Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Georgia Senate

There was breaking news on CNN tonight at 10 pm, December 2, 2008. Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss won the Georgia Senate race run off and Democrat Jim Martin has called to concede the race to Chambliss.

The win was projected with 59% of the votes for Chambliss and 41% going to Martin with 90% of the votes counted. In November both Chambliss and Martin were left shy of the 50-percent of votes needed in Georgia as the Georgia race was a three way race that included Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley. This resulted in a rematch between incumbent Chambliss and challenger Martin.

The significance of this win in the Senate is that it confirms 41 Republicans and 58 Democrats in the Senate. With only one other race still undecided, the Chambliss win means that Democrats will be just short of the 60, desired number of Senate seats to thwart Republican filibusters. It gives Republicans what Chambliss has called a "firewall" against a Barack Obama administration with a Democratic majority in the Senate.

Both sides have fought long and hard in Georgia to win this senate run off. Both Sarah Palin and Bill Clinton came to Georgia to campaign for their respective party candidates.

John McCain won in Georgia and many have expressed disappointment that President-elect Barack Obama did not come to Georgia to support the Jim Martin campaign. The Obama camp has pointed out that they did in fact do a radio address and CNN reports that privately they expressed that they did not believe that it would have mattered.

The one outstanding senate race in Minnesota between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Al Franken is not a run-off but an official hand recount. Even if the Democrats win in Minnesota, that will only give the Democrats 59 seats but not the magic number of 60. While the ballots in the Minnesota race are supposed to counted by Friday, there is a meeting scheduled for December 16, 2008 to address ballot challenges so the winner of the Minnesota senate seat may be unknown for sometime.

In his acceptance speech, Senator Saxby Chambliss said "People all around the world have had their eyes on Georgia and you have given a message to the world that conservative values matter."

David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst calls this a real "shot in the arm" for Republicans and he adds, "This puts a lot more pressure on Barack Obama to govern from the center."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Stocks is carrying an article by Chris Isadore, "It's official: recession since '07" that verifies a recession has been going on since December of last year.
The article says that The National Bureau of Economic Research, an organization made up of a private group of leading economists, made the report. It is their job to identify the beginning and ending of recessions.This information confirms what many Americans thought was happening. The downturn of the labor market triggered the announcement by the NBER. Attached to the article is a list of recessions since November of 1948 and the length of time each lasted. The major cause says Isadore, is the housing market's failure to pull out of its doldrums. Why do Americans believe we are in a recession? Is it because they have experienced it or because it is what they have been told that they are? The fiasco with the financial institutions is not from an economic turndown. It emanates from incredible unchecked incompetency. The press said that deals for Christmas wouldn't end after Black Friday. In fact it would signal the beginning of a continuous drop in prices. I even wrote an article with that data on Associated Content. Not allowing for that fact, articles written after Black Friday said shopping results were "mixed" depending on the product, and, reporters wrung their collective hands saying that there was no urgency to this year's shopping, but there was! See the reports posted at the end of this article. Of course a Wal-Mart employee was killed by shoppers in a stampede. Unfortunately that says more about the human condition than the economy. But the news overall is that shopping was brisk and in fact up over last year. The press continued to report untrue information.
I wrote in another article that the newspaper in my hometown ran a headline the day after Black Friday that read "Mall Mania." Our stores are very busy. When the stock market was going up and down, the press would write articles that would say "Stock Market Dives" with a subtitle in small print "recovers by close." Am I disagreeing with the NBER and saying there is no recession? No. I am not saying that. I think there is. What I am saying is that this report doesn't carry the validity with me it might have had we been getting solid information all along. I find it hard to believe things are extremely bad when I see how the press is playing the game.

Home Buyers and Those Refinancing

Very Good News for the Home Buyers and Those Refinancing
As many of you have heard Mortgage rates took a sharp drop.
The $800 billion infusion of federal funds into credit markets had an immediate impact on mortgage rates.
Mortgage rates fell sharply last Tuesday after the administration announced that it will pump another $800 billion into credit markets to free up frozen consumer and mortgage lending.
That number dwarfed previous government actions aimed at bolstering the mortgage lending market.
"The feds agreed to spend a half a trillion dollars to buy up mortgage backed securities and another $100 billion to fund lending for Fannie and Freddie; we're not talking chump change anymore," said Keith Gumbinger of HSH Associates, a publisher of mortgage information.
Rates averaged 5.77% for the day on a 30-year, fixed rate loan, down from 6.06% Monday, according to Gumbinger. They fell as far as 0.75 percentage points during the day, according to Orawin Velz, Associate Vice President for Economic Forecasting at the Mortgage Bankers Association.
That could save a typical homebuyer more than $90 a month on a $200,000 mortgage.
"The government action was geared to bringing mortgage rates down," said Velz, "and it did."
The drop was the largest since early September, when the administration announced that it was taking control of mortgage giants Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500), and stemmed from similar market sentiment.
Early data shows strong Black Friday
Preliminary sales figures show stronger-than-expected Black Friday; sales up 3 percent.
The nation's retailers got a much-needed sales boost during Black Friday's traditional shopathon as consumers spent more money than they did last year. According to preliminary data released Saturday, sales on the day after Thanksgiving rose to $10.61 billion.
That's up almost 3 percent from last year's sales of $10.3 billion.
The preliminary figures are from ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a Chicago-based research firm that tracks sales at more than 50,000 retail outlets.
While it isn't a predictor of overall holiday season sales, the day after Thanksgiving has become an important barometer of people's willingness to spend during the holidays.
Last year, the so-called Black Friday was the biggest generator of the season.
Holiday Home Safety
Toy Safety
Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don't give young children (under age ten) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.

Food Safety
Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits. Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child's exploring hands.
Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same.
Never put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it.
Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separate, and use separate utensils when preparing them.
Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.
Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Happy Visiting
Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots.
Keep a laminated list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222.
Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child's stress levels. Trying to stick to your child's usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.

Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.