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News & Discussion Items 10/9/08

The electoral map for this year’s Presidential election looks better and better for Obama.  Florida is going his way.  So is New Mexico and Colorado.  So are Virginia and North Carolina!!!  As of yesterday, Missouri, Nevada and Indiana were toss-ups.  Today, add West Virginia to that list!  (That’s a dynamic link – it updates at least daily)  McCain leads Obama by only 1 percentage point in composite polling.  Obama would garner at least 320 electoral college votes, compared to only 158 for McCain if the election were held today.  Only 60 votes are up for grabs.  There is the distinct potential for a landslide election.

[Update]: Conventional Wisdom, as defined by the corporate media, is lagging way behind the polls of the past few weeks.  Obama’s likely electoral college lead has been above 270 (needed to be elected President), and is above 270 by at least 50 votes today.  Yet the corporate media haven’t reported on that reality.  Instead, the New York Times, CNN and MSNBC all show Obama with a 260-264 count.  The NYT is about the worst: their analysis ignores dozens of state-level polls from across the country that have been conducted since October 1st.  The corporate media’s best-case scenario is a close race.  They’re not doing reporting – they’re trying to produce entertainment.  Unfortunately, the public has no idea that the corporate media sucks so bad at these predictions.  Notice also that there are no cries from right-wingers about the “liberal media” on this story.

That same corporate media put pro-coal and pro-oil ads on air after the Presidential debates.  The “we campaign’s” ads were refused by the same media (not liberal!).  This is what happens when war corporations own media.  All is not lost: you can ask ABC to run the Repower America ad.

From a friend:
Politics is like driving.
To go backward, put it in R.
To go forward, put it in D.

The markets had another brutal trading day.  The Dow finished 678 points lower – another 7% loss.  One year ago today, the Dow hit its all-time high of 14,164.53.  One year ago today, the sub-prime mortgage crisis was well known and its effects were spreading.  Wall St. and most Republicans didn’t want to do anything about it (some pro-corporate Dems are in that box too, btw).  Now look at where we’re at.

In slightly better news, the Treasury Department said today that it was looking into buying stakes in some of the country’s banks, as I noted Britain had decided to do yesterday.  That one step closer to a wiser solution than the Bailout Bush and Paulson pushed.  There are still plenty of easy policies to implement that would have a more positive long-term impact.

The American budget is $3 Trillion.  Thanks to Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr., America’s debt is $10 Trillion.  The next President is going to operate under very adverse economic constraints.

How aggressive do you suppose the Department of Justice’s prosecution of Alaska Senator Ted “Tubes” Stevens is, considering the DoJ is stuffed full of Bush cronies?  Not very, if their case history is any guide.  They have screwed up major elements of the trial thus far.  It makes it seem like there are really two defense teams for the Senator.  If only former Governor Siegelman had belonged to the correct party


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Economic News: Bad and Worse

Wall St. continues its free fall, with the Dow falling over 500 points today after falling 370 points yesterday.  Indices are at the same level as they were in the fall of 2003.  Retirement accounts have lost $2 Trillion in value.  The problem?  Despite the approval of the Bush Bailout by Congress last Friday, no one has any confidence in anyone else.  Banks still refuse to lend to one another or to credit-worthy customers.  As I and others stated last week, the Bush Bailout didn’t address the fundamental problems in the economy.  More and more people recognize that and are reacting to it.

They’re also reacting to the realization that the Bush administration’s refusal to do anything about the housing bubble for over two years spread tons of bad debt and risk around to world banks.  So the world is staring a deep recession in the face because the Bushies decided they’d rather wait until America was in debt past its eyeballs before proposing something.

The Federal Reserve is offering to buy up another $300 billion of loans from banks, without collateral of course, to unfreeze credit markets.  How are they going to pay for that?  By borrowing money from the banks.  By printing more money.  Printing more money, by the way, increases inflation, which was at 5.4% last I checked (and that’s a b.s. low-ball calculation by economists who want to pretend the economy is doing better than it really is).  In an era of stagnant incomes and rising unemployment, higher inflation will simply wreck the middle class’ ability to stay afloat.

The economy has been running on credit, as everyone should be well aware of by now.  First in the 1980s and 1990s with credit cards.  Then in the 2000s with home equity.  Now that credit is being taken away in a flash.  What’s left has two distinct faces: consumer borrowing is down for the first time since 1998.  While it’s good that people are borrowing less, it also means they’re going to spend less.  After all, incomes after inflation haven’t increased in years.  Consumers without credit will have no money to spend unless one of two things happen: incomes increase (the better solution) or credit flows again (the worse option).  Raising incomes will put our economy back onto the path of health again in a meaningful way.

Oh, here’s the worse economic news.  Foreclosures were running at record rates for the past 12 months or so.  Well, it turns out that the government uses numbers from RealtyTrac.  So good, so far?  Well, RealtyTrac hasn’t kept track of foreclosures in 900 rural counties across the United States.  Here’s a choice piece of the article:

But in West Virginia last year, it [RealtyTrac] counted fewer than 500 foreclosure notices. New federal statistics counted 12,000 notices in the state, since the start of 2007.

Heck, that’s only 24 times as bad.  Who’s counting?  Thankfully, a Democratic Senator in July co-sponsored the Foreclosure Prevention Act, which Congress passed in July. The bill required the Department of Housing and Urban Development to measure foreclosure rates in each state.

So amid stagnant wages, rising unemployment, rising inflation and worse foreclosure numbers than have been reported in two years, the Republicans have done a pretty good job of wrecking America’s economy.  Their pursuit of making the richest Americans uber-rich has affected millions of good, hard-working Americans negatively.  That’s the reason Barack Obama is leading John McCain by double digits in polls and is nearing a blowout in the electoral college numbersThat’s the reason why John McCain and Sarah Palin are inciting their supporters with hate speech.