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One in five households watch Obama infomercial

Nielsen has released the ratings for the Obama infomercial in 56 local markets.

Overall, for the six networks that aired the program simultaneously, the spot had a household rating of 21.7% (meaning that 21.7 percent of all households watching television were tuned to the spot.)

In comparison, the final debate between the two presidential candidates received a 38.3 household rating in the top 56 local TV markets. The candidates’ first debate on September 26 received a 34.7 household rating in the top 55 markets; their second debate, on October 7, received a 42.0 household rating in those markets.

The last presidential candidate to air a paid simulcast was Ross Perot in 1996, which received a national household rating of 16.8.

Is it all Palin’s fault? Look back at the horrible things the McCain camp had Palin say ~ and like a soldier she followed their orders! John McCain has no one to blame but himself. His economic plan would give Exxon Mobil with it’s record profits more of the tax payers money, but he is appauled by a middle class tax cut – in these times. What he was hoping to do was to ride the security and war issue for a third Republican term, but once the economy failed – an economy – his policies helped to construct – never mind his erratic reaction – it simply wasn’t going to be easy to sell the very same economic plan to the American people and he is already tanking in the polls and likely he will tank on the election day.

What’s irony of it all is that people may have voted for the old McCain – the McCain who was more concerned about the average Joe – then the interests of lobbyist and the narrowly focused issues of the far-right of his party.

John McCain’s campaign is looking for a scapegoat. It is looking for someone to blame if McCain loses on Tuesday.

And it has decided on Sarah Palin.

In recent days, a McCain “adviser” told Dana Bash of CNN: “She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone.”

Imagine not taking advice from the geniuses at the McCain campaign. What could Palin be thinking?

Also, a “top McCain adviser” told Mike Allen of Politico that Palin is “a whack job.”

Maybe she is. But who chose to put this “whack job” on the ticket? Wasn’t it John McCain? And wasn’t it his first presidential-level decision?

And if you are a 72-year-old presidential candidate, wouldn’t you expect that your running mate’s fitness for high office would come under a little extra scrutiny? And, therefore, wouldn’t you make your selection with care? (To say nothing about caring about the future of the nation?)

McCain didn’t seem to care that much. McCain admitted recently on national TV that he “didn’t know her well at all” before he chose Palin.

But why not? Why didn’t he get to know her better before he made his choice?

It’s not like he was rushed. McCain wrapped up the Republican nomination in early March. He didn’t announce his choice for a running mate until late August.

Wasn’t that enough time for McCain to get to know Palin? Wasn’t that enough time for his crackerjack “vetters” to investigate Palin’s strengths and weaknesses, check through records and published accounts, talk to a few people, and learn that she was not only a diva but a whack job diva?

But McCain picked her anyway. He wanted to close the “enthusiasm gap” between himself and Barack Obama. He wanted to inject a little adrenaline into the Republican National Convention. He wanted to goose up the Republican base.

And so he chose Palin. Is she really a diva and a whack job? Could be. There are quite a few in politics. (And a few in journalism, too, though in journalism they are called “columnists.”)

As proof that she is, McCain aides now say Palin is “going rogue” and straying from their script. Wow. What a condemnation. McCain sticks to the script. How well is he doing?

In truth, Palin’s real problem is not her personality or whether she takes orders well. Her real problem is that neither she nor McCain can make a credible case that Palin is ready to assume the presidency should she need to.

And that undercuts McCain’s entire campaign.

This was the deal McCain made with the devil. In exchange for energizing his base by picking Palin, he surrendered his chief selling point: that he was better prepared to run the nation in time of crisis, whether it be economic, an attack by terrorists or, as he has been talking about in recent days, fending off a nuclear war.

“The next president won’t have time to get used to the office,” McCain told a crowd in Miami on Wednesday. “I’ve been tested, my friends, I’ve been tested.”

But has Sarah Palin?

I don’t believe running mates win or lose elections, though some believe they can be a drag on the ticket. Lee Atwater, who was George H.W. Bush’s campaign manager in 1988, told me that Dan Quayle cost the ticket 2 to 3 percentage points. But Bush won the election by 7.8 percentage points.

So, in Atwater’s opinion, Bush survived his bad choice by winning the election on his own.

McCain could do the same thing. But his campaign’s bad decisions have not stopped with Sarah Palin. It has made a series of questionable calls, including making Joe the Plumber the embodiment of the campaign.

Are voters really expected to warmly embrace an (unlicensed) plumber who owes back taxes and complains about the possibility of making a quarter million dollars a year?

And did McCain’s aides really believe so little in John McCain’s own likability that they thought Joe the Plumber would be more likable?

Apparently so. Which is sad.

We in the press make too much of running mates and staff and talking points and all the rest of the hubbub that accompanies a campaign.

In the end, it comes down to two candidates slugging it out.

Either McCain pulls off a victory in the last round or he doesn’t.

And if he doesn’t, he has nobody to blame but himself.

Largest U.S. oil company surges past analyst estimates to post net income of $14.83 billion.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Exxon Mobil Corp. set a quarterly profit record for a U.S. company Thursday, surging past analyst estimates.

Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500), the leading U.S. oil company, said its third-quarter net profit was $14.83 billion, or $2.86 per share, up from $9.41 billion, or $1.70, a year earlier. That profit included $1.45 billion in special items.

The company’s prior record was $11.68 billion in the second quarter of 2008.

The latest quarter’s net income equaled $1,865.69 per second, nearly $400 a second more than the prior mark.

The company said its revenue totaled $137.7 billion in the third quarter.

Shell profits up 22%

Shell profits up 22%

Analysts had expected Exxon to report a 40% jump in earnings to $2.38 per share, or net income of $12.2 billion, and a 28% surge in revenue to $131.13 billion, according to a consensus of estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Exxon’s stock price slipped by nearly 3% in afternoon trading.

The company’s earnings were buoyed by oil prices, which reached record highs in the quarter before declining. Oil prices were trading at $140.97 a barrel at the beginning of the third quarter, and had fallen to $100.64 at the end.

Compare that to 2007, when prices traded at $71.09 a barrel at the beginning of the third quarter, and rose to $81.66 by the end.

Exxon’s special charges include the gain of $1.62 billion from the sale of a German natural gas company. It also includes the $170 million charge in interest related to punitive damages from the Valdez oil spill off the Alaskan coast in 1989.

The Irving, Texas-based company said it lost $50 million, before taxes, in oil revenue because of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The company expects damages related to these hurricanes to reduce fourth-quarter earnings by $500 million.

Despite the surge in profit, Exxon said oil production was down 8% in the third quarter, compared to the same period last year.

The company also said it is spending more money to locate new sources of oil. Exxon said it spent $6.9 billion on oil exploration in the third quarter, a jump of 26% from the same period last year. The company said it began a new program to tap natural gas offshore from Nigeria.

Exxon also has an aggressive program for buying back stock with 109 million of its shares repurchased during the third quarter, at a cost of $8.7 billion.

In a conference call with analysts, David Rosenthal, vice president of investor relations for Exxon, said the company’s “first priority” is utilizing profits to continue investing in exploration programs for oil and other resources.

Source: CNNMoney

Joe, Joe, Jooe…

WASHINGTON – The government reported Thursday the economy shrank in the summer, the strongest signal yet that a recession may have already begun, a day after the Federal Reserve slashed a key interest rate to battle an economic downturn.

The Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, fell at an annual rate of 0.3 percent in the July-September period, a significant slowdown after growth of 2.8 percent in the prior quarter.

AP – A man passes by an ice sculpture entitled Main Street Meltdown, in New York

AP – A man passes by an ice sculpture entitled Main Street Meltdown, in New York

The spring activity had been boosted by the $168 billion economic stimulus program, but the economy ran into a wall in the summer as the mass mailings of stimulus checks ended and consumer confidence was shaken by the upheavals on global markets. Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the economy, dropped by the largest amount in 28 years in the third quarter.

The classic definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. Many analysts believe the GDP will decline in the current October-December period by an even larger amount and they are forecasting a negative GDP figure in the first three months of next year.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, which is the official arbiter of recessions in this country, has not said when it will make its determination of whether the country has entered a recession.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for unemployment benefits remained at an elevated level last week, another sign of the economy’s struggles. The number of laid-off workers filing new claims totaled 479,000, the same as the previous week, disappointing analysts who had expected a small drop. […]

Source: AP

A lot is going wrong in this election, from malfunctioning electronic voting machines to voters being purged mistakenly from the rolls. But one thing is going very right: early voting. In the more than 30 states that allow early or no-excuse absentee voting, voters have been casting ballots in record numbers. Early voting has many advantages. The main one is that it makes it likely that more eligible voters will participate in democracy.

Election Day has traditionally been held on a single day — a Tuesday. Congress scheduled federal elections on Tuesdays because they worked well for farmers and Sabbath observers. But in the 21st century, having one day to vote is an antiquated relic. Voters have to fit in a visit to the polls with their work, family and other responsibilities. Many cannot find the time, particularly when lines are as long as they have been in recent times.

The answer, as many states have discovered, is to move away from a single day of voting and allow voters to cast ballots over a period of days or weeks. Voters across the country have responded enthusiastically. In Florida, more than one million people have already cast ballots at early voting centers, some waiting on lines for hours to do so. In Georgia, too, more than one million people already have voted, a big jump from the less than 500,000 people who voted early four years ago.

Some people are wary of early voting. As Susan Saulny reported in The Times on Wednesday, there are rumors in the African-American community in Jacksonville, Fla., that early voting is a scam and that the votes cast early would be discarded. Given Florida’s history with electoral mischief, some skepticism about election procedures is not only understandable, but necessary.

But the truth is that early voting actually makes it harder for the forces of disenfranchisement to stop eligible voters from casting ballots. If election officials try to require voters to present ID when it is not required by law, early voting gives voters a chance to simply return the next day. Dirty tricks are also harder to pull off. If political operatives want to jam get-out-the-vote telephone lines, as they did on Election Day in New Hampshire in 2002, it would be harder to do if people voted over two weeks.

Early voting also reduces the burden on election systems that are often stretched near to the breaking point. In 2004, voters waited in lines as long as 10 hours. And there is every indication that lines on Tuesday, in some places and at some times, will again be extraordinarily long. The more people who vote early, the fewer who will be lined up at the polls on Election Day.

Now that it is clear how successful the early-voting process has been, the states that have not adopted it — including New York — should do so. Congress should also mandate early voting for federal elections — ideally as part of a larger federal bill that would fix the wide array of problems with the electoral system. Today, the idea that all voting must occur in a 15-hour window, or less, on a single day is as outdated as a punch-card voting machine.

Look in later today for our On the Road piece from Wilmington, North Carolina. We’re a bit ahead of our coverage, which occasionally happens out here with the long distances, input, output and timing demands. Tonight we’ll be at the Obama-Clinton rally in Kissimmee, Florida, and we’re breaking in from Miami, where John McCain just concluded his “Joe the Plumber” rally at Everglades Lumber.

After the rally, we witnessed a near-street riot involving the exiting McCain crowd and two Cuban-American Obama supporters. Tony Garcia, 63, and Raul Sorando, 31, were suddenly surrounded by an angry mob. There is a moment in a crowd when something goes from mere yelling to a feeling of danger, and that’s what we witnessed. As photographers and police raced to the scene, the crowd elevated from stable to fast-moving scrum, and the two men were surrounded on all sides as we raced to the circle.

The event maybe lasted a minute, two at the most, before police competently managed to hustle the two away from the scene and out of the danger zone. Only FiveThirtyEight tracked the two men down for comment, a quarter mile down the street.

“People were screaming ‘Terrorist!’ ‘Communist!’ ‘Socialist!'” Sorando said when we caught up with him. “I had a guy tell me he was gonna kill me.”

Asked what had precipitated the event, “We were just chanting ‘Obama!’ and holding our signs. That was it. And the crowd suddenly got crazy.”

Garcia told us that the man who originally had warned the two it was his property when they had first tried to attend the rally with Obama T-shirts was one of the agitators. Coming up just before the scene started getting out of hand, the man whispered in Garcia’s ear, “I’m gonna beat you up the next time I see you.” Garcia described him for us: “a big stocky man wearing a tweed jacket.” He used hand motions to emphasize this was a large guy. We went back to look for the gentleman twenty minutes after the incident but didn’t find him.

The two Obama supporters had attempted to attend the event with tickets printed from the McCain website. Both were clad in Obama T-shirts, Sorando in a blue “Obama ’08” shirt, and Garcia in a white “Obama-Biden” shirt. They were told that the event was being held on private property and that wearing the shirts or carrying the signs they would be asked to either remove the shirts or not attend.

For an hour during the rally, the two had stood across the street from the lumberyard on public property holding yard signs. Some drivers honked in support, and others honked in disapproval. When the rally ended and the crowd spilled out, the disturbance began.

Garcia had a message for his stocky, tweed-clad threatener. “You tell that guy he can find Tony Garcia down at the West Dade library every day from 7 to 7 helping people early vote. I’ll be there from 1 to 5 on Saturday and Sunday. You tell him if he wants to kick my ass that’s where he can find me. Come beat me up.”

Not thirty seconds later, John McCain drove by in his SUV and waved at Garcia on the sidewalk, who was happily waving his Obama sign.

Source: Five Thirty Eight

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