Does John McCain really think his economic expertise is needed in Washington to solve the financial crisis? I'm sure he'll end up agreeing with Bush again.
Thanks to 95percent for the graphic.
Anyway I'm off to the Australian bush for a week. See ya!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
The narrowing has turned into a lead for Barack Obama in the polls.
FiveThirtyEight: (20/09/08) Electoral College Vote at 315.5/226.5 in Obama's favour, compared with 261/277 last week. The popular vote is at 50.3%/47.9%.
RealClearPolitics (21/09/08) has a 47.6% to 45.5% lead to Obama based on an average of 10 national polls. This is reversal of last week's. The polls are of both Registered Voters (RV) and Likely Voters (LV).
Today's latest prices at Intrade: Obama 50.8, McCain 47.7.
If Sarah Palin starts having real media conferences and answering hard questions, things could change. Which way is anyone's guess.
For some other websites try Perspctv and Pollster.com Thanks to Possum for the links.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Black Friday was a great headline. But with the Wall Street rally overnight it wasn't to be.
Australian economist John Quiggin has been posting about the current stock markets crisis:
No doubt, this too will pass. But it’s just about impossible to see things returning to the status quo ante. A severe recession now seems inevitable. And when it ends, we’ll be looking at a greatly contracted financial sector, with governments deeply enmeshed in both ownership and regulation. Among the likely consequences, a huge decline in the economic importance of New York City, as the firms that defined Wall Street disappear. What next?My initial response: It's part of the decline of the American Empire. The inevitable shift to Asia, and back to Europe to some extent, is now in full swing. The Chinese should be able to buy up U.S. assets at bargain basement prices. They'll just be redeeming debt, private and public.
John agrees with It's the stupid economy that this could be the end of John McCain's comeback. Imagine Sarah Palin in charge of the economy as well as being Commander-in-Chief.
Politically, even allowing for the incredible triviality of US election campaigns, it’s hard to see McCain surviving once the implications of this sink in. From the Keating Five to deregulation in the 90s, he’s been in the pockets of the financial sector throughout his career.It's instructive to look at the scrolling list of academics who endorse the Economic Plan on McCain's website. It's the usual suspects.
First is George Shultz, Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State and Labor and Treasury Secretary under Nixon. He was an adviser to George W. Bush for his 2000 presidential campaign. Currently he is on the Board of JP Morgan and is a member of Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Another McCainite from Stanford is John Taylor. His profile is hardly that of a Washington outsider:
For four years from 2001 to 2005, Taylor served as Under Secretary of Treasury for International Affairs where he was responsible for U.S. policies in international finance, which includes currency markets, trade in financial services, foreign investment,international debt and development, and oversight of the international Monetary Fund and the World Bank. He was also responsible for coordinating financial policy with the G-7 countries, was chair of the working party on international macroeconomics at the OECD, and was a member of the Board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.A third Hoover professor is John Cogan whose bio includes:
During the 2000 presidential campaign he served as a senior economic adviser to George W. Bush on issues relating to tax, budget, and social security policy. Following the 2000 presidential election, he directed President Bush's budget transition team.Glenn Hubbard is Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. He was one of the designers of Bush's 2003 tax cuts. He also chaired the Council of Economic Advisors for President George W. Bush for two years.
There are also a number of Nobel Prize winners such as Gary Becker, who at 77 is just a touch older than the candidate. His professorship is at the University of Chicago, but he is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
John McCain tries to distance himself from George W. Bush and the so-called Washington establishment. He wants to be seen as the outsider despite spending 26 years in Congress. There must be some irony in his connection to the Hoover Institution given Herbert Hoover's presidency at the start of the Great Depression.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
There has been a lot of political interest in animals lately, so an equine example seems appropriate.
Australians are keenly looking forward to the race that stops a nation on the first Tuesday in November.
It’s not the US elections! So what is it?
It’s the Melbourne Cup , Australia’s richest horse race. Our own Kentucky Derby. Even the House of Representatives and Senate in Canberra adjourn to watch the race. So do State Parliaments around the country.
Might and Power, The Grafter, Patron, Nimblefoot.
These aren’t episodes of the West Wing!
Windbag, Statesman, Black Knight, Carbine, Red Handed, Rising Fast.
Are they nicknames of Presidential candidates?
Baghdad Note, Clean Sweep, Light Fingers, Media Puzzle.
They’re not election headlines for newspapers or blog posts.
So what are they? They’re some of the winners of the Melbourne Cup over its 146 year history. Some are national icons like Man o’ War or Seabiscuit in the United States. They are better known than most of our Prime Ministers. Phar Lap, who died in suspicious circumstances in California in 1932, is the most famous.
Which brings me to the campaign trail in Australia. After the 2000 fiasco in Florida, where a handful of votes decided the Presidency, Democrats are only too aware that every vote can count. The votes of citizens outside the U.S. may be crucial in this year’s potential dead heat. According to Democrats Abroad Australia there are 100,000 citizens in Australia. A mere 414 voted in the Democrats Abroad Primary that Barack Obama won comfortably in February:
Approximately 20,000 voted globally in the primary. The Asia Pacific (AP) Region broke strongly for Obama 72.6% - 25.6%. Globally, it was Obama 65.8% - 32.5% over Clinton in the Global Primary, conducted Feb. 1-12. Primary Results - Asia Pacific RegionA similar number were surveyed in a recent GlobeScan poll for the BBC:
All 22 countries in a BBC World Service poll would prefer Democratic nominee Barack Obama elected US president instead of his Republican rival John McCain. Obama is preferred by a four to one margin on average across the 22,000 people polled.Down under, the breakdown was 67% favouring Obama with only 13% preferring McCain. 62% thought Australia’s relations with the rest of the world would improve with Barack as President. The sample size was 1000.
Australia has among the largest majorities favouring Barack Obama’s election as US president and saying America’s relations with the rest of the world would improve under an Obama presidency. Obama win preferred in world poll
This is not necessarily the good news for Obama supporters. John Kerry won this poll in 2004.
Democrats Abroad Australia is the official Obama organisation in Australia. It has groups in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Its members and supporters are distributing Tell An American To Vote leaflets during morning rush hour in central Sydney and at the famous Bondi Beach. The Melbourne Chapter of DAA is planning to host a debate of the issues in the current US presidential election with a prominent Democrat and a prominent Republican. Events are also taking place to watch the presidential debates between Obama and McCain.
The current focus is to register potential voters and help them with voting procedures whilst overseas. As Carmelan Polce, Regional Field Director of Pacific Americans Abroad for Obama, commented:
We need all the help we can get to find US citizens who support Obama and register them to vote by Absentee ballot. This will be a very close election!! Every vote counts!! Please do not delay - register to vote and request your absentee ballot NOW!!One of the volunteers, Greg Carr worked in Sydney near the Harbour Bridge:
Here in Sydney Australia, enthusiastic Democrats turned out to support Obama's Bridges To Hope. And indeed, it was hard to keep them in one place for a photo. So enthusiastic, so hopeful; as we all are.
He also campaigned at the Sydney Gay Mardi Gras Parade, one of Sydney's premier events where more than half a million people watched the parade.
They are also desperately seeking campus outreach volunteers to help us find U.S. study abroad students on Australian university campuses.
There are both official DAA Facebook groups such as Australia for Obama and several other unofficial ones such as Real Labor Supporters Don't Back Republicans.
Cassidy Knowlton, Chairwoman, Democrats Abroad Victoria said recently:
Eight years ago America was at peace, was respected in the world and had a booming economy. Now we are mired in an unnecessary and hugely expensive war, our allies have deserted us, our economy is in the toilet and our civil liberties have been stolen. John McCain voted with George Bush 90% of he time, and if elected he will continue to enact policies that destroy America. He ants to overturn Roe v Wade and take away a woman's right to control her own body. He wants to drill in Alaska for a small amount of oil, even though he knows it would make no difference whatsoever to the current fuel crisis and would destroy one of the few pristine wildernesses we have left.As for the blogoshpere, the right wing down here have embraced Sarah Palin’s candidacy, just as the progressives have welcomed Barack Obama as a breathe of fresh air. I’ve posted about local bloggers’ reactions on Voices without Votes . Before the Palin factor, there was little comment from the conservative side. Ironically, it appears that most of the DAA activists are women.
McCain has said "100 years in Iraq would be fine with me." How many more American men and women in uniform have to die because of Republican arrogance and lies? Vanity Fair has estimated the Iraq war has cost $3 trillion already. How many more trillions of dollars, dollars that we could be using to help Americans pay for health care, education, clean energy, are we going to burn in Iraq?
The choice couldn't be more clear. Obama wants to protect Americans' rights, McCain wants to take them away. Obama wants to get us out of the quagmire that is Iraq and support our troops by bringing them home; McCain wants to keep them there for 100 years and throw away countless thousands of American lives on a failed war based on a lie. Obama wants to invest in clean energy, create jobs and spark economic growth to deal with the fuel crisis. McCain wants to destroy one of the few pristine wilderness areas left in America to drill for oil, which would increase oil supplies by less than 1 per cent and would not be available for use until 2017. Obama wants to lower taxes for the middle class and lower-income Americans; McCain wants to raise them.
In this volatile electoral climate, we can expect vote-chasing outside the U.S. to hot up in coming weeks. Australians are well known for liking a bet. What odds a black president? Another Melbourne Cup winner was called Even Stevens!
This blogpost is cross-posted from Voices Without Votes, a Global Voices project that aims to enable readers to experience American events through the eyes of ordinary citizens from outside the United States.
Barack Obama has been handed perhaps his strongest weapon with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global markets slide. John McCain is a self-professed economics novice, though he denies ever saying:
"The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should," McCain said. "I've got Greenspan's book." McCain: It's about the economyThe economic gloom has put Barack Obama on the offensive.
"John McCain has spent decades in Washington supporting financial institutions instead of their customers," Obama told a crowd of about 2,100 at the Colorado School of Mines.McCain's Country First website has an economic plan: Jobs for America. Like Ronald Reagan he is promising to get the budget out of deficit. Ronnie failed dismally and with his commitment to tax cuts for the rich, McCain would too.
"In fact, one of the biggest proponents of deregulation in the financial sector is Phil Gramm -- the same man who helped write John McCain's economic plan," Obama continued. He said Gramm is "the same man who said that we're going through a 'mental recession,' and the same man who called the United States of America a 'nation of whiners.'"
"So it's hard to understand how Senator McCain is going to get us out of this crisis by doing the same things with the same old players," Obama said. Obama Ridicules McCain's Economic Response
The rest of the world is watching to see how the U.S. handles the crisis. His plan doesn't mention better regulation of financial institutions. Yesterday, he embraced comprehensive reform. It's probably too little, too late. Expect a narrowing in the polls this week.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The election of Eric Ripper as leader of the ALP in the Western Australian parliament is a disappointment. The withdrawal of Alannah McTiernan from the contest was even more so. With four years to go, let's hope that Labor can move on from a caretaker situation fairly quickly. You can be sure that the new Liberal/National coalition will not be asleep at the wheel. Their rush to get uranium mining underway is a clear signal that things are in for a much bigger shake up than many expect.
I think Tina would make a better VP. Any Tina.
For comments on this video and other US election issues, please visit Voices without Votes.
VwV international bloggers are being cross posted on Huffington Post this week. First Off The Bus is John Liebhardt. Global Round Up: International Bloggers Voice Fear of Palin, Interest in Campaign
Monday, September 15, 2008
As a former resident of Broome, I'm wondering what difference the new government will make. The Kimberley was in the process of renewal. If Health and Law and Order are Liberal priorities, they will have to duplicate the newly built Police Station and the "as new" hospital.
It's hard to say, as the opposition had no concrete proposals that I was aware of during 15 months there. For details of what was happening under Alan Carpenter's Labor government, videos of the Kimberley Cabinet earlier this year are instructive.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Alan Carpenter is a good man. He deserved better.
But it's time to be philosophic. To quote Alan: Yes, I dearly wanted more time, we all did but such is the nature of politics and life. Carpenter stands down as WA Labor leader
My earlier post How the West was lost has my thoughts on what happened.
P.S. Was Brendan Grylls fooling himself as well as those who thought a Labor/National deal was really possible?
Today marks the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the US, a pivotal day in history and a day which brought about so much heartbreak and destruction not only in the U.S. but around the world. Bloggers from the Middle East reflect on the disaster.
For more, please click either of the links.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Logged onto some of the poll websites to check the recent damage to the Democrats. It was a case of seeing red.
FiveThirtyEight has the Electoral College Vote at 277/261 in McCain's favour, with the popular vote at 50.1%/48.6%.
RealClearPolitics has a 47.5% to 45.0% lead to McCain based on an average of 10 national polls.
The latest price for McCain is 51.5 at Possum's mates Intrade.
Still early days. Don't start digging your bomb shelter just yet!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Australian expats from the USA have asked to have this video posted about registering and voting from outside the States. It features Gweneth Paltrow among others. It's pro-Democrat and Obama but the advice is generic. The link on this blog for VotefromAbraod.org is also a Democrat site.
There is a Facebook group as well: Australia For Obama
A revised version of How the West was Lost, my blog post about the Western Australian election results is online at New Matilda. A week is along time in politics, especially for Alan Carpenter and Colin Burnett.
An ALP/National government would be exciting according to Carpenter. For those of us with long memories, scary would be a better word. Anyway I think the Nats will support Barnett after getting the most blood out of the situation. They’re just playing the political game very cleverly.
Waltz with Bashir is an animation with a difference: a personal, political, psychological documentary about the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by Israel and the massacre of Palestinians refugees by local militia.
The story is based on writer/director Ari Folman’s experiences as an Israeli soldier in Lebanon. It explores the recollections of other soldiers in an attempt to resolve his own blocked memories. These relate in particular to the massacres of Palestinians in Beirut’s Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Christian Phalangist militia.
The Israeli army were unwitting participants at best, as they guarded the perimeter of the camps and provided flares to light the phalangist attacks. Ariel Sharon who later became Prime Minister was held personally responsible and sacked as Israeli Defence Minister.
The power of our minds to dim or completely remove real memories or to create others which are false is a central theme.
The title ‘Waltz with Bashir’ refers to one soldier’s bizarre dance with death under sniper fire. Behind him is a large poster of Bashir Gemayel. He was a senior commander of the Phalangists militia who became President of Lebanon. His assassination was a catalyst for the massacres.
The director of animation Yoni Goodman has created a unique atmosphere, with dream-like motion at times. The animators used illustrations hand-drawn from video. The official website explains the process used in detail. It took 4 years to complete.
The original music by Max Richter reinforces the dark, disturbing tones of the animation.
The final scenes, which use actual footage, are horrific in the extreme. Not only does the film leave us with more questions about war and the dark side of humanity. It places the rise of Hizbollah, the 2006 Israeli/Lebanon conflict and the continuing violent internal Lebanese politics in context. One that is not likely to change while hate rules the heart.
For the At the Movies interview with Ari Folman and their film review, please visit their website.
More film reviews at Cinema Takes
Sunday, September 7, 2008
When the Western Australian State government visited Broome earlier this year for a Community Cabinet, all was not rosy but it seemed that Alan Carpenter was over the worst of internal party division and the Liberals were divided and discredited. What went wrong between then and now? This is a view from the east, tempered by 15 months in Broome and 8 years in Northern Territory ALP politics.
Firstly the obvious: the timing of an early election was a major miscalculation. it isn’t clear whether the Premier received bad advice or it was his own idea. There does not seem to have been much political nous amongst either the government advisers or the State ALP apparatchiks. It would have made more sense with Tony Buswell as leader, but trying to pull a swiftie on a retreaded Colin Barnett was courting disaster. He was Mr. clean, all good-humoured innocence fighting the evil manipulators in the government.
Secondly, West Australians seem to like their politicians as colourless and non-threatening as possible. Carpenter is not a typical Australian leader. He is very serious and intense. Moreover, despite his journalism background he seems to relate poorly with the voters, perhaps because of an unlikely shyness. He does not come across as a warm, natural character like Peter Beatty whom some compared him with. Ironically during his Broome visit, I found him a genuine straight talker, to borrow John McCain’s slogan. He has the capacity to make an important contribution to Australian politics but it seems fate might have it otherwise. He has a vision for WA but it is not one that is understood by the public.
The Brian Burke factor was not of Carpenter’s making though he naively ignored it when he took over, to his lasting detriment. His later attempts to clean up the party had considerable success. But this was at the cost of public support which only a Beatty could have retained. This was reinforced by his inability to fully unite the Labor Party behind his leadership.
The old cliché that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them had a strange twist. The official opposition in the guise of the Liberal Party had been worse than dismal before the election was called and used the time-honoured tactic of taking no risks during the campaign. However, the real opposition came in the form of West Australian Newspapers whose traditional antipathy to Labor, as evidenced during the 2007 Federal election, had taken the form of a vendetta against the State ALP. The feud between them and Jim McGinty, Heath Minister and Attorney General, far exceeded any other government/media stoush I can remember. Carpenter seemed either unwilling or incapable of negotiating a truce. He paid the price in a State where WAN own the only daily and nearly all of the weekly regional papers.
The State ALP head office must also be held accountable. Last year’s Federal campaign was poorly managed with the West being the only State to go backwards for Labor. Let’s hope that State Secretary Bill Johnston will be more successful as the member for Carrington. I’ll save any other comments for internal party forums.
Finally voters across Australia are angry. It is more than just a climate of change in politics. Voters are hurting and they will not tolerate perceived failure, weakness or arrogance from their politicians. It is not just a case of protest voting. If you’re not delivering or are consumed by internal strife then you'll be punished. The same lesson has been delivered in the Northern Territory, Mayo and Lyne.
Alan Carpenter may yet form a minority government. Let's hope that if he gets another chance to fulfill his potential, it is not wasted.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Especially now that he has his own pit bull.
John McCain’s official website as Republican candidate is a vast improvement on his old one from the primaries. Obviously the self-styled maverick is getting a lot of professional insider help to improve its impact and the spin. Now you can easily find his policies, such as health care and climate change. And understand them.
His old environment policy was a joke. It was originally found under Stewards of Our Nation's Rich Natural Heritage when I posted about it back in February. This section still exists but the new climate change section has a lot more detail. It seems to match Barack Obama’s promise of reducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Not exactly the kind of targets that many outside the U.S. are hoping for but they will be hard enough to get past the Congress and the special interests. His choice of Sarah Palin tells us that Big Oil is not part of the Washington establishment that McCain will be purging. George W. can sleep soundly on that score.
Australia’s own debate has hotted up with Ross Garnaut, the Rudd government’s economic guru of climate change, recommending lower targets than environmentalists were expecting:
He says the world and Australia will risk "catastrophic consequences" to the natural environment, including the extinction of a third of the world's species, if we allow the planet's temperature to rise by 3 degrees over the next century.At the same time Garnaut has offended business interests who argue that:
Yet, in a disturbing conclusion, Garnaut says he does not believe the majority of countries and their vested interests are ready to heed this warning. And so he recommends that Australia should pursue, for now, a global agreement that almost certainly, according to his best scientific advice, risks the very catastrophic consequences he has so painstakingly outlined. With smoke in our eyes, we can't see the fog
If we don't have a technological breakthrough it's akin to saying that Australia's going to become a candles economy Garnaut's emissions targets to 'crush' economyOn the health front, forget any promises of real change from the Republicans. The words ‘universal health care’ don’t rate a mention. It looks like a policy that George W. Bush and his neo-cons would be happy with. It’s essentially cosmetic.
Finally from an Australian perspective, it’s ironic that McCain has a policy of Workplace Flexibility and Choice that is supposed to help workers and their families. The Howard government was lashed in last year’s election for introducing an industrial relations system Work Choices that was supposed to give employees greater power to negotiate better working conditions. Flexibility is a bit like globalisation. Fine until it’s your job and working conditions that are on the line. When everything is on the table, anything can be taken away.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Alan Carpenter must be watching the resignation of Morris Iemma with horror. He must be hoping, against the odds I suspect, that there won't be two new Premiers in Australia. Rees confirmed as new NSW premier. Most Australians will know less about Nathan Rees than the Liberal opposition leader in WA.
Sarah Palin delivers a speech very well. So does George W. Bush. Apparently she was responsible for the pit-bull line.
Barack Obama writes very good speeches as well as delivering them.
I know whose finger I'd want on the nuclear button.
And then there is their positions on issues.
Gives voters a clear alternative.
An excellent post at Duckpond STATING THE OBVIOUS. An excerpt:
Some of us actually own dogs, and perhaps know something of pit bulls. Since they made the comparison - and why did not the speech writers see this or similar coming - it could be said, “Even without the lipstick, we know a fake when we see one”. Not that I would make those implied aspersions against any person, not least Governor Palin, preferring the discipline of separating what the person says and does, from the person.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Family First's Steve Fielding has played populist politics with the luxury car tax. He said he was defending farmers' and tourist operators' "tools of trade".
The numbers tell a different story. The standard Toyota Landcruiser Cab-chassis starts at around $55,000 and a Troop Carrier for just over $60,000. The Hilux 4WD is around $40,000. The increase in luxury tax for a $65,000 vehicle would have been approximately $350 after business tax deductions. For a $60,000 vehicle it would have been round $120. At $57,180 it would be zero.
Farmers and tour operators who chose sensible options in hard times would not have been affected to any significant extent. But it sounds good. Families will pay the shortfall of $555 million in some way. Presumably through higher interest rates because of a reduced surplus.
According to the Australian Taxation Office website:
The term ‘car’ does not include:
* trucks and vans designed to carry a load of more than two tonnes
* vehicles, such as buses, designed to carry nine or more passengers
Farmers and tour operators who chose sensible options in hard times would not have been affected to any real extent.
But it sounds good. Families will pay for the taxation shortfall of $555 million in some way. Presumably through higher interest rates because of a reduced surplus. Fielding should answer to his constituency for that, rather than trying to pick up easy votes.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
There is a spring offensive at GetUp. Its new Project Democracy was launched yesterday. The first target is the Australian Senate.
"It's a forum for you to build local activism, discuss the issues that matter, and comment on the performance of your Senators. You can comment on posts from other members of the PD community, or submit your own blog post."My recent post Senate Watch: keeping the bastards honest has been included in the section on Victoria.
Monday, September 1, 2008
George W.Bush has vowed that the Hurricane Katrina debacle won't happen again. The powers of hindsight!
Of course he has indicated often enough that Iraq would happen again even without the W.'s Mass Deceptions.
A short list of things we wish hadn't happened on Bush's watch:
* the Iraq invasion and occupation
* the sub-prime economic crisis
* Kyoto denial and inaction on global warming
* the erosion of U.S. goodwill around the world
* impotence in responding to the slaughter in the Sudan, Myanmar and Zimbabwe etc.
Despite Hurricane Gustav's possible impact on the Republican convention in Mississippi, John McCain must be thanking the heavens that neither Bush or Dick Cheney will be attending so that they can be on standby for any repeat of the Louisiana 2005 disaster. Including the political one.
Please add to the list in comments.