Tuesday, December 23, 2008

HUGE Bears Win!

I was charged up last night after the game. The Bears played a horrible first half and were down 14-3. They were totally dominated and things looked bleak. The second half the Bears made it happen. They got a key turnover at the start of the third quarter that led to a TD and then they let Forte carry them to the game-tying TD.

That final drive in regulation to tie the game was a vintage December drive at Soldier Field. Orton had a tough night and had just thrown an interception on the previous drive. The Bears got the ball at midfield and let Forte and the O-line just do the work. I think Orton had one 4 yard pass on the drive.

The Pack got into field goal range and were lined up to kick a 38-yard field goal, but Alex Brown blocked it. He saved the Bears last night, and he was also the one who saved the Bears against the Eagles on their goal line stand. Those two plays may be what gets them into the playoffs.

The Bears won the toss and drove the ball down for the winning field goal on their first drive. It was a great game for Bears fans.

The Bears go to Houston next week and still have a chance. They need some help, but at least we are in it on the final weekend.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Been A While

I took a break from blogging after the election because I had a ton of stuff going on. I have had a number of works that are in the process of being published and some papers I have been working on with my Ph.D. students.

The whole bailout mess has kept me busy also.

I am going to try to work my way back into a regular blogging routine because things are calming down a bit, but with the holidays it will likely be tough.

Two thoughts:

1. We need to kill all these bailouts and let the market sort through the mess. The government is wasting our money and our children's money propping up failing private firms.

2. The Chicago Bears need to win out and hope the Vikings stumble in their final two games. Not likely, but hopefully on Monday night when the Bears play the Packers there will still be a chance at the playoffs.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chicago Bears Thoughts

At 5-4, the Bears find themselves leading the North by tiebreaker over the Vikings. They let a couple of games get away from them - most notably Atlanta - but, I like where the team is right now.

Forte looks great. Orton has been great. Frankly, the offense has looked good most of the year. Rex played well in relief of Orton two weeks ago. Against Tennessee he was adequate, but missed on a couple of easy throws. I love Rex and think he can play in the NFL, but the Bears fans just won't give him a chance. It is sad how much they have turned on the guy. He will probably get the start in Green Bay and I hope he just plays ball the way he can play when he is loose and confident.

On D, the Bears are playing well, but not great. They don't have any kind of pass rush and they are getting picked apart week after week as a result. I am still no fan of Babich and have to say that they just don't look well prepared. They also cannot seem to make adjustments mid-game. This past week they made Kerry Collins look like an All-Pro.

Special Teams have also been mostly a disappointment. Brad Maynard cannot seem to punt longer than 40 yards, Robbie Gould had a kick blocked this last week, and Devin Hester has looked ordinary to above average. I think the extra time at receiver is taking some of his explosiveness and speed away. I'd like to see them cut down some of his receiving reps and focus on returns. When Brandon Lloyd returns from injury this may be possible.

Still, the team is in the driver's seat right now. That is where they want to be after 9 weeks.

1 Week Later Thoughts

The election is history and we are in the holding pattern before President-Elect Obama becomes our 44th President. Here are a few thoughts now that a week has passed.

1. Obama has taken a serious, sober position about the economic realities of the country. I like that he has not injected himself into the mess and is holding true to his statement that there is only one President at a time.

2. I like the choice of Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff. The guy is partisan, but he has Republican friends. He is tough, smart, and a great organizer/manager - just the qualities you want in a Chief of Staff. I think the Republicans who criticized the choice made a huge mistake in an effort to again win some political points. Emanuel is not going to legislate and he is not the decision-maker. He has to run the operations of the White House. So what if he is partisan?

3. Obama's statement about LIEberman yesterday was impressive. Certainly at a minimum it was politically astute to try to mend fences and appear above the fray. However, I think it was more than that. It showed in a very clear way that Obama is a better man than LIEberman. LIEberman should be ashamed of the B.S. he pulled on Obama. It is one thing to support a friend like McCain. It is another to say the things he said about Obama, while at the same time showering praise on Palin.

4. The Republican Party - this is probably the most interesting political issue. There is a real split between the white evangelical social conservatives and the traditionally rich and powerful fiscal conservatives. How they bridge the divide and establish a renewed Party of ideas will be fascinating to watch. The wealthy fiscal conservatives hate Palin - but the social conservatives love her. She is too polarizing a figure to emerge as the national leader. However, another governor may come forward and bridge the gap. Who that is will be something to see.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama's Victory/Acceptance Speech from Chicago

A New Dawn for America

It is a truly remarkable day in the U.S. and around the world. Barack Obama was elected in a landslide victory. The very fact that he was elected President and the leader of the free world demonstrates the greatness of America. He is not an elite or part of American aristocracy. He is a common man who struggled through a challenging childhood to rise up. His campaign was supported by everyday Americans - not lobby money - and he is truly one of us. His story and how he ascended to power is a uniquely American story.

Change is coming to America. For the first time in many years, we have a President who wants to really bring the country together and unite us. Bush's eight years in office have been dominated by Rovian politics which divided the nation and used wedge issues to win elections. Obama will be a President for all Americans. We also have a President who will ask Americans to sacrifice and to work to make this great nation even greater. We all love this country, but for the past eight years Americans have basically been told to sit back and let the President do whatever the Hell he wanted. This will change.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

IT'S OVER!!!

Ohio was just called for Obama. There is no state tha McCain is going to turn Red that will make up for that loss.

New Mexico has also flipped. Iowa, Nevada, and Colorado will all flip to Blue states from 2004. It is also looking great right now in Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.

This is going to be a huge Obama victory. It is just a matter of time.

ELECTION DAY IS HERE!!!

Finally! After all of the campaigning, commercials, speeches, and debates it is just hours from being over.

There has been a bit of tightening in some state polls, but the national polls show that Obama will win by a wide margin in the national popular vote. There is no question in my mind that Obama will be elected. The only question is by how much. I think the two key numbers are 320 and 52 percent. If Obama breaks 52 percent in the national popular vote and breaks 320 electoral college votes I would consider that a landslide.

My final predictions are that Obama will get about 360 electoral college votes to McCain's 178. I believe Obama wil hit 52 percent to McCain's 45 percent in the popular vote.

The Dems will gain 8 Senate seats and at least 25 House seats. It will be a clear mandate for change. Let's see what happens.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Faux News In-fighting

Some of the Faux News folks are calling out others on Faux that are distorting Obama's record. Dare I say it, Faux is trying to become legitimate?

Sarah Palin Prank Call with 'Nicolas Sarkozy' - Hilarious!

Palin is an idiot. I love the part at the end where "Sarkozy" says he liked the documentary "Nailin' Palin", and she says thanks. Nailin' Palin is a porno that stars a woman who looks somewhat like Palin.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bears Survive

After crushing the Lions a couple of weeks ago, you would think playing the Lions at home after a bye would be an easy time. It wasn't. Kyle Orton went down with a high ankle sprain at the end of the first half and the Bears losing 23-13. The second half, the Bears D decided to show up and held the Lions scoreless. Rex was back and made enough plays to go along with a great second half by Matt Forte to win.

It was nice to see Rex shake off the rust and get a TD pass and the winning TD run. He threw an interception that was tipped at the line and picked off by a lineman. It was a questionable catch, but it happens.

Looks like Rex will be in for a month and the Bears have some big games coming up. They get Tennessee at home next week - that should be a great game. Then they go on the road to Green Bay, St. Louis, and Minnesota. Probably their toughest 4 game stretch of the season. Tough break for Kyle - but Rex is the Man for now.

Tough Loss for Cavs

The Cavs lost a game they should have put away. The offense was solid and the D was great for about 55 minutes. They should have beat Miami. Two missed field goals and a late 95-yard drive by Miami tied the game. Miami scored a TD in overtime and the first offensive play for the Cavs ended with an 11 yard gain by Cedric Peerman that ended with a fumble. Tough loss.

At 5-4 the Cavs still are in good shape for a shot at the ACC Crown. They have to win out against Wake, Clemson, and VT - no easy task. I doubt Miami will win out against VT, Georgia Tech, and NC State. The Coastal division is still up in the air. Win and they are probably in. One more loss probably ends it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Don't Let Up

Good advice, but I seriously doubt Obama supporters are going to drop the ball at this point.

Ron Rivera in as DC of Chargers

The Chargers got smart and now have a chance to save their season. They fired Ted Cottrell as Defensive Coordinator and put in Ron Rivera.

The Chargers have been great on offense, but terrible on D this year and much of last year. Last year they got by on super talent, this year with their defensive injuries - most notably to Merriman - they have been atrocious on D.

Rivera is a solid coordinator and it appears that Lovie was wrong to replace him in Chicago with Bob Babich. I wish him well in San Diego and hope the Chargers can still make some noise. They are only one game out in the division race and they have a bye week to allow Rivera to put his system in. I believe the Chargers will be a completely different team on D the last nine games. I fully expect them to win the AFC West.

The New Senate

I didn't think it was possible, but I am beginning to believe the Dems may get to 60 votes in the Senate - this would give them a filibuster-proof majority.

Right now it is 51-49 in favor of the Dems (this includes LIEberman and Bernie Sanders who are both independents, but who caucus with the Dems).

The Dems are not at risk of losing any seats in the Senate right now, and at a mininum the Dems will pick up Senate seats in the the following:

Virginia
New Hampshire
North Carolina
New Mexico
Oregon
Colorado

This puts the Dems at 57.

With Senator Stevens' conviction on 7 felonies this week, Alaska will now go to the Dems. I am convinced that Al Franken will take Minnesota.

This puts the Dems at 59.

To get to the magic number of 60, the Dems need to win one of the following toss-up races - Kentucky, Georgia, or Mississippi. It looks to me like Mississippi and Kentucky will stay in Republican hands. But Republican Senator Saxby Chamblis in Georgia is now really in trouble. I am starting to believe that a Dem wave of voters in Georgia will push him out. For anyone who followed the 2002 race that Chambliss ran, you know that he ran a dishonorable campaign against triple amputee Max Cleland in which he ran images of Cleland with Osama bin Laden and accused Cleland of cozying up to terrorists. It was a horrible campaign of distortions and lies that politicized the War on Terror and the looming Iraq invasion. Chambliss deserves to lose for that reason alone and I hope it happens.

If I had to bet my house, I would bet the Dems pick up 8 seats, but my hope is that they pick up 9 with a loss by Chambliss.

Pollster has a good listing of the Senate races.

6 Days Left

Obama will be elected. It won't really be close. In the national popular election, I think he will win by about 6 percent. So with 140 million voters, we will see a margin of about 8.4 million votes. The key number to watch is whether he goes over 50 percent in the popular vote. Since FDR, among Dems, only Lyndon Johnson (60% in his landslide win over Goldwater) and Jimmy Carter (50.1% over Ford) have crossed the 50% plateau.

Clinton would not have won in 1992 had Perot not been in the race. Clinton got 43 percent in 1992 (over Bush), and 49.3 percent in 1996 (over Dole). I think Obama will go just over 51 percent and it will be a remarkably broad win.

In terms of the Electoral College, Obama will win 375-163. I think the current RCP map looks about right.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Palin is a "Whack Job"

So says a McCain staff member.

NFL Stats

After 8 weeks:

DEFENSE:

Bears - #13 scoring defense (21.4 pts/game), #18 defense in terms of yardage/game (329 yds/game). Ranked #6 in rushing defense (86 yards/game).

Redskins - #8 scoring defense (18.1 pts/game), #6 defense in terms of yardage/game (278 yds/game). Ranked #5 in rushing defense (83 yds/game).

OFFENSE:

Bears - #2 scoring 0ffense (28.0 pts/game), #14 offense in terms of yardage/game (336 yds/game). Ranked #17 in rushing offense (109 yards/game).

Redskins - #24 scoring offense (20.6 pts/game), #7 offense in terms of yardage/game (364 yds/game). Ranked #2 in rushing offense (155 yds/game).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Barack on Bush-McCain Economics

Plain truth works.

Anchorage Daily News Endorses Obama

Alaska's top newspaper endorsed Obama over McCain.

Look, the fact is that McCain is old and has had 4 bouts with cancer. Based on simple actuarial odds, there is a good chance he would not live through his first term in office. That means that we would be looking at having President Palin - a person we know very little about - but who has demonstrated time and again is not a serious intellectual heavyweight.

Alaska's leading newspaper knows her and still decided to go with Obama - one of the main reasons they cite for not endorsing McCain is that the edititors don't think Palin is ready.

Virginia Cavalier Football

I had a friend from UVA who called for Al Groh's head after the Duke loss earlier this year. He was not a fan of Groh to begin with, but the Duke loss threw him over the edge. I told him to be patient, this was a young team and the Duke game was redshirt sophomore Mark Verica's first start at QB after Peter Lalich was booted from the team.

Since that loss, UVA has won four in a row, including two great wins the last two weeks against nationally-ranked North Carolina and on the road at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

As improbable as it seemed a few weeks ago - even I had some doubts - UVA finds itself in sole possession of fist place in the ACC's Coastal Division. The Miami Hurricanes are coming to Charlottesville on Saturday having won 3 in a row. That should be a great matchup.

Let me say this - I love this UVA team. It is a team that plays extremely hard and finds ways to win in the fourth quarter. There is a very good mix of experience and youth and the talent level is solid. There are clearly some big-time players who will be playing on Sundays in coming years - Monroe, Sintim, Peerman, Phillips, Dowling. But what I like about the team is that they are truly a team. When the doubters came out, the team rallied around its coach and around its new starting QB and they have fought.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Peter Schiff on 2008.10.23 about the dollar and gold

This is exactly what I believe. Whether you agree or not, I suggest you take some protective measures to hedge against the falling dollar.

Palin Brings Bad Luck

We know what she has done to McCain's chances of becoming President, but her effect on NHL teams is also not so great.

She dropped the puck for the Flyers on their opening night. They lost that game and the next five more.

Last night she dropped the puck for the Blues who subsequently lost. Worse still, they lost their goalie to a freak injury caused by the carpet that was rolled out to let Palin drop the puck.

Knowing how superstitious athletes are, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see her dropping any many more pucks.

Intrade Prodiction Markets

One of the more fascinating ways to track the presidential race is through the Intrade Prediction Market bets. Essentially, "traders" can purchase options for real money on the outcomes of elections.

Where is the money going with respect to Obama and McCain - by far it is going to Obama. Basically, according to Intrade there is almost a 90 percent chance that Obama will win.

Historically, Intrade has been extremely accurate in predicting the outcome of elections. The last two campaigns, Intrade got the state-by-state predictions absolutely correct on the day before the election. It is very, very accurate.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Note About Polls

Look, the only poll that counts is on election day. That said, Obama has moved up dramatically in recent weeks and is now up big in the polls.

If you look at the poll of polls at RCP, you can see that Obama is up more than 7 points, but the range of Obama's lead is from 14 points to 1 point.

If you look at the IBD/TIPP poll that puts the race at 1 percent, you can see that there is something really wrong with the poll. According to that poll, McCain is leading 74%-22% over Obama among voters between the ages of 18 and 24. WTF!!! McCain leads Obama 46%-40% among 65+ voters in that same poll. So we are supposed to believe - contrary to every other poll, and simple reality - that young people love McCain more than any other age group. Yeah right! That figure should be enough to disqualify the poll.

Visit to Wasilla

Want to know what Wasilla is like? Here is a funny take on it.

McCain Conceding Colorado

As I have been saying, it is over. There is a new Big Ten Battleground Poll of midwest states that shows that Obama is up by double digits in every state from Pennsylvania to Minnesota and Iowa.

The only question now is by how much Obama will win. The size of the landslide will have a major impact on down ballot candidates. The RNC is pulling its ads in Colorado. They are seeing the same polls as everyone else and want to build their bunker somewhere else.

What this means is that Obama should easily win Colorado and Republican Rep. Marylin Musgrave is now on her own. Musgrave is a major opponent of gay marriage and a real social conservative. The GOP move likely will end with her being voted out.

Crazy Michele "Obama has anti-American views" Bachmann is on the outs with the national Republican Party - they have pulled all money from her. In fact, the GOP is pulling ads all over the country - it is looking great for the Dems.

Foreclosure Rate Rising

The foreclosure rate rose by 71 percent over the last quarter when compared to the third quarter of 2007. In the third quater, 766,000 homes were sent foreclosure proceedings notices.

This is a huge jump, but to understand the numbers you have to look at context. There are more than 128 million homes in the U.S.

I have seen differing numbers but about 40 percent of homes in the U.S. are owned free and clear of any mortgages. This means that about 51 millions homes are not at any risk of any foreclosure. So there are 77 million homes that could possibly be foreclosed upon. The 766,000 homes that were sent notices are 1 percent of the possible homes.

The foreclosure problem is real and a lot of people will be hurt by it. However, people need to get a grip. The overwhelming majority of homes are safe and for those who have loans the payments are being made. If the foreclosure rate continues to rise and somehow we get to 5 million homes being foreclosed, we would still be under 4 percent of all U.S. homes. In other words, 96 percent would be sound.

Latest Polls/Electoral College Projections

I am pretty certain that the revelation that the RNC has spent $150,000 making Palin look like a model for the last 6 weeks will cut right into the base. It flies in the face of the whole, "Look at me, I am a blue collar hockey mom" nonsense they have been trying to push.

The poll numbers are worsening for McCain every day. Today's daily Zogby poll (my own personal favorite) has Obama up nationally by 12 points. But the RCP average (i.e., the average of a bunch of polls) has Obama up by more than 7 points.

But it is the Electoral College (EC) results that really matter. Looking at the numbers, it is even worse for McCain. It now stands at 306-160 Obama, with 72 toss ups. But, most of the toss-up states are going Obama's way, so the projections are for a 364-164 Obama win.

It is a growing landslide. If I were McCain, I would quit with the negative campaigning and try to redeem some sense of dignity. He needs to fight hard in districts and states where there are vulnerable Republican House and Senate members - but he needs to quit with the robocalls and Joe the Plumber nonsense. Get off of the ACORN B.S. and the "Obama is a Socialist." McCain needs to appeal to his base through a vision of what it means to be conservative - not leveling baseless charges about what is wrong with Obama.

It is all but over, now McCain needs to start repairing his image.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

McCain's Floundering Follies

I do not get the whole "Joe the Plumber" theme that McCain is trying to push. Joe the Plumber was a fraud and the evidence is clear that Obama's tax plan helps him far more than McCain's. McCain keeps pushing this out, but it has not gained traction at all. I think it is to the point where he has nothing better to push so he is trying to make the Joe the Plumber lies stick. It is ridiculous.

In the final days, it appears that McCain is trying to connect with everyday folks and trying to stand up and say that Obama is somehow a crazy socialist. Let's look at these two things.

1. First the effort to link to the common man. McCain cannot remember how many houses he has, his top economic advisor thinks people are just whining, and the RNC just spent $150,000 making Hockey Mom Palin into Caribou Barbie so that she would look better over the last 6 weeks. McCain's folks are accusing everyday Americans of being anti-American or not living in "real America" or the "pro-America" parts of the country. It makes no sense and it looks desperate.

2. Obama is a socialist nonsense. I don't understand this at all. McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts (not just once but twice) because he believed they were geared to disproportionately help the rich. Was he a socialist back then? The current U.S. president - who is a Republican - has nationalized half the mortgages in the country, it nationalized the largest insurance company in the world, and it is in the process of nationalizing the largest banks. McCain supported the plan - is he a socialist?

At least it looks like McCain is starting to drop the ACORN nonsense. First, no one knows who or what ACORN is. But second, and perhaps more important, you can go to YouTube and easily find McCain giving a keynote speech to ACORN in which he clearly fully supports the organization. This was just in 2006 when McCain was pushing for comprehensive immigration reform.

Palin is Caribou Barbie!

Quoting from an article in Politico today:

"The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin . . . The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September . . . The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August."

The woman is a manufactured candidate that McCain is trying to spruce up and package as qualified. This is just more evidence that she is a marketing product and not a serious candidate.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Does the VP Do?

Palin is an idiot as evidenced by the video link I just posted. But what are the duties of the VP as described in the Constitution?

Article I, Section 3:
"The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided."

Article II, Section 1:
"In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected."

The 20th and 25th Amendment deal with succession issues, but that is about it.

So the VP is basically around to take the place of the President if necessary and to break voting ties in the Senate should one occur. THAT'S IT!!!

McCain on Western PA: WTAE-NBC-PA 10/21/08

Jeez, the guy is losing it. If he actually were to win and could not finish his term, he would leave us with President Palin.

Sarah Palin: VP Is 'In Charge Of United States Senate'

THIS LADY IS AN IDIOT. She needs to pick up a copy of the Constitution. The VP is not in charge of the Senate.

Obama's Tax Plan

McCain is constantly lying about Obama's tax plan. You can see read it for yourself at his website - it has been up for months.

The essence of the plan is easy to understand - he will not raise any taxes (income, payroll, capital gains, etc.) on anyone making $200,000 or less, or on any two-earner families making $250,000 or less.

The median household income in the U.S. is just over $46,000. To be in the top 5 percent of the country, you have to have at least $177,000 in household income.

Clearly most Americans will not see their taxes increase one dime under President Obama. In fact, when you look at the various targeted tax cuts and credits that President Obama will offer, the majority of Americans will greatly benefit under Obama.

If you are a small business, you won't see any change in taxes unless you have a profit greater than $250,000. THIS IS NOT REVENEUES - THIS IS PROFIT. To earn a profit of $250,000 you will likely need to have revenues of at least $3 million (i.e., profit margin of 8.3% which is high but a good estimate). More than 95 percent of all businesses in the U.S. don't come anywhere close to this - so there is no real added tax burden on American small businesses.

But let us assume that you make $400,000 in family income - how much more will you pay under Obama's plan? The only difference is that the maximum tax rate today is 35 percent and the maximum tax bracket under Obama's plan is 39.6 percent. The 4.6% increase on income above $250,000 would be the only difference between McCain and Obama's plan. Not considering any credits or tax breaks, this household would pay $6900 more in tax under Obama's plan. I think someone making $400,000 can get by without any difficulty.

I am in the top 5 percent of income - I don't have an objection. I would rather pay than borrow any more money from foreign governments that my children and grandchildren will have to pay back.

Bachmann Wants McCarthy-Like Witch Hunt For Anti-Americans

This Congresswoman is a right wing nut. She was going to cruise to re-election before she accused Barack Obama, liberal Dems, and liberals in general of being anti-American.

Money is now pouring in to her opponent and the DNC is going to start pouring money in to defeat her. She is a fascist who is the very embodiement of someone who is anti-American.

McCain Gets Erratic When Called Out on Robocall Hypocrisy

Desperation - and when Fox News calls a Republican on being sleazy, you know something is really wrong.

Building on Last Post

To me, the fact that McCain and Palin are fighting in states that have favored Republicans in recent years indicates the trouble they are in. But, they are doing this to try to limit losses in the House and Senate.

There is no question that Dems will gain significant numbers of seats in both the House and Senate.

In the House, I would suspect we will see between 16-25 seats move to Dems. But the House operates on majority rules, and with the House safely in Dem hands any gains are gravy.

It is the Senate that has historically blocked legislation. You need a 60-vote majority to get things done in the Senate. The 60 votes are needed to end any fillibusters that can block legislation. A single senator can stop legislation if there aren't 60 senators who are willing to oppose him/her. Right now, the Senate is 51-49 for the Dems - but Republicans can, and often do, block legislation. To get 9 more seats for Dems would be remarkable and probably will not happen. No incumbent Dems will lose their seats, however, here are the seats that will turn over (they are virtually locks for Dems):

Warner - VA
Udall - NM
Udall - CO
Shaheen - NH
Merkley - OR

These seats should turn over:
Franken - MN (Al Franken)
Hagan - NC (over Bob Dole's wife)
Begich - AK (over the soon to be convicted Senator Stevens of "Bridge to Nowhere" fame)

It will be a really bad night if Dems get these wins:
Lunsford - KY (over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell)
Martin - GA
Noriega - TX

Of these, I am going to predict that the Dems will pick up 7 seats, but I would not be surprised if it ends up being 9. Two weeks ago, I thought it would be 4-5 seats.

One final note, for political junkies, I recommend the following sites:

realclearpolitics.com
fivethirtyeight.com
www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball

2 Weeks Out - Thoughts about Election

Let me say first - I believe the race is over. Obama will be the President-Elect on November 5. McCain has blown his chances by continuously lurching from one attack to another and by shifting positions and being erratic on the economic challenges facing the nation.

Obama has been steady and his campaign has been remarkably consistent with its messaging and overall strategy - from the primaries through the general election.

Obviously there are still 2 weeks and something can always happen, but right now it seems to me that the only question is how big the victory will be. I think it will end up a 5-point victory in the national popular vote. That does not sound like a
lot, but there will be 150 million voters and 5 percent comes to 7.5 million voters.

To put 5 points into perspective:
Bush beat Kerry by 2.4 percent
Gore beat Bush in the national popular vote by 0.5 percent
Clinton beat Dole by 8.5 percent
Clinton beat Bush Sr. by 5.3 percent
Bush Sr. beat Dukakis by 7.8 percent
Reagan beat Mondale by 18.2 percent
Reagan beat Carter by 9.7 percent
Carter beat Ford by 2.1 percent

Thus, a 5 percent win would be a significant victory.
After 7 weeks:

DEFENSE:

Bears - #14 scoring defense (21.4 pts/game), #17 defense in terms of yardage/game (329 yds/game). Ranked #6 in rushing defense (86 yards/game).

Redskins - #8 scoring defense (18.3 pts/game), #6 defense in terms of yardage/game (279 yds/game). Ranked #7 in rushing defense (86 yds/game).

OFFENSE:

Bears - #3 scoring 0ffense (28.0 pts/game), #13 offense in terms of yardage/game (336 yds/game). Ranked #19 in rushing offense (109 yards/game).

Redskins - #24 scoring offense (20.0 pts/game), #7 offense in terms of yardage/game (354 yds/game). Ranked #3 in rushing offense (158 yds/game).

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Whole "Obama is a Socialist" Nonsense

"Joe the Plumber" is a fraud - the evidence is clear that he is not really a plumber, the small business that he works for and purports to want to buy (he cannot possibly afford it) doesn't make anywhere close to $250K. So, Joe would actually benefit greater under Obama's tax policies than under McCain. Those are just simple facts.

However, much is being made about the position that Obama has that it is better to "spread the wealth." For this, McCain is claiming that Obama is a socialist. What a bunch of B.S. All tax policy affects the distribution of wealth. Bush's tax policies have redistributed wealth away from the poor and middle class and concentrated it into the hands of the wealthy.

All those ignorant right wingers who parrot McCain's talking points and warn that Obama is a radical socialist are just stupid. The Bush Administration has socialized the losses of Wall Street with the Paulson plan. They have socialized half the mortgages in the country by seizing control of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They socialized the largest insurance company in the world. They are socializing the banking system. It is an absolute joke to try to argue that Obama will take us to socialism - Bush has already done that. Bush "spread the losses" to the rest of us to protect wealthy friends. That is the effect of the Bush/Paulson economic bailout plan.

If you look at Obama's plan and think for just 90 seconds about what he is proposing, it is clear that his policies take us away from the trickle down B.S. that has caused the problem. Rather than "spreading losses" and socializing the failures of big business, Obama's policies are directly aimed at strengthening the middle class to strengthen America. None of his policies put onerous burdens on the wealthy - in fact, they pay no more than they did under Clinton or Reagan.

Da Bears!!!

Huge win over Minnesota. It put them in a tie for first in the North with Green Bay going into a much-needed bye week. The Bears are completely depleted at corner. Their two starting corners and their nickel back were out yesterday and their two rookie starters were both banged up and had to sit portions of yesterday's game.

In fact, the blown coverage against Atlanta in the closing seconds last week was a direct result of having to play a guy they had picked up just a couple of days before. They would almost certainly have won that game had it not been for the injuries during the Atlanta game. But, that is the way it goes.

The fact is the Bears have won 3 of their last 4 and they get Detroit in two weeks at home. They should get healthier and the looming game against Tennessee in three weeks should be a good one.

I am still no fan of the Bears' D Coordinator, but I like this team. They have taken some tough losses and if they can get some things squared away on D (in terms of their schemes), this could be a very good team in the playoffs.

Obama - A 100,000 crowd in St Louis - America's Alive!

Missouri is an important swing state. It used to be solidly Republican.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Oil Prices

Looks like I was right - speculation and the weak dollar caused the runup in oil prices, and not supply shortages. Oil is now trading at about $70/barrel - half of its high just a few months ago.

The financial crisis has resulted in speculators not having access to capital, and there is a scramble for dollars which has strengthened the dollar. Going forward, it seems to me the dollar will weaken with all of the instrusiveness of the Fed and the wild spending that Treasury is committed to. However, the supply reality and lack of speculative trading will counteract against each other. The end result is that it will keep prices right around $70.

Stunning $150M for Obama

It is absolutely amazing how much money Obama raised in September - $150 million!

What is even more amazing about this number is that Obama is not taking lobbyist money (like McCain and the RNC) and the average donation was $86. This is truly a campaign that is being funded by the American people.

The DNC picked up $50M itself. The $200M ensures that the Dems will finally be able to outspend Republicans - normally Republicans outspend Dems 3-1.

I am now guessing that the Dems will pick up at least 7 Senate seats, 16 House seats, and the White House. (I think it will be higher, but these are minimum pickups.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sarah Palin Philadelphia Booed At Flyers Game

Bears, Bears, Bears!

The Bears blew yet another game. Actually, they were probably a bit lucky to take the lead with just 11 seconds to play. Only to botch a pooch kickoff, give Atlanta one long pass to set up a field goal and then lose.

It was a wild finish. The Bears were losing the almost the entire game. Down 10-19, they kicked a field goal with 4 minutes to play. Jason Elam missed a 33-yard field goal attempt with about 3 minutes to play that would have made thing tough for the Bears. So the Bears had to go 77 yard in the final minutes to win. They did.

But then, incredibly, the Bears coaches called for a pooch kick that was poorly executed. The Falcons got the ball on their 44-yard line with 6 seconds. They threw a 26-yard pass and with 1 second left were able to kick the game winner. It was another defensive blunder that killed them.

They fought to take the lead and then let a victory slip away. Now the Vikings, Packers, and Bears are all 3-3 and tied for first. Minnesota will be in Chicago on Sunday for a huge game. It is a must game for the Bears because it is at home. The Bears then have a bye to can get some things straightened out - primarily on D. The Bears are playing decent football, but they just do not close games out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Musings about Palin and her Secessionist Ties

It is no secret I am disgusted with the hate-filled lies and toxic spew that is coming from the McCain campaign. Palin seems to relish her attack dog politics, but they are driving her negatives way up with the American people.

When you actually read about her political ties, shennanigans as both a governor and a mayor, and links to secessionists who want to see Alaska leave the Union, you have to wonder how in the world she ended up on a ticket with John McCain.

I have great fears that the looming economic disaster (it is going to get far, far worse than it is today) will give rise to a virulent form of anti-minority populism. Palin would be the perfect leader for that type of politics. We'll see.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The McCain-Palin Mob

If you have ever wondered who the cheering McCain-Palin supporters are - I think the video speaks for itself.

Robert Gibbs takes on Sean Hannity

Hannity is an idiot.

Electoral College Lead

For the first time since RCP has been tracking the Electoral College map projections, Obama now has more than the required 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency when the toss-up states are still included on the map.

When the toss up states are included and counted toward the total Electoral College vote counts based on who is leading, it is Obama in a landslide.

McCain's desperation is mounting and his personal attacks are just plain sickening. Dirty politics are nothing new, but coming from the self-proclaimed MAVERICK who had sworn off undignified politics just a few months ago, it is irritating. With just a few weeks to go, it is shaping up like a landslide victory for Obama.

Credit Default Swaps

There is so much B.S. that is being spread about the cause of the global financial crisis. The folks who want to believe that it is the fault of home buyers who overextended themselves are just plain ignorant. Anyone who tries to convince you that this is because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issued out some risky subprime mortgage loans as part of minority lending initiatives is not only wrong, but probably a bit racist.

It is easy to argue my point. First, even if we buy up every single bad mortgage in this country the total cost would be less than $300 billion. Let's even double it and say that things get ridiculously bad over the next few years. So, we could commit to using the bailout money to buy up every bad mortage today and over the next 3-4 years. That won't solve the problem.

Here is the problem. The mortgage-backed derivatives products far, FAR exceed $700 billion. Credit default swaps - which are essentially insurance contracts on home mortgage defaults - have exploded since 2001 when Bush took office. According to the Bank for International Settlements, at the end of last year, the total value of these CDSs grew to $58 trillion. At the end of 2004, there were $6.4 trillion in CDS. In 2001, there were about $100 billion in CDSs.

Let's get real. This means that there are $58 trillion in insurance contracts that have been written on real estate mortgages (home and commercial), mostly on U.S. property. The total world GDP is $54 trillion. Clearly, many of these insurance contracts/CDSs were written by firms that did not have the assets to back them up. There isn't enough money in the world to actually pay off these contracts!

As default rates increase more of these contracts must be paid off. But what is happening is that a lot of the financial institutions that wrote CDS contracts don't have the money to actually pay off their obligations. So the companies that made billions in profits have now created trillions in potential losses.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

McCain Loses It: Calls Americans 'My Fellow Prisoners'

Another senior moment?

The McCain-Obama Post-Debate

McCain is just flat out classless.

Debate Thoughts

It wasn't very exciting. Obama won in a workman-like fashion. I thought he did a solid job of discussing differeences, but it was McCain's peculiarities that really cost the man any chance for victory.

Obama looked young and presidential and McCain and his aimless wandering, scribbling, snide comments, and quick exit did nothing to help his standing. McCain referred to Obama as "that one" at one point. "That one?" What the Hell is he talking about?

McCain seemed to be lost at times as he mosied around the arena. Every now and then he would go to his chair and furiously scribble something down. In fact, even before the first question was asked, he was scribbling something. The image was not flattering.

It is clear the two men don't like each other, but McCain seems to be seething and he is barely able to contain his anger. After the debate you could see Obama walk over and hold his hand out to McCain. McCain either didn't see it or didn't want to shake his hand. Cindy seemed to pop in and try to calm the situation by taking Obama's hand. It was really odd.

In the end, I suspect that Obama will pick up even more support and this presidential race may very well be effectively over.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dow 9500

The markets are roiled by the global credit crisis. I am surprised by how far it has fallen so quickly. Another 500 point loss today. I think we are nearing a bottom. I thought we would hit 9500 by the end of the year - but we hit it just 2 trading days after the ill-advised bailout was signed.

Given the rapid fall, my guess is that it will start to retrench soon. Perhaps another drop of 500 points, but it should start to settle out.

What McCain Should Do

Look, the polls are bad for McCain. Today, the daily Gallup Tracking poll has Obama up nationally by 9 points. That is as wide as it has ever been in this election.

If I were advising McCain, I would do two things.

1. I would shut down all of the negative ads about Obama and I would stop Palin from her incendiary remarks about Obama being a terrorist. It just is not resonating and it only serves to make McCain look desperate. Sure the 25 percent of the hard core Republican base may like it, but it is turning everyone else off.

2. I would focus all of my attention on talking about bi-partisanship and having split government. With the Dems controlling Congress, a Republican in the White House will help bring all folks in the country to the table. I don't think it will work given the "poisoning of the well" that has happened over the last few days with respect to the mud slinging, but it seems to me that it is the best strategy.

Weekly NFL Stats

After 5 weeks:

DEFENSE:

Bears - #6 scoring defense (17.4 pts/game), #8 defense in terms of yardage/game (298 yds/game). Ranked #4 in rushing defense (74 yards/game).

Redskins - #11 scoring defense (19.6 pts/game), #13 defense in terms of yardage/game (303 yds/game). Ranked #9 in rushing defense (85 yds/game).

OFFENSE:

Bears - #9 scoring 0ffense (25.6 pts/game), #12 offense in terms of yardage/game (332 yds/game). Ranked #9 in rushing offense (126 yards/game).

Redskins - #17 scoring offense (21.8 pts/game), #6 offense in terms of yardage/game (351 yds/game). Ranked #5 in rushing offense (147 yds/game).

Monday, October 06, 2008

Widening Lead for Obama

The national polls are clearly going Obama's way. But, the Electoral College lead is becoming a runaway.

This is not really surprising given McCain's wild fluctuations and erratic behavior over the last two weeks.

Dow 10,000

The Dow Jones Industrial Average just fell below 10,000 - a psychological support level that has now been shattered. The last time the Dow closed below 10,000 was October 2004.

Going back to my last post - I doubt that people will care for McCain's mud-slinging when the problem in the country is that the economy is collapsing.

As I wrote last week, any member of Congress who voted for the disasterous bailout bill because he/she thought it would help the stock markets simply did not understand the depth of the problems the U.S. economy is facing.

McCain's Mud-Slinging Strategy

It is absolutely remarkable how low McCain is willing to go. He is willing to wallow around in mud because he knows his policies suck (there is no word strong enough to capture how bad his policies are).

He has Sarah Palin saying Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and citing a piece in the New York Times about a man named William Ayers who was a '60s radical who is now a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ayers was a radical in the 1960s but his anti-American activities were conducted when Obama was 8 years old. He has since become an expert on public education and Obama and Ayers served on a board that worked to help improve Chicago public schools. That relationship is not unusual - Obama was a state senator, Ayers is a national leader or education. They worked together, along with Mayor Daley to improve Chicago schools - and they did so.

Not surprisingly, Palin is misrepresenting the Times article - READ IT YOURSELF. I doubt Palin read it, and she is just reading whatever McCain wrote for her off of her teleprompter. Anyone who reads the article can see that there is little evidence that there is a close relationship. Certainly, there is no evidence that Obama and Ayers were somehow plotting terrorist operations. But, that is what McCain is insinuating.

I am utterly disgusted that McCain, a supposedly serious candidate for President, is calling Obama anti-American and essentially accusing him of being a terrorist. This is not some wild accusation by a fringe group or a 527 ad, this is a sitting U.S. senator calling another senator a terrorist. He is fanning the flames of hatred and I fear he is encouraging those on the far right to take matters into their own hands. McCain has sunk into a mud pit so low that he won't ever recover his honor. He wants to drag the country down with him.

Bears Over Lions

Not really surprising, but the surprising home loss that Green Bay took against Atlanta was a bit of a shock. The end result is that the Bears are in sole possession of first in the North at 3-2.

The D seems to really be playing well. They held Detroit to only 185 yards. On offense things look good. Forte had a tough day in terms of average yards per carry, but his blocking and receiving are awesome for a rookie and he looks like the real deal. The receiving corps has been great and Orton is playing very well right now. He has confidence, is making plays, and just as important, he is not making any mistakes.

The Bears go on the road to Atlanta this week. Certainly they will be favored against the surprising 3-2 Falcon team.

Friday, October 03, 2008

How About Her, HHEHHH?!?!

Could the guy sound anymore like Grandpa Simpson?

Stock Market in Near Term

The major markets in the U.S. are almost sure to fall in coming weeks. Any member of Congress who changed his/her vote because of the drop on Monday is a complete idiot. The bailout bill does nothing to change the underlying weakness in the economy. The only thing it does is try to improve credit flow by buying up bad debt from banks.

So, the American people are going to own worthless paper that is going to cost us hundreds of billions of dollars. This will be done so that the same banks who created and accumulated the bad debt, can then issue out more debt. It is a silly premise that will haunt us for a generation. We simply cannot borrow our way out of this problem.

The Dow, NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, and other markets will fall as sure as I am breathing in coming weeks. The reason is simple - earnings for the third quarter are going to be announced over the next several weeks and with the economy slowing the numbers will look bad. Investors who are already in a sour mood with sell - not buy. I predict we will see Dow 9500 - about 1000 points lower than today - before the end of the year.

The Death of American Capitalism

The House just passed the $700 billion Wall Street Bailout plan. Don't fall for the misnomer of it being an economic rescue plan - this bill was a porked up version of the bill that was voted down on Monday.

I am not being melodramatic when I say I believe that 10 years from now we will be asking ourselves what in the world were we thinking? The $700 billion is not going to be use to buy up bad mortgages from individuals - it is going to go directly to the exact same companies and executives who caused the mess with the creation and rapid escalation of mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps.

The fact is that there is going to be continued, long-term pain in the economy for years as a result of the disasterous economic policies of the Bush Administration. With the stroke of his pen, when George W. Bush signs this monstrosity of a bill into law, the spending will explode and before the end of this year, the U.S. government will add at least another $500 billion in debt to the already ridiculous $10 trillion U.S. National Debt. When Bush came to office, the National Debt stood at $5.7 trillion.

The worst part is that Paulson now has a blank check worth $350 billion that he is going to spend. I guarantee you that he is going to buy up bad debt from the following: Goldman Sachs (he is the former Chairman), JP Morgan Chase (he thinks highly of that firm and it is a part of the Fed), the Bank of China (we need their money), and the Bank of London (we need their money). Members of Congress who voted for this ridiculously bad bill will cry foul and say that they had no idea Paulson was going to bail out foreign banks - but don't believe that nonsense. He essentially testified and has publicly said that he would.

People should remember this. It was a Republican President who forced the American people to socialize the housing market (with the purchases of Freddie and Fannie), socialize a large segment of the insurance industry (with the purchase of AIG), and socialize the financial sector with this horrible bailout bill. The Dems and Republicans in Congress were too weak to actually stand up to a President who has made mistake after mistake after mistake. They capitulated and gave this idiot President the power to spend another $350 billion with no questions asked (the second $350 billion has to be approved by Congress). It is absolutely pathetic.
It truly is a sad, sad day.

Campaign Notes

Yesterday, McCain essentially conceded Michigan. He canceled a planned talk there and removed his staff and stopped all ads in Michigan.

The poll numbers in Pennsylvania have moved dramatically to Obama in the last 2 weeks and if McCain concedes there I think it is over. He needed to win over either Michigan or Pennsylvania to have a good shot at winning. That just isn't happening.

Obama and Biden are campaigning in Virginia and North Carlina today and tomorrow. When you see Dems campaigning this late in the campaign in these normally reliable Red States, you know things are going well for Dems. McCain is going to struggle to hold on to those states - as well as Ohio, Nevada, Florida, Missouri, and Indiana.

Unless something major happens, I don't see how McCain turns things around. There is still a month to go, but as I have expected for months, I see Obama winning by a landslide.

VP Debate Thoughts

There is no question that Palin did fine. She didn't have any disasterous moments that I think many people expected and tuned in to see. But she also did very little to change the dynamics in the race. It was obvious that she wanted to offer up slogans and campaign rhetoric rather than actually answer the questions. If you actually look back at the transcript and you look at the questions that were posed to her and her responses, it is clear that she almost always shifted her response to whatever she wanted to say.

The overnight poll numbers consistently show that Palin looked better to folks than she had in recent weeks, but that Biden was the overwhelming winner. CNN's poll had it 51%-36% for Biden. CBS had it 46%-21% for Biden.

Look, in the end the news cycle will move on. Today, the disasterous bailout bill is going to pass (probably) and all the discussion will focus back on the economy. Palin's performance was fine, but it was not a game changer. In the end, Obama will continue to surge ahead further.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Senate Passes Bailout

It is a terrible bill for the American people. People should read the text. I skimmed through it and am disgusted. It gives the Treasury Secretary the authority to do whatever the Hell he wants with taxpayer money. He can hire private companies to serve whatever purposes he wants. He doesn't even have to follow the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

Oversight will be provided by Congress after the fact - but we have seen the Bush administration hide all kinds of facts from Congress. The bill sets up a "Financial Stability Oversight Board" but it is a farce. This board is made up of the Fed Chairman, the SEC Chair, the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. These people will consult with the Treasury Secretary but they already do this. All of these members are part of the Executive Branch. Basically, Congress is punting on its responsibility, giving a blank check to the Executive Branch and saying do whatever.

Paulson is going to put all of the money into Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. He will also recapitalize the Federal Reserve. There won't be any individual homeowners who are helped by this bill.

Fareed Zakaria: The Case Against Sarah Palin

McCain operatives keep telling us that Palin has "Executive experience" - that is true but it is nowhere near the type of experience that one needs to run the country.

It is like saying that the coach of the local little leauge team is prepared to manage the Chicago Cubs - the notion is absolutely ridiculous.

Her Couric interview is demonstrating - in a very scary way - that she does not understand the issues.

Sarah Palin Can't Name a Newspaper She Reads

What newspapers and magazines do you get your info from:

"Um, all of them, any of them that, um, have been, been in front of me over all these years. I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, it seems like, 'Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking and doing when you live up there in Alaska?' Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America."

Katie Couric must be thinking what an idiot!

Palin cannot name any information publications that she reads. The fact that this person could possibly become our VP is just plain crazy.

Contact Your Congressional Delegation

Look, the bailout bill is a loser for the American people. I just finished sending emails to my two Senators and my Congressman. Every American who cares about the whole bailout issue should let their Congressional delegation know how they feel - pro or con.

This is a vote and a program that will fundamentally change America and American capitalism. People really need to understand the issues and come to their own conculsion - but in my opinion, the bailout as it is now is a raw deal for average Americans. I would have a fundamentally different bailout package as I have described in my post from late last night.

Electoral College Map

As I have been saying for a few months, I don't believe this is going to be all that close an election. There has been a clear shift toward Obama over the last two weeks. His performance in the debate and the McCain's incoherence on the economic crisis have really helped Obama.

The latest Electoral College Map projections really show how much the country has tilted toward Obama. Two weeks ago it was about tied, today it shows Obama defeating McCain 348-190.

Note: To the folks who stop by and post about doing away with the EC and going with a national popular vote, please don't try to sell that gibberish here. It doesn't make any sense. Your logic is flawed. All that will happen is that instead of 4-8 battleground states being the focus of national campaigns, there will be 10 cities that will be the focus of national campaigns. You will narrow the battleground geography NOT WIDEN IT.

Weekly NFL Stats

Sorry for the delay (and missing last week) - just been super busy with the bailout and other issues. Here are the stats after 4 weeks.

DEFENSE:

Bears - #11 scoring defense (20.0 pts/game), #16 defense in terms of yardage/game (326 yds/game). Ranked #6 in rushing defense (79 yards/game).

Redskins - #12 scoring defense (20.3 pts/game), #14 defense in terms of yardage/game (315 yds/game). Ranked #11 in rushing defense (92 yds/game).

OFFENSE:

Bears - #15 scoring 0ffense (23.5 pts/game), #19 offense in terms of yardage/game (309 yds/game). Ranked #10 in rushing offense (134 yards/game).

Redskins - #18 scoring offense (21.5 pts/game), #9 offense in terms of yardage/game (342 yds/game). Ranked #11 in rushing offense (133 yds/game).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailout Bill

Yesterday, the Dow fell 778 because the bailout bill didn't pass the House vote.

Today, the Dow rose almost 500 because there is confidence that on Thursday there will be a bailout bill that passes through Congress.

If Congress doesn't pass a bill and it fails in the House again, the Dow will fall 1000 points. That is no joke - I am serious.

That said, the current bailout bill is a disaster for American taxpayers. Essentially, the Treasury Secretary will have power to do as he pleases with $250 billion. Another $100 billion will be available if the President requests it by a simple letter to Congress. Then, another $350 billion will be appropriated if there is progress that can be shown to Congress. So at a minimum, $350 billion will be under the control of Bush and Paulson - a terrible idea on the face of it. Paulson will be able to bail out foreign banks - and I guarantee that he will. This bill does virtually nothing for individual taxpayers - it is literally a bailout plan for big institutions (including foreign financial firms).

If we want a real bailout there needs to be a couple of things added in.

1. Bankruptcy laws need to be changed to allow homeowners the option to go into bankruptcy more easily so that judges will have the power to adjust individual home loan mortgage rates. We need to keep more folks into their homes.

2. We need to create a Consumer Protection-type Agency for banking fraud and predatory lenders. We need to create an agency that has the power to prosecute unethical and illegal actions on the part of lenders and mortgage loan firms.

3. We need to regulate the mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps. These are largely unregulated derivative finacial products that were created by "smart" bankers and Wall Street investment houses to pump up profits. This is the root cause for the possible destruction of the worldwide banking institutions.

4. We need to recapitalize (i.e., appropriate more money) for the FDIC. There are going to be banking failures and we need to make sure that the FDIC has money.

5. Obama's proposal to increase the FDIC insured amount from $100,000 to $250,000 should be passed. This will allow investors to put more money into banks which will allow them to have more cash reserves to meet required reserve amounts.

6. Finally, we need to create a tax on all Wall Street transactions. Putting a 1/4 percent tax on all transactions would bring tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. treasury. This money is the money that will be needed to fund FDIC and other funds that will be used to bailout Wall Street firms.

That's it! We have to allow market forces to squeeze out the weakest financial institutions. Then, for the surviving firms it is likely that there will continue to be tight capital and credit will be tough to come by. The government may very well have to recapitalize smaller and mid-size banks to pick up the credit slack. For any recapitalization, the U.S. government should pump cash in exchange for equity in the form of preferred stock. This way, in 5-10 years, that equity can be sold on the open market for a profit (hopefully).

In reality, Congress is going to pass a slightly modified version of the current bailout bill - it is a mistake but it will likely be passed. Then, next year, we will be trying to figure out how to solve the same problems but we will be hundreds of billions of dollars poorer.

Cedric Benson Now a Bengal

I'm glad for him. He wore out his welcome in Chicago because of his play and some raw deals with respect to unfair arrests. All charges were dropped (as I expected).

Monday, September 29, 2008

What is With McCain?

Last week he (falsely) claimed that he was putting country first and suspending his campaign to solve the financial crisis. He made a big fuss about possibly missing the debate on Friday night because he was fixing the crisis. This morning, I watched him on TV at a campaign event in which he was claiming credit for putting the country first to work with Dems and Republicans to get the financial bailout through. OOPS! The House Republicans killed the bailout.

Now, I'm waiting for McCain to put the country first, suspend his campaign, and get back to Washington to work his "maverick magic." I won't hold my breath.

It was a political stunt last week - now it is just more obvious.

Shocking Development on Bailout

The House - mostly the House Republicans - killed the bailout. I am against the bailout on the simple premise that $700 billion was not enough to cover the trillions of useless paper that the financial sector has accumulated through mortgage backed derivatives.

That said, the Dow fell by 700 points as it became clear that the bailout would fail, and it is about 520 points down now (2:30 pm). Politically, this probably hurts Republicans. You had the President, the Treasury Secretary, the Fed Chair, the SEC Chair, both McCain and Obama, and the leaders of both parties in the House and the Senate largely arguing that this bailout had to pass to save the American economy. The reality is that the economy is going to suffer for some extended period of time - but now, the Republicans in the House are likely to be the ones who will be blamed.

Bailout to Pass Today

It is one Hell of a mess that Wall Street and the financial sector have created. Congress is trying to fix a problem that should never have gotten so large and it won't really work.

I've done a fair amount of reading on the subject the last few days. It should be crystal clear to anyone who tries to understand the problem that this mess was created by simple greed on Wall Street. They created ridiculously complex, and poorly-thought out mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps. These were derivative financial instruments that took hundreds of billions of dollars of mortgages and turned them into trillions of dollars of investment vehicles for speculators. The problem is that the assets (i.e., the mortgages) are nowhere near valueable enough to provide collateral for the actual investment vehicles.

The end result is that these Wall Street and financial firms literally sold worthless paper for years.

I have read two very good descriptions of the enormous problem with credit default swaps that put the problem into perspective:

Article 1 - This piece explain the problem and calls for all CDS's to be canceled worldwide.

Article 2 - Newsweek has a very clear explanation of the issue.

People who think this problem is because of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or that it is caused by some foreclosures simply do not understand the depth of the problem. Wall Street firms made billions in profits using a Ponzi scheme that sold off worthless paper. The Ponzi scheme was allowed to get really, really, REALLY large, because there was no regulation of the MBS or CDS instruments and now the financial system is collapsing.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

DA BEARS!!!

The Bears had a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE goal line stand in the closing minutes of the game and kept the Eagles from going ahead. After two weeks of defensive lapses in the fourth quarter in which the Bears gave up 10 and 14 point leads, the D came up big and saved the Bears.

I loved the game - intense, close, hard-hitting - just awesome.

The Bears could easily be 4-0, but they are deserving of their 2-2 record. The end result is that they are in first in the North. Their next two games are at Detroit and at Atlanta. They then play Minnesota at home and play Detroit at home (after a bye week). After the tough 4 game start, the next 4 look easier.

It is funny. Our local high school lost its game. My two college teams (UVA and Morgan State) got roughed up. My two fantasy teams lost. But all is well in the world because the Bears won. I have come to realize that football is all about the Bears for me. When they win, it doesn't matter what else happened over the weekend.

Poll Spread Widening for Obama

The poll of polls has really improved over the last 2 weeks for Obama. The daily Gallup tracking poll came in at +8 and overall, the RCP poll of polls is now +4.8 for Obama.

The Electoral College poll of polls have significantly moved into Obama's favor. He is now projected to win 301-237. With Nevada, Indiana, and Ohio moving toward Obama, things look great right now for the Dems.

Sarah Palin interview with Katie Couric part.4

It is funny, but it is also sad because Palin literally sounds like this.

Jack Cafferty Tells Us How He Really Feels About Sarah Palin

Amen Jack!!!

McCain's YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bears and Cavs Thoughts

So far it has been a tough year for my two favorite teams. Here are a couple of thoughts about this weekend's games.

Cavs - Must game if they are going to have a decent season. They play on the road at Duke. The Cavs dismissed starting QB Peter Lalich for violating probation (actually, I think it had more to do with lying to the coach and athletic director). But I think the team will rally around Mark Verica and there will be a steady diet of runs by Pearman and Simpson. It will come down to the young UVA D. In the end, I think the Cavs will win 20-13.

Bears - This is really a must win also. They play Philly in Chicago. The Bears have squandered double digit fourth quarter leads the last two weeks. They have to find a way to win and I think they will. Bears D rises and shuts down the high flying Eagles offense. Bears 21 - Eagles 10.

Debate Thoughts

First, let me say that I found the debate to be a bit tedious to watch. It was not as exciting as I would like, because they largely did not engage each other as moderator, Jim Lehrer, tried to get them to do. I found it odd that McCain would not even look at Obama.

I don't think either man really took command, and I thought both were solid at points but also have some work to do before the next debate.

McCain - I think he kept trying to hammer home the experience card. He talked about all of the places he has visited and he did a lot of name dropping of world leaders. There were two problems. First, this is a change election and hammering home long-time experience is a strange choice of strategy. It didn't work for Hillary and the whole choice of Sarah Palin as VP flies in the face of that strategy. Second, he made a number of factual errors. For example, he couldn't say the name of Iran's president, he didn't have the right name for Pakistan's new president, and he claimed that Pakistan was a failed state before Musharaff took power in a military coup. If you are going to claim the mantle of experience you cannot afford to make these kinds of mistakes. Aside from content/strategy, I think McCain looked angry - it is not a good look for him. He needs to try to change his body language before the next debate.

Obama - I thought he held his own and he demonstrated the very clear differences between the two men in their approach to the world. It was clear he knows about world affairs, but where I think Obama needs to work is to be more crisp in his answers. For example, the Iraq war debate went back and forth. Was it a good idea? Did the surge work? etc. There were clear points of departure for both men and frankly I think the country is on Obama's side in this. If I were Obama, I would have said, "What the American people have to decide now is whether we should stay and continue to spend $10 billion/month in an endless occupation or if we want to have a responsible phased withdrawal. I believe we have completed the mission successfully and John believes we haven't and must continue on."

In the end, I think Obama came out on top because he held his own. At worst it was a tie, but that is effectively a win for Obama because it means that he convinced folks that he can be President. If I were betting, I would say that Obama's lead in the polls will rise over the next couple of days.

Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain's Erratic Behavior

I just do not understand what has happened to McCain. I am not sure if he is incompetent, if he is panicking, or if he is mentally imbalanced.

If we look at what he has done over the last 2 weeks we can see a man who is lost and just shooting in the dark.

On Monday last week he claimed the fundamentals of the economy are strong. What!? I am going to assume that it was a talking point. By the end of the day (the Dow fell 500 points) he had changed his mind.

On Tuesday last week he called for a 9-11 type commission to examine the economy. Laughable. Anyone who understands the economy knows that mortgage backed securities are the problem. We don't need a commission to understand the obvious. By that evening he had stopped talking about it.

On Wednesday last week he called for the firing of the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). People had no idea why and he never explained why. It was an effort to create an oversimplified scapegoat for the problem.

Last Friday, Treasury Secretary Paulson sent his two and a half page proposal to end American capitalism. On this past Wednesday, McCain decided to suspend his campaign to go to Washington to "solve" the problem. However, when he was asked if he agreed with the Bush/Paulson plan, he said he hadn't read it. WTF!!!!! I read the plan - it was less than 3 pages. WHY SUSPEND HIS CAMPAIGN?

Whatever, he said he would stop campaigning and not debate until a deal was struck. So he swooped in yesterday, didn't actually do anything, had some photos taken and still now deal. It is still not clear what he believes about the plan. Now, without a deal, he is going to debate. That is not steady leadership, it is panic and frantic political posturing that is making him look even more foolish than ever.

In the end, the polls are reflecting greater support for Obama.

Palin On Foreign Policy

WTF is she talking about?

"We have trade missions back and forth, we, we do. It's very important when, when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where, where do they go? It's Alaska, it's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation - Russia - because they are right there. They are right next to our state."

In this case, she seems to get lost in her talking points about national security and foreign policy.

Cedric Benson

Just as I thought, all charges were dropped. They were dropped for the bogus boating incident and they were dropped for the alleged DWI (the second arrest cost Benson his job with the Bears).

The Bears have a zero tolerance policy and Benson had become toxic with fans - it is too bad that he was wrongly arrested.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Palin: Bailout is about healthcare!

I think she got lost in her response. Listen to the original question and then just see how quickly she lost it.

Palin To 'Get Back' To Couric About McCain And Regulations

"IIIIIII'll try to find ya some and bring it ta ya." Are you kidding me!?

Good Lord - this woman is clearly clueless and is an utter embarrassment as a candidate for VP.

It is clear that the McCain folks want to keep her out of the limelight. They have taken her off the big donor circuit, they are limiting questions by the press, and they probably cringe every time she gets out and gives an interview.

Letterman on McCain's Antics

David Letterman ripped McCain for canceling out on his show and suspending his campaign - it is so obvious he is in trouble and tried to pull a political stunt.

Poll Number Skew

Good piece about how the poll numbers are may be unintentionally discounting Obama's actual lead.

The polls are only conducted on land line phones. However, 16 percent of households now only have cell phones (no land lines). This group is overwhelmingly younger and overwhelmingly Democratic. The actual poll numbers may be 1-3 percent more in favor of Obama than we are currently seeing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Foreclosure Stats

There are some mixed statistics on actual forclosures. The Mortgage Bankers Association puts the rate at 1.08 percent nationally.

RealtyTrac states that only 1 in 416 homes is actually going into foreclosure right now (0.2 percent).

Here is a good source for foreclosure information for those who want to read more.

Whichever number you want to use, 99 percent of all homes are not in foreclosure. If we assume that about 6 percent of homes are late on payments, we can still see that 93 percent of homeowners are making their payments. Given that figure, there is no need to force this 93 percent to take on the financial burden of saving Wall Street firms.

Explaining the "Crisis"

There is no real "crisis" that is threatening Main Street folks. If you have good credit and want a loan you will get one. The age of easy credit for questionable lenders is coming to an end - BUT THAT IS A GOOD THING!!!

Let me try to take a crack at the problem. There is a good explanation at Slate, but I will try to make it even more simple.

The "smart folks" at some of Wall Street's biggest firms (e.g., Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Merrill Lynch) created what are known as "mortgage backed securities (MBS)" when the housing market started booming. These firms essentially bundled up hundreds and even thousands of individual home and commercial mortgages into these MBS's. They were essentially investment "products" that they sold to investors around the world.

The banks that originally held the mortgages loved MBS products because they allowed these banks to sell the mortgages for cash (at a profit) and then use the cash to issue out even more loans to more borrowers. In fact, they used teaser rates, ARMs, and loose credit terms to get more buyers into the system to sell them off to Wall Street. The Wall Street investment houses loved the products because they made money from the monthly mortgage payments and they could get investors to invest (at a profit) into the MBS's. The investors loved MBS's because they gave a monthly dividend (a portion of the the monthly mortage payments) payment. The basic idea was that investors would make back their principal plus significant interest.

Everybody makes money, right? So what is the problem? Well, this scheme only works as long as housing value continue to rise. Once housing prices fall, the value of the mortgages slip. Foreclosures are only a small part of the problem. When the housing values end in negative equity situations homeowners walk away from their homes and stop making payments. Then, the MBS's cannot provide investors with their return and they try to pull their money. They create a run on the investment house that brings them crashing down.

Investment firms made billions in profit from this scheme for years, but now they are stuck with increasingly worthess MBS's and investors want out. This is what the problem is.

Smaller community banks and credit unions, as well as the bigger banks that didn't buy into the MBS's are just fine. They have resources and will continue to issue credit and make loans. We don't need to bail out these investment firms who made bad bets. We need to let them die - that is what happens in a capitalist system.

McCain is Chicken

He wants to cancel the Friday night debate because of the "financial crisis."

He can see that he is quickly losing ground to Obama and he doesn't want a knockout punch. The country deserves to see the differences between these two candidates. We have to decide on who will lead this nation for the next 4 years.

This week it is the "financial crisis" next week it will be a windstorm in Wisconsin.

Just debate!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Federal Oil Drilling Ban to End

Just as I called it, the Dems are taking drilling off the table as a political football for Republicans. They are going to let the federal ban on drilling expire on October 1.

Here is exactly what I said on September 10:

". . . there are plenty of federal land and coastal waters that have been leased but are not being developed. I suspect that the Dems in Congress will remove drilling as a political football by passing a bill that opens up more lands/waters within the next month. They know that nothing will actually happen because the Big Oil companies don't have the rigs to actually drill. If they did, they would have already opened up more drilling operations."

Here is the end result. States can decide if they want to allow drilling. But even if they decide to allow drilling nothing is going to happen. There isn't an oil supply problem so there is no way private, for profit oil companies are going to cut into their profits by flooding the market with more oil. That is completely at odds with basic capitalism.

At least all the ignorant DRILL, BABY DRILL idiots should now shut up.

All too Common

Foreigners are going to just buy up this country. Here is a story about Singapore having $300 billion to invest and looking at distressed assets in the U.S. as a likely target.

Singapore is a tiny nation with less than 5 million people. They already have a significant ownership stake in Citigroup and with their cash they are going to buy up other financial services firms.

They also hold $31 billion of our U.S. national debt. So essentially, the U.S. owes every man, woman, and child in Singapore about $6800.

Still think Bushinomics is a good idea?

Foreign Owned Banks will also get Bailed Out

It is ridiculous - not only is the Bush Administration pushing for the end of American capitalism by nationalizing the financial sector, but it expects American taxpayers to also bail out large foreign banks that have lost money also.

I cannot believe there are still people who think Bushie is a good president.

Senate Gains for Dems

At a minimum, the Dems will pick up four Senate seats.

But a new analysis by famout political analyst Stuart Rothenberg puts the number much higher - perhaps as high as nine.

Foreclosures and the Mortgage Mess - REALITY

The whole basis of the $700 billion bailout is that there is a problem with too many bad loans going to unqualified lenders and this is leading to too many foreclosed homes. This is hogwash!

The real problem is that Wall Street geniuses created overly complex and completely inane derivative securities products that bundled up home mortages and sold them to investors. These derivative products were basically mutual funds that promised good returns. As home values have sunk, Wall Street investors and investment houses realized that they had oversold these products and started losing money.

While foreclosures are going up and people are struggling with their home payments, the fact is that the overwhelming majority of homeowners are making their payments. Only 1 in 416 homes is actually going into foreclosure right now (0.2 percent). This means that 99.8 percent of homes are still solvent. If we assume that there is a good group of folks who are in danger of falling behind and losing their homes, but who have not yet gone into foreclosure, we can still assume that 95-97 percent of homeowners are fine.

This whole bailout scheme is a ruse to protect wealthy Wall Street folks. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is the former CEO of Goldman Sachs - what do you want to bet that if the bailout is approved Goldman get a huge infustion of free cash?

The other secondary reason for the bailout is that foreign investors who took equity positions (i.e., bought stock) in these troubled financial firms that sold these derivatives want their money. So the federal government is going to ensure that foreign investors don't lose their shirts. We need foreign investors to continue to pour money into this country and fund the astronomical budget deficits and to finance our sickeningly high national debt.

George Will on McCain

Noted conservative columnist George Will's piece today really hit the nail on the head in my opinion. He points out that McCain has looked rash and unpresidential with his ever changing rants about the economy and what to do about it. Obama has been much more tempered and calm.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hoge on Vince

Merrill Hoge hates Vince Young. He cannot just let it go.

Vince may be down, but he is not out. The guy is a leader and he is 18-11 as an NFL starter. I would love to have him QB the Chicago Bears.