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President-elect Barack Obama turned from national security to domestic concerns on Tuesday, telling the country’s governors that his administration would not delay in pushing an economic recovery plan that would bring relief to the states, 41 of which are forecasting budget shortfalls this year or next.

Speaking at a conference of the National Governors Association in Philadelphia, Mr. Obama said his background in the Illinois state senate made him particularly sympathetic to the needs of state and local governments. And he declared himself open to good ideas that work, whether they come from Democrats or Republicans.

“We are not going to be hampered by ideology in trying to get this country back on track,” he told the governors, many of whom he met for the first time at the conference. “We want to figure out what works.” Vice President-elect Joseph Biden Jr. also attended the meeting.

Aides to Mr. Obama have suggested that a recovery plan, which the president-elect hopes to be able to sign not long after taking office on Jan. 20, might carry a price tag of as much as $700 billion.

But even as the president-elect spoke on Tuesday, the dimensions of the challenges facing him at home and abroad continued to grow more stark. The three American automakers were due to announce more weak results and detail their revamped requests for federal aid during the day, while overseas, the terror attack in Mumbai, renewed violence in Iraq and difficult conditions in Afghanistan further darkened the picture.

In dealing with the worsening climate that faces state governments, many of them now obliged to balance their budgets by cutting jobs and programs, Mr. Obama asked the governors not just for their support but for their input in drafting a national recovery plan.

“To solve this crisis and to ease the burden on our states, we need action, and action swiftly,” he said. “That means passing an economic recovery plan to help both Wall Street and Main Street, and this administration does not intend to delay in getting you the help that you need.”

The importance of the federal help Mr. Obama offered was underscored on Monday when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California declared a fiscal emergency in his state and urged lawmakers to “get off of their rigid ideologies” to close a $28 billion budget gap. He said the state could run out of cash within two months.

nyt-logoprinter

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Timothy Geithner is a seasoned crisis manager with a temperament to match that of Barack Obama

timgeithner

STOCKMARKETS soared on Friday November 21st when investors learned that Barack Obama would nominate Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary. That might seem odd. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was already a favourite for the post. And he brings no magical solution to the financial crisis: he has been battling it for over a year, with no end in sight.

The 494-point (6.5%) jump in the Dow Jones Industrial Average is more a statement about investors’ anxiety over the unsettled state of economic policymaking. News of the Treasury nominee holds out the prospect of a more coherent and forceful approach to the crisis. The current treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, is reworking the $700 billion bail-out plan on the fly, policymakers are struggling over a new approach to foreclosures, the status of the mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is in limbo, and Congress has just sent the carmakers, teetering close to insolvency, home empty handed. The two months before Mr Obama is sworn in seem like an eternity.

Investors were also relieved that their darkest fears of a Sarah Palin-like shock announcement did not come to pass and that Mr Obama, as in his other important appointments, has chosen ability over connections. Mr Geithner does not know Mr Obama well and has no notable ties to the Democratic Party. But for this cabinet post more than any other, an overtly political appointment would have been corrosive to investor confidence.

Assuming he is nominated Mr Geithner brings two crucial qualities. First, he represents continuity. From the first days of the crisis last year, he has worked hand in glove with Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman, and Mr Paulson. He can continue to do so while awaiting confirmation. If Citigroup, for example, needs federal help, Mr Geithner will be involved. An unknown when he joined the New York Fed in 2003, he is now a familiar face to the most senior executives on Wall Street and to central bankers and finance ministers overseas.

Second, he represents competence. He has spent more time on financial crises, from Mexico and Thailand to Brazil and Argentina, than probably any other policymaker in office today. Mr Geithner understands better than almost anyone that in crises you throw out the forecast and focus on avoiding low probability events with catastrophic consequences. Such judgments are excruciating: do too little, and you undermine confidence and generate a bigger crisis that needs even bigger policy action. Do too much, and you look panicked and invite blowback from Wall Street, Congress and the press. At times during the crisis Mr Geithner would counsel Mr Bernanke on the importance of the right “ratio of drama to effectiveness”.

Mr Geithner looks a lot younger than his 47 years. He skateboards and snowboards and exudes a sort of hipster-wonkiness, using “way” as a synonym for “very” as in “way consequential” and occasionally underlining his point with the word “fuck”. 

In temperament he seems similar to Mr Obama: he is suspicious of ideology, questions received wisdom

 

In normal times, risk aversion damps economic cycles; in a crisis, it accentuates them, leading to withdrawn credit, evaporating liquidity, margin calls, falling asset prices, and more risk aversion. “The brake becomes the accelerator,” as he puts it. Indeed, although he worked alongside Mr Paulson on the crisis, he has at times advocated a more aggressive approach. For example, news reports say that he was not comfortable with Mr Paulson’s decision to take public money off the table in the ultimately unsuccessful effort to save Lehman Brothers. He has not always got it right: he was the most important architect of the original bail-out of American International Group, an insurer, which in time has proved flawed, requiring significant amendment.

Mr Geithner looks a lot younger than his 47 years (though not as young as he did before the crisis began). He skateboards and snowboards and exudes a sort of hipster-wonkiness, using “way” as a synonym for “very” as in “way consequential” and occasionally underlining his point with the word “fuck”. In temperament he seems similar to Mr Obama: he is suspicious of ideology, questions received wisdom, likes a competition of ideas and is keenly aware of how uncertain the world is.

Mr Geithner learned about crisis management as an aide to Lawrence Summers who rose to Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton. Mr Summers was the other candidate for the job under Mr Obama, and his appointment would probably also have been greeted enthusiastically. He will reportedly join the administration in a White House advisory role.

Mr Geithner leaves a big hole; the New York Fed president is by tradition the financial system’s go-to crisis manager, and that job has never been more important in the modern era than it is now. A probable candidate to succeed him is a Fed governor, Kevin Warsh. Though young (he is just 38) he has been a central player in the crisis thanks to his extensive contacts in the financial world and closeness to Mr Bernanke, who puts great store in Mr Warsh’s feel for politics and markets (see our recent blog post). That appointment will be made by the board of the New York Fed.

Mr Geithner faces a huge job. He will have critical decisions to make on whether to enlarge or alter the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Programme, what sort of firms will qualify for its money, whether and how to bail out the carmakers, what to do with the flailing mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and how to deal with countless other chapters in the continuing crisis. Unlike Mr Summers he is not an economist and brings no expertise to many of the big economic-policy questions that the Obama administration will confront such as health care, fiscal policy and taxes, even though he will be the primary spokesman on the administration’s economic policies.

He is a quick learner: within a year of joining the New York Fed he could debate the intricacies of monetary policy with academic experts. But he will join an administration rapidly filling up with heavyweights on economic policy, not least of them Mr Summers. Indeed, one of the big questions of the new team that Mr Obama is expected to unveil on Monday is just how Mr Summers, a brilliant but intimidating and sometimes abrasive figure, will fit in.

Mr Obama is assembling a formidable economic team. With the economy perhaps on the precipice of its worst recession since the Depression, he will need it.

Source: Economist

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John McCain and his wife – are in a unique group in America – their wealth means that they fall into the top 1% – 2% income gap. His big idea – is that the wealthiest should have more – in order – to in a father-like fashion – have some of their wealth trickle down – to all the social classes below.

It is with this thought that – John McCain believes that the 3% tax increase that Obama intends to put on earnings/profits over $250,000 – that existed during the Clinton era – the same era that saw the biggest economic expansion in US history – that is tax code is equivalent to socialism, welfare and a government hand out.

Even today as the U.S. Treasury is being pillaged by corporate America, there has been an absence of any significant economic middle class(*) backlash here in America. As the wealth gap between the middle class and upper class has increased more than any time in our history, Americans seem to be mostly helpless in stemming this trend toward inequality.

Will the tide finally turn during an Obama Presidency? After analyzing Obama’s economic positions (including health care, tax policies and budgeting), most economists say “yes!”

After eight years of the Bush Presidency, McCain style deregulation and tax policy that favors the rich, the American middle class has been taken hostage and told they will lose everything (trickle down financial ruin) if they do not bailout the big banks, investment firms and insurance companies. Bush & Cheney have perfected the panic mode wealth transfer that Naomi Klein describes so well in “The Shock Doctrine.” This multi-trillion-dollar parting gift is their payback to the upper class that helped orchestrate their election.

the wealth gap between the middle class and upper class has increased more than any time in our history

The U.S. Treasury gained support for the bailouts by promising stricter rules on grossly excessive executive compensation. But now we find out that financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks — the greedy ones that got us into this mess in the first place — are going to receive payouts worth more than $70 billion and, according to the Guardian, “… a substantial proportion of which is expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year – despite plunging the financial system into its worst crisis since the 1929 stock market crash.”

Last year, for instance, Merrill Lynch’s chairman Stan O’Neal took a golden parachute deal worth over $160 million, after announcing losses of nearly $8 billion at his firm. Did Mr. O’neal’s labor bankrupting Merrill Lynch really justify $159,935,000 more dollars from society than a teacher or fireman?

The politics of capitalism attempts to fool us into believing in extreme individualism –e.g., that every man is an island. But, the truth (starkly exposed by Mainstreet needing to bailout Wallstreet) is that we are closely interconnected even if worlds apart in wealth and influence. Mr. O’Neal taking $160 million out of the money system to spend on extravagances, does effect the teacher and fireman via the national debt they will incur to bailout Mr. O’Neal / Merrill Lynch.

we find out that financial workers at Wall Street’s top banks — the greedy ones that got us into this mess in the first place — are going to receive payouts worth more than $70 billion

Where did the billions of dollars lost by the banks go? Did the money just evaporate? No. Most of it went to these huge CEO and executive payouts to expand the obscene wealth of the upper class. Someone has to pay for the mega-yachts, extravagant parties, multiple mansions and other extravagances of the rich. If you want to see where your money is going, just tune into “Lifestyles of the Super Rich.”

Once again, responsible hard-working citizens are paying for the lavish lifestyles and reckless financial abandon of the upper class. How ironic that the same institutions that have been feeding off the middle class like leeches for decades (via unreasonable fees, large interest rate spreads, insurance rate hikes, hyped-up investment schemes, etc.), are now begging for more blood money.

The middle class and poor get crumbs from measly “bailouts” such as the lackluster sub-prime mortgage assistance program and a tax rebate check for $600; while the rich get more tangible bailouts to the tune of billions. Capitalism for the middle class, socialism for the rich, indeed! This is what you get when corrupt Republicans and the Corporate sociopathic personality rule the economy. One of the ways to change this dynamic is to remove corporation’s status as a separate entity unbound by individual consequences and place more responsibility on the executives that direct corporate actions.

though the “upper middle class,” “lower middle class,” “working class,” and “lower class,” combine to make up 99% of the United States population, the remaining 1% owns about one third of private wealth.

We need to end the the welfare era for the rich via tax cuts, Halliburton / war “no bid” handouts, oil company gouging and corporate bailouts. Instead, the American government needs to lift the middle class with investments in education, job training, energy independence (from domestic oil companies too!), health care and economic programs such as small business development and tangible mortgage assistance.

The only choice for fiscal conservatives in this election is Obama. By electing Obama POTUS and other fiscally sympathetic representatives, the middle class can then exercise its newfound power over insurance companies, corporations and bankers. You want us to bail you out? Here are some of our demands:

1) Corporations and the rich need to pay higher taxes, period. We are tired of hearing that higher corporate and upper class taxes will increase the jobless rate and slow the economy.

Even Warren Buffet (an Obama supporter) says that our current tax system unfairly puts more of the tax burden on the working class than the rich. The rich pay more taxes as a total collected, but much less of a percentage as the middle class.

Mr. Buffet goes on to say, “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

2) We want tougher consumer regulations on the insurance, credit card and banking industries along with fair mortgage lending practices. It’s time for Wallstreet, insurance company’s and banks to forgo some of the excessive profits we have seen in the past and pass savings along to their clients.

3) Middle class and small business tax cuts. It’s time for some “trickle up” economics.

When Obama becomes President of the United States with a Democratic Congress, the middle class will once again have a strong voice in national politics. If you were advising Obama as he begins his Presidency in 2009, what policies would you suggest he initiate to stimulate and strengthen the economy and middle class (instead of corporate bailouts)?

(*For this (HP) blog’s purpose I’m referring to the “middle class” as everyone who is not in the “upper class.” Even though the “upper middle class,” “lower middle class,” “working class,” and “lower class,” combine to make up 99% of the United States population, the remaining 1% owns about one third of private wealth.)

Source: HP

How to rack up debt seems to be the first lesson many American college kids learn these days. In Bloomington, the staff at the famed Mother Bear Pizzeria consists of mostly Indiana University students working their way through school. Catching the rare free moment between orders, workers explained the stress they are feeling in these rocky economic times. The recent credit crunch at the banks and the chaos on Wall Street has already added to their worries – undercutting family credit records, draining stock funds, and causing some students to question what their future will hold.

ANP

An impressive crowd of 100,000 showed up to an Obama Rally in St. Louis, MO today.

Obama saying that he would give tax cuts to working people and that McCain – is one of the only politicians in history who would say that a tax cut for the working middle class amounts to welfare and a government give-away. [Especially after the $700bn Wall Street bailout.]

Obama argued that all workers are subject to payroll tax – and that by giving those at the lower end – who don’t pay income tax – a tax cut is in no way welfare – as these are working people.   

Where John McCain wants to give tax cuts and really what most consider corporate welfare – to companies like – Exxon Mobile – and to CEO’s on Wall Street over – relieving some of the pressure those in the middle class are feeling.

Both John McCain as well as Barack Obama (through successful book sales) are in the upper 5% income bracket. Obama wishes to use the 3% tax cut that the Bush administration introduced – for the wealthiest 5% – to give it to the middle class and poor – in a form of a tax cut for 95% of working people and small business owners. Something which Republican commentators have called ‘Robin Hood’ type policy and even ‘Marxist’. McCain agrees and wishes to keep the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest Americans – in place – the idea being that this money can trickle down to those on lower wages.

During the Clinton eight years – the tax cut for the wealth did not exist – yet the US economy grew more than at any time in history. The idea of giving a tax cut to the richest – in order that it trickles down to those less well off – falls apart – when the Bush (both Bush) economics are compared to the strongest and more prosperous Clintonian one. McCain is largely promising to continue Bush economics – with only a couple of alterations.

In 2000 Clinton requested that taxes not be reduced – in order to pay down the debt within eight years.

Plumbers were raised, along with teachers and police officers – to say that if you don’t make $250,000 then you will receive a tax cut. And taxes will only increase on the amount of earnings above this – by 3%. Obama has said in the past that he will work with small businesses to lower the amount they pay toward employee health-care.

Obama reminded voters not to be complacent – that they should keep making their case for change – that they should keep working hard – as a Democrat win is not guaranteed.

Amid the chaos and chatter about this week’s financial bailout, one clear theme emerged in some quarters: The era of free-market fundamentalism is over. But is it, really?

Source: ANP

People all across the country are suffering the fallout from Wall Street’s financial H-Bomb. ANP producer David Murdock and McClatchy Newspaper journalist Tony Pugh have set out on a journey across America to see how economic shock waves from last week’s DC drama are being felt across the land. Their road trip begins in the well-heeled town of Greenwich, Connecticut, where mountains of Wall Street money have created a community seemingly isolated from the tribulations of the common man, but even here, some cracks are beginning to show and those who depend on the rich are beginning to feel the pain.

Source: ANP

Dow slids below 10,000, watched by trader Arthur Cashin wearing a 'Dow 10,000' hat that was given out when the index first hit 10,000 on March 29, 1999

Dow slids below 10,000, watched by trader Arthur Cashin wearing a 'Dow 10,000' hat that was given out when the index first hit 10,000 on March 29, 1999

US stock markets slumped sharply with the Dow Jones falling through the psychologically important 10,000 mark for the first time since October 2004 amid fears that the fallout from the credit crisis will push the country deep into recession.

The Dow Jones fell 569.8 to 9755.5, with the S&P 500 off 64.2 at 1035.0 despite moves by the Federal Reserve to instill confidence in the financial system through capital injections.

Nearly a quarter of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange hit new lows within an hour of the opening of the markets, with every stock in the Dow Jones index down on the day.

The S&P 500 was flat to its trading level 10 years’ ago, leading US commentators to speak of a “lost decade” in equity markets.

The stock market slumps followed similar moves in Europe where the FTSE 100 was on course for its biggest one-day fall in more than 20 years.

The index of leading shares was down almost 9pc at one stage – the biggest decline since the aftermath of Black Monday in October 1987.

A host of the UK’s biggest banks were rocked by turmoil across the European banking sector, with Royal Bank of Scotland falling 22pc at one stage. Mining stocks were also hit, dragged down by fears of falling demand in the face of a growing global slowdown.

Germany’s Dax was off 7.4pc while the Cac-40 in France fell 8.2pc and Italy’s benchmark S&P/Mib fell 9.17pc – its lowest level since the index was established in September 2004.

Traders in the US said the only way to halt the decline, even temporarily, was for central banks around the globe to push through co-ordinated interest rate cuts.

“There is no support to halt share declines. No one is buying,” said one trader at a big US bank. “We were told to reduce our risk and to stay out of the markets. There is too much irrational behaviour out there.”

The stock market declines will heighten fears over the US government’s power to prop up markets despite its success in pushing through a $700bn (£403bn) bailout of the banking system on Friday.

The Federal Reserve acted to shore up confidence in the banking sector today and free up the credit markets by doubling the amount of money it makes available under its Term Auction Facility to $900bn.

Banks will be able to draw down funds from the facility and maintain liquidity in the face of an interbank lending market that has all but ceased to function.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei index lost 4.2pc, South Korea’s Kospi slipped 4.3pc and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 5pc. China’s CSI 300 Index fell 5.1pc, as trading resumed after a one-week holiday.

Source: Telegraph

NEW YORK – Wall Street suffered through another traumatic session Monday, with the Dow Jones industrials plunging as much as 800 points and setting a new record for a one-day point drop as investors despaired that the credit crisis would take a heavy toll around the world. The Dow also fell below 10,000 for the first time since 2004, and all the major indexes fell about 5 percent.

The catalyst for the selling was the growing realization that the Bush administration’s $700 billion rescue plan and steps taken by other governments won’t work quickly to unfreeze the credit markets. Moreover, investors are increasingly unnerved by the paralysis in the credit markets that has started to affect companies trying to borrow for acquisitions or just to conduct their daily operations.

That sent stocks spiraling downward in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and drove investors to sink money into the relative safety of U.S. government debt. Fears about a global recession also caused oil to drop below $90 a barrel.

“The fact is, people are scared and the only thing they’re doing is selling,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “Investors are cleaning out portfolios and getting rid of everything because nothing seems to be working.”

The selling was so extreme that only 107 stocks rose on the NYSE — and 3,121 dropped. That’s a telling sign considering the stock market is considered a leading economic indicator, with investors tending to buy and sell based on where they believe the economy will be in six to nine months.

Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can’t afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can’t say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn’t going to save John McCain. The race is over.

John McCain’s candidacy is as much a casualty of Wall Street as Lehman or Merrill. Like those once vibrant institutions, McCain’s collapse was stunning and quick. One minute you are a well-respected brand. The next you are yelling at the messengers of your demise as all around you the numbers start blinking red and stop adding up.

McCain’s road was difficult to begin with: the President of his party has had record-low approval ratings for two years and the number of Americans who say the country is heading in the wrong direction is stratospheric. He also had the misfortune to be pitted against an exceptional candidate running an extremely well-executed campaign.

Still, before Wall Street’s collapse Senator McCain was ahead. His approval ratings remained high, his VP pick had generated excitement and interest, and his campaign operatives were capable, on any given day, of winning news cycles and giving their opponents fits. And then the underpinnings of American capitalism begin to sink — and with them sunk McCain.

An election dominated at its inception by the war in Iraq is now overwhelmingly focused on the economy. More than half of voters in polls say that the economy is their top concern and Senator Obama enjoys double digit leads among voters asked who can better fix our economic mess. Put simply, there is no way Senator McCain can win if he continues to trail Senator Obama by double digits on the top concern of more than half of voters.

State polls are beginning to reflect this. If the election were tomorrow, Obama would win all of the states John Kerry carried and add Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, Ohio and Florida. Barack Obama is campaigning in Indiana, which last went for a Democrat in 1964 and North Carolina, which has gone for a Democrat only once in thirty-four years. At the same time John McCain has pulled out of Michigan and Sarah Palin has been forced to visit Nebraska.

This dynamic is very unlikely to change. John McCain’s goal in the first debate was to discredit Senator Obama as a credible Commander in Chief and elevate the issue of foreign policy and national security. He didn’t come close. Absent a domestic terror attack the economy will remain the number one issue in the race, and there is little Senator McCain can do to make up his gap with Senator Obama on it. Oh, Senator McCain will try to make issues of Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko and Rev. Wright, and that might hurt Senator Obama around the margins — but it will not prevent him from winning. The economy is simply bigger than the rogues gallery that John McCain is conjuring up.

Why is this? Why won’t the swiftboat tactics work this year?

Its easy to lose sight of it in the day to day coverage, but the collapse of Wall Street in the last weeks was a seminal event in the history of our nation and our politics. To put the crisis in perspective, Americans have lost a combined 1 trillion dollars in net worth in just the last four weeks alone. Just as President Bush’s failures in Iraq undermined his party’s historic advantage on national security issues, the financial calamity has shown the ruinous implications of the Republican mania for deregulation and slavish devotion to totally unfettered markets.

Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over the proper role of government for a century. In 1980 voters sided with Ronald Reagan and Republicans that government had become too big and intrusive. Then the economy worked in the Republicans’ favor. Today the pendulum has swung in our direction. Republican philosophies have been discredited by events. Voters understand this. This is a big election about big issues. McCain’s smallball will not work. This race will not be decided by lipsticked pigs. And John McCain can not escape that reality. The only unknowns are the size of the margin and the breadth of the Democratic advantage in the next Congress.

Source: The New Republic

Find out more at The Real John McCain

A video of Sarah Palin being blessed by a preacher and exorcist appeared on the Internet.

The video was posted on YouTube on Thursday, but the blessing actually happened in May 2005, two days before Palin officially put herself forward as a candidate for Alaska governor. Pastor Thomas Muthee, originally from Kenya, is from the Pentecostal movement, evangelical protestants who interpret the Bible literally. Pentecostal followers believe, for example, that the laying on of hands can heal sick people when other medications have failed.

Sarah Palin’s campaign team immediately denied that she was a Pentecostal. But in another video, filmed in June 2008 (see below), the possible vice president of America explains how Muthee’s prayers helped her to win the Alaska election.

“Thirty to forty per cent of Americans share these beliefs”

Stuart Haugen is vice-chair of Republicans Abroad France.

I don’t see anything shocking about this video, even if there are some things that I don’t agree with. I’d say that 30% to 40% of Americans share these beliefs and wouldn’t find it strange at all. Me, too. When I was a student, I belonged to a similar church. The pastor’s talking about sorcery, but what he means is that there are both good and bad forces in the world. If you believe in God, you also believe in the opposite.

I’d like to make it clear that in the US, religion and politics are quite separate. The video shows Sarah Palin’s personal convictions, that’s all. And a vice president doesn’t decide on the law.

If the intellectuals and the media want to have a crack at Palin, that’s because she scares them. I think she’s already secured two million more votes for McCain. And among them are several hundreds of thousands of people who will travel the country to get even more voters on their side. That’s what they were missing, while Obama had more money and a broader base of volunteers. In the end, McCain is a centrist, he needed Palin to reassure the conservative and evangelical voters. Now he’ll be able to criticise Bush more openly, because he knows that the right-wing side will still follow.”

“Palin and McCain scare Wall Street”

Dana Blankenhorn is a former finance journalist from Atlanta. He supports the Democrats.

Sarah Palin is a nutjob! There’s a relevant saying here: ‘If people find you too racist in Idaho [a state known for being particularly racist in the olden days], they’ll think you’re great in Alaska…’

McCain chose her because she makes up a very involved minority; not because she represents what Americans think. I doubt more than 10% of Americans believe in sorcery. But in an election, there’s a small block who aren’t interesting in anything but tipping the election. The Republicans know it, and that’s how they’ve won in the past.

The Republican Party is supported by three groups: the Wall Street types, the neo-cons and the evangelists. But now, I think that their coalition is breaking up. Palin and McCain scare Wall Street. Especially since McCain ruined the plan to rescue the economy, while the White House and Obama both accepted it. The power always follows Wall Street. I don’t think this video will change the election, but I do think the economic crisis will push a number of Republicans to vote Democrat.”


Source: France 24

McCain is stuck between a rock and a hard place – his judgment is on the line with Palin – I suppose all he can hope for is that old Palin magic to come through for him – but she can’t always talk out of a teleprompter. McCain at 72 has a job to convince everyone to vote in a fool – and we have already voted in one – and the fireworks of his administration are all around us!

McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, that is simply not true.

Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, “to spend more time with her family”? Having stayed in purdah for weeks, she finally agreed to a third interview. CBS’s Katie Couric questioned her in her trademark sympathetic style. It didn’t help. When asked how living in the state closest to Russia gave her foreign-policy experience, Palin responded thus:

“It’s very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state.”

There is, of course, the sheer absurdity of the premise. Two weeks ago I flew to Tokyo, crossing over the North Pole. Does that make me an expert on Santa Claus? (Thanks, Jon Stewart.) But even beyond that, read the rest of her response. “It is from Alaska that we send out those …” What does this mean? This is not an isolated example. Palin has been given a set of talking points by campaign advisers, simple ideological mantras that she repeats and repeats as long as she can. (“We mustn’t blink.”) But if forced off those rehearsed lines, what she has to say is often, quite frankly, gibberish.

Couric asked her a smart question about the proposed $700 billion bailout of the American financial sector. It was designed to see if Palin understood that the problem in this crisis is that credit and liquidity in the financial system has dried up, and that that’s why, in the estimation of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, the government needs to step in to buy up Wall Street’s most toxic liabilities. Here’s the entire exchange:

    COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

    PALIN: That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it’s got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

This is nonsense—a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase about economics that came into her head. Some commentators, like CNN’s Campbell Brown, have argued that it’s sexist to keep Sarah Palin under wraps, as if she were a delicate flower who might wilt under the bright lights of the modern media. But the more Palin talks, the more we see that it may not be sexism but common sense that’s causing the McCain campaign to treat her like a time bomb.

Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start. The next administration is going to face a set of challenges unlike any in recent memory. There is an ongoing military operation in Iraq that still costs $10 billion a month, a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is not going well and is not easily fixed. Iran, Russia and Venezuela present tough strategic challenges.

Domestically, the bailout and reform of the financial industry will take years and hundreds of billions of dollars. Health-care costs, unless curtailed, will bankrupt the federal government. Social Security, immigration, collapsing infrastructure and education are all going to get much worse if they are not handled soon.

And the American government is stretched to the limit. Between the Bush tax cuts, homeland-security needs, Iraq, Afghanistan and the bailout, the budget is looking bleak. Plus, within a few years, the retirement of the baby boomers begins with its massive and rising costs (in the trillions).

Obviously these are very serious challenges and constraints. In these times, for John McCain to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, it is simply not true.

November 2019
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