Thursday, October 23, 2008

Look Away, Look Away, Look Away, Dixie Land

The thought just crossed my mind that it's extremely likely that the first state to be declared for Barack Obama on election night will be Virginia. Virginia, cradle of the Confederacy, will begin the landslide election of the first black President. Now, to be fair, Virginia has led the way on these points before, being the first state to elect a black Governor, Douglas Wilder, who is currently the Mayor of Richmond, former capitol of the Confederate States of America. Still, it has been 44 years since a Democrat won VA, and Obama's victory there would be a wonderful way to start the evening, and one which will certainly be noticed by those who know history. Okay, it'll be noticed by Keith Olbermann -- I make no assumptions about the nitwits on the other networks.

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Friday, October 10, 2008


Due to the complete collapse of its banking system, Iceland is in trouble. This morning, it assured everyone that it is not bankrupt. I think we all have the same reaction: can’t Bjork do something about this? Since the warbling gamin has been silent on this issue – and seriously, is she any less authoritative than Bush or McCain on economic issues? – we are left to see what this has done. It seems the Brits have invested a lot in Icelandic banks, which had aggressive interest rates which drew in a lot of money. Local governments in the UK have deposited some $1.36 billion in Icelandic banks. Now Iceland has taken over the banks to prop them up, but they haven’t done anything for depositors. So the British government has frozen Icelandic bank assets in the UK, so they can get some compensation for investors. Lots of local governments and charities may get next to nothing back.
So what does this mean to Americans, who, after all, all Americans care about? Well, it’s indicative of how dangerous everything is out there. Most of us have pension plans which have investments, investments which are less designed for safety than for maximum return. Most private pension funds are under funded, hoping that rising payouts from equities will make everything work. All the people with 401k plans and IRAs are a lot poorer today than they were 10 days ago. The closer you are to retirement, the scarier this is. Even conservative 401k management, based on index funds and blue chips, has failed, with losses which can only be described as catastrophic.
This is all the result of a system where investing in stocks and their prices is the driving force in the market, rather than investing in companies and their success. And even when the success of companies is important, it is only short term success, not long-term success, growth rather than stability. This is a dangerous way to run an economy, and this month has demonstrated the results. If it was just in the US, it would be bad, but it’s in much of the world, and that is a multiplier. Iceland is not alone and neither are we.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

I don't normally reprint things, but this, from, was too wonderful to not bring to you.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Is It Over?

Today, reports surfaced that the McCain campaign has pulled out of Michigan, canceling all media buys and stopping sending out mailers, while moving most staff to WI, OH, FL, and other more hospitable states. Considering that MI was a close state in ’04 and that Obama had shown some weakness there because he hadn’t campaigned during the primary, this is a very bad sign, to put it mildly. Based on current polling data (and there’s a ton of it) McCain is in extremely bad position, somewhere in the Dole zone.
What has caused this dramatic shift? First, the economic problems have put the focus on the area where McCain is weakest. Second, Sarah Palin is beginning to scare people. Third, McCain’s campaign suspension stunt looked foolish and desperate. And fourth, and maybe biggest, the debate went really badly for him.
Now the punditocracy felt it was at worst a tie, but on an issue by issue breakdown, they seemed to think McCain did better. The MSNBC nitwits, led by nitwit-in-chief Chris Matthews, felt that Obama had spent too much time agreeing with McCain, while McCain, smartly, never agreed with Obama, even when he had the same position. Matthews, with that senescent point of reference he specializes in, pointed out that Richard Nixon did that in his debate with JFK and that didn’t work for him. Now no one remembers that except Chris, and that wasn’t the key to that debate anyway. The key to that debate was Nixon sweating and seeming uncomfortable, while JFK looked cool and calm. Those who listened on the radio – yes, people did that then – thought Nixon won. So too in this debate – it wasn’t about individual answers, it was about what the demeanor and attitude of the candidates was. Remember, both candidates will almost certainly reinforce support within their own party. The key audience is the independent voters and the moderate edges of their own parties. I like to call them the “Kumbaya Voters” – they believe everything could be solved if the politicians were less partisan and just got along.
Every time McCain smirked during an Obama answer, his disrespect offended the Kumbaya voters. Every time he said “you don’t understand” to a man who clearly did, he lost votes. And every time Obama agreed with something McCain said, before modifying it slightly, Obama was the living embodiment of the bipartisan candidate they wanted. That McCain refused to ever look at Obama (which Matthews and company seemed to endorse) was also an insult which these voters noticed. Every poll following the debate showed that independents thought Obama won and his positives have increased while McCain's negatives have increased since then. While Obama looked calm, cool, and Presidential throughout, McCain came off as hostile and condescending, and frankly, more than a little crotchety – never a good thing for an old man.
Tonight is the VP debate, eagerly awaited by all fans of politics, as well as all fans of comedy. The punditocracy will emphasize the expectations being low for Palin. Frankly, they’re too low. At this point, after her pathetic performance with Katie Couric, any mistake, fumbling, or general show of ignorance, will merely confirm the expectations. She has to be nearly perfect tonight. If I was coaching Biden, I would have shown him the Obama-McCain debate, pointing out every McCain smirk and saying “don’t do that – or even smile, when she’s speaking”. And never say “you don’t know” or “you don’t understand” – be respectful and let her hang herself. All comments about the other side should be a reference to the McCain-Palin ticket, the stupider the comment by Barbie, the more it should be tied to McCain and Palin. The debate is not about Biden, just don’t make anyone notice you instead of her.
So is this race over? There’s a month to go and that’s a lifetime in politics. At this point though, it will require something huge to change the momentum – something McCain can’t do himself, since he’s already tried so many things. Settle in and enjoy the ride.

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