Hooray Constitution!

What we saw today with the defeat of the whopping $700 billion Wall Street bail out package was a brilliant working of checks and balances (remember those from middle school government class?). I don’t want a hastily put together, $700 billion dollar tab shoved down my throat as a taxpayer when no one’s even really sure if it will work. Now, I’m no finance wiz...so I can’t really comment intelligently on the matter, but I’m inclined to support the representatives who defeated the bill today.

A great quote from a Republican representative who voted against the bill (I’m pretty sure he was from Texas, but not positive): “Once the government socializes losses it will socialize profits. If we lose our ability to fail, we will soon lose our ability to succeed”.

Well said.
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Round 1

So tonight was the highly anticipated first debate of the 2008 presidential election. For those who didn’t catch it, the 90, uninterrupted minutes were supposed to be based on foreign policy subjects. While foreign policy made up the majority of the event, questions concerning the ongoing financial crisis made up the first half hour or so.

Who won? No one, in my opinion. I thought both candidates held their own ground and appeared presidential. Neither had a stellar night and neither did poorly. McCain, as expected, hammered home his experience and his relationships with the countries central to the debate. The names of foreign leaders from faraway lands impressively rolled right off his tongue. Obama did his best to link McCain to “eight years of failed Bush foreign policy” and accuse the Senator of ignoring the “real” situation in Afghanistan. Both candidates attempted to capitalize on each other’s misstatements and mischaracterizations of the past; Obama mentioned McCain’s rendition of “Bomb, bomb Iran” and McCain’s hammered Obama on his statement that he would meet with America’s enemies such as Chavez and Ahmadinejad without precondition. It pretty much went back and forth like that the entire time.

Did anyone else notice Obama’s American flag pin on his suit jacket? Looked like he didn’t want people to remember that little controversy....

And now I think everyone is anxiously awaiting the Palin/Biden debate Thursday night. All eyes will be on Palin, who has had a few rocky interview performances over the past week. Hopefully she’ll be able to steal the show again like she did at the convention.
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Week

This week in my Principles of Investments and Financial Management classes we’ve spent a good chunk of time trying to pull apart the ongoing economic upheaval on Wall Street. Both professors have put off or strayed from their respective syllabi because we’re living though “one of the most important times in financial history”. That’s not very comforting. Both of my professors have long careers in finance and on Wall Street, yet neither fully understands the situation or knows what should be done to fix it. If finance professionals don’t fully understand this situation, how can we expect our political leaders to expect it any better? Answer: we can’t. So, continue to be suspicious of any politician who tries to show that he or she actually understands whats going on and has the elusive fix to the problem. At this point, I’m pretty sure everyone’s going with the “wait and see” method. Also scary.

In the mean time I’m pulling though a busy week, currently sitting in the library far later than I should be, struggling to argue a normative ethical system for my Religious Ethics/Moral Issues class that appropriately deals with a situation where everyone’s dying from a disease and there’s one guy with the right conditions to find a cure. But, he doesn’t feel like sacrificing himself for it. Is it right to kill him against his will for the betterment of society?

And...anxiously awaiting the first presidential debate on Friday night!

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Pandora

So I realize that I haven’t blogged in a while given the crazy week for the markets... but hopefully I’ll get around to that some time soon.

In the mean time I have a quick post in the form of a recommendation. I’ve recently discovered a website called Pandora. It’s similar to the sites of regular FM radio stations that allow to you “listen live” to their broadcast via the Internet. Pandora, though, allows you to type in a song or artist and then uses a formula to “create” a radio station for you that plays songs by that artist and similar types of artists and songs, thus creating your own personal radio station. Once it plays you can give certain songs “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”, which all plays into the equation of predicting music you’ll like. It’s great if you’re at a computer without an iPod handy. And it’s all for free.

Check it out.
Pandora Radio.
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McCain/Palin Rally

On Wednesday, September 10th I went to the McCain/Palin rally in Fairfax, Virginia, which is 20-30 minutes outside of DC. It sure made me glad that I’m down in DC at the moment for school and that I’m not missing out on all this election fun by studying abroad at this time. How cool is it that I was only a hundred or so feet away from the potential next President and VP of the United States? Pretty awesome.

I dragged myself out of bed at 6 that morning to head over to Fairfax. Myself and a friend probably got there a little before 8, so we got a pretty good spot in the park before the speech at 11. We waited in line for only half an hour, passed some bitter, angry liberals along the way who were yelling and screaming bloody hell as usual, passed through security, and got situated pretty quickly. Security actually made everyone leave their homemade signs and even American flags outside the gates. So, now you know that when you see these rallys on TV most of the signs are made by the campaign to look homemade, or are either snuck in.
Some local government figures like the mayor and school board spoke around 10, highlighting the hypocrisy that both Obama and Clinton spoke at Virginia public schools during the campaign, but John McCain wasn’t allowed to speak at Fairfax High School, where the event was originally scheduled to be held. Next a former Barack Obama supporter made her case for McCain, followed by a former Hillary supporter who made a similar argument.

Surprise guest former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson showed up to introduce Palin, who was welcomed with all sorts of cheering, yelling, and screaming. She was definitely the star of the show. She’s getting the stump speech down pat and didn’t seem to be relying on the teleprompter all that much. But she managed to fire up the crowd with her personal story and accomplishments in Alaska.
“Sa-rah, Sa-rah”, “drill, baby, drill”, and “USA, USA” interrupted her speech a few times. There were some funny signs outside the gates too, like “PIGS for McCain/Palin- (P)retty (I)ntelligent (G)irls for (S)arah”. She then lavished praise on her runningmate and introduced John S. McCain to the cheering crowd.

McCain carried himself well and fed the excitement of the crowd with his promise to fight earmark spending, work with Palin’s experience to make the US energy independent, and bring about
real change to Washington (now that he has somewhat-successfully adopted Obama’s election motto and reshaped it into his own). He both entered and exited to “Eye of the Tiger” blaring over the speakers above the cheer of the crowd and the blue sea of McCain/Palin signs held by the attendees. The rally was McCain’s largest to date, with attendance estimates ranging from 18,000 to over 23,000. The size of the crowed made the excitement palpable, which made the trip even more of an experience. As the race shifts, I’m looking forward to more exciting moments and opportunities like these!
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A Few Good Boston Globe Articles

The Boston Globe had a few good articles on their website today that are worth a read.

-The first one by Jeff Jacoby, “
Seeing through Obamanomics”, analyzes Obama’s plan to cut taxes for 95% of Americans and raise them for the other 5%. Rich people like those in Hollywood or CEOs living the easy life aren’t that easy or popular to defend, but just because its not easy doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. Jacoby calls Obama out on the unfairness and hypocrisy of income redistribution and an even more progressive tax code. Check it out.

-James Peyser writes “
Brain Drain”, an article highlighting the importance of experimental charter schools in failing public school systems, especially poor, inner-city ones. Boston used to lead the way on this front, but its leadership has recently ebbed because of a cap on the number of charter schools allowed. All this while cities like New York and New Orleans fully embrace the schools and see inspiring figures and statistics as a result. McCain has attemped to make charter schools and school choice a focal part of his campaign, especially in courting inner-city and black voters, so it’s definitely both policitally and socially relevant.
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The Benefits of Living In/Near a Swing State

Well, unlike my homestate, liberal-stronghold Massachusetts, Virginia happens to be a swing state. Virginia also happens to be a hop, skip, and a jump down the street from Georgetown. Aha! So, I’ll be attending a McCain/Palin rally in Fairfax, Virginia bright (dark) and early tomorrow morning. I’ll be back with pictures and impressions for sure...
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Speech Central

Sarah Palin stole the show at the RNC this week. I’ve endured the chiding of a certain friend (ahem...Lisa) of mine over my description of her performance- electrifying. I’ll stand by that statement. Palin managed to excite the delegates in attendance and hopefully did the same for millions of disillusioned conservatives across the nation. Over 38 million viewers tuned in at the late hour of 10:30 to watch this intriguing governor from Alaska- numbers rivaling and potentially surpassing those of Obama’s sermon the week before.

The VP nominee came across as sharp, witty, and home-grown throughout her remarks. She deftly dinged Obama on his elitism and self-indulgence, while stressing her small-town roots and her experience in the most important and under-appreciated field in America: motherhood. She had the crowd roaring with laughter after describing herself as a pitbull with lipstick, after recalling her sale of the former Alaskan governor’s luxury jet on eBay, and after commenting on Barry O’s Romanesque columns on display at his speech. She set the tone and the hype for the future of the campaign. Democrats be warned.

McCain’s speech tonight was the most you could ask for or expect from someone not graced with the finest oratory skills. It was a speech that was on message. It attempted to appeal to those unhappy with the current state of the Republican party and independents who are deemed crucial to his victory later this year. With the grassroots conservatives satisfied the night before, he had a little more leeway to criticize Republican rule and emphasize his maverick image. Country first, country first, country first.

I’ve seen McCain speak publicly two or three times. Each time he seems to start off slowly and awkwardly. Tonight was no different. By the end, though, he was in more of a rhythm and had the crowd rallying at the end with his rambunctious, patriotic lines challenging Americans to move forward and make a difference as we have before throughout history. In the end, he didn’t get the enthusiasm that Palin did, but he succeeded in telling his heroic story and positioning himself as an experienced, loving public servant of this nation.
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Success!

Palin’s speech was great! The energy, the passion, the strength. It was all there.

More to come when I get a chance over the next few days to elaborate... In the mean time read what Politico had to say about it.
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Two Quick Posts in a Row!

Just stumbled upon an interesting editorial in the Boston Globe by Jeff Jacoby. Check out “A Stark Choice on Abortion”.

Happy Wednesday!
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The Real McCain Veep

So I’ve finally got a free minute to post my thoughts on McCain’s startling VP pick, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. Overall, I’ll give the pick a B-. Here’s why:

All of McCain’s serious VP choices had at least one serious flaw. Romney’s too wealthy in tough economic times. Lieberman is too liberal. Pawlenty isn’t very fierce. Ridge is pro-abortion. You get the picture. So, McCain either needed to settle for someone well known like those mentioned above or make a game changing move that would draw attention to a campaign fighting the media’s obsession with a rock star. He chose the latter. Though there is still huge potential for the pick to fall on its face, it seems to be working...

In the days since McCain announced his running mate he has raised over $10 million, a huge amount for his campaign. Conservative grassroots activists, vital to past Republican victories, have been freshly energized with Palin’s pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-family views and actions. Reporters, still struggling to get back on their feet after being blown away by the surprise, prematurely claimed that the pick was designed to pluck dissillusioned female, Hillary voters from Obama’s hands. Palin is much more than that, though. It would be naive to think that liberal-minded, pro-abortion women are going to hop on the Republican bandwagon simply because of a female VP candidate (remember... pro-life, pro-motherhood positions seem to remove a woman’s status as a female to the NOW/NARAL crowd). Sure, McCain may pick up one or two of Hillary’s more conservative voters, but the numbers won’t be that great. Instead, she has turned the focus of the race back to McCain. Amazingly, no one even seems to remember Barack’s historic speech the night before (which wasn’t all that bad of a performance, actually).

So, what now? Yes, Palin is still a huge gamble. She doesn’t have much foreign policy experience. Okay, she went to Kosovo once. Big deal. She’s younger than even Obama. She comes from a really small town in a really big, far-away state. But, she’s a woman that the majority of Americans can identify with. She’s a mother. She’s an outdoorsman. She didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth. She’s even dealing with the unplanned pregnancy of her teenage daughter- a real life situation all too common these days. Overall, she’s a shot in the dark. But, in my opinion, a shot worth taking.
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