July 24, 2008

July 24, 2008
Thanks for stopping by and checking out another day in my life. I hope your week is going great. Still on bed rest here so I have been discussing current issues in my blog entries.

Today the news all day was about Obama's speech in Germany. I know one thing. I will be so glad when the presidential election is over and done. It seems like every talk show and newscast is doing an Obamathon during his trip to Iraq. I don't think I have ever seen the press join in such a joint effort of praise. Now I personally do not know Senator Obama. I have watched the coverage on several channels of television and attended one of his rallies. Personally, I would like to know how he plans on implementing his proposals. I'm not saying he doesn't have great ideas. But I've heard a lot of promises in the campaigns over the years and more often than not most of those promises evaporated after the person was elected. I hear a lot about the change that Obama is promising but I have yet to hear concrete plans or way of payment.

So I was watching the coverage today of Obama's latest speech in Germany. Before the largest crowd of his campaign, Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama on Thursday summoned Europeans and Americans together to defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it as surely as they conquered communism a generation ago. "The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand," Obama said, speaking not far from where the Berlin Wall once divided the city. "The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims and Jews cannot stand," he said. Obama said he was speaking as a citizen, not as a president, but the evening was awash in politics. His remarks inevitably invited comparison to historic speeches in the same city by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, and he borrowed rhetoric from his own appeals to campaign audiences in the likes of Berlin, N.H., when he addressed a crowd in one of the great cities of Europe. "People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment. This is our time," he said.

Obama's speech was the centerpiece of a fast-paced tour through Europe designed to reassure skeptical voters back home about his ability to lead the country and take a frayed cross-Atlantic alliance in a new direction after eight years of the Bush administration. Republicans chafed at the media attention Obama's campaign-season trip has drawn. Presidential rival John McCain went to a German restaurant in swing-state Ohio, and said he'd like to deliver a speech in Germany, but as president not candidate. In Die Welt, the German publication, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., wrote: "No one knows which Obama will show. Will it be the ideological, left-wing Democratic primary candidate who vowed to 'end' the war rather than win it, or the Democratic nominee who dismisses the progressing coalition victory as a 'distraction'? Will it be the American populist who has told supporters in the United States that he will demand more from our allies in Europe and get it, or the liberal internationalist hell-bent on being liked in Europe's salons?"

Obama met earlier in the day with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a discussion that ranged across the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, climate change, energy issues and more. Knots of bystanders waited along Obama's motorcade route for him to pass. One man yelled out in English, "Yes, we can," the senator's campaign refrain, when he emerged from his car to enter his hotel. Obama drew loud applause as he strode confidently across a large podium erected at the base of the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park in the heart of Berlin. The crowd spilled away from the Column for blocks. Police spokesman Bernhard Schodrowski said the speech drew more than 200,000 people, more than double the estimated 75,000 Obama drew in Oregon this spring. He drew loud applause when he talked of a world without nuclear weapons and again when he called for steps to counter climate change. Obama mentioned Iraq, a war he has opposed from the start, only in passing. But in discussing Afghanistan, he said, "no one welcomes war. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success." He referred repeatedly to the Berlin airlift, launched by the Allies 60 years ago when the Russians sought to isolate the Western part of the city. If they had succeeded, he said, communism would have marched across Europe. "Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun," the presidential candidate said. Now, he said, the enemy is different but the need for an alliance is the same as the world stares down terrorism and the extremism that supports it. "This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it," he said. He said Europeans sometimes view America as "part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right ..." And in America, "there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future." He said both views miss the truth, "that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe."

In any event, he said, there will always be differences. "But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more, not less."

So how will things end up? We won't know until after the election this fall. And then no more endless political campaign commercials for four more years. Well at least not one every hour like we have had here in Florida for the past month since Senator Clinton conceded.

The other big news today was the stock market. Stocks skidded lower Thursday after a steeper-than-expected decline in existing home sales wiped away some of the market's optimism about upbeat earnings reports. The major indexes fell more than 1 percent, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which lost more than 250 points. The National Association of Realtors said sales resumed their decline in June after a slight rebound in May. Existing home sales declined by 2.6 percent in June, well beyond the 1 percent drop economists had forecast. The sales drop was a reminder that the housing market and the overall economy are still troubled in many areas. And that persuaded many stock investors to cash in some of their gains from a rally that began last week. Investors were also absorbing a mix of earnings reports from names like Ford Motor Co., which reported a big loss, and Dow Chemical Co., which said higher costs for raw materials sent earnings down sharply. But drug makers Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. both reported higher earnings as the weak dollar boosted foreign sales, and Amazon.com Inc. turned in a solid report that beat expectations. In late afternoon trading, the Dow fell 252.08, or 2.17 percent, to 11,380.30. The blue chip index rose nearly 170 points the past two days and nearly 400 last week. A pullback as part of the normal ebb and flow of trading wouldn't have come as a surprise investors though the declines Thursday seemed to reveal renewed unease about the economy. Broader stock indicators also declined Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 23.50, or 1.83 percent, to 1,258.69, and the Nasdaq composite index declined 32.65, or 1.40 percent, to 2,293.23. So our economy continues to deteriorate but at least crude oil prices have dipped slightly. Let's hope that trend continues for all our sakes.

Headed off to bed now. I have my six month Ryan White financial evaluation tomorrow. Hope you have a great day. Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab