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


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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.

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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