Friday, October 3, 2008

Obama surges in a drought

It has not rained here in about a month. We were low on rainfall for the year anyway and the heat of September roasted a few of our plants.

The VP debate was better than expected. Both candidates did fairly well and there were no real zingers to amount to anything. Biden wins on substance. Palin was confident and forceful and came across as very genuine and sincere but without as many facts as Joe, who handled the sweeping issues while Sarah went back to repeating the rhetorical "maverick" mantra three times during the course of the debate. Overall, I felt Palin held her own. Overall, I don't think it matters any more.

Both candidates seemed to agree that same sex partnerships (not marriages) should be granted the same legal rights (not "spiritual" rights) as heterosexual couples. They should have property, insurance, and illness rights that partners in "marriages" do as a basic constitutional guarantee. We've come a long way in my 49 years in America.

David Brooks tonight said McCain is in big trouble.

He said: "If you look at a lot of the other battleground states, he's not doing much better in Pennsylvania, even Ohio, tightening up in Florida. So there's a whole tide, and it's a tide against McCain. He's thrown a lot of long Hail Mary passes. Some of them have paid off; some haven't. It's hard to see what else he does."

Obama has opened a commanding lead nationally. Anything can still happen but the odds (and the polling math) clearly favor a President Obama. I still believe the win will be a "big" Obama win and he'll take Ohio and perhaps even Florida. McCain will fight and probably win Virginia and North Carolina which are, remarkably, "in-play."

Warren Buffet indicates the $700 billion "economic rescue" bill that passed congress today might not be enough. I wonder what the effects are going to be if we find out it's truly not enough, if it's trillions for dollars instead.

On Buffett: "Buffett said the bill isn't perfect, but it's a crucial step in the right direction. He then warned it will take a while to work and that the economy is going to struggle even with its passage. It will cost more to solve this problem today than it did two weeks ago," said Buffett, referring to when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's first proposed that Congress help rescue Wall Street after Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America, and American International Group had to be rescued.

Dow Theorist Richard Russell, who Jennifer and I have subscribed to over the last several years, wrote today: "I have urged subscribers to jettison all preconceived notions as to where the Dow will end its decline. From recent polls, I gather that the majority of investors believe that "next year will be better." This kind of thinking is dangerous. I urge you to keep an open mind as to where this market is heading. It's been a long time since the Dow and the S&P offered great values and dividend yields in the above 5% zone. It could happen again, and if it does, none of my subscribers should be shocked."

On September 29, he wrote: "If the economy is going to improve, it will be up to the government to do the spending. Governments all over the world will have to run up big deficits and increase their spending. After all, what got the US out of the Great Depression of the 1930s? It was the massive spending of World War II that finally turned the US economy to the upside. The giant war effort and related government spending put everybody to work, including millions of America's women. Jobs were plentiful. And now Obama and McCain are competing in promises to CUT government spending! Forget it. To get out of this recession, the US government will have to spend as it never has spent before, along with running trillion dollar deficits. The government will have to embark on a giant "rebuild America program." Our streets and freeways are shot, our bridges are tattered, the US government will have to engineer a massive "make work" program to rebuild America. Unfortunately, as I see it, Washington will be tempting to start another war."

See latest polling data here.

And here's a "real time" polling summary of electoral votes...

This summary is dynamic and will change through time but today the numbers are Obama: 153/97 (strong/leaning) for a total of 250, just 20 shy of the necessary electoral votes to win. 125 votes are undecided. McCain has 108/55 for a 163 total. McCain has to win almost every other state in play. Not likely to happen.

Then again, McCain's an old fighter pilot.

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