Thursday, January 31, 2008

Schwarzenegger to endorse McCain

About a week ago, I wrote a post regarding this strange relationship between the GOP presidential candidates and Hollywood "Macho Men." Rocky and Rambo star Sylvester Stallone endorsed Arizona Senator John McCain. Invasion U.S.A and Walker Texas Ranger star Chuck Norris endorsed Mike Huckabee. And there were political rumors a-flying last year regarding the secret summit between Mitt Romney and the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, and whether the Governator would endorse Romney.

Well, the Governator has made his endorsement--and it wasn't for Mitt Romney! From Reuters News:

SIMI VALLEY, California (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will endorse Republican John McCain's bid for president, McCain campaign aides said on Wednesday.

Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican who had largely stayed out of the presidential race, is expected to formally announce his backing for McCain when the two appear together at an event in Los Angeles on Thursday, the aides said.

Schwarzenegger's support could give McCain, the front-runner for the Republican nomination in November's presidential election, an important boost in California, which is among more than 20 states that will hold nomination contests on "Super Tuesday" next week.

The Los Angeles Times said Schwarzenegger made the decision to back McCain, an Arizona senator, after former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the race.

"He is good friends with both (Giuliani and McCain) and thought they were both strong candidates," a source close to Schwarzenegger told the newspaper. "With Giuliani dropping out, that cleared the way for the governor's decision."

The latest polls show McCain leading his chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, by double digits among likely California primary voters, although some four in 10 said they could change their minds before they vote.

California, which has more than 15 million registered voters, will choose 173 Republican delegates on Super Tuesday.

Now can you terminate Mitten's ass for me?

It appears now that McCain has two Hollywood "Macho Men" with Sly and Schwarzenegger--and Mitt Romney doesn't even have a "Macho Man" to his credit. And in a sense, I do feel sorry for poor Mittens--he doesn't have a Hollywood "Macho Man" in his camp, while McCain has two. Even Mike Huckabee has a Hollywood "Macho Man" with Karate Chuck. It is sad to think how Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Karate Chuck could gang up and beat poor Mittens to a pulp on the school playground. Mitt Romney needs his own "Macho Man." So I thought I would hunt around on the internet for some possible candidates, and I found these two guys:

We're coming for ya Mitt!

You can't find anyone with more machismo than SpongeBob SquarePants, and Patrick. Look at that square face, and the intense concentration that SpongeBob projects--he's almost a twin to Mitt Romney! They both have that strong, "macho" look. SpongeBob looks good in a suit--Mitt Romney looks good in a suit. And let's not forget that SpongeBob has excellent business credentials with his incredible fry-cooking work at the Krusty Krab. Mitt Romney has shown his own experience in business and crisis management during his vacation days with the family dog. Now look at Patrick, with his intense, angry eyes. Patrick has an even meaner look than SpongeBob, and yet he is one of the most loyal friends to SpongeBob. You're getting two "Macho Men" here for the price of one! Finally, how many starfish do you know that wear green and purple cammo pants? That takes some pretty hefty machismo!

And so Mitt, I would suggest that you reach out, and ask for the endorsement from these two, tough, Hollywood macho stars. With SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick behind you, you could take on the rest of the GOP candidates and their Hollywood wimps. Can you see Karate Chuck peeing in his pants at the sight of these two? Together SpongeBob and Patrick can make Sly Stallone slink away, or the Governator give up, returning McCain to the wimpy little brat that he is. You could then regain the front-runner status that you have longed for since--I don't think you were ever a front-runner. With Spongebob and Patrick at your side, you will certainly get the Bikini Bottom vote, and all the clams that come with it. You'll become a winner Mitt! And when you do destroy McCain and Huckabee, make sure you give thanks for the support of these two, great, Hollywood icons.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rudy Giuliani ends campaign, endorses John McCain

I mentioned this last night in my post on the Florida election results, but now it has become official. From The New York Times:

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the combative New York City mayor who rose to national prominence during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, formally ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday and declared that he would throw his support to the candidacy of Senator John McCain.

“John McCain is the most qualified candidate to be the next commander in chief of the United States,” Mr. Giuliani said. “He is an American hero.”

Mr. Giuliani made his announcement at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., just hours before the candidates took the stage there for a debate. His decision, on a day that also saw the Democratic contender John Edwards bow out of the race, followed a devastating defeat for Mr. Giuliani in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Florida. After a series of early primary losses, Mr. Giuliani had made a great effort to win over Florida voters, but finished in a distant third to Mr. McCain in the polling.

Standing next to Mr. McCain at a podium in the library, Mr. Giuliani said that “it is appropriate to make this announcement hear at the Reagan library because President Reagan’s leadership remains and inspiration both for John McCain and myself.”

Mr. Giuliani’s endorsement, which was widely reported throughout the day, provides a boost to Mr. McCain in what appears to be shaping into a two-candidate race. Mr. McCain, of Arizona, and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, exchanged a series of bitter attacks before the Florida primary, and Mr. McCain went out of his way to recognize Mr. Giuliani after his victory on Tuesday. He said Mr. Giuliani “conducted himself with all of the qualities of the exceptional American leader he truly is.”

In one sense, it is not really surprising that Rudy Giuliani would endorse John McCain. Both candidates are especially pro-war in their views. Giuliani practically staked his presidential campaign as the "Mr. 9/11" candidate, while McCain was pushing for even greater troop increases than Bush wanted in the surge. So you could say that they make a happy, war-mongering couple here.

Wickedly nasty conservative attack ad against McCain

I found this latest YouTube ad on both The Carpetbagger Report and The Washington Monthly. It is just nasty. At first, you think the ad is about Hillary Clinton's "liberal" views and policies. But then the camera pans back away from Hillary's picture, and you see John McCain emerging from behind. The ad is coming from a conservative organization called The Citizens United Political Victory Fund, and will be shown nationally on the Fox News Channel, starting January 31st. From YouTube:

What a wicked, nasty campaign we have here. I wonder who The Citizens United Political Victory Fund supports for the GOP nomination--Mitt Romney?

Video reveals abuse of cows at slaughterhouse

I found this Washington Post story through Americablog, and it is just sickening. The WaPost story is about an new video that has been released by the Humane Society on how Hallmark Meat Packing Company abuses sickened cows in order to use the meat for school lunch programs. Here is the Washington Post story:

Video footage being released today shows workers at a California slaughterhouse delivering repeated electric shocks to cows too sick or weak to stand on their own; drivers using forklifts to roll the "downer" cows on the ground in efforts to get them to stand up for inspection; and even a veterinary version of waterboarding in which high-intensity water sprays are shot up animals' noses -- all violations of state and federal laws designed to prevent animal cruelty and to keep unhealthy animals, such as those with mad cow disease, out of the food supply.

Moreover, the companies where these practices allegedly occurred are major suppliers of meat for the nation's school lunch programs, including in Maryland, according to a company official and federal documents.

The footage was taken by an undercover investigator for an animal welfare group, who wore a customized video camera under his clothes while working at the facility last year. It is evidence that anti-cruelty and food safety rules are inadequate, and that Agriculture Department inspection and enforcement need to be enhanced, said officials with the Humane Society of the United States, which coordinated the project.

"These were not rogue employees secretly doing these things," the investigator said in a telephone interview on the condition of anonymity because he hopes to infiltrate other slaughterhouses. "This is the pen manager and his assistant doing this right in the open."

The investigator and Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, said the footage was taken at Hallmark Meat Packing in Chino, Calif. Hallmark sells meat for processing to Westland Meat Co. in Chino, according to Westland President Steve Mendell, who is also Hallmark's operations manager.

Over the past five years, Westland has sold about 100 million pounds of frozen beef, valued at $146 million, to the Agriculture Department's commodities program, which supplies food for school lunches and programs for the needy, according to federal documents.

In the 2004-05 school year, the Agriculture Department honored Westland with its Supplier of the Year award for the National School Lunch Program.

Here is the video through the Humane Society:

HSUS Investigates Slaughterhouse

The process here is to use any means Hallmark can in order to make the sickened cows to stand, just before the USDA meat inspectors can check out the animals before they are slaughtered. The more cows Hallmark can push through the slaughterhouse, the more meat Hallmark can sell, and the more profit Hallmark makes. It is about placing corporate greed above the public safety. Any sickened cows that can not stand up may have such diseases as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. These sickened cows may also have "been wallowing in feces, posing added risks of E. coli and salmonella contamination." USDA regulations and California law does not allow animals "to be dragged by chains, lifted with forklifts, or, with few exceptions, to enter the food supply," because of this risk of disease entering the public food supply, and the public health. However, this undercover investigator said that this type of abuse happens regularly at Hallmark, just before the USDA investigators arrive:

The investigator said a USDA inspector appeared twice a day, at 6:30 a.m. and about 12:30 p.m., to look at each cow to be slaughtered that day. The practices occurred before the inspector's appearance, he said, with the goal of getting the animals on their feet for the short time the inspector was there.

"Every day, I would see downed cattle too sick or injured to stand or walk arriving at the slaughterhouse," he said. "Workers would do anything to get the cows to stand on their feet."

USDA regulations say that if an animal goes down after it is inspected but before it is slaughtered, then it must be reinspected. But that rarely, if ever, happened, according to the Humane Society.

It is all about corporate greed for Hallmark Meat Packing. And they could care less whether young schoolchildren will get sick with mad cow disease because of their own criminal activities. This is just sick.

John Edwards' farewell address

John Edwards' farewell address. From YouTube:

Ralph Nader is launching an exploratory website

God, this is frickin' disgusting. Everybody's favorite wacked-out liberal candidate Ralph Nader is launching an exploratory website. From

Ralph Nader, the consumer activist whom many Democrats blame for costing them the White House in 2000, launched an exploratory committee website today.

The site asks "Which side are you on?" and features a litany of criticisms of corporate America.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but was edged out in the Electoral College by Republican George W. Bush after the US Supreme Court stopped a recount in Florida.

Nader, the Green Party candidate, won about 2.8 million votes nationwide, or nearly 3 percent of the vote. But his vote in close, key states helped swing the election to Bush.

You can view Nader's website here.

All I'm going to say is Nader, get your fucking ass out of this 2008 presidential race! The last thing we need is for you to siphon off more swing-state votes away from Hillary or Obama, throwing this election back to the Republicans. The last thing we need is another four or eight years worth of GOP corruption, incompetence, outright greed, war, greater economic disparity, greater inequality between the ubber-rich and the rest of us, more corporatism, and Big Business continuing to destroy our country's regulation for their selfish greed. Mr. Nader, I do not want you to give the White House to the Republican Party, not after we've had eight years of incompetence and disaster from King George The Deciderer's reign.

Get out of the race now!

Edwards will drop out of the race

This is from The New York Times:

NEW ORLEANS — Democratic candidate John Edwards has decided to drop out of the presidential primary race, giving a speech this afternoon at the same place where he began this campaign — in New Orleans.

Throughout this season, Mr. Edwards hasn’t been able to break through the dueling high-profile candidacies of Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. And he had not been able to raise the kind of funds that those two had early on.

Top advisers said that Mr. Edwards would not be endorsing another candidate today when he makes his announcement at 1 p.m. On Tuesday, Mr. Edwards canceled events in Alabama and North Dakota, opting instead to fly to New Orleans late Tuesday night. His press aides told reporters that he would make a “major policy speech” on poverty, in the city where Mr. Edwards announced his candidacy in December 2006.

He placed a distant third last night in Florida’s primary. And even more disappointing, as a native of South Carolina, he finished in the mid-teens there, as Mr. Obama won overwhelmingly. Mr. Edwards had campaigned heavily in Iowa for months and months, fine-turning a populist message and issuing many proposals, including one on health care, long before his rivals issued theirs. In the caucuses, he finished second, but just around a percentage point ahead of Mrs. Clinton.

As the primary season headed toward Super Tuesday, and several of the big Southern states, Mr. Edwards was expected to draw a swath of white voters his way.

John Edwards ran a pretty scrappy campaign here, but he was just unable to break through the two front-runners of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, with the exception of his surprising second-place finish in Iowa. With Edwards dropping out now, I doubt that he is going to play king-maker at the convention, although he may have some influence in promoting his populist policies within the Democratic platform. But now this is a race between Hillary and Obama--a race between the first women candidate and the first African-American candidate.

May the best woman, or man, win.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

McCain, Romney have yet to air political ads in the Super Duper Tuesday states

I found this interesting CNN Political Ticker story through the Carpetbagger Report. From CNN Political Ticker:

(CNN) — As they fight for momentum on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have also spent the past week-and-a-half dueling it out on the airwaves in multiple Super Tuesday states, to the tune of $2.5 to 3 million each.

The outcome of the Republican contest may be just as uncertain – but no GOP candidate is currently on the air in any of the 21 states that will weigh in on their party’s presidential nomination next Tuesday.

“They made a gamble that someone would have momentum,” says Evan Tracey of TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, with tracks campaign ad spending. “But no one has captured it. They’re all looking to see what happens in Florida today.”

Currently, just two Republican contenders are reaching viewers in states which vote after Florida’s primary. Mike Huckabee – who is facing a campaign cash crush — has made a less-expensive national cable buy which will also show up in those states. And Ron Paul has purchased airtime in Hawaii, which votes February 19, and his home state of Texas, which weighs in March 4.

Now Carpetbagger says that all the GOP candidates "put their eggs in the Florida basket, leaving those who come up short in a tough spot." The idea here was that everyone thought that Florida would be the knock-out blow in gaining the GOP front-runner status--whether it was John McCain knocking out Mitt Romney, or Mitt Romney knocking out McCain, or Rudy Giuliani knocking everyone out. And these knock-out blows would allow the Florida winner to cruise into the Super Duper Tuesday states as the victor, and the GOP front-runner.

Instead what happens in Florida is that McCain doesn't get a knock-out blow against Romney, but rather gets a close, 18-round slug-fest win over Romney in which both campaigns have pretty much used up their resources in Florida. Now McCain has a 21-state super-slug-fest against Romney, and both candidates are badly bloodied, bruised, and have yet begun to start their advertising within these states. And it is going to take a couple of days for both campaigns to set up the political campaign commercials (If they have not already), target the states, purchase the advertising, and counter their opponent's advertising with new advertising--all within a week.

McCain, Clinton win Florida primary

Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton have won both the Republican and Democratic primary in Florida. From MSNBC News:

MIAMI - Sen. John McCain was projected to win Florida's Republican primary, NBC News said Tuesday night, a critical victory over Mitt Romney in the battle for momentum before the race for the GOP presidential nomination turns into a nationwide delegate struggle on Feb. 5.

With more than half of the state's 6,913 precincts reporting, McCain had 35 percent of the vote, and Romney had 31 percent. Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee were running behind the leaders, struggling for survival.

A senior Giuliani campaign aide told NBC News that he wouldn't comment on a TIME Magazine report that Giuliani and McCain have struck a deal and Giuliani will endorse McCain in California, perhaps as early as Wednesday.

NBC news analyst Howard Fineman reported that the two campaigns were negotiating details of the deal.

Huckabee, speaking to supporters during a campaign stop in St. Louis on Tuesday night, said he was looking ahead to Super Tuesday, when there are 23 contests.

“We’re playing all nine innings of this ball game,” he said. The selection process is “not even close to being over. We’re just really getting started.”

Tuesday's winner stood to gain all 57 national convention delegates at stake, the biggest prize so far in an early round of primaries and caucuses.

In the Democrats' primary — a nonbinding contest in which no delegates were at stake — NBC News projected that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would finish with more votes than her rivals. Sen. Barack Obama was projected to finish second, with John Edwards third.

Heavy turnout was reported by state election officials. A survey of voters as they left their polling places showed the economy was the top issue for nearly half the Republican electorate. Terrorism, the war in Iraq and immigration followed in importance. Not surprisingly in a state that is a magnet for retirees, more than one-third of the voters were 65 or older.

McCain was benefiting from the support of self-described moderates, as well as Hispanics and older voters. Romney was favored by voters opposed to abortion and opposed to easing the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The poll was conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for NBC News, the other television networks and The Associated Press.

First, I want to point out that for the Democratic primary, Florida's delegates have been stripped by the Democratic Party due to Florida's moving its primary date to January 29th. This is the same punishment that took place with Michigan, where Senator Hillary Clinton won the Michigan primary, but will not get any delegates from that win. Florida and Michigan will not be able to seat their delegates at the Democratic convention. Clinton is trying to get the Democratic Party to reverse their decision and allow Clinton to seat Michigan and Florida's delegates. At this point, nothing has been determined except that we've had these two popularity contests within the Democratic Party.

However, the Republican Party is another story. John McCain took around 35 percent of the vote, while Mitt Romney took a close 31 percent. Rudy Giuliani ended up in third place at 16 percent. McCain won a close squeaker in Florida. The McCain campaign has had some money troubles, where he is not getting enough campaign donations to keep him going in the primary without accepting federal matching funds, and to still have enough to finance the general election. So far, McCain has raised $7 million for January, and has qualified for federal matching funds. However McCain has a $3 million line of credit that he needs to pay off. What McCain needs to do is to forgo the federal matching funds for as long as he can until the general election. This is where Florida comes in. The win in Florida places McCain just a step closer to the front-runner status, which could provide more donations to the McCain campaign coffers. This will keep the McCain campaign running through Super Duper Tuesday. And if McCain wins big on Super Duper Tuesday, then he could become the GOP front-runner, where he can focus his campaigning--and raising campaign donations--as a general election candidate. In simpler terms, the Florida win has kept the McCain campaign alive until Super Duper Tuesday.

Now let's go to Mitt Romney. Romney had a strong second-place finish here, just around five percentage points behind McCain. This doesn't mean that Romney's campaign is finished here. But Romney needs to retool his campaign to somehow blunt this re-energized Straight Talk Express. The McCain campaign is running on the Iraq war issue, considering McCain's congressional experience in military and foreign affairs issues. Romney has been trying to shift the debate to economic issues, which Romney considers his own strength. Now this is what is strange here. According to CNN exit polls, Republican voters thought that the economy was the most important issue (At 45 percent), when considering their vote on the candidates. However when choosing which candidate would do a better job with the economy, McCain did better at 40 percent verses Romney's 32 percent. In other words, 40 percent of the voters thought that McCain would do a better job with the economy over that of Romney. What is so strange is that McCain himself has admitted that he doesn't know much about economics. And yet, he is beating Romney on the economic issue. What I think Romney needs to do is to change his campaign message away "Washington is broken and only I can fix it," to a simpler "It's the economy and McCain is stupid" message. Romney needs to hit McCain hard on the economy, and the fact that McCain does not know how to fix the problems of this economy. And Romney needs to make this change now, because there is only seven days before Super Duper Tuesday.

With regards to Rudy Giuliani's campaign, Rudy's finished. He only received 15 percent of the vote. And now Giuliani will plan to endorse John McCain on Wednesday in California. According to this MSNBC story:

ORLANDO, Fla. - After a poor showing in Florida's Republican primary, NBC News and the National Journal reported Tuesday night that Rudy Giuliani will endorse winner John McCain on Wednesday in California.

Speaking to supporters Tuesday night, Giuliani referred to his candidacy repeatedly in the past tense, as though it was over.

“We’ll stay involved and together we’ll make sure that we’ll do everything we can to hand our nation off to the next generation better than it was before,” he said.

A senior Giuliani official told NBC that he will endorse McCain on Wednesday in California, where Republicans are set to debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

Giuliani ran third in Florida, his best showing of the campaign, after spending most of his money and time in the state ahead of Super Tuesday. But it was not nearly good enough to make his last stand in a state that is home to tens of thousands of transplanted New Yorkers.

“The responsibility of leadership doesn’t end with a single campaign, it goes on and you continue to fight for it,” Giuliani said Tuesday night, as supporters with tight smiles crowded behind him. “We ran a campaign that was uplifting.”

Asked directly if he was dropping out of the race, Giuliani said only: “I’m going to California.”

I'm guessing Giuliani is going to attend the GOP debate tomorrow at the Ronald Reagan library, where he will make a big public statement at the debate on endorsing McCain. This will give Rudy lots of media time and spin on his endorsement, provide more brownie points for the McCain campaign in declaring they are the front-runner, and would probably piss off Romney--all at the same time. Giuliani staked his presidential campaign in Florida, and he lost.

Now the question is when will Mike Huckabee drop out of the race. Huckabee got 14 percent of the vote in Florida--just behind Rudy Giuliani. I don't see Huckabee winning the nomination--not with both McCain and Romney fighting each other for the front-running position. Huckabee will probably stay in the race through Super Duper Tuesday, trying to get the evangelical vote in the south and pick up a few southern states, and their delegates, to stick in his camp. If Huckabee wins enough southern state delegates, he could use them to influence McCain or Romney to modify their own presidential platforms on social issues. I'm not sure if Huckabee will able to play king-maker for the GOP, that Edwards could play for the Democrats. I think Huckabee will stay in the GOP race until the money runs out, and then he will withdrawal.

Florida primary today

Today is the Florida primary, and I have this interesting MSNBC story to talk about:

WASHINGTON - Republican Rudy Giuliani's White House quest could be in deep trouble as he lags far behind the leaders in a Florida presidential primary he counted on winning, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released Tuesday.

Hours before the start of Florida's voting, Arizona Sen. John McCain held a slim 4-point lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, 35 percent to 31 percent, in what was essentially a two-man race, the poll found.

Giuliani, the former New York mayor, was battling former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for a distant third place finish in Florida. Both registered 13 percent.

The margin of error in the poll was 3.3 percentage points.

Giuliani had staked his campaign on a strong Florida showing after pulling out of other early voting states, but he has drifted down in national and state polls for weeks as the drama of an intensely contested Republican race passed him by.

"The race has become a two-man race, and Giuliani is just not a factor," said pollster John Zogby.

This has become a two-man race with McCain and Romney in an almost statistical tie. They both have been bashing each other hard over the past week in Florida. I don't know who is going to win this race. However, who wins this Florida primary will be one step closer to becoming the GOP front-runner, and perhaps winning the Republican nomination.

As for Rudy Giuliani, he needs to win big in Florida in order to keep his campaign alive. But with Giuliani polling at around 13 percent, I'm not sure that is going to happen. So the next question is, how long will it be before Giuliani drops out? There are a couple of interesting stories in The New York Times story and ABC News about how subdued the Giuliani campaign has become. If Giuliani does plan to withdrawal, it will happen either Wednesday morning (If Giuliani comes in at a distant third, or fourth-place finish), or it could happen this weekend, when it will be a slow news day. I do not that Giuliani would want to continue campaigning into Super Duper Tuesday after investing so much time and money into Florida, and coming up very short. If Giuliani wins Florida, or comes in second place, his campaign will still be alive until Super Duper Tuesday. So this is still a very interesting race.

The State of the Union under George W. Bush

Well, President George W. Bush has delivered his final State of the Union speech last night. You can read about the highlights here in the New York Times, and the read the transcript here. But I would say that a more powerful example of the State of the Union under George W. Bush can be found in this graphic from ThinkProgress:

The legacy of George W. Bush's presidency. From ThinkProgress.

Home foreclosures were up 79 percent higher last year

There is really not much more I can say about this CNBC story, except that the housing market is in a complete mess. From CNBC:

The number of U.S. homes that slipped into some stage of foreclosure in 2007 was 79 percent higher than in the previous year, a real estate tracking company said Tuesday.

Many homeowners started to fall behind on mortgage payments in the last three months, setting the stage for more foreclosures this year.

About 1.3 million homes received foreclosure-related warnings last year, up from 717,522 in 2006, Irvine-based RealtyTrac said. Foreclosure filings rose 75 percent from the previous year to 2.2 million.

More than 1 percent of all U.S. households were in some phase of the foreclosure process last year, up from about half a percent in 2006, RealtyTrac said.

Nevada, Florida, Michigan and California posted the highest foreclosure rates, the company said.

The story does say that if the economy doesn't deteriorate due to some other unforeseen circumstance, then the bulk of foreclosures, those caused by adjustable-rate mortgages given to borrowers with poor credit, will be exhausted by June of this year. That may be true, but don't expect the housing crash to turn around quickly after June. Banks have almost a years' supply worth of homes on their books, and almost no one to sell those homes with their tightened credit standards--Americans who have seen their homes foreclosed are not going to be on the market soon. I think we're going to see a period where home sales are going to be very slow, with prices dropping significantly, before the demand for housing starts to pick up. I'm thinking the housing slump will last to between two to five years.

Monday, January 28, 2008

McDonald's profit rises, but U.S. growth slows in December

This is a rather interesting Marketwatch story:

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- Although McDonald's continued its remarkable run in the fourth quarter, posting profit and sales gains Monday, a slowdown in its U.S. growth in December sent investors to the sidelines - and the fast-food chain's stock down in early trading.

Before the start of trading, McDonald's said it earned $1.27 billion, or $1.06 a share, on the period - up from $1.24 billion, or $1, a year ago. Knocking out various charges and gains, the company would have earned $1.06 a share on a continuing operations basis, up from 61 cents. Income tax and foreign currency benefits added 37 cents a share to the company's bottom line.

The average estimate analysts polled by Thomson Financial had been for the company to earn 71 cents a share.

Revenue rose 6% to $5.75 billion, with global same stores sales up 6.7%, or 3.3% in the U.S. although the company said "severe winter weather throughout the month and softer consumer spending resulted in December U.S. comparable sales being flat."

And although Jim Skinner, chief executive said in the earnings report that he remains "optimistic" about 2008, the domestic slowdown may have sparked a bit of a sell-off: McDonald's shares were down more than 6% to $50.66 out of the open.

In Europe, the company said it managed double-digit revenue and operating income growth, with rises in same-store sales "in every market as a result of unique marketing and locally appealing menu offerings."

But its Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa division was the true standout, with an 11.4% same-store sales jump, its biggest move in more than 15 years.

Separately, McDonald's said that its board has decided that beginning in 2008, dividends will be paid on a quarterly basis, with the one for the first quarter of 2008 to be handed out on March 17 to shareholders of record as of March 3.

What this story is saying is that McDonald's is still earning profit, but the profit is coming from its European, Asia/Pacific, Middle Eastern, and African markets. Sales are increasing in the world markets. However, in the U.S., there is a slowdown in McDonald's sales due to "severe winter weather," and "softer consumer spending." I'd say that with the U.S. economy slowing down, consumers are cutting back on their Big Macs and Egg McMuffins. But then again, McDonald's doesn't want to admit that a possible recession is going to hurt their U.S. market.

McCain, Romney bash each other in Florida

This is from MSNBC News:

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Mitt Romney and John McCain accused each other Monday of harboring liberal tendencies, a charge bordering on blasphemy in the increasingly caustic campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Romney struck first on the day before the winner-take-all Florida primary. He attacked the Arizona senator for his legislation reducing the role of money in politics, for his position on immigration and for his support of an energy bill that Romney said would have driven up consumer costs.

"If you ask people, 'Look at the three things Senator McCain has done as a senator,' if you want that kind of a liberal Democrat course as president, then you can vote for him," Romney told campaign workers. "But those three pieces of legislation, those aren't conservative, those aren't Republican, those are not the kind of leadership that we need as we go forward."

McCain answered swiftly in a statement to The Associated Press. He accused the former Massachusetts senator of "wholesale deception of voters. On every one of the issues he has attacked us on, Mitt Romney was for it before he was against it."

He added, "The truth is, Mitt Romney was a liberal governor of Massachusetts who raised taxes, imposed with Ted Kennedy a big government mandate health care plan that is now a quarter of a billion dollars in the red, and managed his state's economy incompetently, leaving Massachusetts with less job growth than 46 other states."

The exchange reflected the stakes in Tuesday's contest, a prelude to a virtual nationwide primary on Feb. 5.

The fun thing about this race is that both John McCain and Mitt Romney are going all out in Florida, trying to taint the other as the more liberal candidate. So far, both candidates are tied in the Florida race:

Graph showing Florida GOP presidential poll results. From

What is even more fun is that the attack ads are really getting nasty between McCain and Romney. Here is McCain's ad of Romney "Mittsurfing." From Youtube:

While Romney is responding with this add, calling McCain the Democrats' favorite Republican:

And tomorrow, Florida Republicans will get to decide between Mittsurfer, and the Democrats' Favorite Republican.

Or maybe they will decide to vote for this guy:

New home sales plunge by record amount in 2007

This is from MSNBC News:

WASHINGTON - Sales of new homes plunged by a record amount in 2007 while prices posted the weakest showing in 16 years, demonstrating the troubles builders are facing with a huge backlog of unsold homes.

The Commerce Department reported Monday that sales of new homes dropped by 26.4 percent last year to 774,000. That marked the worst sales year on record, surpassing the old mark of a 23.1 percent plunge in 1980.

The government reported that the median price of a new home barely budged last year, edging up a slight 0.2 percent to $246,900, the poorest showing since prices fell by 2.4 percent during the 1991 housing downturn.

The new report reinforced the view that housing is currently undergoing its worst downturn in more than two decades, with the slump threatening to surpass in some ways the severe housing recession of the early 1980s.

The housing weakness has dragged down overall growth and sent shockwaves through the rest of the economy including the financial sector, which is dealing with billions of dollars in losses in subprime mortgages. Some analysts are worried that the fallout could become so severe it will drag the entire country into a recession.

Nobody has new money to purchase new homes. Those consumers who have purchased homes during the housing bubble are now facing problems with their mortgage payments increasing due to adjustable rate mortgages, and even the declining values of their homes due to falling prices. New housing construction has dropped by almost 25 percent. New home sales have been sliding in November while existing home sales have dropped in December. Home foreclosures have jumped 30 percent in the 3rd quarter of 2007, hitting this nation's real estate market hard. And let us not forget the problems big Wall Street financial firms are having writing down all this subprime debt they have accumulated. This is a huge, long-term problem that the Bush administration has not a clue on resolving, nor do I think that the current crop of presidential candidates can offer solutions. If there is anything that is going to drag this country down into a steep recession, it will be this housing market.

It is just starting.

Bush to deliver State of the Union speech on economy and war

This is from The Washington Post:

For years, President Bush and his advisers expressed frustration that the White House received little credit for the nation's strong economic performance because of public discontent about the Iraq war. Today, the president is getting little credit for improved security in Iraq, as the public increasingly focuses on a struggling U.S. economy.

That is the problem Bush faces as he prepares to deliver his seventh and probably final State of the Union address tonight. For the first time in four years, he will come before Congress able to report some progress in tamping down violence in Iraq. Yet the public appears to have moved on from the war -- and possibly from Bush himself.

The economy has supplanted Iraq as the top public concern, and with voters shifting their focus toward the presidential primaries, Bush faces a steep challenge in persuading Americans to heed his words on the war, economic policy or any other issue, according to administration officials, lawmakers and outside observers.

"Very large segments of the American people have written him off already and have moved on to the next chapter," said Jeremy Rosner, a Clinton White House aide and Democratic pollster. Even some of the Republican presidential candidates appear eager to distance themselves from the president.

The American people have pretty much written George W. Bush's presidency off now. They are more interested in learning what the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will say, and what they will do, if they are elected into the White House. Congress will not enact any major Bush legislation during this presidential election year--the $600 tax rebate stimulus package is more of an actual bipartisan measure between Congress and the White House. And President Bush's poll numbers are still in the toilet. According to the WaPost story:

The scope of Bush's challenge was underscored by a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted Jan. 9 to 12, which showed that the economy has overtaken the war as the key worry for voters and that Bush is receiving no credit for improving conditions in Iraq. According to the poll, 29 percent of voters now see the economy as the top issue in the 2008 elections, compared with 20 percent who cite Iraq.

Bush's overall approval rating was 32 percent, his lowest ever, with 30 percent of the public approving of his handling of Iraq. His handling of the economy rated even worse, with 28 percent approval compared with 41 percent a year ago.

What can we expect from this last Bush "State of the Union" speech? I'm expecting more PR-crap from this administration--the economy is still strong, and will continue to be strong if Congress passes the stimulus package and makes the Bush tax cuts permanent. The Iraq is going well--stay the course with the war. We should continue the illegal domestic spying program because the terrorists are still out there, and still want to kill us. Continue the "faith-based" religious social programs. Continue the same failed Bush policies that have gotten this country into trouble in the first place. But the real PR-spinning message in this last Bush address will be how President Bush has stood up among the ruins of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and have faced the evil Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, stopping them in Iraq and Afghanistan. This State of the Union speech will be about cementing Bush's legacy as the Great Protector against the al Qaeda Terrorists, and will subtly ask the incoming 2009 president will continue the unending Iraq war for infinity.

More to come when Bush opens his mouth tonight.

Monday Schoolhouse Rocks--Where the Money Goes

This is a fun little Schoolhouse Rock cartoon, titled Where the Money Goes. This was part of the Money Rock series on paying our bills. Music and lyrics are by Rich Mendoza. Performed by Jack Sheldon. From YouTube:

This is just insane. From The Wall Street Journal:

John McCain says in almost every stump speech that he knows how to capture Osama bin Laden and that he’d follow the al Qaeda leader to the “Gates of Hell.”

So Washington Wire was wondering, what does McCain know that President Bush and the Pentagon don’t about how to sweep up America’s most elusive enemy.

“One thing I will not do is telegraph my punches. Osama bin Laden will be the last to know,” he said today while riding on the back of his bus between Florida events. In other words: he’s not telling. Why not share his strategy with the current occupant of the White House? “Because I have my own ideas and it would require implementation of certain policies and procedures that only as the president of the United States can be taken.”

That response, of course, echoes Richard Nixon’s campaign promise in 1968 to stop the Vietnam War. Nixon also declined to say what his plan was. America’s involvement in the Vietnam war continued until 1973.

As for the Gates of Hell themselves, McCain says he knows all about them. “I think I’ve been close,” he joked.

So I guess McCain is going to play Secret Squirrel and keep his double-secret plan for capturing bin Laden to himself, until he gets elected into the Oval Office. Seems to me like he's putting his own selfish ambitions of political power ahead of what is good for the country. The least McCain can do is to provide President Bush the details of his triple-secret plan of capturing bin Laden, and give Bush the chance to protect this country at least once. And if Bush fails to capture bin Laden with McCain's quadruple-secret plan, well, then McCain can find new employment such as this:

And who knows, McCain might still capture bin Laden.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

McCain, Romney go all out in Florida over Iraq

Pass the popcorn here--This is going to be fun. From The Washington Post:

SARASOTA, Fla., Jan. 26 -- Sen. John McCain of Arizona accused former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney of having once supported a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, sparking an angry demand for an apology from Romney, who called the statement "dishonest."

Both Republicans abandoned all pretense of civility as they campaigned across central Florida in advance of the state's primary Tuesday. Recent polls show a dead heat between McCain and Romney, and the winner here will gain a huge advantage as the nomination fight moves to 21 states a week later.

Stumping in Fort Myers on Saturday, McCain went on the attack first, linking Romney with Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.): "If we surrender and wave a white flag, like Senator Clinton wants to do, and withdraw, as Governor Romney wanted to do, then there will be chaos, genocide, and the cost of American blood and treasure would be dramatically higher."

He added to reporters that "one of my opponents wanted to set a date for withdrawal that would have meant disaster."

Romney, who said in April that the military should consider a "private timetable" but not public deadlines, shot back: "That's dishonest, to say that I have a specific date. That's simply wrong. . . . I know he's trying desperately to change the topic from the economy and trying to get back to Iraq, but to say something that's not accurate is simply wrong, and he knows better."

Later, Romney added that McCain's comment on Iraq is "simply wrong and it's dishonest, and he should apologize."

The heightened tension between the two men represented a climax of sorts that has been building for months as they sparred for advantage in Iowa, New Hampshire, Michigan and South Carolina. While other candidates have been in that mix, the constant has been a battle between Romney and McCain -- two men who have not become friends on the trail.

I'm rather surprised that McCain linked Romney with Senator Hillary Clinton on supporting a troop withdrawal from Iraq, resulting in Romney demanding that McCain apologize for his "dishonest" remark. It seems both candidates are beating each other senseless over the Iraq war, when American voters are shifting their worries to the economy. But McCain and Romney are focusing their fight to the hard-core conservatives that are still supporting the Bush war in Iraq.

And not is it getting nasty, but also rather fun. Going back to the WaPost article:

McCain not only refused to apologize to Romney yesterday, but at his next campaign appearance McCain lashed out at his rival, saying: "The apology is owed to the young men and women serving this nation in uniform, that we will not let them down in hard times or good. That is who the apology is owed to."

His campaign then issued a statement in which McCain said that Romney may have changed his mind on the idea of a buildup of troops in Iraq but that "the fact is, like on so many other issues, Governor Romney has hedged, equivocated, ducked and reversed himself."

Asked why he was bringing up Romney's quotes nearly a year after he made them, McCain replied, "I've been criticizing him for months." He added that it makes sense to highlight them in Florida, noting: "I'm in a state that has enormous military involvement. I'm trying to convince them that I'm best qualified to be commander in chief."

McCain has been pushing this argument that he is the best candidate for commander-in-chief and for continuing President Bush's war in Iraq, for almost two years. In fact, McCain's calls for increasing the U.S. war in Iraq had nearly doomed his campaign a year ago, when the war became prominent in the news. Now that the war has somewhat diminished in the news media, McCain's campaign has somewhat surged as he has consistently campaigned on this pro-war stance. The other candidates have had to play catch-up by stating their own pro-war stance in Iraq. But looking at the Florida polls, there is a statistical tie between McCain and Romney. And Iraq is the issue that the McCain campaign is targeting against Romney, thinking that voters will consider McCain the stronger candidate on defense issues. Continuing with the WaPost article:

McCain's emphasis on Iraq also returns the focus of the campaign to foreign policy and the military, issues that the longtime senator and military hero believe play into his strengths. Voters have said they are most concerned about the economy, a strong point for Romney, who made millions as a businessman.

The dislike between the candidates was evident on Friday, when McCain's campaign released an online-only ad featuring Romney's face superimposed on the figure of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) windsurfing -- an ad from the 2004 presidential campaign that caricatured Kerry as an inveterate flip-flopper.

In the ad, titled "Mittsurfing," an announcer asks: "Which way does Mitt Romney stand? Whichever way the wind blows."

Romney is trying to shift the emphasis of the GOP away from Iraq, and towards the economy, where Romney thinks he is the stronger of the candidate. I'm not sure if McCain's biting at Romney on the economic issues, considering the especially negative ad the McCain campaign released imposing Romney's head to John Kerry's windsurfing body. Then again, the McCain campaign may want to downplay the economic issues for the primary season, considering the bad economic news that has been coming out for January. Either way, it is certainly fun watching these two beat each other up over who is the more warmongering president.

Pass the popcorn.

Obama's message of change trounces Clinton in South Carolina

I’ve been looking at the South Carolina exit polls, the election results, and I’ve been wondering just what happened that resulted in Barack Obama’s trouncing win over Hillary Clinton. There are plenty of analytical media stories that you can read on this—New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and McClatchy. Most of the stories are saying the same thing—Obama won the African-American vote. But there is more here. According to the CNN exit polls, Obama certainly did win around 8 out of 10 African-American votes. But Obama won clear majorities among gender, age brackets, church-going, education, ideology, and income. There is something more here. I found this interesting detail in McClatchy’s analysis:

If South Carolina is a sign of what's to come, their competition will be tough, perhaps even nasty, and driven perhaps as much by the race and gender of the voters as by the candidates' agendas.

Clinton and Obama each hold a firm base in the party, as illustrated by the results so far from four contests in all four regions of the country — Iowa in the Midwest, New Hampshire in the Northeast, Nevada in the West and South Carolina in the South.

Her base is women, whites, older people, blue-collar workers, and firm Democrats.

His base is males, blacks, young people, upper middle class professionals and independents.

That gives Clinton an edge; women and whites are a much bigger slice of the party, and Democrats outnumber independents.
But Obama has shown an ability to break into her base, as he did in winning the women's vote in Iowa.

The key to Obama's success is reaching across racial lines, avoiding being seen as a "black candidate" with limited appeal and winning white votes.

We have got two different bases of support for both candidates. McClatchy claims that the key to Obama’s success will be to reach across the racial lines, and not appear to be too much of a “black candidate” for white voters. It is even more than that. Obama needs to break into Clinton’s base with women, blue-collar workers, firm Democrats, and Hispanics. Obama has been breaking into that base with his message of change. Going back to this CNN story on Obama’s win in the Iowa caucus:

"Just over half of Democratic caucus-goers said change was the No. 1 factor they were looking for in a candidate, and 51 percent of those voters chose Barack Obama," said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. "That compares to only 19 percent of 'change' caucus-goers who preferred Clinton.

Clinton had worked to convince Iowa caucus-goers she has the experience to enact change, while Edwards and Obama preached that she is too much of a Washington insider to bring change to the nation's capital.

Twenty percent of Democrats said Clinton's campaign mantra -- experience -- was the most important attribute of a presidential candidate.

This is how Obama is breaking into Clinton’s base of support—by consistently pressing this message home about he is the candidate of change, that he will change things if he is elected to the Oval Office. This message of Obama’s change was a stronger pull for South Carolina voters than the negative attacks coming from the Clinton campaign. And now with Senator Ted Kennedy’s upcoming endorsement of Obama, this could result in the Obama campaign taking more votes away from the Clinton base. Hillary Clinton is going to have to find some way to blunt Obama’s message of change before Super Duper Tuesday, because I don’t think Clinton’s touting of experience will help her.

We’ll find out in two weeks.

Ted Kennedy endorses Barack Obama

This is big news. From

WASHINGTON -- Senator Edward M. Kennedy will endorse Barack Obama for president tomorrow, breaking his year-long neutrality to send a powerful signal of where the legendary Massachusetts Democrat sees the party going -- and who he thinks is best to lead it.

Kennedy confidantes told the Globe today that the Bay State's senior senator will appear with Obama and Kennedy's niece, Caroline Kennedy, at a morning rally at American University in Washington tomorrow to announce his support.

That will be a potentially significant boost for Obama as he heads into a series of critical primaries on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Kennedy believes Obama can ``transcend race'' and bring unity to the country, a Kennedy associate told the Globe. Kennedy was also impressed by Obama's deep involvement last year in the bipartisan effort to craft legislation on immigration reform, a politically touchy subject the other presidential candidates avoided, the associate said.

The coveted endorsement is a huge blow to New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who is both a senatorial colleague and a friend of the Kennedy family. In a campaign where Clinton has trumpeted her experience over Obama's call for hope and change, the endorsement by one of the most experienced and respected Democrats in the Senate is a particularly dramatic coup for Obama.

Senator Ted Kennedy is the younger brother of both President John F. Kennedy, and Senator Robert F. "Bobby" Kennedy. He is the second-longest serving member of the Senate, and is probably considered as one of the great icons for the Democratic Party. So for Kennedy to reach out and endorse Obama, after Obama's South Carolina win, is really a huge blow for Hillary Clinton's campaign. Kennedy's endorsement can provide Obama influence among old-line Democratic Party interest groups and unions. Consider this interesting detail from The story on the news:

The Kennedy endorsement is likely to give Obama a lift among Hispanic voters because of Kennedy's passionate advocacy of immigration legislation. The Obama campaign, which lags far behind Clinton among Hispanic voters in national polls, is likely to prominently display the endorsements by both Kennedys in Latino communities.

The disclosure also comes the same weekend that the House's highest-ranking Latino, California Rep. Xavier Becerra, also announced that he is backing Obama.

Granted this is all speculation, but it will be interesting to see just how the Hispanic community responds to the Obama campaign with this latest Kennedy endorsement. What is even more interesting is whether Kennedy will campaign for Obama in the southwestern states, and perhaps California, in order to build up Hispanic support for the Obama campaign.

There is one more interesting detail to report. Also from The Politico:

The Clinton campaign launched a last-ditch effort over the last few days to stop Kennedy's move, orchestrating a flood of phone calls to Kennedy from sources ranging from union chiefs to his Massachusetts constituents.

The former president also called Kennedy in a vain attempt to keep him out of the race, a source familiar with the conversation said.

During his two terms in the White House, President Clinton made repeated overtures to the Kennedy family. So the senator’s rejection of his wife is at least as embarrassing as her 28-point loss in the South Carolina primary on Saturday.

The last thing that the Clinton campaign wanted was to have Kennedy endorse Obama before the Super Duper Tuesday. The strategy here would be for Clinton to target the Hispanic community for votes in the southwest, and California, in order to win the states with large Hispanic populations. By keeping Kennedy out of the race until after Super Duper Tuesday, where states with the large Hispanic populations would for Hillary Clinton rather than Obama, the victories in these states could give Clinton enough delegates to gain the front-runner status in order to win the Democratic nomination. Kennedy's endorsement of Obama throws this Clinton strategy of courting the Hispanic vote into a complete disarray. So even if Hillary Clinton could not get a Kennedy endorsement, the next best thing for the Clinton campaign was to keep Kennedy quiet--at least until after Super Duper Tuesday. So the Democratic race has turned itself on its head again.

More to come.

The mysterious Romney whisper on raising taxes

I'm just going to post this story as is, without much comment. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure whether it is a microphone malfunction, an aid whispering behind the curtain, a microphone in Mitt Romney's ear, or even the ghost of Ronald Reagan channeling Romney. It is just...strange.

So let's get into this Raw Story post on the mysterious Mitt Romney whisper:

The whisper that could be heard just before an answer from Mitt Romney at Thursday's Republican debate was the result of a microphone malfunction, an MSNBC spokesman tells RAW STORY, but its source remains a mystery.

Just before Romney answered a question about Ronald Reagan's 1983 Social Security overhaul, a voice can be heard whispering, either "He raised taxes" or "not raise taxes." The overheard musing was the result of an open microphone somewhere, but a spokesman said the whisperer has not been identified.

"We heard the same thing you heard," MSNBC VP for Communications Jeremy Gaines told RAW STORY via e-mail Friday afternoon. "There was obviously an open mike which picked up the whisper, but we have no way of knowing who did the whispering."

Gaines also said the network would replace a post that "shouldn't have been removed" from its First Read blog. The post is available here with an editor's note attached.

"We thought it might have simply been our control room cueing a question, which then didn’t seem to warrant a post, since that would be very inside baseball. So, I took it down," NBC's Domenico Montanaro wrote at First Read.

"As far as figuring out the mystery of who or where it came from, that is being worked on, and we hope to have an answer soon," Montanaro continued. "It puzzled us here too, and we’re looking through tape of other candidates to see if it was one of them. We’ll let you know."

Earlier Friday, Gaines said the whisper was simply the result of "audio issues," but he revised that statement after returning to New York from the debate site in Florida and watching a tape of the proceedings.

Moderator Tim Russert asked Romney if he would "do what Ronald Reagan did in 1983" to fix Social Security. Immediately after Russert's question, someone can be heard whispering what sounds like, "He raised taxes," although Montanaro said MSNBC believed the whisperer said "not raise taxes."

It's unclear whether Romney heard the voice, but he quickly answered, "I'm not going to raise taxes."

Romney's campaign has not respond to requests for comment.

And here is the YouTube video of the mysterious whisper:

I'm not going to say that I accept MSNBC's story on this mysterious whisper, and more than I would accept the conspiracy theorists' accusations that Romney is wearing an ear microphone. I don't know. It is just a strange anomaly in this crazy campaign.

Barack Obama's victory speech in Columbia, South Carolina

Here is Barack Obama's victory speech in Columbia, after winning the South Carolina primary on January 26, 2008. From YouTube:

What can I say, but Barack Obama is one incredible speaker. He has got the charisma, the energy, the looks, the intelligence, and the message. The message of change. It is the message of change that is resonating with both the Democrats, and the American people. Americans are sick of eight years worth of Bush incompetence and corruption, and they are looking for someone fresh, and new, and who could bring change. Obama has presented himself as a president who could bring change to Washington, and the Democrats are listening, and are starting to support him. How else do you explain why Obama won big in South Carolina against Hillary Clinton, who has presented herself as the candidate of experience? Because that is what the Democratic race is now about--a candidate for change verses a candidate of experience. And in two weeks, we're going to get into the big Super Duper Tuesday primary season, where Democrats will express their choice between change and experience.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama projected to win South Carolina

This is off CNN.Com:

(CNN) -- Barack Obama will win the South Carolina Democratic primary by a substantial margin, CNN projects based on exit polls.

A win in South Carolina was considered crucial for the Illinois senator, who finished second to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Clinton and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards were competing for second place.


As South Carolina's Democratic primary voters went to the polls Saturday, almost half of them had made up their minds more than a month ago, according to exit polls.

In the 2004 primary, nearly a quarter decided either the day of the primary or in the three days prior who they would support, but this year, only 10 percent of this year's voters waited until Saturday to choose.

Another 10 percent decided only in the last three days, and 32 percent decided in the last month.

Forty-seven percent made up their minds at least a month ago, more than double the percentage of 2004.

The early exit polls were taken from a sampling of 1,269 voters statewide.

Turnout was strong in some places Saturday as voters streamed to the polls.

"Turnout has been steady, and some counties have described it as heavy," said Chris Whitmire, spokesman for the state election commission. "Our absentee numbers indicate that we could have higher turnout than last weekend," when the Republican Party held its primary.

Now here is some CNN/Time exit poll data on the race:

African-Americans: Obama 81%, Clinton 17%, Edwards 1%

African-American women: Obama 82%, Clinton 17%, Edwards 0%

Whites: Edwards 39%, Clinton 36%, Obama 24%

It appears that African-American men and women have turned out to support Obama for the South Carolina primary. Even more interesting is that African-American women chose race over gender in this primary. Were African-American women angered over how the race issue had risen in the past couple of weeks before the primary? I really can't say yet.

Saturday Morning Cartoons--The Goofy Gophers

We've got the first Goofy Gopher cartoon here. The Goofy Gophers were a pair of exceedingly polite rodents who would get into all sorts of trouble, and use their own wits to humorous resolutions. Warner Brothers animator Robert Clampett first invented the Gophers in the 1947 film The Goofy Gophers. There is a lot of speculation that Clampett invented the gophers as a spoof to Disney's Chip 'n Dale characters, however, there are some interesting differences between the two. With the Disney Chip 'n Dale cartoons, the two scheming chipmunks would bicker amongst themselves even as they continued to antagonize Donald Duck, or Pluto. The Goofy Gophers, however, were exceedingly polite to each other and would never get into any disagreement. Whatever the speculation, Clampett did give us a couple of fun rodents to laugh with in their debut cartoon. From YouTube:


Thursday, January 24, 2008

GOP candidates chase Hollywood "macho men" endorsements

I found this interesting story through TPM:

John McCain says he's ready to run the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, just like Rocky Balboa did, now that he's got the support of actor Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone told Fox News' "FOX & Friends" that he's backing the Arizona senator's bid for the White House.

"I like McCain a lot. A lot," Stallone said. He called the Republican the right character for the times. "The script that's being written — and the reality — is pretty brutal and pretty hard-edged like a rough action film, and you need somebody who's been in that to deal with it."

McCain, 71, spent more than 20 years in the Navy, almost a quarter of it in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp.

Upon hearing the news Thursday, McCain responded: "I'm going to Philadelphia and run up the steps."

So Rocky is giving his presidential endorsement to John McCain. And Johnny-Boy is ready to run up the steps in Philadelphia, humming Rocky's Theme, to give Sly some hot, political loving that McCain only knows how:

Now let's go kick Mitten's ass on the school playground.

Now I can imagine Hollywood celebrities talking about how they endorse this candidate or that candidate, acting as if the fans will select their candidates on the basis of their endorsements. But is it my imagination, or are we starting to see a trend where the GOP presidential candidates are actively courting Hollywood macho men? We've got Sly Stallone giving his "Yo Adrian" endorsement to McCain. Walker, Texas Ranger star Chuck Norris has endorsed Mike Huckabee for president. In fact, they have even made a Huckabee political campaign commercial together. From YouTube:

And I have also found an interesting May 2, 2007 Los Angeles Times story of a political summit between Mitt Romney and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made high-profile, public appearances with U.S. Sen. John McCain and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in recent months, praising them both. The other major Republican candidate - the one who has raised the most money in California among the GOP - received a private meeting with the governor outside the media glare yesterday.

Times staff writer Dan Morain, a Political Muscle special correspondent, headed over to the Hyatt Hotel in Sacramento for a fundraiser being held by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He reports:

"Romney, lagging in the polls but the front-runner in the money race among Republican presidential candidates, brought his fund-raising machine to Sacramento, attracting 300 donors to the downtown Hyatt Tuesday evening. They paid $1,000-$2,300 for the privilege.

"Romney and Schwarzenegger met privately for about 45 minutes before the main event. The governor has made no endorsement, but meets with candidates as they come through town - one of the points of having an early primary.

"Former California Republican Party Chair Duf Sundheim was among those who attended, but said he had not chosen sides. Consultant Rob Stutzman, Schwarzenegger's former communications director, chatted with one of Romney's political aides, but also said he is non-aligned.

"In brief remarks to reporters before heading off to meet with donors, Romney said his talk with Schwarzenegger focused on policy, not presidential politics. Romney mentioned the need to make the U.S. energy self-sufficient and improve the environment. Noticeably affected by Sacramento's pollen-laden springtime air, Romney also noted he was having a hay fever attack."

People shouldn't discount Romney just because he's lower in the polls right now. Political donations, too, are an important indication of political strength. And Romney's conservative portfolio appears more aligned with California primary voters than those of his competitors. Does it matter which candidate Schwarzenegger likes in the presidential race? Peter Nicholas reports today: a little, but mainly to Schwarzenegger.

Mitt Romney meets with Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger in a private summit, where Romney had hoped to get the Governator's endorsement. The Governator's response? "I'll won't be back."

So in May, 2007, Romney did try to get the Governator's endorsement, but Schwarzenegger refused. Again, we have three candidates begging for Hollywood macho men endorsements. I've looked into Rudy Giuliani's campaign and, while I have found a number of Hollywood endorsements for Giuliani, no macho men have come out in support for Mr. 9/11. However, I did find this interesting YouTube video, where Giuliani prostitutes himself for a big New York money man:

All sarcastic humor aside, there is something interesting with this relationship between Hollywood macho men, and the GOP presidential candidates. All the Republican candidates support the Bush war in Iraq, even as they try to distance themselves away from the Bush war in Iraq. They all invoked Ronald Reagan's name in their first presidential debate at the Reagan Library, May 4th, 2007. Ronald Reagan was the ultimate Hollywood, and political, macho man. What I mean here isn't that Reagan played in some real tough-guy macho movies like Rambo, The Terminator, or even Invasion USA. Reagan was able to take his B-movie acting career and reinvent himself into a very successful political career that went from president of the Screen Actors Guild, to Governor of California, to ultimately the President of the United States. Ronald Reagan successfully projected a political image of a tough guy--whether he was staring down the Soviets during the Cold War, or chopping wood on his California ranch. Can you see even McCain, Romney, or even Giuliani chopping wood? Huckabee may be able to chop wood here--I mean, he was somewhat macho enough to eat fried squirrel. What I find interesting here is that these GOP candidates have a failure of projecting toughness within the political field--almost like they bluster and bluff their way through the stump speeches and the slick campaign rhetoric. So they try to channel Reagan's machismo image into their campaigns, while making campaign commercials with macho men actors and picking up endorsements with Hollywood tough guys.

Then again, I wonder just how tough and macho these GOP candidates really are?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Some thoughts on the 2008 election, with Nevada and potentially South Carolina behind us

The past week has seen some interesting news events for the 2008 presidential election. We have had both the Nevada caucus and the South Carolina Republican primary. We have also had Fred Thompson dropping out of the race. So I'm going to talk about all this interesting news in this post.

We're going to start with both the Nevada caucus and the South Carolina Republican primary. For the Democratic caucus in Nevada, Senator Hillary Clinton beat back Illinois Senator Barack Obama 51 percent to 45 percent, with strong support coming from Latino and women voters. According to CNN News, women "made up nearly 60 percent of those taking part in Saturday's contest, and the New York senator and former first lady led Obama 52 percent to 35 percent among those voters." This is important because it is showing that Clinton is connecting with the women voters, and garnering their support. Clinton won the New Hampshire primary over Obama with strong support from the women voters--by a 13-point margin. In the Iowa caucus, the women's vote was pretty much split, between Clinton taking the women over 60 vote, while Obama was preferred by women between the ages of 18 to 59. I think the Clinton turn-around started with Hillary's big crying scene in New Hampshire, just the day before the primary vote. There were a number of factors at play here--Clinton showing an emotional side in the campaign, the media's frenzy on playing up the crying story, the over-analysis of Hillary's crying and the demise of her campaign, Chris Matthews misogyny against Clinton and women in general. All of that led to a resurgence in support for Hillary Clinton's campaign and that the Clinton campaign has been effective in gathering, and keeping, the support of women in the Nevada caucus. The second factor here is the Latino vote. Hillary Clinton won the Latino vote in Nevada by nearly 3 to 1. Latinos make up around 25 percent of the state's population and 14 percent of the caucus participants. This is a huge strength that the Clinton campaign can use in the southwest and California for gathering support, and votes. We could see an interesting situation where Clinton could pick up the southwestern states with the Latino vote, and Obama picking up the southern states with the African-American vote, with the northeastern and mid-western states splitting the vote. The latest South Carolina polls show Obama leading Clinton at an average of around 44 percent to 31 percent, with South Carolina's primary to take place this Saturday. So we have some very interesting dynamics taking place in the Democratic race here.

Now I want to look into the Obama campaign. As we are seeing with the latest South Carolina polls, Obama is leading Clinton by an average of around 44 percent to 31 percent. You can see the graph below:

Public opinion poll results for South Carolina Democratic primary. From

Here we see an almost inverse relationship between Hillary Clinton's sudden drop in the poll numbers in late 2007, with Barack Obama's sudden rise at around the same time. Something has happened which has caused this shift in the public opinion poll numbers between Clinton and Obama. We can speculate on the different variables here--Obama's call for change, Clinton's talk of leadership and experience, Clinton's crying, media pundits speculating on African-American or women turnout. Or this could be South Carolina voters switching between the two candidates month-to-month, or even day-to-day. Either way, we now have Obama leading Clinton by a sizable margin of around 13 percentage points, with 3 days left before the South Carolina primary. If Obama is going to win South Carolina, he is going to have to win it through the African-American vote, over that of the women's vote that Hillary Clinton may just take. This brings up a very fascinating situation, where could have the race vote of African-Americans selecting Obama, verses the sex vote of women selecting Hillary Clinton. Both are trying to choose their own historic first African-American or female candidate for president. I can't even speculate how this will affect the Democratic race.

But I will say that Obama does need to win the South Carolina primary, not as much as his campaign depends upon it, but rather to continue the see-saw action of the changing front-runner position. I think we have a situation where Democrats have favorable opinions on both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton--they could happily vote and support either candidate for president. This see-saw action of who is in the lead, keeps the race tight between these two front-running candidates. If Clinton wins South Carolina, this will give her an advantage of winning four states (Clinton has won New Hampshire, Michigan, and Nevada) to Obama's single win in Iowa. South Carolina may also provide an early indicator of whether Obama can generate enough African-American support in the southern states, and potentially Florida, in order to counter potential Clinton support in the northeast (New York and New Jersey) and the west (California). So we still have an exciting race here.

Now I want to go into the John Edwards campaign. John Edwards desperately needs to win South Carolina. Unfortunately, Edwards will not win the state, but might make a second-place finish behind a potential Obama win--and that is a big speculation at best. is showing Edwards lagging behind in South Carolina at 15 percent. In the Nevada caucus, Edwards placed a distant third with four percent of the vote. I don't believe that Edwards can win South Carolina with Barack Obama in the race. African-Americans, who may have supported Edwards populist The Two Americas theme, are more excited in embracing Obama's theme of change (and the possible electing of a first African-American to the White House). We are coming down to a race of two historic presidential front-runners for the Democrats--an African-American. There is really no place for John Edwards in this race.

But while John Edwards will not win the Democratic nomination for president, he can still be a factor in selecting between these two front-runners. As long as Edwards can stay competitively in the race, he could still generate enough delegates to play king-maker in demanding concessions from either Obama or Clinton for his support. Edwards has a strong, progressive, populist message to give to the American people. It is important to keep this message fresh for the American voters, and hopefully to incorporate it into the political policies when a new Obama or Clinton administration could take office in January 2009.

The Republican side of the race is still in turmoil. Mitt Romney won the Nevada caucus with 51 percent of the vote. Ron Paul coming in second place at 14 percent of the vote, and John McCain coming in third at 13 percent of the vote. For the South Carolina Republican primary, John McCain was the big winner by narrowly defeating Mike Huckabee, 33 percent to 30 percent. Fred Thompson came in third at 16 percent, while Romney came in fourth at 15 percent of the vote. So what does all this mean? We have a situation where there are now two emerging front-runners battling it out--Romney and McCain--for the GOP nomination. Granted, Romney has won more states (Michigan, Nevada, Wyoming), than McCain has (New Hampshire, South Carolina), but Romney has not shown himself to be a clear front-runner in a party that has fractured itself along political, economic, and religious fault lines. For example, the evangelicals still do not trust Romney due to his Mormon faith. In South Carolina, Huckabee took 40 percent of the evangelical vote, compared to 27 percent for McCain. Looking at the CBS News exit polling data on religion, Romney was only taking around 11-13 percent of the religious and evangelical voters. The evangelicals made up around 60 percent of the turnout for the GOP primary. So Mitt Romney is going to have a huge problem in courting the evangelical vote, which is especially big in the southern states. And at the moment, this vote is going to both Huckabee and, to a lesser extent, McCain. Romney is going to need to win big in the January 29th Florida primary, if he wants to cement any sort of front-running status before going into the February 5 Super-Duper-Pooper-Scooper-Tuesday. Then again, all the GOP candidates are now staking Florida for their nomination hopes. According to the latest Florida polls from, McCain has a slight lead of an average 23.5 percent, with Rudy Giuliani in second at an average of 19.1 percent, and Romney in a close third at 19 percent. But now look at this graph showing the public opinion trends in Florida for the GOP candidates for 2007:

Graph showing Florida public opinion trends in Florida for GOP presidential race from 2007-2008. From

In late 2007, Giuliani's public opinion poll results have dropped sharply in Florida, from around 30 percent in late 2007 to around 19 percent today. While at the same time, McCain's results have risen sharply, from around 9 percent in late 2007 to 23 percent today. Mitt Romney's poll numbers have been steadily rising from 6 percent in 2007 to around 19 percent today. As Florida voters are starting to look at the current crop of GOP candidates, they are starting to take a fresher look at both McCain and Romney, and are shifting their support away from Giuliani to both McCain and Romney. We are seeing a very fluid race shaping up in Florida. A McCain win in Florida will tip a three-point GOP see-saw (Between Romney, McCain, and Huckabee) back towards the McCain camp as we go into the Super-Duper-Tuesday race. This will result in us not knowing who the front-runner will be until after the February 5th Tuesday vote--or perhaps longer if Huckabee takes the south. It is still anybody's ballgame here.

Now I want to talk about Mike Huckabee. Mike Huckabee took a strong 30 percent second-place finish behind John McCain's 33 percent of the vote. Fred Thompson came in third with 16 percent of the vote. If Fred Thompson had dropped out of the race before South Carolina, I would say that a good chunk of his support would have migrated over to Huckabee (at least the evangelicals who voted for Thompson). Would that have been enough for Huckabee to win South Carolina over McCain? I can't say. But with Fred Thompson out of the race, Thompson supporters are going to have to choose between Huckabee, McCain, and Romney (I don't think they will support either Ron Paul or Rudy Giuliani). In fact, I would say that in the future southern races, Huckabee could end up getting the former Thompson supporters, which could allow him to win the Deep South states over McCain. We could have distinct regional voting blocs going with the top three candidates, creating a three-way split among the GOP delegates. There still could be a brokered GOP convention.

Fred Thompson drops out of the White House race. Goodbye Grandpa Fred. It has been nice knowing you.

I don't know how Ron Paul got second-place in the Nevada caucus. Not that it really matters much, considering that Paul will never get the GOP nomination. I think that Paul's greatest support is coming from college-age kids, where they like the libertarian streak with Paul, over that of the rest of the candidates. According to CBS News, "Paul has won more votes from Republicans younger than 30 than any other age group. In three of the four contests, people between 18 and 24 were most likely to vote for the Texas congressman." Paul has also been getting some of the independent vote. According to the CBS News entrance poll results for Nevada, Paul received 51 percent of the independent vote, with McCain getting 13 percent of the independents, and Romney getting 12 percent of the independents. I think Paul is picking up a part of the GOP electorate that may be disgusted with the party's over-reliance to the corporate, Big Business greed, and the Religious Rights' social issues extremism. This is a problem that the mainstream candidates can't address, even as they continue to pander to both groups. Ron Paul's 2008 presidential race may just show the future of where the GOP has to go in reinterpreting it's party platform in order to win future presidential races.

And finally, we come to Rudy Giuliani. Rudy didn't do too well, placing sixth in the Nevada caucus with four percent of the vote (Behind Romney, Paul, McCain, Huckabee, and Thompson), and sixth in the South Carolina primary with 2 percent of the vote (Behind McCain, Huckabee, Thompson, Romney, and Paul). Even in the Michigan primary, Giuliani placed sixth with 3 percent of the vote (Behind Romney, McCain, Huckabee, Paul, and Thompson). Ron Paul is getting more votes in Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina than Giuliani is. But don't fear--this is Mr. 9/11 we're talking about. After his fourth-place finish in New Hampshire (Behind McCain, Romney, and Huckabee), Giuliani has staked his presidential claim in Florida, stomping around the Florida countryside like Ponce de Leon hunting for the Fountain of Youth. Will Giuliani discover his own Fountain of Presidency? He has got a cash-strapped campaign that is not generating much news buzz, is probably not generating the campaign contributions needed, and has ended up in last place (behind Ron Paul) in Michigan, Nevada and South Carolina. Rudy Giuliani needs to win big in Florida, if he wants to keep his presidential hopes alive. A second-place finish could allow Giuliani to continue campaigning into Super-Duper Tuesday, but I doubt it would be enough to propel him into a front-runner position that Romney or McCain has. More than likely, a Giuliani win, or second-place finish, would stir the GOP presidential pot even more into confusion. And if Giuliani finishes in third place, or lower, then his campaign is finished. He and Ron Paul can battle it out for last place.

The South Carolina Democratic primary starts this Saturday, January 26th. After that, we've got the Florida primary on Tuesday, January 29th. The Republicans will also start their Hawaii caucus on January 25th, and the Maine caucus on February 1st. Then it will be the Super-Duper-Pooper-Scooper Tuesday, February 5th. If we're ever going to know who the Democratic and Republican front-runners are, that will be the day.