Thursday, October 16, 2008

Message to McCain

There's a fine line between "maverick" and "ass." On Friday, John McCain crossed that line right into ass-dom. . At a campaign rally, McCain stood in front of his own supporters and told them Barack Obama isn't so bad. We need not fear an Obama presidency, he said. After all, Obama is a "decent" man. McCain went on to say he still believes he'd be the better president. Thanks, Mac. How about a cocktail with that grenade you just blew up in our faces?

McCain understandably-and justifiably-got booed by those at his rally. They were there to support him. To cheer him on. To buoy him at a time of sinking poll numbers. To give him the energy to fight on. What they got in return was a suggestion from their guy that it was OK to vote for the other guy.

Well, Senator McCain: you may not be angry, but we are. You may not be upset that Obama is about to walk away with this election, but we are. You may not be concerned that ACORN is making off with stuffed ballot boxes, but we are. You may not be teed off about the economic mess, but we are. You may not be upset about America's enemies-from Russia to Iran to North Korea-reasserting themselves, but we are. You may think an Obama presidency won't be "scary," but we do. You may be willing to toss in the towel, but we aren't.

Senator: you've got 3 weeks to turn this sucker around. Three weeks to remind us how "scary" an Obama presidency will be: from appeasing our enemies to filling 3 Supreme Court vacancies to taxing us to death and killing whatever's left of the economy. Maybe that doesn't scare you, but it scares us to pieces. We are fighting for you. We expect you to do the bare minimum in your own fight. And right now, you're not even doing that.



America Will Remain the Superpower

When the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under.

Constantinople fell to the Ottomans after two centuries of retreat and decline. It took two world wars, a global depression and the onset of the Cold War to lay the British Empire low. So it's a safe bet that the era of American dominance will not be brought to a close by credit default swaps, mark-to-market accounting or (even) Barney Frank.

Not that there's a shortage of invitations to believe otherwise. Almost in unison, Germany's finance minister, Russia's prime minister and Iran's president predict the end of U.S. "hegemony," financial and/or otherwise. The New York Times weighs in with meditations on "A Power That May Not Stay So Super." Der Spiegel gives us "The End of Hubris." Guardian columnist John Gray sees "A Shattering Moment in America's Fall From Power."

Much of this is said, or written, with ill-disguised glee. But when the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under. Before yesterday's surge, the Dow had dropped 25% in three months. But that only means it had outperformed nearly every single major foreign stock exchange, including Germany's XETRADAX (down 28%) China's Shanghai exchange (down 30%), Japan's NIKK225 (down 37%), Brazil's BOVESPA (down 41%) and Russia RTSI (down 61%). These contrasts are a useful demonstration that America's financial woes are nobody else's gain.

On the other hand, global economic distress doesn't invariably work at cross-purposes with American interests. Hugo Chÿvez's nosedive toward bankruptcy begins when oil dips below $80 a barrel, the price where it hovers now. An identical logic, if perhaps at a different price, applies to the petrodictatorships in Moscow and Tehran, which already are heavily saddled with inflationary and investor-confidence concerns. Russia will also likely burn through its $550 billion in foreign-currency reserves faster than anticipated -- a pleasing if roundabout comeuppance for last summer's Georgian adventure.

Nor does the U.S. seem all that badly off, comparatively speaking, when it comes to its ability to finance a bailout. Last month's $700 billion bailout package seems staggeringly large, but it amounts to a little more than 5% of U.S. gross domestic product. Compare that to Germany's $400 billion to $536 billion rescue package (between 12% and 16% of its GDP), or Britain's $835 billion plan (30%). Of course it may require considerably more than $700 billion to clean out our Augean Stables. But here it helps that the ratio of government debt to GDP in the U.S. runs to about 62%. For the eurozone, it's 75%; for Japan, 180%.

It also helps that the U.S. continues to have the world's largest inflows of foreign direct investment; that it ranks third in the world (after Singapore and New Zealand) for ease of doing business, according to the World Bank; and that its demographic trends aren't headed toward a tall and steep cliff -- as they are in the EU, Russia, Japan and China.

Above all, the U.S. remains biased toward financial transparency. I am agnostic as to whether mark-to-market accounting is a good idea; last month's temporary ban on short-selling financials seemed a bad one. But a system that demands timely and accurate financial disclosure and doesn't interfere with price discovery will invariably prove more resilient over time than a system that does not make such demands. If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were financial time bombs of one kind, then surely China's state-owned enterprises are time bombs of another. Can anyone determine with even approximate confidence the extent of their liabilities?

More here



Federal Court: Ohio Must Check Voter Registrations: "A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered Ohio's top elections official to set up a system by Friday to verify the eligibility of newly registered voters and make the information available to the state's 88 county election boards. The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling that Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner must use other government records to check thousands of new voters for registration fraud. A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit had disagreed last week. The full court's ruling, in which nine of 16 judges concurred, overturns that decision. Ohio Republicans had sued Brunner, a Democrat. Her spokesman had no immediate comment Tuesday."

Ship held by pirates freed in gun battle: "Soldiers of a regional government, with guns blazing, have freed a cargo ship that pirates had held off the Somali coast for five days, according to an official from the region. The ship and the 11 crew members - nine Syrians and two Somalis - were freed after a gun battle in which one soldier was killed and three wounded, said Deputy Seaport Minister Abdiqadir Muse Geele. No hostages or pirates were hurt, Geele said. The 10 pirates who had held the ship since Thursday surrendered when they ran out of ammunition, said Geele, who is a deputy minister in the government of the northern Somalia semiautonomous region of Puntland."

Oil price now roughly half what it was: "Oil fell more than 3 percent on Tuesday as concerns the global economy could slip into recession and drag down demand outweighed optimism over the bank bailout plans. U.S. crude settled down $2.56 at $78.63 a barrel after hitting $84.83 earlier. London Brent crude settled down $2.93 at $74.53 a barrel. Slumping demand in the United States and other big consuming nations and the mounting financial crisis have dragged crude off record peaks over $147 a barrel hit in July. Further pressure has come as investors sell oil for safer haven investments."

McCain's Killer Question: "If the economy is truly the issue that will decide this election, John McCain only needs to ask one rhetorical question to the American people during Wednesday night's debate: Are you currently working for, or have you ever worked for, a poor person? The implication is so obvious but, in today's liberal-dominated media, a conservative's first duty is to state the obvious. Jobs are produced by people with money who are trying to make more money. This is why those engaging in class warfare by "sticking it" to the rich are ultimately "sticking it" to themselves. Ask them, "Would you rather `stick it to the rich' or have a job?"

UK: Storm over Big Brother database: "Early plans to create a giant `Big Brother' database holding information about every phone call, email and internet visit made in the UK were last night condemned by the Government's own terrorism watchdog. Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the independent reviewer of anti-terrorist laws, said the `raw idea' of the database was `awful' and called for controls to stop government agencies using it to conduct fishing expeditions into the private lives of the public. Today the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is expected to signal the Government's intention to press ahead with proposals."

An article posted on Of Interest argues that Sarah Palin gives intellectuals the horrors because she is a rare voice from the workers whom they parasitize.


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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