Commentary

The administration never had an overarching strategy for purging the financial system of its bad debt, or of systematically recapitalizing the biggest banks, or defining who deserved taxpayer bailout, or setting clear ground rules going forward. The rescues were all done on the fly.

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However crazy Reagan's ideas were, at least in 1980 when he first got elected, he could plausibly claim, in his oh-so-soothing voice, to be running against a raft of failed policies and programmes enacted by the presidents before him. I don't like the changes Reagan pushed through, but give the man his dues: at least, to use current vernacular, he was a genuine change agent. He ran against the status quo not just with words but with specific policy differences.

The contrast with John McCain and Sarah Palin is stark.

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This weekend, Bush's Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, ran out of tricks. He belatedly grasped that even the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury can't socialize all of Wall Street's losses. No bailout for Lehman Brothers, the administration declared, in a high-stakes game of chicken. And nobody stepped forward to buy the venerable firm absent a government guarantee.

It remains to be seen whether these chickens will come home to roost politically. That, of course, is up to Barack Obama.

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Most Excellent Comrade Ambassador!

The intelligence service has been requested to research why Republicans chose this peasant woman to be mate of John McCain. We most humbly apologize, but this nomination seems to make no sense. Our intelligence analysts are divided, but here are main hypotheses...

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All over America, there were plenty of reasons to celebrate women last month: August marked the 88th anniversary of the 19th Amendment's ratification, which gave women the right to vote. Women's Equality Day, which was on August 26, commemorated that victory. There are now more women in the U.S. Congress than ever (88) and 2008 was a year when a woman came within a hair's breadth of becoming a major ticket presidential nominee.

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You do all kinds of dubious things when you're promoting a book. But when my publisher suggested that I accept an invitation to appear on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes," I was a bit skeptical. I've been on O'Reilly a few times over the years, and have stopped doing it, because these people play with such a stacked deck. They control the format, the timing, they flat-out lie, and they're rude as hell.

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From a voters' perspective it makes perfect sense to vote early to avoid the increasingly long lines and chaos of Election Day. And it is particularly popular among Yellow Dog voters. Yellow Dog Democrats or Republicans ("I'd vote for a Yellow Dog over that crummy Republican!") are voters for whom party affiliations trumps all and whose voting choices are made early

But, there's a perfect storm brewing here.

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Ever since Ronald Reagan declared in his first inaugural address that "in the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem," conservatives have been steadily privatizing government functions on the theory that free markets can do everything better. Education, medicine, criminal justice, social services, building and maintaining roads and bridges, supporting an army at war — you name it, it has all been contracted out to allegedly more efficient and innovative private enterprise.

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The policy of letting markets run riot has wrecked the financial system and ravaged the economic security of most Americans. And if the Democratic candidate does not at least know that, then he is in a deep coma.

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McCain's main economic promises are cutting taxes, creating jobs and balancing the budget (aka removing pork). All commendable, except when you consider the details. His policies would result in a higher deficit, a lower dollar, more jobs leaving the country, and a reduction in Social Security, Medicare, education and other entitlement programs.

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