Saturday, October 18, 2008

Don't Let Them Steal Your Vote

Early voting has begun in several states--and will soon begin in the battleground of Florida.

G.O.P. Trying to STOP THE VOTE

Voters are lining up in record-breaking numbers to vote right now in early-voting states. A very worried Republican Party is trying to stop people from voting, and discourage many others from voting, with an inflammatory campaign of exaggerated and false accusations, claiming voter fraud.

The truth is that in recent years there has been almost no successful registration fraud (people registering phony or ineligible voters, which even then doesn't usually result in those people actually voting) or voting fraud (people voting who aren't eligible to vote) perpetrated in the U.S.

Nevertheless, Republicans are screaming about it on TV, and going to court in various parts of the country to try to force states to adopt onerous requirements designed to create chaos in election systems and at polling places, all simply to discourage voters from voting, particularly minority and lower income voters--as well as student voters this year-- who are more likely to vote for Democrats.

The McCain campaign is trying to demonize an organization called ACORN that among other things registers low-income voters. It is an organization that until recently John McCain was proud to support. Now McCain and his allies have seized on a few cases of canvassers filling out registration cards wrongly--cases quickly caught by ACORN and by local officials--to inflate the issue and alarm people.

The Republican Party tried to get the courts to force such measures in Ohio, but they failed Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against them. Now they're trying it in Pennsylvania courts.

This smokescreen of "voter fraud" is precisely what sparked the Bush administration firings of federal prosecutors for political reasons that led to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation and the appointment of a Special Prosecutor. This did not escape the notice of the Obama campaign. Its attorney wrote a letter to the current Attorney General asking that the Special Prosecutor also investigate collusion between the Bush administration and the McCain-Palin campaign:

" I request that Special Prosecutor Dannehy’s inquiry include a review of any involvement by Justice Department and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee (“RNC”)’s systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud. It is highly likely that the very sort of politically motivated conduct identified in the Department’s investigation to date, necessitating the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, is repeating itself, and for the same reason: unwarranted and politically motivated intervention in the upcoming election."

Voters must not fall for this blatantly partisan attempt to suppress the vote and to intimidate voters and otherwise cause chaos in the voting system. Republicans are engaging in exactly the activity they accuse others of conducting: subverting the most sacred and most important process of democracy in America.

We must all resolve with even more fervor to vote, and to encourage others to vote this year. It is the most important election of our lifetimes. It is worth any difficulty caused by those who don't want to lose their power and privilege. These attempts to suppress and stop voting makes it all the more important to insist on your right to vote, and to exercise that right by voting.

Here's an update on the issue from the AP:"This is all just one big head-fake," said Tova Wang of the government watchdog group Common Cause. "What silliness this is, at this point. It's all about creating this perception that there is a tremendous problem with voter fraud in this country, and it's not true."

An Historic Endorsement

Major newspaper endorsements for President have begun, and Barack Obama is getting most of them, including the Washington Post (which said that Obama has the potential to be a great President), San Francisco Chronicle, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, St. Louis Post Dispatch, and many more.

But some endorsements say a little more than others. Like the L.A. Times, which hasn't endorsed anyone in decades, and has never endorsed a Democrat, before their endorsement of Barack Obama.

Still, they've been trumped by the Chicago Tribune--another newspaper that has never endorsed a Democrat before. And it's not just that they've been around longer, but the President they chose to name and link with Obama's name in their endorsement:

He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.

When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.

It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No Drama Obama

Once again, all the instant polls and focus groups--including those of undecided voters--said Barack Obama did the more convincing job and won the third and final presidential debate Wednesday night, by a large margin. Most of the pundits remarked on Obama's cool and collected presence and presentations, versus McCain's angry demeanor and erratic presentation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Youth Counselling

their parents on what they need for their future. A few seconds from

Back from the Abyss

Martin Wolf of the Financial Times was on Charlie Rose tonight talking about the financial catastrophe that was narrowly avoided this past weekend. He said that the world financial system was on the brink of collapse. Later in the program, economist Nouriel Roubini--who some time ago had warned in detail of what did happen this past month--said that if this collapse had happened, we'd be in a severe recession for ten years.

What saved the system was the IMF and G7 conferences, where governments talked it out, and developed a common strategy of supporting banks along the lines that Gordon Brown in the UK had begun. Wolf said that there was no such agreement on Friday, but by Sunday there was. It wasn't formally a world effort--European nations and the U.S. (which together comprise 2/3 of the world economy) adapted this basic plan to their own national circumstances--but Wolf said it was the kind of concerted effort that was necessary, and had never happened before.

Wolf and Roubini agreed that the amount of money the U.S. has devoted to this is probably insufficient (European nations have pledged much more) but that for now the effort has saved the financial system from total ruin. The economic effects are still going to be felt for some time. Wolf predicts a recession lasting at least a year; Roubini says at least 2 years.

Wolf pointed to a number of relative bright spots, however. He said that U.S. exports are strong, and that the falling price of oil will make inflation very unlikely. He believes most countries will weather this (although some will need help), and most big companies. But there will be failures, particularly in consumer products--especially those depending on selling to rich people.

Both agreed that the U.S. government will need to stimulate its economy with infrastructure and other investments, and soon--which is what the Democrats and Barack Obama have already proposed. The question is whether it will be accomplished soon enough.

Roubini also said what Obama has been saying--that this crisis was caused by the ideology of insufficient regulation of financial institutions, and it went far beyond and far deeper than the housing bubble. Basically, the super rich party is over. And we'll all be paying for it.

Wolf said that the biggest question that will determine how long the recession lasts will be how Americans see the future--whether they have confidence in the future again. It's Obama time, and for once, the American people seem to know what they need.

Obama Economic Plan: J-O-B-S

Obama's speech in Toledo (about 25 min.) Excerpts in post below.

Obama Economic Plan: J-O-B-S

In Toledo, Ohio Monday, Barack Obama made several new proposals on the economy, in addition to his proposals to cut taxes, provide affordable health care, make college education possible for everyone and start growing new Green jobs. Video is above, the prepared text is here, the New York Times story here. Excerpts:

"Last week, Senator McCain's campaign announced that they were going to "turn the page" on the discussion about our economy so they can spend the final weeks of this election attacking me instead. His campaign actually said, and I quote, "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." Well Senator McCain may be worried about losing an election, but I'm worried about Americans who are losing their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings. They can't afford four more years of the economic theory that says we should give more and more to millionaires and billionaires and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else...

We need to pass an economic rescue plan for the middle-class and we need to do it now. Today I'm proposing a number of steps that we should take immediately to stabilize our financial system, provide relief to families and communities, and help struggling homeowners. It's a plan that begins with one word that's on everyone's mind, and it's easy to spell: J-O-B-S.

That's why I'm proposing to give our businesses a new American jobs tax credit for each new employee they hire here in the United States over the next two years. To fuel the real engine of job creation in this country, I've also proposed eliminating all capital gains taxes on investments in small businesses and start-up companies, and I've proposed an additional tax incentive through next year to encourage new small business investment. It is time to protect the jobs we have and to create the jobs of tomorrow by unlocking the drive, and ingenuity, and innovation of the American people. And we should fast track the loan guarantees we passed for our auto industry and provide more as needed so that they can build the energy-efficient cars America needs to end our dependence on foreign oil.

We will also save one million jobs by creating a Jobs and Growth Fund that will provide money to states and local communities so that they can move forward with projects to rebuild and repair our roads, our bridges, and our schools. A lot of these projects and these jobs are at risk right now because of budget shortfalls, but this fund will make sure they continue.

The second part of my rescue plan is to provide immediate relief to families who are watching their paycheck shrink and their jobs and life savings disappear. I've already proposed a middle-class tax cut for 95% of workers and their families, but today I'm calling on Congress to pass a plan so that the IRS will mail out the first round of those tax cuts as soon as possible. We should also extend and expand unemployment benefits to those Americans who have lost their jobs and are having a harder time finding new ones in this weak economy. And we should stop making them pay taxes on those unemployment insurance benefits as well.

The third part of my rescue plan is to provide relief for homeowners who are watching their home values decline while their property taxes go up.... We don't need a new law or a new $300 billion giveaway to banks like Senator McCain has proposed, we just need to act quickly and decisively.

For those Americans in danger of losing their homes, today I'm also proposing a three-month moratorium on foreclosures.

Congress should pass this emergency rescue plan as soon as possible. If Washington can move quickly to pass a rescue plan for our financial system, there's no reason we can't move just as quickly to pass a rescue plan for our middle-class that will create jobs, provide relief, and help homeowners. And if Congress does not act in the coming months, it will be one of the first things I do as President of the United States. "

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nobel with Cat

Congratulations to Paul Krugman, who won this year's Nobel Prize in Economics. Some background and links here. In his New York Times column today, he explains how the surprising plan for the public to buy shares in banks that sent the stock market soaring Monday began in England. Details on the U.S. plan are here. Also in the Washington Post here.