Forget my stimulus check, I want stock options from this company

While stimulus checks are being processed and sent out for hopes that it may make a profitable spark in the economy, one video game producer is certainly not wondering there they will invest it. In fact, I’m not convinced that the government isn’t taking a loan from them to write the checks. Take-Two Interactive, a powerhouse in the video game world and producer of the popular hit “Grand Theft Auto” released its 4th version of the game this past Tuesday and are already predicted some pretty staggering sales figures.

How could the first week alone earn them similar statistics as the top 100 highest grossing films of all-time? Check out CNN.com’s article on the video game’s release. small business software kind

GDP BFD for GOP

Today’s report that the country’s gross domestic product grew just 0.6 percent in the 1st quarter of the year is one more page of bad news for GOP strategists. As Dr. Loveland pointed out in a comment yesterday, GDP growth is a fairly reliable predictor of elections in this country: when 2nd quarter GDP growth is 2.6% or higher, the president (or other candidate of his party) will likely win the election. If the growth rate is 1.5% or lower, the president’s party will likely lose. Obviously, we don’t have 2nd quarter data yet, but we’re a month into the quarter already (April-June) and I’m pretty sure things haven’t gotten better in the last month.

The report does, however, give at least one corner of the GOP some comfort: President Bush can continue to cling to the notion that we have yet to meet a technical definition of a recession (commonly held to be two consecutive quarters of decline in GDP). This makes his press conference yesterday slightly less surreal, but the it also underscores how irrelevant he has become to the political debate…the only group that bothered to react to his “I wish I had a magic wand to wave” remarks was the Democratic leadership on the Hill to whom he tried – unsuccessfully I think – to shift the blame for the mess. business grants kind

Premature E-Accusation?

We knew taxes would be an issue in the Minnesota U.S. Senate campaign. But some of us hoped to be reading stories about the tax evasion of the wealthiest 1% of Americans who were handed Bush-Coleman tax cuts, not tax evasion of the Democratic candidate.

Yes, “evasion” is too strong of a word. “F*** up” is more apt descriptor. But the problem is, this is going to sound like evasion to the drive-by voter.

Yes, the accountant probably really did make these mistakes without Franken’s knowledge. But again, that doesn’t pass the smell test with voters whose finances aren’t complex enough to blindly turn over to a trusted accountant.

And yes, it may be true that this is a case of filing in the wrong locations, rather than failure to file, since Mr. Franken apparently overpaid in some states in an amount nearly equivalent to the amount he underpaid in other states. But again, few will bother to get this deep into the weeds.

Two things astonish me about these disclosures:

First, didn’t the Franken campaign do opposition research on itself? When people talk about campaign research, most think about digging through opponents’ dirty laundry. But the fact is, savvy campaigns usually aim the lion’s share of their research work at THEMSELVES, in an effort to identify, prevent, mitigate and/or quickly respond to issues like this.

If Franken had learned of these problems a year or two ago, he could have fixed them all preemptively and disclosed them en masse, so that it was one bad story instead of a month of bad e-accusations turned media stories at a pivotal time of the campaign. Franken had plenty of resources to do this kind of “candidate research.” Why didn’t he?

Second, why have the Republicans played their tax disclosure cards now, rather than in September? If Franken is now so crippled that he is replaced by either Jack Nelson-Whatever or Mike Ciresi, the Democrats probably have a better shot than if Franken had been crippled by these kinds of stories in September.

In fact, one or both of those alternative candidates may have a better shot at beating Coleman than Franken. Democrats could still change candidates before the May 18 DFL State Convention or the September 9 Primary Election. Could this be a case of premature e-accusation?

– Loveland

printable invoices kind

“Come Together. Right Now. Over Me.”

This re-punctuated Beatles lyric pretty much sums up the wishes of any number of Democrats who find the whole nomination process at little too Hobbesian – nasty, brutish, and – in this instance – long. What we Dems need, the thinking goes, is “this thing settled” before we so damage the eventual nominee that he or she isn’t able to mount a challenge to Senator John “I’m Tanned and Rested” McCain.

I ain’t buying it.

We – the politically junkies, the media, the blogosphere and the pundit corps – are all knotted up in the minutia of Obama’s latest gaffe or Hillary’s latest nastiness but all of it is simply an intermission before the start of Act II, the working title of which appears to be “The Republicans Get Spanked – Again – for Eight Years of Incompetence.”

“Wishful thinking,” you say? Here’s why I think not.

The latest Gallup poll indicates President Bush is the most unpopular president in 70 years of polling. I don’t care how far and fast Republicans – including Senator John “He’s My President” John McCain – try to run from that stink (and frankly, how far can he run without alienating his base many of whom – remarkably – still support The Decider?), their record of eight years of supporting that incompetence is all over them like shit mist.

A record 29 incumbent Republican House members are voluntarily leaving office this cycle. Think they might know something we don’t?

A staggering 81 percent of Americans think the country is off track. I’m thinking the logic of those voters isn’t going to be “four more years.”

Consider the state of the economy. Consumer confidence last month hit a five-year low and is expected to decline further this month. Oil prices came within pennies yesterday of $120 a barrel and the average price of a gallon of gas in the U.S. is north of $3.60 (north of $3.90 in California). Unemployment jumped from 4.8 percent to 5.1 percent in March. Foreclosures are up 57 percent year-over-year. Bankruptcy filings increased 38 percent in 2007 versus the prior year and many feel we were just warming up for 2008.

These are not happy facts for anyone, particularly the people involved, so please feel free to ass-kick any Democrat who appears to be gloating over this litany of pain. That said, when the economy is faltering and people feel vulnerable and scared on the financial front, the party in power generally takes it in the shorts. We haven’t felt this vulnerable since the days of Hoover.

And then there’s the other little issues of the day – the war, national security, the environment, energy, health care, balancing the budget – where Democrats are consistently outpolling Republicans as the party people trust more to manage these issues – even the traditional GOP strongholds of national security and fiscal restraint.

In fact, the gap in party identification these days is as large as it’s been in decades with self-identified Dems (and leaners) outpulling GOP friends and family by a 51-37 margin (this shift has been so profound that Democrats actually outnumber Republicans in red states as a group). That’s doubly worrisome for the GOP when you consider how activated the Dems seem to be this cycle – in state after state Democratic enrollment and participation has surged while the GOP ranks – even when the race was still contested – have been a bit limp. Even the shock troops of Karl Rove’s much-heralded, soon-ridiculed permanent realignment – the evangelical voters who backed President Bush 62-38 in 2004 – seen to be a bit dispirited and divided. A recent survey suggests that if the election were held today, the split would be 40-28 for the Democrats.

And, to put a cherry on it, both Senators Obama and Clinton are outpolling Senator McCain even before either has turned any real attention to him and while in the midst of trying to brain one another:

I hope the Republicans enjoy their spring holiday while it lasts because my gut tells me they’re in for a long, cold fall election season.

– Austin

PS – In the course of researching this post, I came across an article by Alan Abramowitz in the New Republic that makes many of the same arguments I do except more eloquently and with more originality. If you’ve gotten to this point and are having another one of those, “What the hell is he trying to say?” moments I inadvertently create, check him out for a better translation.

PPS – I also found a very detailed and fact-based analysis of the electoral prospects in both the House and Senate on Congressional Quarterly’s site that is well worth a read. irs attorney kind

The Gag Order on Debating the Sadr City Century

The Democrats continue to question Senator John McCain about his comment about potentially keeping troops in Iraq for as long as 100 years. The latest example:

And the media continues to criticize Democrats’ criticism of McCain’s comment? For instance, New York Times columnist Gail Collins recently wrote:

The story that McCain said he was prepared to stay in Iraq for 100 years is on one level unfair, although this fall Democrats will be featuring it in commercials about every six seconds.

What he meant was that he’s prepared to keep troops stationed in Iraq for 100 years as long as no one is “injured or harmed or wounded or killed” in the process.

I have never heard McCain say that he would guarantee that “no one” is injured during a long-term occupation. McCain has stated a willingness to “keep American troops in Iraq for 100 years,” and hasn’t backed off it. So where is the misstatement? Is it really the media’s job to assert what he “meant” by his statement.

As I understand it, Senator McCain says the statement is being used unfairly because his intention is that troop levels and violence will be reduced over time, as in post-war Germany and Korea. Therefore, a century in Iraq will be tolerable. Therefore, any questioning of this position is a sleazy attack.

Whoa. The New York Times story about McCain’s ties to a Washington lobbyist was unfair and poorly sourced, but this strikes me as fair game. Is it out-of-bounds to have a full and vigorous debate about whether McCain’s proposal to have a long-term troop presence is plausible and advisable in one of the most volatile, anti-American spots in the world? What will our troop commitment need to be over time, and what will that cost? Will a long-term troop presence be better or worse than a pull-out in terms of stemming terrorism and restoring the U.S. image in the Middle East? What will be the long-term domestic and military opportunity cost of a long-term stay in Iraq?

These are not only fair questions for this presidential campaign, they are absolutely essential questions. But they are being buried by the news media in a rush to label any mention of the “100 year” statement as some sort of seedy smear.

– Loveland

paychecks kind