Thursday, January 31, 2008

John Edwards: Another one bites the dust

John Edwards is gone. Wow, the candidates are dropping like rocks. Not that there is a surprise here. There was no question that his campaign was done. It was just a matter of when.

The Ted Kennedy endorsement must have been the final blow. It sealed the door, and signaled the fact that he had no chance whatsoever. And the remaining Democratic candidates should take heed at what it says about Democrats and the nation.

John Edwards was the voice of ‘2 Americas’ as he called it. The though that there was a rich and poor America and nothing else. He ignored the middle class in this manner, and was a hypocrite at the same time. I call him a hypocrite in the same way that I call Senator Clinton and Warren Buffett that. Because it is each of these individuals that have said that the wealthy, which is never defined, need to pay more in taxes. Yet not one of them, each at least a multi-millionaire, has ever voluntarily paid an excess in their taxes. Not one has made a gift to the IRS, money that is not from their taxes or a write-off. Not one has ever been willing to lead by example, thus that whole complaint falls flat with me.

That does not mean that we don’t have poor in this nation. As I’ve mentioned about my own experience, the education system is abysmal for African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, and minorities in the cities around the nation. But listening to a man who gets $400 haircuts and made money off of the vulture financing that caused the mortgage crisis that is magnified in the minority communities in the nation, seems disingenuous.

What does the loss of John Edwards mean?

Some pundits expect him to give his support to Senator Obama. Some pundits think that such a call will fail and his supporters will go to Senator Clinton instead. But the best answer is this; the Democratic race has come down to deciding what is more important and comfortable: a woman or a Black man.

I’m not saying experience and change. That is just polispeak, and is in fact nothing. Change is inevitable. President Bush is not running, and every candidate has views that differ from the President. The next President will change the direction of America, that’s just a fact and obvious. The only part of the change that will occur that is important is the fact that the decisions made by the next President will affect how the world, and terrorists, will view America. That the choices made will lock America into a direction that will be unchangeable for at least a decade or likely more.

And experience is probably the biggest joke and polispeak. Neither of the Democratic candidates have significant experience. If you listen to the various speeches of Senator Clinton, she has somewhere between 35 and 14 years of experience. That is just a lie.

Depending on which speech you are comparing she is including her time as wife of the Governor of Arkansas, where she has no responsibility or power and was not elected by the populace. It includes her time as First Lady, which is not an elected position with any power and minimal influence at best. She in fact did not gain experience until she failed to get her healthcare initiative passed and nothing else until she became a Senator. Mind you that as a Senator I am unaware of a single Bill that she has created or passed.

And as for Obama, he has the experience of being a junior Senator for a very short period of time, and more as an elected official in the Illinois State government.

So the choice of experience is really not a factor, nor is change. The real question left is can Democrats live with the thought of a potential woman or African American as President. Coupled with that thought is which of those 2 choices can the country accept as a possibility as opposed to a Republican White male candidate (likely in my opinion to be Senator John McCain).

It will be quite telling to see what Democrats choose in Super Tuesday. It will be interesting to hear what former-President Bill Clinton will be saying now as well.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Senator John McCain wins Florida, Super Tuesday sweep is possible

The Republican Florida results are final, and Senator John McCain has won. This was not an overwhelming win. It was not a landslide by any means. But it does confirm several indications, and may well be a precursor to the events of Super Tuesday.

As I had expected, Rudy Giuliani is done. His support will be going to Senator McCain after his unsurprising 3rd place finish with just 15% of the vote. His emphasis on 9/11 and his targeting of New Yorkers has proven to fail to ignite the hearts of Republican primary voters. Personally, considering his at best mixed social issues policies during his time as New York City Mayor, I’m glad.

Mike Huckabee seems to be completely out of steam now. While he may stay on until after Super Tuesday on Feb 5th when the polls close, his chance of winning the nomination only exceeds that of Ron Paul. His lack of strength and highly religious stance may be a factor among the super religious, but for an America of multiple faiths he fails to gain ground. I’m surprised he is still in this race after his 4th place ‘win’ in Florida, but in a week I predict he will be out as well. I expect his supporters to go to Senator John McCain as well.

Senator John McCain, I expect, will have a battler on his hands and will ultimately gain the Republican nomination. His long record of service for the nation, his commitment to our troops in the face of a lack of popularity and a wave of those willing to turn and run are keys to his appeal. He is well respected, and as much as Republicans may be considering the economy at this moment – due to recent events – there are other issues that are primary in this election.

Thus I expect Mitt Romney to get close but ultimately lose. I do not expect him to get the Vice-Presidential nod, nor will Huckabee and Giuliani. There are too many reasons not to pick Mitt Romney, and sadly his religion is among them. That is not my opinion, but what I gather from the exit polls and comments across the net. There are some things in America we are not yet ready for, it would appear.

Ron Paul will get the attention he deserves in my mind, this sentence.

If I am correct, and senator McCain moves on to gain the Republican nomination the question that comes next is who will the Democrats pick? Then comes who will be his Vice-President?

In terms of the Democratic race, I expect a bitter fight. Slurs based on race are not done yet I expect, and with each win for Senator Obama I expect more. The Clinton campaign will fight tooth and nail for the win. They have already bent several pledges and rules, and provoked legal action when things have not gone their way. I expect more to come.

Who will ultimately win? It’s too hard to say. But if Senator Clinton does win, I expect a landslide victory. I will say that now, but I won’t go further at this time.

The Republican race is all but done. The Democrats are in trench warfare. The chances of an Obama-Clinton ticket (or vice versa) is non-existent. The Republican VP is anyone’s guess.

After a year of preparation, the real battle for the Presidency of 2008 is about to start. In the spirit of the Olympic Games, Let the games begin!

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Will the Federal Reserve stop the move in gold markets

Gold has hit $921 and the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a $146 billion stimulus package. The Fed is set to cut rates another .50 basis points, or so the world hopes, and financials are rising in the stock market.

So the run in gold and gold stocks is over? Not necessarily.

The fact is that little has changed. The mortgage crisis still has at least one more quarter to go. Oil may not be at the record levels set recently, but it is far above year ago levels. The cost of heating and gasoline are hitting the pockets hard, and the economy is slowing down causing fears of job loss. Demand is still high in China and India, and the political outlook in the world is no less volatile than it has been for years. And a recent power outage in South Africa looks like it will cause even more tightening of supplies.

In the most optimistic outlook, the rate cuts will not take a hold until late in the 3rd quarter at the earliest. Companies and individuals are now looking to pay off debt and not expand. The stimulus package will likely fail as many Americans will use the funds that will come in the late spring or summer to shore up debts and bills rather than going on a spending spree. And all this is just in America.

That also assumes that oil stays at current levels, no additional political instability, the mortgage crisis ends completely in this quarter, and the world economies have no surprises. It also assumes that new housing sales pick up from the 28 year low that was just broken, and a return to mid 1990’s or 2000 levels. How likely is that?

I expect that analysts are going to cut production rates across the board for the South African gold miners, and slash quarterly and year expectations. [Already gold miners like AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold have had thier share prices hit] Miners in other parts of the world should get a boost if new mines come on-line during the potential 6 weeks that South Africa is down, like Goldnev Resources Inc which just had positive results on recent core drilling tests.

So a glut in the gold market is not going to happen any time soon. Nor is political stability a reality. Oil is high, and the U.S. economy is lagging. And this says nothing of how the Dollar is valued versus the world currencies.

Given all this, do you think that calls for gold at $1000 just a week ago are inflated? Do you think that gold stocks have hit the wall of their appreciation?

All stock markets, all financial markets, move on emotion first. That’s given. And few things are more emotional that 1.25 basis point moves by the Fed in a week. But fundamental facts of the markets always come to fore and correct the emotion. To me, $1000 gold, and higher gold stocks across the world, is as fundamentally sound today as when I discussed it earlier this month and in December of 2007.

But then again I’m not a specialist. [You might want to look at what the one of the specialist – Goldman Sachs - had to say back in the ancient time of November 29, 2007 though] I suppose only time, demand, and investors will show what is the right view.

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Hillary Clinton 'bends rules' and wins Florida

So Hillary Clinton has done it again. For the second time since the start of the Democratic nomination process this year, she has won a race that no other Democratic candidate has tried to be in. Even more importantly, the crucial number of delegates that will decide who is the party’s nominee, has not changed as Florida had 0 delegates to give.

This was generally known beforehand. All the Democratic candidates had previously agreed with the DNC not to compete or advertise in Florida. That there would be no delegates up for grabs. And at this moment not one candidate has entered Florida under that agreement, except Hillary Clinton. Something that The Nation had a few words on.

“Clinton's move insults not just the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire who trusted her pledge but also the voters of all the states that respected the DNC's outline for the nominating process. Effectively, she is saying to Democrats in states that will participate in February 5th's "Super Tuesday" primaries and caucuses and in the two dozen states that have scheduled later votes: You may follow the rules if you please, but I write the rules as I please.”

But after the significant and embarrassing loss in South Carolina, the intense backlash against the Clinton’s for their continuous and race based attacks on Senator Obama, and the impressive and highly publicized endorsement of Senator Barack Obama by Senator Ted Kennedy the Clinton campaign needs a win.

Does the Florida result mean anything?

It depends on how you want to look on it. There was nothing at risk for any of the candidates, except the ability to say I won. Everyone was following pledges that they made previously and thus saved money for the use on Super Tuesday, except Senator Clinton.

But the Clintons do have a reason. Like their veiled actions in Michigan, they are looking to use their results to their advantage.

“On the Democratic side there is less and more in the results. While Senator Clinton did win, the race was hardly in existence. 2 of the major candidates were not available as a choice, half the number of delegates are possible and everyone knew it.”

In that case and in Florida the Clinton campaign is gambling that eventually the full delegates available will be released, and as the winner she will claim those delegates. The other candidates have respected the decisions of the DNC and are working with what is available.

But this seems to be a bit of a trend for Hillary Clinton, and her seeming win-at-all-cost efforts.

There are her actions in Michigan, which resulted in a huge turnout and nearly 40% of the voters choosing uncommitted instead of Hillary. There are her appearances in Florida. And there is the legal action that suddenly “just happened” to occur right after Senator Obama received an endorsement from that states biggest union.

Some could call that desperation. Especially when that is coupled with attempts of her campaign to incite images of stereotyping, terrorism and marginalization based on Senator Obama’s name, book on his life, and color of skin. Others would call it smart politics. In Florida it was called a win by Hillary.

One thing I will say is that it does set the tone of the Democratic race and what may happen on Super Tuesday. And I must pause as I consider this thought.

Many Democrats are livid with President Bush. They claim he has broken the law and done whatever he wishes with the Presidency. Yet Senator Hillary Clinton has continuously broken or bent the rules in multiple Primaries to date, and engaged in arms distance morally corrupt racist, Islam phobic, gender baited attacks. As the opinion of The Nation said and I quoted above

“You may follow the rules if you please, but I write the rules as I please.”

If that statement is true, how is it different than what Democrats say about President Bush? How is it better?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chinese stocks continue their rollercoaster ride

Are the Chinese stock markets poised to drop again? And if they do will it be a buying opportunity or the beginning of a bear market? Those are the questions that are on the minds of stock traders and investors as the Asian markets stumble lower. Perhaps the only answers will come from America, predominantly from the Fed and the economy,

So far Monday there has been a 5.5% drop in the Shanghai Composite Index, with Hong Kong down 4.7%. This is following the drop in U.S. markets on Friday, and reflects the insecurity many have about the next moves of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Expectations after last weeks astounding .75 basis rate cut were that this week’s regularly scheduled meeting would provide another .50 basis point rate cut. Those expectations have come under question and the markets have sold in the face of that uncertainty.

The lagging U.S. economy is causing ripples throughout the world. Fears of a recession in America have hit financial sectors across the globe. While the Fed’s rate cuts have been a strong reassurance, the underlying weakness of the economy is still a factor that affects everyone. Many are looking to see if the proposed stimulus package will be enacted in time and with enough force to avert further slowdowns. The final effect of the stimulus plan is debatable though.

So as the Chinese financial sector bobs like a buoy on the ocean, fears of further losses both near-term and long term are abounding. One thing that is not being spoken about is a benefit that only China has in this year. The Olympics.

Unlike the forced injection of capital planned in the U.S., China has the Olympic Games which will bring in capital to its communications, travel, lodging, and services industries. This boost is temporary, but is enormous. 2nd and 3rd quarter numbers are bound to get a bonus, and coupled with continued lower rates from America could overcome any world recession fears.

The real questions seem to be, is America in a recession, how long will it last, and how slow will it be. There is no question that world interest rates will be going lower, led by America. It’s likely that another .50 - .75 basis points will be dropped before the end of the year. Most might agree that it could happen as soon as the end of the 2nd quarter.

Perhaps the only sector that is weathering the questions and intermediate volatility with relative ease has been the mining sector. Huge demand for gold and other base metals continues to be on the rise in China and India. Prices for gold remain at virtual record levels, with futures markets still trending up.

So whether or not the Fed moves rates this week or not, the real questions will take a month or 2 to be resolved. Until then cautious decisions and opportunities will rise and fall like an Olympic pole vaulter. [Obviously joke writing is not my main pursuit.]

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What Senator Ted Kennedy endorsing Senator Obama means

Well the Clinton political machine seems to have finally got in a pissing match they could not win. Polispeak aside, the endorsement by Senator Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy clan is a massive action. The entire Democratic nomination race may have taken a new direction that no one expected.

The power of the Kennedy family is without question in American politics. They stretch from New England to California. They include Congressmen, Senators, and the Guvernator. Their supporters range in age from the pre-baby boomers to the first time voters that are a force in this election. The name of the family alone has more political clout than most candidates have had.

According to some sources the Clinton machine had been looking to court the Kennedy endorsement. But they assumed too much. With the constant attacks on Senator Barack Obama based on the divisive issue of race, the insult to Dr. Martin Luther King and the slighting of JFK’s role in the Civil Rights movement, and the potential of driving a wedge in the Democratic party separated by race I think the Kennedy’s got fed up.

I have no doubt that all of the above played a part in the decision of JFK’s daughter in endorsing Senator Obama. Then came what may have been the final straw if it’s true. President Clinton supposedly called Senator Ted Kennedy and asked him not to say anything. Which led to 3 Kennedy’s endorsing Senator Obama today.

Arrogance can only take you so far. Manipulation and derogatory comments are only so effective. Especially when the Kennedy political machine spans the nation and decades in public office.

The Northeast is now probably Obama country. California may be a new stronghold. Older Democrats, liberals, poor and all the other categories that the Kennedy name affects, that Hillary Clinton has previously had an edge on, are all in question. The Clintons must be as angered by these events as they are unsure of the win a mere year ago they presumed.

Ted Kennedy’s speech was powerful and clear. He is a Democrat. He will support the nominee of the Party. And he is dedicated to do everything he can to make sure Senator Obama is that nominee.

I’ve said before that I felt Senator Obama might not win. I’ve mentioned that the use of race as a tool to divide the Democratic Party and provide Hillary the win is an effective strategy. I know that the comments by Bill and all the various staffers have angered many. I know the attempts by Bill to minimize the wins of Senator Obama, and a great leader that was Dr, Martin Luther King polarized the Democratic Party. But this was unexpected. This is a wildcard that could be the beginning of a landslide that is enormous.

Will this be close? Of course. Is momentum changing sides? I don’t think it’s stopped since the nominations process started on January 1st. But this is the first time I seriously think that the math and support behind Senator Obama is enough to give him the win.

Regardless of political affiliation or guidelines you may hold, this must be impressive. And you have to say that now, more than ever before, that Rev. Jesse Jackson is not Senator Obama. That 2008 is not 1984. That we may see a Black President and that first Black President will actually be African American.

It’s not exciting because I may or may not agree with Senator Obama, or that I may or may not want/need him to win. Rather it’s exciting because it means that in the highest office, and in the most visceral manner, America is becoming a land of the free and equal. And that is something that I think every American can appreciate and look forward to.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Senator Obama wins South Carolina, possibly at the cost of the Democratic nomination

Astounding. Senator Barack Obama has been called the winner of the South Carolina Primary. He has resoundingly beaten all the other Democratic candidates. The numbers are roughly 58% of those identified as Democrats, 25% of Whites, and 50% of those under 30 years old. I’m sure those numbers will change at time passes.

So what does this mean? Well there is good and bad in these numbers. 78% of African Americans voted for Senator Obama, 17% for Senator Clinton. But Senator Clinton has been targeting the poor, uneducated, White and Hispanic/Latino vote. South Carolina has been used as a stepping stone for the Super Tuesday national votes.

There is no question that former-President Bill Clinton has introduced race in a manner that was obvious and calculated more than anything in 2007. That is not so much a surprise but a signal. The Clinton campaign has consistently been seeding the racial divide in the nation, with subordinates making comments and passing emails that attack Senator Obama, for months. But it was Bill Clinton that brought this to a new level.

As Senator Clinton disappeared from the major news coverage, Bill to front stage. Being a former President, there is no competition anyone can give him for media coverage of anything he chooses to say. And he said exactly the things that would emphasize to White voters that Obama is Black.

Now why does that matter? Besides the fact that the majority of voters are White, it’s the fact that race still does matter in America. It affects our perceptions and is evident in our daily lives. Look at virtually any television show, cable or broadcast, and count the number of minorities on that program. You will virtually always see 1 supporting cast member that is Black, 1 will be Hispanic/Latino, 1 or 2 women, and maybe 1 in 5 shows have an Asian. Race matters.

In addition is the fact that the attacks against Senator Obama, by a former-President minimize the importance of Senator Obama. Not because of his qualifications, but because he is JUST a Black candidate. It presumes that he is just a flash in the pan and not a serious option.

And lastly because Bill Clinton is so revered by Democrats, his disapproval implies that there is something wrong with Senator Obama. In a nation that was built upon the thought that A White male is always right versus a Black slave, it makes an impact. And for those that say we have grown beyond that, just look at the numbers of African Americans that are still being proven innocent of crimes they have spent decades in prison for, solely on the basis that a witness said that they thought this was the perpetrator of a crime. Often that misidentification, by a White witness, is more than enough to convict a Black defendant.

So now Senator Obama has been officially labeled the Black candidate. He is perhaps finally Black enough. Or too Black if you go by some small minds and the suggestions of people like BET founder Bob Johnson.

So what will be the outcome? Obviously Senator Obama will continue forward, as will Senator Clinton and John Edwards. Edwards has no real chance of winning the nomination. So I expect he will drop out after the Super Tuesday primaries on February 4th. Without question I expect he will shift his support to Hillary.

Major emphasis will be made that Senator Obama only is getting 25% of the White vote, ignoring his Iowa dominance and cross the racial lines popularity. And for those that thing Obama will get the Vice-President nod, I don’t think so. It’s not even an option.

Obama is too popular, and a ticket that has 2 ‘minorities’ [White women are not a minority to me] is too likely to be beaten by a Republican ticket. Especially if Senator John McCain is the Presidential candidate.

Overall I am upset by the numbers we are seeing. Because there is such a racial divide, caused by the calculations of the Clinton campaign, the Democratic nomination is now virtually assured of going to Clinton. And it means that it was won not because of qualifications, or the belief of the nation of who is the best candidate for the Presidency, but because of the lingering racism that is the backbone of this nation.

I had hoped America was better than that. But the Clinton campaign has bet big on this, and I expect they have won that bet.

At least Senator Obama will have made credible and real in-roads for the next qualified candidate. Perhaps then America will be ready. Though I would love to see that I am wrong, and race drops out of this nomination process. But like Pandora’s Box, once it’s been opened it’s too late.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Explaining my fiction post about a President Obama - 1.26.2008.1

Due to several direct comments, and a couple found on DIGG, I see that the intent of my posts Excerpt of President Obama - a what if press release and President Obama - a what if press release - 1.25.2008.3 were not understood for what I was intending. To that end I am providing the following clarification of what I intended.

Wow, the responses are really amazing. So far I’m noticing that few are getting the point of my fictional future press release.

I’ve been told I’m fear mongering, and that it was completely inappropriate. And a few other comments as well. Well let me be more direct since that seems the only way to get the point out to more people.

I’m not advocating the death of Senator Obama. Far from it. I would never suggest such an act on any Presidential candidate or President. But such an act is a potential reality, and I feel the reactions I’ve received so far prove it. I think that it’s a fear that all African Americans have for whoever becomes the first Black President.

The post was intended to highlight that there are deep and real racial divisions in America today. That Senator Obama is not only fighting against Senator Clinton, but the perceptions and prejudices in America that have endured for centuries.

My fictional President was a man that was principled. He helped America achieve several breakthroughs that we all wish to have happen in America. He resolved the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that currently divide much of the country. He resolved the economic crisis that currently, and in the near future, is a reality and a problem for the nation. He minimized the threat to our lives from fanatical individuals that wish the death of every American for no reason other than the way they wish to observe their faith.

And in trying to further unify a nation, that previously was divided on issues of injustice in the legal system, sexual orientation and bias of gender religion and color, he was killed by a couple of small minds that refused to see America beyond a limited black and white.

It’s a sad tale, and tragedy often tells some of the best stores of mankind. It’s a morality post. A point that while we can resolve many of the transcendental and even serious issues that face America, the underlying issues at our core are not being addressed. And the cost of ignoring those issues can be devastating.

I went on to suggest that the loss of a great leader could have an impact that covers the globe, potentially affecting everyone on the planet. That even out most determined enemies would not wish to take on the wrath of a nation that would then be in the throes of a social upheaval that was caused by people closing their eyes to an issue for centuries.

Of course African Americans would be in riots. No less so than at the loss of Martin Luther King. Or after the Rodney King riots. The shock of injustice and the festering pain of centuries of inequality often lead to bouts of rage and anger. Especially if those emotions are bottled up generation after generation.

I’m highlighting that it’s the same kind of small-mindedness that is being employed by the Clinton campaign against Senator Obama. And that tactic is working, which it could not unless such racial divisions still festered under the surface of modern day America. That we are seeing race used as a tool to provide a means of segregating Democrats, and the nation.

I fully intended to shock people with the post. But I also wanted to show that even in the worst of outcomes, there are moments of greatness. The greatness in this case being the legacy and achievements of what my fictional President Obama did with the Presidency. Not hollow platitudes, not campaign promises but real action that benefits tens of millions of Americans.

I further went on to ask question that I thought would further provoke thoughts. Because there are many who fear the thought of a Black President. Because there are those that assume that a Black President will inevitably be killed. Because there are those that fear a Black President will change everything in America. And yes that a Black President might mean that the racial tensions that have always existed in this nation, and the war for equality suggested for decades by multiple organizations for multiple reasons, could come to pass.

I asked if America would be better off if each event happened. By that I meant

“…winning of the nearly decade long Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the virtual elimination of the terrorist organization Al Quida, … his quick actions to restore normalcy in the earthquake ravaged suburbs of San Diego, the recovery from the 2 year economic recession of 2008, his work on balancing the American legal systems’ enforcement and punishment and rights of gays, women and minorities.”

Don’t we all want the wars to end and America win if at all possible? Don’t we all want a government that can react to natural disasters and ensure or ability to return to normalcy? Don’t we all want a stable and growing economy that allows us and our children to live the American dream of better lives? Should we all not live by the same laws, enforced equally with fairness and justice? Shouldn’t we all have no fear of persecution based on our color of skin, our religion gender and sexual orientation?

In truth there are some that don’t want these things. But I feel the majority do. Yet it is that minority that must be guarded against.

Perhaps my post was too realistic. Perhaps the fears we all don’t speak about came to life for a brief moment. If so that is good. Because it is in discussing those fears and their causes that make us grow and become stronger.

And in truth I don’t care if a woman, a Republican or Democrat, Black White or Hispanic are President. Not if they have the best intention of America at heart. Right now some of our candidates do. Some are just seeking power for their own personal gain. And some are just looking to extend the political power and partisanship that has existed and weakened America for decades.

I truly believe that America is a great nation. I know from experience in traveling part of the world that it is unique. Our freedoms and unity, such as they are, are unseen in the scope and depth they attain here.

And I believe without reservation that if all America votes we will gain the best President we can, and eventually the best President period. That in voting we will gain a better stronger and more unified nation. Because this still is a nation of the people.

Sometimes a shock can remind us of how fragile these rights and freedoms are. Sometimes we forget what happens if we aren’t open and honest about our past and present. Because everything can change if we let a few closed minds take control and make decisions for us all. But we need to be involved.

If you are angry by my mock post, good. You should be. It wasn’t meant to be a nice thing, but it was meant to provoke shock and thought, and discussion. If it causes you to act, to vote, to be involved with the Presidential election and the things happening around you then it is worth the anger being directed at me.

But don’t just read it on the surface and let it pass. Don’t assume I have anger in my heart. If you’ve read my 1000+ posts, you will understand that I am passionate in my views. Perhaps I could have worded this better. But sometimes a blunt weapon is better than the finest point.

I hope not to lose readers because of this fictional post. It was not made lightly, or in jest. There was no humor in its creation. Nor is there any attempt to generate fear. That was not its point.

I suppose I could have made this part of the original post, but I did not think that was necessary. I was wrong. But I stand by the post, and its original intent.

Hopefully now it is more clear on why I created it. Hopefully all my readers can understand that and respect me for it.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

President Obama - a what if press release - 1.25.2008.3

**A fictional press release**

Major City in America – A date some time between 2009 - 2012 -- America still reeling 3 days after the shocking assassination of its leader.

On the 1st day after the assassination of President Barack Obama, by at least 3 men from a fringe radical group, America is still in turmoil. Across the nation riots continue to encompass most of the major cities. New York, Los Angeles, and D.C. are all in states of emergency as huge crowds of African Americans continue to express rage at the murder of the nations first Black President.

The riots started shortly after President Obama was shot while addressing the nation, offering an official apology from the United States Government to all the descendants of Africans enslaved in America from 1619 to 1865. The apology was a huge political hotbed of debate prior to the speech, with dozens of legislators and governors of both political parties publicly disagreeing with the President’s intent to issue the apology. Several hate groups had been actively suggesting that if the apology were made that it was the final straw and that action would need to be taken against President Obama.

While President Obama had encountered consistent death threats since his election win in 2008, and 2 prior attempts on his life, he had stated that he would go through with the speech. Even pressure from within his own political party was not enough to sway his determination.

“There has been too much time that has passed without acknowledging the contributions and sacrifice these founding Americans made for this nation. While they were taken from their homes and families against their will, they helped to create the nation we have today and their progeny stand side by side with Americans from every race, religion and country in equality and peace. It’s time we say that America made a mistake then, and that we can now look forward to a future no longer marred by the past we so long refused to speak about.”

Shortly after beginning his speech to the nation, at least 3 men fired on the President. Two of the men were in the large crowd that had gathered for the speech, armed with 9mm pistols, and another was inside an office building with a rifle, of unknown power and make at this time. The President was struck at least 5 times.

The 2 men in the crowd were apprehended quickly after being shot in an exchange of fire with police and Secret Service agents. One died on the scene, the other is in critical condition under guard in an undisclosed hospital in the area. The third suspect was caught in the resulting dragnet of the city 4 hours later. It is unknown if there were any other individuals involved in the assassination.

Within minutes of the senseless murder of the leader of the nation, several racist hate groups denied involvement in the attack. Also videotaped denials were released by the current leader of Al Quida, refuting early claims that the assassination was retribution for the successful end of the Iraq war and the death of Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden was killed in the waning months of the Iraq War, trying to re-enter Pakistan in a firefight with U.S. forces that attempted to capture him and his small entourage of terrorist supporters.

Riots broke out around the nation within minutes of the announcement that President Obama had died while doctors were operating on him to save his life. The President had been undergoing emergency surgery for 2 hours after being shot, and the doctors performing the surgery stated that the damage inflicted was just to severe to counter.

The worst of the riots are in the renovated sections of New Orleans and Chicago where the President previously called home prior to his election, and where he served as an Illinois Senator.

World leaders continue to issue statements of remorse, and call for peace in this distressing time in America. Several nations have voiced concern over the control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and the military which has also reported several events of fighting and disturbances at bases across the world. While there has been no sigh of a breakdown of nuclear control, or fractioning of the military, international tensions have increased significantly.

Religious leaders of all faiths, particularly Civil Rights leaders Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton and even the controversial Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, have all called for calm. So far these calls have gone unheeded.

It is unclear how long this unrest will last. Few imagined that the possibility of an apology for slavery could cause such chaos. But the whole world is paying attention to what the former Vice-President and now President will do.

President Obama will be known for his winning of the nearly decade long Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the virtual elimination of the terrorist organization Al Quida, the continuing fight against the ‘Gods Arm’ terrorist organization that replaced Al Quida, his quick actions to restore normalcy in the earthquake ravaged suburbs of San Diego, the recovery from the 2 year economic recession of 2008, his work on balancing the American legal systems’ enforcement and punishment and rights of gays, women and minorities.

***The previous is a fictional news release that could happen. There are those in America that fear this becoming a possibility. Many refuse to acknowledge this fear, or even the consideration of several of the events I have described.

I hope to never see such a news release. But it is a real possibility. Yet if this were to happen, and the events I’ve detailed came to pass, what would happen next?

Would America be better for each of these things to happen? And what if the assassination or even attempts never happened? What if these events, enacted by my fictitious President Obama, were done by a Republican candidate, or Hillary Clinton?

The real question here is that there are real issues before America, and the next President will need to address them. Many of the problems are deeper than the mere surface questions debated about currently.

We all have the right to vote. That vote implies many things, and directly determines the direction this nation will take. Don’t squander that vote. Don’t sell it cheaply because of the race, gender, political party, or 30 second polispeak answer of a candidate.

If we all vote, I believe we will select the best person (whomever that may be), and direction, for all of America. The President should have no less in mind, and we should elect that President for no less of a reason.

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How do you beat an African American Presidential candidate? 1.25.2008.2

How do you beat an African American Presidential candidate? This is not just a question that the entire Clinton political machine is working on or should be concerned with. Be assured, Republican strategists are paying full attention to some of the most effective and base tactics being used currently. And the future Presidential candidates, or even more local level election hopefuls, should take notes.

The precedent is being defined in front of our face right now. And many of the tactics will appear again. I would even state as a near guarantee that in the future the attacks and tricks will even be worse than what we are seeing now, as future opponents will push the line further than where it is being actively drawn now. I expect that the truly low points of what this could mean are angering, demeaning, and divisive.

What are some of the tactics?

One of the first that will be used is to attack the heritage of the Black candidate. Their family tree will be examined and any past actions, made by any member of the family, will be fair game. The education of your parents, their nations of origin, how much money they make, and more will be brought up.

If you have a parent that believed in getting in touch with their roots and gave you a more traditional African name, expect ridicule. If that name has any connection to any religion other than Christianity, you will be labeled by that religion without regard to what you may devoutly believe. If that religion is out of favor, or in any way attached to a negative, you will be attached to that as well. And even if you are Christian, your faith will be questioned, as well as the type of Christian faith you observe.

If you have any parentage that is not African American, or recent predecessors that are not, then you will be in a vicious circle attack. Like sharks in a feeding frenzy you will be attacked on one side for not being Black enough, separated from other African Americans and the struggles of the Black community. At the same time you will be assaulted for being Black, and thus only interested in a specific pool of issues that many non-Black Americans fear and disagree with.

To counter any of these actions, in fact to even mention that they are being used will open you to media attacks stating you are playing the race card. That any defense you offer is merely lowering the issues to claims of prejudice and inequality. It doesn’t matter if your defense is true, you are still to blame.

If you are successful, as virtually every politician is independently of the office they hold (at least at the state and federal level), then you have no understanding of what inner city African Americans go thru. You are a sell-out, and a wanna-be. Opponents will line up Blacks that are no less successful, well spoken, and recognized to boast your ignorance to Black audiences. The media will highlight these attacks, placing your life into question.

If you have made any missteps, admitted or not, they will be taken to stereotypical extremes. Today in America 31% of high school students have used marijuana, 66% have used alcohol, and 6% have used cocaine. That says nothing of the millions of adults that used cocaine in the 1980’s (the most popular drug at the time) or the uncounted masses of adults that used marijuana (and inhaled) in the 1960’s and continue to use it today. But be an African American and you will not be a mere user like the millions of other Americans. You will be presumed as a drug pushing dealer, the equal of the stereotypes promoted in movies and television for decades.

And at every step your opponent will be above the fray. Subordinates, associates, and ‘unrelated’ parties will be making the attacks for your opponent. The major news media will populate these smears for weeks, and views of these attacks will be front page items. The apologies and firing of these outside ‘rogue’ operatives will be far less popular. Any attempt by you to connect the dots will be called race baiting.

And then the biggest part will come to play. In every vote, if you gain non-Black support you will be called a sell-out and will have abandoned your heritage. If you gain Black support you will be defined as singularly a candidate of only African Americans, and out of touch of the needs of the rest of America.

Every item I have mentioned has not only occurred since 2007, but continues to happen now. And I expect that if a woman were in contention similar attacks will be made. But the tactics really play out best when the candidate is Black, or a minority. The obvious and entrenched racial disparity in America really comes to the top when any aspect of race is even hinted at. It even goes so far as to attack acclaimed and recognized leaders that sought peace and equality.

So I want to know this. Are we as American citizens so blind as to not see the tactics being used? Have we traveled so little since the days of segregation and fire hoses being used on peaceful Civil Rights supporters? Or do we expect so little of our political leaders that when shameful and base tactics are used we ignore it?

Really, I want to know.

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Dennis Kucinich and the Presidential election: never the twain shall meet

Another one bites the dust. The list of former Presidential candidates increased today with they loss of Dennis Kucinich from the Democratic Party. Such is the toll of the debates, Primaries, and Caucuses. But I have to give the man credit, he garnered about 4% in most of the votes, he had Viggo Mortensen as his celebrity support and he is not giving any of the remaining candidates his support at this point.

I especially liked the fact he was the only candidate to speak about, in a nationally televised debate, the issue of an apology for slavery and reparations. When every Democratic candidate on the stage with him that night, there were 7 others, was asked if they would comment they all went dead silent. They wouldn’t even raise their hands on the issues. Cowardly. But Kucinich stated that he favored an apology, and reparations. And he made a quick but thoughtful answer as to why.

He may be out of the race, and little is known about his positions, but I gained a lot of respect for him in that moment. Far more than the leading Democratic candidates that are campaigning in South Carolina, and using race as both a weapon and tool. The leading Democratic candidates that made wonderful speeches on Monday while celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday, yet could not address, in any manner, a basic question that has been in the floating in the background of American politics since 1869,

But Democrats, of all races, should never doubt that the remaining candidates will be willing to take the lead in supporting their issues. Just as long as the popular opinion is in favor of the idea, it doesn’t cost much, and the Government does not have to admit any fault. Just as long as it won’t interfere with their ability to raise cash from special interest groups. Just as long as making platitudes of a certain theme on specific holidays will ensure that you go to that voting booth and give them your support.

So the choices have whittled down just a bit more. With it the choices and diversity of opinion available to the American public. Such is the race for the Presidency of 2008.

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I Love America! That's why I vote - first step - 1.25.2008.1

The Presidential election is an import even in America. The up-coming 2008 election is even more important than most in my opinion. Readers of my political commentary at VASS are familiar with the fact that I believe this is a crucial point in the future of America.
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Given this belief, I have followed and commented on various aspects of the Presidential candidates, the issues, my observations of average people discussing their concerns, and the truth that is often shaded or avoided by pundits, media and the candidates. Since 2006 I have dedicated an extreme amount of time trying to stay abreast of all the most relevant issues and news. More importantly I have tried to be neutral in my coverage of all of my posts.

But that is not enough.
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My comments and observations are meant to provoke thought and inspire those readers that have not voted to be involved. I do not question the reason for anyone to not have voted before, or for some time. I do not question the choice anyone might make for President. I respect everyone’s ability to go into the voting booth and choose whomever they wish, and for whatever reason.

But considering that this up coming election will be so critical on a multitude of issues that will affect every American directly for the next decade at least, I feel more is needed. Again, I am not asking anyone to choose what I believe. In fact I have yet to endorse ANY candidate. But I implore you to be involved and to vote.

I truly believe that it is thru your vote, that America will be able to pick the best choice for the nation and our collective future. Anything less will leave us all with a leader of the free world that is lees than what is needed. With what is at risk in the next 10 years that is too dangerous to ignore.
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So I will be taking further steps to get American citizens to vote. Again, I’m not asking anyone to pick a side that I believe. Just to vote for what YOU believe.

To that end, I have created a line of 61 consumer products that emphasize the importance of our votes. You can see a few of the products here, and each one will link you to my online store where you can see the full product line.

Be proud, stand up and be counted. Don’t sell your vote, or allow it to be bamboozled from you. Show that pride and interest in the greatest good for America with the various t-shirts, mouse pads, mugs, kids clothing, pet cover, aprons, magnets, stickers and so much more.
Found at the M V Consulting online store at
And don’t think this is the only thing I will be doing. There is much more planned, and already a few other bloggers have voiced their support and interest. I will be going for the support of several institutions as well. I plan to work towards increasing the number of voters, because when all of America acts together we do the best things for our nation and the world.

Keep an eye out for press releases and events coming soon. And they will continue all the way up til the votes are all counted and the winner announced.
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And if you like what you see spread the word, display the products, and remind people that the difference in the last several elections was a mere handful of Americans. Your vote counts and it can make a huge difference.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Chinese stock market after the U.S. interest rate cut

As the 23rd of January started in China, a surge of anticipation and excitement took over the feelings of despair and impending doom. Poetic imagery indeed, and it even has a ring of truth to it. More likely the collective held breaths were let out and nervous tensions eased a bit, after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut rates a massive .75 point on the first trading day of the week following the Martin Luther King holiday. The rate cut helped buoy they U.S. stock markets which had opened 450 points down, to only have lost roughly 1/4th that amount by the close.

The impact has been felt on the other side of the planet, and China has rebounded well in the early trading. The Shanghai Composite Index move sharply in the first 5 minutes of trading to gain nearly 2%, ending a 6 day plunge that has totaled some 17% off the Index. Hong Kong Monetary Authority has followed the U.S. Fed dropping rates to 5% from 5.75%, and Chinese banks were expected to do the same, though not necessarily as deep a cut.

Several sectors performed well in the wake of this action. Mining stocks, and particularly those with gold, stood out with better than average gains. This is no doubt due to the combination of continued demand from India and China, the weaker Dollar, and the hedge that gold provides in instable and volatile markets.

BHP Billiton Ltd., the worlds largest mining stock had a dramatic start rising more than on any single day in the past 2 decades already. Bank of China Ltd. was also moving ahead after posting a profit that reversed the expected loss due to sub-prime mortgage loans.

Expectations of a further .25 basis point cut from the Fed at it’s month-end meeting helped to fuel further gains, and increase speculation about the future of the U.S. markets.

Now take a moment to absorb all that.

The Chinese markets have felt the same pain that the world markets have endured, and the relief that America has brought. But that relief may well be conditional and temporary. As mentioned, expectations are for an addition rate cut in the coming days are high, and the future outlook on the American economy is murky at best at this moment.

According to Marvin Fausto, Manila-based chief investment officer at BDO Unibank Inc.,
“Until economic data show the U.S. is out of a recession, sharp gains in equities will not be sustained.”

Add to that the mystery of the Chinese banks losses from sub-prime loans, because Chinese banks aren’t required to announce those losses until April, and things look even shakier.
“We don't have a good read" on the current value of mortgage holdings at Bank of China and other Chinese lenders, said Charlene Chu, a senior director at Fitch Ratings China.”

Now add in the fact that China will allow, on a trial basis, commercial banks to own stakes in insurance companies. And don’t forget the Olympics are coming mid-year.

What do you get?

That is the current state of Chinese stocks. One thing that can be presumed is that the potential recession woes of the United States is far from over in its impact on the world markets. Continued losses due to bad mortgage loans, high oil prices and a rush to gold are all going to have major impacts on the global economy.

PetroChina may well have a bounce that extends further into the year, and mining stocks can see continued interest from hedges with gold and the increased demand from India and China. Financials and insurance may get further interest as banks seek to acquire positions, offsetting potentially bad loans and adding assets to their balance sheets. Transportation, communication, and service industries are still all expected to have a boost from the Olympic games.

Considering the volatility in the world markets so far in the first month of the year, 2008 will keep everyone on their toes.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fed interest rate cut and a bear market nearby bring attention to gold

So where does gold, and gold stocks, go in this new market of overnight rate cuts? Yesterday the American stock market was closed for the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, but the rest of the world markets dropped like rocks. Europe was down almost 7% in each nation, China dropped 5.5% and India fared no better.

So in the face of that news the U.S. markets opened with a drop of 450 points, and the Fed cut interest rates .75 basis points. It’s taken the rest of the day but the market seems to have recovered virtually all of the loss.

But what happens next?

Well the chance of the U.S. stock market dropping 18.5% was one factor driving the price of gold. While the interest rate move has been an impressive move not seen in decades, it also means that the real effects of the rate cute won’t be felt for 6 months at the very earliest. The losses from the mortgage crisis are still not over, and I still continue to see further hits to the various financial securities. Oil is still higher than it has been for decades. Consumer debt has reached more than 50% of the U.S. population.

Gold may have retreated a bit, but the environment hasn’t changed in my opinion. And I’m not alone.
“We suspect that the cuts won’t work. Sentiment has turned and people and companies are now focused on rebuilding their balance sheets. Looser lending conditions will be used to repay debt, not to borrow more. One way or the other, the US is heading for recession, and rate cuts now only risk making inflation a real threat.Of course, it’s all good news for gold. Gold has sold off recently, almost certainly in part due to various players rushing to liquidate easily sold assets to fund losing positions elsewhere. It looked set to fall further today, but the Fed’s announcement arrested the decline almost immediately. We suspect it will be back above $900 an ounce before too long. - John Stepek”

I agree that the current drop in gold has more to do with liquidation for cash in hand than any change in sentiment. Given 3 days for settlement of trades, and margin calls to come out, there may well be a change in direction back to the previous trend.
"This smacks of panic and desperation, but is obviously bullish for gold as interest rate cuts make gold more attractive," said Robin Bhar, UBS metals analyst in London.

So what have some of the gold stocks mentioned recently in this blog done on this turbulent day?
    Western Goldfields Inc - 1.61% up
    Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd - 4.95% up
    Alamos Gold Inc - 4.27% up
    Goldcorp Inc - 3.19% up
    Newmont Mining - 0.42% up
    Zhaojin Mining - 18.63% down Hong Kong
    Lingbao Gold - 16.19% down Hong Kong

Now if you have been paying attention I mentioned there would be a drop to 11,000 on the Dow. That there would be a bear market. That gold would do well, and the financial markets would fare poorly. Given the rate cut today, and the other factors pressuring the market, I continue to believe this will happen.

With the added threat of inflation becoming rampant, I feel this is more true now than back on January 4th (Gold soars in early 2008, but will it stay lofty?) and prior(Will 2008 be a lump of coal or a nice present for investors?).

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Fred Thomspon out of Presidential race, who is next?

So Fred Thompson is out of the Presidential race for the 2008 election. No shock at all. Considering the poor 3rd place results in South Carolina, and the speech made by Thompson that same day, this is not a surprise. Though it is a bit of a shame as the ex-Presidential hopeful did finally start to show a bit of a spark in recent debates and speeches. But his late entry into the race and the poor decisions early in his campaign too their toll on his overall chances.

Rudy Giuliani should take heed.

Just yesterday I was discussing with a friend the fact that so far the entirety of Giuliani’s campaign seems to be New York centric. The biggest draw for this Republican Presidential candidate started with the fact of his actions on 9/11. This has been something that Rudy has not let anyone forget. It’s a constant comment in every speech and debate I have heard him have.

But on top of reminding us that he did perform amazingly on that troubled day, and those that followed it, he has given us little else. And when I say us I mean New Yorkers. Rudy has focused on those from the City, and the state, to carry him to this stage. His near-exclusive attention to Florida is testament to that. For those that are unfamiliar, many older and retired residents of NYC tend to move to Florida. So his focus is basically preaching to the choir to some extent.

If the loss of Fred Thompson is any example, then Rudy’s plan will fail horribly. In addition the fact that he has consistently under-performed Ron Paul in virtually every Primary to-date is no positive for the one-time presumed front-runner.

I won’t even begin to go into my multiple questions on Rudy Giuliani. Suffice to say that his actions as Mayor involved far more than just 9/11. Many have concerns about his social policies, especially in regards to crime prevention, law enforcement, individual rights, and minorities. Little has been spoken on this, and Rudy has dance around the issues, but if he stays in past Florida I virtually guarantee that they will come up. Some of my own questions can be seen from a letter I wrote to his campaign back in April 2007.

Now the questions of when Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards will drop out are beginning to be asked. Ron Paul I expect to see stay in the race until he completely loses all hope on Super Tuesday. Kucinich has consistently gotten about 5% at ever Primary and Caucus, and is the ONLY candidate to answer (or even willing to speak about) the question of an official apology to African Americans for slavery, and reparations. But even that is not enough to gain attention in the major news media. [Sadly I think that may have contributed to his virtual media blackout.]

John Edwards is out. There is no real question that he has the claim for 3rd place, and will be give an offer of the Vice-Presidency again. I will say that if he is given that offer, and he accepts, the Democrats will be odds on favorites to lose. His prior loss, and his less than stellar performance in this election cycle bode badly for anyone he might be matched with.

And I might believe his desire to help out the poor a bit more if I were to see his voluntary contributions to the IRS for the past decade. By that I mean that if he paid MORE than his required taxes of his own volition in past years. Just for the good of the nation. But of course non e of the candidates have done that, though Democrats insist that the top earners in the nation (like themselves) must pay more money on taxes. Yet they won’t do it themselves.

Sorry, I got sidetracked by the obvious 2 faced and diametrically opposed actions of some candidates in the face of what they are calling for on behalf of the nation.

So, in short time we will be finding out that the race will be quite smaller before Super Tuesday. Besides the candidates in both parties that have no real chance but are struggling to fight the good fight, I expect a couple of the big names to fall by the wayside shortly.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Nevada and South Carolina Choose their Presidential candidates

It’s Saturday, and you are planning to go out. But the primaries in Nevada and South Carolina are ongoing. What do you do?

Many forgo the Nevada Caucus, and weather plays a part in the South Carolina Republican Primary. Such is the nature of Commitments and polling for a Presidential Race.

So what have we seen today? In Nevada there was a big win for Mitt Romney, who needed the boost though it is suspect. I say that because of the proximity and number of Mormons that propped up his Caucus numbers. Still it’s a win. For the Democrats, Senator Clinton took the prize. Not that this win was without controversy. Cries of manipulation, from both the Obama and Clinton camps were claimed. And yet another dirty tactic of calls emphasizing the Muslim nature of Senator Barack Hussein Obama’s name.

Did the brouhaha over the place of the Nevada Caucuses for the Democrats play a factor? Can Senator Clinton continue to win on the heels of single women voters? Why has Oprah Winfrey become so silent of late in her support of Obama, and does that play into the response of women voters?

They are all big questions. To some degree they are all factors. And it is clear that the Democratic race will likely hinge on South Carolina, and the ability of Americans to either look past the tan of Senator Obama or focus directly on it as some supporters of Senator Clinton would wish.

What about South Carolina for the Republicans? Well I must be honest; I can’t see Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thomson staying in the race. Neither has done well in any vote to date. Often both candidates have place behind massive longshot and internet favorite Ron Paul [at least I mentioned him].

Even as I write this, Fred Thompson is making a speech (while early polls show him with a 3rd or 4th place position – a win is not possible) that sounds ominously like a preparation to surrender and to shift his support to another candidate. I would expect that when he does give up he will back Senator McCain. They are most inline with each others policies.

I am surprised as Thompson was leading in South Carolina at one point. He spent a huge amount of time there. And his performance in the South Carolina Debate was the most vibrant of virtually any in this race that he has participated in. I imagine that had he shown that fire earlier, and entered the race sooner, things would probably be different. I think Mike Huckabee would be in his position under those circumstances.

The likely winner will be Senator McCain. Already it’s known that the Marines at Paris Island have voted strongly for McCain, as have several other districts. Will it be close? Yes, but a win all the same.

I do find it amazing that religion has been such a critical factor in the Republican race. And for the Democrats it’s race itself. The most emotional and least important aspects of the candidates are the ones deciding who is winning. It is only the basis of religion that continues to carry Mike Huckabee, and drag Mitt Romney (though he is leading in the delegate count). And it is only the single women voters that are maintaining the lead of Senator Clinton. That and the constant subtle and indirect attacks on the religion and race of Senator Obama.

I have even heard another troubling fact. That Black women won’t vote for Senator Obama because they fear that if he wins the nomination, and/or the Presidency, because they believe he will be killed. That reasoning reminds me of a famous, funny, skit by Eddie Murphy back in the 80’s. While it’s probably true, it still shouldn’t be a reason to not vote for him.

But voting for reasons that have no impact on America, or rather the functioning of America is apparent. The racial polarizing is no mistake. It’s an obvious and effective plan to ensure that Americans remember that Senator Obama is Black first, has a suspicious sounding name second, and is not White 3rd.

Mike Huckabee is nearly preaching the need to change the Constitution to a more Christian document. Mitt Romney is trying to avoid the question of what a Mormon is.

Honestly they are all pitiful events. They belittle the Presidential race, and the office they all wish to attain. Personally I don’t want a President that is a religious fanatic (of any religion) nor elected because the population is predominantly one gender over another. Neither reason ensures the greatest good for America. Fear of a darker skin color is just a repugnant reasoning to not elect anyone as well [in fact, it's just repugnant].

The more I follow this election, the more I am being insulted and repulsed by many of the choices before us. But I promised not to give away my choice for the nominations until after the Primaries. Guaranteed I’ll have my personal choice and reasons.

But even with that, what we each choose is as valid as what we do. Our votes speak loudly, and should be heard. Get out and vote. And hopefully we will be able to have a choice between 2 great directions that improve America, versus the choice of the lesser of evils that has plagued many elections over the last 2 decades.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Is the Nevada Caucus the tip of the iceberg for the Clinton campaign

As for the other issues of the day, the Nevada Caucus has taken a new turn now that a judge has allowed the sites in casinos that was originally agreed to months ago without a word of protest. Obviously the main culprit in this 11th hour action seems to be the Clinton campaign. Much to the protests of former-President Bill Clinton.

While there is no question that the teacher’s union led the call for a change, there is no question that this only happened after Senator Obama gained the largest Union in the state as a supporter. That of course was not good for Senator Clinton. The timing is poor considering this was a given back in March of 2007.

Did you notice something else in the video? Did I hear President Clinton state that he thought Nevada Democrats were to stupid to understand a detailed plan they agreed to almost a year ago, and that they only just gained the understanding to question this in the last 2 days? That sounds like an insult to Nevada Democrats. A big one.

But it goes hand in hand with the whining, and dirty tricks that the Clinton campaign has been engaging in since late 2007.

So far there has been attacks on Senator Obama’s religion, admission of drug use and it’s negative impact on his life, race, Iraq war record, experience, and international policy plans. Of course most of the most damaging items have been stated by staffers and supporters, completely independent of Senator Clinton. When lightning strikes once it’s coincidence, but when you watch it hit 5 times you have to wonder.

Is this going to affect the Nevada and South Carolina results? Well so far we have seen that 40% of Michigan voters chose uncommitted over Senator Clinton. 70% of African Americans came out to vote against her even though it would provide no benefit to any other candidate.

While the race in Nevada seems to be close in polls so far, I have not seen any that are asking what minority voters are thinking. Hispanic/Latinos are about 24% of voters there, and Blacks are 7%. Recent negative attacks based on race seem to have had a critical backlash so far, but how it will play out with this new event is unknown.

And in South Carolina, there is a definitive effect showing. There is a roughly 11% lead for Senator Obama and it seems obvious why.

So President Bill Clinton is fustrated and upset. The Clinton campaign seems more ruthless and willing to do anything to win than ever before. And Senator Obama seems more like a real choice and competitor among Democrats.

I’m really not trying to pick a side in the Democratic nomination, but the Clinton campaign does make it difficult at times.

But you can say how you feel about it all here, and definitely when you vote. But unlike your vote you get to comment as often as you want. So let’s hear what you think.

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Presidential candidates proffer economy fixes, but are they worth voting for?

What a day yesterday was. 300 off the Dow Jones Index, an attempt by a couple of unions to change the course of the Nevada Caucus and Bob Johnson apologizes to Senator Barack Obama. What could possibly happen next?

Well the financial news is something that I expect every Presidential candidate to comment on. There will be more calls for rebates from Democrats, and Republicans will try to promise to keep the tax cuts put in place by President Bush. None of this will actually have any affect on the markets, because only one of them will have any voice on the matter, but that will happen in 2009. That’s a whole year of pain and actions by the Fed and our current President to try to sway the downfall.

As I’ve stated previously, this is neither a surprise to me, nor is there a quick fix that will resolve it. All the hoopla that the various candidates are sure to spin is just an attempt to get panicky voters to choose them.

I restate what I said previously about the ‘stimulus packages’ that have been mentioned to date.

“An example is say you own a home. You are behind on the heating bill, because of the huge increase in oil prices. You spend the money on the heating bill bringing you even, until next month when you have another high bill to pay. That rebate was a waste.”

Plus several of the leading candidates of both parties have all flipped their positions. Democrats that hated the tax cuts and called them ineffective for months are now introducing their own plans to boost the economy. And Republicans that disliked the tax cuts are now in favor of them.

But I’m sure you will hear a lot more about specific plans before Monday arrives.

Just remember this, no matter what plan is announced oil is still nearly at all-time high levels, many mortgages are still failing and/or at risk of failing – and not all of them are sub-prime. Food prices are increasing as ethanol production is diverting corn and wheat to this less efficient alternative fuel source and with recent laws mandating increased usage on a national level we can expect even higher prices. The financial sector is not done writing-off their losses for making the bad loans, and more money will be coming from overseas to prop them up.

Net net, there is no quick fix and any candidate who wins will need to realize they will be walking into a mess. I would suggest you don’t look at who has the best ‘sounds great’ plan, but who can deal with multiple issues best.

Because the fact that attention is now turning to the economy, which has long been a issue of importance among citizens according to my polls, does not remove the importance of all the other issues America faces. Our next President must deal with a difficult economy, illegal aliens, a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and keeping the nation safe against insane fanatics that want us dead because we exist.

The pundits and candidates may like to address only one popular poll issue but America is more than just one thing. We need to pick the best person for every issue in America, and those that we are not expecting.

You get one vote, make it count.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Senator Hillary Clinton wins Michigan with a racial split, Republicans still unclear

So we have another primary over and the results of Michigan are upon us. The Republican race is obviously split in multiple directions with no clear advantage to any one candidate.So far we have Mike Huckabee, Senatoir John McCain and now Mitt Romney each with a win (actually Wyoming was the equivalent of Michigan for the Democrats and Mitt Romney won that as well). In fact there are still 2 more candidates (not Ron Paul) that are looking to gain a win before the Super Tuesday finale. Potentially it could be a 5 way race, and that would be unprecidented as far as I know.

On the Democratic side there is less and more in the results. While Senator Clinton did win, the race was hardly in existance. 2 of the major candidates were not available as a choice, half the number of delagates are possible and everyone knew it. Making the win even less worthwhile is the fact of how big a win Senator Clinton received.

In a race against virtually no one and Dennis Kucinich, the number are roughly 56%, 39% and 4% respectively. That’s a big deal. 39% of democratic voters came out just so they could vote against Senator Clinton and no other reason. That says nothing about how many democrats just didn’t bother to vote in a one-sided pointless race.

Perhaps it’s me but I have to believe that when people come out just to be against you knowing they have no benefit in the action, there is a huge amount of distrust anger and dislike out there. The Clinton camp will spin this as they will, but they can’t avoid the facts of the numbers that with no challenge she still can’t get a sweep.

That says nothing of African Americans. With the recent racial attacks directed from the Clinton camp, and even more personal attacks, the results from Michigan show that nearly 70% are against Senator Hillary Clinton. But that polarization goes the other way too, giving Senator Clinton 43% of Whites vs 22% for Senator Obama.

In fact all the racial tensions have done one thing,

“We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will," he said. "We have never believed him to be equal to the white man…” - Sen. Benjamin Tillman in South Carolina, 1900.

That quote was in reference to justifying lynching, but I see it applying. Race is being brought to the forefront and the question being stated, somewhat subtly, is if America is willing to have a Black President. The reason why not is contained in the last part of the quote from Sen. Tillman, and a lingering belief that is held against African American men even today in my opinion.

“and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him."

Gender has long been an issue in the race for the Democratic nomination, used to the advantage of Senator Clinton. Now the fact of race has been put out there, and in every instance it has been used as a weapon to attack Senator Obama.

What happens in Nevada is yet another question. The fact that where the primary is going to be held is an issue. It seems because Senator Obama got the largest union there, decisions made months ago are now at issue. Again it seems a Clinton attack on Senator Obama.

But what will happen in the Republican race? No idea. There is no consensus and no consensus on why. But there are a couple of probable outcomes. Ron Paul has no chance, no matter what his die hard legions on the internet believe. Rudy Giuliani has made a very risky gamble targeting Florida, the retirement haven of many New Yorkers, because he may well be flying in the face of a massive stampede of support for candidates other than himself. Add to that the fact that many natives of New York City did not like his tenure as Mayor, and now being in Florida has not improved their opinion.

Fred Thompson is equally in danger. While slightly better situated in South Carolina, and having made a few strong showings in recent debates, his chances are better than Rudy Giuliani and that has been proven in ever vote to date.

Ultimately, the vicious and brutal nature of the Democratic race is where I am really interested. I have stated I was fearful of the negative use of race against Senator Obama. I have noted that the attacks of Senator Clinton late in 2007 show a desire to inflict whatever damage necessary to win.

I just have to ask the Democrats out there, do you truly want a candidate and potential President that is willing to use whatever manipulation, gender bias, and smears necessary to win?

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Ethanol production - the potential future of renewable energy, the law, and the markets

Oil at $100+ per barrel. Corn at $5 per bushel. Neither is a positive depending on who you ask and what their primary concern is. Neither of them is going to go down in the near-term either.

Why is that important? Because the high cost of oil, and the fact that it will run out in the foreseeable future, requires alternative fuels development and implementation. Those are facts that everyone agrees upon. Equally, because the primary alternative fuel in use now is ethanol, derived mainly from corn kernels, the cost per bushel is increasing. That arguably is increasing the cost of food prices throughout the world, hurting the poor. Not quite a fact, but a possible outcome.

So what is the result? In the U.S. markets ethanol manufacturers are falling, some dramatically by 50%. That’s because there is, or was, a glut of ethanol. I say was because in December 2007 law was enacted to increase ethanol production dramatically.
“Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the requirement in the bill that calls for 9 billion gallons of ethanol this year "obliterates anybody's notion that there is a glut of ethanol out there." Current ethanol usage is about 6.5 billion gallons per year.”

The goal of the law is to increase ethanol use in the United States to 10% of every gallon of gas. That ultimate goal is no small task.

As I mentioned previously,
“Another fact is that ethanol, regardless of blend or if used 100%, is less fuel efficient than gasoline. It takes more ethanol to go as far as with gasoline. Estimates range but roughly ethanol is 2/3 as effective as gasoline. Thus more needs to be used.”

Add to that the even bigger issue of
“…the fact that ethanol is virtually unavailable anywhere outside of 2 states in the nation. Outside of Illinois and Minnesota there are almost no stations offering ethanol to the public. In 4 of the most populous states across the nation (New York, Texas, California, and Florida) there are only 2 stations selling ethanol to the public combined.”

Still the use of blends of ethanol over the recommended levels stated by the Government did increase by 50% in 2007. And claims by Dinneen state that federal farm subsidies for corn decreased by $8 billion and the subsidy for ethanol only cost $3 billion, thus creating a surplus of $5 billion.

It seems that no matter where you stand on the issues there are virtually as many positives as negatives. I will say that no matter what the Government mandate, the actual extent of the current surplus, the fact that 80 additional ethanol plants are planned to be created as of this date, or the cost of oil and corn – none of it will matter if a majority of the nation does not have access to ethonaol fuel.

I previously mentioned [in prior posts on this blog] that such fuel will cost the average American more, no matter what, because of the loss of efficiancy. I already know of a few people that go out of their way (into a neighboring state) just to get non-additive fuel because the difference in efficiency is worth the trip and cost.

But no matter the issues, there is always a positive to any industry where the major players are publicly traded stocks. As I mentioned above there are many ethanol stocks that are suffering. The alternative fuel market is mired in sentiment of a current oversupply, future oversupply, and an unknown path to the enactment of the federal mandate. Yet over at there are thouse with a positive outlook.

Chuck Marvin feels that beyond the short-term of 2008 there is opportunity in the inevitability of increased ethanol use. To that end he picked 5 ethanol based alternative fuels stocks that he sees surviving this murky period. Those stocks include industry production leaders VeraSun, Archer Daniels Midland, and lesser names like Green Plains Renewable Energy.

Pick your path, save your cash and realize that this is not the end of the story. Ethanol is beginning its part in the path to renewable energy and an end of oil dependency. Like most uncharted paths, the road is bumpy and pioneers sometimes are unsure of their way, but eventually you will finds what you are looking for. To that end, so will we.

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Researching Biotechs to find a cure for recession

Well the biotech sector is starting to get renewed attention. No real surprise as it’s one of the bastions that stock market investors go to when a recession hits. It’s part of the group that gets a boost every time the R-word is mentioned, along with Gold (which is already on a tear).

But recently there has been a few pot shots taken at a few of the industry standards. The big boys are not looking so good, according to some, and that leaves the question of where to go. Some think that the biotech’s that got a boost from the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference this year are where to go. Others are just trying to see what is next.

One place not to go may well be Pfizer. As noted on Motley Fool there are many reasons. One of the most important I feel is the question of the drug pipeline. In the case of Pfizer there really isn’t one. In fact they are running into the problem that is deadly to many successful biotech stocks, patent expiration. Without the protection of a patent, sales inevitably fall precipitously, no matter how big your company is or the nature of the drug.

For Pfizer they will be losing 2 of the biggest drugs in the last 15 years. In fact the most explosive and popular drug in perhaps 2 decades or more will be opening up to generic competition, namely Viagra [the other drug is Lipitor]. If anyone thinks that won’t kick the company in the seat of the pants, then you probably think gold is a sell right now.

Of course Pfizer is not alone, as Genentech is in a similar situation. Though they do have a few new innovations on their aging pipeline that may give them a small boost, or at least cushion the patent exiration blow. So where do you look instead.

Well Adam Feuerstein over at (I read a lot of the information there too) posed a new outlook that may catch on, if it hasn’t already. His theory basically is that many feel the top names at the JPMorgan conference are the top picks for the year. To that end he is following them.

He’s selected a list of 10 names, some well known others not, that he will watch throughout the year. They are:
    Idenix Pharmaceuticals
    Allos Therapeutics
    Isis Pharmaceuticals
    Nektar Therapeutics
    Seattle Genetics
    Biogen Idec

It’s an interesting group. Again the key is always the pipeline. To me that is the beginning and end of any choice of biotech stocks. Strong, growing pipelines are of interest. Lagging pipelines are not.

Will this list prove to be true? Are they a one shot deal? We will see, but the short term of one year is never enough to know. I will tell you one thing though; no matter which biotech’s lead the industry, and whether the industry leads the stock market, as fear of recession and the impact of the mortgage crisis continues to unfold, this will not be the last you hear about this.

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Presidential candidates try to buy cheap votes with money and religion

And the political games go on. It’s a toss up between religion and money. Seriously, that’s what the Presidential candidates are selling, and your vote is the purchase price.

On the Democratic candidate side we hear so much on how to fight the impending recession. There have been stimulus plans offered by Senator Clinton and Senator Obama that are all about money. The plans are very similar, Obama offering $250 and Clinton $500. Sounds great right?

If you vote for either of those candidates on that basis, I am deeply offended. It’s one of the cheap tricks that politicians use to get a vote. In effect they offer nothing and hope to gain a lot.

What the offer amounts to is a rebate on your taxes, one time. Sounds nice right. An extra $500 in your pocket. Except that it won’t stay in your pocket long. The hope is that you will go out and spend the money on buying something, thus helping the economy. But I think most Americans would rather spend the money on paying down on the car, mortgage and/or credit cards. You want to clear your bills, especially when the economy looks shaky and your job is questionable.

So that won’t help the economy, your job won’t be more stable, and you end up with the same bills the next month. An example is say you own a home. You are behind on the heating bill, because of the huge increase in oil prices. You spend the money on the heating bill bringing you even, until next month when you have another high bill to pay. That rebate was a waste.

Now if the stimulus plan was really meant to help you, you would get an extra $50 a week from your paycheck. That would likely mean a tax cut. You never hear that term from Democrats because it means less money for social entitlement plans. But if they did you would get an extra roughly $200 a month or roughly $2,500 (taking out a 2 week vacation). Which would help you more? Getting an extra (assuming the average American income is $27,000) 1.9% once, or 9.3% over a year?

Mind you that this is simply a plan. Once elected there are innumerable reasons why the plan will not actually happen. So not only are you betting on the candidate winning, you are betting on them giving you a pat on the back versus actually helping you and the economy.

Oh and if you think this is a new idea look back on any election year with a possibly bad economy and you will hear it. Even as recently as 2007 Senator Clinton came up with a cheap vote plan that got her some quick television advertising and fell of the earth as soon as she didn’t need it. You do recall that she wanted to give every child in America a college bond of $5,000 right?

“Fifth, if the average college tuition is $22,218 (private) or $5,836 (public) and we assume 10% annual growth for just 18 years that means (forgive my math it’s been a while) $98,973 and $32,380 respectively. Taking $5,000 for 18 years at 10% (current rates are 4.75%) then Senator Clinton’s generous gift of your money generates $27,936. Now if my math is correct (which I’m sure I will be told if I am not) and interest rates go up to and stay at 10% (not going to happen) there is still a shortfall of $4,444 just for public school.”

Of course the Republican party is little better. We are watching as every candidate is trying to implore to us that they are more devout than the other. They want us all to believe that their religion is a cornerstone of their moral base, while at the same time denying it could have any impact on how they would run the nation.


First of all since when is religion of a candidate a factor in the qualification of a Presidential candidate? Besides the huge question posed to President Kennedy when else has it been an issue? Where do they connect?

When you have a President you have a leader of a nation of dozens of religious faiths. He cannot favor one as that would alienate a swath of the nation. And it’s not his job. His job is to ensure the safety and prosperity of the nation. The spiritual health of any individual citizen is their own issue.

I mean seriously, if candidate X can quote a religious tome does that make them any smarter? Will they be able to avert a mortgage crisis any better? Will they prevent the loss of jobs overseas, or prevent illegal immigration any better? No.

The reality is that while we may be sure that candidate X may be more spiritually at ease with themselves it gives us no guarantee they are a good person or effective. To presume that a religious belief confers such is idiocy in my view. It just gives away a vote for nothing.

I mean how do we know that because candidate X was in a church on Sunday, or whatever holy day applies, that they were devout? That they truly believe. That they weren’t just hoping, and planning, on a bunch of television cameras to be outside the event waiting for them to exit. That they didn’t take a nap during the religious on-goings.

Cheap attempts to get your vote are popular, moreso now with 24 hour news and cable networks in the hundreds. There are so many opportunities to showcase an act that looks good but equates to nothing that deals with the actual function of the nation.

I don’t dispute the religious belief of any candidate. In fact I discount all of their beliefs as I an not capable of understanding what they believe in their core. In addition, with the seperation of church and state in this nation, their religious faith is without any importance to their actions if elected.

So when you think about it, there are many attempts to gain your vote on the cheap. Realize that and instead consider the actual plans, comments and history of each of the candidates. Race, gender, age, are all irrelevant factors. What they have done, and spent their lives doing is.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Citigroup matches predictions, is recession next? - 1.15.2008.1

Some days I wish I was not previously a stock broker. Sometimes I hope that what I feel are likely outcomes in the stock market do not come to fruition. But time and again I find that I get it right, not always on the timing or the exact figures, but the trend. And I did it again.

Back on December 26, 2007 I wrote a post Will 2008 be a lump of coal or a nice present for investors? In essence I felt that the beginning or 2008 would be a horrible year for many investors. This also went in line with my thinking about gold and gold stocks.

Directly I stated,

“I believe that the move to junk rating of ACA, the probable $6 - 12 billion loss at JP Morgan [significantly higher than expected], eventual losses from Citigroup - which reinsures itself, oil breaking $100 a barrel, and the multiple overseas investments will all hit the market in mid-January 2008. Thus I think a move to 11,000 is more than probable.”

Key in on the fact that oil has already hit $100 a barrel this year, and Citigroup announced

“The biggest hit came from a $18.1 billion write-down in the value of its investment portfolio. But the bank also set aside $4 billion on Tuesday to cover anticipated losses on loans to U.S. consumers — a sign that deflated home prices, high energy and food costs, and rising unemployment are making it difficult for many customers to keep up with their payments.”

I am wrong in that the Dow Jones Index closed today at 12,501. That is a far cry from 11,000 but all the financials have yet to announce their losses, oil has not maintained $100 a barrel or more, the Fed is cutting rates, and all the 4th quarter numbers are yet to be reported. Even so, the Dow now stands 12.5% below the high and beyond correction territory. It is a mere 7.5% from a bear market.

Is America in a recession? Will gold spot prices hit $903 as have been projected by some brokerage houses? Will more Americans lose their homes?

I would say yes to all. I could very well be wrong, and I hope that I will be. But I don’t see an end to this problem in the near-term. The Fed cannot prevent many of these issues with the application of rate cuts.

Those that are in trouble, or will be, with their mortgages will not be helped by lower rates as that will not cap increased heating and gasoline prices. Small businesses are not going to be able to get new loans as easily even with lower rates as financials scramble to find cash to absorb the losses they are experiencing. Effectively some degree of pain must happen and is not preventable.

I say all this for one reason. So that you my readers can be prepared. If I am correct even in part, then this nation will encounter times we have not seen for quite a while. I doubt that we will see the inflation and unemployment that existed in the 1970’s (when I was a child) but I am sure that we will see levels that those under 30 have never experienced.

Credit will get crunched, and credit card debt will increase for a time. New loans will become far harder to achieve. And costs of fuel will go higher even if ethanol additives were readily available for widespread distribution today.

And then there is the political component. Don’t be lured into the cheap vote purchases offered by some candidates. The stimulus plan proposed by Senator Clinton, equating to $500 per person filing taxes is a ploy. It’s a one time gift that will help no one. It may help you pay a bill, say heating, for a month but will do nothing else for you. Rather a tax cut might help more, adding $50 a week to your paycheck. Either way, don’t sell your vote on a quick fix that is neither.

Further, if a Democrat is elected expect the impending pain to be trebled. Increased costs for nationalized healthcare and other social entitlements will hit the pocket books. That is not to say that a Republican in office will avert any of this. They will not. Just that the historical fiscal impact of a Democratic President is view more harshly, whether or not they are the best person for the position.

So my readers, be prepared. If I am right on the trend, and it seems that I am increasingly becoming so, those that are ready will endure best. And I only wish the best.

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