Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Businesses and Markets Brace for Obama Administration

With the presidential election just seven days away, the markets and businesses are preparing for an Obama Administration.

The Heritage Foundation, has calculated that in 2008 Congress enacted $332 billion of "emergency" supplemental spending bills, only half of which was for the Iraq war. And Democrats in Congress are preparing for $150 billion to $300 billion in new spending.

Small businesses, which create nearly 80% of the new jobs in the American economy, won’t fair well under Barack Obama’s proposal to send the bulk of their job-creating profits to Washington.

Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration has reported that since the mid-1990s, the small business sector has created 78.9% of the net new jobs in the United States. Sen. Obama is claiming his proposed tax hike on incomes over $250,000 will hardly stifle job creation in this key job-producing sector because "98% of small businesses make less than $250,000."

But Obama arrives at his 98% figure by lumping firms with no employees, the majority of small businesses, with small businesses that have 50 or 100 employees (SBA's Office of Advocacy reports that 52% of small businesses in the U.S. economy are home-based). Census data show that 79% of all American companies, counting both large and small firms, have no employees.

What-is-more the tax rate on the lion's share of small business income could reach 54.9% under a President Obama. The individual top rate will climb from 35% to 39.6% and the Social Security/Medicare tax rate could climb from 2.9% to 15.3%. Put those together and you get 54.9%.

But it’s not just small business or Wall Street that is worried, Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga said this past Sunday no date has been set for selling up to 45 percent more of the team to Stephen Ross, but the presidential election is among the issues weighing on his decision.
That's because a Barack Obama administration is expected to mean higher capital-gains taxes.

"He wants to double the capital gains tax, or almost double it," Huizenga said."Ross purchased 50 percent of the team and Dolphins Stadium for $550 million earlier this year with the intention he would eventually become majority owner if NFL owners approved the deal.
"If you do it this year or you do it next year, the difference is humongous because of the taxes," Huizenga said. (Regardless of when he sells, Huizenga vows to maintain a 5-percent stake in the team.)

The recent volatility in the markets has been due not only to the sub-prime meltdown and credit instability but also to the would-be punitive tax plan under an Obama administration.

Monday, October 27, 2008

If You Didn't Believe Ted Stevens, Don't Believe the Media Hype

From the moment Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens denied the allegations against him, I didn't believe him. And today, my reaction was validated both as accurate and knee-jerk.

So why the double validation?

First, since I begun writing on politics in the mid-1990's, there has been so many examples of politicians betraying the public trust, I simply don't even give them the benefit-off-the-doubt.

And why should I? Here's just a partial list:

Mark Foley
James Traficant
Bill Clinton
Gary Condit
John Edwards
Tim Mahoney
Vito J. Fossella
Eliot L. Spitzer
David Vitter
Larry Craig
Ted Stevens
Mike Nifong

But it doesn't stop with politicians, there have been a number of media scandals. Of the past few years, the most egregious were perpetrated by Jayson Blair and Dan Rather. Blair was found to have been making stories out-of-whole-cloth and Rather used forged documents in Memogate.

Sometimes, media bias and scandal is revealed by content or by favor (the NYT gave a sweetheart rate to Moveon.org for an ad). Other times, the media is caught in deception as Michelle Kosinski proved in a video report in Wayne, NJ on the Today Show (she was in a canoe paddling in supposed deep flood waters when two men walk by and reveal the water only to be inches deep).

Just days ago, the Pew Research Center released it's findings on Obama/McCain media coverage, and to no surprise, the democrat candidate faired far better than the republican. Thirty-six percent of the stories about Obama were positive, and thirty-five percent were neutral or mixed. While McCain negative stories were fifty-seven percent and a lowly fourteen percent were positive.

This is why I do not believe the media hype about a landslide Obama victory. As I have written before, the polls will tighten in these last days of the campaign and tighten they have. As of today, five national tracking polls show a close race:

IBD/TIPP--Obama 47, McCain 44
Obama +3

Diageo/Hotline--Obama 50, McCain 42
Obama +8

Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby--Obama 50, McCain 45
Obama +5

Gallup (Traditional)*--Obama 50, McCain 45
Obama +5

Rasmussen Reports--Obama 51, McCain 46
Obama +5

And with the finding of Obama's 2001 interview, in which he clearly promotes wealth redistribution, the polls will tighten further and might even swing to a McCain lead. We the public have been subjected before by the media hype and this surely won't be the last time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gaffe-O-Matic Joe

Here is a list of pratically every gaffe Joe Biden has made (since he was picked to be Obama's running mate, that is).

1. August 23rd
“A man I'm proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next President of the United States — Barack America!”

2. September 3rd
At a campaign stop in Fort Myers, Fla., Biden referred to the future "Biden Administration," which he quickly corrected to an "Obama-Biden Administration.”

Believe me, that wasn't a Freudian slip," Biden said. "Oh Lordy day, I tell ya.”

3. September 9th
"Stand up Chuck let me see you," Biden said to State Senator Chuck Graham, who is in a wheelchair. "Oh, God love you, what I am talking about. You're making everybody else stand up though, aren't you pal?”

4. September 10th
“Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States of America. Let's get that straight.

She's a truly close personal friend; she is qualified to be president of the United States of America. She's easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America and quite frankly it might have been a better pick than me, but she is first-rate.”

5. September 17th
At a campaign stop in Maumee, Ohio, Biden told an environmentalist that their campaign doesn't support clean coal. "We're not supporting clean coal.”

But they do. Obama said his administration will "enter into public private partnerships to develop five 'first-of-a-kind' commercial scale coal-fired plants with clean carbon capture and sequestration technology.”

6. September 21st
“I guarantee you, Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don’t buy that malarkey. They're going to start peddling that to you. I got two, if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he’s got a problem. I like that little over and under, you know? I'm not bad with it. So give me a break. Give me a break.”

Isn't it illegal to make a threat against a presidential nominee? Better call the Secret Service. Also, tell Barack that he should watch his back if elected

7. September 21st
Biden told the miners he is one of them. "Hope you won't hold it against me, but I am a hard coal miner — anthracite coal, Scranton, Pennsylvania, that's where I was born and raised."

Biden was born in Scranton, moved to Delaware at age 10 and has never had experience in the mines. His father worked in the oil business and ran a Delaware car dealership.

8. September 22nd
"When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed."

Herbert Hoover was president in October 1929 when the stock market crashed. FDR wasn't elected until 1932, and television made its debut a decade later, in 1939

9. September 22nd
When asked by CBS how he felt about an Obama campaign ad that made fun of John McCain's inability to use a computer, Biden replied that he thought it was "terrible”.

“I didn't know we did it," he said, adding that he wouldn't have approved the ad, but defended Obama's decision to approve it. "The answer is I don't think anything was intentional about that. They were trying to make another point."

10. September 29th
“If you want to know where Al Qaeda lives, you want to know where (Usama) bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are."

Senator John Kerry, however, set the record straight, telling the Associated Press that the helicopter was "forced down" by a snowstorm

11. September 29th
“The Yeshiva crew team sent a spy to Cambridge to find out why the Harvard rowers always beat them. The informant called his coach from alongside the river. He said, 'They've got eight guys rowing and only one yelling!'”

Isn't that a little anti-semitic?

12. October 2nd
(Vice Presidential Debate)
“We've spent less in Afghanistan in seven years than we spend in a month in Iraq."

According to the Congressional Research Service, spending on the war in Afghanistan since 2001 has been $172 Billion. Spending in Iraq is, as the Democrats repeatedly mention, a little under $10 Billion a month…Biden's number is off by 2000%

13. October 2nd
(Vice Presidential Debate, again)
“Vice President Cheney’s been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history. He has the idea he doesn’t realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the executive — he works in the executive branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.”

Article 1 of the Constitution defines the role of the legislative branch, not the executive branch.

14. October 2nd
(Vice Presidential Debate, once again)
When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said, and Barack said, ‘Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.”

Reuters news believes he meant to refer to Syria, but I still don't think it would be accurate to say the U.S. kicked Syria out of Lebanon. The Lebanese kicked Syria out of Lebanon.

15. October 2nd
(Vice Presidential Debate, yes again)
“With regard to arms control and weapons, nuclear weapons require a nuclear arms control regime. John McCain voted against a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty that every Republican has supported."

When the roll was finally called on October 13, the resolution to ratify the CTBT (including the six safeguards that Daschle had submitted as an amendment) was defeated by a 51-48 vote with one abstention...do the math.

16. October 2nd
(Vice Presidential Debate, okay this is becoming redundant)
"Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. Pakistan already has deployed nuclear weapons. Pakistan's weapons can already hit Israel and the Mediterranean."

The distance between Israel and Pakistan is 2,085 miles, or 3355 kilometers and the longest range missile the Pakistani’s posses has a range of 3000 kilometers.

17. October 15th
“Look, John's [McCain] last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word; jobs. J-O-B-S."
18. October 19th
“It will not be six months [after the inauguration] before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy…And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you - not financially to help him - we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

14 Day Election Countdown -- Politicking Strategies

So being that the general election is only 14 days away, the republican, democrat campaigns and the media are all strategizing to win.

On the democrat side, Michelle Obama and (perhaps Joe Biden) have been sequestered because of their inability to wisely choose their words. (One of Biden's latest gaffes was a McCain slam gone awry, "Look, John's [McCain] last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word; jobs. J-O-B-S.")

Both McCain and Obama have staked the economy as the centerpiece of the campaign, which practically every pundit has given the advantage to Obama. And McCain has suffered because national security and foreign policy have been off-the-radar.

But two instances have put Obama on defense on both the economy and national security/foreign policy first was Obama's fumbled answer posed to "Joe the Plumber"; second was Joe Biden's unscripted insertion of national security with his remarks about Obama being tested within the first six-months of their administration. As a result, the polls will tighten and shift toward the republican nominee.

According to Dick Morris, Obama may have picked too soon and most astute political observers would have to conclude or conceed that the Illinios Senator is losing ground in the polls and not because of anything McCain has done in-particular -- as with most of these historical phenominoms, the damage has been self-inflicted (e.g. Dukakis' tank ride, George H.W.Bush's "read my lips, no new taxes", Dole's senate resignation, Al Gore's three distinct debate personalities, Howard Dean's scream-heard-round-the-world, Kerry's "I voted for it before I voted against it".

"I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody" and "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama...watch, we're gonna have an international crisis..." these two qoutes have turned the campaign-focus to where Obama is weakest.

What-is-more is that GOP leaners have learned from 2000 and 2004 wherein both elections were close and allegations of voter fraud, mishandled counting and the like. So this year, they are being proactive in putting the so-called voter registration organizations (particularly ACORN) on defense. And now, with the revelation that ACORN has registered Mickey Mouse to vote, the public will be suspicious of Obama's past and present associations.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media is also strategizing for themselves and for the democrat nominee as media bias is now as transparent as could be possible, without being honest. It is plain to see that the network newscasts are and have been favoring Obama.

No matter, every year the mainstream press features stories about the coming dismal retail sales and every year, sales are higher than forecast. And every presidential election, the mainstream press predicts a race too-close-to-call...well, they've been right at least once.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Tale of Voter Fraud, Money, Polls and a Plumber

ACORN voter fraud investigations are underway in Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, PA, North Carolina, Connecticut. One Ohio youth registered 72 times. And Ohio's Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, is fighting to keep from verifying thousands of voter's eligibility.

Every presidential election encounters voter fraud, but this year is incredible in that the fraud is right out-in-the-open. And the American people are well served to have the FBI investigating these allegations.

Politically what is striking about this (outside the blatant illegality) is that with all of this intended to help Obama, is the fact it is diametrically opposed to the in-the-bag predictions Obama's supporters are espousing.

Karl Rove's analysis puts Obama's spending 3 to 1 over McCain, yet today's Gallup tracking poll among likely, traditional voters has McCain within just two points and the latest Investor's Business Daily IPP poll which called the 2004 presidential race within .04%, also has McCain within three points and both polls are within the margin of error. Moreover, an AP/Yahoo poll* that weighted 873 democrats against 650 republicans shows a two-point difference, with Obama at 44% and McCain at 42%.

What's more is that Obama has purchase costly air-time in late October and has ads running non-stop, plus, he's spending money in states he shouldn't really have-to -- meaning that the campaign coffers are quite large.

So, as often cited in this blog, something had to occur to move the polls in this direction as polls don't just move without reason. Perhaps the debate moved the poll numbers but that isn't seeing the forest-for-the-trees. What's moved the numbers in a McCain favorable direction is one man's words.

And it isn't the words of either of the candidates; it was a man now known as "Joe the Plumber". Now a national figure, this (pun-inescapable) average joe, this joe-six-pack has put the presidential race into a simple issue: taxes.

What may go down in election history is the now famous exchange between the plumber and the democrat nominee when Joe asked Senator Obama, "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" Obama answered the question with a redistribution qualifier at the end of his reply, "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

This has lit a fire under the McCain campaign and put Barack in an awkward position, having to redefine his statement so not to include the dreaded "s" word: socialism. And the mainstream media has been on a quest to disqualify the plumber.

Obama may have committed a faux pas that defines him going forward into the last three weeks of the election. What's more is John McCain has found a way to diffuse Obama's repeated attempt to lump the maverick with George W. Bush by introducing the last debate the humorous
fact, “Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you want to run again President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

Coupled with McCain's new focus and talking points, he may well prove the conventional wisdom wrong.

*Interview dates: October 3, 2008 – October 13, 2008Interviews: 1,769 adults; 1,528 registered voters873 Democrats; 650 Republicans Sampling margin of error for a 50% statistic with 95%confidence is: ±2.3 for all adults; ±2.5 for registered voters±3.3 for Democrats; ±3.8 for Republicans

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Dud Debate

Last night's debate was a snoozer; period.

McCain looked as though he was just thawed out, programed with voice-recognition software and put on stage. Obama came across as arrogant at times and the majority of his remarks either made little sense or were peppered with euphemisms for "big brother government".

But niether candidate made a news-worthy gaffe or botched an answer or got in a knee-slapping zinger.

What this means is the race still remains just as it was yesterday before the debate: close.

Today's national tracking polls among likey voters are beginning to show signs of turning back to McCain, but this assertion requires another two days of the same tracking. And by that accepted standard, would effect a trend. Last night's debate will not have a full three day effect because (by comparison to the veep debate) no one watched the damn thing.

And with viewership as low as this debate garnered, the polls are highly unlikely to show significant swings. So with the polls starting to shift, and without a big bang to point to, the explanation must lie elsewhere.

Rush Limbaugh on his radio program today made a point to note that Obama has never put-up a fight in a tight race and won. "He can't close the deal" the radio talk show host observed. Even the primaries put on display the Illinois Senator's weakness: practically all media had declared Hillary down-and-out and then, like Rocky Balboa, she got up and fought back. Mrs. Clinton won state after state and put to-the-test the democrat primary system.

But as pointed out in this very blog, the fix was in from the get-go as the beltway dems, the far-left activist 527's, the DNC, democrat pundits and sympothetic media had enough of the Clinton reign.

Yet even with that massive support group Obama could not stop Hillary from capturing the most important primaries. His nomination came not of his own integrity and valition, but by the grace of the superdelegates.

So what would explain the stagnating poll numbers?

As William of Ockham would conclude, the simplest explaination tends to be the correct one. And that is: Obama is still a relative unknown and what is becoming known isn't so appealing to the man-on-the-street. And with Labor Day now five weeks behind, the voting public are paying day-to-day attention (probably because they have little choice given the onslaught of 24/7 meida and campaign politicking both by the parties).

McCain will also suffer from more media attention because of his lack of charisma and frankly, because of his age. But McCain has an advantage: he is a statesman whereas Obama is an upstart.

Moreover, though some of McCain's associates might be lobbyists, none have bombed the Pentagon, none have preached America a racist country, and probably none have been convicted of fraud, attempted bribery and money laundering charges.

Further, with negative ads characterizing Obama as a typical tax-and-spend liberal coupled with the his own gaffes, and those of his running mate, Joe Biden, the voting public are forming their opinions.

The polls are begining to reflect that as Obama's past associations, public statements and voting record become more known the harder it will be to explain away.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Veep Critique and the Latest (Stacked) Polls

Last night's vice-presidential debate was a big television draw, garnering more viewers than the lack-luster presidential between Obama and McCain...congratulations to Sarah Palin and Joe Biden for delivering solid and interesting performances.

Governor Palin shined brightly and spoke directly to the American people, connecting through the airwaves straight into "Joe six-pack's" living room. Senator Biden was astute and showed the priming of a well-seasoned politician.

Both managed their time and answers well, but in the end, Palin scored on style with plenty of substance to reignite the McCain campaign and score political amnesty from the Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric "gotcha" interviews. Gwen Ifill moderated well enough, and wasn't overtly biased.

Yet even with Sarah Palin's stellar performance, the national tracking polls still show an Obama lead. (Remember a rule of polling is that something has to occur to move the polls.) Perhaps the polling is still reflective of the bailout debacle, but with the Senate passing the bill yesterday and the House just passing it this afternoon, Wall Street is reacting, and so should the polls.

In examining today's tracking polls, the forecast until the week of October 27th is an Obama lead. And the reason for this conclusion is simple: the weighting samples are stacked with democrats and 2004 independent leaning Kerry voters.

And so it is for nearly every tracking poll, whether state-by-state or national, the pollsters are stacking their samples with a greater percentage of likely-voter democrats than republicans and then releasing their numbers that reflect an Obama lead...just as was done in the last two presidential elections.

This should come as no surprise with the blantant bias the media personalities have exhibited, from Katie Couric's interview and hack-editing of Sarah Palin, to Charlie Gibson's pomposity, to Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman's demotions for unbridled partisan editorializing.

The fix is in and the mainstream media is in the tank for the Illinois Senator but they'll maintain their facade of objectivity, at least until November 5th.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

3 for 1: The Veep Debate Bias; Bail-Out Boondoggle; What the Polls Mean

1) The Veep Debate Bias

If you've not yet heard, Thursday night's vice presidential debate is going to be moderated not only by a PBS correspondent, but one who has written a pro-Obama book due to be released on inauguration day.

Gwen Ifill, a managing editor and moderator for PBS's Washington Week and a senior correspondent for the network's News Hour has been accused of bias when moderating the Edwards' / Cheney 2004 veep debate.

PBS is notorious for it's hard-left bias and the news personality own instances of subtle bias are cause for republican pundits to cry fowl, but these indicators aside, would the mainstream media be so ambivalent if the moderator had written a pro-McCain book?

There's little here to analyze beyond the obvious and Palin should not expect any favors.

2) Bail Out Boondoggle

It's a bad deal now and there's little or no hope that it will get any better.

As the senate prepares to take-up a vote on a hybrid bipartisan pet-project goodie-bag, those that brought us to this economic impass are telling the American public they have the propriety to fix it.

It should be no secret that it was overwhelmingly democrats that pressured Fannie and Freddie to grant loans to those who would not otherwise qualify for one. Likewise, it's blantant that in holding the majority of the House (and the Senate) that the House Speaker was rendered ineffective by her own incompetence. Had the democrat majority wanted to pass a bill, they could have with very little republican support.

But since this has become a political timebomb, neither party wants to handle it for fear it might detonate in their hands. And with the election under 35 days away, each party is looking to score political points. So, cooler heads won't be able to prevail and the American people are going to be left holding the bag while each party asks them to vote with the other.

Because of the fever-pitch this crisis has reached during an election, there's really no point to delineate a better mousetrap fix.

3) What the Polls Mean

Now that the first presidential debate has been held and the nation's attention is turned to an economic crisis, the polls (finally) reflect a clear Obama lead.

Time to celebrate at Camp Obama?


Under the current circumstances, Barack ought to be up, but by more than he is now.

The Illinois Senator has demostrated in the primaries that he has trouble closing and not much has changed. With a huge domestic issue on his side, the democrat nominee should be up by 10 to 12 points and after the second debate, if he isn't up by that much, the last leg of the race is going to be the longest and hardest.

Senator Obama needs to get a grip on the voter's pulse and get a grip on what is really going on at his job. If he can manage to do those two things, he'll be able to frame the rest of the race. But if he stays on his current path, he may be doing John McCain a huge favor.