Friday, October 31, 2008

Reagan's Chief of Staff will vote for Obama

One of today's big headlines was that another prominent Republican has turned on John McCain:

Former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein told CNN's Fareed Zakaria this week he intends to vote for Democrat Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Duberstein said he was influenced by another prominent Reagan official - Colin Powell - in his decision.

"Well let's put it this way - I think Colin Powell's decision is in fact the good housekeeping seal of approval on Barack Obama."

And, Duberstein was just brutally honest about John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin on MSNBC. For example, a job at McDonald's requires more interviews than Palin had:

Obama campaign going on the air in Georgia, North Dakota -- and Arizona

This morning, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe announced that the campaign is going to
air television commercials in three additional states:
North Dakota and

One of the more interesting things about the Obama campaign that has not received the coverage I would have given it, is the sheer organization capability of Barack Obama. The Obama campaign built a strong ground game across the country, and had their organization on the ground in all three of those states, so that now that the polls are showing a window of opportunity, the campaign is able to place ads that support work already being done.

If the campaign was just putting commericals over the airwaves, I would not give it much chance of making a difference in any of these states, but that it is coming on top of a strong grass-roots movement, there is a chance that it tips the balance.

In Georgia and North Dakota, the campaign will be running the "Rear view" ad. In Arizona, it's the positive closer.

World Share Prices Set for Worst Month Ever

Reuters is reporting that October was the worst month ever in financial history. Dating back to 1920, there are only 4 comparable months in terms of market volitility, and loss of wealth that I could find. The first was September 1931 where the market was down 29.94%, second was October 1987 where the market was down 21.76%, third was May of 1940 where the markets were down 23.95% and last was March of 1938 where the market was down 25.04% which would mean that right now, October 2008 is the single worst month in financial market history.

Shares in Asia and Europe fell on Friday, heading for their worst month ever, while the low-yielding yen shot up as Japan's interest rate cut failed to quell concerns about the deteriorating global economic outlook.

The Bank of Japan joined a global easing cycle by trimming interest rates by 20 basis points to 0.3 percent, but disappointed many who had expected a bigger quarter point cut.

The move followed the Federal Reserve's decision to cut interest rates to 1 percent this week -- its lowest level since June 2004 -- to stave off a prolonged recession.
The euro zone, Australia and Britain are expected to follow suit next week.

However, investors feared a round of rate cuts was not enough to stem the flow of worsening corporate earnings and bolster consumer consumption in major economies which might be already in recession.

In response, oil and commodities fell sharply. U.S. crude oil fell 3.6 percent to $63.58 a barrel, down some 55 percent from its record high around $147 set in July. Gold fell to $724.10 an ounce and was set for its largest monthly fall in more than 30 years.

Worst Is Yet to Come.

Economist Nouriel Roubini warns that the worst in markets and economies is yet to come. On October 23rd, Nouriel predicted the potential shutdown of financial markets. A day later U.S. stock futures suspended trading after declines of more than 6% at opening tripped the circuit breakers. Nonetheless, Nouriel does not expect another Great Depression, but states that policymakers must act quickly and wisely.

Here are the main elements of Nouriel’s outlook: Tsunami of corporate defaults; 2-year U-shaped U.S. recession that threatens to turn into an L-shaped one if policymakers do not regain control of the financial system; global re-coupling to the U.S. will advance from non-U.S. markets to non-U.S. real economies – not even the strongest emerging markets such as Brazil and China will escape global re-coupling; vicious cycle of deflation in goods markets, labor markets, commodity markets, financial markets, corporate and household earnings, and aggregate demand; de-leveraging to reduce excess debt in municipalities, households and some firms; U.S. stock markets declining another 20-30%, bottoming fall 2009 at the earliest, then moving sideways for years post-recession if growth remains anemic as it did in Japan after its 1990s real estate and equities bust; U.S. unemployment rise to reach 8-9%; the demise of the shadow banking system.

According to Nouriel, USD assets, commodities, U.S. and international equities, housing, and the USD are quite risky right now. Seek safety in cash or cash-like instruments such as T-bills and bonds of safe, large governments. Though he believes the U.S. dollar will retain its reserve currency status for decades, its status will gradually erode.

Given the size of the expected contraction in private aggregate demand (likely to be about $450 billion in 2009 relative to 2008), Nouriel argues that a fiscal stimulus to the order of $300 billion minimum (and possibly as large as $400 billion) will be necessary to partially compensate for the sharp fall in private aggregate demand. Here is Nouriel’s testimony before the Joint Economic Committee.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Fed cut interest rates to just 1%.

The markets' reaction was mixed. Stocks plunged more than 360 points in the final minutes of trading, losing the momentum gained after the Federal Reserve's decision to cut a key interest rate to help alleviate fears of further economic deterioration.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.8 percent, with a loss of more than 74 points. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 fell 1.1 percent, or 10 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed up nearly 8 points, a gain of about half a percent.

Tucker Bounds: When Palin Shares The Wealth, It Isn’t Socialism — It’s ‘Unique’

One of the reason's why I no longer have any respect for John McCain is that he has become a raging hypocrite. The McCain campaign has spent the last couple of weeks campaigning on the accusation that Barack Obama is an advocate of “socialism.”

The New Yorker’s Philip Gourevitch revealed this week that Sarah Palin said earlier this year that her state’s oil tax was a mechanism “so we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.”

MSNBC’s David Schuster asked McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds whether Palin’s “share the wealth” plan had socialist undertones. Bounds denied the allegation, claiming Alaska’s sharing of natural resources is “unique” and not at all socialist:

"No, in Alaska its a unique state because all the residents there have a unique share of the natural resources, that the oil companies come in and use, so therefore they share the revenues of the resources. … Its absurd to equate sharing the oil resources that all of these Alaskans have an ownership stake in, and trying to negotiate a deal with the oil companies that use those resources that —"

What a crock. Alaska's oil program is the biggest example of a socialist program in the United States. Bounds is correct in that Alaska is “unique” in having such a vigorous wealth redistribution system. The state offers collective ownership of natural resources, which in turn generates revenue for the state. Using the Permanent Fund, the government distributes the natural resource rents to the general public. Maybe Bounds doesn't know what socialism is.

Furthermore, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES) programs helps redistribute windfall oil profits, bringing in so much money that the state needs no income or sales tax. This year ACES will provide every Alaskan with a check for an estimated $1,200. Palin boasts about giving oil money “back to the people.”

It’s unclear, however, how a state with such a strong tradition of progressive taxation that benefits “all” Alaskans — as Bounds himself stated — isn’t in any way “socialist.”

Watch the interview here:

LibertyAir Blog

The Daily Show: Rallies of Fear

The Daily Show is the best mirror for America to look at itself. In this clip the Daily Show's John Oliver went to a Barack Obama and a Sarah Palin rally and found that Americans are more unified than we're led to believe: We're all scared sh%#less.
People should look at the participants of McCain/Palin rallies, and ask, "is this really what we want for America?"

Barack Obamas 30 minute add

Last night Barack Obama aired his 30 minute add. It was different than what I expected, but it was really well done. It was not over the top, but it gracefully countered every attack that has been thrown at Senator Obama.

LibertyAir Blog

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jed Report comes through again

Jed of the Jed Report and Daily Kos has put together a response to the newest RNC/McCain attack ad ("Storm"), turning the orginal ad around on itself, and applying its line of attack to Sarah Palin.

Jed has quickly become a real video force in the liberal blogosphere.

Watch his latest video here:

LibertyAir Blog

Barack Obama TV Ad: Defining Moment

Barack Obama has put together another 2 minute add, and again I think it hits the right note. In this ad Barack Obama asks if our country will be better off four years from now.

Watch it here:

LibertyAir Blog

Sarah Palin is a Blithering Idiot

Yesterday Sarah Palin delivered her first (and probably last) major policy address in Pittsburgh, PA. This speech was about Children with special needs, which we are told will be an area she works on if this country is unlucky enough to have her as a Vice President. In the speech she promised to care for “children with special needs who have been set apart and excluded” and to “fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.”

During the speech Sarah Palin went off on a weird tangent and mocked fruit fly research, during a general tirade against earmarks. This was a speech about autism and disabilities, so why would Palin mock "fruit fly research" as wasteful pork? Didn't anybody in the campaign do any research? Fruit fly research, pardon the pun, has been very fruitful for scientific research. It is one of the foundations of modern biological research.

In her remarks Palin said:

This is a matter of how we prioritize the money that we spend. We've got a three trillion dollar budget, and Congress spends some 18 billion dollars a year on earmarks for political pet projects. That's more than the shortfall to fully fund the IDEA. And where does a lot of that earmark money end up? It goes to projects having little or nothing to do with the public good -- things like fruit fly research in Paris, France...

Here is what science blog had to say:

The fruit fly (Drosophila) has probably been the single most important organism for the study of genetics for over a century now. Almost everything we know about genetics, development, cell biology, neuroscience, and every other field of biology has strong roots in previous and current work on Drosophila. The fruit fly is one of a small handful of “standard model organisms” used by thousands of scientists across the world to learn how our bodies, organs, genes, and proteins work. Most of what we know about how a single fertilized cell becomes the amazingly complex beings we are comes from studies initially done in Drosophila. Vast amounts of our understanding of the brain (and brain disorders, diseases, and defects) also come from initial studies in fruit flies.

In fact, recent research from my own graduate alma mater, the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, on fruit fly brains has had an impact on the understanding of autism and has boosted autism research:

“[S]cientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for..nerve cell connections to form and function correctly. The discovery, made in Drosophila fruit flies may lead
to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders, as recently, human
neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism.”

To decry research in [condescending and amazed tone] “the fruit fly” is a testament to the true idiocy of this woman and to the failure of our public education system.
In fact, her own father, Chuck Heath, was a biology teacher – obviously a complete failure of a biology teacher.

Keith Olbermann covered this on his show Friday night in his first segment, and the he interviewed Richard Wolfe of Newsweek. Richard had the best line when he said "This is the most mindless, ignorant, uninformed comment that we have seen from Governor Palin so far, and there's been a lot of competition for that prize."

Watch here:

Why has the Republican Party made the decision to not respect science? It is too pervasive throughout the party, to have not been a conscious decision by the party. It's one more example of the intellectual laziness that pervades the GOP. Why do modern Republicans respect stupidity and ignorance?

Palin’s dismissal of all earmarks in her remarks were also dishonest. A simple search of the Office of Management and Budget website shows that there are at least 19 autism-related projects in the 2009 budget:

- $250K to Parents as Teachers National Center, St. Louis, MO, to develop research-based materials and training for home visiting professionals for families of children with autism
- $200K for Southern Penobscot Regional Program for Children with Exceptionalities, Bangor, ME, for services for families with autistic children
- $100K to Marywood University, Scranton, PA, for campus-based autism education programs
Not every earmark is a waste of money, not every earmark is pork. And history shows that when it comes to priorities, there is little history that backs up Palin's grand statements in her speech.

John McCain and Sarah Palin run around all over the country giving speeches where they try to scare Americans about the dangers of expanding SCHIP and Medicaid for poor and sick children, yet this "evil socialism" would be avoided if the government is able to fund medical research or other special needs initiatives, to reduce disease and cure genetic disorders.

Palin’s rhetoric in the speech also does not square with her record, McCain’s individual market-centric health care plan, and penchant for gutting all forms of government programs.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Very Sad State of Ashley Todd

As you all have probably heard or seen by now the biggest political story of yesterday revolved around what turned out to be a total and disgusting hoax. When I first heard about the story of Ashley Todd and her story of how she was supposedly attacked and mutilated by a crazed black man and Obama supporter while she was trying to get money from an ATM, I did think there was something wrong, but I was afraid that I was wishful thinking.

Now it turns out that this very troubled woman made the whole thing up.

Now I am hesitant to write about it because the whole thing was just so sad. What kind of hate does this poor woman have in her heart, to make up such a lie?

The AP has reported that as the police looked into Ashley Todd's story, the more the story fell a part. First the McCain volunteer did not appear in bank surveillance footage at the ATM where the alleged attack occurred, and then she changed her story to say she'd been knocked unconscious by her assailant. Yesterday, Todd shared with news outlets specific remarks the attacker said during the alleged incident, so this represented a rather dramatic change.

Fox and Drudge Report of course jumped on this story and really pushed the idea that it was agame changer. And we have now learned that McCain's Pennsylvania communications director actively pushed the false mutilation story to the media, even claiming that the supposed "B" carved on the Ashley's face stood for "Barack Obama." This is according to multiple sources familiar with the discussions.

TPM Election Central is reporting that John Verrilli, the news director for KDKA in Pittsburgh, told them that McCain's Pennsylvania campaign communications director gave one of his reporters a detailed version of the attack that included a claim that the alleged attacker said, "You're with the McCain campaign? I'm going to teach you a lesson."

In all this was a very sad episode, and I hope Ms. Todd gets the help she needs.

Greenspan Denies Economic Crisis His Fault

Speaking on Capitol Hill today, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan conceded that the economic meltdown had revealed a major flaw in his economic thinking and left him in a “state of shocked disbelief,” but he denied the nation’s economic crisis was his fault.

Now I have to admit for years I bought this guy's theory. I believed in the Milton Friedman theory of economics, but in 2000 really turned, as Greenspan set aside intelligent economic policy for partisan belief. The worst thing that ever happened to Greenspan was he had a Republican President. If he had had Gore in office, he would have remained a brake on outlandish economic policy. Instead he felt the need to back an insane tax policy, and dumped cash into the economy by keeping interest rates way to low for way too long which increased the housing bubble.

Greenspan of course wants to forget this. He stepped down in 2006, is now calling the banking and housing chaos a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami” that led to a breakdown in how the free market system functions, and tried to give the impression that no one could see it coming. But this is not true, economists like Paul Krugman were warning of this.

During today's hearings Greenspan warned that things in the economy would get a lot worse before they get better, with rising unemployment and no stabilization in housing prices for “many months.”

Tough economic reports that came out today backed Greenspan's ascertion. New jobless claims soared to just under 500,000 for last week, and Goldman Sachs, Chrysler and Xerox all said they were cutting thousands more jobs.

Republican Greenspan, who has always been a staunch believer in the Milton Friedman theory of economics, and in free markets, proposed that government consider tougher regulations, including requiring financial firms that package mortgages into securities to keep a portion as a check on quality.

Greenspan did acknowledge under some very intense questioning that he had made a “mistake” in believing that banks, operating in their own self-interest, would do what was necessary to protect their shareholders and institutions. Greenspan said that his theory had “a flaw in the model ... that defines how the world works.”

Greenspan was wrong in 2004 when he rejected fears that the five-year housing boom was turning into an unsustainable speculative bubble that could harm the economy when it burst. During that time Greenspan maintained that home prices were unlikely to post a significant decline nationally because housing was a local market. Today he was forced to admit this was wrong.

Again under some tough questioning Greenspan was asked to defend a variety of actions he took as Federal Reserve chairman; like resisting recommendations to use the Fed’s powers to crack down on subprime mortgages, for one. He was asked why he opposed efforts to impose regulations on derivatives, the complex financial instruments that include credit default swaps, which have also figured prominently in the current crisis.

He tried to defend himself by saying that outside of credit default swaps, the bulk of financial derivatives had not caused major problems. This shows he still is not really up to speed on this crisis. He said the boom in subprime lending occurred because of the huge demand for investment opportunities in a global economy, and he blamed the crash on a failure by investors to properly assess the risks from such mortgages, which went to borrowers with weak credit. Again he really has no idea what this financial crisis is about, and what needs to be done to fix it.

Today on her MSNBC show Rachel Maddow talked to Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, about Greenspan’s testimony.

LibertyAir Blog

Barack Obama: "We All Love This Country"

With 13 days left until the general election, Barack Obama addressed a crowd of over 12,000 in Richmond, VA, and he took head on the hate and bigotry that Republicans have been dishing out. He went after the Michelle Bachmann's, the Robin Hayes, the Robocalls, and all the crap being spewed at Sarah Palin speeches. Yet he does not attack, he speaks of hope, and gives a direct counter point without turning nasty. This speech is so similar to his message in 2004 that I am amazed. Barack Obama's message: "We All Love This Country"

It's a good rebuttal, watch it here:

LibertyAir Blog

Obama Speech in Indiana

Barack Obama spoke in Indiana today before leaving for Hawaii to be with his ailing Grandmother. It is amazing that Indiana is still in play. Here's a video of Barack Obama talking about the economy at the rally today:

LibertyAir Blog

Rachel Maddow Discusses Campaign Stratagy

Rachel Maddow's new show on MSNBC has been a smashing success. And its easy to see why, she has a firm grip on the facts, asks really good questions, and has a great demeanor for approaching her work.

Today she gave a great analysis of the campaign strategies for both Barack Obama and John McCain in the final stretch, and why this is still a close race. She then interviews Virginia's Democrat Governor Tim Kaine.

Watch here:

LibertyAir Blog

Americans Are Hopeful

One thing that I have always been impressed with America is that we are a pretty hopeful nation. A poll out today by the Associated Press shows that Americans are skittish about the economy’s immediate future, but the poll also shows that many are optimistic about what a year out holds, despite economists’ widespread expectations that a serious recession is brewing. Most respondents expect the economy to generally be better and the stock market to rise three months from now when Bush is out of the office. People were asked how they think seven aspects of the economy would be behaving in three months and a year from now. They gave mixed responses for the near-term, but in nearly each case foresaw stronger performance in a year.

Many said the upcoming presidential election will affect the economy’s performance. Forty-four percent said they think the economy will improve if Democrat Barack Obama is elected, while 34 percent said it would get better if Republican John McCain wins.

Dow up 172 as stocks stage a comeback

Energy stocks powered an afternoon recovery on another wildly volatile day. Microsoft shares came in after the bell with better than expected earnings. Stocks mostly recovered from big losses at the close of a volatile day, despite weakness in technology stocks. At the close, the Dow Jones industrials were up 172 points, or 2%, to 8,691. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 11 points, 1.3%, to 908, but the Nasdaq Composite Index was off 12 points, 0.7%, to 1,604.

The market laggards were health care and materials stocks.

Futures trading tonight suggested stocks would open Friday slightly lower in expectation that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will agree to cut oil production to support slumping crude prices.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Iraq Security Pact - A Major Crisis

If the security pact between the United States and Iraq is not agreed upon American soldiers might stop patrolling the streets and head back to their barracks. Help for the Iraqi army from the U.S. Army could suddenly cease — not to mention raids on al-Qaida fighters and Shiite extremists.

U.S. and Iraqi officials would scramble for options to salvage the U.S. mission there. This would of course would be happening in the waning, lame-duck days of a Bush administration that launched and pursued the war, before the next administration had taken power.

It's a vision of what may take place if Iraq's parliament refuses to accept a new security agreement with the U.S. before year's end. That date — Dec. 31 — is when a U.N. mandate expires and with it, the legal basis for American troops to operate inside Iraq.

No one knows for sure what will happen if that day comes and passes with no done deal, but the options would grow more stark amid the growing uncertainty. It is conceivable that U.S. forces could find themselves with no legal authority to operate in Iraq.

Would Iraq's army and police, in the blink of an eye, be left on their own to maintain security in a country still reeling from the savagery of the last five years? Would security gains won by the sacrifice of more than 4,100 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis be at risk, in that same sudden moment?

Without American support could the Iraqi army continue to function? The U.S. Army provides most logistics support for the Iraqi Army, are the Iraqis ready to handle refueling, and supply for all their army divisions? The U.S. military handles all air force duties, how will this affect the Iraqi military?

Security may deteriorate, Sunnis and Shiite extremist groups might resume their activities and the militias might return to the streets.

Iraq may yet decide to approve the deal, especially if the U.S. agrees to the changes they are demanding. Though there are so many differing demands from the Sunnis and the Shiites that it might be impossible for the U.S. to meet them all. Nearly every major decision made in Iraq comes only after protracted haggling and complex bargaining — all done in an atmosphere of deep suspicion among the various clans, and the differing religious and ethnic parties.

The Security pact that was agreed upon by the Bush administration and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would remove American forces from Iraqi cities by June 2009, with all U.S. troops out of the country by the end of 2011, unless both sides agree to an extension.

But the security agreement faces real problems, which have been clearly on dispaly over the last week. These issues are more serious today than anyone imagined just a few weeks ago and representatives of Nouri al-Maliki and Bush hammered out the Security Pact.

Iraqi leaders are really between a rock and a hard place. They are torn between a desire for continued U.S. help and the yearning of many Iraqis for an end the foreign military occupation of their country.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has refused to submit the draft to parliament unless he is certain of strong backing. He fears rivals will use the agreement against him in provincial and national elections next year — a real possibility in a country exhausted by nearly six years of war and eager to end outside domination.

For their part, most of his Shiite rivals also want the deal privately, but are demanding big changes. They clearly see the negotiations as a way to give al-Maliki political problems. Others like anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are against the deal and will always be against the deal.

Sunnis — who may want the deal most of all — don't want to stick their necks out first, to push for its passage in the current form. They fear being branded traitors, a charge that still sticks on Sunni tribes that supported the British in a revolt nearly 90 years ago.

Meanwhile, the United States has indicated the last thing it wants is to reopen any points already negotiated with al-Maliki.

Joint Chief Admiral Mullen expressed warnings this week that time is running out and that Iraqi officials may not fully appreciate the situation's seriousness. Many Iraqi politicians to great umberage to this.

So far, the United States has been mum on how it might manage what is certain to be a chaotic, fast-moving series of events at year's end if the deal isn't done — after a new U.S. president has been elected but almost a month before he takes office.

If the agreement appears doomed, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell says the U.S. plans to ask the U.N. Security Council to extend the mandate authorizing military operations in Iraq.
But that could get complicated if Russia and China, with vetoes in the U.N. Security Council, press for changes in the mandate before approving it. They might want new restrictions on U.S. operations, or a shortened time for the U.S. to remain in Iraq.

Those are touchy issues that a lame-duck Bush administration might find hard to negotiate.

The Russians say they will support an extension if Iraq asks for one, but Iraq is reluctant to do that. Asking for an extension would open al-Maliki to charges he's attempting an end-run around the government's own democratic institutions to maintain a U.S. military presence.
Yet without a new U.N. mandate or a broader bilateral deal, there are few options.

The United States and Iraq could try to negotiate some limited deal, but al-Maliki's foes might try to block even that. One top al-Maliki aide says that if the larger deal falters, "we will sit down and look for an alternative." He spoke on condition of anonymity because the situation is so delicate, and he also gave no timetable.

All that leads rather alarmingly to Jan. 1, 2009.

American commanders have not spelled out in detail what they would do — in terms of day-to-day operations — in the absence of an agreement on that date. Without a legal framework, however, U.S. soldiers would be in violation of international law if they continued military operations. At a minimum, that would probably require commanders to keep soldiers on bases, while diplomats and legal experts figured out what to do.

In the end if things go really crazy, it could be yet another unresolved and complicated crisis, left for a new American president to solve.

Conservatives for Change

"Conservatives for Change" is a documentary project featuring Republicans and Conservatives who have started to vote for Barack Obama. These are real people, speaking in their own words. Check out more here:

Watch the video here:

LibertyAir Blog

Financial Crisis Is a World Crisis

It is pretty easy to focus on what is happening in this country with the economic meltdown, but this really is a world economic emergency. This financial crisis has revealed and even exacerbated many existing vulnerabilities in the globa economy such as current account deficits that were ignored when times were good – i.e., when capital was plentiful.

Iceland -

Iceland has been at the forefront of the global credit crisis. What was essentially a banking crisis has turned into a national crisis as Iceland’s banks are too big for their government to rescue.

Iceland’s banks were highly leveraged, and were heavily reliant on wholesale funding to finance their aggressive expansion abroad. With the rapid depreciation of the local currency and the seize-up of credit markets, Iceland’s banks had trouble refinancing their debt and appeared headed for collapse when the government stepped in and nationalized the three biggest lenders.

Now reports suggest that Iceland’s government is poised to announce a reported $6 billion rescue package from the IMF. While such a package would be a positive step in providing liquidity, there is no question that a severe economic contraction is coming. Some analysts predict Icelandic GDP could shrink by 5-10% after almost 5.0% growth in 2007.

Hungary -

Another country that has been hit hard by the global credit crisis is Hungary. While Hungary has not suffered the banking crisis that Iceland has. Hungary's banking sector is mostly foreign-owned, rather than made up of highly leveraged, internationalized domestic banks like in Iceland. Yet Hungary is facing a similar crisis as Iceland in that the global credit crisis has exposed long-simmering vulnerabilities. High levels of foreign currency lending, slow growth (1.3% in 2007), twin deficits (both current account and budget), and heavy reliance on non-deposit foreign funding all contributed to making Hungarian assets sell-off targets.

The ECB came to Hungary’s rescue last week, saying it would lend as much as EUR5 billion ($6.7 billion) to Hungary’s central bank to help revive the local credit market. But the verdict is still out on whether the ECB credit line and government measures are enough to prevent Hungary from becoming an ongoing hotspot.

Eastern Europe -

Given Hungary’s woes, many an analyst is focusing on the rest of Eastern Europe for signs of trouble. The slowdown in the region’s key export market, the Eurozone, is expected to dent growth across the region. Meanwhile, high current-account deficits and widespread foreign currency lending are particular risk factors. Poland and the Czech Republic are considered among the least vulnerable, but they are far from immune. Meanwhile the Baltics, Bulgaria, and Romania have long been on analysts’ radar as particularly weak links.

Baltics -

All three Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) boomed over the last seven years and posted double-digit growth rates at their peak, helped by cheap credit from Scandinavian parent banks and EU membership in 2004. Now these economies are in the midst of a sharp slowdown, with Latvia and Estonia officially in recession. There is no question that the Baltics are in for hard times. In the context of the global credit crisis, the risk is that foreign capital inflows could dry up and lead to an even sharper slowdown that could infect the financial sector. But there are some factors that suggest the sharp slowdown might not evolve into a full-fledged, Iceland-level crisis. One, external deficits in the Baltics are funded to a large extent by inflows from Swedish parent banks, and sharply cutting off credit would hurt these banks. Two, substantial foreign ownership of banking assets limits the governments’ contingent liabilities, as Swedish parent banks would be expected to provide support to their Baltic subsidiaries if they get into trouble. Three, the Baltics’ sharp slowdowns have led to speculation that devaluations (they have exchange rates pegs to the euro) could be in the offing. While devaluation cannot be completely ruled out, such fears may be overblown as these countries tend to have shallow financial markets, relative little hot capital, and successfully defended against speculative attacks earlier this year.

Bulgaria and Romania -

Bulgaria and Romania – the so-called ‘gravity defiers’ – are also on the short-list of CEE economies most at risk of being the next hotspots in the global credit crisis. Despite massive current-account deficits (projected to hit 23% of GDP in Bulgaria and 16% of GDP in Romania this year), booming credit growth, and high inflation, these economies have not hit slowdown mode yet – hence the term ‘gravity defiers’.

In the case of both countries, the financing of their current-account deficits has deteriorated, with foreign direct investment (seen as less subject to reversal than other forms of financing) only plugging about a third of Romania’s current account gap and over half of Bulgaria’s. As a result, these economies are highly susceptible to capital outflows, which would trigger a harsh real adjustment.

Another risk is these countries’ high degree of foreign currency lending, particularly notable in Romania which has a flexible exchange rate, meaning unhedged borrowers are highly exposed to currency swings. Romanian households’ high levels of foreign currency lending are similar to those in Hungary (55% in Romania vs. 60% in Hungary of total household loans). And like Hungary, Romania has a budget deficit of over 2% of GDP. Meanwhile, Bulgaria has a budget surplus, which potentially gives its government more room to maneuver if outflows trigger a sharp slowdown. Bulgaria and Romania will be key countries to watch as the global credit crisis unfolds.

Balkans -

The negative effects from the credit crunch on the Balkan region have been limited so far. Growth has remained strong, ranging between 4.3% for Croatia and 8.2% for Serbia in Q1 08. Nonetheless, the significant widening of the current account deficit experienced by most of the countries is a source of concern as both external credit and FDI inflows are likely to slow. Croatia may feel severe pressures since it has the highest foreign debt in the region, at 90% of GDP, and the share of foreign currency mortgages and personal loans is near the level seen in Hungary.

Turkey -

A number of analysts have cited Turkey as particularly vulnerable to global market turmoil given its large current account deficit. At 5.8% of GDP in 2007, Turkey’s deficit – while substantial – is lower than many of its emerging Europe peers though. The financing quality, however, has deteriorated of late and it will be important to watch how this trend evolves. Compared to other CEE countries, however, Turkey is less likely to face a bank-related credit squeeze, since the banking sector is relatively liquid with a loan-to-deposit ratio well below 100% and since wholesale borrowing is a smaller fraction of banking sector liabilities. So while Turkey is not immune to the global credit crisis and will experience slower growth, it is much better placed than earlier in this decade to weather the storm.

Ukraine -

Ukraine’s high reliance on external finance makes it particularly vulnerable in this global economic downturn and credit crunch, leading it to seek financial assistance from the IMF. Worsening macroeconomic fundamentals including persistent inflation and a widening trade deficit and domestic and regional political uncertainty have contributed to deposit outflow, tighter domestic money market rates and exchange rate volatility, increasing near term risks for Ukraine's banking sector. The value of the Ukrainian currency, the hryvnya, sank by 20% so far in October forcing the National Bank of Ukraine to intervene and sell dollars at an artificially low rate. Moreover, the equity markets fell over 70% this year.

Russia -

Russian consumers have remained insulated from the loss of wealth in the equity market and troubles that Russian banks face in rolling over their debt, but growth is likely to slow to 5-6% next year from 7% plus in 2007. Meanwhile financing costs are on the rise, eating into corporate profits and the falling oil price may limit a planned investment spree, particularly as a large amount of Russia’s savings are tied up in the domestic banking sector and attempts to avoid a bust in the Moscow property sector.

South Africa -

Despite a growth rebound to 4.9% in Q2 2008, South Africa cut its growth forecast to 3% for 2009 on worries that a global recession would depress export demand (especially of metals) and investment inflows needed to finance its current account deficit. The fall in commodity prices has pressured the Rand, which fell to its lowest level since 2003, and domestic equity markets. The South African Reserve Bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 12% for a second consecutive time, even after inflation reached a record 13.6% in August. Meanwhile, President Thabo Mbeki's resignation ushered in a period of political and economic uncertainty.


The UAE is one of several oil exporters starting to feel the pinch from the reversal of speculative capital that flowed in early this year to bet on currency revaluation. Long-term project finance costs already tightened throughout the GCC earlier this year and the freezing of global credit markets exposed UAE banks which financed rapid credit growth with foreign not local borrowing. As a result, local interbank rates more than doubled to over 4.6% despite liquidity injections and a central bank liquidity provision for UAE banks. However, although Dubai’s liabilities might be much greater than its assets, most participants and ratings agencies still assume that the federal government (read Abu Dhabi, home of the largest sovereign wealth fund) will step in if they get into serious trouble. Yet, with the oil price and capital inflows falling the UAE’s surpluses and will be smaller next year even if its budget still balances and worries about Dubai’s property market are looming.

Kazakhstan -

Despite its oil wealth, a reliance on short-term borrowing by its banks abroad has left Kazakhstan, one of the few oil exporters to run a current account deficit, exposed. However, unlike some of its neighbors, it will use domestic funding including the $27 billion National Oil Fund to cushion its economy. But with the oil price dropping and new output delayed, Kazakhstan is set for much slower growth next year, particularly as its previously bubbly property market is cooling quickly

India -

India is taking a severe hit from the global financial crisis with the stock market down over 50% year to date, FII outflows crossing $10bn and the currency plunging over 20% year to date. While the central bank is injecting liquidity, easing bank credit and capital inflows, cutting policy rate to contain risks to the financial sector and downtrend in asset markets, correction in the near-term seems inevitable. Double-digit inflation, high interest rates and global liquidity crunch will significantly impact domestic demand and industrial activity in 2008-09 pulling down the recent boom. Moreover, twin deficits, both approaching 10% of GDP, pose a challenge as forex reserves decline.

Pakistan -

Pakistan, recently hit by a political crisis, is also on the verge of a balance of payments crisis as large capital outflows and decline in forex reserves – below-adequacy levels – pose risk to finance the oil-led ballooning fiscal and current account deficits, and external debt payments. To prevent debt default, the government is seeking $10-15bn in loans from IMF, ADB and World Bank and might approach strategic donors like Saudi Arabia and China. The stock market and currency slump have also led to liquidity injections by central bank along with restrictions on stock trading, short selling, and the establishment of a stabilization fund.

Indonesia -

A single day double-digit plunge in stock indices in early-October pulled down Indonesia’s stock
down market helped push the index down over 40% year to date leading authorities to suspend trading and ban short-selling. Capital outflows, rupiah decline and credit tightening have invited central bank intervention in money and currency markets. But the rundown of forex reserves poses significant risk to the subsidy-laden fiscal deficit and commodity correction-hit current account. Balance of payments risks are only exacerbated by the high foreign-currency denominated debt causing the government to seek loans from World Bank and other multilateral institutions.

China -

The third quarter marked the fifth consecutive slowing of Chinese real GDP growth. Slowing industrial production and real fixed investment are suggesting more weakness ahead particularly if the worst consumer sentiment since 2003 persists. Slowing growth implies fewer commodity imports – even if government sponsored infrastructure projects pick up some slack – clouding the outlook for countries like Brazil, Chile and Australia, among others. The Chinese government fiscal and monetary responses, which have already begun, could cushion its fall and aid in its rebalancing. Yet falling asset prices are taking their toll on local and national fiscal coffers and corporate profits and consumption could be the next shoe to drop as robust retail sales may not stand up to slowing income growth.

South Korea -

South Korea is the most vulnerable of Asian countries to a sudden stop of financial flows. Korea looks set for another financial crisis given its vulnerabilities that include: the highest loan-to-deposit ratio in the region, rapid growth of short-term foreign debt, a current account deficit, a slowing property market, high food/fuel prices squeezing small- and medium-sized enterprises in the construction industry as well as consumers and large corporations facing an export slowdown. Its currency is down roughly 30% year-to-date despite the announcement of a bank support package as foreign investors have pulled out of Korean assets in a flight-to-safety and de-leveraging that marks the global credit crisis. Many fear Korea's credit crisis will shape up to a repeat of 1997 but others believe that, due to its large war chest of forex reserves and its status as net creditor to the world, Korea's interbank dollar funding squeeze is unlikely to become a 1997 redux. The most worrisome sources of a potential Korean credit crisis are not the foreign currency bank debt built up from hedging exporters' USD shorts and the interest rate arbitrage that resulted as a by-product. Such foreign debt can surely exacerbate the de-leveraging that Korea’s bank sector faces, however the real fire starter for a Korean crisis is domestic debt. Korea needs to restructure after having over-invested in construction/real estate companies and over-lent to households. With a slowing economy endangering asset quality, Korean banks will need to get pickier about who they loan to.

Argentina -

The global financial meltdown has put Argentine's private pension assets in jeopardy. Argentina's government could move to take over the management of $28.7 billion in private pension funds that sharply declined in value this year due to global turmoil. The government is attempting to increase the pool of money it can borrow from in order to meet debt obligations next year. As of now, retirement and pension fund administrators manage private pension accounts for 9.5 million depositors, of which some 40% are active contributors. Essentially, most mandatory funds flow into the private pension system would now become part of the government's pay-as-you-go public pension scheme. Besides that, the government would have access to some USD 1.2bn per year in new flows currently deposited in the system. The idea of using social security funds to avoid a default (or to pay the debt) next year should cause a sharp drop in confidence in the country and in its government.

Brazil -

The financial crisis has triggered downwards revisions in economic growth in Brazil for 2009. While the country is set to post 5.1% this year, the forecast for 2009 is 2.8%. The financial crisis and decline in commodity prices which tent to reduce the amount of exports contribute to lower growth.

Venezuela -

In Venezuela, the key problem is the fact that its sovereign wealth fund, known as Fonden, holds about $300 million in debt instruments that Lehman had agreed to cash. With Lehman’s bankruptcy, Venezuela will have a hard time selling the debt. Moreover, the Venezuelan's sovereign wealth fund has a significant amount ($2billion) allocated in structured notes that have lost part of their value amidst crumbling markets, and therefore they are hard to cash to cover expenses. Meanwhile the fall in the oil price may crimp Venezuela’s fiscal expansionism.

US/Iraq Security Pact Crumbling

The Security Agreement between Iraq and the United States has hit numerous rocks, and there is better chance that it does not pass now before the end of the year, than that it does. This news should be getting covered more, but with the election, it is getting lost in the clutter. We really need to hear what the two candidates think on this, and how will they deal with it. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen last Tuesday is reported to have said that the Iraqis really do not have much time to pass this agreement and might not understand the full consequences of failure to do so. I think he is right that they might not have much time, but they know full well what the consequences are. If the Iraqi Parliament fails to approve the draft before the U.N. mandate expires Dec. 31, there would be no legal basis for the U.S.-led military mission to stay on. This in turn could force hard decisions in Baghdad and Washington on the future of the unpopular war.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh reacted sharply to Admiral Mullen on Wednesday. Dabbagh said, "It is not correct to force Iraqis into making a choice and it is not appropriate to talk with the Iraqis in this way."

This against the back drop of tens of thousands of al-Sadr followers who rallied in Baghdad against the proposal on Saturday. The mass public show of opposition came as U.S. and Iraqi leaders face a December 31st deadline to replace the U.N. mandate authorizing the U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

In another blow to the agreement, Grand Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri issued a fatwa denouncing the proposed security pact. Now his stand against the security pact has a lot to do with a struggle within the Shiite hiearchy. Grand Ayatollah Al-Haeri declines to live in Iraq under U.S. occupation and currently resides in Iranian holy city of Qom, and is a rival to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf.

A portion of Grand Ayatollah Al-Haeri's statement:

"We have learned of the pressures exerted by the Occupation forces on the Iraqi government for the purpose of obtaining its assent to a humiliating agreement termed 'a long term security agreement,' which leads to Iraq's loss of its national sovereignty, and its acceptance of humiliation and abasement."

"Whoso aids the Occupiers in achieving what they desire, God shall not forgive his sins, nor will the oppressed Iraqi nation go easy on him, norwill the blessed centers of Islamic learning nor any Muslim with a conscience who believes in the Judgment Day."

Grand Ayatollah Al-Haeri holds great sway with a large number of Shiites, and his words could gum up the works.

One way or another, As of Jan. 1, US troops will not be able to act at will in Iraq but rather will have to get assent from Iraqi authorities for campaigns.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Barack Obama's Speech from St. Louis

This speech was notable for the sheer size of the crowd, over 100,000 people, and that it took place in front of the Old Court House where the infamous Dred Scott case was held, one of the worst decisions ever made by the Supreme Court.

Watch a portion of the speech here:

LibertyAir Blog

God's Will???

Sarah Palin sat down with Focus on the Family's James Dobson for an interview, and she made one statement that really caught my eyes. Of course there was the obligatory discussion of abortion and conservative values. To be honest there was nothing surprising in their talk, it was the same faux christian value discussion, that really has nothing to do with Christ or his teachings.

No that was not what caught my attention. What did was when James Dobson asked the vice presidential hopeful if she is concerned about John McCain's sagging poll numbers. Palin of course stressed that she was "not discouraged at all."

"To me, it motivates us, makes us work that much harder," she told the influential Christian leader, whose radio show reaches tens of millions of listeners daily. "And it also strengthens my faith because I know at the end of the day putting this in God's hands, the right thing for America will be done, at the end of the day on Nov. 4."

Does this mean that if Barack Obama wins, it will have been God's will? Does that mean Sarah Palin will realize Republicans have very little in common with the teachings of Christ? Will a win by Obama shake her faith?

It leaves me wondering.

The Horror Ride Continues

A late afternoon barrage of selling sent the Dow Jones industrials tumbling almost 700 points before the index pulled back to close down near 500. Weak corporate earnings stoked fears that the government's financial intervention won't keep global economies out of recession.

Over 80% of States Reporting Job Losses

The Labor Department reported that 41 states and the District of Columbia each reported job losses for both the private sector and government jobs. Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported that net payrolls nationwide declined by 159,000 in September, the ninth straight month the U.S. economy has lost jobs. The numbers released Tuesday underline the grim condition of the nation's job market, and are a sign of a recession. Unemployment will likely accelerate, perhaps reaching 7.7% by the end of the year.

Rising unemployment rates could lead to even higher foreclosure rates in 2009, which will keep the housing market down. On Tuesday the chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association said, "While home-price declines have been driving foreclosure starts recently, mounting job losses could add another layer of stress." This means that 2009 could look even worse than 2008 which was a record year for mortgage foreclosures.

Biden Goes After RoboCalls

In Colorado yesterday, Joe Biden went on a tear blasting John McCain on his disgusting, sleazy, untrue robo-calls.

"If he's really serious when he said this morning on one of the shows, that this election is all about the economy, then I say, 'John, stop your ads. Bring down those robocalls.'"

"If it's about the economy, argue the economy.... John, stop these calls!"

Biden built his speech so that it climaxed with a chant of: "John, stop these calls!"

This is a really smart strategy for battling McCain's robo-slime. It reinforces the Obama campaign's chosen frame for the final month of the race: Anytime John McCain and his campaign surrogates steers the discussion away from real issues and towards Obama's bio or character, it's only because he's afraid to debate real issues like the economy, foriegn policy, health care, or energy. It's a great frame for the Obama Campaign and Obama, Biden, and their surrogates show no signs of losing this refrain.

The Young Turks: Who the real Anti-Americans Are & Why

One of, if not thee best Liberal Progressive show is The Young Turks. For those of you who don't know, the Young Turks was the first nationwide liberal talk show, and it's the first live, daily internet TV show. It was Air America's morning show for a while, and is again one of Air America's web only shows. It's a funny, smart, irreverent and entertaining look at politics, culture, and entertainment. And one of the main reasons why is their host Cenk Uyger, who is a former conservative, who has seen the light, and is willing to call BS what it is. He will unload on Republicans and Democrats both if they do what is wrong, immoral, or illegal. If you have not watched the show. YOU SHOULD. Check it out here.

Yesterday he went after Repuglican Hayes for his "Liberal's Hate Americans" statement, and does what liberals should always do against the hate mongers of the Right. Turn and punch back.

Watch his response to Repuglican Hayes:

LibertyAir Blog

Palin Has No Clue

As you know Sarah Palin has been kept away from most interviews by the media, having held no press conferences, no national interviews since the infamous Katie Couric, and even sit-downs with Fox and the rest of the Conservative Media has been few and sporadic.

This week we have more proof why.

Two days ago Sarah Palin sat for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. In response to a question sent to the network by a third grader at a local elementary school about what the Vice President does, Palin erroneously argued that the Vice President is “in charge of the United States Senate“:

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”

PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

Watch it here:

What is funny is that Sarah Palin herself asked this same question during a national television interview in July (before she was tagged as the GOP VP candidate, and was still doing interviews), and she still hasn’t learned the correct answer.

Article I of the Constitution establishes an exceptionally limited role for the Vice President — giving the office holder a vote only when the Senate is “equally divided”:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but
shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
Moreover, the U.S. Senate website explains that the modern role of Vice Presidents has been to preside over the Senate “only on ceremonial occasions.”

ThinkProgress contacted Senior Assistant Paliamentarian Peter Robinson, who also disputed Palin’s characterization of the Vice President’s role:
In modern practice the Vice President doesn’t really control the Senate. … If
anyone has a responsibility to try to govern the Senate, it’s the responsibility
of the two leaders.

Keith Olbermann responded to this latest example thatSarah Palin is not ready to be the Vice President. Watch it here:

LibertyAir Blog

In Pew Poll, Obama's Lead Widens: 52%-38%.

Today's news is that Barack Obama enjoys his widest margin yet in the Pew Poll over John McCain among registered voters, at 52% to 38%.

When the sample of voters is narrowed to those most likely to vote, Obama leads by 53% to 39%.

Barack Obama’s strong showing in the current poll reflects greater confidence in the Democratic candidate personally. More voters see him as “well-qualified” and “down-to-earth” than did so a month ago. Barack Obama also is inspiring more confidence on several key issues, including Iraq and terrorism, than he did before the debates. Most important, Obama now leads McCain as the candidate best able to improve economic conditions by a wider margin (53% to 32%).

Barack Obama’s lead over John McCain has steadily increased since mid-September, when the race was essentially even. Shortly after the first presidential debate in September, Obama moved to a 49% to 42% lead; that margin inched up to 50% to 40% in a poll taken just after the second debate.

Widespread loss of confidence in John McCain also appears to be a significant factor in the race at this point. Many more voters express doubts about John McCain’s judgment than about Barack Obama’s. A steadily growing number of voters say that John McCain has been too personally critical of Barack Obama, and a lot fewer voters view John McCain as inspiring than did at the beginning of this campaign. John McCain's smear tactics seem to have tarnished his image more than anything else. By contrast, 71% of voters continue to think of Obama as inspiring.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 16-19 among 2,599 registered voters interviewed on landline phones and cell phones, finds that McCain’s age also has become more of an issue for voters. Roughly a third says that John McCain is too old to be president. The numbers are slightly more than those who saw candidate Bob Dole as too old to be president in 1996.

Sarah Palin continues to to be a drag on the John McCain with 49% of voters express an unfavorable opinion of Palin. In mid-September, Sarah Palin's favorable opinions outnumbered negative ones by 54% to 32%. Women, especially women under age 50, have become increasingly critical of Sarah Palin, with 60% now expressing an unfavorable view of Sarah Palin, up from 36% in mid-September.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sarah Palin Spent $150,000 on Clothes

And that was in one month. It is being reported that the Republican National Committee appears to have spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize for Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since being picked by John McCain.

According to financial disclosure records, the shopping began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74. And a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September. The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.

Guess it takes a lot to make Caribou Barbie looking good.

Dow dropped 230 points today

The stock market will continue to be a roller-coaster. Today's drop came after forecasts from Dupont, Sun Microsystems and Texas Instruments raised fears that companies’ outlooks for the fourth quarter and beyond could indeed signal a severe economic downturn. But really who is looking at this economy and thinks we are not in a severe economic downturn.

After pretty good gains yesterday, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.5 percent, while the Nasdaq composite index lost more than 4 percent following weak showings by technology names.

The strain on the credit markets have continued to ease further in response to the sweeping series of bailout measures by world governments, including a joint U.S. and European plan to buy stakes in private banks to boost to their lending. Demand for Treasury bills, usually regarded as the safest investment assets around, has improved from last week in a sign that credit markets are gradually returning to a healthy state.

Bank-to-bank lending rates continued their retreat, another indication that credit is becoming easier to obtain. The London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, dropped to the lowest levels in more than a month.

Why Do Conservatives Hate Americans? Part 3

Repuglican Representative Hayes is a coward. This past weekend in front of a McCain Mob he was all tough as he declared that liberals HATE real Americans, yet when confronted about this statement by the press and the liberal blogosphere, does he have the courage to back his words?

No the lying coward tries to deny it. He lies and says he never said any such thing. Yeah, too bad it was caught on tape, you liar. Have you ever heard of a recording device? I hope Jon Stewart picks this one up, and skewers Liar Hayes. Just so people remember, the exact quote was "Folks, there's a real America, and liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God."

You can hear it here:

LibertyAir Blog

Report: McCain Campaign Not Counting on Colorado

CNN is reporting that heading into the final two weeks of the election, the McCain campaign is close to conceding that Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado are beyond their reach. Two top strategists for the McCain campaign told CNN that the situation in those three states is looking increasingly bleak for the Republican candidate. This means that the McCain campaign is looking at an Electoral College strategy that has virtually no room for error and depends heavily on a dramatic comeback in Pennsylvania.

One reason the McCain campaign believe Colorado is slipping away is that the Obama campaign and its allies have a far superior ground/turnout operation, that has been built up ever since the primaries.

CNN reports that McCain's strategy seems to depend on holding a handful of states that went for George Bush in 2004. However a number of these states are now rated as tossups by CNN; these include Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Missouri and Nevada. This strategy also depends on keeping Virginia, which CNN now considers leaning Democratic, in the GOP column.

McCain campaign communications director Jill Hazelbaker disputed the sources' accounts.
"We see the race tightening both internally and in public polling," she said. "We are within striking distance in the key battleground states we need to win."

More News in the World Banking Industry

Beyond the stock markets there was other financial news concerning the world economy.

Sweden became the latest government to shore up its financial sector, presenting a plan worth 1.5 trillion kronor (152.2 billion euros, 206.1 billion dollars).

The French government said it would inject 10.5 billion euros (14 billion dollars) into the country's six biggest banks to boost their capital following moves by fellow European countries. Among the beneficiaries, the biggest bank Credit Agricole will get 3.0 billion euros, BNP Paribas will get 2.55 billion and Societe Generale 1.7 billion.

There was also more gloom in Britain, with the release of figures showing its public deficit worsened to 12.6 billion pounds (21.6 billion dollars, 16.2 billion dollars) last month. The September figure compared with a deficit of 8.7 billion pounds 12 months earlier, said the Office for National Statistics.

Fed Backs New Stimulus Plan

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke called for a new stimulus plan to pump cash into the flagging US economy on Monday as stock markets worldwide bounced back from recent lows.

In remarks to the House of Representatives budget committee, Bernanke said the US economy risked a "protracted slowdown," and that US lawmakers were right to consider a second stimulus plan this year as activity slows across the country.

"With the economy likely to be weak for several quarters and with some risk of a protracted slowdown, consideration of a fiscal package by the Congress at this juncture seems appropriate," said Bernanke.

These remarks came after a report was published which predicts that the financial crisis could push worldwide unemployment to a record high.

Also yesterday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson came out with more details concerning the U.S. rescue plan that was recently passed. He stated that banks had until November 14 to apply for some of the 250 billion dollars that have been set aside for capital injections by the government.

Paulson said "a broad group of banks of all sizes" had shown interest in a capital injection in exchange for preferred shares, or partial nationalizations.

Dow Closes Up Over 9,000 Points

The market is back up over 9,000 again, at least for now, with the Dow closing up over 400 points yesterday.

European stock markets rose Tuesday ahead of Wall Street's open as interbank lending rates continued to decline. British shares was 1 percent higher, Germany's DAX was up 0.9 percent, and France's CAC-40 index of leading shares rose more strongly at 2.4 percent.

Asian stocks were mixed. Japan's benchmark Nikkei was up 3.3 percent, Australia, the main index gained 3.9 percent, India's stockmarket was the biggest winner up point 6.5, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 1.84 percent, Shanghai's benchmark fell 0.8 percent and South Korea's index shed about 1 percent.

Stock markets overall continue to be buoyed by the fall in interbank lending rates as they may presage more stable conditions across all the financial markets. There has been a slow trickle of good news coming through, notably with lower Libor rates. Figures released this morning show that the lending rates between banks in the U.S. and Europe have dropped to the lowest levels in over a month as credit markets continue to improve.

However, futures have indicated the Dow may give up some of the gains made yesterday, when it opens today with profit-taking and unease about the health of some major U.S. corporations. Among the companies reporting today are Caterpillar Inc., Apple Inc., DuPont Co. and Pfizer Inc.

Just 14 Days Left

I know the campaign has gone on, and on, and on, but we are actually on the final stretch.

Thank GOD!!!

Rick Davis: Campaign Rethinking Playing The Rev. Wright Card

Of course they are.

Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager says he is reconsidering using Barack Obama's relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright as a campaign issue during the election's closing weeks.

Of course he is, he has nothing else. John McCain has no ideas, no plans, no strategies.

In an appearance on conservative Hugh Hewitt's radio program, Davis said that circumstances had changed. Yes, he has run a terrible campaign, and is getting his ass handed to him.

Of course it's not John McCain's fault that they are going to go even slimier and are now going to bring up Jeremiah Wright, no its Representative John Lewis's fault. Yes John Lewis who McCain thinks is one of the three wisest men in Congress, spoke of his concern for the hate that has been evident at McCain and Palin rallies, is at fault for McCain going even more negative.

Rick Davis should go home and count his millions in lobbyist fees.

Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Calls Agreement DOA

The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) is the largest voting bloc in the current Iraqi parliment, and they have published a detailed critique of the draft security agreement that has been reached by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and George W. Bush. One unnamed ISCI parliamentarian called the agreement "dead on arrival."

If al-Maliki cannot get the support for it of ISCI, his chief partner in parliament, then the agreement cannot be passed. Too many other political movements, including most Sunnis groups and the Sadrists, oppose the security agreement, for it to succeed in the absence of ISCI support.

ISCI states in their critique that they want to renegotiate key points, but it is unlikely that the the Bush administration has the patience to do this.

This could mean that there is no security agreement by the end of the year, which will place the occupation in legal limbo, as there is a good chance the US could not get an extension from the UN because of the current poor relations with Georgia.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Barack Obama is canceling nearly all his campaign events Thursday and Friday to fly to Hawaii to visit his gravely ill 85-year-old grandmother.

Our hearts and best wishes are with Senator Obama and his family.

Keith Olbermann: Special Comment on the notion of 'Us vs. Them'

Keith Olbermann gave another fiery Special Comment, this time hitting the McCain Campaign and the Republicans for trying to divide this country, with the entire notion 'Us vs. Them' screed.

It will be forever John McCain's shame that he allowed his campaign and surrogates to divide Americans and America into "good" and "bad". He is no longer a man who can reach across the aisle.

Watch Keith Olbermann here:

Why Do Conservatives Hate Americans? Part 2

This past Sunday irate McCain supporters gather to protest and heckle a crowd of people . . . voting . . . in North Carolina.


What the hell is wrong with these people?

The Washington Times’s Christina Bellantoni reported that a “group of loud and angry protestors” — almost all of whom were white — were shouting and mocking voters — nearly all of whom were black. She noted that people “were shouting about Obama’s acknowledged cocaine use as a young man, abortion and one man used the word ‘terrorist.’ They also were complaining that Sundays are for church, not voting.”

Watch it:

These people truly are Anti-American.

LibertyAir Blog

Why Do Conservatives Hate Americans?

This is my question that I want answered. Why do North Carolina Representatives Patrick McHenry and Robin Hayes hate half of America?

On Saturday, these two idiots warmed up the crowd at a John McCain rally by throwing red meat to the right-wing audience. Anti-American Hayes accused liberals of hating “real Americans”, not that he would know a real American if he saw one.

And when McHenry was doing his speech he said that voters had a critical choice between McCain and Barack Obama this election. Of course a total mouth breather in the audience yelled out, “It’s like black and white” to loud laughter. McHenry showing a ton of class let the remark pass.

You know I am not comfortable being this crass, but I am really sick of these assholes who think that somehow they are more authentic Americans. That somehow they are superior. They have no idea what America really is or what it stands for. They just happen to live here.

Crazy Rightwing Bachmann Denies She Ever Called Obama ‘Anti-American’»

I blogged a post last Friday after right-wing nutjob Representative Michele Bachmann appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball (see my post here) where she called for a McCarthy like investigation into the “anti-American views” of members of Congress. This of course ignited the Liberal Bloggasphere and Bachmann has come under a withering storm of criticism. Her opponent — Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg — has raised over $640,000 since Bachmann’s nutty comments.

Yesterday morning, Representative Bachmann tried to undo the damage she had done to her self. Appearing on the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis, St. Paul, WCCO, Bachmann denied she ever called Barack Obama’s views “anti-American.”

HOST: You do feel his [Obama’s] views are anti-American?

BACHMANN: I feel his views are concerning. I’m calling on the media to investigate them. I’m not saying that his views are anti-American. That was a misreading of what I said. And so I don’t believe that’s my position. I’m calling on the media to
take a look at what his views are.
This of course is a comple and utter lie, noteful only in how bold a lie it is. Here’s what Michele Bachmann actually said during her Hardball interview:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: So you believe that Barack Obama may have anti-American views?

BACHMANN: Absolutely. I’m very concerned he may have anti-American views.
Also in her Hardball appearance, Michelle Bachmann said:
“The news media should do a penetrating exposé [into the] views of the people in Congress and find out if they’re pro-America or anti-America.”

Rush Limbaugh Reacts to Collin Powell

Rush Limbaugh, has of course come out to denounce Collin Powell for his endorsement of Barack Obama. He of course thinks the whole thing has to do with Obama being black.

The fat racist came out and said, "Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race... OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with."

Uhh, Fatman, I'll help you out, go back to 2000 and you will see that General Powell endorsed an inexperienced, white candidate, it's just that he was a "compassionate conservative."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Big Week for News Paper Endorsements for Obama

This was a big week for newspapers giving their endorsement to the Presidential candidates. Editor and Publisher (E&P) has been tracking all the papers and keeping a tally of endorsements for each candidate. In recent days the overwhelming trend from big city newspapers in editorial endorsements has favored Barack Obama, including several newspapers that had backed George W. Bush in 2004 switching over to the Democratic candidate this year. In all the Obama-Biden ticket has a strong lead in the race for daily newspaper endorsements, leading 104 to 32, a better than 3-1 margin. And in these endorsements have been four general themes:

1) The country is a mess;
2) John McCain is a disappointment;
3) The biggest disappointment from McCain is Sarah Palin, who is a blithering idiot; &
4) Obama is the president the country needs.
The Obama campaign picked up over 50 more newspaper endorsements in the past few days, including the Detroit Free Press, Buffalo News, Cleveland's Plain Dealer, Palm Beach (Fla.) Post, New York's Daily News, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Portland's The Oregonian, Denver Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Salt Lake Tribune, Kansas City Star, and Chicago Sun-Times.

Two big surprises came from deep in the heart of Texas, with the Houston Chronicle and Austin American Statesman coming out for Obama today.

The Houston Chronicle endorsed a Democrat for the first time since Johnson (who was a home grown Texan) in 1964. Like many of the Conservative newspapers that have jumped ship on the Republican candidate, John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin made their decision fairly straight-forward:

Perhaps the worst mistake McCain made in his campaign for the White House was the choice of the inexperienced and inflammatory Palin as his vice-presidential running mate. Had he selected a moderate, experienced Republican lawmaker such as Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison with a strong appeal to independents, the Chronicle's choice for an endorsement would have been far more difficult.
Other newspapers that switched from George W. Bush to Barack Obama included the New Haven (CT) Register, The Times-Reporter in New Philadelphia (Ohio), The Stockton (Ca.) Record, Pasadena (Ca.) Star-News, Naples (Fla.) Daily-News, and Canton (Ohio) Repository, among others. In total 25 newspapers that endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 have now given their support to Barak Obama.

Another prominent newspaper of these 25 is the Chicago Tribune, which has never endorsed a Democrat since it's inception in 1847. This newspaper has known Barack Obama for years longer than the rest of this nation, as they mentioned in their endorsement. I am posting it in full here:

However this election turns out, it will dramatically advance America's slow progress toward equality and inclusion. It took Abraham Lincoln's extraordinary courage in the Civil War to get us here. It took an epic battle to secure women the right to vote. It took the perseverance of the civil rights movement. Now we have an election in which we will choose the first African-American president . . . or the first female vice president.

In recent weeks it has been easy to lose sight of this history in the making. Americans are focused on the greatest threat to the world economic system in 80 years. They feel a personal vulnerability the likes of which they haven't experienced since Sept. 11, 2001. It's a different kind of vulnerability. Unlike Sept. 11, the economic threat hasn't forged a common bond in this nation. It has fed anger, fear and mistrust.

On Nov. 4 we're going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose.

The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to
endorse him today for president of the United States. On Dec. 6, 2006, this page encouraged Obama to join the presidential campaign. We wrote that he would celebrate our common values instead of exaggerate our differences. We said he would raise the tone of the campaign. We said his intellectual depth would sharpen the policy debate. In the ensuing 22 months he has done just that.

Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.

We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.The change that Obama talks about so much is not simply a change in this policy or that one. It is not fundamentally about lobbyists or Washington insiders. Obama envisions a change in the way we deal with one another in politics and government. His opponents may say this is empty, abstract rhetoric. In fact, it is hard to imagine how we are going to
deal with the grave domestic and foreign crises we face without an end to the savagery and a return to civility in politics.


This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time
the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president.The Tribune in its earliest days took up the abolition of slavery and linked itself to a powerful force for that cause--the Republican Party. The Tribune's first great leader, Joseph Medill, was a founder of the GOP. The editorial page has been a proponent of conservative principles. It believes that government has to serve people honestly and efficiently.

With that in mind, in 1872 we endorsed Horace Greeley, who ran as an independent against the corrupt administration of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant. (Greeley was later endorsed by the Democrats.) In 1912 we endorsed Theodore Roosevelt, who ran as the Progressive Party candidate against Republican President William Howard Taft.

The Tribune's decisions then were driven by outrage at inept and corrupt business and political leaders.

We see parallels today.

The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. The government ran a $237 billion surplus in 2000, the year before Bush took office -- and recorded a $455 billion deficit in 2008. The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because, as we said at the time, they gave the nation rampant spending and Capitol Hill corruption. They abandoned their principles. They paid the price.

We might have counted on John McCain to correct his party's course. We like McCain. We endorsed him in the Republican primary in Illinois. In part because of his persuasion and resolve, the U.S. stands to win an unconditional victory in Iraq.

It is, though, hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush's tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them. He promises a balanced budget by the end of his first term, but his tax cut plan would add an estimated $4.2 trillion in debt over 10 years. He has responded to the economic crisis with an angry, populist message and a misguided, $300 billion proposal to buy up bad mortgages.McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate--but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.

Obama chose a more experienced and more thoughtful running mate--he put governing before politicking. Sen. Joe Biden doesn't bring many votes to Obama,
but he would help him from day one to lead the country.


McCain calls Obama a typical liberal politician. Granted, it's disappointing that Obama's mix of tax cuts for most people and increases for the wealthy would create an estimated $2.9 trillion in federal debt. He has made more promises on spending than McCain has. We wish one of these candidates had given good, hard specific information on how he would bring the federal budget into line. Neither one has.

We do, though, think Obama would govern as much more of a pragmatic centrist than many people expect.

We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus. He was most effective in the Illinois legislature when he worked with Republicans on welfare, ethics and criminal justice reform.He worked to expand the number of charter schools in Illinois--not popular with some Democratic constituencies.

He took up ethics reform in the U.S. Senate--not popular with Washington politicians.

His economic policy team is peppered with advisers who support free trade. He has been called a "University of Chicago Democrat"--a reference to the famed free-market Chicago school of economics, which puts faith in markets.


Obama is deeply grounded in the best aspirations of this country, and we need to return to those aspirations. He has had the character and the will to achieve great things despite the obstacles that he faced as an unprivileged black man in the U.S.He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.

When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.

It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful
office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States.

Here are some additional excerpts from a number of the endorsements from battleground states:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Over the past nine months, Mr. Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, has emerged as the only truly transformative candidate in the race. In the crucible that is a presidential campaign, his intellect, his temperament and equanimity under pressure consistently have been impressive. He has surrounded himself with smart, capable advisers who have helped him refine thorough, nuanced policy positions.

In a word, Mr. Obama has been presidential.Meanwhile, Mr. McCain, the senior senator from Arizona, became the incredible shrinking man. He shrank from his principled stands in favor of a humane immigration policy. He shrank from his universal condemnation of torture and his condemnation of the politics of smear.

He even shrank from his own campaign slogan, “County First,” by selecting the least qualified running mate since the Swedenborgian shipbuilder Arthur Sewall ran as William Jennings Bryan’s No. 2 in 1896.

The Denver Post:

The Denver Post's editorial board Friday endorsed Democrat Sen. Barack Obama for president.

The Post thinks Obama is better equipped to lead America back to a prosperous future. In unsteady times, it may seem obvious to gravitate toward the veteran politician, but in this campaign, it's been the newcomer who has had the steady hand.

Dayton Daily News:

Sen. McCain's campaign has been as disappointing as his move toward party orthodoxy. More than his opponent, he has run a relentless stream of commercials that have been discredited by nonpartisan fact-checkers. (Last week, all his ads were negative.)

He has articulated no vision for the country other than to suggest that it should believe in him as an individual, as a war hero of independent judgment.His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate was stunning. She is shockingly lacking in presidential qualifications.

Some of Sen. McCain's most enthusiastic supporters have been forced to admit this. Her defenders say her resume compares well with Sen. Obama's, but it does not.

Alaska is tiny in population and atypical in its issues. And she'd been governor for only a year and a half when she was tapped. At any rate, as some interviews have shown, she's no Barack Obama.Sen. McCain presents her as a fellow "maverick." Nonsense.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Despite the recent nastiness of his campaign. Sen. McCain is essentially a good man, but he is yesterday's man. His campaign takes its core text from the "Wizard of Oz": Don't mind the man behind the curtain. That man is George Bush, the failed magician who cannot be spoken of lest the American people be reminded of what he has wrought and what party he belongs to.

To make their trick work, Mr. McCain and his running mate, Gov. Palin, trade heavily on being mavericks -- too heavily to be believed.It is true that Mr. McCain has a capricious streak that has made him a thorn in the side of his own party on various issues. Yet while he has not joined the know-nothing brigade in climate change denial, he has picked a running mate who is a diva in the drill, baby, drill chorus of fossil-fuel adulation.

Toledo Blade:
Sen. John McCain, by nature, has shown himself to be incapable of providing the American people with an optimistic vision of the future. Firmly rooted in the failed politics and policies of the past, he cannot guide us on a path he does not see.Senator Obama already has demonstrated that he is a man of the future in the way he has inspired a new generation of voters to become involved in the political process and to actively strive for a better tomorrow.

The readership of the newspapers backing Obama now stands at over 10 million vs. McCain's just under 2.5 million.