17 December 2008

Sooo.... that was that

So after two years of hype, that was the historical election.

And unfortunately, Politicana did not cover it. I was away working on the campaign and had intended to keep the blog going over that time, but the work load was too excessive to do so...

I will start blogging on here a few times a week from now on.

30 October 2008

Less than a week to go...

Although the blogosphere is famously populated by nutjobs, some of the vitriol being chucked Obama's way is really quite shocking, and falls into several key areas:

1. He is a Muslim.
He's not. His father was a Muslim, but the young Barack was raised by his white mother in no particular faith. He became a Christian in his 20s. And, what's wrong with being a Muslim anyway?

2. He is an Arab.
He's not. He is half Kenyan, and Kenya is a long way from the Arabian peninsular, which I doubt many Americans could find on a map anyway. And, what's wrong with being an Arab anyway?

3. He is a traitor.
He's not, and there is little logic to even beginning a rumour like this.

4. He is a terrorist.
He's not. This accusation stems from the fact that he knows a Professor in Chicago who took part in radical activities in the early 1970s. The boards they sat on together also hosted several respected politicians and business people both Democratic and Republican.

5. He has no experience.
He has more experience than Abraham Lincoln did, and despite Dick Cheney's 40 years of political experience the country is on its knees after 8 years of him pulling the strings.

6. He is black.
He is black. So what?

By Nick Cooper

More of the same

Did you hear Obama’s a socialist? The McCain campaign has gone back to the old “tax and spend liberal” attack. In the past this strategy has convinced Americans to vote against their own economic interest.

The Obama tax plan is and has always been extremely clear and unambiguous. It will only roll back the Bush tax cuts on those earning over $250,000 a year. The fact is that this will affect less then 2% of households.

McCain’s claim that Obama wants “to spread the wealth around,” something he himself once agreed with, is intended to instill fear among voters.

However, the reality of the situation is that the Democrats’ tax plans would not only help the 98% of households earning less then $250,000 dollars through improving schools, universities, transportation, and raising wages for public sector workers including teachers, police officers, and firefighters. These tax increases will also benefit those earning more than a quarter of a million dollars through improving infrastructure, airports, and other facilities necessary to grow a business.

The progressive tax structure which charges a higher rate on income above a certain level is intended to charge more to those who can afford it. John McCain has never argued for the abolition of progressive income tax, which apparently he now believes is socialism, and therefore his attacks on Obama’s plans are empty words. Tax policies which invest in their citizens to grow and maintain a strong workforce will in the end benefit the entire country.

By Michael Goldberg

Will Obama or McCain become the last ‘Emperor’?

Since 1946, and the end of the Second World War in the Far East, America has been the dominant force in global politics. Although she sparred with the Soviet Union for overall dominance, America emerged victorious from this ‘bout’ that never was. The United States became the new Super Power of the twentieth century. She inherited that title from the British, who in turn inherited it from the Spanish and so forth. Like the previous great powers, America has established an empire that spans the globe in many shapes and forms.

Although the American empire of the twentieth and twenty first centuries has not taken the same guise as those of the vast imperial possessions of Great Britain and Spain, she is as powerful, if not more so than the great imposing empires of the past. The post Second World War era and the reverberating effects of that conflict put an end to imperial conquests, and the process of self determination, started by Woodrow Wilson in 1919, was finally being put into effect. Because of this America could not possibly have the same sort of influence and dominance as the empires of Europe and Japan who caused thee bloodiest conflict known to man. However, a new form of domination was to take place.

America imposed herself on the world, as the great beacon of democracy and hope for those who had suffered at the hands of imperial regimes. She became a liberator in one sense. But in another, she simply took up the mantle of imperialist. The United States managed to do this because of the threat of Communism. America was able to impose her economic, social, religious, idealistic and militaristic views upon sovereign nations under the pre-text of defeating Communism.

It worked. Communism was defeated with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the raising of the Iron Curtain. For over forty years, America had fought an ideological war with the forces of Communism. The end of this stand off America had asserted America as the sole superpower of world politics. Her military might was unchallenged; a massive well-trained standing army could reach all points across the globe. A Navy and Air force unparalleled in history. Dominance over the Middle East, the Far East, Latin America and a new form of ‘protectorship’ over Europe strengthened the so-called ‘American Empire’. Military bases were popping up across the world in far-flung places, and the American led NATO alliance was creeping ever eastwards into the old backyard of the USSR, to add to expanding strength of the United States across the world.

However, as the history books have taught us, Empires do not last forever. And the Bush years have highlighted that maybe this is the beginning of the end for the American Empire. The next President will inherit a massive budget deficit that will ultimately tie his hands in many ways, both domestically and internationally. He will find that his armed forces are stretched to breaking point, with over 150,000 soldiers still in Iraq and tens of thousands in Afghanistan.

Iran will pose the 44th US President with a huge problem too. Should diplomacy and sanctions fail, the harsh reality is that conflict with the Islamic Republic may turn out to be a foregone conclusion if they continue down the path of producing a nuclear weapon, as the Americans and Israelis accuse them of. But for all the might of the US, they are in no position to successfully launch a ground attack on Iran. This would be worrying, especially to John McCain, who of the two candidates vying for the White House is most aggressive towards Iran.

Russia is posing The United States with problems as well. The threat of conflict between the Western backed Ukraine and Russia will emerge sooner rather than later. Is America really in a position to guarantee the security of the Ukraine and for that matter is she even in a position to defend NATO allies Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia?

The emergence of China as the financier of the world also undermines American strength, especially when you consider that there is so much American money invested in Chinese banks. If the problem of Taiwanese independence was to resurface under Obama or McCain, confrontation with China could be very embarrassing to America as they could either be forced into a humiliating climb down and fail to back up their ally Taiwan or they could be overrun by the vast Chinese military machine if any conflict emerged between the two nations.

Europe too is becoming stronger than America in terms of their economy. One day Europe will realise how strong she can be as a collective group, and will become more organised that reliance on American military assistance could soon become a thing of the past as well. Relations between Europe and America are not going to deteriorate but my point is that Europe is beginning to break free from the parental control of America. Maybe we saw the first signs of this during the Iraq War where Europe was so divided regarding support for President Bush’s war. Europe found a voice, and former great powers such as Germany and France would not be bullied by America into a needless conflict.

These are the problems, which will affect Obama or McCain whoever gets to the White House in January. American hegemony in the world is no longer a sure thing. Whoever wins next weeks momentous election will become a very powerful man, but he shall most likely also be overseeing the decline of the modern American Empire. Unless (and I am sorry, but I couldn’t resist)...the Empire Strikes Back? (Oh dear.)

By Stewart Munn

What does Britain want from a US President?

-- Originally written: 18th October

The US Presidential election is always big news here in the UK. We take a vested interest in US politics. Mainly because what happens in America ultimately shapes what happens in Europe. The events of the last few weeks, where the global economies have collapsed, all started in the US and the reverberations were felt across the globe. Not only that but because the USA is the leader of the Western World. Like it or not, but that is true. The USA leads NATO; they lead the democracies of the West. This has been the case ever since the Second World War.

It is not only the USA’s economy that has a great effect over the UK but also the military. In the past ten years, Britain has assumed the role of the key ally to America in the face of global terrorism and the fateful venture into Iraq. We have followed the US into Afghanistan and Iraq, and it is possible that any future military activity against Iran would involve Her Majesty’s Forces as well.

It is only right therefore that the people of Great Britain should look intently across the Atlantic to see whom the next President shall be. So what do we, as a nation, want from the next President of the United States? It is often the case that as a whole, we generally side with one candidate over the other. And if I am honest, it is usually the Democratic candidate that gets the nod from the British public. Clinton or Dole? Clinton was favourable. Gore or Bush? We went for Gore. Kerry or Bush? Again, we looked to the Democrat. This year is different though. The British public do not just side with Barack Obama, they are infatuated with the Illinois Senator. Obama’s summer tour to Europe not only highlighted in popularity with the Germans and the French, but also here in the UK as well. 52% of the UK said they preferred Obama, with only 15% saying they would like to see John McCain in the White House. This is a staggering show of support for Obama.

So what is it about Obama that appeals to the British public? And what is it about Democrats that we endear ourselves to? As a society the British people have always voted in the Conservatives and then they will always give the Labour Party a try as well. So why do we not see British voters feeling more sympathetic towards John McCain this time around? It seems to me that as a nation, for all our faults we do remain a much more liberal society than America. I think that goes for the whole of Europe as well. Therefore we back the Democratic candidate because he is seen as the most liberal and socially conscious, which is always a winner for European voters. However, there is really very little to choose between Democrats and Republicans, as there is say between Labour and Conservatives, or SDP and Christian Democrats in Germany, for example. But Barack Obama still gets the nod over McCain by UK citizens.

After eight years of George W Bush and Dick Cheney policies, the 2008 election is high on the agenda for a lot of British people. That is why Barack Obama has surged ahead in the polls here, because he does represent great change for the chaos of the Bush administration. He also offers stability, and I think that is what we like most about him. It is not that John McCain is as bad as Bush, far from it. It would be wrong to suggest so, but he does not represent sufficient change for the British people. He reminds us too much of the old order. He sings about bombing Iran, he threatens to expel Russia form the G8 instead of engaging Medvedev and Putin. He wants American forces to stay 9in Iraq for one hundred years. And he is not willing to engage the Palestinians, as he proved on his tour of the Middle East. This smacks of Bush foreign policy, which to be frank, has been disastrous.

Obama’s core message in this election has been change. I am of the opinion that this is what the British people want the most from the next US President. That is why Obama is so popular in the UK and across Europe. However, Barack Obama will learn that if he becomes President of the United States his stock here in the UK could fall as quickly as it has risen over the past year. His foreign policy decisions are what will make or break him in the eyes of the British public.

By Stewart Munn

Foreign Policy? What Foreign Policy?

-- Originally written: 17th October

The past few weeks have produced great economic turmoil.
The world has not seen such a down turn in prosperity since the Great Depression. As you’d expect this has taken hold of the US Presidential Election, and has become the focal point of both John McCain and Barack Obama’s campaigns. Other seemingly high agenda issues such as abortion, immigration and energy have now slipped into the background of people’s attentions as the American public come to terms with the implications of the crashing markets across the world, and their effects on their livelihoods.

However, one issue, which has also slipped into distant memory, is foreign policy. This was meant to be one of the most important issues for US voters in the 2008 election. It pitted the vastly experienced John McCain against the international novice, Barack Obama. It also put the wily old foreign policy expert, Joe Biden, against Sarah Palin, whose foreign policy experience is simply laughable for a woman in her position. Both sides perfectly balanced against one another, about to go toe to toe in a foreign policy battle to win the hearts and minds of the US electorate. It has panned out most people, myself included, expected.

However, the issues remain. American soldiers are still in Iraq. More are flying out to the Middle East every day on yet another tour of duty. The US military is fighting Taleban insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with no end in sight. Osama bin Laden is still at large. Iran is still pushing ahead with its controversial nuclear plans. The Israelis and the Palestinians are nowhere near reaching peace by the end of the year, as set out at Anapolis. And the threat of Russia still looms over Eastern Europe, especially an increasingly volatile looking Ukraine. Not to mention Darfur and Zimbabwe, which are now completely, lost in the back pages of US foreign policy doctrines.

These are the issues that will face the victorious duo from January 20th onwards, but they thus far not drawing much attention. Sure, the economic situation is very important to the American voter. But so is American standing in the world, and for all the faults of the last eight years of the Bush-Cheney foreign policy, America is still the number one power in the world. The stereotypical view of American voters has always been that they are very inward looking considering the authority their nation has over the world. The economic crisis has only strengthened this view in my mind.

The new President and his Vice President will find that you can push foreign policy to the side for only so long before it comes back, and becomes hard to shift. Iran is likely to be the main issue for the Obama or McCain to face. Let’s hope that the American voters will consider this too when going to the polls on November 4th, because although the American economy is very important, but so is American involvement in the world. A lack of jobs may see an increase in recruitment for the military, which is very much needed with the calls for a troop ‘surge’ in Afghanistan. Barack Obama has stated in his manifesto that he wants tens of thousands of extra troops in the American military. The economic crisis hitting American families might unexpectedly help him out with this.

On a lighter note, it was very amusing to see Hugo Chavez refer to President George W. Bush as his “Comrade”. I have a feeling the Venezuelan President is going to miss ‘Dubya’ come January.

By Stewart Munn

Colin Powell returns to the fore in US Presidential Election

-- Originally written: 17th October

This Sunday (19th October) sees Colin Powell return to the political fray. His return could be make-or-break for John McCain. Powell was, at one time, seen as a potential running mate for McCain. However, his return is seen as extremely controversial as it has emerged that his appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” could be used as an opportunity to back Barack Obama instead.

This would be a huge move for Powell, who has served under the past three Republican administrations, most recently as President George W Bush’s Secretary of State up until 2005. However, he was unceremoniously removed from that position and replaced by Condoleeza Rice. Although Powell is heavily linked to the Republican Party he professes not to know if he is a Republican or a Democrat. If he does in fact endorse Senator Obama it will be an embarrassing move for John McCain, the Republicans and George W Bush.

For Powell to support Obama would be a huge disappointment to McCain, as Powell carries with him a great wealth of foreign policy experience as well as a high standing within American society amongst all walks of life. An endorsement for Obama would surely boost his ratings in the polls even further and make his lead insurmountable with less than three weeks of campaigning left, and no more live debates for Senator McCain to score points.

Colin Powell is seen by many as a maverick. He was at the forefront of the Iraq debacle where he presented flawed evidence to the UN Security Council regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. This event obviously hurt Colin Powell as he has talked in the past of his distress in his actions taken that fateful day in New York. Powell has been able to distance himself from the wreckage that is the Bush administration, and although having been involved in the Iraq War, he has managed to disassociate himself with it and still remain a credible and respected member of the political elite in the US.

It remains to be seen whom Colin Powell will endorse. However, his entry into the election race at this late stage could give either candidate a boost before the November 4th Election. I am unwilling to go out on a limb and make a prediction here because I feel it really is too close to call. However, it is John McCain that needs him the most.

By Stewart Munn

Note: Since this post was written, Colin Powell has announced his endorsement of Barack Obama. During a Meet the Press interview (Sunday 19th October), Powell cited "his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities", as well as his "style and substance." He also referred to Obama as a "transformational figure."

Obama's lead over McCain

-- Originally written: 7th October

For the last few weeks, now that the excitement over Sarah Palin has died down, Barack Obama has led John McCain by at least 3 points in the CNN poll of polls, and for the last week he has been at least 5 points ahead. 5 points in the popular vote is enough if that's what happens on polling day. Bush beat John Kerry by 3% in 2004 and beat Gore by -0.5% in 2000. Carter won with 3% in 1976, and Nixon with 2% in 1968. Kennedy famously won by 0.1% in 1960. So 5 per cent is way more than enough. But the key as always is the votes in the individual states.

Florida, the scene of the recount and Supreme Court debacle in 2000, was taken by Bush with a 500 vote margin and sealed the Electoral College for him despite Gore winning the overall popular vote. Bush solidified his lead in 2004, helped along by his brother who happened to be the popular incumbent Governor.

In 2004 Bush had a lead of 3% in the popular vote in the country as a whole, but if just 120,000 voters in Ohio had switched sides, John Kerry would be running for a second term as president today. The vote in Ohio in 2004 is another story, but I don't want to get into that here.

New Mexico voted for Gore by just 350 votes in 2000 and went Bush's way in 2004 by only 6,000. Bush took New Hampshire by 7,000 in 2000 (Gore would have been president if he hadn't) and John Kerry edged it by 9,000 in 2004. Although Oregon is considered a safe Democratic state, Gore won by just 7,000 votes in 2000. Bush won Iowa by just 10,000 votes in 2004.

So the individual swing states are crucial to any presidential election, and this year more than ever as more states are tossups than in 2000 or 2004. Along with the traditional big swing states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the smaller tossups, several other recently Republican states are in play. Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and Indiana are all in play this year, states that gave Bush big wins in 2000 and 2004. Obama is leading the polls in most of them.

Is this increase in uncertainty in state by state voting a healthy development? Yes. Will it increase the chance of close results and legal battles? Sadly, yes. But based on current polls Obama looks odds on to win, and as bill Clinton put it, he may well 'win handily'.

By Nick Cooper

Note: The 'CNN poll of polls' for October 23-28 shows Obama leading by 7 points, 2 points more than 2 weeks ago.

Drama at the debate? No Chance.

-- Originally written: 3rd October

So very little of note happened in the television debates so far. Those Obama supporters rubbing their hands in anticipation of a Palin meltdown live on TV were disappointed. Surprise, surprise. The truth is that they were always going to be disappointed for one simple reason – nothing of note ever happens in presidential or vice-presidential debates. They have always been the set pieces that promise the most but deliver the least.

A quick recap of those TV debate bombshells throughout history. 1960, Richard Nixon sports a five o’clock shadow and looks a little sweaty. No debates are held again until 1976 where Republican VP candidate Bob Dole appears to blame World Wars One and Two on the Democrats. In 1988, Democrat Veep nominee Lloyd Bentsen delivers his “you’re no Jack Kennedy’ zinger to a startled Dan Quayle. Bush-Quayle win the election. 1992 George Bush is spotted glancing at his watch and third party VP candidate Admiral James Stockdale admits to having his hearing aid turned off. 2004 a suspicious looking crease in President Bush’s jacket leads to theories that he is being fed lines from offstage. And... that’s about it.

Actually, I must admit to exaggerating for effect. There are two moments that stand out as genuinely injurious to the candidates: in 1976 Gerald Ford’s assertion that “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe” and Michael Dukakis’s 1988 unemotional and rambling answer to an outrageous question about what his reaction would be to his wife being raped and murdered. But those moments, at best, can be said to have confirmed existing doubts surrounding the candidates rather than blowing the campaign wide open.

The problem is that these set pieces are just that – set pieces; endlessly prepped, rehearsed and largely devoid of spontaneity – and because of this (with some rare exceptions) the result is mostly the same. The only time a person ‘wins’ (a meaningless term loved by the punditry) is when there was someone who was expected to lose, just because they surpassed their low expectations. The bumbling Ronald Reagan was expected to be roasted by the experienced President Cater in 1980 but held his own and so came out on top. A similar scenario played out in 2000 with the tongue-tied George W up against Harvard debater Al Gore.

So no surprise that Sarah Palin didn’t morph into her Saturday Night Live parody, Joe Biden failed to stray recklessly off-message, McCain didn’t lose his famous temper and Obama managed to avoid insulting small town America once again. They know their lines, they’ve been here before and the road-show will plough on until the next debate where – hopefully tempting fate here – not much will happen.

By Ross English

21 October 2008

(Another) Apology!

Sorry for the lack of posts (those who are still reading lol) but I have had a crazy week.

Flew out last weekend to work on the Obama campaign, so I am sure you can imagine it has been a bit hectic!

The same old politics of fear

With the election less than a month away it seems the ‘respectful campaign’ that John McCain promised for 2008 has become a distant memory. The mud-slinging and race-baiting this week hit a new high with concerted efforts from McCain, Palin and their Conservative friends over at Fox News to open up a debate over who the ‘real Barack Obama’ is. Governor Palin’s accusation that Obama ‘pals around with terrorists’ coupled with Obama consistently being mentioned using his middle name, (Hussein) is a step up from the Karl Rove attack politics that smeared McCain in 2000 and questioned John Kerry’s service in Vietnam. When Rove openly criticizes Republican candidate’s methods on Fox it’s clear that they may have gone too far. This week has seen supporters at McCain’s rallies screaming ‘terrorist’, ‘traitor’, ‘off with his head’ and one even shouting simply ‘kill him’. In a nation with a history of assassinations this is extremely disturbing.

This method of campaigning has not just been used recently but has correlated in a crescendo like form since Karl Rove protégé Steve Schmidt took over the campaign and the economic crisis saw McCain with ever decreasing poll numbers. Schmidt was originally credited by the New York Times as having transformed the McCain campaign into an ‘elbows-out, risk-taking, disciplined machine’. There is no doubt that the aggressive stance taken by Schmidt was effective and worked at first, but it was also trying to turn John McCain into George W. Bush. Despite similarities in policies the President and the man who wishes to full his shoes are very different political animals.

The politics of fear has risen this week to a whole new high with senior civil rights veteran John Lewis accusing McCain and Palin of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division". At a rally one man claimed he was scared for his unborn baby that there could be an Obama presidency, whilst a woman suggested Obama was actually an Arab. This prompted McCain to defend his opponent which simply undercut his campaigns message, showing that amongst the Conservative base of the Republican Party the campaign of demonising Obama has been too effective. It’s looking now like bar a special moment in the debate, Barack Obama will be the next man to sit in the White House, Senator McCain now has to decide if he’s really going to try to win at any cost.

By Chris Tarquini

No solutions, John McCain on the attack

With both national and swing states polls showing Obama gaining ground in this tightly contested election, the McCain campaign has become increasingly negative. The economic woes of the country do not appear to be dissipating. For McCain this is worrisome as economics is not his strong suit and potential voters continually rank Obama better suited to deal with economy. In an attempt to change the national debate from the economy to Obama’s perceived flaws the McCain campaign has ratcheted up the attacks.

Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin charged that Obama is “palling around with terrorists” and does not love America. Advertisements attempt to link Obama to former domestic terrorist now education professor Bill Ayers and hammer home his limited experience. These attack advertisements intend to scare voters away from Barack Obama. In addition there is an argument among campaign strategists that negative advertising disenfranchises voters. With democrats registering more new voters than republicans, perhaps the McCain camp hopes these attacks will reduce turnout on Election Day.

At the Republicans campaign events, it seems these attacks have had their desired effect as attendees profess their fear of an Obama presidency. It appears that linking the Democrat to a terrorist may be a game changer. For example at an event a woman explains that she is scared of Obama whom she believes is an Arab. McCain quickly takes the microphone from her and explains that no one should be frightened of Obama who he calls a decent family man and citizen. After spending so much money and time to scare voters away from the Democratic nominee, McCain is now defending him to his supporters.

Did John McCain rediscover his conscience? Will he retreat to the positive campaign he promised? Has he come to the conclusion that he needs to propose solutions and unite America in order to solve its problems? The answer to these questions is more than likely no, however, it is possible that McCain realised he had gone too far and is now trying to tone down his negative attacks. In the end it is unlikely that this type of campaigning will win this election when so many big issues such as the economy, terrorism, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are at stake.

By Michael Goldberg

12 October 2008

Congressman says McCain sowing "seeds of hatred"

Reuters - Democratic congressman John Lewis, a veteran civil rights leader, accused Republican John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin on Saturday of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" and said it reminded him of the segregationist era of Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

McCain, trailing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the polls in an increasingly tense campaign, quickly hit back, branding Lewis's remarks "shocking and beyond the pale" and calling on Obama to immediately repudiate them.

The Obama campaign said while Lewis was right to condemn "hateful rhetoric" the Illinois senator did not believe McCain or his policy criticism were comparable to Wallace or his segregationist policies as governor of Alabama in the 1960s.

Sarah Palin denies abusing power in Trooper firing

New York Times - Gov. Sarah Palin again insisted on Saturday that an investigation by Alaska lawmakers into the firing of her former brother-in-law found “no unlawful or unethical activity on my part,” and added that “there was no abuse of authority at all in trying to
get Officer Wooten fired.” (The report did in fact conclude that she had abused the power of the governor’s office.)

Ms. Palin’s comments came as she took a few questions from reporters outside a Sheetz gas station and convenience store here, with baby Trig strapped to her torso in a baby harness.

Asked about the report released Friday by Alaska lawmakers that found she had abused the powers of the governor’s office, Ms. Palin replied:

“I’m thankful that the report has shown that there was no illegal or unethical activity there in my choice to replace our commissioner,” she said. “A partisan kind of process that had been undertaken by some of the legislators who haven’t been real happy with anything that I’ve done along the way as governor, that process is now over, with that finding that I haven’t done anything unlawful in replacing the commissioner.”

Woman at McCain rally claims Obama is 'an arab'

McCain to renew focus on the economy

Over at Politico, Mike Allen is reporting that the McCain campaign will announce additional economic measures in the coming days in an attempt to steal the economic focus from Barack Obama.

"At a meeting at HQ today, Senator McCain and his inner circle will consider additional economic measures aimed directly at the middle class for rollout this week. Among the measures being considered are tax cuts — perhaps temporary — for capital gains and dividends. “The market’s the focus,” a McCain adviser said. “You want to stop the fleeing.” No more bailout money is being contemplated. “We’ve written a check to everyone in sight,” the adviser said. “We’re not in that game.” More than 30 ideas are on the table, and he’ll decide which ones, and when. “That’s up to McCain,” one official said."

10 October 2008

New York county prints ‘Barack Osama’ on ballots

Hundreds of absentee ballots sent to voters in New York State’s Rensselaer County, near Albany, were printed with Barack Obama’s last name spelled as “Osama," the Albany Times Union reports.

County elections officials tell the newspaper that it was a typo that made it by three rounds of proof-readers. They also said the error affected just a few hundred voters, and that they will re-send corrected ballots on request.

The Palin Disney Movie

Text of President Bush's remarks on the economy

Friday 10th October 2008
As provided by the White House:

BUSH: Good morning. Over the past few days, we have witnessed a startling drop in the stock market — much of it driven by uncertainty and fear. This has been a deeply unsettling period for the American people. Many of our citizens have serious concerns about their retirement accounts, their investments, and their economic well-being.

Here's what the American people need to know: that the United States government is acting; we will continue to act to resolve this crisis and restore stability to our markets. We are a prosperous nation with immense resources and a wide range of tools at our disposal. We're using these tools aggressively.

The fundamental problem is this: As the housing market has declined, banks holding assets related to home mortgages have suffered serious losses. As a result of these losses, many banks lack the capital or the confidence in each other to make new loans. In turn, our system of credit has frozen, which is keeping American businesses from financing their daily transactions — and creating uncertainty throughout our economy.

This uncertainty has led to anxiety among our people. And that is understandable — that anxiety can feed anxiety, and that can make it hard to see all that is being done to solve the problem. The federal government has a comprehensive strategy and the tools necessary to address the challenges in our economy. Fellow citizens: We can solve this crisis — and we will.

Here are the problems we face and the steps we are taking:

First, key markets are not functioning because there's a lack of liquidity — the grease necessary to keep the gears of our financial system turning. So the Federal Reserve has injected hundreds of billions of dollars into the system. The Fed has joined with central banks around the world to coordinate a cut in interest rates. This rate cut will allow banks to borrow money more affordably — and it should help free up additional credit necessary to create jobs, and finance college educations, and help American families meet their daily needs. The Fed has also announced a new program to provide support for the commercial paper market, which is freezing up. As the new program kicks in over the next week or so, it will help revive a key source of short-term financing for American businesses and financial institutions.

Second, some Americans are concerned about whether their money is safe. So the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the National Credit Union Administration have significantly expanded the amount of money insured in savings accounts, and checking accounts, and certificates of deposit. That means that if you have up to $250,000 in one of these insured accounts, every penny of that money is safe. The Treasury Department has also acted to restore confidence in a key element of America's financial system by offering government insurance for money market mutual funds.

Thirdly, we are concerned that some investors could take advantage of the crisis to illegally manipulate the stock market. So the Securities and Exchange Commission has launched rigorous enforcement actions to detect fraud and manipulation in the market. The SEC is focused on preventing abusive practices, such as putting out false information to drive down particular stocks for personal gain. Anyone caught engaging in illegal financial activities will be prosecuted.

Fourth, the decline in the housing market has left many Americans struggling to meet their mortgages and are concerned about losing their homes. My administration has launched two initiatives to help responsible borrowers keep their homes. One is called HOPE NOW, and it brings together homeowners and lenders and mortgage servicers and others to find ways to prevent foreclosure. The other initiative is aimed at making it easier for responsible homeowners to refinance into affordable mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. So far, these programs have helped more than 2 million Americans stay in their home. And the point is this: If you are struggling to meet your mortgage, there are ways that you can get help.

With these actions to help to prevent foreclosures, we're addressing a key problem in the housing market: The supply of homes now exceeds demand. And as a result, home values have declined. Once supply and demand balance out, our housing market will be able to recover — and that will help our broader economy begin to grow.

Fifth, we've seen that problems in the financial system are not isolated to the United States. They're also affecting other nations around the globe. So we're working closely with partners around the world to ensure that our actions are coordinated and effective. Tomorrow, I'll meet with the finance ministers from our partners in the G7 and the heads of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Secretary (Henry) Paulson will also meet with finance ministers from the world's 20 leading economies. Through these efforts, the world is sending an unmistakable signal: We're in this together, and we'll come through this together.

And finally, American businesses and consumers are struggling to obtain credit, because banks do not have sufficient capital to make loans. So my administration worked with Congress to quickly pass a $700 billion financial rescue package. This new law authorizes the Treasury Department to use a variety of measures to help bank (sic) rebuild capital — including buying or insuring troubled assets and purchasing equity of financial institutions. The Department will implement measures that have maximum impact as quickly as possible. Seven hundred billion dollars is a significant amount of money. And as we act, we will do it in a way that is effective.

The plan we are executing is aggressive. It is the right plan. It will take time to have its full impact. It is flexible enough to adapt as the situation changes. And it is big enough to work.

The federal government will continue to take the actions necessary to restore stability to our financial markets and growth to our economy. We have an outstanding economic team carrying out this effort, led by Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, SEC Chairman Chris Cox, and FDIC Chair Sheila Bair. I thank them and their dedicated teams for their service during this important moment in our country's history.

This is an anxious time, but the American people can be confident in our economic future. We know what the problems are, we have the tools we need to fix them, and we're working swiftly to do so. Our economy is innovative, industrious and resilient because the American people who make up our economy are innovative, industrious and resilient. We all share a determination to solve this problem — and that is exactly what we're going to do. May God bless you.

Sarah Palin-smashing the glass ceiling or running into a brick wall?

In selecting Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCainhas changed the whole dynamic of the 2008 election. It’s easy to imagine theObama team squirming with discomfort at the choice of a woman running againstthem, especially one who has already shown she is happy to use Hillary Clinton’sattempt to smash the ‘glass ceiling’ of male dominated American politics as aweapon with which to bash Obama. ClearlyGovernor Palin was chosen as a direct response to Clinton not being on theticket, a savvy move by the increasingly organised McCain campaign.

The biggest surprise is not that Palin was chosen, but whyshe wasn’t being talked about earlier. A pro-life, card-carrying member of theNRA whose son is about to serve in Iraq, she enjoys a near 80% approval ratingin Alaska. Furthermore, simply by beinga woman she has a chance to steal a significant minority of Clinton support,though her opposition to abortion rights may be a problem for many pro-choiceClinton followers. She is a potential antidote to what may seem like a ratherdull Republican convention in Minnesota after all the excitement in Denver. Expectto hear the phrases ‘Hockey mom’ and ‘Washington outsider’ a lot, as TheMcCain-Palin ticket tries to portray itself as a Maverick brand of experienceand change, on a mission to shake up Washington. However despite all thepositives of Palin she could also damage the Republican campaign. Not onlycould her Conservative track-record scare off some independents looking forbi-partisanship, but her thin resume could also cause a problem. As well asleaving a relatively inexperienced candidate a breath away from the Presidency,it also causes issues with McCain attacking Obama on experience. As well asthese issues she is also under-investigation in an ethics probe for dismissinga top law enforcement official seemingly because he failed to sack a statetrooper who had divorced her sister. Expect this issue to be exploited in anattempt to damage Palin’s reputation as a leader in the fights againstcorruption.

The Gallup Daily Tracking poll showed Obama eight points up nationally49% to 41% yesterday. Although this was partly due to the bump from his choiceof VP and the media attention from the Democratic convention it showed perhapsMcCain needed to do something to grab the spotlight. There is no doubt this was it. What remains tobe seen is whether Palin can successfully portray herself as an icon on thelevel of Hillary Clinton and give McCain a foothold in what is essentially achange election, or whether she becomes a liability whose appointment asrunning mate seems increasingly like a political ploy...

By Chris Tarquini

Biden to Palin: Don't lecture me

CNN - Joe Biden Thursday night told Sarah Palin not to lecture him on patriotism, after week of attacks mocking him for his statement the wealthy should be patriotic and pay higher taxes because not enough has been asked of them.

"Sarah Palin had great fun saying Joe Biden thinks paying taxes is patriotic. Well, let me tell you what Joe Biden thinks," the Delaware senator said at an outdoor rally. "Joe Biden thinks that anybody who takes millions of dollars offshore to avoid paying their fair share is unpatriotic."

The Obama-Biden campaign has accused John McCain of saying publicly he would close offshore banking loopholes, but saying otherwise in private.

"That is not patriotic and it will stop, it will stop in an Obama-Biden administration! Enough! I've had it up to here! Don't lecture me on patriotism," shouted Biden, getting drowned out by the applause of his supporters. "I'm dead tired of being taken advantage of. I'm getting tired of it."

Watch Live: Bush statement on stock market crisis


New McCain ad says Obama blinded by ambition

Bush poised to talk about economic crisis

AP: President Bush is ready to make a statement to the nation about the crisis in the credit markets that has caused substantial sell-offs on Wall Street.

Bush a week ago signed a $700 billion bailout bill into law. In advance of what is expected to be reassuring words from the president, the Dow Jones industrials futures plunged 185 points ahead of the opening bell Friday.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Thursday night that the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation all have the necessary tools to deal with the problem. Bush will deliver his remarks from the White House Rose Garden.


No knock out blow for Obama – can McCain bounce back?

The second televised Presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama in Nashville did not provide the killer blow that both candidates were looking for. For all the post debate talk, Obama did not land that knock out blow on his rival. He may have edged this encounter, and has increased his lead in the process. However, as many will testify, there is still plenty of time between now and 4th November for John McCain to rally.

The latest polls show that Obama is leading his opponent on every issue and in every poll. The Gallup poll placed him a firm nine points ahead of McCain. This is the first time that he has built up a substantial lead. Yet, the Illinois Senator may regret the fact that he was unable, for all his brilliance, to repel John McCain once and for all.

John McCain will no doubt come back stronger in the next few weeks. He is helped, and hindered, by the Palin factor. She should be able to rally more support from the Christian right and the so-called ‘frontier’ folk that she is solely appealing to. Obama will lose some support in the key swing States of Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. These are the facts of elections.

Obama is in a commanding position at the moment. But this fight is not over until the final bell. There is one more round for this old slugger to get back into the fight. If I was a betting man, I would not bet against his resurgence.

By Stewart Munn

McCain's world of the strange

Having watched the US Presidential Debate on TV yesterday (despite already having watched the highlights and realising nothing that interesting happened) I have to concur with received opinion that John McCain needed a big performance and didn't get it.

Obama looked far more comfortable with the audience, the questions and the concept, whereas John McCain looked lost as he wondered in, looked incredibly awkward as he perched on his Boyzone crooners' high-chair and didn't convince that he knew what he was talking about.

It may be harsh to suggest that McCain came across as a rambling old man who is stumbling to defeat, but...well, he did.

However far more un-nerving was McCain's insistence to keep saying "Oh yes, my friend" at the end of every other sentence. It is the equivalent of the footballer's ubiquitous "you know" or the businessman's "going forward".

But to me, this repetitive phrase reminded me of my childhood watching BBC's Going Live of a Saturday Morning and listening to Trevor & Simon's World of the Strange.

Oh yes, my friend. If McCain manages to somehow win this election, it will be very strange indeed.

Although I doubt we will have to call in the paranormal experts with the two-tone beards to investigate, if that does happen...usually it's just hanging-chad experts in Florida that get a call. ;-)

By Kerron Cross

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama, Chillicothe, Ohio

Friday, October 10, 2008

As prepared for delivery

We meet at a moment of great uncertainty for America. In recent weeks, we’ve seen a growing financial crisis that’s threatening not only banks and businesses, but your economic security, as well. It’s getting harder and harder to get a loan for that new car or that startup-business or that college you’ve dreamed of attending. And yesterday, millions of Americans lost more of their investments and hard-earned retirement savings as the stock market took another significant plunge.

We need action now. The Treasury Department must move as quickly as possible to implement the rescue plan that passed Congress so we can ease this credit crisis that’s preventing businesses and consumers from getting loans. And we also must recognize that this is not just an American problem. In this global economy, financial markets have no boundaries. So the current crisis demands a global response. This weekend, finance ministers from the world’s major economies will meet in Washington. They must take coordinated steps to restore confidence and to maintain our financial markets and institutions.

There are many causes of this crisis, and it’s very important that we respond using all the tools that we have. It’s encouraging that Treasury is considering dramatic steps to provide more capital to our financial institutions so they have money to lend. This is not a time for ideology – it’s a time for common sense and a politics of pragmatism. The test of an idea must not be whether it is liberal or conservative – the test should be whether it works for the American people. That’s what we should all be focused on in the days and weeks ahead.

I know these are difficult times. I know folks are worried. But I believe that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis because I believe in this country. Because this is the United States of America. This is a nation that has faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we have risen to meet these challenges – not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans. With resolve. With courage.

We have seen our share of hard times. The American story has never been about things coming easy – it’s been about rising to the moment when the moment is hard; about rejecting panicked division for purposeful unity; about seeing a mountaintop from the deepest valley. That’s why we remember that some of the most famous words ever spoken by an American came from a President who took office in a time of turmoil – “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Now is not the time for fear. Now is not the time for panic. Now is the time for resolve and steady leadership. We can meet this moment. We can come together to restore confidence in the American economy. We can renew that fundamental belief – that in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us. That’s who we are, and that’s the country we need to be right now.

America still has the most talented, most productive workers of any country on Earth. You know this, Ohio. We’re home to the workers who have built the largest middle class in history. We’re home to workers who work two jobs or three jobs and take the last bus home at night because they want something more for their children. We’re home to innovation and technology, colleges and universities that are the envy of the world. Some of the biggest ideas in history have come from our small businesses and our research facilities. It won’t be easy, but there’s no reason we can’t make this century another American century. Yes we can.

But I also know this. It will take a new direction. It will take new leadership in Washington. It will take a real change in the policies and politics of the last eight years. And that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.

Even as we face the most serious economic crisis of our time; even as you are worried about keeping your jobs or paying your bills or staying in your homes, my opponent’s campaign announced last week that they plan to “turn the page” on the discussion about our economy so they can spend the final weeks of this election attacking me instead. Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, “if we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” So in the last couple of days, we’ve seen a barrage of nasty insinuations and attacks, and I’m sure we’ll see much more over the next 25 days. We know what’s coming. We know what they’re going to do.

But here’s the thing, Ohio. They can try to “turn the page” on the economy and deny the record of the last eight years. They can run misleading ads and pursue the politics of anything goes. But it’s not going to work. Not this time.

I think that folks are looking for something different. It’s easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division. But that’s not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious. The challenges are too great. The American people aren’t looking for someone who can divide this country – they’re looking for someone who will lead it. We’re in a serious crisis - now, more than ever, it is time to put country ahead of politics. Now, more than ever, it is time to bring change to Washington so that it works for the people of this country that we love.

I know my opponent is worried about his campaign. But that’s not what I’m concerned about. I’m thinking about the Americans losing their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings. We can’t afford four more years of the economic theory that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. We can’t afford four more years of less regulation so that no one in Washington is watching anyone on Wall Street. We’ve seen where that’s led us and we’re not going back.

It is time to turn the page on eight years of economic policies that put Wall Street before Main Street but ended up hurting both. We need policies that grow our economy from the bottom-up, so that every American, everywhere has the chance to get ahead. Not just corporate CEOs, but their secretaries too. Not just the person who owns the factory, but the men and women who work on its floor. Because if we’ve learned anything from this economic crisis, it’s that we’re all connected; we’re all in this together; and we will rise or fall as one nation – as one people.

My opponent has a fundamentally different view. Recently, he proposed a plan that would hand over $300 billion to underwrite the kind of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street that got us into this mess. It punishes taxpayers, rewards banks, and won’t solve our housing crisis.

At first, he said this spending would come from the rescue package that already passed. But the rescue package included taxpayer protections that prevent exactly this kind of scheme. We are not going to solve the immediate crisis by going back and changing the law we passed last week to push forward a plan that would take months to implement. So I have a different view from Senator McCain. Yes, we need to help innocent homebuyers. That’s why I insisted that the rescue package give the Treasury authority to buy and rework mortgages. We have given Treasury a broad menu of options that should be pursued. But we should not put taxpayer money at unnecessary risk. Taxpayers should not have all the downside without any of the upside. That’s a principle that I’ve fought for, that’s a principle that I’ll maintain, and that’s a principle that I’ll stand up for as President. That’s the choice in this election.

I repeat: we must do more to help innocent homebuyers. I’ve worked on a series of proposals over the past two years to do that. But we need to do it in a responsible way. That means making sure that we’re not overpaying for these mortgages and rewarding the very lenders whose recklessness helped cause this crisis. It means giving taxpayers a share of the benefit when our housing market recovers. And it means cracking down on predatory lenders by treating mortgage fraud like the crime that it is.

We also have to make sure that if the Treasury moves forward with its plan to put more money into struggling banks, taxpayers will be able to get their money back and the CEOs who contributed to this crisis won’t get rich at our expense.

Now let’s be clear Ohio: the rescue plan that passed Congress last week isn’t the end of what we need to do to strengthen this economy. It’s only the beginning. Now we need to pass a rescue plan for the middle-class that will provide every family immediate relief to cope with rising food and gas prices, save one million jobs by rebuilding our schools and roads, and help states and cities avoid budget cuts and tax increases. And we should extend expiring unemployment benefits to those Americans who’ve lost their jobs and can’t find new ones. I’ve been fighting for this plan for months. My opponent has said nothing. And that is the choice in this election.

If we’re going to rebuild this economy from the bottom up, it has to start with our small businesses on Main Street – not just the big banks on Wall Street. Small businesses employ half of the workers in the private sector in this country, and account for the majority of the job growth. But we also know that a credit crunch has dried up capital and put these jobs at risk – shops can’t finance their inventories, and small firms can’t make payroll; it’s harder to get an idea off the ground, or to provide health care for your employees. If we don’t act, we’ll be looking at scaled back operations, shuttered shops, and laid off workers.

That’s why we need a Small Business Rescue Plan – so that we’re extending our hand to the shops and restaurants; the start-ups and small firms that create jobs and make our economy grow. Main Street needs relief and you need it now. We won’t grow government– we’ll work within the Small Business Administration to keep folks afloat, while providing tax cuts to lift the tide. It’s what we did after 9/11, and we were able to get low cost loans out to tens of thousands of small businesses. That’s one of the many steps we can and should take to help stop job losses and turn this economy around.

It starts with a nation-wide program to provide affordable, fixed-rate loans to small businesses across the country. We can run this through the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program, which provides loans to small business owners get the help they need to maintain their inventory and meet their payroll. We’ll also make it easier for private lenders to make small business loans by expanding the SBA’s loan guarantee program. By temporarily eliminating fees for borrowers and lenders, we can unlock the credit that small firms need to move forward, pay their workers, and grow their business.

Just as we make lending more available, we need to relieve the tax burden on small businesses to help create jobs. That’s why I’ve proposed eliminating all capital gains taxes on investments in small businesses and start-ups. And today, I’m proposing an additional temporary business tax incentive through next year to encourage new investments. Because it’s time to protect the jobs we have and to create the jobs of tomorrow by unlocking the drive, and ingenuity, and innovation of the American people. That’s what I’ll do as President of the United States.

Bottom-up growth also depends on a tax code that doesn’t just work for the folks at the top. You’ve heard a lot about taxes in this campaign. Well, here’s the truth – my opponent and I are both offering tax cuts. The difference is, he wants to give $200 billion in tax cuts to the biggest corporations in America, and he wants to give the average Fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut. But he gives nothing at all to over 100 million Americans.

I have a different set of priorities. I’ll give a middle-class tax cut to 95% of all workers. And if you make less than $250,000 a year – which includes 98 percent of small business owners – you won’t see your taxes increase one single dime. Not your payroll taxes, not your income taxes, not your capital gains taxes – nothing. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

We know that it’s time to create the good-paying jobs of tomorrow. Ohio is hurting. 12,000 jobs have been lost this year. You’ve got 7.4 percent unemployment. Wages are flat-lining. But it doesn’t have to be this way. That’s why I’m going to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and start rebuilding the middle class by helping companies create jobs here in Ohio. I will be a President who puts you first, Ohio. Because I believe in the American people and what we can do together. And if we want to turn this economy around and lead the world in the 21st century, we have to create the high-wage jobs of tomorrow right here in America.

If I am President, I will invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy to create five million new, green jobs over the next decade – jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and fuel-efficient cars; jobs that will help us end our dependence on oil from Middle East dictators.

I’ll also put two million more Americans to work rebuilding our crumbling roads, schools, and bridges – because it is time to build an American infrastructure for the 21st century. We will work with the Building Trades to expand apprenticeship programs so young workers can develop their skills. And if people ask how we’re going to pay for this, you tell them that if we can spend $10 billion a month in Iraq, we can spend some money to rebuild America.

If I am President, I will finally fix our broken health care system. This issue is personal for me. My mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53, and I’ll never forget how she spent the final months of her life lying in a hospital bed, fighting with her insurance company because they claimed that her cancer was a pre-existing condition and didn’t want to pay for treatment. If I am President, I will make sure those insurance companies can never do that again.

My health care plan will make sure insurance companies can’t discriminate against those who are sick and need care most. If you have health insurance, the only thing that will change under my plan is that we will lower premiums. And if you don’t have health insurance, you’ll be able to get the same kind of health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves. We’ll invest in preventative care and new technology to finally lower the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the entire economy. That’s the change we need.

And we’ll give every child, everywhere the skills and the knowledge they need to compete with any worker, anywhere in the world. I will not allow countries to out-teach us today so they can out-compete us tomorrow. It is time to provide every American with a world-class education. That means investing in early childhood education. That means recruiting an army of new teachers, and paying them better, and giving them more support in exchange for higher standards and more accountability. And it means making a deal with every American who has the drive and the will but not the money to go to college: if you commit to serving your country after you graduate, we will make sure you can afford your tuition. You invest in America, America will invest in you, and together, we will move this country forward.

Finally, I will take on the corruption in Washington and on Wall Street to make sure a crisis like this can never, ever happen again. I’ll put in place the common-sense regulations and rules of the road I’ve been calling for since March – rules that will keep our market free, fair, and honest; rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in our corporate boardrooms.

And just as we demand accountability on Wall Street, I will also demand it in Washington. That’s why I’m not going to stand here and simply tell you what I’m going to spend, I’m going to tell you how we’re going to save when I am President.

I’ll do what you do in your own family budgets and make sure we’re spending money wisely. I will go through the entire federal budget, page by page, line by line, and eliminate programs that don’t work and aren’t needed. We’ll start by ending a war in Iraq that’s costing $10 billion a month while the Iraqi government sits on tens of billions of dollars in surplus. And we’ll save billions more by cutting waste, improving management, and strengthening oversight.

These are the changes and reforms we need. A new era of responsibility and accountability on Wall Street and in Washington. Common-sense regulations to prevent a crisis like this from ever happening again. Investments in the technology and innovation that will restore prosperity and lead to new jobs and a new economy for the 21st century. Bottom-up growth that gives every American a fair shot at the American dream. And above all confidence – confidence in America, confidence in our economy, and confidence in ourselves.

I won’t pretend this will be easy or come without cost. We will all need to sacrifice and we will all need to pull our weight because now more than ever, we are all in this together. This country and the dream it represents are being tested in a way that we haven’t seen in nearly a century. And future generations will judge ours by how we respond to this test. Will they say that this was a time when America lost its way and its purpose? When we allowed our own petty differences and broken politics to plunge this country into a dark and painful recession?

Or will they say that this was another one of those moments when America overcame? When we battled back from adversity by recognizing that common stake that we have in each other’s success?

This is one of those moments. I realize you’re cynical and fed up with politics. I understand that you’re disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You have every right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what’s been asked of the American people in times of trial and turmoil throughout our history. I ask you to believe – to believe in yourselves, in each other, and in the future we can build together.

Together, we cannot fail. Not now. Not when we have a crisis to solve and an economy to save. Not when there are so many Americans without jobs and without homes. Not when there are families who can’t afford to see a doctor, or send their child to college, or pay their bills at the end of the month. Not when there is a generation that is counting on us to give them the same opportunities and the same chances that we had for ourselves.

We can do this. Americans have done this before. Some of us had grandparents or parents who said maybe I can't go to college but my child can; maybe I can't have my own business but my child can. I may have to rent, but maybe my children will have a home they can call their own. I may not have a lot of money but maybe my child will run for Senate. I might live in a small village but maybe someday my son can be president of the United States of America.

Now it falls to us. Together, we cannot fail. Together, we can overcome the broken policies and divided politics of the last eight years. Together, we can renew an economy that rewards work and rebuilds the middle class. Together, we can create millions of new jobs, and deliver on the promise of health care you can afford and education that helps your kids compete. We can do this if we come together; if we have confidence in ourselves and each other; if we look beyond the darkness of the day to the bright light of hope that lies ahead. Together, we can change this country and change this world. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.

8 October 2008

Candidates back Fed interest rate cut

McCain Statement on Fed Cut

“I applaud the move by the Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve and other national monetary authorities to reduce interest rates to address the financial crisis spreading across the globe. It is imperative at this moment that government be responsive to the needs of Americans, restore confidence in our financial system, provide assistance to struggling homeowners, and implement pro-growth policies that will create jobs and provide a foundation for a more prosperous future. That is why last night, I called for an American Homeownership Resurgence Plan – a plan to use taxpayer money not just to bail out Wall Street, but instead to keep families in their homes and to stabilize financial markets from the bottom up. I am committed to protecting the American worker in this crisis. I am dedicated to reforming the corruption in Washington and on Wall Street that is the root of the financial system meltdown. I will get the economy back on track .”

Obama Statement on Interest Rate Cuts

“I’ve said before that this is a global crisis that requires a global solution, and so I support the action of the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world to cut interests rates and ease the mounting pressure on global credit markets. I hope this response continues as leaders of major financial institutions and representatives from nations around the world gather in Washington. But it is clear that more urgent and vigorous action is necessary to stem this crisis, which is making it impossible for businesses large and small to get loans and may have already cost Americans nearly $2 trillion from their retirement accounts. The Treasury Department must move quickly to implement a plan based on the rescue package we passed last week and use the authority they already have to purchase troubled assets, including mortgages. It is also critical that Treasury, in coordination with other government agencies, move as vigorously as possible to help homeowners stay in their homes. And I call on Congress to immediately pass a rescue plan for our middle-class that will save one millions jobs and provide relief to struggling families, small businesses, and Americans who are losing their homes,” said Senator Barack Obama.

Global interest rate cut!

CNNMoney.com - The Federal Reserve, working in coordination with other central banks worldwide, enacted an emergency interest rate cut on Wednesday.

The Fed lowered its fed funds rate by a half percentage point to 1.5%. The central bank's statement said the move was necessary because of the worsening crisis in global financial markets.

"The recent intensification of the financial crisis has augmented the downside risks to growth and thus has diminished further the upside risks to price stability," the Fed said.

The rate cuts are the latest in a series of groundbreaking moves by the world's top central banks to try to breathe life into embattled financial markets. And it's a sign that the problems in the U.S. economy are spreading.

Global markets still sliding

Latest Polls...

Rasmussen: Obama 51, McCain 45

Daily Kos: Obama 51, McCain 41

Zogby: Obama 47, McCain 45

Obama outspending McCain nearly 3 to 1 on television

Washington Post - Barack Obama is outspending John McCain at nearly a three-to-one clip on television time in the final weeks of the presidential election, according to ad buy information obtained by The Fix, a financial edge that is almost certainly contributing to the momentum for the Illinois senator in key battleground states.

From Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, Obama spent more than $20 million on television ads in 17 states including more than $3 million in Pennsylvania and more than $2 million each in Florida, Michigan and Ohio. McCain in that same time frame spent just $7.2 million in 15 states. Even when the Republican National Committee's independent expenditure spending in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin is factored in (a total of $5.3 million), Obama still outspent the combined GOP forces by roughly $8 million in the last week alone.

The spending edge enjoyed by Obama has been used almost exclusively to hammer McCain as both a clone of the current president and someone who is out of touch on key domestic issues -- most notably the economy. The assertion of Obama's spending edge has coincided with the collapse of the financial industry and a refocusing by voters on the economy to turn the election from a toss up to one in which the Democratic candidate has moved into a discernible lead.

While the struggles of McCain and his party over the Wall Street bailout bill that passed Congress last week after much sturm und drang have been well documented, the practical political impact of Obama's decision to forego public financing for the general election and McCain's choice to accept the $84 million in public funds has not been as fully explored.

Obama's fundraising machine has continued to churn in recent months -- bringing in $67.5 million in August alone and ending that month with more than $77 million on hand. (Reports for September are not due at the Federal Election Commission until Oct. 20.)

Obama's ad spending strategy has been based on the idea of stretching McCain to the limit in a series of non-traditional battlegrounds (Indiana, North Carolina, Colorado, Virginia), knowing that such an approach would force the cash-poorer Republican's hand at some point.

That decision paid off last week when McCain pulled down his television ads in Michigan, a move due in large part to the prohibitive cost of continuing to run commercials in the Wolverine State. A look at advertising in the last week in Michigan showed Obama dropping nearly $2.2 million as compared to $642,000 for McCain and just over $1 million by the RNC -- a difference of nearly $600,000 in favor of the Illinois senator.

A detailed look at campaign spending on ads over the last week shows clearly how Obama is using his financial edge over McCain. In 13 of the 15 states where both candidates were on television, Obama outspent McCain -- in some states, drastically.

In Florida, where recent polling suggests an Obama surge, the Illinois senator disbursed more than $2.8 million for television ads in the last week while McCain spent $623,000 -- a massive $2.17 million spending gap.

In North Carolina, Obama dropped approximately $1.5 million on television commercials last week while McCain spent only $137,000. Such a wide spending disparity explains why a series of polls has shown Obama trending upward in the Tarheel State of late.

Even in Pennsylvania, the state where McCain is now focusing much of his time and energy in the final month of the campaign, Obama's spending advantage is massive. Obama disbursed a little more than $3 million in the Keystone State last month as compared to $1.2 million in ad spending by McCain and another $807,000 by the RNC. It adds up to a million-dollar edge for Obama on television -- meaning that he outspending Republican by roughly 33 percent in Pennsylvania.

In Virginia, a state that has gone Republican in every presidential election since 1964, Obama's pronounced spending advantage is also being felt. Obama spent $1.6 million on ads in the Commonwealth last week while the combined forces of McCain and the RNC spent $909,000 -- giving Obama a $700,000 spending lead.

Only in Minnesota and Iowa did McCain have a spending edge on television over Obama in the last week.

In Minnesota, the McCain spent $377,000 on television, far more than the $196,000 Obama spent during the same period. Republicans saw a significant uptick in their numbers in Minnesota following the national party convention in August although most recent surveys show Obama reclaiming a statistically significant lead. History is also against McCain in the state as no Republican presidential nominee has carried Minnesota since 1972.

In Iowa, McCain spent $297,000 on television as compared to $224,000 for Obama. That's rough parity in a state where polling shows Obama with a comfortable lead. McCain has spent considerable time, attention and money in Iowa, however, a strategy that has baffled many within the Obama campaign. Iowa went for then Vice President Al Gore in 2000 by 4,000 votes in 2000 but George W. Bush carried it by 10,000 votes four years later.

Spending by the RNC's independent expenditure arm has kept McCain within shouting distance of Obama in several crucial states including Ohio and Wisconsin.

In Ohio, Obama spent $2.86 million on television last week while the combination of McCain ($1.1 million) and the RNC ($1.66 million) gave Democrats just a $100,000 edge. The same was true in Wisconsin where Obama disbursed $1.24 million, compared to $1.03 million for McCain and the RNC.

Is Obama's spending edge conclusive when it comes to determining the outcome on Nov. 4? No. External events can -- and always seem to -- intrude on even the best laid of political plans and strategies. But, Obama's fundraising prowess has provided him a major leg up in the final month of the campaign that, when combined with the detrimental effects the focus on the economy has had on McCain, make it an uphill climb to victory for the Arizona senator.

Full transcript of last nights debate


Watch the full debate

Debate leaves the race unchanged

Last nights Presidential debate did not deliver the game changer that John McCain needed, with both candidates landing punches, but ending the evening largely unscathed.

What did you think?

7 October 2008

Obama building a solid 5 point plus lead over McCain

For the last few weeks, now that the excitement over Sarah Palin has died down, Barack Obama has led John McCain by at least 3 points in the CNN poll of polls, and for the last week he has been at least 5 points ahead. 5 points in the popular vote is enough if that's what happens on polling day. Bush beat John Kerry by 3% in 2004 and beat Gore by -0.5% in 2000. Carter won with 3% in 1976, and Nixon with 2% in 1968. Kennedy famously won by 0.1% in 1960. So 5 per cent is way more than enough. But the key as always is the votes in the individual states.

Florida, the scene of the recount and Supreme Court debacle in 2000, was taken by Bush with a 500 vote margin and sealed the Electoral College for him despite Gore winning the overall popular vote. Bush solidified his lead in 2004, helped along by his brother who happened to be the popular incumbent Governor.

In 2004 Bush had a lead of 3% in the popular vote in the country as a whole, but if just 120,000 voters in Ohio had switched sides, John Kerry would be running for a second term as president today. The vote in Ohio in 2004 is another story, but I don't want to get into that here.

New Mexico voted for Gore by just 350 votes in 2000 and went Bush's way in 2004 by only 6,000. Bush took New Hampshire by 7,000 in 2000 (Gore would have been president if he hadn't) and John Kerry edged it by 9,000 in 2004. Although Oregon is considered a safe Democratic state, Gore won by just 7,000 votes in 2000. Bush won Iowa by just 10,000 votes in 2004.

So the individual swing states are crucial to any presidential election, and this year more than ever as more states are tossups than in 2000 or 2004. Along with the traditional big swing states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the smaller tossups, several other recently Republican states are in play. Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and Indiana are all in play this year, states that gave Bush big wins in 2000 and 2004. Obama is leading the polls in most of them.

Is this increase in uncertainty in state by state voting a healthy development? Yes. Will it increase the chance of close results and legal battles? Sadly, yes. But based on current polls Obama looks odds on to win, and as bill Clinton put it, he may well 'win handily'.

By Nick Cooper

Architect of modern Republicanism would be ashamed

BBC4's documentary last night on Lee Atwater, the man who ran the first campaign for George Bush Senior, showed in chilling detail the tactics that the Republicans used back in the 1970s and 1980s and continue to use today.

Atwater was a young, dynamic political strategist who advised Presidents Reagan and Bush 1, invented the push poll, and was one of the most ruthless campaigners of his day. He was man who ran the winning campaign for Bush 1 – he destroyed Michael Dukakis and countless other Democrats over the years with often unfounded allegations, designed to scare the hell out of voters and bring them over to the Republicans. But the brutal methods he employed weren't just partisan. He happily employed them against fellow Republicans who opposed his candidate, such as Senator Bob Dole in the 1988 presidential primary.

However, halfway through Bush's first term Atwater fell ill with brain cancer, and converted to Catholicism. Before he died in 1991 he recognised the error of his ways and apologised to the many people that had suffered from his harsh tactics.

Sadly, his Republican colleagues did not take this death-bed revelation on board. Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich led a cultural war against Bill Clinton throughout the 1990s. Bush 2's campaign manager Karl Rove was one of Atwater's key contemporaries and he used the same if not worse kind of political terrorism against John McCain in the 2000 primary race, Al Gore in the 2000 election, and most despicably against John Kerry in the 2004 election. One ray of hope was Bob Dole. He ran a lacklustre campaign against Clinton in 1996, and shied away from extreme Atwateresque methods. He lost.

In 2008, the Republicans are still going down the negative road. Although McCain was a victim of this insidious politics, he seems happy to try it out in the face of a strong Obama lead in the polls. He has recently moved away from the real issues such as economy, healthcare and even national security, to attack Obama's character. When a candidate can only talk about how their opponent is not fit to be president and won't discuss the issues, he knows he's losing. Sadly, these tactics have worked in the past and may do again.

Atwater it seems died for nothing. If his life's work was sordid political machinations designed to destroy the careers of those who opposed his candidate, in death he realised what he had created and tried to put things right. If only modern Republicans had been able to listen to Atwater's confessions to his priest as he lay dying, they may have heard something that would have been really useful in a political campaign.

They may have heard the truth.

By Nick Cooper

3 October 2008

Must read...

Hockey Mom on Thin Ice
E. J Dionne

Early in last night's vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin said that she might not answer the questions as moderator Gwen Ifill posed them. This was the Alaska governor's way of saying she was going to stick to the talking points she had stuffed into her head, no matter what the subject.

When Palin described John McCain's health-care plan, she talked about his offer of a $5,000 tax credit so families could buy insurance. She failed to mention that McCain would pay for the credit by taxing existing insurance benefits. Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden -- politely -- pounced on her omission, warning that McCain's plan could lead millions to lose their insurance coverage. Palin didn't come back to defend her running mate.

Nor did she come back when Biden challenged her false claims about how many times Barack Obama had voted for tax increases. Palin just plowed forward, piling one attack on top of another, with leavening references to "Joe Six-Pack" and "hockey moms."

Oh, yes, she did correct Biden on one thing. When he said the Republican energy slogan is "drill, drill, drill," she quickly reminded him that "the chant is drill, baby, drill." Thanks for clearing that up.

Last night's debate took place at the moment when a majority of American voters had decided that Palin was unprepared to be president if she were called upon to assume the office. Surveys by The Post and ABC News and by the Pew Research Center both found that doubts about Palin have risen sharply since the beginning of September.

The key to understanding how McCain chose Palin as his running mate was provided by the New York Times last weekend when it described an episode in which he "tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table." Americans are increasingly uneasy about the gamble they might take by putting Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Expectations for Palin were so low that the mere fact that she managed to keep talking and to keep assailing Obama will be rated as a great victory by McCain's lieutenants. But it was Biden who knew what he was talking about, who could engage in argument and who showed he actually understood the issues. In recent interviews with CBS anchor Katie Couric, Palin came off as profoundly uninformed, as someone who had given little thought to the issues that will matter. Nothing Palin did last night changed that. Those rooting for her were relieved. Those who doubted her readiness going in were not persuaded by her endless repetition of the word "maverick."

Palin has also brought out the very worst in McCain, forcing him to -- and I do not use this word lightly -- lie about her. In an interview broadcast Wednesday, National Public Radio's Steve Inskeep asked McCain if there would be "an occasion where you could imagine turning to Governor Palin for advice in a foreign policy crisis?"

McCain replied: "I've turned to her advice many times in the past. I can't imagine turning to Senator Obama or Senator Biden, because they've been wrong."

"Many times in the past?" McCain met Palin only twice before he selected her. What McCain said could not be true. And would anyone who listened to her last night really consult Palin on foreign policy?

This week, McCain's backers signaled their fears that Palin would fail by trying to discredit the debate in advance. Although it has been known at least since July that Gwen Ifill was writing a book on "Politics and Race in the Age of Obama," the usual right-wing attack squad waited until two days before the debate to mount a campaign to the effect that Ifill's book project turned her into a biased moderator. In her measured questioning, Ifill showed that the attack was nonsense.

The core issue, of course, is the contrast between how Obama and McCain chose their running mates. Say what you will about Joe Biden - and last night, he was far from being either the gaffe machine or the windbag so many predicted would appear on stage - no one loses sleep at the idea of his being in the Oval Office. Obama picked a vice president more likely to help him govern the country than win the chance to do so.

As for McCain, he found himself in a political hole and threw the dice with Palin. At the time of her selection, voters were often compared with "American Idol" watchers who put personality and stage presence above everything else. But it turns out that Americans take the presidency very seriously. And surviving 90 minutes on a stage with Biden did not transform Palin into a plausible president.

Watch the full debate

So who won?

House to re-vote on bailout tonight!

The House of Representatives is preparing to vote once more on the $700bn financial bailout plan following its shock defeat on Monday.

Drama at the debate? No Chance.

So very little of note happened in the television debates so far. Those Obama supporters rubbing their hands in anticipation of a Palin meltdown live on TV were disappointed. Surprise, surprise. The truth is that they were always going to be disappointed for one simple reason – nothing of note ever happens in presidential or vice-presidential debates. They have always been the set pieces that promise the most but deliver the least.

A quick recap of those TV debate bombshells throughout history. 1960, Richard Nixon sports a five o’clock shadow and looks a little sweaty. No debates are held again until 1976 where Republican VP candidate Bob Dole appears to blame World Wars One and Two on the Democrats. In 1988, Democrat Veep nominee Lloyd Bentsen delivers his “you’re no Jack Kennedy’ zinger to a startled Dan Quayle. Bush-Quayle win the election. 1992 George Bush is spotted glancing at his watch and third party VP candidate Admiral James Stockdale admits to having his hearing aid turned off. 2004 a suspicious looking crease in President Bush’s jacket leads to theories that he is being fed lines from offstage. And... that’s about it.

Actually, I must admit to exaggerating for effect. There are two moments that stand out as genuinely injurious to the candidates: in 1976 Gerald Ford’s assertion that “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe” and Michael Dukakis’s 1988 unemotional and rambling answer to an outrageous question about what his reaction would be to his wife being raped and murdered. But those moments, at best, can be said to have confirmed existing doubts surrounding the candidates rather than blowing the campaign wide open.

The problem is that these set pieces are just that – set pieces; endlessly prepped, rehearsed and largely devoid of spontaneity – and because of this (with some rare exceptions) the result is mostly the same. The only time a person ‘wins’ (a meaningless term loved by the punditry) is when there was someone who was expected to lose, just because they surpassed their low expectations. The bumbling Ronald Reagan was expected to be roasted by the experienced President Cater in 1980 but held his own and so came out on top. A similar scenario played out in 2000 with the tongue-tied George W up against Harvard debater Al Gore.

So no surprise that Sarah Palin didn’t morph into her Saturday Night Live parody, Joe Biden failed to stray recklessly off-message, McCain didn’t lose his famous temper and Obama managed to avoid insulting small town America once again. They know their lines, they’ve been here before and the road-show will plough on until the next debate where – hopefully tempting fate here – not much will happen.

By Ross English

1 October 2008

Congress leaders optimistic on revived bailout

AP - Congressional leaders from both parties said they are hopeful that a $700 billion financial industry bailout that derailed in the House is back on track for quick passage, thanks partly to a provision increasing insurance for people's deposits. President Bush planned to call lawmakers asking for their support ahead of a crucial Senate vote Wednesday night.

"I think the Senate thinks it has the votes and I think it probably will pass," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said. House Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri agreed that prospects for passage have improved, and he said he was particularly heartened by indications the legislation has become more appealing to constituents back home.

The plan for Wednesday night's vote was set after leaders there agreed to add tax breaks for businesses and the middle class and increase deposit insurance in an attempt to revive the legislation rejected by the House.

Remarks by John McCain on the Economy in Independence, Missouri

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ARLINGTON, VA - U.S. Senator John McCain today will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery in Independence, Missouri, at 10:00 a.m. CT (11:00 a.m. ET):

Thank you all very much. I appreciate the hospitality of the Harry Truman Library Institute. I'm honored to be here in the town that sent Harry Truman to Washington, and the town that welcomed him back when his work was done.

President Truman was a student of history, and he knew how suddenly a crisis could come about. And while so many things have changed in the 35 years since his passing, Harry Truman would surely recognize the sources of the financial crisis that now threaten the livelihoods of millions and the future of the entire American economy. Only the vast sums of money would surprise him. But the costs of unbridled greed on Wall Street, the foolishness of politicians who fed the problem, and the recklessness of politicians who failed to meet the crisis -- all of these would have a familiar feel to the man from Independence.

We are square in the greatest financial crisis of our lifetimes. And I am pleased to report that today, I will be returning to the floor of the Senate to vote on a bill that marks a decisive step in the right direction. The original proposal was flawed. I urged additions of taxpayer protections, stronger oversight, limitations on executive compensation and more protections for people's bank accounts. I am pleased that these are being added to improve the original bill. It took Congress a while, and there were costs to these delays. But they have awakened to the danger. And today, with the unity that this crisis demands, Congress will once again work to restore confidence and stability to the American economy.

There will be a time to fix the blame for all that has happened -- especially in the case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the abuses and political deal-making that corrupted those institutions. But our duty right now is to fix the problem, and that is the business that will shortly take me back to Washington. Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. Now, with this measure, we have another chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.

If the financial rescue bill fails in Congress yet again, the present crisis will turn into a disaster. As credit disappears, students will no longer be able to get loans for college, and families looking for a new home will be unable to get a loan. New car sales will come to a halt. Businesses will have difficulty securing credit for operations and may be unable to pay employees. If we fail to act, the gears of our economy will grind to a halt.

This is a moment of great testing. At such moments, there are those on both sides of this debate who will act on principle. Of course, there are always some who think first of their own interests, who calculate their own advantage instead of rushing to the aid of their country. But in the case of this bill, I am confident there are enough people of good will in both parties to help see America through this crisis. And when the last vote is cast, we can be grateful to all of them -- Democrats and Republicans alike -- for helping to solve the crisis instead of merely exploiting it.

Crises often have a way of revealing our better selves -- of showing what we are made of, and how much we can achieve when we are put to the test. This is true as well of the grave challenges we face in Washington. Yet it should not require extreme emergencies -- when the future of our entire economy is on the line -- to bring out the best in us, or to bring us together in service to the common good. We are supposed to do that even in the calmest of times. And if we worked together more often in that spirit, perhaps there would be fewer crises, close-calls, and near-disasters confronting our nation.

Just consider the day-to-day routine of Congress -- even as the 110th Congress ends, there remains a long list of challenges unmet. Congress has failed to pass many of the appropriations bills funding the regular business of our government. From agriculture to the labor department to transportation, the majority of appropriations bills have not passed. Even funding for the operations of the legislative branch itself has not passed. Congress can't even find agreement on the yearly bill to pay for the Congress itself.

And while these routine funding issues are addressed at the last minute behind closed doors, the big challenges facing our country continue to languish. We still have made no progress to resolving our energy crisis. While we seek solutions to the economic crisis we face today, Washington has been ineffective in addressing the housing crisis that started it. And in the face of mounting job losses, we still have not taken action to put our economy back on track with policies that would encourage job creation, or with updates to an unemployment system and job training programs that were created for the 1950s.

Our government is on the wrong track, our economy is struggling, and I expect we will receive more bad news with Friday's unemployment report. It is a time for leadership and a plan to create jobs and get our country on the right track.

I believe in low taxes; spending discipline, and open markets. I believe in rewarding hard work and letting people keep the fruits of their labor. We will keep the current low tax rates. We will simplify the current tax code. We will double the child exemption from 3500 dollars to 7000 dollars. We will give every family a 5000 dollar tax credit to buy their own health insurance or keep their current plan, and we will open up the national health-care market to expand choices and improve quality. And my administration will reduce the price of food by eliminating the subsidies for ethanol and agricultural goods. These subsidies inflate the price of food, not only for Americans but for people in poverty across the world, and I propose to abolish them.

I believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans, so they can create more jobs and keep our economy growing. So we will cut business taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent, to give American businesses a new edge in competition. We will spur new investment through R&D tax credits and expensing of equipment. And we will protect the right of workers to decide for themselves, by democratic vote, whether to unionize.

Keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs. Cutting the second highest business tax rate in the world will help American companies compete and keep our best jobs from moving overseas. Doubling the child tax exemption will improve the lives of millions of American families at a time when the cost of living is rising. Reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs will let you keep more of your own money to save, spend and invest as you see fit. Opening new markets for our goods and preparing workers to compete in the world economy is essential to our future prosperity.

As president, I will also set this country on the straightest, swiftest path to energy independence. As a nation, we will embark on the most ambitious national project in decades. We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much. We will attack the problem on every front. We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we'll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles. And in all of this, we will create millions of new jobs, many in industries that will be the engine of our future prosperity -- jobs that will be there when your children enter the workforce.

Some still insist that we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet. It's an ambitious plan, but Americans are ambitious by nature, and we have faced greater challenges. It's time for us to show the world again how Americans lead.

As president, I will also act immediately with reforms to restore fairness, integrity, and financial sanity to the institutions that have failed us on Wall Street. We will apply new rules to Wall Street, to end the frenzies of speculation by people gaming then system, and to make sure that this present crisis is never repeated. We will bring regulatory agencies built for the 1930s into the 21st century. On my watch, the rules will be enforced, and violations will be prosecuted. And there will be new rules to shrink, sell, and clean house at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

We must also realize that this rescue plan has serious implications for future spending. We cannot dedicate more than a trillion dollars to rescue failing institutions, and then go right back to business as usual in Washington -- as if there were no end to the resources of government or to the patience of taxpayers. Therefore, as president, I will impose a one-year spending freeze on every agency of the federal government, excepting only national defense, the care of our veterans, and a few critical priorities. Leadership requires candor. And I will tell you bluntly that America is already ten trillion dollars in debt, and to make our economy strong again we must reduce the burden of federal spending. We cannot tax our way to prosperity. I am committed to billions in spending reductions that will balance the budget, and get us on the path away from ruinous debt.

The constant partisan rancor that stops us from solving these problems in Washington isn't a cause, it's a symptom. It's what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not you.

Again and again, I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as president. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again. I have that record and the scars to prove it.

I offer this not just as a campaign slogan, but as the way to solve our country's problems. Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn't think of them first, let's use the best ideas from both sides. This great country can do anything we put our minds to. I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability. We're going to finally start getting things done for the people who are counting on us, and I won't care who gets the credit.

That is the spirit of can-do patriotism, Harry Truman, that humble, good man from Independence, Missouri, brought to the presidency. When, to his and everyone's surprise, he assumed the office of the President and the mantle of leader of the free world, he faced the grave and difficult decisions that would end the World War and remake the world out of its ashes.

He was a man of principle, of wisdom and a deep and abiding love for our country. His accomplishments in war and peace are among the most significant of any president in the Twentieth Century. He succeeded beyond everyone's expectations -- perhaps, even his own -- because every day Harry Truman woke up determined to put his country before party and self-interest. We would all be better public servants and the country would be better served if we tried a little more often to keep the example of this good American before us.

Thank you and God bless you.