Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gee Nobody Saw The Backfire On This Coming

TPM Muckracker reports that the latest round of Palin slime attacks may have boomeranged overwhelmingly back on McSame's campaign to the point where today Palin abandoned the attack. But I think Greg Sargent has hit upon the real truth of the tactical reversal:
Palin's non-mention of Ayers is only the latest sign that the McCain team is all over the map on Ayers right now. This morning, The Politico quoted McCain advisers saying McCain wouldn't focus on the former Weatherman going forward. But the McCain campaign also blasted out a statement from John Murtagh, who says his house was bombed by the Weather Underground when he was nine, hammering Obama's ties to Ayers.

In other words, the McCain campaign wants Ayers to be discussed in the press, but doesn't want McCain -- and now also Palin, perhaps -- associated with such a slimy attack at a time when voters want solutions to the economic crisis.
Now that Palin has started the ball, it looks like McSame is counting on talk radio, wingnut pressers and 527 groups to continue the fight for them...not from them. This has been McSame's SOP since the general election has begun. He's careful to keep his nose clean here. It's the best of both worlds: Ayers remains in the news and McSame can say "Some of these attacks go too far! I'm a maverick and I oppose these ads! Why won't Obama denounce all his many, many, many, many attack ads like me? I'm the good guy here!"

And there's plenty of surrogates out there to fling the poo so Johnny and Sarah don't get their hands dirty. Good plan. Patently obvious and transparent as hell, but what do they have left at this point?

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Josh Marshall points out:
Seems like almost every day now there's a McCain-Palin rally where the campaign has the candidates introduced by someone who hits on "Barack Hussein Obama". Just happened again in Bethlehem, PA. After the fifth or sixth time you pretty much know on the orders of the campaign. It is obviously with tacit approval (to believe anything else is to be a dupe at this point); and quite probably on the campaign's specific instructions.

Given the regularity of the cries of "treason" and "terrorist" and the like, and the frequency with which the screamers seem in oddly convenient proximity to the mics, we should probably be considering the possibly that these folks are campaign plants. It happens all the time. It's just that usually they don't scream out accusations of capital crimes.

Which leads him to ask the burning question:
Late Update: A thought. At what point do they start burning Obama in effigy at the Palin rallies?
Well Josh, since we've already got people hanging Obama effigies in public these days, the burning part seems to be the next "logical" step, yes?

Once again I am convinced that somebody will soon take a shot at Obama. Literally. You cannot juggle lava without burning people.

Conservative Columnist AGAIN Shocked To Discover Sun Is On Fire

After being completely shocked last week to discover Sarah Palin was in fact a vile little wingnut troll, Kathleen Parker once again is flabbergasted to find out that...Sarah Palin is a vile little wingut troll.

The real Sarah Palin is free at last. She's not just a hockey mom after all. She's Palin the Impaler. Pit bulls beware.

No one who watched the vice presidential debate should be surprised. Palin's performance, notwithstanding her adorable dodges of questions she didn't like, was essentially a cri de coeur to America's non-elite.

Democrats and other critics distracted by her winks may have missed the message, but Palin's target audience heard it loud and clear. She is like the high-pitched whistle only dogs can hear. While Democrats heard non-answers, superfluous segues and cartoon words -- shout-out, I'll betcha, doggone, extra credit -- Republicans heard God, patriotism, courage, victory.

It's called code, and Republicans are fluent.

Hey Kath, the entire GOP has specialized in this for the last two decades, okay? Glad you've gotten a clue, but the next logical step is to reject this kind of manipulation completely and leave the GOP for dead.

I mean the rest of us have. This party has nothing left but hate. Literally. And it will only end unless they are banished from the national discourse for good, or somebody puts a bullet in Barry.

This is the endpoint of the current path the GOP is taking.

Give Them 50 BP, They Want The Whole Thing

Investors were clearly upset with today's global 50 bp rate cut. They wanted more.
A round of coordinated interest rate cuts failed to calm global stock markets, fueling speculation that governments will have to do even more to tackle the credit crisis.

"I hope this is enough but I wouldn't be 100 percent sure," said Rainer Singer, a macroeconomic analyst at Erste Bank in Vienna.

From Europe to the US, the uncertainty was palpable in the wake of rate cuts by the central banks in the US, European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, England and others.

The cuts followed a spate of stunning moves this week to shore up financial institutions and add liquidity to frozen credit markets.

On Wednesday, Britain announced a $87-billion plan to partially nationalize its banking sector.

In separate moves Monday and Tuesday, the Federal Reserve said it would pay interest on bank deposits and support the commercial paper market.

""I just think that there's a sense that they keep running out of bullets," said Jim Paulson of Wells Capital Management.

Dow is digging itself out of today's hole again back to even, it was down over 250 at one point but is back in the plus column as of 1:15 PM or so.

Free Financial Advice For Prospective Voodoo Clients

Make sure checks written to your local Voodoo high priestess don't bounce.

High voodoo priestess George Ann Mills prays the gods will cleanse a Georgia woman who she says asked her to perform a death ritual on a political opponent.

Cobb County, Ga., Commissioner Annette Kesting asked Mills to cause the death of longtime political rival Woody Thompson, Cobb County police said.

Mills, who lives in the Blythewood area, refused to perform the "death ritual" but did perform others intended to help Kesting’s family and financial situation, she said. After checks for payment she received from Kesting bounced, Mills reported the incident to Cobb County police, she said.

But she has asked the gods to help Kesting, putting a photograph of Kesting with a shrine in her bedroom.

She also sacrificed three hens and a rooster as part of cleansing rituals for Kesting, cutting their throats and pouring the blood over the gods, she said.

“I am still trying to help her out because I am a priestess,” Mills said of Kesting. “To live in this world, you got to be pure. You can’t take a person’s life —something you can’t give. You can’t give life, so how can you take it?”

Returned checks will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of Baron Samedi kicking your ass.

Not a good idea, methinks.

Remember Baghdad?

Leaks to McClatchy on the latest National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq paint a very bleak picture of the post-surge Iraqi landscape.
More than a half-dozen officials spoke to McClatchy on condition of anonymity because NIE's, the most authoritative analyses produced by the U.S. intelligence community, are restricted to the president, his senior aides and members of Congress except in rare instances when just the key findings are made public.

The new NIE, which reflects the consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, has significant implications for Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, whose differences over the Iraq war are a major issue in the presidential campaign.

The findings seem to cast doubts on McCain's frequent assertions that the United States is "on a path to victory" in Iraq by underscoring the deep uncertainties of the situation despite the 30,000-strong U.S. troop surge for which he was the leading congressional advocate.

But McCain could also use the findings to try to strengthen his argument for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq until conditions stabilize.

For Obama, the report raises questions about whether he could fulfill his pledge to withdraw most of the remaining 152,000 U.S. troops _ he would leave some there to deal with al Qaida and to protect U.S. diplomats and civilians _ within 16 months of taking office so that more U.S. forces could be sent to battle the growing Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

This will be a nasty issue here. Remember, the second Obama wins the election, Iraq becomes his problem. It will be argued by Republicans that "conditions on the ground" will now prevent Obama from "declaring defeat" in Iraq. The GOP will do everything possible to now do three things:

  1. Prevent Obama from withdrawing troops in Iraq.
  2. Blame Obama for the continued deterioration in Iraq.
  3. Pressure Obama for another TEH SURGE!!11!1

In other words, they will try to force Bush's failed policies on Obama. Guaranteed. Iraq will most likely explode again into sectarian violence again. The most basic problems are still present, and they are mostly caused by our presence in Iraq.

Obama must be prepared to follow through on his promises, and more than ever we need to get those 60 Senate seats in order to get action taken.

Well, Better Late Than Never

The Georgians are reporting that Russia troops have FINALLY completed their pullback, nearly six weeks later.
Russia has completed a troop pullback from buffer zones outside the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Georgian Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

"We can confirm that from the so-called buffer zones the withdrawal is complete," said ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili.

A small spot of good news for once.

Buying A Bargain Basement

Home hunters got some serious bargains as pending home sales in August jumped significantly.
Pending sales of existing U.S. homes unexpectedly jumped in August to the highest level in over a year, data from a real estate trade group showed on Wednesday.

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in June, rose 7.4 percent in August to 93.4 from an updwardly revised index of 87.0 in July.

The August reading was 8.8 percent higher than a year earlier, and the highest level since 101.4 in June 2007.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting pending home sales to drop by 1.8 percent.

The association's senior economist Lawrence Yun said home buyers responded to improved affordability, with home prices low and mortgage rates down after the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It's good news. It's not the bottom of the market, but at least people were buying in August. Now...September may be a different story again. Those home sales numbers boosted the Dow from its opening 200+ point drop into positive territory in the first hour of trading.

However that boost looks to be short lived, as the Dow is now back in the red.

Roubini Takes 12

Friday I went over Roubini's 12 steps to financial meltdown that he predicted in February. Roubini himself revisits those 12 steps today.

Last February – well before the collapse of Bear Stearns - I wrote a paper “The Risk of a Systemic Financial Meltdown: The 12 Steps to Financial Disaster” where I outlined how the U.S financial crisis would become more severe and virulent and eventually lead to a systemic financial meltdown and a severe recession.

It is now worthwhile revisiting these 12 steps of the financial meltdown as the events of the last few weeks and months have confirmed – literally step by step - the 12 steps that I then argued would lead us to the current economic and financial near-meltdown. I thus provide below a summary version of this paper where each of the 12 steps of this financial meltdown is reported in summary as written in the original paper.

Steps 9 through 12 are presented in their full – not summary – original version as they are the crucial final steps of this financial disaster scenario and they closely match the rapid escalation of the severe strains experienced by financial markets in the last two months. You can compare for yourself how the 12 steps outlined in that February paper match with the actual evolution of financial markets and the real economy in the eight months since that paper was written.

Again, very much worth a read. It is frightening how prescient he has been on this situation.

[UPDATE]Videos of Roubini this morning on today's rate cut.

Dow 7,000 very possible by next year, he says. Hell at this rate it may be next WEEK.

Worldwide Discount, Inc

That global coordinated rate cut I've been screaming about for the last several days happened early this morning, a 50 bp cut that happened in the UK, Canada, Switzerland, the US, and in the European Central Bank.
The Federal Reserve lowered its federal funds rate a half a point to 1.50 percent. It also lowered its discount rate as well. The Fed, whose decision was unanimous, last cut rates a quarter point in April.

Central banks in the UK, European Union, Switzerland and elsewhere participated in the move.

The action comes after days of growing pressure on central banks to act together to stem mounting panic in the financial markets.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted at a rate cut Tuesday in a speech in Washington.

Australia cut rates a full percentage point Tuesday. Hong Kong authorities cut rates Wednesday.

The European Central Bank, which had long resisted a rate cut because of inflation concerns, was among the central banks lowering borrowing costs.

Pressure for an emergency rate cut has been building in recent weeks as credit markets tightened. The Fed's rate cut follows a number of extraordinary and innovative actions in recent days.

I personally think the cut was too tame. If they were going to do this, it should have been a full 100 bp cut. But once again it was a half-assed measure. US markets are looking at a 1-2% gain right now, Europe has cut a 5% loss into a 2% loss, but Asia tanked 9% as they closed well before this rate cut came.

Still, while the bleeding may actually stop for today and even tomorrow, the LIBOR overnight rocketed back up to 5.375% with 1 and 3 months rates also up by about 20 bp. TED spread is up too. The credit markets are going to detonate within days if this rate cut doesn't obliterate credit spreads by the end of the week.

At best, it's going to be a flat day. I'm expecting another bad day in New York.

[UPDATE] Well that didn't last long. US futures are down across the board again by about 2-3% based on September retail sales numbers.

U.S. stock-index futures sank after retailers reported September sales that disappointed investors, overshadowing an unprecedented series of interest-rate cuts by central banks aimed at unlocking credit markets.

Target Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. tumbled more than 6 percent and Kohl's Corp. declined 2.7 percent as same-store sales decreased last month. Bank of America Corp. tumbled 17 percent after selling stock at a discount to shore up capital. Monsanto Co., the world's biggest maker of seeds, slid 5.6 percent on a 2009 earnings forecast that trailed analysts' estimates. Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index, which pared most of a 7.8 percent tumble after the rate cuts, resumed its slide and fell 4.1 percent.

Oh, and the credit markets are locked up still. We just went from flat to another slow triple digit bleed.

Debate Deblogging Round 2: Morning After

I thought McSame and Obama were close last night. I judged them on what was said...but when it came to how it was said, Obama destroyed McSame. Obama won the second debate by a clearer margin than he did the first because McSame's delivery was horrendous.

CNN had a clear Obama win among undecideds.
A national poll of debate watchers suggests that Barack Obama won the second presidential debate.
Fifty-four percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted after the debate ended said that Obama did the best job in the debate, with 30 percent saying John McCain performed better.

A majority, 54 percent, said Obama seemed to be the stronger leader during the debate, to 43 percent for McCain. By a greater than two to one margin — 65 percent to 28 percent — viewers thought Obama was more likeable during the debate.

"Obama had made some gains on the leadership issue even before the debate," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "McCain's advantage on leadership shrunk from 19 points in September to just five points this weekend. If Obama can use this debate to convince Americans that he is a stronger leader than McCain, he may be difficult to defeat."
CBS also had Barry winning clearly.
Immediately after the debate, CBS News interviewed a nationally representative sample of 516 debate watchers assembled by Knowledge Networks who were "uncommitted voters" - voters who are either undecided about who to vote for or who say they could still change their minds. Forty percent of these uncommitted debate watchers said Obama won the debate, 26 percent said John McCain won, and another 34 percent thought it was a tie.
McSame came across as a bitter old cranky man again, and he lost. Obama's moment? "Health care is a right." McSame's moment? Calling Obama "that one", like Obama wasn't worthy of being in the same room as him. You don't get much more dehumanizing than that.

And while I give McSame credit...big time...for saying that bad mortgages need to be bought up by the Fed, any Republican in charge of a plan like that will find a way to help house flippers in Beverly Hills, not factory workers Cleveland Heights.

Nope. It wasn't the KO either side needed, but that just means it's more of the slow bleed of John McSame's honor all over the floor...along with the slow death of his campaign.


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