Dow down. Stocks dropped sharply on Tuesday as a sluggish economy caught up with some of the world’s biggest multinationals, hitting their earnings and adding to fears about weak global growth. The latest string of disappointing results came from blue chips DuPont and United Technologies, which operate around the world and in many industries. DuPont shares lost more than 8 percent, leading the Dow industrials lower. With 145 of the S&P 500 companies having reported results so far, 63 percent have missed analysts’ revenue expectations. Normally, between 60 and 65 percent of companies meet or exceed consensus analyst projections, so this is a big deal. Another reason for the sharp sell-off: Moves by the Fed and the European Central Bank inflated the market in September. As a friend of mine, an airplane pilot, says, “If you don’t put fuel in the tank, gravity wins.” This economy, though not as bad as it was a year ago, is still running on fumes.
I’m down with that. A very cool thing happened at West Feliciana High School, in Louisiana, this week. Students there voted Mary Margaret Burns, a classmate with Down syndrome, as this year’s homecoming queen. I first read about the story on Rod Dreher’s blog, where he had some correspondents express skepticism about the story, which asserted that Mary Margaret’s election wasn’t a prank but a sincere affirmation of a young lady who has been an important and positive part of the life of the school. One girl, who was on the homecoming court, wrote:
“All of us on court wanted Mary Margaret to be crowned queen. We talked about it all the time and looked forward to stepping onto the field Friday night and getting to witness such a beautiful girl and dear friend be recognized as homecoming queen. We couldn’t wait to see her reaction, that joy she would soon be filled with. She was very deserving of the crown and we all knew she would win before it was even announced because she is evident in our school. We all love her to death and care for her very deeply. She is so much fun to be around and talk to. She was not chosen because of her disability, she was chosen because of the huge heart she has and the ability to make anyone smile. I love Mary Margaret with all of my heart and as much as my school and town loves her, she loves us that much back. I wouldn’t of wanted anyone else to win homecoming queen rather than her.”
Sophisticated barbarians. If West Feliciana High School represents the best of what’s going on with our young people, a California high school might represent the worst. Piedmont High School, in Piedmont, Calif., informed parents of a “Fantasy Slut League” in which male students “drafted” female students and earned points for sexual encounters with them. The sex game came to light this month, but it has apparently been going on at the school for years, which means that many adults in the community likely knew about and perhaps even participated in the game when they were younger. Oh, and this outrageous and tragic behavior happened at one of the top public schools in the state, one that consistently ranks near the top when it comes to standardized test scores. I guess this is what passes for “excellence” in a public school system that has vigorously rejects biblical values: a kind of intellectual sophistication, but moral and ethical chaos.
Pick your poll. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has Mitt Romney and Barack Obama tied at 47 percent among likely voters. A month ago the same poll had Romney down by five points. But for precisely that reason, it’s important not to take any single poll too seriously. Case in point: The latest Washington Times poll has Obama up by three. InTrade, the on-line oddsmaker, says Obama has a 55.7 percent chance of winning, but that number is down significantly in the past week. One thing that still looks good for Obama is his approval rating, which remains at 51 percent. That’s not great, but historically it’s been good enough win. No incumbent has ever lost reelection with an approval rating of 49 percent or higher on Election Day.