The Watering Hole: April 17, 2012 – Tax Day

I don’t think you’ll need reminding do you? If anybody should have an “Oops”-moment here’s the extension form.

Mitt Romney has filed an extension. This comes hardly as a surprise, given how complicated it is to track down all those investments all over the planet and to get a nice tax rate about some 15%. Honestly, is it worth the trouble? Look what you have to do to get it.

You have to shovel 100 million into a trust for your sons and, boy, is it complicated to get rid of that pesky gift-tax. But then, which parent doesn’t want their kids to have it better in life?

Look what you have to go through to get it. People actually try and ask you questions about your very personal decision how to optimize your own tax-load. Disgusting really. No respect whatsoever. But then, can you really just talk to your friends and donors nowadays without getting slapped around by the press. No way. Interfereing lot those hacks. And again they mention taxes. And Swiss bank accounts.

No friends, it is not that easy to avoid paying taxes, really not. But then, if Mitt were President…..

The Watering Hole: Super Tuesday, March 6th – Is this really important?

Image found at Funny Pictures

In a way the Republican Primaries tonight are important, they will need a nominee eventually. Presumptive Candidates fall all over each other in Marx-Brothers-Sans-Brains fashion and it is more or less entertaining. Or, it would be entertaining, if this wasn’t supposed to be the choice of the man who was to lead one of the World’s remaining superpowers. The last time around they have presented us Sarah Palin and we thought it was a horrible abberration. This time around they stacked the whole deck with similar dunces and treat the world to a first class train crash to watch.

On the other side of the intellectual divide there is this cool and collected man, doing what needs to be done for your country in a very pragmatic and undogmatic way.

For many Europeans the re-election of President Barack Obama is a no-brainer. If we seriously look at the difference of the four vs the one, the Republican Primaries tonight are not really important after all.

This is our Open Thread. What is important to you?

The Watering Hole: Tuesday January 17 – Fort Sumter

The siege on Fort Sumter was the starting point for the civil war in 1861. I keep reading allegations to this in lots of tweets and blog posts that refer to yesterday’s debate. It must have been quite a spectacular show, for those among us, who are not queasy and, of course, for us Europeans who won’t be living under a Republican President, if one was elected this year.

The crowd must have been especially mean-spirited leading one of the Economist’s live bloggers to comment

I think this crowd will be disappointed when informed that there will not in fact be a public hanging later in the evening.
by W.W.4:18 AM

and another says:

As crowds go, only the Tea Party audience in the Nevada debate came close to this level of red-meatism. Agree/disagree?
by A.K. 4:26 AM

You can read all live-blog comments, many very amusing, on The Economist here.

The Guardian mentions the hem..hem.. let’s call it rather unusually rowdy atmosphere as well, but only in passing

The debate was conducted against a noisy background, with 3,000 partisan Republicans in the hall, booing and heckling, saving applause for their favourites, mainly Gingrich and former senator Rick Santorum. Romney, viewed as too moderate in right-leaning South Carolina, appeared to have failed to fill the hall with his supporters.

While Der Spiegel thinks it’s worth a full story:

Und so wird es immer schlimmer. Perry fabuliert, die Türkei werde von islamischen Terroristen regiert (Jubel). Er verwechselt die Taliban mit al-Qaida (Jubel) und den Irak mit Afghanistan (Jubel). Er verwehrt sich dagegen, die mutmaßliche Taliban-Leichenschändung durch US-Marineinfanteristen zu kritisieren (Jubel) – die Männer hätten doch nur “einen Fehler gemacht” (Jubel). Ach ja: Und er will die Immobilienkrise lösen, indem er verschuldete Hauseigentümer sich selbst überlässt (Jubel).

And thus it gets worse and worse. Perry opines Turkey was governed by islamic Terrorists (Cheers). He mixes up Taliban and Al Qaida (Cheers) and Iraq and Afghanistan (Cheers). He refuses to criticise the (alleged) desecration of Taliban corpses by US Marines (Cheers) the men had just “made a mistake” (Cheers). Oh yes: And he wants to solve the real estate crisis by  leaving indebted home owners to fend for themselves (Cheers).

So, back to Fort Sumter. All kinds of civil war are going on in the US. The “War on the Middle Class” (that will turn into a War on the Poor for want of a Middle Class soon)  and the “War on Civil Liberties” being the ones fought most prominently. There may even be a break-up of the Union in the not so distant future, politically the “War on the Federal Government” will be fought this summer when the Presidential campaigns will be in full swing. And won’t the 1% just love it to sick the states against each other to get all remaining regulations off the table and make the states compete for their attentions. Don’t believe it ? The USSR only took a couple of years to fully break apart, something that was unthinkable only 30 years ago, remember ? The US is in not much better shape these days. And people like the ones in yesterday’s audience are the perfect footsoldiers for such a development.

I almost regret that I won’t be watching Thursday’s debate either. On second thoughts, no I don’t.

As a matter of form: Newt Gingrich was dubbed yesterday’s winner and Mitt Romney the loser in most news sites I read.

This is our Daily Open Thread.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, September 13 – Republican Election Machine

The Debate is over. Nothing new, except for Ron Paul being even more callous than I thought possible. Isn’t he a doctor by profession? Wasn’t there a thing called the hypocratic oath? (ht: peteIngh)

This is our Open Thread. Give us your take on yesterday’s, today’s or tomorrow’s news.

All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Matt Davies
CTNews

Monetary Warfare – Switzerland pegs its currency to the Euro

In a surprise move the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has fixed the exchange rate to the Euro. They won’t suffer it to fall below CHF 1.20 anymore. There is no limit to currency purchases to make this happen, the SNB says.

Right wing billionaire and godfather of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) Blocher declared the currency situation a “war” that needs to be won now by the SNB. Well, his buddies won’t be any worse off…

I am not so sure if it can be won. Swiss real GDP is some126 bn. The Eurozone’s combined GDP is about 12 trillion.  There are 77 bn Swiss Francs out there, but 4.7 trillion Euros. (M1)

You might as well try and empty the Zurich Lake with a teaspoon.

Breaking News: New York State’s Marriage Equality Act – Almost There? PASSED!

Tonight, the New York State Senate passed the religious exemptions amendment to Governor Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act, 36-26. This is an exciting and important step forward, bringing the MEA much closer to becoming a reality.

State Senator Steve Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) made the all-important move from undecided to ‘Yes’.

Watch the live feed from the New York State Senate here, as Senator Saland is going to speak shortly.

Also, Rachel Maddow is covering this live.

10:30pm UPDATE!!! By a vote of 33-29, the New York State Senate becomes the first Republican-controlled legislative body to pass a Marriage Equality Bill.

“Calloo, Callay, O Frabjous Day!

Former Senator Ted Stevens dies in plane crash

Former Alaskan Senator Ted Steven has died today in a plane crash in Alaska, has been confirmed.

Former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, 86, has died in a plane crash in Alaska, according to his former chief of staff Mitch Rose.

Former Nasa chief Sean O’Keefe was confirmed also to have been aboard the small plane, officials say.

The aircraft is believed to have been carrying nine people.

The National Transportation Safety Board says five people were killed and four survived, with two badly hurt. It remains unclear who the survivors are. (read all)

Also on board was the current director of EADS America O’Keefe. Allegedly Mr O’Keefe and his son have survived the accident. Former Senator Stevens leaves a wife and six children. I am truly sorry for his family as well as for the families of the passengers and crew on board of that plane, who all suffered a terrible loss.

Afghanistan is Lost!

source:www.defense.gov

This is one major scoop of investigative journalism, just right next to The Pentagon Papers.

Wikileaks has produced over 90’000 partly classified documents covering a six year stretch of the Afghan mission. The Guardian in the UK, Der Spiegel in Germany and The New York Times have each received the documents a while ago for review and released their findings today. As I am writing this I cannot reach the wikileaks webpage, which must be overwhelmed with traffic, I suspect, so I give you a gist of what the three news outlets are making of the documents.

Der Spiegel:

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future. (read article)

The newspaper then highlights five issues, one of them the situation in the North where German forces are stationed:

The Germans thought that the northern provinces where their soldiers are stationed would be more peaceful compared to other provinces and that the situation would remain that way.

They were wrong. (read more)

In an interview with the weekly Julian Assange, founder of Wikipedia, says:

Assange: These files are the most comprehensive description of a war to be published during the course of a war — in other words, at a time when they still have a chance of doing some good. They cover more than 90,000 different incidents, together with precise geographical locations. They cover the small and the large. A single body of information, they eclipse all that has been previously said about Afghanistan. They will change our perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars. (read full interview)

The Guardian obviously eyes the British side of the conflict:

Questionable shootings of civilians by UK troops also figure. The US compilers detail an unusual cluster of four British shootings in Kabul in the space of barely a month, in October/November 2007, culminating in the death of the son of an Afghan general. Of one shooting, they wrote: “Investigation controlled by the British. We are not able to get [sic] complete story.” (read all)

and more here

The US army’s archives contain descriptions of at least 21 separate occasions in which British troops are said to have shot or bombed Afghan civilians, including women and children.

The logs identify at least 26 people killed and another 20 wounded as a result. Some casualties were accidentally caused by air strikes, but many also are said to involve British troops firing on unarmed drivers or motorcyclists who come “too close” to convoys or patrols. Their injuries result from what are described as “warning shots” or “disabling shots” fired into the engine block, as required by the military’s “escalation of force” regulations.

They explain how they came by the data:

The Afghanistan war logs series of reports on the war in Afghanistan published by the Guardian is based on the US military’s internal logs of the conflict between January 2004 and December 2009. The material, largely classified by the US as secret, was obtained by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, which has published the full archive. The Guardian, along with the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, was given access to the logs before publication to verify their authenticity and assess their significance. (read all and watch video)

The New York Times explains to its readers:

Deciding whether to publish secret information is always difficult, and after weighing the risks and public interest, we sometimes chose not to publish. But there are times when the information is of significant public interest, and this is one of those times. The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not. (read more)

The role of Pakistan in the Afghan war is of special interest to the NYT:

Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult.

[...]

Such accusations are usually met with angry denials, particularly by the Pakistani military, which insists that the ISI severed its remaining ties to the groups years ago. An ISI spokesman in Islamabad said Sunday that the agency would have no comment until it saw the documents. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said, “The documents circulated by WikiLeaks do not reflect the current on-ground realities.”

[...]

On June 19, 2006, ISI operatives allegedly met with the Taliban leaders in Quetta, the city in southern Pakistan where American and other Western officials have long believed top Taliban leaders have been given refuge by the Pakistani authorities. At the meeting, according to the report, they pressed the Taliban to mount attacks on Maruf, a district of Kandahar that lies along the Pakistani border. (read more)

There is heaps more in all three newspapers and this story is going to be hot for weeks to come, due to the vast expanse of the information made available. This may well be the final nail into the coffin of the Afghanistan war. There already is growing opposition against the mission and seeing the stark truth will further convince people, that the fight is not worth it. The documents cover the time from January 2004 to December 2009 after Iraq has been attacked on March 20th 2003 and the focus shifted away from the Afghan mission. The leaked documents don’t say anything about the time between October 2001 and 2004. I do hold on to the belief, however, that the Afghanistan mission wasn’t doomed from the beginning. But absolutely after the decision was made to attack Iraq. And again, as it is with most conflicts, the people of Afghanistan have suffered before the war, during the war and will continue to suffer after the international troops have long left.

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Across The Pond: Elections, Euros, Emotions

This is going to be a long weekend for Angela Merkel. First of all she and her fellow European leaders had to get the Eurozone under some kind of control until Asian stock markets open late tonight, our time.Their solution: Add another € 70 bn to defend the Euro, and the Germans are already supposed to sign the fattest check in history:

EU leaders have agreed a financial defence plan in an attempt to protect the eurozone countries from speculative attacks in the wake of the Greek debt crisis.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said today that an “intervention unit” designed to preserve financial stability in the 16 eurozone countries would be in place by Monday when the markets reopen. (read more)

The Euro-Crisis can be followed at nakedcapitalism, they have a couple of interesting posts on that.

Secondly, she is facing the voters’ wrath in North Rine Westphalia the biggest of Germany’s states, where state elections will not be going good for her, that much is certain.

The UK has been so immersed in political fever that another highly significant election has gone almost unnoticed. When Germans go to the polls in state elections today, at stake will be not only the future of Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition in Berlin, but also the direction of Europe’s biggest economy. (read more)

THE voters in Düsseldorf’s central square were waiting patiently in the rain for Angela Merkel to appear last Friday when the loudspeakers suddenly announced that she was too busy dealing with Greece’s financial crisis to join them.

Their spirits already dampened, many were clearly in a mood to punish the chancellor for her contribution of more than £19 billion to the Greek bailout. They had gathered to hear Merkel make her pitch for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in today’s state election in North Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s industrial powerhouse with a population of 18m. (read more)

A detailed article on the state election can be found at the International section of Der Spiegel.

But it’s not a good day for Gordon Brown either, he has lost his elections already and will lose his post, because even if the Liberal democrats should opt for supporting Labour, I very much doubt they will do it if  Brown’s at the helm.

And opt for Labour they still could, because the Tories are adamant when it comes to electoral reform. Big NO.

Nick Clegg was urged by senior figures in his party last night to back a “traffic light coalition” with Labour, Green and smaller parties amid signs that David Cameron’s proposed deal to the Liberal Democrats has triggered an angry backlash among Tory and Lib Dem MPs.

The Lib Dem and Conservative leaders met last night for “constructive” face-to-face talks to try to reach a deal before markets open tomorrow morning. Earier, after a crucial meeting with his party in Westminster to gauge reaction to a Lib-Con coalition, Mr Clegg addressed a 1,000-strong crowd protesting in favour of electoral reform to insist that proportional representation was still key to the talks. (read more)

I am not really surprised that the “senior bankers” are already putting pressure on the parties:

FEARS of a market slump mounted this weekend after British politicians failed to form a government and senior bankers warned that the eurozone crisis might cause bank lending to seize up. (read more)

This is blatant blackmail. The banks don’t want electoral reform, they like the status quo just fine. Electoral reform would only serve to give the great unwashed more say, and we can’t have that, can we?

And finally, here’s the New Mr Switzerland, what an emotional moment, which I didn’t watch and will never regret not having watched.

Have a good Sunday and especially a Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. I’ll head back now to my boys and spend a little quality time with my family.

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The Watering Hole: April 14, UBS

source NYT

Before I start. For us here “UBS” is of course a household name, but our gummitch pointed out my half-cocked assumption and houseofroberts corrected it below in the comments. Thanks to both of you.

Today is General Assembly of UBS in Basle. There are some points of interest in that. Main point: Will Ospel, Rohner, Kurer and Wuffli be discharged from liability for the Years 2007 and 2008? If not, UBS will have to reconsider charging them with fraud or breach of trust. This thread will be updated as soon as the results are in.

The voting on a discharge from liability for the managing board as well as for the supervisory board was a clear “No” for the year 2007, which has never happened before in Swiss business history.

Discharging board and management, traditionally largely an annual formality, means the company itself and the shareholders who vote for it would no longer have the option of pursuing legal action against them [former management], unless new information came to light. (more)

The legal consequences are not really clear yet, the current chairman of the supervisory board, Kaspar Villiger, has already made clear that the management of the bank will hold on to it’s decision not to press charges to hold the former management accountable for their actions. Given the fact that UBS owes those four a multi-billion loss, shareholders lost billions and no dividend was paid either, there might be someone outside the management, however, who may beg to differ.

Now, this is all going to end the banks’ greedy and irresponsible ways of making money. Not.

Zurich-based UBS eked out majority support–nearly 55%–for 2009 pay in a non-binding vote, but board and management members present were grilled by disgruntled shareholders.

“With their new bonus plan, UBS is going back to errant ways,” said Rolf Luethi, a retail shareholder from Oberrieden, Switzerland. (more)

Bonus packages have been approved by the general assembly but a 45% No vote is considered something of a warning.  I will not hold my breath, however, that UBS, or any other major bank, will go back to respectability. As long as “too big to fail” is accepted as an excuse and as long as there remains a tax paying middle class that can be squeezed for a bailout, it’s going to be business as usual. In the end all they really want is getting all the money, yours, ours, everyones.

This is, nevermind my ranting, an open thread. So feel free to comment on whatever is on your mind.

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Prague: There and Back Again

A year ago President Obama committed himself to seek a world without nuclear weapons:

Today we’re one step further and a new START weapons agreement has been signed in Prague.

The treaty the President plans to sign is one important step forward.  It will require the United States and Russia to reduce — by 30 percent below the levels in a treaty signed in 2002 — the number of nuclear warheads they have deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-based ballistic missiles, and bombers.  It also provides various mechanisms to allow each side to monitor compliance with the treaty by the other country, including on-site inspections and exchanges of data about our respective nuclear arsenals.  This kind of transparency promotes strategic stability between the two largest nuclear powers in the world. (source: whitehouse.gov)

What’s more, the nuclear strategy for the US has been changed these days as well. First Strikes are mostly out. You bet that as a European and probable battlefield inhabitant I feel better now. Not altogether safe, but a bit safer.

How a simple data CD may bring down Switzerland

A simple Data-CD is about to shake the foundations of  Switzerland itself. How come?

An unknown Data thief has offered German Authorities a CD containing valuable data about some 1’500 tax frauds, for some 2,5 Mio. Euros. Germany may generate a 100 Mio. Euros on back taxes and penalties and the odd bad boy will face jail. This is an impressive return on investment and Germany, as much under pressure financially as most other industrialized nations, does not really want to not use it. Moreover, it is a hard sell to tell your welfare recipients that they have to pay back the  €20, they erroneously received in January and then go on and graciously waive a hundred million. Poor people are voters, too and Angela Merkel is not a political suicide.

I personally have my doubts about the legality of the purchase, but one may well argue that a higher interest is at stake und thus the purchase is legitimate.

So this is an entirely German affair, is it not?

So why are the Swiss so very upset?

Here’s the math:

An estimated 3 Trillion Swiss Francs in Swiss bank accounts are Assets under Management owned by foreigners. 30% to 50% are at least from grey, if not black money, that is   approximately 1 trillion Swiss Francs.

“Switzerland has become a paradise for foreign capital on which tax is not paid. The uproar from foreign governments is understandable.” These are not the words of a critic of the banks, but of private banker Konrad Hummler. He says that around 30%, or CHF 1,000 billion, of the CHF 2,800 billion or so of foreign assets in Swiss banks is untaxed “black money”.

I’m still being conservative. Let’s say 30% of those funds are from German individuals, that makes it 330 billion Swiss Francs.

Let’s say German investors panic, because the only argument for having your money in Switzerland is the banking secrecy (they pay a measly 1% interest here). They are going to get their own money and transfer it elsewhere, or even repatriate the stuff and grudgingly pay the back taxes to avoid a hefty fine or in some cases jail.

More math:

The Swiss GDP is about 500 bn Swiss Francs (2008), the financial sector is generating about 12% of GDP, banks about 7.5% that makes it 37.5 bn. But they may lose 330 bn. They would stop contributing to GDP for almost ten years to refill their coffers.

But banks have equity capital, have they not? Well at least UBS, the biggest player, is still in a load of trouble and struggling to get it’s equity capital quota into a reasonable percentage.

Now add to that the fact that we are talking about bank accounts owned by Germans only, what’s more, we talk about German tax dodgers’ accounts. There are other countries’ citizens involved, too. This adds another hefty sum at stake. Then there are those who have put their money into Swiss accounts legally, but don’t want to be under the general suspicion of being a tax fraud. Again: In sum there are some 3 trillion Swiss Francs at stake. If only a third of it is lost to other markets, Switzerland goes broke.

Some of the more naive here reckon banking secrecy can still be saved. The naivest of them all, the right wing SVP (Swiss People’s Party), even think they can win the next elections by harshly defending the status quo. The Swiss are not so stupid. Still sore about the UBS bailout, they are not prepared to ruin their country to protect a couple of foreign tax frauds and their banksters.

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Sarah Palin gets to talk to Nicolas Sarkozy!

Sarah Palin got to talk to Nicolas Sarkozy. Listen to the two talk about hunting from a helicopter, Sarkozy’s “hot wife” and Joe the plumber.. until she figured out she’s been had by two Canadian talk radio hosts.


UPDATE: Here’s the YouTube version – so you can see who it is that made the call..

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From a Distance: The Jitters, will Obama lose after all?

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It has been noted recently that, for a foreigner, I was pretty much fired up and passionate about the American Presidential elections. I asked myself, why do I care that much? And the answer on that is fairly easy. When you are restricted from really participating, like voting or actually donating to , or working for a campaign, you have to rely on others to do what you consider would be the right thing. I don’t like that, like I do not like riding shotgun in a car or sitting in an airplane at the mercy of the driver’s or pilot’s competence. And I am not alone. Out there in European newspapers, there are people who say it so much better than I can.

Like George Monbiot in yesterday’s Guardian. He gives voice to one of the specifics in American politics that, like him, I cannot get my head around:

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the US come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind’s closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama was a Muslim and a terrorist? (read more)

Will it be that way next Tuesday? Will the anti-intellectuals prevail once again? Sorry, but to be blunt: A borderline senile and a borderline imbecile joining forces to run the most powerful nation there is, has me in panic mode.

Not only me. There is Mark Steel over at The Independent who has the jitters as well:

McCain could announce he’d bomb Argentina for being too near the start of the alphabet, flash at Oprah Winfrey shouting “Hey Joe the plumber, there’s ONE waterworks that doesn’t need fixing” during the national anthem, reveal he was chairman of a company that’s been selling teddy bears that turn out to be stuffed with petrol-soaked semtex, and admit he didn’t go to Vietnam at all but spent the whole war in the bath. And the following day we’d hear that a string of gaffes had caused Obama’s lead to climb to SIX per cent. (read more)

He has a point hasn’t he? I’m visiting Real Clear Politics like fifty times a day. I’m preferring that Republican leaning site just because I do not want to get my hopes up too high.

On the other hand Daniel Finkelstein – The Times – has everything wrapped up and tells Republicans the stark truth about their impending unimportance. He compares November 5, 2008 with the day after Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997:

There was a feeling of euphoria in Britain that morning, a feeling of freshness and change. Even people who hadn’t voted for Blair were caught up in it. Many of them wished that they had, and his poll rating soared. Much of the good feeling about new Labour was generated in the months after their landslide, oddly, rather than in the months before it.(read more)

This makes me feel slightly better. After all, the conservatives’ predictions have been more right all those years than mine. My wishes for a President Gore and then a President Kerry haven’t been granted. To be honest, it has never been good news for a candidate, if I supported the guy. Mine tended to lose.

On to the Economist, they are really good at analysis, every time. They say McCain’s campaign was looking doomed.

JOHN MCCAIN has survived against long odds before. But, despite a stubborn televised interview on Sunday October 26th, in which he touted a poll showing him just a few points behind Barack Obama in the race for the White House, soon he may have to tape up his windows to keep out bad news. Pollster.com, a website that aggregates poll results, suggests that the Republican is now behind Mr Obama by an average of just over seven percentage points. Other pollsters give Mr Obama a slightly smaller lead. Intrade, a betting website, indicates that those risking money on the election result believe that the Democrat has nearly a 90% chance of victory next week. (read more)

But, but have they ever heard of rigged elections? No, this is not comforting at all. And then, there are the Chinese zodiac signs.

Maybe most impressing is Simon Heffer in The Telegraph. He grudgingly and moodily writes about the time when Obama will be President. He doesn’t like it, but then – it will most probably happen.

One can find two kinds of voters in this great city in the week before the presidential election; those Democrats who can see no possibility of defeat for Barack Obama next Tuesday, and those who wake with a jolt at 4am imagining he has lost, and feeling in their bowels the fear that something might happen in the next few days to stop the saviour of the United States from fulfilling his mission. I have yet to find a Republican, despite this being the city that returned Rudy Giuliani twice as mayor. But then it is hard to find anyone in the city that gave Hillary Clinton a big victory in February in the New York state primary who will now not admit to being a dyed-in-the-wool Obamamaniac. The fat lady has yet to sing, but, as far as New Yorkers are concerned, the show is over already. (read more)

I am still as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers, but I am confident I am not alone in this. There is a Global Electoral College in the Economist and as far as I can see, my anxiety is shared by many.

NY Election “Mix Up”…?

In upper state New York, hundreds of absentee ballots were sent out with the following candidates names:

John McCain

Barack Osama

That’s right. Osama.

Are you kidding me?

Sure, it only affected 1 in 13 ballots that were sent out, but what do you think the overall effect was?

http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-politics/20081010/Osama.Ballot/

Saturday Morning News

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Probes Into Sales of Land

Two government lots were sold for $1 each to a housing corporation that lacked the tax-exempt status it claimed.  More on the story Link.

Four Years Later, Still Sorting Fallout of Republican Convention

The 2004 Republican National Convention lingers on in the expensive and bitter afterlife of civil rights lawsuits.  More on the story Link.

FDA Plans To Post List Of Drugs Under Investigation

The Food and Drug Administration will begin posting every three months a list of drugs whose safety is under investigation because of complaints brought to the agency’s attention by drug companies, physicians and patients.  Just when you thought your prescription drugs were safe.

Palin Not Making Sunday Show Rounds

Only one member of the presidential slate will not appear on the Sunday public affairs shows this weekend and it’s the newest addition – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Democratic nominee Barack Obama will appear on ABC’s “This Week” while his running mate Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) will stop by NBC’s “Meet the Press.”   More on the story Link.

Hanna rakes Carolins with rain, wind, some floods

RALEIGH, N.C. – Tropical Storm Hanna blew hard and dumped rain in eastern North Carolina and Virginia Saturday, but caused little damage beyond isolated flooding and power outages as it quickly headed north toward New England.   More on this story Link.

Students at Tempe school recognized for mentoring effort

During the past few years, there have been waiting lists to get into the school’s Best Buddies chapter, part of an international mentoring program that pairs a typical teen peer and a student “buddy” with an intellectual disability.  What a great story Link.
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Palin Nixed Funding For Teen Moms

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee who revealed Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, earlier this year used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live.After the legislature passed a spending bill in April, Palin went through the measure reducing and eliminating funds for programs she opposed. Inking her initials on the legislation — “SP” — Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million. Covenant House is a mix of programs and shelters for troubled youths, including Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers.

According to Passage House’s web site, its purpose is to provide “young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives” and help teen moms “become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families.”

Palin’s own daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant and has plans to wed.

Earlier today the Associated Press reported that Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, opposed funding to prevent teen pregnancies, a position that Palin also took as governor. “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,” she wrote in a 2006 questionnaire distributed among gubernatorial candidates.

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DNC Drew 40 Million People- Try to Top that GOP

Barack Obama’s audience for his acceptance speech likely topped 40 million people, and the Democratic gathering that nominated him was a more popular television event than any other political convention in history.

To give you a comparison of other highly rated shows.  More people watched Obama speak from a packed stadium in Denver on Thursday than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, the final “American Idol” or the Academy Awards this year, Nielsen Media Research said Friday. (Four playoff football games, including the Super Bowl between the Giants and Patriots, were seen by more than 40 million people.)

A little nostalgia look back when we were all hoping Kerry would beat Bush.  The amount of people who watched John Kerry accept the Democratic nomination to run against President Bush, was seen by a little more than 20 million people.  Bush’s acceptance speech to GOP delegates had 27.6 million viewers.

I have to disagree with MSM about the people that are still on the fence.  It looks to me like quite a few jumped off and picked Obama’s side.  Phoenix Woman over at Firedoglake.com took the words right out of my mouth.  “In this age of the fractured audience, of literally hundreds of TV channels spread over our broadcast, cable and satellite networks, it’s amazing to get that many people to watch one single thing. Yet it happened.

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Sarah Palin – Maverick for Mining Interests

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According to the Alaska TV news station KTUU where Gov. Palin “appeared occasionally as a television sportscaster,” Palin was so determined to defeat a Clean Water ballot measure this summer that she broke the law to oppose it:

 

It is against the law for the governor to officially advocate for or against a ballot measure; however, Palin took what she calls “personal privilege” to discuss one of this year’s most contentious initiatives, which voters will decide Tuesday.”

Along with taking a position on the big mine’s side, Palin’s administration apparently used state Department of Natural Resources resources to lobby for defeat of the Clean Water Initiative under the pretense of creating a state run website to “educate” citizens. The citizen group Alaskans for Clean Water responded by filing “a complaint against DNR for a recently-launched state website meant to clarify the issue for voters. “

The complaint alleges that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) improperly attempted to influence the outcome of an election by publishing information against the initiative on its website. It also alleges that DNR failed to report to APOC the expenditures, including employee time, related to creation of the information.

“It has become clear to us that the Department of Natural Resources is working hand-in-hand with the industry, and that the state is inappropriately making efforts to influence voters on this ballot initiative,” said Art Hackney, a co-sponsor of Ballot Measure #4.”

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Same old Same old

The Smirking Chimp has accompanied John Nirenberg to Nancy Pelosi’s office:

I had been to Nancy Pelosi’s office in the Cannon House Office Building before. In fact, I’d been there several times and usually had a pleasant stay, often very quick and efficient, other times prolonged by everyone’s enjoyment of the songs my friends in pink were singing, and as often as not resulting in new friendships with fine officers of the Capitol Police who accompanied us out. This time was going to be different.

Just a few of us went by there on Wednesday. No cameras. No songs. And no signs, since we’d already left those at the door with our Capitol Police friends, who continue to get the wrong impression about us. We walked in and said “Good afternoon,” which they apparently mistook for the voice of the Filipino Monkey saying “We are come to slaughter your children.”

It surely looks like citizens are the equivalent of midges to your Speaker. Shoo ‘em off! They might ask uncomfortable questions, too.

Read the rest of the story, here: