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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

MD Delegate Weldon Leaves Republican Party

George Wenschhof

Earlier today, in a publicized press conference in front of city hall in Frederick, Maryland, Republican Delegate Rick Weldon (Dist. 3-B) announced he was changing his political affiliation to "Unaffiliated". He was first elected delegate in 2002 and was reelected in 2006.

The stated reason for his change was to concentrate on policies and not politics. At this point he indicated he could not agree fully with the Republican or Democratic Party positions on issues so his choice was to change to "Unaffiliated". Weldon posted his speech online in the Frederick News Post Forums and you can read it here. It is an interesting decision, one which will leave many with differing opinions. Weldon also serves as chair of the Frederick County state delegation so it will be interesting to see if he continues in this capacity.

When I asked Bob Kresslein, chair of the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee what his reaction was to Delegate Weldon's announcement he said "I am sure that this was not an easy decision for Delegate Weldon, in such matters what is important is that one follow the dictates of his conscience."

Let's take a look at this decision and what it may mean. In practicality, it means little and it is much to do about nothing. Rick Weldon will continue to serve as delegate in District 3-B and presumably in a similar manner as he did in his preceding six years in office.

However, in politics, it can mean a lot. In Maryland, there is no registered "Unaffiliated" Party and in Frederick County, you are indicated as "Declined" meaning you declined to affiliate with a recognized political party. Weldon's action may be considered noble by some. However, in a state dominated by the Democratic and Republican Parties, it is unlikely a elected representative who declines affiliation will have much influence in Annapolis. In fact, a "Unaffiliated' or "Declined" candidate for state office would not be allowed to be on the ballot for a vote unless they met a petition requirement. I have no knowledge of this occurring in a state election in the history of Frederick County, Maryland.

Looking at a little background, Delegate Weldon previously announced he would not be seeking reelection in 2010. This announcement came after the special session of the general assembly called by Governor O'Malley a year ago to deal with the state structural budget deficit.

One of the reasons speculated at the time for his announcement not to run again, was his position on "Slots" during the special session. The Governor's strategy for passage was to have the approval measure for "Slots" be a constitutional amendment requiring a three-fifths majority vote in the Maryland House and Senate. The Republicans, who previously supported the approval of "Slots" under Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich decided they would oppose this measure put forward by Democratic Governor O'Malley. Delegate Weldon, who had supported "Slots" under Governor Ehrlich, voted in favor of Governor O'Malley's bill, which passed. Thus he supposedly earned the wrath of some Republicans who did not want the O'Malley bill to succeed. It appears Weldon did not see a reason to change his position on the issue due to partisan posturing by the Republican Party.

It will be interesting to see the Republican reaction to Weldon's decision to end his lifelong registration with the Republican Party. Some Republican voters may well be upset as they voted to elect a Republican delegate to represent their interests in the state government.

Also the Republican Party, already looking to recruit and promote a replacement for Weldon due to his previous announcement that he would not seek another term, will likely be feeling as though they are tied in knots.

It is possible the Republican Party might try to discuss resignation with Weldon. They may be tempted to inform him the political reality is that his change of political party to "unaffiliated" will limit his effectiveness in Annapolis. If he would resign, the local Republican Central Committee would be able to submit names for his replacement to the Governor for appointment to the position. This would give the new Republican delegate a two year head start advantage going into the 2010 election.

As of now, District 3-B looks like a good chance for a Democratic pick up in 2010. Stay Tuned.


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Dem Campaign Chatter 9-30-2008

George Wenschhof

Today, Obama is in Reno, Nevada - Biden remains in Wilmington, Delaware.


Obama calls for an increase in FDIC insurance -yesterday, while others were busy pointing fingers and raising fears of Americans after the bailout bill failed passage and the Dow fell in record numbers, Obama said to stay calm and stated a bill would be passed.

He released a statement today saying the FDIC should increase limit of insurance on deposits to $250,000 from the current $100,000. This is a good idea to help gain confidence from individuals and small businesses in the banking system. He also urged Congress to move legislation forward on the economic crisis. has his statement here.


President Bush gives early morning address on the failure of the House to pass the bailout bill - at 8:45 AM ET, Bush addressed the nation and expressed his disappointment that Congress had failed to act. He warned of dire circumstances for many Americans if Congress does not act soon. has more here.

Yesterday's loss of 777.68 was the largest single day ever of the Dow. To put it in perspective, it represented a loss of 1.2 Trillion. Let's see how the market rebounds today. Stay Tuned.


A little perspective on the Bush economy - when President Bush took office in 2001, the national debt was 5.7 Trillion and the Dow was at 10,588. Eight years later, the national debt ceiling was just raised to 11.3 Trillion and the Dow closed yesterday at 10,685.

A national debt that has doubled and a financial market teetering on the edge of collapse will be added to the Bush legacy of a misguided war in Iraq and a failed foreign policy.


Meanwhile, the McCain campaign was busy changing it's response to the failed Bail Out bill - They started out the day yesterday saying it was McCain's efforts that led to the compromise bill that was headed for passage in the House. Oops, the bill didn't pass! So, it was Obama's fault by the middle of the day. Will McCain suspend his campaign again? Stay Tuned.


The McCain campaign continues to dig a deep hole for themselves - after Governor Palin answered a question concerning Pakistan while waiting for her Cheese steak. She answered a voter's question about if the U.S. would go inside Pakistan to go after the Taliban of Al Qaeda and she said of course the U.S. would. You can watch the exchange here.

The only problem? This is the type of US unilateral action McCain criticized Obama for supporting during last Friday's presidential debate. The McCain campaign issued a statement that you should not take serious a comment made to a voter in the middle of ordering a sandwich. Read more here.

Just to make sure voters understood what she meant to say, both McCain and Palin were interviewed yesterday by CBS anchor Katie Couric. You can watch it for yourself here. And, you wonder why Palin was being sheltered from the press?


Attorney General Mukasey appoints Special Prosecutor to probe attorney firings - after a long period of requests that this investigation take place, Connecticut U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy was appointed special prosecutor. This, after an internal Justice Department report indicated that under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the firings of attorneys may have been the result of partisan politics. has more here. The good news is this is finally happening - the bad news is it will not conclude until way after the election.


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Monday, September 29, 2008

House Rejects Bail Out Bill - Dow Drops - New Vote Planned

George Wenschhof

The House Democratic and Republican Leadership were not successful in selling their bail out bill to the rest of their fellow Representatives. The Democrats voted for the Bill 140-95, while the Republicans voted against the bill 65-133. The 205 votes for was only 12 votes short of passage.

As a result, the financial reaction on Wall Street was unpleasant with the original drop being around 600 and the drop as of 2:27 PM ET was 457.50 to stand at 10,685.63. has more here.

It was obvious, House Minority Leader John Boehner was not successful in persuading his Republican colleagues as two-thirds voted against the bill. It is likely a second vote will be called as the possibility of a economic meltdown looms on the horizon but it is doubtful it will happen today. The NY Times has more here.

Let's see what comments come from the Obama and McCain campaigns. Stay Tuned.
3:50 PM ET Update: Dow down 596.09
Well, the political silliness begins with Republicans blaming a speech by Nancy Pelosi on the House floor for the reason the bill failed. It was a partisan speech which actually was truthful in blaming the Republican Bush administration for the deregulation that has led to the current financial crisis. Representative Barney Frank gave a excellent response to that Republican nonsense with a statement that because your feelings were hurt, you can not do what is best for your country? has more here.
Remember, this was a bill introduced by Republican President Bush and his administration and the Democrats acted in a bipartisan fashion, putting the country first, voting for the bill 140-95, even though there were many aspects to the bill they did not like.
McCain, who made a big circus out of suspending his campaign for one day to focus on passing this bill, obviously failed to deliver his Republican Representatives in the House as they voted against the bill 133-65. Now, with the egg clearly on McCain's face after the bill failed, he is set to issue a statement blaming Obama for the bill's failure. has more here. Doubtful, the voters will buy into this statement. Ambinder, on asks the question if McCain wanted credit for the passage will he accept blame for the failure? Read more here.
Obama has issued a statement that he is confident this bill will get done. Stay Tuned.
4:25 PM ET Update: Dow suffers largest single day point loss - 777.68 to finish at 10,365.45
This is not a time to be pointing fingers.


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Thursday VP Debate Expected to Draw Large Audience

George Wenschhof

Vice-Presidential debates have never determined the outcome of a presidential election, but this one promises to be interesting. Questions abound as voters wonder if Palin will come across clueless or if Biden will stick his foot in his mouth. Negotiators for both campaigns agreed to a more structured debate format so do not expect a lot of free wheeling by either candidate.

As last week's debate was historic for having the first African-American, the vice-president debate will be historic for having the first Woman as a participant. While there is no question, America has come a long way, perceptions and prejudices remain. Charges of racism and sexism continue instead of Dr. King's dream of judging a person by the content of their character.

As a result, Biden has to be careful he does not appear to be beating up a woman or as if he is being condescending toward a woman. He also has to guard against going off message or for a gaffe the Republicans would surely jump on. Palin on the other hand, needs to show she has some grasp of the economic and foreign policy issues facing the country. She has shown she can connect to many voters by being elected Governor of Alaska and by given a well received speech at the Republican National Convention so don't expect a light weight performance.

Some great lines have come out of these debates. One I remember is from the 1988 vice-president Quayle-Bentsen debate. After Republican Senator Dan Quayle had referred to some comparison of himself to former President John F. Kennedy, Democratic Senator Lloyd Bentsen said "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

I interviewed Quayle when I was a grad student at Indiana University. It was 1977 and he was a Representative in Congress. I remember thinking at the time, he had bigger plans for his future. I did not realize one day he would set up the Democratic candidate in a vice-presidential debate, giving him the opportunity to blast him. Or, that he would become famous for incorrectly spelling potato during a grade school student "spelling bee" at a school in New Jersey.

Republican George H. W. Bush won the 1988 election handily, defeating Michael Dukakis.


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Dem Campaign Chatter 9-29-30

George Wenschhof

Today, Obama is in Denver, Colorado - as you could see from our electoral vote update we published yesterday, Colorado continues to be a critical swing state. Biden is home in Wilmington, Delaware where he is getting ready for the vice-president debate on Thursday.


Obama widens national lead 50% to McCain 42% - In the daily tracking poll by Gallup including Thursday, Friday, and Saturday which is only one day since the debate. Tuesday's poll will include three full days since the debate.

Not surprisingly, Obama also leads McCain 46% to 37% in the public perception of the handling of the current financial crisis. Read more here.


Even with the Bail Out Bill, the economy will continue to struggle - Jim Lehrer was trying to get the candidates to acknowledge this unsuccessfully in the debate last Friday. The rescue plan which should be passed by Congress this Wednesday will avert a dire economic meltdown but it will not correct a very troubled economy. Lehrer was trying to get the candidates to admit it will effect the implementation of the programs they promise during the campaign. In fact, it is very likely the economy will be the overriding issue for the next President of the US. The NY Times has a good read here and has a good read here.

The Dow drops close to 300 at opening - several European bank failures which we reported on last night have added to the jitters on Wall Street. has more here.

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Let Them Eat Cake

Ken Kerr Bio

It was pretty touch-and-go last Friday. It wasn't until just before 11:00a.m. that John McCain decided to attend that evening's debate with Barack Obama.

Here where I teach, at Frederick Community College, we had scheduled Debate Watch Parties. Teaching in a community college with a 100% commuter population, and very few students taking Friday classes, presents its own challenges when planning a Friday evening event. Once the drinking age was moved back up to 21 from 18, it's been difficult to get students to attend college social events. I can remember being an undergrad at Hood College back in 1980 and Dr. Len Latkovski invited us all to watch the debate. He brought a 12-pack to the classroom. Those were the days.

The best I can offer my students is pizza and soft drinks and a sheet cake for each candidate. The idea is, once the debate is over, the students come up and take a piece of cake of the candidate they think won their vote.

It was a rainy evening, McCain's appearance was shaky, and I knew the newspaper and NBC affiliate were coming to do a story on college students involved in the political process. I pulled up in my pizza-laden pick-up truck to find several cars in the Conference center parking lot.

They came. Over 60 college students came back to campus at 9:00 on a Friday night to watch a presidential debate for what was probably the first time in their lives.

This is a year of firsts. I work a regular Friday afternoon shift at Democratic Headquarters in Frederick, Maryland. In 2004, I was needed for the full day—10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. This year, I am only needed from 4-6. Four years ago, I would spend the 8-hour day with very little to do. This year, in get much more traffic in a single two-hour shift than I got in a full 8-hour day in 2004.

It is not just that have registered more voters this year, but I have registered more adults who are voting for the first time in their lives. And I am registering voters who do not look like typical Frederick County Democrats. The typical gun rights, hard working, low taxes, family values, flag waving, socially conservative, yet politically apathetic, resident of Frederick County isn't buying it anymore. He wants things to change.

Things are different this year. But I don't see how it cannot go Obama's way. For the first time in a long time, the Electoral College is the Democrat's friend. In the 35 remaining days, I don't see how the map can change. Obama will get 283 electoral votes, despite Bubba. For the most part, Bubba lives in states that are going red anyway.

Actually, I had Bubba in my class last Thursday. I covered a class for a colleague and the class had been reading about politics: the Electoral College, the Meaning of Liberal and Conservative. A brash, vocal, opinionated young man was expressing total disinterest in politics in total and an admiration for Republicans in general. I went to the computer and brought up a presidential quiz and asked him to complete it while the class looked on. I don't have to tell you his reaction when he found that Obama would support his stand on the issues more that McCain.

So I say, "Let them eat cake." And, last Friday after the debate, they did. If you click on the link above for the first mention of the cakes, you can see them pre-debate. Click here, to see the results.

Like this cake, in 35 days, victory will be sweet.


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Sunday, September 28, 2008

US Approval of Bail Out Nears - European Bank Fortis taken over to Avoid Collapse

George Wenschhof

As we reported, agreement on the U.S bail out bill was tentatively reached in the early morning hours. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has now posted the Bill online - You can read it here. Probably due to all the hits, the server is temporarily down.

It appears to include what I reported earlier: 250B up front with additional funds up to 700B available but requires a request from Congress, limit on executive compensation, independent oversight board to include the Federal Reserve chair, and the SEC and HUD Secretaries, equity for government, the option of purchasing insurance, and some mortgage restructure possibilities.

The bill should come to a vote no later than Wednesday and approval is expected. House Speaker Pelosi is hoping for a vote on Monday and Senate majority Leader Harry Reid expects full approval by Wednesday. Read more here.

House Republicans also came out in support of the compromise bill. Minority Leader John Boehner said it was critical to save Main Street. has more here.

It appears this approval is coming none too soon as one of the twenty largest European Banking and Insurance companies, Benelux Financial Group Fortis was nationalized today to avoid a collapse. Reportedly, Belgium contributed 4.7 Billion, Dutch - 4 Billion, and Luxembourg - 2.5 Billion. has more here.

Also, Britain plans to nationalize another troubled financial institution,Bradford and Bingsley's, and re-sell it's assets. Read more here.

Stay Tuned


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Dem Campaign Chatter 9-28-2008

George Wenschhof

Today, Obama is in Detroit, Michigan - He is joined by Biden. Biden joined him also yesterday in North Carolina. The duo campaigning together is perhaps a result of the debate last Friday night with the Obama campaign wanting to show their strength in foreign policy and also to show them together prior to the upcoming vice-presidential debate this Thursday.


McCain campaign plans attack on Obama's lack of experience in foreign policy - the Washington Post has a good read here. The article points out what was expected. Steve Schmidt, an adviser to McCain will hammer away that Obama is not ready to be commander in chief, and that Obama's policies will make the world more dangerous and the US less safe.

McCain's numbers continue to fall as voters focus on the economy, so expect Republicans to resort to their normal tactics of scaring the American voter and then saying how they will keep you and your family safe.


Obama widens lead in national polls 47.9% to McCain 43.6% - shows this as the average of seven national polls taken from 9-21 to 9-27. You can read more details here.


Some early details of Rescue Plan emerge - pretty much what has been discussed - 700 Billion total, 250B up front with another 100B available - the other 350B available after a return to and request from Congress, independent bipartisan oversight, an equity stake by government, limit to executive compensation, Republicans were able to insert a provision allowing Banks to purchase insurance to cover troubled assets at their cost, and republicans appear to have scuttled a democratic plan to included a provision to allow bankruptcy Judges to renegotiate home mortgages.

The Chicago Tribune has more here. I also expect to see a reduction in the capital gains tax which was also part of what House Republicans were calling for to be included in the bill.


Tina Fey shows up as Governor Palin again on Saturday Night Live - In case you missed it, you can watch it here. Tina Fey is great once again as she plays Sarah Palin being interviewed by Katie Couric. Amy Poehler also does a great job portraying Katie Couric.


The real Governor Palin debates Senator Biden Thursday, October 2 - the only vice-president debate will begin at 9:00 PM ET and be aired by CNN, MSNBC, and other cable channels. It will be held at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri - we will post a reminder and we will also Live-Blog during the debate.

This, as Republican concerns about Palin become public. has more here.


The passing of Paul Newman is felt by all - I normally do not comment on many topics outside of politics, but the death of Paul Newman was sad to hear. The NY Times has more here.

I grew up watching his movies and his line in "Cool Hand Luke" "... what we have here is a failure to communicate.." is a line I have never forgotten and actually use fairly often.

I also was fortunate on a weekend trip to New York in the Fall of 2002, to attend the Play "Our Town". Newman was awesome and we said hello and took pictures of him as he left the Theater from the rear stage door.


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Electoral Vote Update 9-28-2008

George Wenschhof

The race remains close and today, has it Obama 286 and McCain 252. These results are before any voter reaction can be measured from the first presidential debate on Friday which I called a draw. The electoral count shows a swing toward Obama which mirrors the national poll numbers which show Obama with a 4-5 point advantage over McCain. You can see below that a draw in a debate does not help McCain. Remember, 270 electoral votes are needed to win.

Last week, it was Obama 273 and McCain 265. The pick up for Obama was Virginia which has 13 electoral votes. There are now 17 states in play and they are listed below. The "*" next to the state indicates a state, that although is indicated as either a Democratic or Republican state, it is currently too close to call. There are ten states currently too close to call. However, the other seven states listed below could also still shift as to who they support.

Virginia moving to Democratic is a big plus for the Obama campaign and the fact that Florida, North Carolina, and Missouri are now weak Republican will keep the pressure on the McCain campaign.

Battleground States - (Electoral Votes), 9-14, 9-21, 9-28

Washington - (11), D-D-D
Colorado - (9), D-D-D*
Minnesota - (10), D-D-D*
Michigan - (17), D-D-D
Pennsylvania - (21), D-D-D

Nevada - (5), R-R-R*
New Mexico - (5), R-D-D
Indiana - (11), R-R-R*
Ohio - (20), R-R-R*
Virginia - (13), R-R-D*

New Battleground States 9-21-2008, 9-28-2008

Wisconsin - (10), D-D
New Hampshire - (4), D-D*
Maine - (4), D-D

West Virginia - (5), R-R
Florida - (27), R-R*

New Battleground States 9-28-2008

Missouri - (11) R*
North Carolina - (15) R*

Stay Tuned. We will provide another update next Sunday.


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Agreement Reached on Bail Out Bill

George Wenschhof

At 12:30 AM ET, Congressional Leaders involved in the negotiations held a short press conference to announce they have reached an agreement in principle on the finance rescue plan. They were quick to also say people will be working all night to put the agreement to paper with an aim to present tomorrow to members of Congress.

No details of the plan were given other than Senator Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) gave credit to an idea presented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) just a hour ago being the cause of the break through.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, Republican Senator Judd and Representative Blunt all spoke briefly, as did Treasury Secretary Paulson. Democratic Senators Schumer and Dodd along with Representative Barney Frank were also there for the photo-op.

Although no details were given, Pelosi did reiterate the need for oversight included in this legislation to stabilize markets to protect the American tax payer.

This is a tentative deal so stay tuned.


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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dem Campaign Chatter 9-27-2008

George Wenschhof

Today, Obama is joined by Biden and will appear in Greensboro, North Carolina and Fredericksburg, Virginia - Later, Obama will head to Washington D.C. - Michelle Obama is in Tallahassee, Florida.


Obama campaign already has ad using cuts from the debate last night - It is called "Zero" for the number of times McCain mentioned the middle class during last night's 90 minute debate. It goes on to say "McCain doesn't get it, Barack Obama does". Watch it here.


Obama won the debate last night with 51%, McCain - 38% - CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national Poll of those who watched the debate. has more here. I called it a tie last night with Obama having the edge on appearance and body language. The big question is how did the undecided voters viewed the debate.


Representative Barney Frank (D-Ma.) says Bail Out agreement close - he believes an agreement will be reached by Sunday and prior to the opening of financial markets on Monday. has more here.


Conservative Columnist Kathleen Parker calls for Palin to leave Republican ticket - she says Palin is clearly out of her league and should step down for the good of her Party. Read more here. That's pretty cruel coming from a conservative woman columnist.


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Sunday Morning "Talking Heads" 9-28-2008

George Wenschhof

The discussion Sunday morning will center on the 700 Billion bail out bill with analysis on the first presidential debate.

NBC "Meet the Press" - Tom Brokaw will have former President Bill Clinton, Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod and McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. Also candidates for U.S. Senate in Colorado; Rep. Mark Udall (D) and former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R)

CBS "Face the Nation" - Bob Schieffer will interview Senator Barack Obama.

ABC "This Week" - George Stephanopoulos interviews Senator John McCain. if you have a question you want to ask McCain, send it to George Stephanopoulos here.

Fox News Sunday - Chris Wallace will have Senators John Kerry (D-Ma.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

CNN Late Edition - Wolf Blitzer has a interesting interview with the new President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari.


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Friday, September 26, 2008

First Presidential Debate-Live Blogging Tonight at 9 PM

George Wenschhof

The much ballyhooed grandstanding by Senator McCain about suspending his campaign and not attending the debate so he could concentrate on the financial crisis gripping Wall Street, is over for now, and McCain will participate.

It will be televised on CNN and MSNBC beginning at 9:00 PM ET. Also, check your local cable listings.

It is perhaps apropos that this first presidential debate will be held at the University of Mississippi. This debate will be between Senators McCain (R) and Obama (D) who is the first African-American to be nominated as the presidential candidate of a major political party. It was 1962 when the University of Mississippi admitted James Meredith as their first African-American student touching off riots.

PBS Jim Lehrer will moderate this 90 minute debate. The earlier agreed upon theme and topic area is foreign policy and national security. However, expect Lehrer to use one or two of the segments to discuss the current economic situation facing Americans.

The debate will be divided into 8 "ten minute segments". Each segment will introduce a different subject. The first five minutes of each segment will consist of Jim Lehrer introducing the topic and a two minute response from each candidate. The next five minutes of each segment will be an open discussion on the issue by both candidates.

The national polls and electoral vote continue to show a close race between the candidates with Senator Obama receiving a bump in the last week due in part to the worsening economic conditions in the country. The undecideds continue to number up to 8% so how the candidates perform in the three presidential debates and one vice-president debate will be critical to the final outcome on Election Day.
At the Saddleback Church Forum where the candidates appeared separately, McCain was more direct and to the point while Obama performed well, he probably spoke too long with his answers and looked too relaxed. Look for the standard answers from McCain - He supported the surge when everyone was against it - he will be critical of Obama for not agreeing to it's success. He will say he will follow bin laden through the gates of hell but he will get em.

Obama will point out the Bush administration did not keep their eye on bin laden with their insistence on invading Iraq and because of that Al Qaeda has actually experienced a resurgence around the world. He will speak of the need to engage world leaders in the problems we face today and the importance of restoring the respect of the U.S. around the world. I suspect he will also provide shorter and more direct answers to the questions.

Let's see how this first debate goes - feel free to add your own comments by clicking on "comments" at the end of this post. I will begin live-blogging close to the start of the debate right here in this post.
Well I'm back and it is about to start. A quick update on Senator Ted Kennedy - he suffered a mild seizure earlier tonight and was taken to the hospital and released-a change in medication is thought to have caused the seizure. It was reported he wanted to get home so he could watch the debate.
Jim Lehrer explains the rules and says the audience will remain quiet during the debate, First question-how do you stand on the financial recovery plan? Obama is first - protect taxpayers, oversight needed, taxpayers have opportunity to get money back, no excessive pay to CEOs, help homeowners, result of 8 years of failed policies of Bush administration supported by McCain.
McCain - feeling better tonight after seeing Republicans and Democrats working together. Transparency, accountability, loans to businesses instead of government-
Lehrer - back to the question, do you favor the plan? Obama - have not seen the plan - is optimistic - the main question is how did we get here? We did not set up a 21st century regulations. Lehrer asks McCain - yes I will vote for the plan-we have lost accountability.
lehrer is trying to get the candidates to speak to each other but they continue to address him with their answers.
next question what would you do as president to lead us out of this situation - McCain - out of control spending must stop, earmarks must end-he will veto spending bills. Obama has asked for 932 million in earmarks. - a zinger which will be picked up by the media. This is a fundamental difference.
Obama, earmarks do need to be brought under control. McCain proposing 300 Billion in tax cuts to the wealthist in the country. We need to grow the economy from the ground up - is proposing tax cuts for the ordinary Americans.
McCain - I want to cut spending, not increase taxes - Obama stops him here - look at your tax policies that continue to aid the wealthy.
Obama - 95% of Americans will receive a tax cut, those who make more than $250,000 will see a tax increase. McCain offers a 5000 tax credit on health care but he plans to tax it. McCain continues as Lehrer tries to move on - says Obama voted for a energy bill that favored oil companies, he voted against it. McCain begin a silly laugh.
next question - whatever rescue plan is approved, what will you have to give up in your proposals? good question. Obama - need to have a energy plan to create independence in ten years from foreign oil, universal health care, need to invest in education and make sure college is affordable, need to rebuild our infrastructure - need to eliminate programs that do not work.
McCain - need to cut spending - Obama has most liberal voting record in the Senate - need to eliminate cost plus contracts and replace them with fixed cost contracts-criticized some defense spending.
Lehrer comes back with what will you have to cut out? He is trying hard to get them to answer the question. The truth is neither will be able to do everything they are proposing due to the economic problems we are facing.
McCain - would propose a spending freeze except for certain vital programs, need to quit sending money to countries that do not like us very much, proposes nuclear power to create jobs. Lehrer again - will you admit the financial crisis will affect what you both are proposing. Obama says no doubt difficult decisions will have to be made. McCain does not want to give health care to the federal government. Obama to McCain - how can you say that you will control spending after you have supported President Bush 90% of the time.
New question #4 by my count - what are the lessons of Iraq? we can not have a failed strategy that can cause you to fail - here we go with the surge support statement - we are winning in Iraq and will come home with honor.
Obama - first question is whether we should have gone in the first place, we haven't finished the job in Afghanistan and not caught bin laden, spent over 600 Billion, lost too many lives, Al Qaeda is stronger than ever. Lesson to be learned is to use our military wisely and we did not in Iraq.
McCain comes back to the surge he supports and Obama has never admitted has worked. Obama - violence has been reduced - a tactic to resolve 4 years of mismanagement of the war, you said you knew where the WMDs were, etc. and you were wrong. McCain - Obama doesn't understand difference between a strategy and a tactic. McCain - great general in Petraus. Obama comes back with I understand the difference between strategy and tactics and we should never had made the decision to invade Iraq. We need to focus on Afghanistan.
Question #5. - Afghanistan - should more troops be sent and when. Obama - yes, situation is getting worse due to our lack of available troops. Comes back with the invasion of Iraq and ignoring Afghanistan was a strategic mistake. Bush administration has given Pakistan 10 Billion with no results or cooperation in battling the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
McCain, I've been to the mountainous region of Waristan - sp? We need a new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is important ally - accused Obama of threatening to attack Pakistan. Obama comes back with McCain's "Bomb Bomb, bomb, Iran statement. He said he would attack inside Pakistan against known Al Qaeda or Taliban if Pakistan did not. Hey, that is happening now by the Bush administration.
Question #6 - What is your read of a threat of Iran to the US? McCain - if they acquire nuclear weapons they would be a threat to Israel. He has proposed a league of democracies - could together affect Iranian behavior. Talks about Iran's involvement in Iraq. Obama - the war in Iraq has strengthened Iran - our policies over the last 8 years has not worked. We need tougher sanctions and we need to engage in negotiations. McCain says Obama would sit down with these leaders without preconditions. Obama, as President, I would reserve the right to meet with anyone at anytime. Quotes former secretary of states including Kissinger who agree with him. Also cites North Korea where after we stopped negotiations, they increased their nuclear programs. McCain is doing his silly laughing again - Obama mentions McCain said he would not meet with our ally Spain. McCain says Obama position of meeting without preconditions is dangerous. McCain mocks Obama - here we go ...
Question #7 - how do you view Russia today? - Obama - their actions in Georgia not acceptable - they must leave South Ossetia and Abkhazia. McCain - disappointed in Obama's first statement of showing restraint. He had looked into Putin's eyes and what he saw was KGB. Said the war in Georgia was over a pipeline and energy. US will support inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine in NATO. Obama accuses McCain of voting against energy bills. McCain- obama opposed off-shore oil drilling. They get into it with both talking over each other.
#8 - what are the chances of another 9/11 - McCain - he along with Lieberman created a 9/11 commission which created reforms which many have been passed into law. Continue to increase our intelligence capabilities and work with our allies. We are safer than we were but we still have a long way to go especially along out borders.
Obama - we have not done enough in terms of safety of transit and ports. We need to focus on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to restore America's standing in the world. McCain - Obama doesn't get it - his specific withdraw date in Iraq would lead to an increase in Al Qaeda. Obama - this administration and McCain has solely been focused on Iraq - while Bin laden is still on the loose, we have weakened our capacity of influence around the world due to our single focus on Iraq - have ignored China, have ignored our veterans, next president needs to have a broader vision. McCain - he doesn't believe Obama has the ability to lead in this area. I'll keep this country safe - I don't need any on the job training. Obama - his father was from Kenya looked up to the US - we need to restore this confidence in our country.
Well, debate number one is over. Lehrer tried hard to get the candidates to answer the questions asked but was not always successful. The first three questions were related to the economy and neither candidate answered the question pertaining to which of their proposed programs might you have to give up due to the tanking economy. Obama did a little better with the first three questions than McCain but McCain held his own with his call for reduced spending and eliminating earmarks - however McCain did not say specifically where he would cut spending other than in the contracting method used by the military.
In regard to the foreign policy questions, McCain stuck with the Republican theme of I can keep you and your family safe. While Obama hammered home the mistake of invading Iraq and ignoring Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It did not appear as though either candidate clearly won this debate so I would view it more of a draw. McCain had a nervous laugh that was uncomfortable to watch and he mostly seemed to be talking to the lectern he was standing behind while Obama looked more presidential. Both campaigns will now put their spin out and the "talking heads" will begin their take on this debate. My view is this debate was not a game changer for either candidate.
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Bail Out Plan Update

George Wenschhof

House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.) and Representative Barney Frank (D-Ma.) just addressed the press concerning the status at 4:40 PM ET. Pelosi spoke of progress and the commitment to work over the weekend or as long as it takes to reach consensus on this bill. Frank said the encouraging thing was House Republican staff participating in meetings today.

The main thing stressed was that the core of the Bush administration bill that was proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson is what is moving forward. The areas of revision remain oversight on the Treasury, limits on executive compensation, government equity to be received, and not all the 700 Billion would be provided up front.

Both Pelosi and Frank acknowledged the House Republicans desire to reduce capital gains tax and desire to expand insurance system to rescue mortgages. The latter has been rejected by the White House, Treasury Secretary Paulson and Federal Reserve Chair Bernanke.

The important thing is House Republican representation is present in the on-going negotiations. Look to see a capital gains tax reduction be added to the bill but not the expanding insurance system to cover mortgages.

Stay Tuned.
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Dem Campaign Chatter 9-26-2008

George Wenschhof

Today, Obama is in Washington D.C. - talks will resume this morning on the financial bail out bill minus House Republicans. Obama is set to fly to Oxford Mississippi to participate in the debate tonight. Let's see if McCain shows. Biden is in Cudahy, Wisconsin.


President Bush to issue statement on bail out talks - He is scheduled to speak from the White House at 9:30 AM ET. Let's see if he asks House Republicans to show up and negotiate to reach agreement on his proposed 700 Billion bail out bill. Bush is expected to discuss the present status of the bail out bill, recognize passionate views and vow to work with Congressional leaders to reach a final bill. W.H. officials have put out that the plan offered by Republican House minority Leader Boehner yesterday to insure private equity was not a good plan.

Wow - hardly inspiring - a two minute speech with no questions - understood members of congress may have different ideas but that everyone realized we must have a rescue plan immediately. He indicated we will have a rescue package fast. This speech by Bush, is a response, in part to the challenge Senator Chris Dodd issued to the President last night when he said we can not pass this bill with a three legged stool - referring to the House Republicans led by Boehner who were holding up the bill. In other words, get your people in line so we can get this bill passed. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi has indicated she will not move the bill forward without a majority of the House Republicans on board.

Congress is set to resume talks at 11:00 AM - Let's see if the House Republicans show up. Stay Tuned.


Washington Mutual joins the list of banks that have failed - It is the largest bank failure in the history of the U.S. - the FDIC closed it, took it over and sold it to JP Morgan Chase for 1.9 Billion. All of the depositor's money is safe but shareholders took it on the chin. has more here.


First Presidential debate set for 9:00 PM ET tonight - despite all the rhetoric by Senator McCain, I believe the debate will be held as scheduled. It will be held at the University of Mississippi and will be moderated by PBS Jim Lehrer. The theme of tonight's debate is foreign policy and national security. This theme was agreed upon previously by the candidates and the Commission on Presidential Debates. However, expect veteran Jim Lehrer to add some relevant questions on the economy.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also is hinting McCain will be at the debate tonight. has more here.


CBS Katie Couric interviews Governor Sarah Palin - In case you missed this gem, has the video and the transcript here. If the decision by McCain to choose Palin as his running mate highlights his decision making capabilities, American voters have cause to worry. The interview showed a confused and at times incoherent Palin as she tried to answer national security questions posed to her. Oh, and by the way, did you know she can see Russia from her house?


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The Last Nail in the Coffin of Trickle-Down Economics

Ann-Marie Luciano Bio

Not so long ago, President Reagan entered office proudly touting the conservative theory of trickle down economics, which holds as its chief tenet that the best way to stimulate the economy is to give tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest individuals because the extra wealth given to them will someday "trickle down" to the rest of us. The theory goes something like this: if you give the majority of tax breaks to corporations, they will have more money to produce more, hire more people, and increase salaries, which will in turn allow the average Joe to spend more money in the economy. These conservatives also believe that the bigger the tax break given to a wealthy individual, the greater the amount of wealth that will eventually trickle down to the non-wealthy individual.

My initial reaction to this theory has always been pretty basic: if the point is to get more money in the hands of the average consumer so that they can spend money in the economy, shouldn't you just give it to them outright? Isn't the best way to know that the consumer is getting money to spend in the economy to actually give them that money, rather than creating a complicated system whereby the rich are given the money, with the hope that someday it will trickle down?

History tells us what has happened when trickle down economics is implemented as a philosophy of government. Under President Reagan, the deficit, inflation and unemployment all soared. Surprise surprise, the wealth from corporations and the wealthy didn't trickle down - it stayed in their pockets. After eight years under President Clinton, a deficit was turned to a surplus, unemployment hit record lows and the middle class swelled in size.

History also repeats itself, except this time around it is much, much worse. We are all victims of eight years of Bush tax cuts for corporate giants and the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Where did all of that extra wealth go? It didn't trickle down to any of us - it gushed into the hands of greedy Wall Street investors, banks and Big Oil.

The evidence of the failure of deregulation and trickle down economics is now evident in every sector of the economy. Now that we are in the midst of what some say is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, some conservatives have finally been able to acknowledge the obvious: the free market doesn't always work. Greed sometimes overcomes reason. Maybe now that the evidence is so stark, reason will finally overcome political philosophy.
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McCain and Republican Theatrics Stall Bail-Out Bill

George Wenschhof

So much for the grandstanding acts of Senator John McCain. Instead of showing up in Washington to help shepherd a deal proposed by President Bush through Congress, he interjected politics into the discussion and the bail out plan has now stalled.

Yesterday afternoon it was reported a deal on the bail out plan was imminent with the following provisions: an agreement of an initial 350 Billion to be provided to the Treasury with oversight. 250 billion up front with an additional 100 Billion available. Up to another 350 billion would be made available after another decision by Congress. The Treasury was to also receive a equity stake in firms provided funds. Another point was giving Bankruptcy Judges the authority to lower bank loan terms.

Next came the photo-op meeting with President Bush with Congressional Leaders, Senators Obama and McCain. It was during this meeting that Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio), the minority leader of the house presented an alternative plan. It provided insurance to firms that would provide equity and a decrease in capital gains tax, the latter part of the Republican mantra of the last few decades.

It was reported during the meeting Senator Obama asked Representative John Boehner for more details of his plan and he provided few details. Obama then asked Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson what his thoughts were of the proposal and he said it would not work.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) offered that Senator McCain did not speak until the end of the meeting and then for only a few minutes with nothing of any substance.

After the meeting at the White House concluded, Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) spoke to the press in what was an obvious planned statement saying agreement was not reached on a bail out bill.

Senator Obama offered the interjection of politics into the negotiations had not necessarily helped the process move forward.

Congress resumed meetings which concluded around 10:00 PM ET. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) spoke to reporters and said they intended to resume meetings tomorrow morning but inferred President Bush needed to get involved by saying he had a three legged stool at the moment. This was most likely a reference to approval by Senate Democrats and Republicans along with House Democrats. It was reported the House Republicans would not attend the meeting tomorrow morning - thus the three legged stool.

As a lame duck President, Bush does not have as much influence as he once did over House Republicans so it will be interesting to see if they show for the meeting tomorrow morning.

McCain's dramatic statement yesterday saying he was suspending his campaign may well come back to haunt him as voters are already wary on his positions and lack of knowledge of the economy.

If he also fails to attend the scheduled debate tomorrow night in Oxford, Mississippi at the University of Mississippi, it could also backfire on him and leave voters wondering if he wants to address them on the key issues facing Americans today.

Stay Tuned.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

FCC Democrats and Republicans to Videotape Questions from MD 6th District Voters for Bartlett - Dougherty Debate

George Wenschhof

As we reported on Monday, the Frederick Community College Democrats and Republicans will be hosting a Debate between incumbent Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett and Democratic challenger Jennifer Dougherty on October 8.

FCC faculty member Ken Kerr who is also a writer on our site, will be the moderator for the debate. The FCC Democrats hosted a debate among the Democratic candidates for the 6th District during the primary and used videotaped questions from voters in the district. This was well received and the FCC Republicans and Democrats will be videotaping questions from voters in the 6th district to use in the upcoming debate.

Dr. Kerr just sent me an update on times and places where you can go to have your question videotaped. The following are the dates, time and locations:

Tonight, September 25, at Democratic Headquarters located at the corner of 4th and N.Market Streets in downtown Frederick from 7:00 - 9:00 PM.

Tomorrow, September 26, at FCC Conference Center during a "Debate Watch Party" which is open to the public, from 8:30 - 10:30 PM

Tuesday, September 30, at Republican Headquarters located at 11 W. Patrick Street across from the Weinberg Center in downtown Frederick from 7:00 - 9:00 PM.

If you are a registered voter in the 6th District, take a few minutes to stop by one of the above locations and ask a question. After all the questions have been videotaped the FCC Democrats and Republicans will then select which questions will be used in the actual debate.
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Dem Campaign Chatter 9-25-2008

George Wenschhof

Today, Obama is in Washington, D.C. for a meeting with President Bush - the President invited both Obama and McCain along with Congressional leaders to meet with him to discuss his 700 Billion bail out bill. Biden will be in Greensboro and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.


The McCain charade on the economy continued yesterday - after issuing a press conference to say he is suspending his campaign to head to D.C., he calls David Letterman to cancel his appearance on the show saying he was leaving town to go take care of the economy. The only problem? McCain was taping a interview with Katie Couric at the same time as he was to have been on the Letterman show. You can watch Letterman's reaction here. It is hilarious!

Not only did he stretch the truth or just lie to Letterman, he is not in too much of a hurry to head to D.C. as he speaks in the morning at former President Clinton's Global Initiative Conference in New York City. Read more here. Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn) said it best yesterday when he said of McCain "...He's not trying to rescue the economy, he's trying to rescue his campaign".


More Grandstanding by the McCain campaign -today, he wants to move the presidential debate scheduled for tomorrow night to October 2, to the date of the only scheduled vice-president debate. With only a little over five weeks to go to the election, perhaps the McCain campaign is hoping they can keep Governor Sarah Palin from having to participate in a debate. has more here.


Meanwhile, Obama delivers a calm, measured speech last night on the economic problems facing Americans - Last night I posted the joint statement from Obama and McCain on the economy that was a result of a phone call from Obama suggesting it to McCain yesterday morning. While McCain was "suspending" his campaign, well sort of, Obama was speaking to Reporters and answering questions last night. He sent a email to supporters last evening and made it clear that "-- with only 40 days left for the American people to decide who will be responsible for leading our economic future -- it is more important than ever that the scheduled debate takes place". You can watch his press conference here.


Recession could last 3-4 years - a article in Reuters today talks about the difficult times ahead for Americans. Michael Psaros, managing partner of KPS,a private equity firm, says this will effect main street and not just wall street. has more here.

Unemployment claims highest in seven years - the Labor Department reported the increase in claims. The number of unemployed receiving assistance was 6.1% in August, the highest in five years. Read more here. Pace of New Home sales is the lowest in 17 years - also prices for new homes lowest in 4 years. Read more here.


Obama widens national lead in polls - has the national poll average at Obama 47.9% and McCain 44.4%. This is an average from ten national polls taken since 9-19. Read more details here.


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