The Rant 

I believe this election is still close, because a great number of the voting populace have confused John McCain with John McClane of the Die Hard movies. We certainly need a "yippie ki-yay" kind of guy right about now, but I think Bruce Willis is in a House of Blues somewhere blowing harp. So we're left with surly tough-guy John McCain applying for the lead role in the next disaster classic, Soft Money Dies Hard.

He's going to "clean up Wall Street" and "reform the old-boy network in Washington." He's going to "follow Bin Laden to the gates of Hell," because, as McCain/McClane says, "I know how to win wars." Like that one against the villain who blew up an office building. Now that he's cast Sarah Palin as his wisecracking, gun-toting sidekick, we have either a blockbuster or a sit-com waiting to happen.

There's nothing like a total economic collapse to refocus one's attention. That great ship, the no-holds-barred U.S.S. Free Market, has hit the iceberg, and there aren't enough life rafts to go around. And then, the deregulating, anti-government greed-heads who have placed us all in this rudderless boat have the gall to come before Congress and ask for $700 billion to pass out bail buckets to Wall Street, but only if no questions are asked, and we must act immediately.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the one doing the asking, is the former CEO of Goldman Sachs and has surrounded himself with GS execs to assist him in the current crisis, even while Goldman Sachs is one of the firms in danger of collapse. I don't see any brokers jumping off the ledges yet, so shouldn't we all just stop and take a deep breath?

I'm the first to admit I don't know Freddie Mac from Bernie Mac, except for the fact they both recently died, so I appreciate McCain's honesty in admitting that economic matters aren't his strong suit. But to suggest a "9/11 style commission" to study the problem when you've been told the economy is teetering on the verge of the Great Depression Part II is the equivalent of sitting in a classroom reading My Pet Goat when the country is under attack. Now, McCain is eviscerating the very culture he helped to create in his "maverick" days as "the great deregulator."

The problem is Ronald Reagan patented that fake cowboy stuff 30 years ago, and what Bush the Elder once called "voodoo economics" has now come to fruition. Things finally "trickled down" alright — all over you and me. And I don't want Phil Gramm, the architect of removing federal regulation of financial institutions, to be Secretary of the Treasury after the "ownership society" has just become the "borrower society."

The implosion of the McCain campaign is further evidenced by the Disneyesque, manufactured Sarah Palin bubble that is about to burst. After being secluded like a college student cramming for finals and being tutored in politics by former Bush operatives, the Palin camp made a serious blunder in trying to manage the media on her meet-and-greet at the United Nations. Attempting to ban reporters from the room, while allowing photographers to capture the friendly smiles, is an old Soviet-style propaganda stunt. Someone should remind the governor that in the lower 48, we still maintain that quaint "freedom of the press" thing, and sooner, rather than later, she will have to subject herself to the same scrutiny every other candidate must face.

In 1984, Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro's glow fell victim to her husband's sleazy business associates. Should the "First Dude" receive a similar examination of his secessionist views since his wife wants to hold office in this country?

How anyone could support a candidate who's entire political career has been a trajectory leading to the current crisis is beyond me. McCain's answer to provocation is force; his answer to fiscal crisis is committee. I don't know about you, but I am not a Georgian today, and I will not send my stepson into another politician's misguided war. Our country is being drained, financially and militarily, by the expenses of occupying a sovereign nation and our collapsing financial institutions. But John McCain "can't wait to introduce Sarah Palin to Washington."

It's too late for introductions, but I'd like to get in my request: I am an entertainer who serves a societal purpose, and I made some bad investments several years ago that have affected my ability to perform happily. I would like the government to bail me out and reimburse my losses. But that might be a job for John McClane.

--Randy Haspel

Randy Haspel's band is Randy and the Radiants. This column first appeared on his blog,

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