Out of curiosity I went to Google after the Huckabee show as suggested and typed in CRA. I have heard so many excuses and explainations of how we find ourselves here today that either don't make sense or contradict each other. Not having a background in finance, I was looking for a simple direct answer and I found this article (which I am providing a link to). It lays out clearly how we started on this path during the Carter administration and has continued right on through until today. The crap that was allowed (and even encouraged) to happen is absolutely disgusting. And while Wall Street has a hand in this, it was our own government that created the conditions that started this whole mess, and in fact, not only encouraged it, but penalized banks if they didn't go along! And now we haveSenators Frank and Dodd (yes there is enough blame for Republicans too, but at least they tried to do something back in 2005!), heading up the negotiations for the plan that is supposed to save us???? The two of them, among other, have so much blood on their hands in this it is criminal that they are not being called out! Both of these men personally benefitted a great deal from the conditions that existed at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. I find it hypocritical of them to be indignantly decrying what has been done to the American tax payers when they are the poster children for what went wrong! I have always at least skimmed along in Presidential races. Learning enough for me to make a decision, but not really delving all that much further. I have found myself becoming absolutely consumed in this particular one. Maybe as I am getting old I am more concerned with being more informed and taking things a bit more seriously, but I find myself appalled on many levels. I have always, if pressed, classified myself as a Republican because, I generally tend to agree with the guy under the Republican banner. If I had to give you a difinitive answer of what EXACTLY what being a Republican meant, I would probably struggle; I have a general idea, but I am no Political Science major. In fact, there are probably elements of myself that may fall under the Democrats view, as well as the Libertarian and Independents. Call me a mutt. I suspect there are a lot of us out there. But something about this Presidential race really caught my attention. Probably because I identify myself as Republican, I admit I am biased in some ways. Even though in past, I have voted for a Democratic candidate or policy from time to time if I truly felt they were the best choice, I do sometimes fall into the trap of allowing partisan feelings sometimes about the Democrats as a whole. In the early days of this campaign (which started way too early if you ask me!), I wasn't paying that much attention at first and bounced around a bit between McCain (whom I have not always agreed with, but admired), Thompson, and Huckabee (who I knew nothing about at first, but really came to like as I learned more). Honestly, I never really considered a Democrat; there were plenty of Republican's to choose from and I had issues with Hilary from way back. As for Obama, my only real objection to him at that time was that I really didnt' feel that he was experienced enough to entrust with myself, my family,and my country. I didn't really know anything about him. I had seen him on Oprah just before he became a Senator (I believe), and he seemed smart, personable, well spoken. That was about all I knew. I kind of stopped paying attention and then looked up and only McCain was standing on the Republican side, which I was okay with because I believe Senator McCain to be an honorable and qualified candidate. As things heated up and the race between Hilary and Obama got more intense I started hearing things about Obama that concerned me a bit, mainly things about his judgement. Some of the statements on foreign policy seemed a bit naive, even to a layperson like me. The more that came out, the more concerns I had. The Reverend Wright issue really snagged my attention first. Here is a man that Senator Obama himself has said has been an important part of his life for 20 years. He knows and trusts him enough to make him a part of his family's lives and had enough faith in him to consider him a spiritual advisor and in fact attended his church for many years. Then the, by most people's standards, disturbing tapes showing clips from a number of Reverend Wright's sermons surfaced. If there was just one tape, one example of this man's extreme, disturbing, views, it would be cause for concern, but probably would not have effected my opinion of Senator Obama unduly. But there is a clear pattern of bile and hatred in this man that is unsettling. Senator Obama has said that he was not there for any of these particular sermons where Reverend Wright was Damning America and implying that our country brought on the attacks of 9/11 on ourselves, calling us the US of KKK A and encouraging racial intolerance and divide, and was unaware of this side of his old friend. If you give him the benefit of the doubt and accept this, it at best shows a frightening willingness to trust someone you clearly don't really know to influence your thinking, your spiritual growth, and allow access to your family. It is not as if this man was hiding his beliefs and opinions, the tapes were on sale at the church Senator Obama attended; although I am aware he no longer attends. (Of course, considering that Senator Obama didn't have a problem with Reverend Wright until it began to reflect badly on him in the media, you have to question the motivations behind the move.) At worst, I personally question exactly what Senator Obama's beliefs truly are. I am not talking religious beliefs, I have no reason to doubt that he has a personal faith and I am not questioning that. It is when you begin to look at the influences and companions he has chosen over the years that make me question the quality of his judgement and exactly how those influences have shaped his beliefs and policies. In addition to Reverend Wright we have William Ayers. This man was active in a terrorist group here in the States in the '70s and 80's that bombed government buildings. He and his wife, also a group member, turned themselves in in 1980 at which time charges against them were dropped due to improper surveillance. Although he has since gone on to a comfortable life as a University Professor, just prior to 9/11 he was quoted as saying he did not regret the bombings and they should have done more. This is the man that Barrack Obama allowed to host the meet and greets at his home to introduce Obama to their shared neighborhood leading up to his run for the Illinois State Senate. It was no secret that Ayers had belonged to a group that had bombed 30 U.S. buildings, he was proud of it! I don't care how "respected" the man might be considered now, I question the judgement of anyone that considers someone like William Ayers to be a person worthy of respect, and who would allow their reputation and integrity to be associated with someone like him. Then there is Tony Rezko. Although Senator Obama has since turned over the more than $150,000 in Rezko linked contributions he still associated with the man when he knew he was under investigation for, among other things, failing to heat the low income apartments he owned in the very type of neighborhoods Obama had worked as a community organizer in. If you were so passionate about improving the lives of vulnerable people, why would you consider him a friend that you occassionally had lunch and dinner with and allow to be a long time contributor to your campaigns? Again, I have to question the judgement. When you add an uncomfortably liberal voting record, a basically socialist on a number of subjects, and my own beliefs that the answer to improving and strengthening our government with more spending and agencies, instead of cutting criminally stupid programs and agencies and making our government more streamlined and able to adjust and prosper. It comes down to one question; Do I have enough evidence that this is a man whose character and judgement I can trust my Country, my family and my future to, and does he have the experience to call on in a moment of national security? Barack Obama was ruled out as someone I could vote for. I understand that people are frustrated with the current administration, after the past four years in particular.In that frustration I know that Senator Obama's call for Change hits a chord with a lot of people. They are feeling burned and lashing out in the direction that they feel the burn came from. But first if all, keep in mind for the last 2 years the Democrats have held the majority in the House and the Senate and have been just as guilty of both ignoring warning signs and putting through legislation that has helped to balloon spending. They have the majority, they can say no! And although I don't hold the Repulicans blameless either, at least Senator McCain was on record as warning Congress three years ago that something was not right with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and needed to be reformed.Blind change just for the sake of change can be just as bad or worse! I think there are a lot of people like me out there, maybe they call themselves Democrats or Independents or whatever, that pay a minimum amount of attention to politics unless something concerns you directly or catches your eye. People that consider themselves fairly well educated but by no means an expert in government or economics; the guts of our economy and political workings. I also believe that there are a lot of people, both from that group and others, that should really take the time to think about what they may be setting into motion if they give the power of the Presidency to Barack Obama. Someone that has not been tested, whose judgement can be called in to question, and whose policies will cripple with paralyzing taxes the very businesses we are going to need to grow and thrive in order to rebuild our economy . As for the tax cut for 95%, it is a one time tax rebate that will be gone in no time, and the businesses that are being hit with more taxes (particularly small businesses that make up the majority of our new jobs) will be forced to pass that on to the consumers, so we don't actually end up any further ahead than before. How is that helping the middle class American's he claims to care so much about? When banks and businesses are failing and the cost of gas and groceries are climbing, is this really the time to increase the size of our government and government spending??? On top of everything else we are paying lately??? How does that make sense? I agree we need to reform health care and our educaton system, but number one socialized medicine is not the answer. When the wealthy from a country that has socialized medicine becomes seriously ill, they come here for treatment. Recently in England a premature baby died because they can only have so many preemie isolettes per area and there had been several more preemies born in that area than usual. This was a baby that should have survived with the right care. When you socialize medicine, the quality suffers and you have the government telling you what you do or don't need in the way of treatment and tests. I acknowledge that we need vast improvements in health care and education, but we need to find a way that doesn't cripple us financially and let's the government have a say in how and when we are treated. Although I have admired Senator McCain for some time, I have not always agreed with his policies. His illegal immigration policy comes to mind. Senator Obama has repeatedly suggested that Senator McCain is would just be another four year of George Bush. I grant you President Bush seemed to have taken the route usually distasteful to the Repulican's traditional concervative views on spending, particularly in the last four years. But, first of all bear in mind that for the last two of those years the Dems have held the majority in both houses and in order for this excess of spending to pass, the Dems had to sing on the dotted line right along with him. Secondly, Senator Mccain has a proven record that goes back to his very first year in the Senate as standing up and voting against his own party if he doesn't agree with what they propose, he is definitely not a carbon copy of George Bush, in fact they disagree often. I can also look back and see a solid record of being willing to work with both sides of the political aisle if he believes something is important enough to alienate his own party. I have seen proof of the man's character, I can believe that his judgements come from a true conviction to serve the best interests of his country, not just his party's or his own. If fact, those interests have often conflicted and he took the side of his country more than once and over years of public service. I know in an election facts often become talking points, and after you have heard them a few hundred times you tend to roll your eyes and tune them out. But when I stop to think about this man's experience as a POW, I can't help but believe that you don't get a truer picture of a man's inner character than you do when you strip them to the absolute extreme basic and push them to the limit of human endurance. I like to think I am a decent person, but put me in even a fraction of the situation this man was in and I would have given in when offered a way out early, in fact I would probably not found the inner strength to make it that far along. No one, John McCain in particular, is claiming he is a perfect human being. Do I think he has made mistakes? Absolutely. Has he done stupid things? I would bet on it. Our economy is in free fall, our government is rife with corruption (on both sides), the Russians are becoming more aggressive and beginning to show signs of returning to some of their old ways, China is on the rise and doesn't particulary like us, Iran is hot on the trail of nukes... Right now is when I want someone in that big chair that I can see evidence of their character, I can look at a solid record of putting US first even when it was a risk for him. I want to see a man that has a record of fighting the corruption that is infecting our Congress and doesn't take earmarks (and I don't mean just since they threw in their hat for President. Senator Obama only stopped taking earmarks when he began his run). I want someone with more than just book learning when it comes to the nuances of foreign policy. Who not only knows about it, but has a deep and thorough understanding of it how it works and how it all interacts and plays off each other. I want someone that understands that energy independence is not JUST about the total on the gas pump (although God knows that is bad enough), but that understands it is also a matter of national security. We are dependant on governments around the world, many of whom despise us and want nothing more than our fall! I am a lover and supporter of the environment, but I am capable of recognising the advances in technology that will enable us to drill for oil (as a bridge to buy us time for other, cleaner sources) safely and begin to wean us off our captivity to foreign oil. I fully agree we should use solar, wind, any source that presents itself that is clean, affordable, and we can produce ourselves. But it isn't just a question of getting it, it's coming up with the capacity to store it for long periods of time, building the infrastructure. Think about it, every gas station would need to be converted or replaced, they would have to tie in the new source of power to the distribution system or new ones created, every home and business would have to be retrofitted to work with it. That takes time and money. In the mean time, if we can begin that process while being to produce our own oil and building more nuclear power plants, we can make the transition to clean sustainable energy and we won't be dependant on those countries that hate us. And can you imagine what this country could do with the money we would save if we weren't at the mercy of OPEC? Senator McCain has realised that we no longer have the luxury of saying no to domestic drilling, it is a necessity. Recently the Democrats agreed to allow drilling more than fifty miles off shore. Well thank you so much for nothing. The know oil is WITHIN the fifty miles of shore. Off the coast of California there is even infrastructure in place that could speed things up so they could be drilling very soon. If they have to go 100 miles offshore it puts off the day they can bring up the first oil by a long time. They have to start from scratch exploring, and hopefully finding some, not to mention how much slower it would be to build all new infrastruture so far off shore. Basically, the Democrats passed a bill that allowed them to appear as if they were listening to the majority of the American people that want drilling, while in fact it is an empty gesture. Barack Obama doesn't want to drill. Actually, I don't agree with Senator McCain in that I want to drill in ANWAR. Everytime they mention ANWAR on tv they show sweeping scenes of meadows with soaring mountains in the back ground. This is not the part of ANWAR in question. The part in question is, in fact, just a few mile up the coast where we have been drilling safely for years, is a desolate, marshy area that was intended for drilling when the whole thing was bought, and the portion of ANWAR they are talking about drilling in has been described as the size of a postage stamp on a page of the New York Times newspaper. Again I am voting for him despite the fact that we have differences and because I believe that he is the best candidate for the job. When I apply the same one question to John McCain that I did to Barack Obama; Do I have enough evidence that this is a man whose character and judgement I can trust my Country, my family, and my future to, and does he have the experience to call on in a moment of national security? The only answer is yes. I actually started this to tell you what I found when I went looking for some answers as to how we got ourselves into this mess with our economy, and somehow it has morphed into how I arrived at where I am today in my decision who to vote for. Not sure how that happened! I am still amazed at how more in depth I have found myself exploring the inner workings of our government and political structure. I am usually bored and pretty jaded when it comes to politics. I actually find myself wanting to learn more, but feeling kind of irresponsible for not really bothering to before. When you really think about all the people that sacrifice their lives so that I can be bored by politics, it seems pretty self-centered. I doubt I will ever be a political scholar, but I think I owe it to others that sacrifice for us and to the people in other countries that are willing to suffer anything in order to have the same rights I take for granted too often. Sorry to take up so much of your space! It really did start out as a short rant and run.