Friday, February 8, 2008

War Strains U.S. Military in Tackling new Crises

Forget about taking on Iran. It is criminal that our government (i.e.,Bush) has put our nation in this position. I guess we'll realize it when a new military crisis arises. For now the problem is ignored. Including by the Presidential candidates:

A classified Pentagon assessment concludes that long battlefield tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with persistent terrorist activity and other threats, have prevented the U.S. military from improving its ability to respond to any new crisis, The Associated Press has learned.

Despite security gains in Iraq, the military was not able to reduce the response risk level, which was raised from moderate to significant last year, according to the report.

Glenn Beck: McCain will Destroy the Conservative Movement

John McCain has made many enemies among the Conservatives. One in particular, CNN host, Glenn Beck, had some really harsh things to say about the likely Republican nominee. Watch the video to get a real feel for the level of hostility that exists against McCain:

Retail Sales in January Worst in Almost 40 Years

This is disastrous news. Something needs to be done now before it's too late:

Consumer spending slowed to a crawl in January, with retail sales at major chains rising just 0.5% in what was by one measure the month's worst performance in nearly 40 years, according to reports released Thursday.

Evidence of consumer caution came from both ends of the marketplace.

Discounter Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said shoppers held on tight to the gift cards they received over the holidays or used them to buy milk and bread rather than toys or iPods. High-end Saks Inc. said customers shifted more of their spending to "promotional events" -- making purchases when items were specially priced.

Wal-Mart's sales were higher this January than last, though just barely, while Saks saw a 4.1% increase. Sales at Macy's Inc. stores fell so much more than expected -- by 7.1% -- that the company slashed its quarterly profit forecast and also said that as part of a restructuring plan it would eliminate 2,300 jobs. Costco Wholesale Corp., on the other hand, recorded a 7% hike.

There were widely divergent numbers for individual chains but disappointment for the industry as a whole.

The International Council of Shopping Centers, which tallied 43 retail chains, said sales at stores open for at least one year were the worst since it started keeping track in 1969.

The reason for the terrible retail sales is consumer confidence:
People's confidence in the economy sank even lower amid heightened fears about shrinking job opportunities and the possibility the country is falling into recession.

According to the RBC Cash Index, confidence dropped to a mark of 48.5 in early February, from 56.3 last month. The new reading was the worst since the index began in 2002 and surpassed the previous low reached in January.

The continued erosion in confidence comes despite the fact that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has gotten much more forceful in cutting interest rates to induce people to buy more and bolster the economy. The Fed slashed interest rates twice over the span of just eight days in January—its most aggressive rate reductions in two decades.

[...] Still, an increasing number of economists worry that the rescue efforts by the Fed and the politicians may not be enough to avert the first nationwide recession since 2001. Some economists believe the economy has already toppled into a recession.

Clinton Campaign Staffers Not Going Without Pay

It's another Clinton ruse:

So it turns out the Clinton campaign may not be so cash-strapped after all — at least not at this very moment.

After offering on Wednesday to go without paychecks to help save precious campaign resources, senior staff members on Hillary Clinton's campaign are in fact not going without pay during the month of February, ABC News has learned.

"It's not happening," said a source familiar with the situation.

Clinton's campaign has been shouting from the rooftops all day about its online fundraising efforts since Super Tuesday.

The campaign announced today that it raised more than four million dollars online in the 24 hours after polls closed on Tuesday — the biggest single haul in one day ever for the campaign.

[...]"We are gratified for this tremendous outpouring of support," said Clinton Campaign Internet Director Peter Daou.

That outpouring is the reason that a handful of senior staff who had offered to go without pay on Wednesday have been told today that they will not need to skip paychecks.

One longtime Democratic consultant not affiliated with any campaign wondered if perhaps the whole thing wasn't a big stunt to garner media attention and look like an "underdog."

"I'd take this revelation as a sign that they planned this whole thing," the consultant said.

Bush, Congress Hit Bottom in AP Poll

How low can they go:

It's almost as if people can barely stand the thought of President Bush and Congress anymore. Bush reached his lowest approval rating in The Associated Press-Ipsos poll on Friday as only 30 percent said they like the job he is doing, including an all-time low in his support by Republicans. Congress' approval fell to just 22 percent, equaling its poorest grade in the survey. Both marks dropped by 4 percentage points since early January.

The dour public mood seems to chiefly reflect distress over the doddering economy, which has seen job cuts, financial market slides and real estate losses stoke recession fears. Bush's approval for handling the economy dove to 29 percent, a slide of 4 percentage points in a month and matching his low on that issue, with noticeable slumps among middle-income people, Southerners and city residents.

[...] Yet Bush's acceptance by his own party is at bottom in the AP-Ipsos poll. Just 61 percent of Republicans gave Bush positive reviews; his previous low was 65 percent last month. Only 28 percent of them expressed strong approval.