading for once? Right now, this hand-ringing, card-holding, who can be more mysterious BS just isn't working for me. Come right and out either fully support this plan or reject it. With words like, "Hey, maybe it's not perfect, but we need this America!" Or, "This a bad idea, America. We gotta come up with something entirely different."

Or just cancel a debate. I know you don't want to embarrass yourself by speaking about economics, Johnny McCain. But this isn't the right way to go.