From The New York Times …
The normally voluble Senator John McCain found himself at a loss for words Wednesday when he was asked aboard his campaign bus on its way to Portsmouth, Ohio, whether he thought it was fair that some health insurance companies covered Viagra but not birth control.
“I don’t usually duck an issue,” he said, “but I’ll try to get back to you.”
Link (subscription required).
265 replies on “John McCain, Sex, Drugs and Insurance”
Challenges to Sen. Landrieu, Rep. Jefferson Top Louisiana Election Lineup.
In an election year in which CQ Politics rates nine seats held by Republicans among the 10 most vulnerable to takeover by the challenging party, the one exception is in conservative-leaning Louisiana, where two-term Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu is facing a competitive challenge.
McCain’s budget figures don’t add up.
FICTION MAY require a willing suspension of disbelief, but presidential campaigns shouldn’t.
Yet here’s the fanciful proposition John McCain wants us to swallow: that he can extend the Bush tax cuts, pile other tax breaks and revenue reductions atop them – and still balance the federal budget in four years.
I would sincerely like to thank Greensborough Growler for helping set up this site. Without his help we would never have got off the ground. Without his determination to destroy pollbludger we would not be here.
Tip for those who would like to put politcal content on You Tube but don’t know how. Most school kids know how to use You Tube. With their parents permission of couse offer them some pocket money to help. Categories you can post to with your politcal commnets, comedy, politics and music videos.
196 Enemy Combatant
It’s to be expected, bottom trawlers will dive in hoping to rack up a few points on the upside, but the essential point is the market has lost confidence, not just in the two companies, but anything that the Bush administration says to reassure them.
These companies are worth less than 10% of what they were a year ago, and last night’s panic on open says it all…they are toast. It’s a matter of when, not if. The eruptions through the bond market are huge, as now the cost of insuring their deals is going through the roof.
It is, like I said last night, the twin Towers collapsing without the screaming, but just as big an event.
Actually, it went the other way! LOL
Investors, meanwhile, snapped up debt issued by those companies, and the insurance premiums on those securities dropped sharply on the view that they would be protected by a government takeover.
… so the idea is that the debt is now ‘safe’ because Uncle Sam will back it.
In other words, the companies are stuffed and the punters will cream off their profits from the taxpayer.
Good old American ‘free enterprise’ !
bumped into ESJ on the PB oz thread. What a jerk. He’s still banging on about us.
Kirri – I guess there’ll be more of this kind of thing happening?http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-indymac12-2008jul12,0,6071779.story
207 jen Wow that’s big. We’ll here a lot more about that over the next few months.
yeah, after Bernanke figured out he couldn’t bullsh!t the public anymore over subprime he did say “expect some bank failures”!
This is an ongoing and worsening crisis, and the ripples are fanning out through the entire financial system. Lehman Brothers took another hit last night, and is trading down heavily in the last few weeks. Another big trading house that looks shakey.
America is going into financial meltdown, credit markets are cactus and there’s huge debt stress in every quarter.
CEO of GM was saying yesterday they will not be seeking bankruptcy! When CEO’s have to tell the public that, it’s a sure sign things are bloody awful.
Did someone say ‘perfect storm’?
206 jen Any publicity is good publicity.
Obama raised more than $30 million in June: campaign.
DAYTON, Ohio (Reuters) – Barack Obama raised well over $30 million in June, a top aide indicated on Friday, outpacing Republican rival John McCain again as the Democratic White House hopeful’s fundraising picked up after a lull in May.
McCain raised $22 million in June for his White House bid, his best month of fundraising, according to his campaign.
The Wall Street Journal quoted people close to the Obama campaign as saying his total contributions in June would likely be just over $30 million.
Regulators to run IndyMac until buyer found.
Banking regulators on Friday swooped in to take over mortgage lender IndyMac Bancorp Inc, the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history and the fifth bank to close this year.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp estimated the cost of the California-based bank’s failure to its $53-billion insurance fund at between $4 billion and $8 billion and will run the bank while it looks for a buyer.
The takeover of IndyMac capped a tumultuous day for U.S. financial markets that saw stocks slide on a surging oil price and renewed fears about the stability of the top two home financing providers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
206 jen, I think Eddy has some ‘issues’, shall we say! LOL
I still chuckle when I think of him abusing Catrina (with the usual gratuitous crap) the night we hived off!
Poor old Eddy, left standing with no one to abuse! ROFL
God it cracks me up.
Phil Gramm’s brain recession.
Phil Gramm knows economics. He has a Ph.D. in the subject, taught it for 12 years at Texas A&M. He’s won elective office as both a Democrat and a Republican. In the U.S. Senate, he was a champion of balancing the federal budget – remember that dream? Gramm, you may recall, subjected everything the federal government did to the “Dickie Flatt test” — if it didn’t make sense to a Gramm constituent by that name, a small business owner in Texas, it probably wasn’t worth doing.
Early this year I think it was, I cited a piece by Satyajit Das called “Regulatory Debauchery” in which he basically outlined what’s going down now.
I notice now that the talk is all about closing the stable doors, and yes, establishing some sensible regulations of banking and lending institutions. Of course it’s far too late to help now, but it’s ironic that the government and it’s agencies just bent over and let Wall Street have it’s way with the economy, all the while pretending that it was all natural wholesome capitalism rather than aberrant behaviour which would doom them.
Well, they’re buggered now!
And now for the sporting news. Here’s the man to whom the news wouldn’t be the news without the news, here’s Chrissy. Apologies to Laugh In.
Presidential candidate Obama to sponsor Cup car at Pocono race.
I.com has learned that for the first time in history, a major presidential candidate may sponsor a race car in NASCAR’s premier series. According to sources, Barack Obama’s campaign is in talks to become the primary sponsor of BAM Racing’s No. 49 Sprint Cup car for the Pocono race on August 3. Details of the agreement are expected to be worked out over the coming days.
214 Chris B
What an a-grade doofus he is! LOL
I mean, the entire financial system is stressed, the mortgage markets ceased, the country is piling up debt every day, the economy is shrinking fast, and this clown comes out with a statement like that!
Truly astonishing arrogance. McCain couldn’t throw him under a collapsing bank fast enough! LOL
For anyone wondering where I get my news scources from here is a good one. You can taylor it to have what you like in the results. It is on the Google main site in the top L/H side.
It is very easy to use. If your stuck, ask your kids.
So fellas- in layman’s terms how bad is theis finacial crisis likely to get. ie- what will happen to real people on the ground, and what if anything could turn it around?
Are we in fact talking about the onset of a true Depression -ie no jobs. people without homes, and even food?
I have elections in my Google news, but you can tailor make your own. So I put US politics in and Google came back with an adittional 9 stories, different from the first lot.
219 jen Really band, if I were the Democrats I would not be letting up on this disaster all the way to November. That takes economic resposibilty out of the Repugs hands.
Bill Gross does a “letter to Obama” outlining the colossal challenges his administration will face:
…it essentially says that Obama will need to run a massive stimulatory programme, pushing the deficit into the realm of a trillion bucks.
Obama can’t ignore this, nor can he pay for it, and of course the Republican’s will be howling at his back constantly.
WOW! You can even make the Google news site come up with stories related to Obama. God I have so much American politics my head will explode! And yes, if you type in s*x it will give you pages of s*x headlines.
It’s bloody awful Jen, and there’s no quick fix. The entire edifice of US capitalism has been predicated on endless credit creation and cheap money (courtesy of that imbecile Greenspan who denied that asset inflation was his problem).
This has taken decades to wind up into a full tornado, but it’s been unleashed now and there is NO going back. In other words, there will be dramatic and irreversible shifts in the economy and enforced changes to consumer behaviour, while they watch their assets shrinking in value. (Look at US house prices and equities for starters).
I’ve been saying for years that if you live long enough you’ll see people lining up at soup kitchens in the US once again…and it’s true, it’s starting to happen now. But these will be the most vulnerable people, those who’ve been foreclosed and lost jobs and who can’t survive without charity. There’s going to be a lot of them, but it won’t be like the Great Depression…at least I hope not.
But it’s serious enough.
American’s have had two shocks this century: 911 and now this total financial meltdown. They responded in a crazy way to 17 Saudis getting lucky on 911, and went way over the top. One only hopes they don’t do the same this time, and that they regain some control of Wall Street and impose some government controls that work in all aspects of finance, rather than leaving it to the cowboys to run into the ground.
The American ‘dream’ is in reality a nightmare funded on debt, and it’s over. The cold hard light of day should get them seriously focused on what they’ve allowed to go down, and start a very long process of rehabilitation, saving, and living within their means.
A chaste America is about to emerge from the ashes of this, and it will not much resemble what it looks like right now.
Thanks Kirri – that’s what I was fearing.
How much is this situation likely to affect our own economy do you reckon?
(it must be nice being able to post without copping a whole heap of dung being thrown back at you!
and hope you’re doing ok too).
Don’t want to be a party-pooper but the article below may temper your enthusiasm for Nancy Pelosi-
Often wonder if it is just a sympton of their inane optimism…you know,if you believe something enough,it will happen.
Look forward to your Diebold article.
Now back to littlies…..
take at look mortgage rates here Jen, rising on the costs of the fallout.
Also, as the USD sinks beyond the S-bend, commodities are going up to compensate (as of course everything is denominated in USD). Tough for those who are pegged one way or another to the USD.
We get ‘some’ relief in that the AUD is rising, but it’s still a two edged sword: we get better prices for our mineral/gas exports, but we pay more for petrol.
A big collapse of the USD will not be good, as lots of US debt is spread around the globe and many are already getting seriously hurt as it is.
God they’ve made a friggin’ mess of things! (To use the technical term! LOL)
And as for grumpy old Gruffy, well yeah, I don’t really miss his inanities one tiny bit either. He really did not have a clue, but blustered away with gusto thinking he did.
thaks Megan- there’s no doubt the Democrats have folded on Iraq. I still hope Obama will act if he gets elected.
224 Kirribilli Removals
“In other words, there will be dramatic and irreversible shifts in the economy and enforced changes to consumer behaviour, while they watch their assets shrinking in value.”
As a consequence there will be dramatic irreverrsible shifts inf politics. There is a silver lining. Sorry gold lining.
228 jen Just till after the election.
Latest poll shows Obama’s widened lead over McCain.
A latest poll released by CNN on Friday showed that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had widened his lead over his Republican rival, John McCain.
The poll combining results of recent polls found Obama, the Illinois Senator, held an eight-percentage lead over McCain, the Arizona Senator, at 49 percent to 41 percent, with 10 percent of those surveyed still undecided.
I now have a news category for the US senate. I love Google!
U.S. Senate panel votes to expand Cuba travel.
A U.S. Senate committee on Thursday approved legislation that would undo tougher travel restrictions to Cuba imposed by the Bush administration in 2004, but Republican opposition could stop the measure.
The change approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee would allow Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba once a year to visit relatives. It would also allow them to spend more money there, about $160 a day.
Happy Saturday all!
Thanks Chris, it’s nice to read Obama’s lead is growing!
But perhaps we can’t take the polls too seriously until the two main parties have held their conventions, and Obama/McCain have named their running mates?
I know it’s unlikely, but I’d love an Obama/Edwards ticket, I’m an admirer of John Edwards!
Kirribilli: I too am limiting the alcohol consumption at the moment, not too difficult actually abstaining from the “demon drink”. However, if the Democrats have a huge sweeping victory in November, I’ll go right off and get very shit faced drunk LOL
Progerssive- do it with friends! – are you a taker for the PB Election party on Nov 5? Either Brissy or Sydney, although Qld looking the most likely at this stage.
233 Progressive Yep. You’re right, although I think Obama’s European tour may swing things as well.
The “problems” the global economy face at the moment really get down to the decades-long debauching of the USD. There has been too much debt-creation, too much borrowing (by households, the financial sector and the the US government) and too little saving, all financed by the super-savers of East Asia, the oil-rich and an aging European population.
This essentially would not matter at all, as long as the US financial system invested the money wisely, continued to hold enough cash to repay its lenders, and as long as the USD held its value. Sad to say, none of these conditions now apply.
In the end, much of the money taken in by the US financial system has been blown: wasted in a massive speculative housing bubble, insane wars, the dot-com craze and a consumer-led-boom. The long years of wanton credit creation have also eroded the value of the USD and, consequently, undermined lenders’ willingness to hold USD-assets into the future.
The result is a forced dissolution of financial assets. Creditors are liquidating their positions and debtors are having to either find new captial or give up the game. This applies from the smallest borrowers – individuals with small amounts due on their credit cards – to the very largest coprorations and governments.
Several things have followed. First, market interest rates have gone up. This has been happening everywhere and will continue. This has the effect of tightening the rationing of credit: borrowers take on less debt and savers save harder. Second, existing borrowers with inadequate capital, erratic cash-flow or weak liquidity come under pressure to conserve cash, sell assets and repay their debts.
This process has already clearly begun and will continue for an indeterminate time. It will apply to households, businesses and governments alike and will most likely lead to a contraction of real economic activity: demand, output and employment will all probably fall. Eventually this will lead to a fall in prices – for assets and goods and services.
How far this process continues is not yet known. Once prices start to fall, profits fall and businesses have to shed workers. If prices and incomes are both falling at the same time, consumers lose both the opportunity and incentive to spend, so demand can decline even further.
The experience of the Japanese economy in the 90’s is worth recalling. Falling prices for assets and consumer products and declining employment and wages stifled demand, output and investment. Real final consumer demand stagnated, prices dropped further and expansion stalled while household saving accelerated.
Through 2008, the US has been able to avoid a more severe contraction in economic activity because household incomes have not yet declined and because external demand – demand from other economies – has supported industrial output. Whether this can continue depends on two essential things: whether declining asset values and high fuel and food prices do eventually slow down consumer spending in the US and the other Atlantic economies; and whether relative confidence and stability can be maintained in the US/European financial systems.
Of these, by far the most important is the second one. Consumers are spenders at heart and, short of a major calamity, will find a way to shop. It takes a lot to change consumer behaviour, as any marketer can tell you. So, for the time being, consumers can be expected to be a source of stability in the global economy.
But if there are any more very large shocks to the financial system, I reckon you will see a global flight from risk – a flight to cash and a flight away from the USD. Too much more selling pressure on the USD and it will cave in. The effect will be intense instability in global trade and capital flows and a further jump in holdings of cash-proxies, like oil and gold. This will intensify pressure on interest rates and further squeeze asset prices, balance sheets and financial market liquidity.
The trouble is, these shocks are not easy to foresee – even those right at the heart of the system have trouble anticipating them – and are not easy to manage.
The least bad forecast is for a slow liquidation of stressed assets and gradual re-balancing of the global economy. There will be slower growth in industrial economies and lasting pressure on asset prices, but no huge panic-selling. Governments will have to raise taxes, economize and give up discretionary warfare, while households will have to start saving more. This should be good in the long run and I comfort myself by believing this is how it will all turn out. I hope I’m right because the alternative is truly terrible.
The corollary is that growth in the world economy will increasingly be sourced in China, India, Brasil and Russia. This has problems too, not least being the rise of at least two “gangster states” and the destruction of the global environment, but will probably be good for those of us fortunate enough to live in Australia.
Robert Redford: Obama Loss is End of Democratic Party?
Yet another doomsday threat from Hollywood is in: if Barack Obama doesn’t win the presidency in November, “you can kiss the Democratic Party goodbye”, so says the actor and director Robert Redford in Dublin, Ireland.
Won’t post a link it’s a right wing paper.
Likely Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama leads presumptive GOP nominee John McCain in two traditionally Republican states, a poll indicates.
Zogby Interactive polling shows the Illinois senator leads the Arizona senator in Colorado and New Mexico.
Just like to send a cheerio to my good friend Greensborough Growler.
Teaser for “Can Diebold Steal Another Election for the GOP?”
“electronic voting is inherently undemocratic because, when a company’s software cannot be viewed by the public, voters have no way to ensure that it works properly—the public must simply accept the company’s assurance that touching a button on a computer screen registers as a vote for the correct candidate. As critics have explained, the systems are also highly vulnerable to tampering, malfunctions, and problems with voter-privacy because results are aggregated in centralized databases – databases that can easily be altered.”
BoBo at 237: very much enjoyed your thoughtful analysis of the global economic “Quo Vadis”. If the doodoo really slaps the propellor with the rise of “Gangster States” like China and Russia who don’t give a stuff about rising biospheric toxicty, as you mention in your last sentence, then I’m not so sure that we Ozlings are going to have any immunity in a “closed” planetary environment.
First the empathy, then the touching; maybe then our progeny and theirs will have the audacity to hope.
Thanks EC. I’m glad you read my post and I’m sure you are right about the environment. There will be no exemptions for the wide brown land when the environment starts its own asset-liquidation program.
Barack Obama nixes deal to sponsor car in NASCAR race in Pennsylvania.
Don’t know about you, but I thought the car looks bloody good. What a shame!
Germany Denies Being Pressured on Obama.
The German government strongly denied Friday that it had been pressured by the Bush administration to discourage Sen. Barack Obama from giving an address in front of the landmark Brandenburg Gate during his upcoming European tour.
Obama’s campaign has declined to confirm the dates of his trip, but politicians here continued to squabble over where, exactly, to lay out the red carpet for the presumptive Democratic nominee, who, in contrast to President Bush, is very popular with the German public.
Campaign Notebook: Obama Takes Early Lead in Most Swing States.
Barack Obama has jumped to an early- summer lead in most of the critical swing states needed to win the presidency, polls in those states show.
The presumptive Democratic nominee leads Republican rival John McCain in six of eight battleground states, according to averages of June and July polls compiled by Pollster.com. While some of the surveys are more reliable than others, they underscore the challenge Arizona Senator McCain faces.
Obama, an Illinois senator, leads in three states — Ohio, Virginia and Colorado — that helped Republican President George W. Bush win a second term in 2004.
In Ohio, Obama leads McCain by 46 percent to 42 percent, the poll averages show. If the state’s 20 electoral votes had gone for John Kerry in 2004, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts would have won the election.
Colorado and Virginia, with a combined 22 electoral votes, are tilting to Obama by a 3 percentage-point margin in Colorado and 2 points in Virginia.
I’ll pretty much second all of that Blindopt, it’s a pretty good summary of where it’s all going.
There aren’t many good outcomes in the short term, but hopefully the hard lessons will be learned, the hard way of course.
I’m not so sanguine that it will have a soft landing however, and especially when large capital flights get going, people get hurt, and this stampede out of a rapidly inflating USD will be something else when it gets a tailwind behind it.
It’s a truly spectacular implosion of confidence in the US, and it’s still got a long way to go.
This is Bushes statement on the economic crisis. Says absolutely nothing. A bit like Greensborough Growler really.
“Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are very important institutions,” President Bush said after holding a previously scheduled meeting with his economic advisors. The Treasury secretary, the president added, “assured me that he and [Federal Reserve Chairman] Ben Bernanke will be working this issue very hard.”
KR, I think the chance of a hard landing is very real. But I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion. The days ahead are going to be tough enough in any case. The weakness in Fannie and Freddie this week has pushed the USD down 2 or 3%, pushed interest rates higher and revived oil prices, while equity markets around the world took a beating. And this is just on the strength of speculation. If either of these two enterprises do fail, or if a Lehman Bros or a commercial banking major or insurer in the US, Europe or Japan, there will be violent upheaval in the markets. But it doesn’t have to happen this way.
The US government really should immediately act to strengthen its position: the capital of the Federal Reserve should be substantially increased and the US fiscal position should be radically overhauled as a matter of urgency (as it should be in the UK and Europe as well). These would be powerful signals to the markets that the situation will be managed energetically. But it is not happening at all.
I had a look at a summary of the housing bill passed by the US Senate this week too. It is a fairly weak response to what is a dire emergency and Bush wants it watered down even more. The situation is like a financial Katrina and the Bush approach is just the same: mouth a few half-hearted lines, do as little as possible and hope the problem will fix itself. It is lamentable.
Chris B, the polls are inexorable, it seems. Every week the margin over McCain seems to extend and consolidate. And there are still about 16 weeks or so to go. There seems to be nothing available to McCain to halt the trend. Hopefully, he’s doomed!
When mavericks go bad:
Name a boat after a bloke, whaddya expect!?!
“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” Ben Franklin
The YouTube clip of McCain ‘ducking’ and diving the contraception question is here:
…and it’s a moment of anguish for the poor senator, who realises he’s snookered and he just squirms and wriggles and covers his face and give an idiotic grin.
This man is so out of his depth in the 21st Century it is embarrassing.
I wonder if it was the mention of Viagra that left him lost for words…..at his age contraception is something he hasn’t had to deal with for a very long time,if ever.
His initial reponse seemed one of personal embarrasment….squirming evident.
What a great video! I reckon he doesn’t want to talk about viagra – what 74 yo would – and he knows contraception is a lose-lose issue for him. So much for straight talking.
P.S. hope things are going better for you than anticipated.
As they say,”Illegitimi non carborundum” or some such 🙂
Kirri at 250, Bomb-Bomb’s a dead-set, walk-up-start, card-carrying moron. Beat Boy Bill’s work sprang to mind. Unfortunately the spaminator is on my case with links tonight so here’s the quote in toto.
“We have a new type of rule now. Not one-man rule, or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy, but of small groups elevated to positions of absolute power by random pressures and subject to political and economic factors that leave little room for decision.
They are representatives of abstract forces who have reached power through surrender of self. The iron-willed dictator is a thing of past.
There will be no more Stalins, no more Hitlers.
The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident. Inept, frightened pilots at the controls of a vast machine they cannot understand, calling in experts to tell them which buttons to push.”
(And which pills to pop too, apparently.)
—William S. Burroughs, “No More Stalins, No More Hitlers,” from Dead City Radio, Island Records, 1990; and Interzone, Viking Books, 1989.
Also, Ken at Road to Surfdom has an excellent thread on trolls and trolling. It certainly provides a few chortles about an erstwhile serial pest of our acquaintance.
EC at 254
Freedom of speech rules – your posts are despammed.
Part time listener, first time caller
From what I understand you guys all hate ESJ, (probably with good reason, don’t know, don’t really care) but it got me thinking
Now, this is a honest and I think, fair question. Is this because he/she has said that he (lets just say a HE for now) wont be attending because he has said as much or is it because by doing so his veil of anonymity will be lifted by way of IP disclosure? On what grounds are you are willing to disclose his or anybody else’s IP if you don’t like them?. Perhaps even if threatened by somebody with legal things because they were pissed off about something somebody posted? (a good flame for example)
What is your charter when it comes to divulging I.P’s (and there fore their identities?)
Is probably quite an important thing for some, non-discloser that is
Spam inbox at 259
Simply stated – there are no guarantees.
This site has been established primarily to maintain a social community and membership of that community is completely open (a will probably remain that way unless we encounter problems with spam posting). At this time I am the sole administrator, however, I expect that will change over time. Chris B has also expressed his willingness to assist in this role and hopefully we will locate another identity within the week. What that means is that information concerning identity (email addresses and IP addresses) will become available to at least a small number of participants without any formal vetting process (after all, who am I, who is Chris, who is the yet unidentified third person?), together with management and technical staff within the WordPress organization (as host service providers).
There are also no policies agreed to or published by this community related to disclosure or non-disclosure of privacy information. In effect – anyone who posts here does so at their own risk.
So, if somebody decides to rip into you or Chris B or “others” it’s not out of the question that you guys will retaliate by disclosing their IP ?. Of course the IP’s email addies etc are known to the Admins/hosting agencies etc, thats a given, but usually there is a understanding that these are not disclosed unless forced by a legal requirement. But what your saying is well, it might happen, we’ll see how we feel about it at the time?.
I ask because in my experience no matter what good intentions (or hopes) a site has when it’s first setup, (I’ve Admined a few in the past) flaming etc can/does/will happen (its part of the whole scene) and it’s good to know if you might well be “outed” based on a whimsy by the admin?.
Not trying to rain on your parade here, but it’s a good thing to get out in the open right from the start
Spam inbox at 261
To summaries – there are no guarantees, no qualifications, no presumptions, and no commitments. However, if you or anyone is interested in funding the legal, administrative and technical framework that would enable an alternative scenario I’d be interested in hearing about it.
Ok, (sheesh, testy!) … simply state this.
The Admin will not disclose anybodys personal information, IP’s, emails etc under any circumstance unless compeled to do so by legal requirment or in the case of extreme bastardness
Span inbox at 263
Please feel free to direct any additional comments you have to the following thread:
A new thread is up and this one is closed.