mm443: Don’t you feel like this guy?

July 18, 2008

 

MUDGE’S Musings

Can anyone still doubt our national (perhaps global?) economic distress? Runs on the banks. A tank of gas edging toward Benjamin territory. Someone you know (or mayhaps many someones you know) out of work and/or looking. Or giving up looking. Starbucks (Starbucks!) closing 600 stores.

Let’s have a show of hands: How many of you (U.S.) readers believe that this Spring’s tax refund “stimulus” could have been an order of magnitude larger (that’s 10 times), and still not been enough?  Two orders (that’s times 100)? smile_sad

It doesn’t go away, our concern with the dire state of the economy.

Paul Krugman, economics professor and columnist of the NYTimes has been consistent in identifying our present financial dismay, and he has some grim news — it’s not going to get better very quickly.

nytimes

L-ish Economic Prospects

By PAUL KRUGMAN | Published: July 18, 2008

Home prices are in free fall. Unemployment is rising. Consumer confidence is plumbing depths not seen since 1980. When will it all end?

The answer is, probably not until 2010 or later. Barack Obama, take notice.

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mm440: The real straight talker speaks out

July 15, 2008
dreamstime_5751059
© Joshua Wanyama | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’S Musings

A bit lost in the top of the week media frenzy: the failure and resulting run on IndyMac Bank; serious troubles at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; extreme umbrage over the satirical The New Yorker cover; a certain presidential candidate delivered a compelling essay on national topic 1a, Iraq.

This pointless and criminally mismanaged war in Iraq was, for several agonizing years, national topic 1, until the not quite official recession took over honors as the new leading source of voter anxiety.

Meanwhile, Senator Obama has taken some heat from what one writer last week described as the “Republic of Portland,” the extreme left wing of his party, concerned about a candidacy that, once the primaries were completed, seemed to veer toward the center.

Time then to begin to flesh out a keystone promise, to “left” the ship, as it were: ending the U.S. war in Iraq.

My Plan for Iraq

Op-Ed Contributor | By BARACK OBAMA | Published: July 14, 2008

CHICAGO — The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States.

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mm434: Live by the sword…

July 9, 2008
dreamstime_4279743
© Misty Pfeil | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We wrote last post about John McCain’s electoral vulnerability. In the spirit of equal time, we cannot overlook Barack Obama’s slips, slides and stumbles in the month since he triumphed over Hillary Clinton and became his party’s presumptive candidate.

McCain’s crippled party knew what they were getting, and settled. Obama, though, raised up by the multitude of starry-eyed idealists and their grass-roots web sites and donations, has run into an on-line buzz saw as his passionate fans observe him taking positions that seem disappointingly like politics as usual.

So, they’ve struck back.

chitrib

Obama’s online muscle flexes against him

Fans use his Web site to rip shifts in policy

By John McCormick | Chicago Tribune reporter | 11:48 PM CDT, July 8, 2008

The same Internet-fueled power that led to historic gains in organizing and fundraising for Sen. Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign is now providing a platform for fiery dissent in a most unlikely place: his own Web site.

Amid criticism from the left that he has eased toward the center on a number of issues in recent weeks, the presumptive Democratic nominee has angered some of his most ardent supporters while triggering something of an online mutiny. Thousands are using MyBarackObama.com to angrily organize against him because of a changed position on terrorist wiretap legislation that awaits Senate action as early as Wednesday.

The dispute has forced Obama to respond in ways never before seen in a presidential campaign, demonstrating the Internet’s growing role in the democratic process and the live-by-the-click, die-by-the-click potential it holds for politicians.

The last straw was the vote in the Senate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which threatens the privacy of millions of innocent citizens in an attempt to expand the government’s ability to monitor suspected terrorists, and indemnify communications carriers from the legal fallout.

While Obama promised to fight against the bill during the primary season, he has changed tack, and joined 68 of his colleagues approving it today.

For many, who bought into the hope for the end to politics as usual, at least from their candidate, this is shockingly disillusioning, and many are not taking it lying down.

Obama’s online muscle flexes against him — chicagotribune.com

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mm433: McCain’s ultimate vulnerability: the economy

July 8, 2008
mccainbush From Daniel Kurtzman, About.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We’ve spent the past month or so watching the candidates come off their primary paces, attempting to rejigger their respective approaches to the general election, and taking some hits for the resulting adjustments.

The mishandled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been top of mind for many voters since the pointless charade of “Mission Accomplished!”

Paul Krugman reminds us, however, of another paramount issue in this election, the economy, and what its dire condition means to John McCain.

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mm427: Obama’s restless summer

July 2, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Barack Obama, the black Will Smith, has been, is and will be in the news permanently, or at least until Nov. 5, 2008 should John McCain’s wet dream (of somehow overcoming the horrendous legacy of his good buddy, George III) become reality.

So there’s no shortage of worthwhile reading on all things Obama. Here are four of the most intriguing.

1) Fundraising expertise

David Brooks has spent some useful time poring over the campaign finance statements.

nytimes

Obama’s Money Class

Op-Ed Columnist | By DAVID BROOKS | Published: July 1, 2008

Barack Obama sells the Democratic Party short. He talks about his fund-raising success as if his donors were part of a spontaneous movement of small-money enthusiasts who cohered around himself. In fact, Democrats have spent years building their donor network. Obama’s fund-raising base is bigger than John Kerry’s, Howard Dean’s and Al Gore’s, but it’s not different.

As in other recent campaigns, lawyers account for the biggest chunk of Democratic donations. They have donated about $18 million to Obama, compared with about $5 million to John McCain, according to data released on June 2 and available at OpenSecrets.org.

People who work at securities and investment companies have given Obama about $8 million, compared with $4.5 for McCain. People who work in communications and electronics have given Obama about $10 million, compared with $2 million for McCain. Professors and other people who work in education have given Obama roughly $7 million, compared with $700,000 for McCain.

So, Senator Obama, as has every presidential candidate in history, a rhetoric/reality gap.

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mm420: Thanks so much, WordPress.com!

June 25, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© averages roughly 50 hits a day. As reading L-HC indicates that faithful reader indubitably has exquisitely refined taste, I’m not unhappy with that number, exactly. It’s about 50 more people than ever read whatever I might have written before taking up blogging.

Today, 96 hits.

Wow, did my latest post, on web conferencing, hit a nerve?

Not exactly.

50 people clicked on a link from last August, a story about Barack Obama. And I have WordPress.com to thank.

It seems recently they added a delightful feature when one publishes a post: Possibly related posts: (automatically generated) wherein the system pulls out three or four stories that share a tag or category with the article just posted. It’s a handy resource, one small example of the feature-rich service that WordPress.com provides (in my case, nearly cost-free) to nearly 3.5million blogs.

Turns out that FoxNews.com, of all sites, is the source of today’s doubled traffic.

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mm417: Sunny promises collide with black thunderclouds

June 21, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Outside the rarefied world of election campaigns, real life grinds on relentlessly.

washingtonpost

Big Promises Bump Into Budget Realities

New President Won’t Have an Easy Time Paying for New Initiatives, Fiscal Experts Say

By Lori Montgomery | Washington Post Staff Writer | Saturday, June 21, 2008; Page A01

On the presidential campaign trail, Democrat Barack Obama promises to “completely eliminate” income taxes for millions of Americans, from low-income working families to senior citizens who earn less than $50,000 a year.

Republican John McCain vows to double the exemption for dependents and slash the corporate income tax.

To which the folks who monitor the nation’s financial situation can only say: Good luck. Because, back in Washington, tax collections are slowing, the budget deficit is rising, and the national debt is approaching $10 trillion. Whoever wins the White House this fall, fiscal experts say, is likely to have a tough time enacting expensive new initiatives, be they tax cuts or health care reform. …

President Bush, who seems to be spending his last year in office trying to create a legacy, has already done so, indelibly. He’s going to leave the nation with greater fiscal obligations, and fewer means with which to meet them, mainly due to his Iraq needless nightmare, than ever before.

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mm416: Obama a pragmatic politician – we’re shocked, shocked

June 20, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Barack Obama announced Thursday that he would reject public financing for his campaign, after claiming this primary season that he would follow the lead of his Republican opponent. McCain had already announced (he had no choice, that well is pretty dried up for him) that he would rely on public campaign finance for the general election.

Obama is taking much heat from all sides for this change of position. For example,

nytimes

The Two Obamas

Op-Ed Columnist | By DAVID BROOKS | Published: June 20, 2008

God, Republicans are saps. They think that they’re running against some academic liberal who wouldn’t wear flag pins on his lapel, whose wife isn’t proud of America and who went to some liberationist church where the pastor damned his own country. They think they’re running against some naïve university-town dreamer, the second coming of Adlai Stevenson….

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mm414: McCain vs. Obama takes to the skies

June 18, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

The Government Accountability Office has tossed the Northrop Grumman/EADS refueling tankers contract back to the Air Force. This is a big relief to Boeing, which was stunned in March when they lost out in a competition that could be worth as much as $40 billion.

Boeing filed a protest after the consortium of Northrop Grumman/EADS, EADS being the European aerospace giant that has been competing savagely, and successfully, with Boeing for the world’s commercial airline business for more than 30 years, was chosen by the Air Force to provide 179 KC-45A aerial refueling tankers. The KC-45A is based on the popular Airbus A330 twin engine widebodied airliner. Boeing’s submission was based on the Boeing 767, a similar aircraft, but a decade older design.

If you took the trouble, faithful reader, to refresh your memory regarding the March award by clicking on the link above, then you know that this story is a true Washington lobbyist soap opera.

washingtonpost

GAO Agrees with Boeing in Air Force Tanker Contract

By Dana Hedgpeth | Washington Post Staff Writer  | Wednesday, June 18, 2008; 2:04 PM

The Government Accountability Office has sustained a protest from Boeing on a $40 billion contract awarded to rival Northrop Grumman to build new aerial refueling tankers for the Air Force, saying “a number of significant errors” had been made in the evaluations of the heated competition.

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mm399: On the cusp of history

June 3, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

As I begin to write, shortly after 8:00pmCDT, CNN is telling the world that Barack Obama has amassed sufficient delegates to clinch the Democratic party’s nomination for president of the United States.

As an interested observer of history, notwithstanding whatever personal feelings one might have or not about Obama the candidate, one cannot help but be quietly amazed at this turn of events, once so unlikely and tonight so inevitable.

I was born in 1948. Yeah, okay, old enough to be your grandfather, perhaps. But, take it from me, 1948 was not that long ago.

In 1948 racial segregation was a fact of life for most African Americans. That year, President Harry Truman signed an executive order ending racial segregation in the U.S. armed forces, although it took several more years to take effect throughout the military. Less than a year before I was born, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play for a major league baseball team. Today, we take for granted our integrated military force, and our integrated sports teams, in fact both would be curiously empty otherwise.

Now, a majority of voters in this endless Democratic primary season that began 18 months ago after the mid-term election of 2006, have chosen an African American candidate to campaign for the U.S. presidency in November.

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