— President '08 —

March 10, 2009


Hillary Campaign to Cicilline: Just Raise Taxes!

Monique Chartier

[This post originally appeared on February 22, 2008. I've bumped it up so that commenter Jayzeeh can judge first hand my opinion of David Cicilline and firefighters.]

Because the Providence firefighters had promised to picket Senator Hillary Clinton's Rhode Island event this weekend over their lack of a contract with the city, her campaign has asked Mayor David Cicilline not to attend the event.

But before dropping that bomb on His Honor, Hillary's campaign suggested as an alternative that the Mayor of the capital city of the fourth highest taxed state simply give in to the firefighters' demands.

My own view of the "dispute" between the Mayor and Local 799 is that it amounts to play-acting by David Cicilline, who believes that this stance will confer upon him the title "Champion of the Taxpayer". He is mistaken. It is clear that Providence needs to make some adjustments to its budget. But such adjustments must be across the board. The Mayor has, instead, selected a very short list of line items to adjust. This is not only ineffectual but unfair. Further, if, as the Mayor contends, there is room to negotiate within the firefighters' contract (which there may well be), then there is also room for negotiation in a city contract ten times larger - the teachers' contract. The Mayor has not seen fit to look for such flexibility in the latter case, only in the former, which involves a far smaller block of municipal employees and, accordingly, a much smaller block of potential political supporters. For these reasons, it is difficult to be impressed by his production "starring" the firefighters.

At the same time, the philosophy espoused by Senator Clinton's campaign - "just cave" - in addition to not being very sensitive to taxpayers, is the very one which has led to Rhode Island being the fourth highest taxed state in the country. Roland Benjamin has an excellent post today about the extravagant proposals Senator Obama has made while campaigning. Following upon the advice by the Hillary campaign to the Mayor of Providence, it appears that these two Presidential candidates are in a race to see who can spend down the taxpayer's wallet the fastest, one with expensive proposals and the other with an irresponsible approach to the negotiation of government contracts.


March 7, 2009


UPDATED: Is Obama clueless or are his actions intentional?

Donald B. Hawthorne

UPDATED: Roger Kimball:

I was having lunch yesterday with a prominent critic of the Spender in Chief, and he raised a possibility that many of us have entertained over the past several weeks: that Obama is simply out of his depth: that he hasn’t a clue about what makes the economy tick and his talk about the "profit-to-earnings ratio" was not a slip of the tongue but a worrisome confirmation of the suspicion that he is an empty suit floundering around in the dark.

We kicked around that possibility for a few minutes: certainly the Obama administration seems like a monument to incompetence. Consider the multiple appointment fiascos. Consider his treatment of Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the country that has been our staunchest ally. Consider, if you can stand it, the economy: That sucking sound–the only palpable trace of the once-mighty U.S. stock market–reminds us what the market makes of Obama’s plans to raise taxes on "the rich," the middle class, business. It reminds us what the market thinks of his efforts to shove the coal industry into a death spiral with absurd cap-and-trade carbon emissions regulations. And that’s all before breakfast, before he sets about wrecking the U.S. health care industry by turning it, too, over to Washington for ruination.

Yes, we agreed, it certainly looks like incompetence and, judged by its results, is effects, its consequences for this great country, it is incompetence on a breathtaking scale.

And yet, is it only incompetence? Remember, shortly before the election, Obama boasted to his mesmerized supporters that "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." Is that not what he has set about doing–with a vengeance? [Here.]

And here’s where we began talking about another possibility: that Team Obama was deliberately targeting the U.S. economy, deliberately impoverishing millions of Americans, deliberately angering our closest allies while coddling dictators like Putin and his puppet Medvedev and funneling millions to terrorist organizations like Hamas...

...Each step strengthens the role of government in people’s lives. That’s exactly what Lenin sought to do...

Lenin, too, wished to "spread the wealth around." And Obama, like Lenin, has been perfectly frank in recommending that we need to go beyond the "merely formal" rights enunciated in the Constitution in order to "bring about redistributive change" in society.

That’s where Obama’s much heralded–and astronomically expensive–"green" initiatives come in. Only they aren’t really (or are only incidentally) "green," i.e., concerned with the environment. At bottom, they are pink, i.e., they are political weapons in a socialist battle against "greedy" business interests.

Who, I wonder, was the political genius who saw the advantages of exploiting people’s sentimental gullibility about the environment for partisan profit? We’ve long known that environmentalism, as the philosopher Harvey Mansfield put it, is "school prayer for liberals." But I wonder whether even Professor Mansfield could have foreseen what a tool pseudo-environmentalism would be for the radical wing of the Democratic party? The inestimable value of a green, that is, a pink, philosophy is that you can never be green enough. And in pursuit of zero-carbon-emissions purity a government can impose crippling sanctions in order to force compliance. And don’t say Obama didn’t warn you: as I and many others pointed out during the campaign, he promised that, if elected, he would do all he could to "bankrupt" the coal industry...

ORIGINAL MARCH 5 POST & ADDENDUMS

Hmmm.

Jennifer Rubin has written a piece entitled 'I'm Maureen Dowd, and I've Been Had' (H/T):

They may need a support group before the month is out. They could gather in New York or Washington where many victims reside. The meetings would start: “I’m Maureen [or David]. I’m a duped Barack voter. And I’m mad.”

The ranks indeed are filling with the disaffected and the disappointed — Chris Buckley, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, David Gergen, and even that gynecological sleuth and blogger Andrew Sullivan. And then there is the very angry Marty Peretz. Their complaints are varied but expressed with equal amounts of remorse and bitterness. They all have been done wrong by Barack...

All in all it is one dismayed and bitter group, filled with recriminations and a bit of self-flagellation. And it’s not hard to recognize that, as in any grieving process, they have passed through denial (when all who criticized their beloved Obama were excoriated and ridiculed) and are in the second step: anger. They were misled or deluded into believing Obama was a moderate or an indefatigable supporter of Israel or a fiscal grown-up or a reformer (take your pick).

They and the rest of the country are figuring out the bitter truth: Obama bears little resemblance to the moderate and soothing figure who tied up John McCain in knots. He bears even less resemblance to the Agent of Change. Rather he’s pretty much the Chicago pol who went to the Senate to be its most liberal member.

And for the wounded Obama supporters, we can offer just one bit of counsel: you have lots of company. There are trading floors filled with sympathetic souls and businesses filled with stunned executives. They didn’t get what they bargained for either...

Kind of like yesterday's post here on AR. Stuart Taylor has more: Obama's Left Turn - Centrists fear that the president's budget reveals his liberal leanings.

Peter Robinson: "A couple of implications here are worth noting. The first is that a deep, recurring pattern of American life has asserted itself yet again: the cluelessness of the elite...The elite journalists, I repeat, got Obama wrong. The troglodytes got him right. As our national drama continues to unfold, bear that in mind."

More here and here.

The conventional wisdom is that Obama, with strong majorities in both houses of Congress, will get every legislative initiative he wants. And from a sheer vote counting viewpoint, that would certainly be true.

But could the countervailing force not be the oft-spineless Republicans with their limited votes in Congress?

Could the real counter come from the financial markets themselves, which sense both the magnitude of the economic downturn and how Obama's proposed statist solutions will only compound the problems and adversely impact any recovery?...

So is it a race between a financial market collapse, accelerated by its reaction to Obama's policy proposals, and Obama's aggressive and statist policy implementation effort?

Will the financial markets then be the force which galvanizes a broad reaction from the American people?...

Incentives matter deeply and drive human behavior. It is a lesson statists and socialists never learn...

Ledeen on de Tocqueville from the second link above:

...We will not be bludgeoned into submission; we will be seduced. [Tocqueville] foresees the collapse of American democracy as the end result of two parallel developments that ultimately render us meekly subservient to an enlarged bureaucratic power: the corruption of our character, and the emergence of a vast welfare state that manages all the details of our lives. His words are precisely the ones that best describe out current crisis:
That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

It is evident that our associations, along with religion one of the two keys to the great success of the American experiment, are prime targets for the appetite of the state. In the seamless web created by the new tyranny, everything from the Boy Scouts to smoking clubs will be strictly regulated. It is no accident that the campaign to drive religion out of American public life began in the 1940s, when the government was consolidating its unprecedented expansion during the Depression and the Second World War, having asserted its control over a wide range of activities that had previously been entrusted to the judgment of private groups and individuals.

When we console ourselves with the thought that the government is, after all, doing it for a good reason and to accomplish a worthy objective, we unwittingly turn up the temperature under our lobster-pot. The road to the Faustian Deal is paved with the finest intentions, but the last stop is the ruin of our soul.

Permitting the central government to assume our proper responsibilities is not merely a transfer of power from us to them; it does grave damage to our spirit. It subverts our national character. In Tocqueville’s elegant construction, it "renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself."...

...The great Israeli historian Jacob Talmon coined the perfect name for this perversion of the Enlightenment dream, which enslaves all in the name of all: totalitarian democracy.

These extreme cases help us understand Tocqueville’s brilliant warning that equality is not a defense against tyranny, but an open invitation to ambitious and cunning leaders who enlist our support in depriving ourselves of freedom. He summarizes it in two sentences that should be memorized by every American who cherishes freedom:

The…sole condition required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community is to love equality, or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced, as it were, to a single principle.

Will the next question for these disillusioned pundits be to ask whether Obama is truly clueless on economic issues OR whether he is intentionally acting in a way to bring down the economy so as to justify his socialist beliefs/policies?

One man's thoughts (H/T).

There is a paper trail which stands behind these thoughts regarding Obama's radical beliefs - More here, here, here, here, and here.

Then there is Obama's pre-election paper trail with numerous links to his many statements not covered well by the MSM.

A thoughtful person has to admit that no other U.S. President has ever had political connections or espoused beliefs which are so questionnable and out-of-line with mainstream opinions.

Is the evidence pattern enough to at least make more people stop and think about what are Obama's true intentions? Will they then take the next step and speak up against Obama's wealth-destroying and liberty-limiting policies?

Or are we all going to be looking belatedly for our own support groups where we talk about how we were also duped?

ADDENDUM

Power Line writes:

[Obama doing it intentionally] is, I admit, an intriguing theory, but I don't buy it. Obama can't possibly want to be a one-term failure. That's what happened to Jimmy Carter, and Obama must know that it will happen to him, too, if his policies are perceived as dragging down the economy.

More likely the explanation is that Obama is an economic illiterate, and subscribes to the idea--which I think is rather common among Democrats--that what the government does has little impact on the economy. Obama likely believes that the economy will recover on its own, and in the meantime--in Rahm Emanuel's immortal words--he shouldn't let the crisis go to waste. So he enacts every left-wing measure that he wanted to do anyway, expecting that when the economy eventually recovers he can take credit for it, even though his policies, if anything, retarded and weakened the recovery.

That's a cynical strategy, although not quite as cynical as destroying the economy on purpose; the difference is that it may well work.

During the general election, Obama showed himself to be ignorant about history so it is not unreasonable that he would also be economically illiterate, too.

But he is also showing himself to be quite the leftist ideologue. Since ideologues act based on their faith beliefs, regardless of empirical evidence, I think it is hard to say definitively it is just illiteracy.

ADDENDUM 2

Meltdown (H/T).

Boskin: Obama's Radicalism is Killing the Dow. Rubin's comments:

...Democrats may shrink from the label "socialist," but they can’t deny the scope and direction of the president’s agenda. More important, they’re not embracing a model which has (ever?) succeeded in producing growth and prosperity. So whatever you call it, it is not a recipe for recovery.

The radical implications of Obama's budget proposal. Victor Davis Hanson provides some historical context. Michael Barone:

The Obama tax plan, combined with major state tax plans, puts not a three in front of the high earners' tax rate as the Clinton plan did, it puts a four or a five in front of it. And at that point, I fear, the animal spirits of high earners are going to be directed away from productive investment and toward tax avoidance and tax shelters. Away from creating new enterprises that can provide avenues upward for any and all, and toward gaming the system for the well-connected and shrewd insiders. Away from an economy that grows more than anyone imagined and toward an economy where system-gamers take shares of a static pie away from the rest of us. Is that where we really want to go?

More Rubin:

Fred Barnes is onto the scam: "Given the moderate-to-conservative viewpoint of voters, Obama has a motive in pushing to have his uniformly liberal agenda approved by Congress as rapidly as possible–before voters catch on to the fact it’s not what they voted for."

Or to put it differently, the Wall Street Journal editors conclude that "economies don’t spiral down forever without a reason and without policy encouragement. What’s worrying about the plunge in equities since January 2, and especially in the last week since Mr. Obama released his radical budget, is that it has come amid the unveiling of the President’s policy agenda. Equity prices have reacted to those proposals by signaling that they expect a much deeper and longer recession."...

Charles Krauthammer calls Obama on the bait-and-switch: "Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core. Health, education and energy — worthy and weighty as they may be — are not the cause of our financial collapse. And they are not the cure. The fraudulent claim that they are both cause and cure is the rhetorical device by which an ambitious president intends to enact the most radical agenda of social transformation seen in our lifetime." Actually the proposals not only aren’t the cure, the taxes and regulatory regime which accompany these plans are likely to make things worse.

Healthcare policy: The latest example of Obama's disdain for liberty.

ADDENDUM 3

Rediscovering first principles. (Lots more here if you want to do a deep dive on many first principles.)

A focused, video comparison between two different world views: Obama versus Reagan.


March 4, 2009


Riding the buyers' remorse train on day 44 of Obama's presidency

Donald B. Hawthorne

Christopher Buckley.

David Brooks.

Even David Gergen.

Jim Cramer.

Now Silicon Valley entrepreneurs see their incentives are being altered for the worse:

Like the college students who stayed up late to be inspired by his campaign rallies only to find Obama's first significant action to be a stimulus program that will transfer about a trillion dollars from them to the Baby Boomers, Silicon Valley Obama supporters are likely to find that a government-dominated economic era will not a great one in which to start companies that threaten big incumbent corporations that have juice with the government. I hope they appreciate the irony.

More here on entrepreneurs in general from the ever-thoughtful Jim Manzi. How do statists like Obama think jobs are created?

Whose next on the Obama buyers' remorse train?

Will it matter enough to force changes in Obama's radical agenda?

ADDENDUM

Democratic Senator Evan Bayh writes in the Wall Street Journal:

...Our nation's current fiscal imbalance is unprecedented, unsustainable and, if unaddressed, a major threat to our currency and our economic vitality. The national debt now exceeds $10 trillion. This is almost double what it was just eight years ago, and the debt is growing at a rate of about $1 million a minute.

Washington borrows from foreign creditors to fund its profligacy. The amount of U.S. debt held by countries such as China and Japan is at a historic high, with foreign investors holding half of America's publicly held debt. This dependence raises the specter that other nations will be able to influence our policies in ways antithetical to American interests. The more of our debt that foreign governments control, the more leverage they have on issues like trade, currency and national security. Massive debts owed to foreign creditors weaken our global influence, and threaten high inflation and steep tax increases for our children and grandchildren.

The solution going forward is to stop wasteful spending before it starts. Families and businesses are tightening their belts to make ends meet -- and Washington should too.

The omnibus debate is not merely a battle over last year's unfinished business, but the first indication of how we will shape our fiscal future. Spending should be held in check before taxes are raised, even on the wealthy. Most people are willing to do their duty by paying taxes, but they want to know that their money is going toward important priorities and won't be wasted...

...But what ultimately matters are not meetings or words, but actions. Those who vote for the omnibus this week -- after standing with the president and pledging to slice our deficit in half last week -- jeopardize their credibility.

As Indiana's governor, I balanced eight budgets, never raised taxes, and left the largest surplus in state history. It wasn't always easy. Cuts had to be made and some initiatives deferred. Occasionally I had to say "no."

But the bloated omnibus requires sacrifice from no one, least of all the government. It only exacerbates the problem and hastens the day of reckoning. Voters rightly demanded change in November's election, but this approach to spending represents business as usual in Washington, not the voters' mandate...

More on 14 centrist Democratic Senators from Politico.

Jennifer Rubin comments:

Barack Obama’s lurch to the left is costing him some support among centrist pundits, but now he’s lost a prominent Democratic Senator, Evan Bayh.

...Bayh and Nelson both pushed back against the idea of raising taxes in a recession. Presumably there are more legislators who are not ready for this lurch to the left.

This is potentially a turning point, as Democrats step forward willing to say, "Enough!" Whether they succeed in dragging the president back to a more centrist and sensible agenda remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: the center, at least in the Senate, is closer to the Republicans than to the Obama administration when it comes to fiscal sobriety and taxation.

Want the definition of overreach? When even Maureen Dowd whines about Obama. LOL.


February 16, 2009


President Obama and Article Two: Do We Really Want to Know?

Monique Chartier

Unless an objection was filed, Occidental College had until 10:00 am Pacific time today to respond to a subpoena filed on behalf of "Keyes et al" requesting

Academic and housing records of Barack Hussein Obama, including but not limited to approximately two years from September 1979 to June 1981

Why do Plaintiffs wish to review such documentation?

The gravamen of the Petition is the question as to whether United States Senator Barack Hussein Obama, of Illinois, is eligible to serve as president of the United States pursuant to the requirements for that office in the United States Constitution. The records sought may provide documentary evidence, and/or admissions by said Defendant, as to said eligibility or lack thereof.

My initial reaction to this avenue of investigation, one of three as of a month ago, was, huh, that's pretty clever. My second reaction was, you know, they might be on to something, especially as there are reports that the Obama administration would attempt to block the effort.

My ultimate reaction was of dread.

If Barack Obama does not qualify to be President of the United States under Article Two, Section One of the Constitution, I don't want his presidency challenged and I don't want him removed from office.

It's not because the worst has already happened and a truly egregious bill will become law as a result of his efforts. (Though the administration certainly is sending mixed signals about the urgency of its passage.) And it's not because the Republican candidate, John McCain, would not be his replacement.

It's because, rightly or wrongly, so many people believe that a milestone was reached and the ultimate glass ceiling was broken for African Americans. (Me, I've thought all along that America has known for a long time that Martin Luther King Jr. was on to something.) It's because of the false yet ugly accusations that would be made. (The fact that one of the Plaintiffs of this subpoena is himself African American would be deliberately overlooked.) It's because, rightly or wrongly, so many people of all colors would be so bitterly disappointed if Barack Obama were disqualified "now that he has come so far", "now that we have come so far".

Yes, if the worst happened, ultimately, it would be Barack Obama himself who would let everyone down because he failed to ... well, properly vet himself before running. But many people believe that this is larger than one man. And if that one man were removed from the White House, too many people would never understand the real reason, or would refuse to understand the real reason. I'm not sure I can face their reaction, even if it is based upon flawed information or reasoning.


January 22, 2009


Praise Song for That Day

Marc Comtois

Yesterday, Dan Yorke was talking about the inauguration poem, "Praise Song for the Day", by Elizabeth Alexander and asking for impressions. For his part, Dan thought that it was a solid effort that was essentially a snapshots across America (a "literary split screen" as Dan called it). He thought that it could have been improved upon both stylistically and in the way it was presented. His callers ran the gamut--people confessed to being confused, uplifted, or...whatever. Overall, it was a good bit of "lit-crit" on the radio. For my part, I shot off a quick email that Dan read on the air:

Dan, I agree….a “literary split screen” on a day in the life is a good way to put it. But the end [of the poem] is important:

”In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun. On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.“

See, it’s not about just any day, Dan, but that PARTICULAR day. The day when the ONE (Obama) has ascended. To me it was yet one more creepy, though predictable, aspect of the whole over-the-top, messianic feel of this inauguration. Another example of people thinking that, somehow, the election of a politician has single-handedly made everything better. Simplistic.

I've tried to explain this before, but historian and commentator Victor Davis Hanson has honed in and hit on what really bothers me:
I distilled from the press coverage and the crowds and the punditry yesterday that for all too many suddenly a vote for Obama redeems America. Now, to paraphrase Michelle Obama, for the first time in their lives they are apparently proud of the United States....So I am surprised that suddenly the election of a single individual means that we are united, patriotic, proud of America? Suddenly Okinawa or Antietam, or all those who died at the Argonne, are ours to claim again?

....But America was always ours, the public, and the nation transcends the proposition of whether Obama gets elected or not—given that the United States, in its worst hour, was better than the alternatives at their best. So I think it would be wise to cool it on the “I am now proud of America” rhetoric. If getting your way means suddenly the dead at Iwo or those who were blown up in B-17s over Germany are at last your own and matter, then we are in deep trouble.

History did not begin on January 20, 2009.


January 19, 2009


Inauguration or Coronation?

Marc Comtois

The inauguration festivities seem to be particularly "big" this time around. Wonder why? It seems much more like a coronation than an inauguration (I know, this will probably be taken as me being just another cranky-con. Oh well). Anyway, Michael Drout, Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Wheaton College (I don't know his politics), offers an illustrative recounting of a conversation he had in his faculty lounge:

Background: Wheaton has arranged for a sophomore January experience. Sophomores come two days early and do some stuff. This happens to be on the day of the inauguration, so the planners decided that all the sophomores could be brought to the field house where they would watch the ceremony on a giant screen.

Drout: (as tactful and politically savvy as I always am): I'm just glad I never had to participate in such a creepy experience when I was in college.

X: (confused): Why would you call it creepy?

Drout: You are rounding up a large group of people and forcing them to watch political theater. On a giant screen. In a gymnasium.

[Long pause while people look uncomfortable.]

Drout: It never occurred to any of you who planned this that it was the slightest bit creepy, did it?

X: The way you describe it makes it sound creepy. It is a major event that most people will want to watch.

Drout: Couldn't they watch it without being herded together into a gymnasium? Maybe hang out with their friends, watch it on the various lounge TVs? Make comments?

X: But then there wouldn't be the bonding experience.

Drout: Bonding over a political spectacle is, in your view, a good thing?

[another uncomfortable pause]

X: Maybe you should be one of the faculty members afterwards who can give talks to contextualize the event. You could analyze the rhetoric.

Drout: I'm pretty sure I don't want the students to see me as part of the creepy event.

X: But you'd have a chance to express your point of view.

Drout: But you've got my entire point of view. I think it's creepy.

X: (Gives up in exasperation).

Look, I do GET it. I really do believe that this is a significant moment in our nation's history. Yet, the 24/7 coverage of the week long celebration...I don't remember this happening before. Is it just because we, as entertainment/news consumers, are getting more demanding (or the suppliers of the aforementioned more aggressive?) when it comes to our politics-meet-entertainment appetite? I know there is a need to fill programming time--and what better way than covering inauguration festivities (plus, it's relatively cheap). To say nothing of the MSMs love for Obama.

I'm sure there are several factors that go into this. The coincidence of the inauguration of the nation's first black President with our annual commemoration of our country's greatest civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has certainly, and correctly, heightened the emotions this time around. But the idea that we as a nation need to "bond" over the inauguration of a new political leader? It all seems just a little overboard. And creepy.


December 5, 2008


Even Lenin would be impressed

Donald B. Hawthorne

Melanie Phillips:

Trevor Loudon has got hold of a fascinating analysis of Prez-elect Obama's administrative appointments by Mark Rudd and Jeff Jones, two former Weather Underground terrorists (chums of Obama's old ally [chance acquaintance], the unrepentant former WU terrorist William Ayers). The two of them are now on the board of Movement for a Democratic society, in turn the parent body of Progressives for Obama, the leading leftist lobby group behind Obama's presidential campaign. And waddya know - just like me they believe Obama is practising stealth politics with a degree of sophistication and success with which 'even Lenin would be impressed.' As they say, Obama knows that he must be subtle and reassure even the most conservative of his opponents if he is to achieve his radical goals...

Read Phillips for key excerpts from the articles by MDS members. Here is the link to Trevor Loudon's writeup with more complete information.

Phillips continues:

The key is the stupidity of so many of Obama's opponents, amplified by the credulousness and prejudices of the media and the ignorance of the public. The shallow Republicans and their supporters in the media and blogosphere have in large measure fallen for Obama's stealth politics hook, line and sinker. As a result of his 'centris' appointments which have got them absurdly cooing over people like Clinton and Holder, Gates and Jones, their guard is now totally lowered. They still don't know the true nature of what has hit them -- and at this rate will never know until they wake up one morning to a transformed America and a free world that has lost the war being fought against it.

And the more the left shrieks 'betrayal', the more American conservatives will wrap themselves in denial. But characters like Rudd and Jones are the horse's mouth. They know from the inside the manipulative and stealthy game that is being played here. Lenin would be impressed indeed.

As further background, here are a series of Obama posts from the general election:

Clarifying the deeper problems with Barack Obama
Summarizing the philosophical problems with Barack Obama's view of the world
More troubling thoughts about the One
Crisply defining the core problem with Obama's economic and tax policies
On Obama's economic and tax policies
Multiple choice options regarding Obama's "spread the wealth" comment
Any bids for $75,000?
Socialism
Yep, that'd be my reaction
Obama and ACORN's overt and criminal voter fraud acts
McCarthy: Stifling political debate with threats of prosecution is not the "rule of law" - it's tyranny
Obama on his desire for a civilian national security force
Does Obama believe in liberty?
Obama vs. McGovern on eliminating secret union elections
Obama's fundraising: Insufficient transparency and yet more unanswered questions
A rare Zen moment of simplicity
Senator Obama's naive, ahistorical, and unrealistic foreign policy viewpoints: His Achilles Heel for the November election
On Obama's disarmament priorities
On Obama's healthcare policies
On Obama's extreme abortion beliefs
Obama's views on coal industry
Oh my, it just never stops: In the tank for Obama
Creepy, indeed
Creepy, again
An argument for divided government

Anyone want to bet on what direction Obama wants to take America?


November 19, 2008


Hillary Acts Coy

Monique Chartier

How did President-Elect Obama wind up in the awkward position of standing by while the person on top of his short list vacillates about accepting arguably the most prestigious position in his Cabinet?

Hillary Clinton's "agonizing" decision over whether to accept Barack Obama's offer of the secretary of state position could be the result of her weighing whether she has a better option staying put in the Senate or just no taste for the workload.

The New York senator, who was vanquished by the president-elect in the Democratic presidential primaries, may also not want to play second fiddle, say observers watching the to-and-fro between Clinton and Obama.

Clinton's hesitation could very well be tactical, said Dr. Allan J. Lichtman, a professor of American political history at American University in Washington.

Is this one of those rare occasions when it might be possible to take an emulation of Lincoln too far? Further, as WPRO's Matt Allen asked tonight, should Senator Obama take her hesitation as a life-line and simply move on to the next person on his list?


November 18, 2008


The Primacy of Identity

Justin Katz

The left's investment in identity politics has proven to reap rewards. In battling the concept that people should develop their senses of self in such a way as to deemphasize a relative superficiality like ethnicity, the planners and plotters and goers-along cleared the field for such results as this:

Political and sociological analysts in several interviews and teleconferences Nov. 5 pointed out that Obama's vote among Catholics reflected a 7-point increase over the Catholic vote for Kerry.

The exit polls divided voters into "all Catholics" or white, non-Hispanic Catholics. In the latter group, the shift toward the Democratic candidate was less pronounced than among Catholics overall. Fifty-two percent of white Catholics supported McCain, and 47 percent voted for Obama. Majorities of white Catholics also voted for Bush in both his elections, by 56 percent in 2004 and 52 percent in 2000.

Approximately 40 percent of U.S. Catholics are Hispanic and another 3 percent are African-American. Asian and Pacific Islanders constitute about 4 percent.

Latinos nationwide voted for Obama by 67 percent to 31 percent for McCain. African-Americans voted for Obama by 95 percent to 4 percent. Asians supported Obama by 62 percent to 35 percent.

Without doubt, the inauguration of a black man represents a milestone in America, but there is potential, at least, for race to increase its prominence, as the now-more-powerful identity contingent wrings its investment for every drop of power.


November 15, 2008


Hitchens: Next Stop - Back Down to Earth

Monique Chartier

In view of his grumpiness with both candidates, if you jumped into Christopher Hitchens' post-election column randomly and missed that one crucial sentence, you'd have no idea who he voted for.

It was Senator Obama. But Hitchens has some choice words about inflated expectations of the President-Elect which have been raised by a fawning media and even, possibly, supporters wearing pink-tinged eyewear.

The recognition of these obvious points should also alert us to a related danger, which is the cousinhood of euphoria and hysteria. Those who think that they have just voted to legalize Utopia (and I hardly exaggerate when I say this; have you been reading the moist and trusting comments of our commentariat?) are preparing for a disillusionment that I very much doubt they will blame on themselves. The national Treasury is an echoing, empty vault; our Russian and Iranian enemies are acting even more wolfishly even as they sense a repudiation of Bush-Cheney; the lines of jobless and evicted are going to lengthen, and I don't think a diet of hope is going to cover it. Nor even a diet of audacity, though can you picture anything less audacious than the gray, safety-first figures who have so far been chosen by Obama to be on his team?

* * *

More worrying still, there are vicious enemies and rogue states in increasing positions of influence throughout the world (one of the episodes that most condemned the Republican campaign was its attempt to slander Sen. Joe Biden for his candid attempt to point this out), yet many Obama voters appear to believe that the mere charm and aspect of their new president will act as an emollient influence on these unwelcome facts and these hostile forces. I can't make myself perform this act of faith, and I won't put up with any innuendo about my inability to do so.


November 10, 2008


The President's Troopers

Justin Katz

On some level, this makes sense, and thus far, it's just an idea, but frankly, it's unsettling and has the potential to go very, very wrong (emphasis added):

After Obama declared victory, his campaign sent a text message announcing that his supporters hadn't heard the last from the president-elect. Obama conveyed a similar message to his staff in a campaignwide conference call Wednesday, signaling that his election was the beginning, and not the culmination, of a political movement.

Accordingly, the president-elect's http://www.change.gov transition Web site features a blog and a suggestion form, signaling the kinds of direct and instantaneous interaction that the Obama administration will encourage, perhaps with an eye toward turning its following into the biggest special-interest group in Washington.

Once Obama is sworn in, those backers may be summoned to push reluctant members of Congress to support legislation, to offer feedback on initiatives and to enlist in administration-supported causes in local communities. Obama would also be positioned to ask his supporters to back his favored candidates with fundraising and turnout support in the 2010 midterm elections.

So the least of what Obama's troopers will be doing is getting in their neighbors' faces, as he put it during the campaign. I also wonder whether this database will be the field from which he'll cull the first ranks of his national security force.

Presidents always remain partisan, of course, but I've had a sense, at least, that they put aside or hand over some of their "movement" infrastructure so as to lead the entire country. Presidents are persuaded by special interests, of course, and tend to have more affinity with some than others, but almost by definition, they are supposed to concern themselves with the national interests. Intellectually, the leap to tyranny looks smaller and smaller.



Gulp if You Think He Meant It

Justin Katz

Here and there across the Internet, one can still find expressions of hope that Obama's actions, when in office, would be tempered by the economy and the reality of responsibility. Peggy Noonan said, before the election, that Obama would be the dog that caught the car. This morning, even I suggested that he'd be tempered by politics, if nothing else.

It appears that his first official statement, however, is going to be one of decisiveness, probably to the detriment of the nation's financial and moral health:

President-elect Barack Obama is poised to move swiftly to reverse actions that President Bush took using executive authority, and his transition team is reviewing limits on stem cell research and the expansion of oil and gas drilling, among other issues, members of the team said Sunday. ...

"There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for Congressional action, and I think we'll see the president do that," John D. Podesta, a top transition leader, said Sunday. "He feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set."

And more:

Rahm Emanuel also hinted that Obama would not postpone a tax increase for families earning more than $250,000 a year despite the deepening economic gloom.

The president-elect may, indeed, intend to remain somewhat of an enigma, but he's got a lot of constituencies to reward, and those who've hoped that he'd rein in some of his left-of-center proclivities are likely to be disappointed.



The Defining Difference

Justin Katz

So Julia Steiny gave me a change for which to hope in an Obama presidency:

Last summer, presidential candidate Barack Obama addressed the National Education Association's annual convention, by way of video stream projected onto a big screen. ...

But then, without changing his tone of voice, he enthusiastically endorsed charter schools. The crowd was eerily silent, and stayed that way as he proudly proclaimed his career-long support of public-school choice. ...

And then, without apology, he swore that he would support allowing districts to "reward" teachers who take on extra responsibilities, or work in hard-to-serve areas, or perform consistently well in the classroom. He doesn't use the words, but this is none other than union-loathed "merit pay." The assembly outright booed the man. Loudly. He responded by saying "I know this wasn't necessarily the most popular part of my speech last year, but I said it then, and I'm saying it again today, because it is what I believe."

Wow.

The video is as Steiny describes it, although I'd note that Obama, that masterful architect of speeches, positions his declaration of belief as the down-note from which to declare that he'll "always be an honest partner to you [union educators] in the White House." Moreover, it cannot be ignored that these were mere words — and delivered via streaming video, so the impact of the live audience could not be felt.

That extrapolates to my continuing unease about others' faith in Obama. He drops a hopeful hint from time to time. He'll speak beyond his audience periodically, giving nods to those outside of the room, metaphorically speaking. But that's all it is: talk and nods. Kyle-Anne Shiver describes her measure of our next president thus (all emphasis in original):

My opinion was gradually set in steel as I read and studied and pored over Obama's own books. The incongruous details of his race-obsessed memoir — the invented episodes, the composite characters, the utter lack of humility and true introspection — all bespoke a man of innate dishonesty and a lack of healthy shame. His audacious book on politics did nothing but hammer home his lack of principles and values, as he equivocated every single position, until the reader could determine absolutely nothing coherent about the writer.

Barack Obama has lived 47 years. In all that time, he has presented himself in public as a multi-dimensional symbolic figure, self-anointed as far more special than any of his actual deeds have ever — even in a single instance — validated as reality. If ever there was a more enigmatic figure in American public life, I have yet to discover him.

I don't suspect that Obama intends to reach the Oval Office and throw off the veil, as it were, proving all of conservatives' darkest fears within those first 100 days. Rather, he's likely to try to perpetuate the practice that has gotten him where he is: He'll try to speak music to every ear and act with enigmatically enough to disallow stark assessment.

Even in that, though, I fear that my exuberant friend Rocco DiPippo is correct in his assessment of the reception that Obama's self-representation is likely receiving in the arid fever-swamps of terrorist enclaves:

From his promises to hold non-conditional talks with America's enemies to his promises to strip funding for America's military, they smell weakness. For instance, Obama's trademark "gender neutral" hazy blue motifs -- the ones that grace his website and his campaign merchandise -- put forth a message of softness, femininity and oozing pliability. Our enemies read signals like those and strategize accordingly. ...

Be prepared, you Obama and media-snookered fools. You have elected a weakling, a pacifist in a time of war against a determined, ruthless enemy who wishes death to all of you.

Prepare yourselves to have the blood of innocent Iraqis on your hands -- and to have America's broken promise of a peaceful, terror-free Iraq on your consciences when your false Messiah abandons 25 million souls to the beheaders and the rapists and the torturers and the mass murderers. All in the name of "Change."


November 8, 2008


Graceless...and ahistorical

Donald B. Hawthorne

Nice start.

Once again, Obama can't get his history straight.

And some of us, who have no use for astrology, will take astrology silliness over the thuggery of Saul Alinsky any day.

Sorry, but it gets back to that love-of-liberty thing...again.



Does Obama believe in liberty?

Donald B. Hawthorne

Well, does he?

And, how about the ongoing airbrushing by Obama and his team when they get caught promoting something that stirs a reaction by those of us who have an affinity for the principles of the American Founding? Haven't seen this much airbrushing since the fall of the Soviet Union.

ADDENDUM

The airbrushing continues.


November 6, 2008


The President-Elect Is Like a Box of Chocolates

Justin Katz

Andrew McCarthy has an excellent piece up on NRO noting the ambiguity of which Barack Obama will actually emerge as president and leaving home that it will be the centrist one painted in the candidate's rhetoric. McCarthy also points toward the shadow that ought to be feared:

Alinsky, too, rejected ideological dogmatism. He taught that the successful radical is the wolf in sheep's clothing: burrowing into the institutions of Western capitalism, altering their character from within, seducing the society with a high-minded summons to "social justice," "participatory democracy," and, yes, "change." Is Obama following this stealthy roadmap? If that is his intention, it's hard to imagine how he could have done so more perfectly.


November 5, 2008


Looking Ahead

Justin Katz

Well, a positive note from the election results is that John McCain is not the next president. If the Democrats had chosen anybody less worrisome than Obama, the results wouldn't have been even as close as they were.

Although it certainly stretched the truth to say that a McCain administration would have been a third Bush term, the Senator would most definitely have allowed the perpetuation of the Left's stratagem of tarring conservatism with Republican policies that by no means deserved the label. Now conservatives can rebuild free of the weight of inaccurate characterization. Sometimes incremental adjustments of bearing simply don't make the turn before the moment has passed.

Another positive note is that a segment of the country that had been drifting away from faith in the mechanisms of United States governance have had that faith renewed. An open democratic competition can bring anybody to the controls, if enough people are motivated to make it happen.

Therein lies Obama's challenge: His rhetoric about anything being possible in the United States of America is antipathetic to the policies that he has expressed and supported as a Senator. He is the president elect because he was free to dissent — both from the government and from the party — and because people were free to organize in his behalf and to collect large sums of money, freely given. He marketed and sold himself and had sufficient windfall profits to reinvest in his candidacy.

That possibility is of a piece with America's approach to business and to personal freedom. Yet, were he to keep his promises, were he to behave so as to preserve his followers' faith in the system, were he to enact even some moderate portion of their lunatic vision, he would necessarily have to contradict the principles that made his rise possible.

Perhaps he'll grow in office and turn his back on his own past. Style-wise, his presentation as an erudite black man will undo the damage of many a gansta rapper. Perhaps some inner-city child will send him a letter that makes the choice explicit and The One, himself, will have an epiphany.

Probably not, but this is, after all, the land of opportunity.



In the first 6 months? Nah, in the first 24 hours

Donald B. Hawthorne

Abe Greenwald on The Baltic Missile Crisis?

And you think the Russians haven't listened carefully to the video in this post, where Obama essentially promises to unilaterally disarm? That video took me right back to reliving the nuclear freeze movement in 1983. Or they haven't noticed Obama's lack of historical knowledge?

BTW, how about this?

Just like we learned after the 1990's, there can be no holiday from history. ACORN and related thuggery may help you commit domestic voter fraud, raise illegal monies, and win domestic elections but such Alinsky-esque "community organizing" won't help a bit when dealing with real Commie thugs who come from a political lineage which has killed tens of millions of people in their pursuit of power and control.

ADDENDUM

More.

And even more.


November 4, 2008


Obama Wins

Marc Comtois

We have a new President, Barack Obama. The symbolism and historical import is unmistakable and speaks volumes about our country, to both ourselves and to the world. So congratulations to him for the campaign he ran and for his victory. I hope he governs more as the politician he campaigned as, not as the Senator his record indicates. I'll give him a chance, be critical when I think necessary, but I'll always strive to be fair. I also hope I never find myself in the position of placing the blame of everything wrong in the world on his shoulders. I certainly don't think he can make everything right. The world is more complicated than that. I hope those who supported Barack Obama realize that, too.

We should take a step back, set the politics aside, and recognize the history that has been made. Not only because we elected an African-American President, but because we did so through the normal means we've always followed: through a vociferous debate over ideas and principles. Even those of us who find ourselves on the losing side of things can appreciate the skill and talent and weight of Obama's ideas that carried the day.

Few thought this moment possible, but America is about possibilities. Americans have proved yet again that we are a land of opportunity, that we do live up to our ideals--if sometimes we take too long--and that we truly are the greatest nation in the world.

Tomorrow is another day.



Obama Gets Ohio...Lights out for Mac

Marc Comtois

Ohio has gone to Obama and that about does McCain in. 'Nuff said.


November 3, 2008


Picking Obama's Theme Song

Justin Katz

OK. This one might only ring bells for anybody who worked in a record store in the early '90s.

When I heard Obama's "righteous wind" comment, my first thought wasn't Mao, but a certain song that would work well for the One. And no, it's not the one that Shannen Coffin suggests, but "Break Like the Wind" from Spinal Tap's little known reunion album. Here's an apropos slice from the lyrics:

We made a promise in the night
Swearing to Heaven
Is this a promise we keep?
Or will we break like the wind?


Nobody Beats Him!

Justin Katz

The imagery of the Obama phenomenon has reminded me of something in recent pop culture, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it until today:

You'll recall that Elaine was entranced by a man because she was subliminally remembering the glow and audio of an old commercial in which he was The Wiz. How long will it take Obama's glow to wear off, if he wins tomorrow?


November 2, 2008


Summarizing the philosophical problems with Barack Obama's view of the world

Donald B. Hawthorne

Roger Kimball does an excellent job at articulating the core philosophical problems with Barak Obama's candidacy:

When he looks back on campaign 2008, what will Obama most regret? I suspect it will the same thing John McCain most appreciated: the now-famous off-hand comment to Joe the Plumber. It’s not, said Obama, that I want to punish success. I merely want to "spread the wealth around."

That was indeed a revelatory statement. I think it was the second most alarming thing he said in the entire campaign (more on the most alarming thing in a moment). Taken together with other observations by Obama–his almost equally infamous lament in a 2001 interview that the Supreme Court had not ventured into "issues of the redistribution of wealth," for example–it gave the electorate a rare glimpse behind the carefully constructed "yes-we-can" façade of Obama the messianic healer into the grim "no-you-can’t" engine room of his leveling political philosophy. Let’s say that Obama was successful in overcoming what he disparaged as "essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers and the Constitution" on what government should be required to do to, or for, citizens; let’s say that he succeeded in transforming the Constitution from a "charter of negative liberties" into a menu of positive prescriptions: what then?

It’s my sense that more and more people are asking themselves that question. What, when you come right down to it, would an Obama administration mean for me and my family? What would it mean for the United States? What would happen after all the Greek columns were retired and Obama stepped from the hustings into the Oval Office? Political campaigns thrive on the intoxication of possibility. They end with the sobering strictures of the indicative. Compromise. Trade-offs. Competing interest groups.

It’s easy to see why Obama was (as Colin Powell put it) an "electrifying" figure. Leave aside the $650 million he raised (you can buy a lot of "electricity" for $650 million). Obama was young. He was suave. He exuded energy and confidence. He was the anti-Bush: a first-term Senator who had already distinguished himself as the most left-wing inhabitant of that august chamber. Above all, he was (at least in part) black. What better receptacle for the hopes and dreams of liberal, guilt-infatuated America? What prodigies of expiation might be accomplished were this young, charismatic, half-black apostle of egalitarian change elected President of the United States?

His comment to Joe the Plumber gave us some indication: he would set about trying to "spread the wealth around." But redistributionist initatives do not take place in a vacuum. They unfold in a context of moral expectation. And this brings me to what may be the most alarming thing Obama let slip in the course of his campaign. I mean his suggestion, uttered in the final few days of the race, that those who do not favor higher taxes are guilty of "selfishness." (In criticizing his tax and welfare plan, Obama said, McCain and Palin "wanted to make a virtue out of selfishness.")

I know, I know: nannies through the ages have upbraided their charges with complaints about "selfishness," an unwillingness to "share," etc., etc. Such moralism might even be an admirable trait in a nanny. The question voters are beginning to ask themselves in earnest is whether they want a President who regards himself as a sort of super-nanny, supervising the behavior of his charges, i.e., U.S. citizens.

We know what a President as nanny-in-chief looks like, because we had one in Jimmy Carter. In 1979, Carter took to the airwaves to berate the American people for their lack of moral fiber and profligate appetite for energy. Obama echoed that rhetoric when he said, in the course of his campaign, that

We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times...and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.

People sat up when they heard that: We can’t drive the sort of car we want, eh? We can’t eat as much as we like, or keep our houses at a temperature we find comfortable? We should alter our behavior to court the approval of "the rest of the world"?

That Carter-moment was soon buried in the progress of the campaign. It deserved more than the flurry of concern it elicited. It showed, just as Obama’s call for the redistribution of wealth shows, the sort of thing he intends to do to address the "selfishness" he perceives in the American people.

Remember his call for "a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded as the military"? Remember his suggesting the creation of "national service programs" that high-school and college students would be required to participate in? Those, too, were initiatives meant to combat our "selfishness."

As I observed in this space a few weeks ago, Obama espouses a form of what James Piereson has called "punitive liberalism." Because he regards the American people as essentially selfish (a sentiment memorably reinforced by Michelle Obama when she described the America was "just downright mean"), Obama cannot help regarding success as a form of failure. That side of Obama’s program does not play well outside his inner circle, so he has been careful to overlay it with seductive talk about "tax cuts for 95 percent of taxpayers"–an absurdity on the face of it since 43 percent of those who file do not pay any income tax at all. (Meanwhile, it is worth remembering that those reporting the top 1 percent of adjusted gross income pay nearly 40 percent of all income taxes collected, while the top 5 percent pay more than 60 percent. To use another word Obama likes, is that "fair"? How much more does want?)

"Selfishness" can be a vice. It can also be another name for that "well-ordered self-love" that Thomas Aquinas extolled as "right and natural." (I have more to say about selfishness and altruism here.) But the important issue facing the American people at the moment is whether they wish to elect a commander-in-chief or a nanny-in-chief. Obama’s seductive rhetoric and and emollient promises have not been able to conceal his ambitions to become America’s protector and nanny-in-chief. He wants you to be happy–but on his terms. He wants to tell you what to drive, what temperature to keep your house, how much to eat. He wants to conscript your children in "voluntary" national service programs that are all-but-mandatory. He wants to determine how prosperous you will be allowed to be–and then to tax you back to a pre-determined level if you make too much. He has similar plans on the international front. He craves approval for America from the "international community," which means he will do everything he can to accommodate that community. He dislikes criticism so much, he is willing to call upon his supporters to silence journalists and besmirch the character of Joe the Plumber, using supposedly protected state information to do it.

In short, it’s your life and Obama wants to run it for you. On Tuesday, Americans will have the choice between electing a leader and a chaperone. Obama has vastly out-spent and–it saddens me to say–out-campaigned McCain. But that doesn’t mean he is better suited to lead America in this difficult time. I suspect that, in their heart of hearts, most Americans know that.

All of which is consistent with the types of people Obama has associated with over the years. And why McCain had these words to say

...John McCain unveiled a new attack on Barack Obama, criticizing his comment that his victory in Iowa's caucuses last winter had "vindicated" his faith in the American people.

"My country has never had to prove anything to me, my friends," McCain said while campaigning in the Washington suburbs in northern Virginia. "I've always had faith in it and I've been humbled and honored to serve it.

McCain was referring to a remark Obama made at a campaign stop in Des Moines on Friday.

"My faith in the American people was vindicated and what you started here in Iowa swept the nation," Obama said...

Jennifer Rubin asked some further pertinent questions nobody in the MSM has been willing to ask.

Thomas Sowell makes these observations:

After the big gamble on subprime mortgages that led to the current financial crisis, is there going to be an even bigger gamble, by putting the fate of a nation in the hands of a man whose only qualifications are ego and mouth?

Barack Obama has the kind of cocksure confidence that can only be achieved by not achieving anything else.

Anyone who has actually had to take responsibility for consequences by running any kind of enterprise-- whether economic or academic, or even just managing a sports team-- is likely at some point to be chastened by either the setbacks brought on by his own mistakes or by seeing his successes followed by negative consequences that he never anticipated.

The kind of self-righteous self-confidence that has become Obama's trademark is usually found in sophomores in Ivy League colleges-- very bright and articulate students, utterly untempered by experience in real world.

The signs of Barack Obama's self-centered immaturity are painfully obvious, though ignored by true believers who have poured their hopes into him, and by the media who just want the symbolism and the ideology that Obama represents.

The triumphal tour of world capitals and photo-op meetings with world leaders by someone who, after all, was still merely a candidate, is just one sign of this self-centered immaturity.

"This is our time!" he proclaimed. And "I will change the world." But ultimately this election is not about him, but about the fate of this nation, at a time of both domestic and international peril, with a major financial crisis still unresolved and a nuclear Iran looming on the horizon.

For someone who has actually accomplished nothing to blithely talk about taking away what has been earned by those who have accomplished something, and give it to whomever he chooses in the name of "spreading the wealth," is the kind of casual arrogance that has led to many economic catastrophes in many countries.

The equally casual ease with which Barack Obama has talked about appointing judges on the basis of their empathies with various segments of the population makes a mockery of the very concept of law.

After this man has wrecked the economy and destroyed constitutional law with his judicial appointments, what can he do for an encore? He can cripple the military and gamble America's future on his ability to sit down with enemy nations and talk them out of causing trouble...

Add to Obama and Biden House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and you have all the ingredients for a historic meltdown.



Obama on his desire for a civilian national security force

Donald B. Hawthorne

Obama calls for a civilian national security force.

Questions for Obama.

Given the intimidation and threats we have seen from Obama supporters against those who oppose the One, don't you wonder if people like Stanley Kurtz and Joe the Plumber are feeling as free today at the thought of this CNSF?



Obama's views on coal industry

Donald B. Hawthorne

Obama Promises San Francisco Audience He Will Bankrupt Coal Industry!!

Send to your friends in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Colorado, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.

More.

ADDENDUM

Power Line:

Maybe the American people just didn't have quite enough time to get to know Barack Obama. It seems inconceivable to me that a candidate as arrogant as Obama could be ahead in the polls if the voters had fully absorbed how out of touch he can be. A case in point is this MTV interview, where Obama says that the tax increase he proposes on people who earn $250,000 or more is "chump change, that's nothing." But wait! If it's "chump change," how is it going to fund the hundreds of billions in new spending that Obama wants?

Likewise with Obama's casual declaration that he intends to bankrupt the coal industry, which currently supplies around one-half of all electricity produced in the United States. Today Mike Carey, President of the Ohio Coal Association, issued this statement:

Regardless of the timing or method of the release of these remarks, the message from the Democratic candidate for President could not be clearer: the Obama-Biden ticket spells disaster for America's coal industry and the tens of thousands of Americans who work in it.

These undisputed, audio-taped remarks, which include comments from Senator Obama like 'I haven't been some coal booster' and 'if they want to build [coal plants], they can, but it will bankrupt them' are extraordinarily misguided.

It's evident that this campaign has been pandering in states like Ohio,Virginia, West Virginia,Indiana and Pennsylvania to attempt to generate votes from coal supporters, while keeping his true agenda hidden from the state's voters.

Senator Obama has revealed himself to be nothing more than a short-sighted, inexperienced politician willing to say anything to get a vote. But today, the nation's coal industry and those who support it have a better understanding of his true mission, to 'bankrupt' our industry, put tens of thousands out of work and cause unprecedented increases in electricity prices.

In addition to providing an affordable, reliable source of low-cost electricity, domestic coal holds the key to our nation's long-term energy security - a goal that cannot be overlooked during this time of international instability and economic uncertainty.

Few policy areas are more important to our economic future than energy issues. As voters head to the polls tomorrow, it is essential they remember that access to reliable, affordable, domestic energy supplies is essential to economic growth and stability.

Where will the "little people" get electricity if Obama's environmental policies destroy the coal industry? That, apparently, is of no concern to "The One." It would have been nice if this news had come out more than a couple of days before the election.

UPDATE: After writing this post, I talked to Mike Carey on the telephone. He was very cordial, but deeply concerned about the future of his industry. Here is some of what he told me:

We originally were pretty neutral in this race, as neither candidate had been a strong supporter of coal. But after we saw Joe Biden's comments [no new coal plants in the U.S.], we tried to get information on clean coal to both campaigns.

Some people in the Obama campaign weren't very nice to the clean coal people who tried to talk to them.

The mainstream media haven't done their job. This is stuff that should have been found out a long time ago.

Nationally, 52% of all electricity comes from coal. In Ohio it's 89%, in West Virginia, 97%. Virginia and Pennsylvania get a lot of their electricity from coal as well. Here in Ohio, a lot of industries have left the state, but one that is growing is coal, which directly provides for around 4,000 jobs. I think it is remarkable that any political candidate would talk about bankrupting an industry that supplies more than one-half of the country's electricity.

ADDENDUM #2

And how does Obama describe the consequences of his policies on American citizens?

...under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket...

Oh, that sounds constructive.


November 1, 2008


Two Ideas in Two Dimensions

Justin Katz

Mark Steyn had reason for a unique perspective, among pundits, of the presidential campaign:

I was away for much of the summer and, when I returned, the entire campaign felt like an absurd satire I wasn't quite up to speed on. But truly, in a world in which the many illegal foreign contributions to the leading candidate's unprecedented fundraising include his own deportation-ordered aunt, satire is dead.

This point of reference is apparent behind Steyn's latest must-read column, in which he notes that Obama exists in the national imagination more as a literary character than a person drawn from the crowds of real life:

... Obama in the White House, Obama on the dollar bill, Obama on Rushmore would symbolize the possibilities of America more than that narrow list of white-bread protestant presidents to date.

The problem is we're not electing a symbol, a logo, a two-dimensional image. Long before he emerged on the national stage as Barack the Hope-Giver and Bringer of Change, there was a three-dimensional Barack Obama, a real man who lives in the real world. And that's where the problem lies.

The Senator and his doting Obots in the media have gone to great lengths to obscure what Barack Obama does when he's not being a symbol: his voting record, his friends, his patrons, his life outside the soft-focus memoirs is deemed non-relevant to the general hopey-changey vibe. But occasionally we get a glimpse. The offhand aside to Joe the Plumber about "spreading the wealth around" was revealing because it suggests a crude redistributive view of "social justice." Yet the nimble Hope-a-Dope sidestepper brushed it aside, telling a crowd in Raleigh that next John McCain will be "accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten." ...

In his Wednesday-night infomercial, Obama declared that his "fundamental belief" was that "I am my brother's keeper." Back in Kenya, his brother lives in a shack on 12 bucks a year. If Barack is his brother's keeper, why couldn't he send him a ten-dollar bill and near double the guy's income? The reality is that Barack Obama assumes the government should be his brother's keeper, and his aunt's keeper. Why be surprised by that? For 20 years in Illinois, Obama has marinated in the swamps of the Chicago political machine and the campus radicalism of William Ayers and Rashid Khalidi. In such a world, the redistributive urge is more or less a minimum entry qualification.

In essence, then, Obama is being treated as if he were an historical figure. Evidence of his proclivities and policy instincts are treated as if they must be contextualized in circumstances that no longer exist. The people who float into and out of his biography are handled as if they are creatures of their times and, at any rate, are not available for comment. Not wishing to disturb that particular delirium may be, as Victor Davis Hanson suggests, the reason behind the decreased candidness from those connected to the Obama campaign. (Perhaps it partially helps to explain the candidate's recent breaks from the trail.) It certainly offers a bit of complexity to Paul Kengor's observation that the news-gathering armies have not sought comment from some central figures in the debate over Obama's past and ideology:

No two figures relating to Barack Obama have been talked about as much as Ayers and Wright. That being the case, why aren't these two figures talking? Why is no one talking to them, or demanding to talk to them? ...

This is no minor, trivial point. I can't recall a similar instance where two such controversial figures, so damaging to a presidential campaign, so quickly disappeared from the public eye. Conservatives often accused the Clintons of all kinds of nefarious deeds to quiet their detractors. Yet, Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers could always be hunted down for comment by reporters. But that's not the case with Ayers and Wright.

It's odd, isn't it? For all the talk about Ayers's significance in Obama's political life, I don't think I've heard a single comment from the man himself. It's as if he's not a flesh-and-blood person out there somewhere, walking the American street.

Somehow, I tend to doubt that the characters in the Tale of the One will remain abstract should their guy gain the power of the presidency.


October 31, 2008


Re: Any bids for $75,000?

Monique Chartier

Donald notes the latest lowering of the income level at which a taxpayer "will not see one dime's worth of tax increase" in an Obama administration. Let's be clear that it has been a steady and orderly backing down from that $250,000.

> Starts at $250,000.

[The campaign presumably figures out shortly thereafter, either from calculations put forth in the media or by Senator Obama's own redistribution supporters, that the tax initiative cannot work at such a high income level.]

> It then goes to $200,000 during the half hour commercial. Remember that the commercial was taped a week earlier.

> Joe Biden makes it $150,000 on Monday.

> Enter Governor Richardson who today, takes it down another notch to $120,000.

Politicians usually wait until they get in office to begin breaking campaign promises. It took Bill Clinton two years, for example, to break the campaign promise (China and human rights) that flipped me away from him and got me to vote Republican in a presidential race for the first time.

Not so with Senator Obama, who has punctuated the campaign trail itself with substantial flip-flops. Public campaign financing, promptly getting out of Iraq, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the embargo on Cuba - now a steady narrowing of the qualification to escape higher taxes.

The question is, how does one determine that Senator Obama has well and finally settled on a particular stance? Would it be possible for his campaign to arrange some sort of signaling system? "The green flag is up and waving. Yes, that's it - $120,000 is the tax-hike ceiling."



Any bids for $75,000?

Donald B. Hawthorne

You gotta love these pillaging Dems:

For the second time in a week, a prominent Democrat has downgraded Barack Obama's definition of the middle class -- leading Republicans to question whether he'll stick to his promise not to raise taxes on anyone making under $250,000.

The latest hiccup in the campaign message came Friday morning on KOA-AM, when New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson pegged the middle class as those making $120,000 and under...

"What Obama wants to do is he is basically looking at $120,000 and under among those that are in the middle class, and there is a tax cut for those," Richardson said in the interview, according to a clip posted on YouTube.

Joe Biden caused headaches for the campaign Monday when he told a Scranton, Pa., TV station that Obama's tax break "should go to middle class people -- people making under $150,000 a year."...

Geez, these fools can't even keep their stories straight. And we haven't even gotten to the topic of whether the numbers work in the first place, something even AP is reporting as a problem. LOL.

ADDENDUM

Oh, for those of you who have the audacity to resist the One's call to let the government forcibly take more of your hard-earned monies because He thinks politicians and bureaucrats in government know how to spend it better than you and your family do, He has now scolded you:

"...The point is, though, that -- and it’s not just charity, it’s not just that I want to help the middle class and working people who are trying to get in the middle class -- it’s that when we actually make sure that everybody’s got a shot – when young people can all go to college, when everybody’s got decent health care, when everybody’s got a little more money at the end of the month – then guess what? Everybody starts spending that money, they decide maybe I can afford a new car, maybe I can afford a computer for my child. They can buy the products and services that businesses are selling and everybody is better off. All boats rise. That’s what happened in the 1990s, that’s what we need to restore. And that’s what I’m gonna do as president of the United States of America."

"John McCain and Sarah Palin they call this socialistic," Obama continued. "You know I don’t know when, when they decided they wanted to make a virtue out of selfishness."

Yep, you fools who don't willingly pony up are both unpatriotic and selfish. So there! Guess this is how things work on the corrupt streets of Chicago: Keeping your hard-earned monies is selfish.

Remember that the next time you think that liberty in America means having the freedom to work hard and build wealth by keeping what you earn.

Some related thoughts:

Misguided Incentives Drive Public Sector Taxation
"Who You Gonna Call?" The Little Platoons
The Radically Different Visions of Tax-Eaters Versus Taxpayers

ADDENDUM #2

A very telling story from John Hood:

Speaking in front of a huge audience at downtown Raleigh rally yesterday, Barack Obama threw off a humorous line about John McCain's accusation that the Obama tax plan is redistributionist:
McCain has "called me a socialist for wanting to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so we can finally give tax relief to the middle class," Obama said. "I don’t know what’s next. By the end of the week he'll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten."

Ha ha. [Well, actually, He was the first one to raise how He hung with Commies.]

Only, in this passage Obama revealed precisely why he is vulnerable to such charges: he can't seem to tell the difference between a gift and a theft. There is nothing remotely socialistic or communistic about sharing. If you have a toy that someone else wants, you have three choices in a free society. You can offer to trade it for something you value that is owned by the other. You can give the toy freely, as a sign of friendship or compassion. Or you can choose to do neither.

Collectivism in all its forms is about taking away your choice. Whether you wish to or not, the government compels you to surrender the toy, which it then redistributes to someone that government officials deem to be a more worthy owner. It won't even be someone you could ever know, in most cases. That's what makes the political philosophy unjust (by stripping you of control over yourself and the fruits of your labor) as well as counterproductive (by failing to give the recipient sufficient incentive to learn and work hard so he can earn his own toys in the future).

Government is not charity. It is not persuasion, or cooperation, or sharing. Government is a fist, a shove, a gun. Obama either doesn't understand this, or doesn't want voters to understand it.

Based on His and Biden's charitable giving history, He doesn't seem to understand charity either.

All of which is why Mona Charen offers this perspective:

Barack Obama is rallying his supporters with the words "One week until we change America." I find that creepy. Other politicians have talked of changing Washington, or hoping to "get this country moving again" or even promising to "come home America." Voters who think they're just being asked to change the party affiliation of one administration should take his words to heart.

And this man thinks He is qualified to lead the FREE world? I think not.



Candidate of Death

Justin Katz

Just in case you're pro-life and have somehow talked yourself into believing that Obama will be tolerable as president:

When Barack Obama admitted to Joe the Plumber that he planned on spreading the wealth around, he didn't mention that the tax dollars he will take from you will be used to pay for elective abortions for others. The following is a brief outline of three ways that current pro-life protections against federal funding of elective abortions stand to be repealed and routed under an Obama presidency.

1. President Obama will spread the wealth to fund elective Medicaid abortions with your tax dollars. ...

2. More of your tax dollars will to go to fund Planned Parenthood, and the Crisis Pregnancy Centers in your neighborhood will be defunded. ...

3. Your tax dollars will fund organizations that perform or promote abortion overseas.

According to the writer, Dorinda Bordlee, Planned Parenthood killed 264,943 unborn children in its 2005–2006 fiscal year. Think about that staggering number before giving your vote to the Chosen Candidate of Vague Change.



A New America

Justin Katz

Jeff Jacoby notes that Bush haters have been surprisingly unharassed, considering that they often decried the President's "dictatorial" rule. He goes on:

Will we be able to say the same of his successor?

If opinion polls are right, Barack Obama is cruising to victory. As president, would he show the same forbearance as Bush in allowing his opponents to have their say, unmolested? Or would he attempt to suppress the free speech of those whose views he detested? It is disturbing to contemplate some of the Obama campaign's recent efforts to stifle criticism.

When the National Rifle Association produced a radio ad last month about Obama's shifting position on gun control, the campaign's lawyers sent letters to radio stations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, urging them not to run it - and warning of trouble with the Federal Communications Commission if they did. "This advertisement knowingly misleads your viewing audience," Obama's general counsel Bob Bauer wrote. "For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should refuse to continue to air this advertisement."

Similar lawyer letters went out in August when the American Issues Project produced a TV spot exploring Obama's strong ties to former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. Station managers were warned that running the anti-Obama ad would be a violation of their legal obligation to serve the "public interest." And in case that wasn't menacing enough, the Obama campaign also urged the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation.

In Missouri, an Obama "truth squad" of prosecutors and other law-enforcement officials vowed to take action against anyone making "character attacks" on the Democratic candidate - a threat, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt later remarked, that had about it the "stench of police state tactics."

Perhaps these efforts to smother political speech are simply the overly aggressive tactics of a campaign in its adrenaline-fueled sprint to the finish. But what if they are the first warning signs of how an Obama administration would deal with its adversaries?

During a related conversation that I had the other night, while labeling and stamping thousands of postcards for Tiverton Citizens for Change, somebody asked if I really had that little trust in the American people. It seems to me that, these days, one is compelled to request clarification: which America?

Look, citizens of the United States do not have the long genetic mutuality that one finds in most other countries. What history we have, as a people, has been broadly taught in a dark, divisive light over the last few decades. In other words, the defining quality of "the American people" — more so than is true anywhere else — derives entirely from culture. Our tendency toward independence, ingenuity, respect for liberty, and general toughness aren't imbued with our water or inhaled in the air. We are what we believe ourselves to be.

How long do you suppose the United States can remain a 50:50 nation, with the stark difference being nothing less than the essential meaning of our nationality, before one side decides to press an advantage? I'll go further and suggest that the likelihood of which side will break the truce is not, itself, a 50:50 proposition. One side is defined by the primacy of government in resolving social and cultural problems, and it will be quite natural for that side to define its opposition's views as beyond the pale.


October 30, 2008


The Spendthrift

Carroll Andrew Morse

Neither the Associated Press

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office.

Obama's assertion that "I've offered spending cuts above and beyond" the expense of his promises is accepted only by his partisans.

…nor CBS News
[Obama] seems blind to the concept his numbers don't add up.

Let's start with his highly suspect, and widely discredited, claim that he can find federal "spending cuts beyond the costs" of his promises. Very few independent economists believe he has identified the savings needed to offset his remarkable list of tax credits, tax cuts and spending pledges.

…believe that Barack Obama has an actual plan to pay for all of the government expansions and increased resdistribution he's promising.

This comes as no surprise to conservatives. But what about the Obama supporters out there? Are you expecting him, if elected, to advance much more aggressive “revenue enhancing” proposals than he’s talked about so far? Or are you expecting him not to deliver most of what’s he’s promising? Or do you think all this policy talk is for losers, and that the only important thing is to have the right man in charge, no matter what he has to say to get there?


October 29, 2008


Senator Tardy

Marc Comtois

H/T


Redistribution Obama Is Opposed To

Marc Comtois

Well, this struck me as apropos of so many things. Sorry if you've seen it elsewhere:


redistribution.jpg



The Cash and Carry Politics of Obama

Marc Comtois

With a week to go, former Democratic Senator Bob Kerry, CNN's Campbell Brown and the Washington Post have decided to pipe up about the gobs of cash Barack Obama has raised. Kerry notes the Democratic Party's hypocrisy on the subject:

On the question of public funding of presidential campaigns, we Democrats who strongly support Sen. Barack Obama's candidacy and who previously supported limits on campaign spending and who haven't objected to Obama's opting out of the presidential funding system face an awkward fact: Either we are hypocrites, or we were wrong to support such limitations in the first place.
For now, Kerry says he's probably a hypocrite but that he's also changed his mind. Heh. Funny how that works. For her part Brown, possibly inspired by Kerry, notes that Obama broke a campaign promise regarding campaign finance and takes issue with one line of his reasoning:
Without question, Obama has set the bar at new height with a truly staggering sum of cash. And that is why as we approach this November, it is worth reminding ourselves what Barack Obama said last November. One year ago, he made a promise. He pledged to accept public financing and to work with the Republican nominee to ensure that they both operated within those limits.

Then it became clear to Sen. Obama and his campaign that he was going to be able to raise on his own far more cash than he would get with public financing. So Obama went back on his word.

He broke his promise and he explained it by arguing that the system is broken and that Republicans know how to work the system to their advantage. He argued he would need all that cash to fight the ruthless attacks of 527s, those independent groups like the Swift Boat Veterans. It's funny though, those attacks never really materialized.

The Post report on the questionable on-line donations coming into the Obama campaign made Page 2 (why not Page 1?):
Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed.

Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited.

The Obama organization said its extensive review has ensured that the campaign has refunded any improper contributions, and noted that Federal Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of donations....

"They have opened the floodgates to all this money coming in," said Sean Cairncross, chief counsel to the Republican National Committee. "I think they've made the determination that whatever money they have to refund on the back end doesn't outweigh the benefit of taking all this money upfront."

Mark Steyn and others have been on this story for a few days now. Steyn elaborates on the Post report and offers this spot on insight into why the MSM is playing this story up so late in the day:
There is an element of art to these calculations: The Obamatron editors in the media want to be able to cover themselves by saying they raised the story, but the trick is to do so at a time and place that prevents it going anywhere before November 4th.


October 28, 2008


One Way to National SSM

Justin Katz

Look, I'm not making any claims as to whether and how Obama will seek to silence the political right wing, or how much he'll succeed if he tries. As I've been reading various news items throughout the campaign season, a plot has begun to form. It's not a matter of predicting the future; it's a matter of imagining a scenario and considering whether there's a plausible path from here to there — not to argue that it will happen, but to entertain the imaginative question of whether it could. Behind all the writing, I'm a novelist at heart, and the emergence of a storyline intrigues me.

So, again, I'm not arguing that the following is likely, much less probable. I'm pointing out that something is possible, depending on a wide variety of other factors, and creating that world in a work of fiction would make for an interesting story.

To the above-linked post, msteven comments (in part):

How would Obama or anyone for that matter implement same-sex marriage nationally? Presidents or any political executives don’t have that type of power. Just ask the Mayor of SF. This is not to mention that Obama has already gone on record being against SSM? ...

There is a significant difference between changing positions on taking public campaign money and on same-sex marriage, where the majority of the public is against it. The only reason he would even pursue implementing SSM is if it were to benefit him politically.

Put aside msteven's faith that Obama's relative silence on same-sex marriage indicates a lack of ideological drive rather than the existence of political calculation that would be subject to change. As far as I can tell from his Web site, Obama isn't saying much about the marriage issue, probably for the very reason that msteven notes: his views conflict with those of the majority of the public. From what I've gleaned of Obama's position, though, it's consistent with the "civil unions" solution of giving homosexuals the same benefits and privileges, but without calling it marriage.

Well, unhappily, that's precisely the route to the redefinition of merriage that California and Connecticut have blazed in recent months: Create a "different in name only" institution and then leave it to the courts to declare it unconstitutional not to fold them together. At the national level, that could negate every state law or constitutional amendment defining marriage as strictly an opposite-sex relationship, as well as every federal law (e.g., the Defense of Marriage Act) meant to keep the issue in check.

There are a variety of preconditions required for this to happen, of course, but in a (probably fictional) future that casts Obama in an attempt to suppress the conservative movement, the steps are not implausible. And if, in that world, the president (with the help of a supermajority of his own party in Congress) has successfully minimized the power of talk radio and the Internet, and perhaps begun to manacle private enterprise through unionization, he would have political reason — and cover — to gun for the churches.


October 27, 2008


Getting from Here to There

Justin Katz

The notions of the mainstream media and its demagogue and the transformation to something hardly recognizable as the United States of America spark an imaginative exercise. Admittedly, one begins to edge toward the line from analysis to creative writing with this stuff, but a few threads in current events point to an interesting tangle.

Picture this:

Shortly after his inauguration, Obama sets out to reward the mainstream media for its support. Oh, he won't put it that way. Instead, he'll express his gratitude that the "objective" press was able to overwhelm the "smears" of the propaganda machine on talk radio and the Internet. "What a shame," he'll say, "that those swamps of anger and divisiveness are draining the financial lifeblood from professional journalism." Surely, it'd be in the nation's interest — in the name of unity and fundamental change — to implement a modern day Fairness Doctrine, along with something new, something to ensure that the knowledge and experience of consummate professionals were able to dominate the Web, as well.

Having lost valuable ground with the undermining of two media that have enabled it to flourish over the past few decades, the political right would have seek other venues for communication and other spheres for influence. An obvious one, for social conservatives, is the territory of religious organizations, both the churches themselves and the groups and networks of groups that spring up around faith-based action. Since they don't proclaim themselves as sources of information, blocking them off would require an indirect strategy. The administration would have to find other issues with which to barricade the door.

One opportunity would be to institute same-sex marriage throughout the nation. Any groups that have anything to do with marriage would face the loss of their tax exempt status and any licenses necessary for operation (as with the Catholic adoption agency in Massachusetts) if they wouldn't fold. Any group with publicly available assets could be flushed with applications to allow events that are contrary to their religious beliefs, again facing the loss of government recognition and allowances.

One by one, the bastions of the right, the opposition, the subversives, could be felled beneath the benign smile of tolerance and fairness. Unity. Every discrete argument about this civil right or that government protection might come together until the line is reached at which the government would have license to jail and ruin dissenters.

Provided it doesn't come true too quickly, it's probably a story worth thinking through and composing.



What We'll Know When the Center Isn't So Critical

Justin Katz

Surely we've all had experiences with those deceitful practices that get us every time. Perhaps you've had the lover whose word you, for some reason, take every time he or she promises not to cheat again. Perhaps you've had the boss whose nakedly arbitrary and false deadlines always manage to ratchet up the stress. Well, the great political feint to the center during general elections is like that.

Even if Melanie Phillips's fears of a post-election Barack Obama prove to be partially true, it ought to be enough to demotivate some among his throngs:

Obama assumes that Islamic terrorism is driven by despair, poverty, inflammatory US policy and the American presence on Muslim soil in the Persian Gulf. Thus he adopts the agenda of the Islamists themselves. This is not surprising since many of his connections suggest that that the man who may be elected President of a country upon which the Islamists have declared war is himself firmly in the Islamists' camp. Daniel Pipes lists Obama's extensive connections to Islamists in general and the Nation of Islam in particular, and concludes with this astounding observation:
Obama's multiple links to anti-Americans and subversives mean he would fail the standard security clearance process for Federal employees. Islamic aggression represents America's strategic enemy; Obama's many insalubrious connections raise grave doubts about his fitness to serve as America's commander-in-chief.

Phillips isn't saying that Obama is himself Muslim, or that he supports Islamic nations' domination of the West, but that he's of that liberal "camp" that comes to common conclusions with the Islamists. We'll have to wait with bated breath, if Obama wins the race, to see whether actually running the most powerful nation on Earth forces him to discard the cherished platitudes of the academy or, with his presumption of divine destiny, he believes that he will be The One to soften America's hand just enough to win over the good will of the peace-loving Muslim world.

If the latter, many voters' refrain is likely to be "How could we have known?"



Socialism

Donald B. Hawthorne

Barack Obama in 2001.

ADDENDUM

An analysis.

...There is nothing vague or ambiguous about this. Nothing...

The entire purpose of the Constitution was to limit government. That limitation of powers is what has unlocked in America the vast human potential available in any population.

Barack Obama sees that limiting of government not as a lynchpin but rather as a fatal flaw...

There is no room for wiggle or misunderstanding here. This is not edited copy. There is nothing out of context; for the entire thing is context — the context of what Barack Obama believes. You and I do not have to guess at what he believes or try to interpret what he believes. He says what he believes...

...we have never, ever in our 232-year history, elected a president who so completely and openly opposed the idea of limited government, the absolute cornerstone of which makes the United States of America unique and exceptional.

If this does not frighten you — regardless of your political affiliation — then you deserve what this man will deliver with both houses of Congress, a filibuster-proof Senate, and, to quote Senator Obama again, "a righteous wind at our backs."

That a man so clear in his understanding of the Constitution, and so opposed to the basic tenets it provides against tyranny and the abuse of power, can run for president of the United States is shameful enough...

I happen to know the person who found this audio. It is an individual person, with no more resources than a desire to know everything that he or she can about who might be the next president of the United States and the most powerful man in the world...

I do not blame Barack Obama for believing in wealth distribution. That’s his right as an American. I do blame him for lying about what he believes. But his entire life has been applying for the next job at the expense of the current one. He’s at the end of the line now.

I do, however, blame the press for allowing an individual citizen to do the work that they employ standing armies of so-called professionals for. I know they are capable of this kind of investigative journalism: It only took them a day or two to damage Sarah Palin with wild accusations about her baby’s paternity and less time than that to destroy a man who happened to be playing ball when the Messiah decided to roll up looking for a few more votes on the way to the inevitable coronation.

We no longer have an independent, fair, investigative press. That is abundantly clear to everyone — even the press. It is just another of the facts that they refuse to report, because it does not suit them.

Remember this, America: The press did not break this story. A single citizen, on the Internet did.

There is a special hell for you "journalists" out there, a hell made specifically for you narcissists and elitists who think you have the right to determine which information is passed on to the electorate and which is not...


October 26, 2008


ProJo Endorses Obama

Marc Comtois

I wonder if local liberals feel like they're in bizarro world? What to do when the much maligned "BeloJo" endorses The One?

The next president will have to deal with a Congress that, although almost certainly Democratic, will sometimes want to go its own way. And all successful American politicians must be willing to shift course and endlessly experiment in that broad center that Americans want to stay in.

“We do not know what the future will bring except that it will be different from any future we could predict,” said John Maynard Keynes. So above all, our choice comes down to broad themes and a sense of a candidate’s judgment, temperament and experience, and hence ability to lead the country as unforeseen events roll in. Thus we endorse Barack Obama.

There's that word "temperament" again and they favor Obama's over McCain's. Like others, the ProJo editors put much stock in Obama's "experience" of running his own Presidential campaign while ignoring that this agent of change and reconciliation has rarely, if ever, reached across the political aisle to work with his ideological opponents. But they have faith that he will now, even with a Democratic Congress. All in all, it's of a piece of other endorsements that have been coming out in favor of Sen. Obama. Style and promise trumps all. And it apparently goes unrecognized that--if you strip it all away--what you have is a candidate who has spent his relatively short political career advocating for....himself.



The Mirror Speaks, the Reflection Lies

Justin Katz

Mark Levin is concerned that media brazenness and the various vague endorsements of Obama indicate that "this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue":

I've been thinking this for a while so I might as well air it here. I honestly never thought we'd see such a thing in our country - not yet anyway - but I sense what's occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places. I can't help but observe that even some conservatives are caught in the moment as their attempts at explaining their support for Barack Obama are unpersuasive and even illogical. And the pull appears to be rather strong. Ken Adelman, Doug Kmiec, and others, reach for the usual platitudes in explaining themselves but are utterly incoherent. Even non-conservatives with significant public policy and real world experiences, such as Colin Powell and Charles Fried, find Obama alluring but can't explain themselves in an intelligent way.

The matter could have more weight than just a gamble on a chief executive. Enough fair-weather libertarians of the left may prove that what they've hated about the last eight years were not the president's methods (as exaggerated as their characterization may have been), but that it wasn't their guy employing them. Such is inevitably the case: In the service of your objectives, bending the rules is a risky abrogation of fail-safes; in the service of mine, they are necessary, well, over-interpretations.

There are good reasons especially to lament the final plunge of the mainstream media. If Obama wins the election, the media will have played a significant role in putting him there. Do you think that will make journalists more or less likely to report and excoriate abuses of power?


October 25, 2008


Not Knowing What They're Doing

Justin Katz

It's becoming unremarkable to remark upon the lack of substance in the latest round of Obama endorsements. Saying he'll bring "change" or be "transformative" means little. As Thomas Sowell points out, recent pages of history have their share of stories about transformation toward something worse. Of course, as Sowell notes elsewhere, a con man's "job is not to convince skeptics but to enable the gullible to continue to believe what they want to believe." In that capacity, Obama is certainly a uniter.

Mark Steyn follows up on Sowell's comments thus:

McCain vs Obama is not the choice many of us would have liked in an ideal world. But then it's not an "ideal world", and the belief that it can be made so is one of the things that separates those who think Obama will "heal the planet" and those of us who support McCain faute de mieux. I agree with Thomas Sowell that an Obama-Pelosi supermajority will mark what he calls "a point of no return". It would not be, as some naysayers scoff, "Jimmy Carter's second term", but something far more transformative. The new president would front the fourth great wave of liberal annexation — the first being FDR's New Deal, the second LBJ's Great Society, and the third the incremental but remorseless cultural advance when Reagan conservatives began winning victories at the ballot box and liberals turned their attention to the other levers of the society, from grade school up. The terrorist educator William Ayers, Obama's patron in Chicago, is an exemplar of the last model: forty years ago, he was in favor of blowing up public buildings; then he figured out it was easier to get inside and undermine them from within.

All three liberal waves have transformed American expectations of the state. The spirit of the age is: Ask not what your country can do for you, demand it. Why can't the government sort out my health care? Why can't they pick up my mortgage?

Steyn goes on to make a point that I've sounded before, in conversation and writing, and never heard so much as an attempt at a defensible reply:

More to the point, the only reason why Belgium has gotten away with being Belgium and Sweden Sweden and Germany Germany this long is because America's America. The soft comfortable cocoon in which western Europe has dozed this last half-century is girded by cold hard American power. What happens when the last serious western nation votes for the same soothing beguiling siren song as its enervated allies?

Sowell counts the Soviet Union among the historical transformations toward something worse, and one can imagine a similar trajectory for the United States. One can imagine many things, of course, and if we recall the ideological parity that the last few election cycles have proven to exist between right and left, it's clear that the path from here to there would necessarily be a bloody one — so much so as to be surpassingly unlikely. However, even just the loss of the United States as an exemplar of stalwart individualism would be an unprecedented shift in the world stage.

Optimist that I am, I'll predict — in the face of the mantric conventional wisdom — that an Obama presidency would be the last gasp of liberalism. When the hidden supports of Belgian Belgium et al. cease to exist, so will the illusion of many cherished policies of the left. Either the wishfully thinking conservatives who've admitted a fondness for him will luck out and Obama will discover the necessity of governing from the right, or the liberal government in the United States will be such a globally abysmal failure that the world will be forced to give up the fantasy.


October 24, 2008


Suspending Disbelief on Tax Policy

Justin Katz

Bill Clinton's state of the union speeches encouraged running tallies of impossible promises. Everybody got more, at no cost to anybody. Obama's tax policy has that feel. There are so many ways to massage the numbers that the various claims are almost as impossible to assess as the likelihood that the candidate will actually follow through once in office.

Take one example. According to Obama's tax policy fact sheet (PDF; emphasis added):

Obama's plan will cut taxes overall, reducing revenues to below the levels that prevailed under Ronald Reagan (less than 18.2 percent of GDP). The Obama tax plan is a net tax cut — his tax relief for middle class families is larger than the revenue raised by his tax changes for families over $250,000.

A look at the table on page 24 of the Tax Policy Center report (PDF) that Obama uses to support his claims, however, reveals that this is true "against current law," but false "against current policy." The former compares the candidate's plan to the reality if Bush's tax cuts expire, and it results in a $2,796,400,000 decrease in tax revenue under Obama's plan. The latter compares the plan to a scenario in which Bush's tax cuts remain, and in this case, Obama's plan actually increases tax revenue by $778,300,000.

The long and short of the matter is that, even in this sunniest, most gratuitously promissory version of a possible tax policy, Obama is going to increase taxes from what Americans are currently paying. McCain, by contrast, will cut taxes by any measure.


October 23, 2008


Dressing Up the Spin

Justin Katz

In case anybody's wondering, Clothing-gate is a non-story. Governor Palin didn't hit the streets of New York on a Pretty Woman shopping spree. The campaign sent out aids to outfit a sudden candidate who had an Alaskan wardrobe for a whirlwind tour of the country in an environment in which campaigning has become showbiz. Rich Galen's got it right:

"If they hadn't done this, Saturday Night Live would be doing jokes where Governor Palin would be dressed in elk skin," said Rich Galen, a Republican consultant not associated with the McCain campaign.

The linked New York Times story doesn't mention it, for some reason, but according to top McCain adviser Nicolle Wallace, the clothes will be donated to charity upon the completion of the campaign.



Leaving Obama in the Impulse Rack

Justin Katz

In the comments to "The Passive Vitriol of the 'Intellectual' Left," Joe Bernstein gives a personal weight to a phenomenon that many of us have observed:

Maybe they'll continue using the "racist" taunt until they get the reaction they weren't expecting.

It wouldn't be a bad thing if the US DID elect an Afro-American president.It would put it in the world's face that we walk the walk with regard to anyone being able to do whatever they want here.This man just isn't the right candidate.He acts entitled and swaggers around while trying to make it seem like he's just a regular guy.

I wonder what McCain was thinking when he chose Palin over Romney.Or did he cave in to James Dobson & Co.? She is really hurting McCain's candidacy at this point.Romney obviously had what was needed to step into the Oval Office the second it became necessary.I know too many of my own friends who are voting for Obama for this specific reason.They seem convinced McCain may not make it through 4 years.I find that to be a poor attitude,but that's the way a lot of people think.The clothing spree and the kids' travel is just another pile on or two that are adding up to help Obama.His half hour infomercial may be the make/break point.

Hopefully he will be suitably arrogant and talk down some more. ...

These are people I know for decades.I don't get it,but there have been a lot of surprises as far as people supporting Obama,and I'm not referring to Powell,because everyone is aware of that endorsement.

Nothing's true for everybody, of course, but there are two factors playing strongly in Obama's favor:

  1. Americans are parellized by identity politics. Not for nothing has the left spent decades investing heavily in the racist, sexist, otherist notion that people's categories are an overriding aspect of who they are and how they should be treated. It would, indeed, be a great thing for the country to elect a black man president (or a woman of any race). The grandness of that milestone, however, has been perverted such that many folks feel, deep down, that it would be morally better to vote for a black man than a white man — not just voting for the best candidate without regard to race.
  2. People naturally want to be part of something. They want to vote for the hero, the one knighted as Good among those who write the public storyline. They want to vote with the celebrities, and to feel that they've been on the "right" side of an historic event.

And yet, the questions and concerns about Obama are manifold. The left will only have one chance to cash in on its investment with the first ever black American president, and it's pressing its advantage. For all the downsides and questions that have been suppressed, voters have a sense that something unsavory lingers behind the smooth words and star power.

The United States of America has been walking around the store with two items in its hands — one trendy and expensive (that will probably end up costing twice its price as it lingers on the credit card bill) and one safe and affordable (the old cash-in-pocket standby). The country is pacing the aisles trying to talk itself into buying the fashionable one. It doesn't want to acknowledge its flaws, even as it amplifies the flaws of the other one. We're standing in line at the register imagining how impressed our friends will be and how we'll be able to take credit for being ahead of the curve, before the maker works out the bugs and lowers the cost.

Deep down we know we should leave Obama in the impulse rack.

If he loses, that will have been the reason, although we'll collectively be accused of racism. On that count, however, an Obama victory won't finally get us over the line to a new future unburdened by racial discord and pressure. If an Obama presidency proves catastrophic, it will be blamed on Americans' racism. If he fails to implement the full liberal Democrat agenda, that will be the fault of racism. Of he succeeds in the task and the policies fail, that will be attributed to racism, not the governing philosophy's lack of merit.

There is no redemption down this road, because the sin has been enshrined as the penance. One man's success — to the point of free license to change the course of history — has been made the price of slavery and racism, and the left has made sure that no course will count but its own.

ADDENDUM:

As for Joe's incredulity over McCain's choice of Palin, the urge to second guess ought to be resisted. No doubt, many of the campaign's potential running mates would have been less susceptible to the unfair accusations of inexperience (unfair by comparison with the candidate leading the other ticket), but with Romney, for example, McCain might never have had his second and third winds. He might never have bounced, instead fading slowly toward Obama's fait accompli.

In other words, the fact that Palin's weakness was another potential VP's strength doesn't mean that the latter's weaknesses wouldn't have been more substantial.


October 22, 2008


The Passive Vitriol of the "Intellectual" Left

Justin Katz

This MClatchy "report" by David Lightman is really too much:

An ugly line has been crossed in this presidential campaign, one in which some people don't mind calling Barack Obama a dangerous Muslim, a terrorist and worse.

"To me, this all feels much worse than we've seen in some time," said Kathryn Kolbert, the president of People for the American Way, which monitors political speech.

No evidence is provided. Instead we get feelings from a member of People for the American Way, presented as if that group is some non-ideological arbiter. The tone is that half-smile with a knife twist sometimes performed by those who think they're too clever to be seen as being vitriolic in their own way.

Just doing their part, I guess, to hammer home the message that anybody who doesn't vote for Obama is a racist. Predicting the future is risky business, but I wouldn't be surprised if the operative word used in historians' description of an Obama presidential term is "silenced."



Changing Toward Decline

Justin Katz

It's not quite comprehensive, but this multimedia review of some of the arguments against Barack Obama is certainly extensive. There's been an inclination, with Obama, to hope against reality, but it isn't enough to recycle the candidate's slogans as justification for giving him your vote.


October 21, 2008


The Worst of the Campus in the White House

Justin Katz

In a chilling piece, yesterday, Andy McCarthy argues — I would phrase it — that Barack Obama is the fruit of the leftist lunacy that has flourished on American campuses:

For Obama, that society is an ineradicably racist "white world." He is more opaque than mentors like Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, who mince no words in portraying America as an apartheid state. Still, as Hank De Zutter wrote in a fawning 1995 profile, Obama learned to see "integration was a one-way street, with blacks expected to assimilate into a white world that never gave ground." One hears the echoes of Obama's wife, Michelle, whose Princeton thesis decried the thought of "further integration and/or assimilation into a white cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant."...

As Obama wrote in his chapter [in a tribute to Saul Alinsky], "Why Organize? Problems and Promise in the Inner City":

The debate as to how black and other dispossessed people can forward their lot in America is not new. From W.E.B. DuBois to Booker T. Washington to Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X to Martin Luther King, this internal debate has raged between integration and nationalism, between accommodation and militancy, between sit-down strikes and boardroom negotiations. The lines between these strategies have never been simply drawn, and the most successful black leadership has recognized the need to bridge these seemingly divergent approaches. [Emphasis added.]

Breathtaking. Observe that the organizer does not reject separatism, menacing, and civil disobedience. They are iterations of the hard power he "bridges" with soft power, the exploitation of the system's regular politics. And in a society that venerates dissent and free association, there is much to exploit in the blurry line between critiquing our society and advocating its destruction.

In his partial review of laws likely to be signed into law by an "unchecked" Obama, David Freddoso is correct to note that Republicans' abandonment of their principles has helped to bring us to the point at which the likes of Obama have a shot of running the country, but if he wins, dark days seem to be looming for freedom in the American sense.

If Clinton's era was a "vacation from history," Obama's will be nostalgia for the fantasies of co-ed years, during which several generations learned to pump their fists in a show of disconnected, play-acting vanity. He'll be a "transformative" figure, indeed, but not in a way amenable to the spirit in which that banality has so often been uttered.



"... we’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy"

Monique Chartier

Setting aside for a moment matters of substance as well as my own preference in the presidential race, Senator Obama has to be saying to himself right about now, "Why didn't someone tell me about this guy's mouth?"

Enter Joe Biden.

Yesterday, the Republican camp was trying to score some points from speeches the Delaware Senator gave on Sunday where he guaranteed an international crisis if the Obama-Biden ticket is elected.

“Mark my words: It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy,” Biden told the crowd. “The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Watch, we’re going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

“He’s going to have to make some really tough - I don’t know what the decision’s going to be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it’s going to happen,” he said.


October 20, 2008


Powell Latest to Endorse the Obama Aesthetic

Marc Comtois

Progressives are excited by Colin Powell's endorsement of Sen. Obama for President.

It will be interesting to see how some will square it with their anger at the then-Secretary of State for purportedly helping the Bush Administration lie us into war, etc. (Though some liberals haven't forgotten). Hey, maybe they were right after all and Powell's judgment really isn't that great.

For their part, the NY Times thinks Powell is engaged in a bit of legacy building. To that end, stay tuned for stories about how Powell was bamboozled, railroaded, lied to, etc. in the prelude to the Iraq War.

Most of Powell's endorsement was devoted to explaining why he didn't like the GOP ticket. Fair enough. But all in all, the reasons given by Powell for supporting Obama are more of the same we've seen from other Republicans or conservatives who have decided to go the Obama route. "Transformational figure," "reaching out," "inclusive nature", etc. Aesthetics and emotion with few facts but a lot of "hopes." Not much scrutiny of Obama's actual record. But I guess as long as we all feel better on November 5.

Welcome to Stuart Smalley's America--where Stuart himself may end up in the Senate.


October 19, 2008


Poise by Contrast

Justin Katz

Ann Althouse isn't sure how to understand Saturday Night Live's script as delivered by Alec Baldwin, standing next to Sarah Palin:

Alec Baldwin got to stand next to Palin and insult her -- by accident, thinking she was Tina -- and then got to say something that's true: Sarah Palin is more attractive than Tina Fey. Did Fey deserve that? No. Palin seemed like a seasoned actor, which is nice... but disturbing. If our politicians are great actors, we have a big problem. [ADDED ON REWATCH: Did Baldwin say Palin is more attractive than Fey? He mistook Palin for Fey, then, corrected, told Palin she was more attractive in person. I think that means he believed Palin was less attractive than Fey, but now, seeing Palin in person, he acknowledges Palin's equivalent attractiveness. Or something. The disrespect to Fey that I thought was there is, technically, not.]

Considering that Baldwin goes on to express incredulity that SNL would allow a woman like Fey to play a woman like Palin, I think the joke was meant to be Baldwin's sycophancy. If taken at face value (again, analyzing from within the script), that would certainly have been disrespectful of the actress).

For my part, I wouldn't go quite so far as his feigned compliments, but even in the short clip, there is a stark contrast between Palin and Fey that highlighted the exaggerations in Fey's characterization and the fact that one is a woman of poise and power while the other is an actress.



Putting the Inside In

Justin Katz

Mark Patinkin's mea culpa back on the twelfth gave a vaguely unsettling impression that he believes skill at being a Washington insider ought to translate to promotion as a Washington insider:

I'll admit, Palin did better in the debate than I expected, and certainly deserves credit for becoming governor. But when you picture a possible first woman president, I'm surprisingly thinking: Shouldn't it have been Hillary Clinton? ...

... Obama earned his way onto the ticket through a year of debates, primaries and scrutiny, outgunning all rivals. Joe Biden, too, has been tested by decades in office and two presidential runs. Certainly, John McCain is unequaled in his experience as a national figure.

Note that the main qualification that Patinkin cites for the presidency is politics — playing the game. I'd suggest that we've lost sight, in these days of mass media and cults of personality, of the fact that the president is a leader, not just a leading practitioner of the campaign. Note that Joe Biden's never come close to actually winning the office. Say what you will of him, but few Americans look at Mr. Biden and think, I would follow him.

Another Patinkin column expounding on the theme of "regular Joe" politicking points to the heart of the matter. Comparing Sarah Palin's ascension to that of a mediocre pitcher who exudes an everyman quality, Patinkin writes:

... in this campaign, it's how many are ready to pick a leader. I doubt that history will consider Sarah Palin a political visionary, but she draws tens of thousands to rallies because, well, she's a folksy hockey mom, and that sells.

If you applied for a job as a carpenter, accountant or plumber, and your skills didn't outshine other interviewees, I doubt you'd get hired by being folksy. You do in politics.

Even if Obama is not your candidate, let's focus for a moment on his gifts as an orator who is well-spoken in interviews. That may be hard to do if you're a McCain person, but humor me for a moment.

You'd think people would consider this a positive. Historically, our most notable figures, from Lincoln to Roosevelt, have used soaring language to move policy and inspire a nation. Fine oratory enhances leadership. And what better for America’s children than to have a president model superior speech.

But in this campaign, Obama's oratory has been attacked as a negative. Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain have implied it proves Obama is nothing but fancy words — and that his soaring speech even makes him an out-of-touch elitist. Who knows, maybe he is. But they're not just attacking Obama, they're attacking eloquence itself and saying prose — even on the stump — beats poetry.

Fine. Let's stipulate that compelling oratory "enhances leadership." So does empathy with those whom one leads. Obama's good at relating to intellectuals (whether actual or self-presumed); Palin's good at relating to just about everybody else. Neither skill is leadership, per se.

With that admission ought to come a further note that presidents have cabinets and commissions. Advisers and (sometimes) astrologers. The key determinant of our votes, in a representative democracy, is whether we trust those whom we elect to take the various forms of input and respond in a way that's consistent with our beliefs and needs as we understand them.

In that respect, being an insider truly ought to be a hindrance, because insiders are invested in the solutions that they've helped to contrive in the past. What we need are leaders who will sort through the file cabinets of government and create a "stupid idea" pile. Obama promises that sort of leadership, but his claims have become increasingly laughable as the partisan days have passed. Sarah Palin (running for VP, let's remember) may or may not be that sort of leader, but she's articulated the spirit with an eloquence beyond words.


October 18, 2008


Multiple choice options regarding Obama's "spread the wealth" comment

Donald B. Hawthorne

John Podhoretz:

Is Obama’s "spread the wealth around" remark to Joe the Plumber the 2008 version of:
a) "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe"?

b) "I had a discussion with my daughter, Amy, the other day, before I came here, to ask her what the most important issue was. She said the control of nuclear arms"?

c) "Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did"?

d) "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it"?

e) Eh, no big deal.

Here's a big difference: President Ford, President Carter, Walter Mondale, and John Kerry did not respond like this to criticism of their revealing comments:

Welcome to the "thugocracy": the Obama camp wants to Department of Justice to investigate not voter registration fraud, but people talking about voting fraud–including the GOP ticket. If you don’t believe it, read the bizarre letter sent by the Obama campaign’s lawyer. This one follows on the heels of another letter asking the DOJ to "investigate" the 527 independent group which ran one of the first Bill Ayers ads.

The McCain camp is naturally not pleased and put out a statement which reads in part:

Today’s outrageous letter to Attorney General Mukasey and Special Prosecutor Dannehy at the Justice Department asking for a special prosecutor to investigate Senator McCain and Governor Palin’s public statements about ACORN’s record of fraudulent voter registrations (including in this week’s Presidential debate) is absurd. It is a typical time-worn Washington attempt to criminalize political differences. For someone who promises ‘change,’ it is certainly only more of the same.

The letter’s request that the Department of Justice investigate 'recent partisan Republican activities throughout the country' is almost a parody of the Obama campaign’s attempt to intimidate their political opponents. In case Sen. Obama’s lawyer did not notice, we are in the midst of a political campaign, not a coronation, and the alleged criminal activity he calls ‘recent partisan Republican activities’ are what the rest of us call campaign speeches and debates. All of this is unfortunately reminiscent of the Obama campaign’s recent creation of a 'truth squad' of Missouri prosecutors and sheriffs to 'target' people who criticize Sen. Obama.

And if you are wondering where civil liberties groups and the mainstream media are, you have to understand: the First Amendment ranks considerably lower than getting The One elected. On his way out the door, Attorney General Mukasey might perform one last bit of public service and give a series of lectures on the centrality of free speech, the sanctity of free and fair elections, and the utter inappropriateness of using the power of the state to silence your opponents.

And, as we start to bear an uncanny resemblance to a banana republic — complete with a cult of The Leader, roaming thugs in support of the same, and fraud-tainted voting – you’ll know that we really are experiencing "change." Whether this is a passing spasm of election exuberance or a frightful look at the future remains to be seen.

More on thuggish behavior by the Obama campaign here and here. All of which reminds me of Richard Nixon.

ADDENDUM

In response to the NYTimes hit piece on Cindy McCain, her lawyer responds:

...It is worth noting that you have not employed your investigative assets looking into Michelle Obama. You have not tried to find Barack Obama’s drug dealer that he wrote about in his book, Dreams of My Father. Nor have you interviewed his poor relatives in Kenya and determined why Barack Obama has not rescued them. Thus, there is a terrific lack of balance here.

I suggest to you that none of these subjects on either side are worthy of the energy and resources of The New York Times. They are cruel hit pieces designed to injure people that only the worst rag would investigate and publish. I know you and your colleagues are always preaching about raising the level of civil discourse in our political campaigns. I think taking some your own medicine is in order here...

Jennifer Rubin adds these thoughts on what the media is not looking into:

...If MSM wants to be treated as impartial arbiter, a "watchdog" and not a lapdog of one candidate, its members should consider some behavior modification.

Demand not just medical records but earmark records from Joe Biden. Ask Barack Obama why he served on the Woods Fund with Bill Ayers for years and if he specifically approved grants to ACORN and a host of leftwing groups. Do a 3000-word piece on Obama’s earmarks and ties to corrupt Chicago officials to counterbalance the dozens of 3000-word pieces going after the other side (e.g. "Palin annoys Wasilla librarian" and "Cindy McCain was addicted to pain killers").

Even more shocking, not a single one of the networks news outlet or mainstream national newspaper has looked at Obama’s unprecedented attempt to use the Justice Department to chill speech. In all the pieces on "temperament" no one has reminded voters that the last president to try to employ law enforcement officials — as Obama did in Missouri — to go after opponents exercising First Amendment rights was Richard Nixon, not exactly the model of presidential temperament...

More on Obama and the presidential temperament issue here:

With the sudden emphasis on temperament in election coverage, you’d think that Americans are going to the polls on November 4 to pick the White House dog. Focus on this farcical dimension is due to the fact that the MSM is madly in love with Barack Obama, but have run out of reasons to say exactly why.

They used to cite his objection to the Iraq War, but the U.S. is now winning, and a troop withdrawal plan has been negotiated without his input. They used to talk about his plan to tax the "rich" and relieve the poor, but with the market meltdown, raising anyone’s taxes sounds petrifying–plus Joe the Plumber brought out Obama’s socialist side on this issue and the press would rather try to discredit Joe. They used to praise his eagerness to re-establish America’s standing in the world, but in the nearly two years he’s been preparing his penance, America’s image has gotten a boost from its military achievement, the rise of the Right in Europe, the need for an ally against Russian aggression, and the call for leadership on the global financial crisis. They used to rave about his willingness to upset the status quo, but with his tacking to the center on a dozen different issues, that’s out the window. His outsider status? Sarah Palin swooped into the election from outside of the continental United States, while Obama is now running with a career D.C. benchwarmer.

They could never tout his experience.

So what’s left? This amorphous, quasi-mythical thing everyone’s decided to call temperament. And Obama’s, we’re told, is just right for the job: Measured, unflappable, and patient. And how far are legitimate media outlets willing to go to push the temperament line? Far enough to make Nancy Gibbs declare, in her contribution to Time, that "[t]he presidency is less an office than a performance."

In other words, the MSM is now telling us this isn’t really Election 2008, but a spin-off of the West Wing, and we therefore should be superficial in choosing the leader of the free world. The problem is: when the world outside the borders of the television screen erupts, Obama is caught out like an Emmy-winner having a cue-card malfunction. After Russia invaded Georgia, Obama improvised some line about both sides needing to cease hostilities. It was only after John McCain identified the aggressor and where the U.S. interest lay in the conflict that Obama felt comfortable following suit. But while he was calm and collected, he said absolutely nothing about the potential start of the second cold war.

Here–after the most hyped-up, over-analyzed media-circus of an election in American history–is the distillation of the final pitch for the Democratic nominee: Vote Obama, he’s cool.

How cool indeed: Obama wants to redistribute your wealth in the spirit of "fairness" and chill your free speech, like Nixon tried, when you dare to challenge him by asking why.



Crisply defining the core problem with Obama's economic and tax policies

Donald B. Hawthorne

Expanding on the problems with Obama's economic and tax policy issues described here, John McCain finally nailed it today in describing the true essence of Obama's economic and tax policies:

My opponent’s answer showed that economic recovery isn’t even his top priority. His goal, as Senator Obama put it, is to "spread the wealth around."

You see, he believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe, in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism. And a lot of Americans are thinking along those same lines. In the best case, "spreading the wealth around" is a familiar idea from the American left. And that kind of class warfare sure doesn’t sound like a "new kind of politics."

This would also explain some big problems with my opponent’s claim that he will cut income taxes for 95 percent of Americans. You might ask: How do you cut income taxes for 95 percent of Americans, when more than 40 percent pay no income taxes right now? How do you reduce the number zero?

Well, that’s the key to Barack Obama’s whole plan: Since you can’t reduce taxes on those who pay zero, the government will write them all checks called a tax credit. And the Treasury will cover those checks by taxing other people, including a lot of folks just like Joe.

In other words, Barack Obama’s tax plan would convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth at the direction of politicians in Washington. I suppose when you’ve voted against lowering taxes 94 times, as Senator Obama has done, a new definition of the term "tax credit" comes in handy.

At least in Europe, the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives. They use real numbers and honest language. And we should demand equal candor from Senator Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut, it’s just another government giveaway.

What’s more, the Obama tax increase would come at the worst possible time for America, and especially for small businesses like the one Joe dreams of owning. Small businesses provide 16 million jobs in America. And a sudden tax hike will kill those jobs at a time when we need to be creating more jobs.

Jennifer Rubin continues:

There it is — finally. The "it" is the argument against Barack Obama: he’s wedded to income re-distribution, not growth, which is exactly the wrong philosophy at the worst possible time...This is the heart of the "choice election" formula (as opposed to "experience vs. choice") which McCain has been struggling to articulate.

If he gives this speech (or the Alfred E. Smith roast remarks) every day and repeats the substance in every interview — with a reminder that the trio of Obama-Reid-Pelosi will be an unchecked liberal juggernaut — he might make the race very interesting...



To Democrats, "Cutting" Taxes Means Not Raising Them

Justin Katz

Surprisingly, here's a point I haven't heard made:

One thing: the 95% number is fundamentally dishonest because I'm pretty sure it measures against the CBO baseline — which assumes all of the '01 and '03 tax cuts expire in 2010. Politically, that's nonsense. But it allows Obama to count extending the politically popular Bush tax laws as an "Obama tax cut."

October 17, 2008


The Problems with John McCain

Donald B. Hawthorne

One of the most striking observations in reading comments by Obama partisans here on Anchor Rising is their utter unwillingness to engage in any debate about the substantive policy issues with people who oppose their viewpoints. Just like their candidate has raised the "racist" label when pushed to explain himself. Charles Krauthammer, who has previously praised Obama, offers an updated perspective.

But this is not new behavior by the Left; more on all that later. The point is that some of the rest of us have always been perfectly willing to criticize anybody in politics when we think they made bad decisions or said improper things - whether we generally support them or not.

At the macro level, I believe the national Republican Party is in a state of near-total disarray thanks to George W. Bush, with lots of support from Congressional Republicans. They have deserved to spend some time roaming the wilderness to rediscover its philosophical and policy bearings. To rediscover bearings, though, requires acknowledging being lost and it is far from clear they have had the courage to look in the mirror. It is not like they haven't had opportunities as the Democratic Party in Washington, DC has looked like a bunch of buffoons since they regained the Congressional majorities in 2006.

Some personal history: I voted Libertarian in 1992. Why? Because George H. W. Bush broke his no-new-taxes pledge from 1988 and there was no way I was going to vote for either Bill Clinton or Ross Perot.

Fast forward to 2008: None of the Republican candidates in this election cycle excited me. I wanted to get enthused about Fred Thompson but was never convinced he had the requisite fire-in-the-belly. So I began the 2008 election deeply dissatisfied by all candidates in both parties. Like for many people, Obama was a blank slate with a troubling set of beliefs and associations. McCain was not a blank slate and that was the problem.

Until recent weeks, I fully expected either to vote Libertarian as I did in 1992 - although I don't care for Bob Barr - or sit out the November election in protest like I did the 2006 RI Senate race. Rather unexpectedly for me along the way, though - as some of my rather humorless philosophical opponents have noted in the Comments sections to past posts - my concerns about Barack Obama's beliefs have grown tremendously as more information about them has seeped into the public domain. Obama and his supporters have shown audacity along the way but it has no connection to hope.

But that doesn't mean John McCain gets off easy and here is why:

I have written about how McCain's campaign finance reform beliefs reflect a lack of commitment to free speech, a flawed approach when a more realistic view of incentives and human nature would lead to better public policies. George Will discusses the broader issues at stake in the never-ending debate about liberty.

I abhor McCain's preferences for amnesty for illegal immigrants, which differs from my broader view of the strategic issues.

I thought McCain's Gang of 14 approach to Senate ratification of judges reflected an unwillingness to address the deeper philosophical issues underlying the polarized public debate about our judiciary. That polarization will continue until some people show the courage necessary engage in a genuine public debate which tackles some of the hard issues. Sometimes more political and moral strength is gained by losing a political battle for strategic reasons and the judiciary issue was one of those issues.

I disagreed with his prior opposition to the Bush tax cuts, an opposition which is consistent with his self-professed ignorance about economic issues. His lack of fluidity in discussing economic issues is an ongoing concern.

McCain does deserve great respect for his support of the surge in Iraq. And I appreciate his ability to discuss foreign affairs with knowledge and the underlying recognition that there are evil people in the world who seek to destroy our country.

I also think his speech at the Al Smith dinner, noted in Marc's earlier post, showed a commendable humor that Obama's speech did not come close to matching. That matters.

All in all, though, I consider McCain to be effectively a Democrat except for some foreign policy differences, a man who has no strategic vision which integrates his various beliefs into a narrative to share with the American people. Peter Wehner describes it this way:

...It’s true that John McCain has never provided the country with a compelling economic vision and an overarching, easily accessible governing philosophy. That may be because McCain himself is a man animated not so much by ideas as a sense of "honor politics" and causes that catch his attention. Senator McCain is a man of unquestionable bravery and considerable talents, and the fact that as recently as mid-September he was tied with Senator Obama in the polls is remarkable, given the tremendous headwinds he has faced this year.

Unfortunately for Senator McCain, his limitations are being exposed at precisely the moment when they are costing him the most.

More thoughts here.

On a related note, I don't understand why McCain lets Obama and Congressional Democrats off the hook so easily. Frank Warner writes about Why does John McCain avoid attacking Democrats’ abuses?

...McCain has made it clear he’s willing to take on the Republican Party when it’s wrong. Why McCain avoids attacking the disastrous Democratic Congress is beyond understanding.

Why McCain is so accommodating when there are such deep philosophical and political divides is simply beyond me and speaks to a weakness in both his vision and leadership skills.

So the choice this November 4 is a poor one where there is no compelling choice. But the fact pattern now does not justify sitting out the election. More thoughts on the latter in the coming days.



The Palin Effect with an Exclamation Point

Justin Katz

I've had the same reaction to the investigation of Joe the Plumber that Don noted earlier this morning. It's frightening, and one gets the sense that it's a taste of what would be to come (perhaps outside of public view) were Obama to be elected.

One wonders whether the stage was set by the American elite's preparation for Obama's coronation (as indicated by some conservative intellectuals' RSVPs). Watching video of Obama actually mocking the man and his profession, it struck me that this may be a Sarah Palin redux, only with an exclamation point. In his comfort, he's letting slip dinner party remarks for public consumption. "Who ever heard of a plumber making a quarter-million dollars?" If they made that much, they wouldn't have to cling to God and guns.

So now Joe is being told, in not so many words, "Go away. We'd decided." Americans were sickened by the instasmear campaign against Palin when she leaped onto the national stage, but his is worse: This is just some guy who asked a question. It could be you.

Yeah, he owes some taxes. Perhaps he's been working without a license or without the proper registration. He's divorced. Scarcely an American alive could emerge unstained from such scrutiny, but we sense there to be a protective gap of public interest. We muddle along understanding that the Eye of Sauron tends to focus on those who step forward to be seen. Even such common practices as undeclared cash-paid side work would look shady in its accusing glow.

Just answering a candidate's question when approached on one's own lawn oughtn't qualify one for the same treatment as those who scrub their lives in preparation for the big time. But Obama's army of zealots won't be able to stop themselves now or if they gain the presidency's power.



Presidential Candidates Put Things in Perspective

Marc Comtois

The Al Smith Dinner is an opportunity for presidential candidates to take a break and poke a little fun at each other and themselves.

Here is John McCain (part 1 and part 2) and Barack Obama.

Kinda puts things in perspective. As I've written before, while politics is important, they need to be kept in their proper perspective and the candidates themselves seem to recognize that. A good lesson for their supporters.



Healthcare Intrigue

Justin Katz

Granted, they devoted some time to debate talk, but it says something encouraging that Andrew and Matt Allen actually pushed past the time slot on Wednesday to further discuss healthcare. I, for one, would have liked a whole hour of that conversation. Stream by clicking here, or download it.


October 16, 2008


Yep, that'd be my reaction

Donald B. Hawthorne

Getting a lot of emails along these lines:

I don't know why I'm e-mailing you, except that I just need to vent to someone on The Corner. Pass this around to the others if you like — I bet I'm not the only one.

I really don't like McCain. I'll probably vote for him just as a vote for divided government. I'm far too libertarian in my leanings to be comfortable with McCain (or Obama, for that matter).

That said, the way the pro-Obama media and bloggers, and Obama himself, have responded to Joe has got me nearly shaking with rage. They are attempting to destroy a man — a private citizen — who had the audacity to ask The One a question. Mind you, Joe was on his front lawn playing football with his son when Obama strolled up to give him his hopenchange spiel. Obama approached Joe, not the other way around. And Joe asked Obama an honest question. And Obama gave him an honest — and very, very revealing — answer. Again, mind you, the embarassment was on Obama's end, not Joe's. It wasn't a gotcha question.

And yet, for that Joe is being pilloried, every aspect of his private and professional life being sorted through and exposed. To prove ... what? What does that have to do with Obama's answer? What does Joe's situation have to do with Obama's philosophical answer — that he wants to "spread the wealth"? Obama's answer goes down the memory hole while the nation concentrates its fire on obliterating Joe the Plumber.

It's sickening, it's maddening and it's downright chilling.

Sorry for the length. But I am just SEETHING.

Elsewhere, there were these additional perspectives:

...They've done more investigations into Joe the Plumber in 24 hours than they've done on Barack Obama in two years...

The harassment of Joe the plumber is the singular biggest mistake of the Obama campaign. The MSM is making Joe a martyr. Heck, DKos just published Joe's home address. Obama is now not only a Marxist but a Marxist bully - just another Chicago thug. America roots for the underdog and they will not take this action kindly. If Joe were a hero yesterday, wait a few days.

Obi Wan's line in Star Wars when fighting Darth Vader comes to mind - "Strike me down and I will return more powerful than you can possibly imagine." Americans will realize what happened to Joe could easily happen to them. And they will remember this come November...

What I find really fascinating is the fact that the media elites are treating Joe the Plumber as if he is the one who is out of step with mainstream America, while Bill Ayers is an 'Eagle Scout'...

There is a stench of desperation surrounding this, as if they sense defeat coming from a moment of honesty from Obama about his real intentions to institute a regime of redistribution. They want to discredit the man who only asked the question as if he’s some political operative who magically forced Obama to sound...well, a little like a Marxist. Why? They want to distract people from Obama’s answer by sliming the man Obama picked at random to ask a question...The Tanning-Bed Media seems to feel that they have a duty to expose every last part of Wurzelbacher’s life, but that asking Obama to explain his political partnerships with Tony Rezko and William Ayers, and his long friendship and financial support of rabid demagogues Jeremiah Wright and Michael Pfleger, are not just out of bounds but downright racist." Whatever it takes.

This, too:

The MSM can’t destroy Joe the plumber, because everyone is Joe the plumber. If he does have a tax lien on his property, he will be more sympathetic to average Americans. Aren’t we all in fear of losing our personal property because we can’t afford the taxes on it??

They can try to destroy him all they want, his basic question remains: "Does Barack Obama have a right to take my property and give it to someone else?"

And this:

ABC News reports on Joe the Plumber, who seems to be the most effective spokesman for the McCain tax position:
"To be honest with you, that infuriates me," plumber Joe Wurzelbacher told Nightline’s Terry Moran. "It’s not right for someone to decide you made too much—that you’ve done too good and now we’re going to take some of it back."

"That’s just completely wrong," he added.

Joe is now everywhere explaining why raising taxes on little businesses is wrong. He is now a handy reference point for the argument that Obama’s tax scheme is not just going to impact Warren Buffett. (Obama never did answer in the debate why he’s raising anyone’s taxes.)

This is no small bit of luck for McCain...

Obama's response to Joe the plumber crystallizes what a lot of people have instinctively felt was the problem with Obama but could not verbalize or be heard over the worshipful response of the MSM.

This development could be one of those unplanned pivot points that sometimes alters the course of elections...as long as the multi-state voter fraud efforts by Obama's friends at ACORN don't overwhelm it.

Time will tell soon enough.

ADDENDUM

Patterico:

The Los Angeles Times reports:
According to court records, creditors have secured at least two liens against [Joe the Plumber] Wurzelbacher, whose legal name is Samuel. Ohio has a $1,182 lien for owed taxes and St. Charles Mercy Hospital has filed a 2007 lien for $1,261.

I think we can all agree that this is critical information.

Not because it says anything about Joe the Plumber, mind you. But it does serve a useful function: it warns any future citizen who might dare question Barack Obama that his life will be closely scrutinized for any irrelevant but embarrassing information.

So, you know. Critical in that sense.

Oh — I almost forgot to mention: Martin Nesbitt, the treasurer of Obama’s campaign, has tax liens. So do his companies.

You’d think that matters more than the tax liens of Joe the Plumber, wouldn’t you? But good luck finding a Big Media story about Nesbitt’s liens.

ADDENDUM #2

Jennifer Rubin:

The liberal media throng and Democratic elites never learn the right lesson. It’s been only a month since they vilified Sarah Palin, leading to a gigantic backlash and the largest surge in John McCain’s standing in the polls yet. But they didn’t learn. They are at it again with Joe the Plumber and, once again, are exercising no self-restraint.

They don’t, at bottom, respect non-elites from middle America or listen to their concerns. They treat them as cartoon characters or as frauds sent to foil their own quest for power. So they set upon Joe the Plumber in the mistaken view that what was significant about the interchange with Barack Obama were Joe’s concerns. And–surprise, surprise–you’ve got the makings of a backlash.

There are two problems with the approach of the Obama supporters. One, as with the Palin feeding frenzy and Bittergate, it convinces ordinary voters that the Democrats are vicious snobs. Two, it doesn’t address the problem: voters may begin to suspect that Obama is fixated on wealth re-distribution. That’s the idea the Democrats should be working to dispel. But since they can’t imagine that the public would have a problem with raising taxes in a recession, they don’t even bother to reassure voters that of course Obama wants the private sector to grow and of course he understands that you must tread carefully in tax-burdening small businessmen.

The McCain team must be pinching themselves: they can hardly believe their luck that the Democrats have attacked an everyman and prolonged a dangerous storyline...

ADDENDUM #3

On sliming Joe the plumber.

Mary Katharine Ham:

...While the media and Left blogs continue to dig into Joe's personal life and affairs for asking The One a question.

If Obama were truly a purveyor of a new kind of politics or a decent leader, in any sense of the word, he'd stick a different sentence into his stump speech. Something like, "Hey, everyone chill out. Joe is a man who asked me a question. As presidential candidates, John McCain and I have faced plenty of tough questions. The good citizens who ask those questions don't deserve to be torn down for their efforts."

Obama's frowning upon the practice would go a long way toward quelling the bad practice of vetting every townhall and ropeline questioner as if he were a Supreme Court justice.

But you see, Obama is not a man of new politics or leadership. He is a man who endorses raising the cost of free speech for everyone who disagrees with him. He is a man who sends out Action WIre alerts to mobilize voters to shout down detractors who appear on the radio. He is a man who sends letters to the Department of Justice to ask it to investigate political ads that aren't even inaccurate, much less criminal.

Joe's experience is making every sensible American voter wonder whether it's worth asking their representatives that question they have on their minds. The man who talks endlessly about the value of getting new Americans involved in the democratic process is allowing their intimidation without comment.

It seems Obama only approves of getting dead people, cartoons, and the Dallas Cowboys involved, via voter registration fraud. Mickey Mouse just don't talk back like Joe the Plumber does.

ADDENDUM #4

Jim Lingren via Instapundit:

...I was stunned to see some document showing Joe the Plumber's tax problems on my 10pm (CT) newscast on the local NBC affiliate in Chicago on Thursday night. They have very little time for any national news and they actually spent time on Joe the Plumber's tax problems. Amazing!

But when an actual candidate — Barack Obama — released his tax returns, which on their face seemed to show an ethics violation of Illinois law, the press couldn't care less.

Just to remind you, Illinois prohibits state legislators from taking speaking fees, and Barack reported "speaking fees."...

Gotta love the MSM doing the work for it's favored candidate.



The Wisdom of Joe the Plumber

Marc Comtois

Google "Joe the Plumber": you'll get 1,953 news articles, like this. For those who don't know, Joe Wurzelbacher had this conversation with Senator Obama last weekend:

Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" the plumber asked, complaining that he was being taxed "more and more for fulfilling the American dream."

"It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success too," Obama responded. "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Is this something that can resonate with the American voter? Perhaps. It certainly featured prominently in last night's debate. And though some in the media are trying to show that, despite his concerns, "Joe" will actually benefit from Obama's plan, they miss the actual point that Joe Wurzelbacher is trying to make.
I mean, not that I don't want to be taxed. You have to be taxed. But to -- just because you work a little harder to have a little bit more money taken from you, I mean, that's scary. You know, as opposed to other people. I worked hard for it. Why should I be taxed more than other people...? Well, I mean, quite honestly, why should [the top 5%] be penalized for being successful? I mean, that's what you're telling me. That's what it sounds like you're saying. That's wrong. Because you're successful, you have to pay more than everybody else? We all live in this country. It's a basic right. And Obama wants to take that basic right and penalize me for it, is what it comes down to. That's a very socialist view and it's incredibly wrong. I mean, $250,000 now. What if he decides, well, you know, $150,000, you're pretty rich, too. Let's go ahead and lower it again. You know it's a slippery slope. When's it going to stop?
Yes, when? And this is but another example of the sort of down-to-earth wisdom that too often gets overlooked and dismissed in the coastal regions. An accent doesn't indicate stupidity. Nor does the lack of a sheepskin. To quote Victor Davis Hanson, writing about Sarah Palin:
Half of what I learned did not come from books or graduate school or teaching or writing, but from some rather rough characters who taught me how to prune, hammer, wire, and fix things—as well as their world view that came along with those tasks. Thank God, we have that experience represented in Sarah Palin. Can’t her critics grasp that? It ain’t easy to step up to the city-council, mayorship, or governor’s office while raising kids, on a short budget, without family money or connections, and out in Alaska? Did not the career of Truman teach us anything? We have plenty of highly educated politicos, so there is no worry we are a nation of populist yokels; what is lacking in public life are just a few people who aren’t lawyers, professors, consultants, and bureaucrats.
As a former merchant mariner who also holds an MA, I've got to second that. I've gained wisdom from the stories of old salts and from the annals of History and scholarly journals, but not everyone can have that experience. So, as Hanson argues, we should really listen some of both to get a more complete picture. I know she drives some people crazy, but Sarah Palin resonates with some people. So does Joe the Barber.



Looking into the Wilderness

Marc Comtois

Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos himself) recently wrote (h/t) that he wants to "break the conservative movement's backs and crush their spirits." He wants to "destroy their most beloved leaders" and silence "some of their most cherished voices." Further, he writes, with the 2008 election, the liberal/progressive/Democratic movement "[has] been blessed with an opportunity to help that process along." The neo-religious terminology is indicative of how "Kos" and many of his ideological allies view politics: "spirits", "beloved leaders", "cherished voices", "blessed with an opportunity".

I suppose that's the difference between the role that politics plays in the daily lives of leftist, partisan ideologues and traditional conservatives like me. My psychological well-being is not tied to whether or not Obama becomes the next President of the United States. I don't first look to politicians and government for answers. My optimism won't be undone by the success or failure of a particular politician or political party. And my faith resides in a higher power, not in the workings of fallible men. In short, I don't invest in the political careers of strangers as a way towards personal fulfillment.

Now I'm not naive and I know that there will be many conservatives emotionally devastated by an Obama presidency and a Democratic super-majority in Congress. I suppose they will be the proof to Moulitsas' theorem. But most conservatives won't "turtle" simply because a shiny new, liberal administration is in Washington, D.C. Remember, conservatives generally don't exactly view a potential McCain presidency as a new high-water mark for conservatism. No, the writing has been on the wall for a few months now, and conservatives are well prepared.

While I've chosen to side with the Maverick over the Messiah--my least worst of the two--I fully expect to disagree with whomever is elected President in 2008, if only by differing degrees. As such, I've made my serious philosophical differences with Barack Obama known. But my critique is not based on hatred or dislike for a man I don't know. Instead, it is based on my disagreement with his stated policies and his apparent worldview. Questioning his judgment based on past associations isn't a personal attack. Doubting the sincerity of a smooth orator with a sparse track record is not hate speech.

Yet, after years of GOP leadership, the American people seem ready to hand the keys of government over to the Democratic party and the cipher at the top of the ticket. It doesn't look like any minds are going to be changed this far along. So we will soon be witness to the Democrats' grand plans. They are sure they have all of the answers and are smart enough and good enough to see them through. They don't have much time to pay attention to the proponents of the past. Progress, after all, has won.

And no doubt they will take great pleasure in denigrating the conservative ideas they purport to have failed. Well, I suppose they will have earned their day in the sun.

But any potential success will depend less on the theory behind the policies implemented than on the practical effect those policies have on the lives of every day Americans. And the role that contingency plays--Will the economy continue to stagnate? Will we be attacked again?--and the concomitant reaction--Will Obama's policies hurt or help...or matter? Will a huminatarian peace-keeping mission turn into a war?--shouldn't be overlooked. The American people are not as patient as they used to be and will blame the President and Congress whether deserved or not. Lest we forget, way back in 2004 there was a so-called permanent Republican majority. It lasted all of 2 years. Voters could very well experience buyers' remorse in 2010 or 2012 as they did in 2006. The times change. Quickly.

As a traditional conservative, I believe that our society and culture was built on and continues to require certain principles that have proven successful over time. Though political winds may shift, bedrock principles aren't so easily changed. They have allowed us to prosper as individuals, as families, as communities and as a nation. They must be constantly defended and, where appropriate, modified, if slowly (to paraphrase Edmund Burke), to meet the new challenges of the time. And they endure, even if unheeded, no matter the ephemeral presence that occupies the Oval Office. After all, if conservative principles can survive long years in the wilderness of Canada (and Europe, for that matter), they can certainly survive an election cycle or two here in the U.S.A.

So, regardless of who is "running the country," I'll still continue to devote most of my energy to--and derive the majority of my happiness from--my family and friends and neighbors. And I'll continue to espouse and defend and debate over the principles upon which, I believe, offer us all the best chance for success. And, hopefully, I'll do it all with a smile and a chuckle in-waiting. It's only politics, after all.


October 15, 2008


Open Thread: McCain/Obama III

Engaged Citizen

Offer your own thoughts in the comments on the beginning of the end of the campaign...



Emulating Fannie Mae in the Health Insurance Industry; Yes We Can!

Carroll Andrew Morse

Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama’s health plan has the Federal government getting directly into the health insurance business. He wants the government to create "a new public plan" for health insurance that would compete with existing private insurers. Senator Obama also wants the administrators of this new plan, or some other government-created insurer, to assume nationwide responsibility for catastrophic health insurance -- creating a government monopoly over one segment of America's healthcare economy.

If the idea of a targeted, government-backed monopoly sounds vaguely familiar, it's because another government created monopoly, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae, for short) has been in the news lately, and not in a good way. Fannie Mae was the "government sponsored enterprise" that held a virtual monopoly in the secondary mortgage industry whose mismanagement and collapse helped trigger the current worldwide financial crisis.

Fannie Mae collapsed because it was allowed to take risks that regulators would have quashed had they been attempted by a company identical in every way to Fannie Mae, save for the government backing. As blogger Mickey Kaus has noted, the unsound financial practices were accepted because of Fannie Mae’s aggressive advocacy of its social agenda -- increasing the rate of homeownership -- when challenged and because Congress and executive branch regulators responded to Fannie Mae's lobbying with a collective cognitive non-sequitur: because the organization’s intentions were good, no one needed to pay serious attention to its financial situation. Enmeshed in a culture that denied the need for oversight, warning signs were missed and Fannie Mae’s problems built up until a multi-hundred billion dollar bailout (separate from the much publicized $700B bailout of private institutions) became necessary to keep it and the mortgage industry which it dominated functioning.

Here’s the question for the future: why, in the long run, should the public expect the fate of Barack Obama's government created insurer to be any different than that of Fannie Mae? Like Fannie Mae, Barack Obama's new insurance company will be created in pursuit of a social goal (expanding access to health insurance). Like Fannie Mae, the government created insurer will be inextricably tied to the Federal government. And like Fannie Mae, the government created insurer will almost certainly be given regulatory advantages over its private competitors -- which may or may not make fiscal sense -- to help it achieve its social goal.

If you view government entities as organizations created and staffed by the same flawed humans that exist in every other walk of life, the potential danger here is obvious; allowing an organization, in this case, the Federal government, to create and run a national scale monopoly and then expect it to effectively regulate itself is an invitation to more Fannie Mae levels of mischief.

Will government remember this lesson by the time it takes up an Obama healthcare plan? Or is an assumption the government-does-it-better, no need to think this through, all that Democrats need to know when formulating their health plans?


October 14, 2008


Obama vs. McGovern on eliminating secret union elections

Donald B. Hawthorne

Power Line discusses Obama's support for the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation which would effectively eliminate private votes for union elections.

Not even George McGovern agrees with Obama on this one.

If elected, maybe Obama could send union members who resist coercive pressures off to a re-education camp run by Bill Ayers!

Hey, if our federal tax dollars can underwrite voter fraud, why should our options be restricted here? Now, that would be change you can believe in. LOL.



On Obama's extreme abortion beliefs

Donald B. Hawthorne

Robert George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is a member of the President's Council on Bioethics and previously served on the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Professor George explains Obama's extreme abortion beliefs.

Read the whole thing.

ADDENDUM

Here is Obama in his own words. More.

ADDENDUM #2

More about infanticide from Robert George and Yuval Levin.



UPDATED: Obama and ACORN's overt and criminal voter fraud acts

Donald B. Hawthorne

Building on Marc's earlier post, comes this latest report from CNN. Listen to the video.

Instapundit has more.

More on ACORN here and here.

Which brings us to the question: Is ACORN Stealing The Election?

...What does all this have to do with Obama, besides the fact that he'd be the beneficiary of most, if not all, of these new votes?

For starters, Obama paid ACORN, which has endorsed him for president, $800,000 to register new voters, payments his campaign failed to accurately report. (They were disguised in his FEC disclosure as payments to a front group called Citizen Services Inc. for "advance work.")

What's more, Obama worked as executive director of ACORN's voter-registration arm, Project Vote, in 1992. Joined by two other community organizers on Chicago's South Side, Obama conducted the voter-registration drive that helped elect Carol Moseley-Braun to the Senate that year.

The next year, 1993, Obama joined the civil-rights law firm Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland, where he sued the state of Illinois on behalf of ACORN to implement the federal "Motor Voter" law, which the GOP governor at the time refused to do. Then-Gov. Jim Edgar argued, presciently, that the Clinton law would invite voter fraud.

Obama downplays his ties to ACORN, and his campaign denies coordinating with ACORN to register voters...

And why isn't anyone asking Obama about his $800,000 funding of ACORN's efforts?

Guess we now know part of what a "community organizer" does...commits voter fraud.

If you can't trust the integrity of votes, we don't have a functioning democracy anymore.

But maybe that's the point Obama's campaign has been making already. More here. Will restoring the Fairness Doctrine be the next step?

ADDENDUM

The ACORN criminal voter fraud issue will not die because it is so massive across the nation, Obama has extensive ties to ACORN, and his campaign gave over $800,000 to ACORN.

This overview is a very good place to get a quick summary of the extensive voter fraud efforts by ACORN.

More from Instapundit. On a related issue; more here. And why stop at voter fraud?

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial entitled Obama and ACORN: Community organizers, phony voters, and your tax dollars:

...It's about time someone exposed this shady outfit that uses government dollars to lobby for larger government.

Acorn uses various affiliated groups to agitate for "a living wage," for "affordable housing," for "tax justice" and union and environmental goals, as well as against school choice and welfare reform. It was a major contributor to the subprime meltdown by pushing lenders to make home loans on easy terms, conducting "strikes" against banks so they'd lower credit standards.

But the organization's real genius is getting American taxpayers to foot the bill. According to a 2006 report from the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), Acorn has been on the federal take since 1977. For instance, Acorn's American Institute for Social Justice claimed $240,000 in tax money between fiscal years 2002 and 2003. Its American Environmental Justice Project received 100% of its revenue from government grants in the same years. EPI estimates the Acorn Housing Corporation alone received some $16 million in federal dollars from 1997-2007. Only recently, Democrats tried and failed to stuff an "affordable housing" provision into the $700 billion bank rescue package that would have let politicians give even more to Acorn.

All this money gives Acorn the ability to pursue its other great hobby: electing liberals. Acorn is spending $16 million this year to register new Democrats and is already boasting it has put 1.3 million new voters on the rolls. The big question is how many of these registrations are real...

Which brings us to Mr. Obama, who got his start as a Chicago "community organizer" at Acorn's side. In 1992 he led voter registration efforts as the director of Project Vote, which included Acorn. This past November, he lauded Acorn's leaders for being "smack dab in the middle" of that effort. Mr. Obama also served as a lawyer for Acorn in 1995, in a case against Illinois to increase access to the polls.

During his tenure on the board of Chicago's Woods Fund, that body funneled more than $200,000 to Acorn. More recently, the Obama campaign paid $832,000 to an Acorn affiliate. The campaign initially told the Federal Election Commission this money was for "staging, sound, lighting." It later admitted the cash was to get out the vote.

The Obama campaign is now distancing itself from Acorn, claiming Mr. Obama never organized with it and has nothing to do with illegal voter registration. Yet it's disingenuous to channel cash into an operation with a history of fraud and then claim you're shocked to discover reports of fraud. As with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, Mr. Obama was happy to associate with Acorn when it suited his purposes. But now that he's on the brink of the Presidency, he wants to disavow his ties...

Rubin has these comments:

...It is almost inconceivable that Barack Obama should not have been grilled on this – either by his opponent or the media...Obama’s ties are deep and extensive with an organization that embraces goals and tactics well outside the political mainstream and that has engaged in a pattern of illegal activity usually seen only in RICO indictments. ACORN’s present involvement in coast-to-coast fraud is jaw-dropping and should raise the issue as to whether an Obama Justice Department would vigorously investigate and, if warranted, prosecute this entity and all involved.(A helpful compilation of ACORN’s suspect activities is here.) Put simply, Obama worked for and helped funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to a fraud-infested, corrupt organization and has yet to explain himself, let alone apologize for the same.

If the voters want such a president they will have him, but he should first explain himself and justify why his participation in and assistance to such an enterprise should not be serious grounds to question his fitness for office.

Character does matter in our leaders, as we learned in multiple ways with Bill Clinton, including this instance. Along the way, we continue to learn more troubling things about Obama nearly daily, like this.

We can all — Republicans and Democrats — be against voter fraud ... right?

Let's start with this idea:

There ought to be a law. In fact, there ought to be 50.

Every state from Hawaii to Maine and from Alaska to Florida should adopt emergency measures to require photo ID for every American who goes to the polls on November 4. Legislatures, executives, and courts should move quickly to avoid what has become a pending electoral crisis.

The 13 states investigating the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) are discovering “toxic vote registrations” to rival the “toxic mortgages” that triggered the current turmoil rattling financial markets. While roughly 95 percent of homeowners are paying their mortgages on time, the other 5 percent in default and foreclosure were all it took to spin the global economy out of control.

Similarly, the relatively small number of fraudulent vote registrations discovered so far could represent just enough systemic infection to sicken the entire body politic, especially if this election turns out closer than most now expect.

Still-unfolding revelations of shenanigans by ACORN and a handful of other groups should worry voters of all parties. Notwithstanding the fact that Barack Obama was ACORN’s one-time attorney, former trainer, and Woods Fund donor — and, more recently, the purchaser of its campaign services and its endorsee for president — these questions cannot be dismissed as one or two isolated incidents that Republicans are flogging for partisan advantage. As of Monday, ACORN was under investigation in Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin...

With the election exactly three weeks away, the hour is late to sift through all of the nation’s voter rolls and separate live voters from dead ones, citizens from aliens, the law-abiding from felons, adults from minors, and real people from those merely fabricated. This needs to be done, but is unlikely to be accomplished in time.

What could be done quickly is to require photo ID at the polls, something the U.S. Supreme Court ruled constitutional last spring. Only seven states (Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, and South Dakota) mandate photo ID before citizens can step into voting booths. Beyond these Sensible Seven, 17 states require ID, though it need not include a photo. The remaining 26 states demand no proof that voters are who they say they are.

Requiring photo ID, and making it available for free to any voter who needs it, is the easiest way to assure that corrupt or overzealous people do not show up and vote while ineligible or impersonate someone who has moved away, passed away, or never even existed...

But voter ID requirements won't solve absentee ballot problems like this.

Oh, silly us, this voter fraud is just a distraction, according to Obama. Some distraction.

This is a HUGE deal that goes straight to the issue of a conscious intent to subvert our American democracy by fraudently stealing an election through a massive fraud effort across the country.



McCain Has Opportunity in Maine-2

Marc Comtois

As I mentioned Friday, I spent the weekend visiting family in Maine. I also had the chance to talk to folks, observe the local media and get a gauge of how the political winds are blowing in the Pine Tree State's 2nd Congressional District. The region I visited was in the southern part of Maine-2, close to the more liberal/Democratic Maine-1 that surrounds Portland and travels along the coast to August, Maine's capital. Based on a non-scientific survey of campaign signs, McCain/Palin placards outnumbered Obama/Biden by at least 20 to 1.

More importantly, in talking to people, including some who supported Clinton and Kerry in the past, I got the impression that Obama was simply too much of a blank slate, had too little experience and was too liberal. This view was espoused by both conservatives and independents, including some union members, who indicated that they weren't alone amongst the rank-in-file in not following the union leadership's endorsement of Obama. Basically, people don't trust Obama because of his stated policies and lack of a track record.

As a native of thise region, I'm not surprised that many of its residents don't support a candidate who seems to put a lot of stock in government "help." They are independent (and not racists) who fundamentally distrust "big" anything, whether it be business or government.

That being said, others explained that they knew quite a few Mainers who had bought into Obama's "change." I was told that one gentleman--a politically astute and intelligent individual--had explained that he didn't know exactly why he was voting for Obama other than it just seemed like the way to go. Perhaps he didn't want to get into a debate, though.

Finally, Todd Palin also visited Maine-2 over the weekend and Governor Palin will be visiting this week. For their part, the McCain campaign obviously thinks there may be an opportunity and I agree.

ADDENDUM: In my previous post, commenter "Rhody" theorizes that Mainers will be cold to Palin because they would have preferred McCain picking one of Maine's Senators, Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, instead of Palin. Rhody is right in his implication that Maine's independents are more likely to vote for moderates like Snowe and Collins than a conservative like Palin. However, that appeal to moderates is more important for a statewide office, like Senator, than for a rural congressional district like Maine-2. There are plenty of independents in Maine-2, but they are generally more conservative than moderate. They don't like any political party! Insofar as Palin is appealing solely to this district, she will find a welcoming audience.



An argument for divided government

Donald B. Hawthorne

Many of us don't like McCain and also think he has run a terrible campaign.

But the more we learn about Obama, the more willing some of us will be to hold our nose and vote for McCain.

Because, in the end, it's not just Obama. It's the risk of Obama, possibly a filibuster-proof Senate under Reid, and a Pelosi-led House. Unrestrained left-wing politics.

Which leads Fred Barnes to these thoughts.

If we can't send the entire Federal government home on an extended paid vacation, then a vote for divided government may be the best we can hope for.

ADDENDUM

Geez.

ADDENDUM #2

Power Line on Charles Kesler's assessment of Obama:

...Based on a comprehensive reading of Obama's books and speeches, Professor Kesler deduces that Obama's ambition is not merely personal, but is political and Rooseveltian in scope...This is the possibility that Fred Barnes contemplates...In a sense, however, Barnes only scratches the surface. Professor Kesler's important contribution -- from which I have only quoted the set-up to Professor Kesler's extended exploration -- makes out the scope of Obama's ambition and the seriousness of his purpose.

ADDENDUM #3

Mona Charen:

All of a sudden, this election is shaping up as a verdict on capitalism. The Obama campaign wanted it to be about George W. Bush. The McCain campaign wanted it to be about character. But instead, because the markets are shooting off in all directions like bullets from a dropped pistol, the stakes have suddenly been raised dramatically.

We are in the midst of the worst panic in history, it’s true (because it is global). But as historian John Steele Gordon helpfully pointed on in the Wall Street Journal, panics are not unusual in American history. We’ve experienced them almost every 20 years since 1819...Gordon believes more sensible banking policy would prevent future panics. But if we elect a crypto-socialist like Barack Obama and give him a bigger Democrat majority in the House and a filibuster-proof Senate, banking regulation may be the least of our troubles.

Well, you may say, "Win some, lose some. McCain isn’t all that great anyway. Conservatives and Republicans will simply have to examine their consciences and come up with a winning strategy for next time." Perhaps. But there are a few problems with that sanguine approach.

In the first place, the Democrats can, with a super-majority, change the rules of the game. They can make the District of Columbia the 51st state with two new senators (guaranteed to be Democrats in perpetuity). They can reinstitute the so-called Fairness Doctrine that required radio stations to provide equal time to all political viewpoints. While the doctrine was enforced by the Federal Communications Commission, radio stations shied away from politics altogether. With the demise of the doctrine, conservative talk radio flourished. Liberal talk radio has never found much of an audience. Reviving the doctrine would kill one of the principal irritants to liberals and Democrats — to say nothing of disemboweling the First Amendment.

To elect a super-majority of Democrats at a time of economic dislocation is to flirt with depression. Nearly all economists agree that two moves by the Hoover administration deepened and prolonged the panic of 1929 and turned it into the Great Depression. One was raising taxes and the other was imposing protectionist trade policies. Senator Obama proposes to do both of those things...

...He seems determined that more people will ride in the wagon than pull it.

"Well," you may say, "if the Democrats drive the country into a deep recession, so much the worse for them. The Republicans will come back strong — even with two senators from D.C.!" Perhaps...this tumble started while George W. Bush was in the White House. Franklin Roosevelt continued to invoke the boogey man of Herbert Hoover long after the Depression was his own...

Finally, there is a one-way ratchet in public policy. Liberal reforms are never undone. How hard have conservatives tried to eliminate the Department of Education or subsidies to public television? Would they have more success uncreating a new nationalized health-care system?

An Obama/Pelosi/Reid regime — if it were to get a filibuster-proof majority — will certainly be able to shift the country’s direction sharply to the Left. The only question is — would the shift be permanent?


October 13, 2008


On Obama's disarmament priorities

Donald B. Hawthorne

From Power Line:

We are now three weeks out from the presidential election, and so far as I am aware Barack Obama has not been asked a single question about the disarmament credo he sets forth in the video...

Isn't it time for someone who covers politics for a living to ask Obama a few serious questions about this credo? Or for John Mccain to note it?

Watch the video and hear Obama in his own words.

ADDENDUM

Rubin describes one of the obvious implications of a unilateral disarmament mentality:

Joe Biden said it again today: "We will end this war." Referring to Iraq neither he or Barack Obama ever say "win." They never even say "secure the gains." One hopes they don’t really believe their campaign hooey. They must understand victory is nearly at hand, and all that is required is a patient transition and a deliberate plan for insuring that violence does not resurface, right? We really don’t know, but at some point the rhetoric becomes reality and he, his supporters and the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress will act accordingly.

This all might be a good topic for the final debate: why is "end" always the goal and not "win"? What does that message transmit to our enemies?...



On Obama's healthcare policies

Donald B. Hawthorne

From The Corner:

Obama says we shouldn't allow people to shop for insurance across state lines because some states allow health insurers to exploit nefarious loopholes.

Doesn't this argue for, not against, letting people in shop across state lines to get more favorable coverage?

In other words, if you are trapped in a state where these dubious entities are duping innocent policy holders, shouldn't you have the freedom to get on the Internet and escape to another plan?

Obama is in effect saying no. We have to be trapped in the tangle of our state's regulatory mess even if there is a better deal just over the fence.

I would ask Obama if he supports generic prescription-drug importation. I suspect the answer is yes, in which case he is saying we can get our drugs from Mexico, but we can't get our health insurance from Michigan. Pills from Canada "yes." Policies from Connecticut "no." Does that make any sense?

More:

The Cabinet of Dr. Obama: Dissecting the health care proposals of Obama and McCain

The Dems’ Health-Care Distortions: Seeing through the Obama smokescreen

Obama’s Glass House: It’s his health-care plan that would push people out of job-based coverage

ADDENDUM

By contrast, McCain in today's Daily Standard:

McCain's remarks on health care in his speech today are worth highlighting: "I will provide every single American family with a $5000 refundable tax credit to help them purchase insurance. Workers who already have health care insurance from their employers will keep it and have more money to cover costs. Workers who don't have health insurance can use it to find a policy anywhere in this country to meet their basic needs."

Few know how ironic it is that post-WWII government actions created the problem in the first place where health insurance was "owned" by your employer instead of the insured person.

Meanwhile, Don Boudreaux shreds E. J. Dionne's equally stupid thinking on healthcare policy.



On Obama's economic and tax policies

Donald B. Hawthorne

From TaxProfBlog, with H/T to Instapundit:

Hundreds of economists (including Nobel Prize winners Gary Becker, James Buchanan, Robert Mundell, Edward Prescott, and Vernon Smith) have signed letters opposing Barack Obama's economic and tax plans (here, here, and here):
We are equally concerned with his proposals to increase tax rates on labor income and investment. His dividend and capital gains tax increases would reduce investment and cut into the savings of millions of Americans. His proposals to increase income and payroll tax rates would discourage the formation and expansion of small businesses and reduce employment and take-home pay, as would his mandates on firms to provide expensive health insurance.

After hearing such economic criticism of his proposals, Barack Obama has apparently suggested to some people that he might postpone his tax increases, perhaps to 2010. But it is a mistake to think that postponing such tax increases would prevent their harmful effect on the economy today. The prospect of such tax rate increases in 2010 is already a drag on the economy. Businesses considering whether to hire workers today and expand their operations have time horizons longer than a year or two, so the prospect of higher taxes starting in 2009 or 2010 reduces hiring and investment in 2008.

Seems like Obama needs to discover Economics 101. From an earlier series I did in 2006, excerpting thoughts from other leading economists:

Part I: What is Economics?
Part II: Myths About Markets
Part III: Why Policy Goals are Trumped by Incentives They Create & the Role of Knowledge in Economics
Part IV: The Abuse of Reason, Fallacies & Dangers of Centralized Planning, Prices & Knowledge, and Understanding Limitations
Part V: The Relationship Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom
Part VI: More on the Relationship Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom
Part VII: The Role of Government in a Free Society
Part VIII: The Unspoken, But Very Real, Incentives That Drive Governmental Actions
Part IX: More on the Coercive Role of Government
Part X: The Power of the Market
Part XI: Prices
Part XII: I, Pencil - A Story about the Free Market at Work
Part XIII: It is Individuals - Not the Society, Government or Market - Who Think & Act
Part XIV: On Equality
Part XV: Consequences of Price Controls
Part XVI: The Ethics of Redistribution
Part XVII: What Does "Social Justice" Mean?

ADDENDUM

The Wall Street Journal's editorial entitled Obama's 95% Illusion: It depends on what the meaning of a 'tax cut' is:

One of Barack Obama's most potent campaign claims is that he'll cut taxes for no less than 95% of "working families." He's even promising to cut taxes enough that the government's tax share of GDP will be no more than 18.2% -- which is lower than it is today. It's a clever pitch, because it lets him pose as a middle-class tax cutter while disguising that he's also proposing one of the largest tax increases ever on the other 5%. But how does he conjure this miracle, especially since more than a third of all Americans already pay no income taxes at all? There are several sleights of hand, but the most creative is to redefine the meaning of "tax cut."

For the Obama Democrats, a tax cut is no longer letting you keep more of what you earn. In their lexicon, a tax cut includes tens of billions of dollars in government handouts that are disguised by the phrase "tax credit." Mr. Obama is proposing to create or expand no fewer than seven such credits for individuals...

Here's the political catch. All but the clean car credit would be "refundable," which is Washington-speak for the fact that you can receive these checks even if you have no income-tax liability. In other words, they are an income transfer -- a federal check -- from taxpayers to nontaxpayers. Once upon a time we called this "welfare"...

There's another catch: Because Mr. Obama's tax credits are phased out as incomes rise, they impose a huge "marginal" tax rate increase on low-income workers...the marginal rate for millions of low- and middle-income workers would spike as they earn more income.

Some families with an income of $40,000 could lose up to 40 cents in vanishing credits for every additional dollar earned from working overtime or taking a new job. As public policy, this is contradictory. The tax credits are sold in the name of "making work pay," but in practice they can be a disincentive to working harder, especially if you're a lower-income couple getting raises of $1,000 or $2,000 a year. One mystery -- among many -- of the McCain campaign is why it has allowed Mr. Obama's 95% illusion to go unanswered.

From The Corner:

The Democrats want another round of tax-rebate checks, in addition to the $100 billion in tax-rebate checks that went out last spring. Democrats are essentially conceding that tax cuts are good for the economy, but they are opposed to the kind of long-term tax relief workers and businesses can count on. They'd rather confiscate your money first, so they can take credit for giving it back. Viewed in this light, it is appropriate that so much of Obama's tax plan consists of "tax credits."

Ed Morrissey writes, "Put it this way: does it cost more to take money from taxpayers and then pay bureaucrats to filter it back to us, or just leave it in our pockets in the first place?"

This is economic amateur hour, all at the expense of small businesses and American families.

ADDENDUM #2

Listen to this. It's called socialism.

More on Obama's exchange with the plumber here.

ADDENDUM #3

More on Obama's "spread the wealth" statement and a history of taxation in America, including who pays how much right now.

ADDENDUM #4

Philip Klein writes about Searching for Obama's 95%:

...It's a claim that the Wall Street Journal editorial board dubbed "Obama's 95% Illusion," noting that more than a third of Americans don't pay any income taxes, and that what Obama's plan does do is offer a raft of subsidies and government payments to individuals and families that he redefines as "tax cuts." His proposal looks more like a redistribution scheme than an honest effort to reduce taxes -- as he revealed on Monday when he told a now famous Ohio plumber that his plan aimed to "spread the wealth around."

So when Plouffe reiterated the 95 percent claim, I asked him a simple question aimed at clarifying whether Obama's tax plan was about cutting rates, or merely handing out government checks. "What rates would actually go down"? I asked.

"Middle class people are going to see, systemically, their taxes reduced, and small businesses," Plouffe responded.

"But what rate would go down for lower-income Americans?" I persisted, seeking more information.

"We'll have to get you the exact details on that," Obama's campaign manager told me.

I followed up, recapping the claim he had just made moments ago: "Well, you said that there's going to be a tax cut on 95 percent, so what rate would go down?"

He replied, "I'll have to get you the exact rate differential."

Given that he wasn't clear on the actual rate changes involved, I asked, "but which type of tax would go down?"

He insisted that under Obama's plan, income taxes would be lower, as well as capital gains taxes on start up businesses and small entrepreneurs (though the capital gains tax would otherwise increase)...

In fairness, politicians long ago began to use the tax code as a tool for crafting social policy rather than merely as a way to raise revenue. Republicans and Democrats alike have abused terms such as "tax credit" and "tax rebate" to make their policy goals more palatable. But Obama is getting away with defining tax cuts so broadly, that future candidates will simply claim any form of increased government spending as a tax cut...

If Barack Obama can effectively claim that his plan cuts taxes on 95 percent of Americans, then the term "tax cut" has no meaning.



On McCain

Donald B. Hawthorne

Jennifer Rubin:

...GOP angst about the McCain team is bubbling over: make character an issue or don't, come up with a comprehensive economic plan or don’t. It’s the indecision and half-heartedness that are so frustrating. Few would quibble with Bill Kristol’s assessment that "it’s really become a pathetic campaign in the sense that there’s no strategy." (It’s tempting to go one step further and "fire the campaign.")...

McCain finally finds the "divided government" argument. It’s a compelling one for Independents who don’t trust either party and have seen Nancy Pelosi in action...

I’m not alone in surmising that McCain’s campaign isn’t about anything because he has no core governing philosophy: "He’s been running for president, more on than off, for almost a decade, but his determination hasn’t had much to do with a highly defined ideology, program or set of policies. What underlies his ambition are values: service, patriotism, duty, honor." That’s all well and good, except if the country needs a defined ideology, program or set of policies to guide us through an economic trauma...


October 12, 2008


Whoa! Not So Fast Linking Obama to Another Violent Thug

Monique Chartier

(The first was American. This one is African.)

NewsBusters's Kerry Picket asks

When Will The MSM Report On Obama's Support for Kenyan Tyrant Raila Odinga?

In 2006, US Senator Barack Obama went to Kenya (at the expense of the American taxpayer) and campaigned for Raila Odinga, a man running for the presidency of that country. Senator Obama apparently did so because he is a distant cousin of Odinga.

The NewsBusters post refers to an article in today's Washington Times describing the terrible election violence in Kenya carried out by Odinga supporters. That article also reports that Raila Odinga signed a secret Memorandum of Understanding that he would bring Sharia law to Kenya if elected president. The article then goes on to describe in a disapproving tone the campaigning Senator Obama did for Odinga in 2006.

However, the terrible violence which followed Kenya's elections began in December of 2007. And Odinga signed that odious memorandum in August of 2007. So these events took place after Obama had campaigned for Odinga.

In the interest of telling the whole story, we should note here that Mr. Raila Odinga was not a saint even prior to 2006, participating as he had in a violent coup attempt in 1982. Now, should Senator Obama have informed himself fully of his cousin's history before campaigning for him? Probably. If any of us had been contacted by a cousin from the Old Country asking us to assist in his or her run for president, would we have stopped to do some research before flying off? A lot of us probably would not have.

But Obama's failure to know of his cousin's past is not the allegation levelled by NewsBusters, the Washington Times and others. From the same Washington Times article:

Mr. Obama's judgment is seriously called into question when he backs an official with troubling ties to Muslim extremists and whose supporters practice ethnic cleansing and genocide.

What am I missing? Don't we judge people on their actions? How could Senator Obama have judged Odinga or his character on the basis of actions he had not yet committed?

There is enough to criticize about Senator Obama's candidacy and his own history, including but not limited to his deliberately choosing to associate with some shady Americans, without adding the charge that he failed to see into the future of an African cousin.


October 11, 2008


The Drama of Steyn

Justin Katz

Have I mentioned that I'm glad to see Mark Steyn columns again? With his latest, I laughed:

Gaze into the giant zero of the Obama logo, the hole in the star-spangled donut, the vast fathomless nullity that is the gaping keyhole to the door of utopia. To a sad shriveled Republican cynic, there's nothing there but the wide open spaces of Obama's blank resume. But a believer will see therein the healing of the planet and the receding of the oceans. The black hole of Obama will suck you in through the awesome power of its totally cool suckiness.

I cried:

Epic events swirled all around, but the two men fighting to lead the global superpower could only joust with cardboard swords: Why, Obama was such a bold leader on this issue that only two years ago he "sent a letter" to somebody or other. Why, long before Obama sent his letter, McCain "issued a statement." Rarely has the gulf between interesting times and the paperwork of "big government" yawned so widely.

I screamed:

If the more frightening polls are correct, America is about to elect the most left-wing government in history: an Obama Oval Office, a Pelosi House of Representatives, a filibuster-proof Senate and a year or two down the road maybe three new Supreme Court justices. It would be a transformational Administration that would start building (in Michelle Obama's words) "the world as it should be." That big empty hole in the heart of the Obama logo will not stay blank for long.

October 10, 2008


Northern Exposure

Marc Comtois

In the wayback, I kinda enjoyed Northern Exposure, especially the quirky Alaskan Maggie O'Connell as portrayed by Janine Turner. Turner is a big Sarah Palin fan, pro-life and conservative.

I was always so proud to portray the spunky, self-reliant, smart Maggie O’Connell. Maggie flew her own plane, shot her own moose, marched to the beat of her own drum. She was a breakthrough television character at the time. I am very flattered when the comparisons are made between Maggie O’Connell and Governor Palin. I created a character, but Governor Palin is the real deal.

I am supporting Governor Palin with pride. I actually cried when I heard she was nominated and heard her acceptance speech via Fox News XM radio. (I was driving to Austin to film Friday Night Lights). I am supporting and applauding her character, moral fiber, intellect, feistiness, and spunk. She is the essence of the independent spirit of America — the pioneer spirit — the type of spirit that made and makes America great. I have always supported Senator McCain, and I am sure I would have supported his vice-presidential candidate, but Governor Palin has really motivated me. I am making public/press appearances to rally support for her ( Inside Edition, ABC News, Bill Bennett radio, etc) and I am also sporting a McCain/Palin bumper sticker on my car — which I am driving onto the FNL set) and wearing my McCain-Palin hat around town. I have also joined a fabulous group of women in a movement called, “Team Sarah” dedicated to advancing and defending Gov. Palin’s candidacy.

To preempt commenter "Rhody," there goes the Hollywood left-wing conspiracy.... (Though the east-coast intellectual one is alive and well).

Anyway, I'm heading north to Maine for the weekend and will be getting some northern exposure myself. It'll be interesting to hear how "my" people view the election up there. As a native, I can tell you that "real" Mainers--ie; not the transplants living around Portland--are an iconoclastic, independent-minded bunch (Perot did very well up there in '92). They don't have much time for a slick guy like Obama and they'll lend a sympathetic ear to John McCain. Not for nuthin' does the McCain camp consider Maine's 2nd district up for grabs. I'll see if there's any merit in that idea.



More troubling thoughts about the One

Donald B. Hawthorne

Charles Krauthammer on Obama & Friends: Judge Not?.

Kimberly Strassel on Obama's Magic.

Mark Halperin interviews Obama spokesman Gibbs about when Obama knew about Ayers' terrorist past. Andy McCarthy has more and Jonah Goldberg adds these thoughts.

[ADDENDUM: Andy McCarthy puts the Ayers matter in perspective, elaborating on its implications for Obama.]

Washington Times on Obama's apparent efforts to undermine Iraqi negotiations.

Don't forget Marc's recent post about ACORN. More here.

It also looks like Obama belonged to a Socialist party just last decade. Contrast the media's lack of interest about it versus the fake story about Palin and the Independent Party of Alaska.

More from Andy McCarthy about Obama here. Jonah Goldberg adds more thoughts here.

Jay Nordlinger reflects on the situation here, here, and here.

All of which is why I enjoy reading Don Boudreaux.


October 9, 2008


October 8, 2008


Don't Count the Turtle Out of the Race, Yet

Justin Katz

As Anthony pointed out at the tail-end of our debate blog, a new Zogby poll shows Obama's margin shrinking. Of particular note is that his lead went entirely into the "Others/Not sure" column. That's why I'm not buying the spin that McCain had to do very well last night (even though the poll was conducted before the debate).

In all political races, and to an exponential degree with Obama, the storyline is the thing. Obama's storyline is the lightning flash of The New, and in these debates, he sounds like nothing so much as a run-of-the-mill candidate. His negativity and egregious anti-Bush partisanship won't help.

John McCain, on the other hand, is the steady hand (albeit connected with an often wrongheaded mind). Nobody expects him to do well in these debates. His image is entirely consistent with a bit of awkwardness at the nuts and bolts of campaigning.

Put slightly differently, if the broadest mood of the electorate is fatigue with Washington, smooth campaigning could prove to be a detriment during the general election's slide toward the middle.


October 5, 2008


Palin's Lack of Experience Solved

Monique Chartier

... by commenter BobC who, under Justin's post "Obama's Nightmare in Passing", points out

To be sure if McCain should pass during his time in office, all Palin has to do is pick her "Biden" for Vice-President. That would take care of her lack of experience. It seems to have worked for Obama.

October 4, 2008


Why won't McCain and Palin take it to Obama and the Dems over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Donald B. Hawthorne

Why McCain Goes Easy on Fannie and the CRA.

How McCain could respond.

More on how McCain could respond.

An ad.

More historical particulars here and here.

ADDENDUM

And now this news about Barney Frank's conflict of interest.



Creepy, again....

Donald B. Hawthorne

More, following this.

ADDENDUM

Instapundit has more.

ADDENDUM #2

More: Dear Leader.


October 3, 2008


Effects of the Obama Tax Plan

Carroll Andrew Morse

From my liveblog of last night's Vice-Presidential debate…

[9:15] I don't believe the "no one under $250,000 will see a tax-increase" claim. Isn't the Obama tax plan based on a child tax-credit?
The exact statement by Joe Biden I was referring to was…
No one making less than $250,000 under Barack Obama's plan will see one single penny of their tax raised, whether it's their capital gains tax, their income tax, investment tax, any tax.
The source of my skepticism is the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. According to their "Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Tax Plans", because Obama's plan is based on various credits and deductions, rather than a direct change in rates, taxes will go up for some households making less than $250,000, if they don't qualify for the full package of adjustments…

Senator Obama's Tax Proposals of August 14, 2008: Economic Advisers' Version (No Payroll Surtax)
Distribution of Federal Tax Change by Cash Income Percentile, 2009

Cash Income PercentilePercent of Units
With Tax Cut
Percent of Units
With Tax Increase
Lowest Quintile67.87.7
Second Quintile86.18.4
Middle Quintile93.35.7
Fourth Quintile86.412.1
Top Quintile76.622.3
80-9083.314.8
90-9585.613.9

…The breaks are (in 2008 dollars): 20% $18,981, 40% $37,595, 60% $66,354, 80% $111,645, 90% $160,972, 95% $226,918...

Note the the entries in the column at the far-right are not all zeros, as Joe Biden and Barack Obama claim they should be except for the "top quintile" entry.

So should the claim of "no one under $250,000" be considered an exaggeration within the usual bounds of politics -- or should the standard that progressive bloggers have been applying to the McCain campaign be applied here also, and the statement that Barack Obama won't raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 be considered an outright lie?


October 2, 2008


Obama's Nightmare in Passing

Justin Katz

I mention this only because I caught it out of the corner of my eye and thought it was striking: On the FoxNews "focus group" of undecided voters who watched the debate together for the network, they were discussing reactions to Governor Palin and whether she's qualified, and one gentlemen pointed out that she'd been a governor and a mayor — i.e., an executive — and a black woman sitting near him cut in: "She's been there, she's done that, and she'll do it again."

I attribute no broad significance to this one speaker (people being, you know, individuals), but the image would have to give the Obama campaign chills.



Liveblogging the Palin-Biden Vice-Presidential Debate!

Carroll Andrew Morse

[Final] The more I hear "ya know, people don't really vote for the Vice-President" from Dem-leaning analysts, the more I will think that Palin "won". If I had to make a lame sports analogy, I would say that Palin pitched a scoreless 7th with her team one run down.

[10:33] Nothing remarkable in the closing statements.

[10:27] Palin's answer of I don't need to compromise because I can be bipartisan is not a model of coherence.

[10:25] Biden says his decision to apply ideological litmus tests to judges was a change away from what he previously believed.

[10:24] Good emotional appeal by Biden in response to the "maverick" issue.

[10:22] ...except she just choked while trying to force "McCain" and "maverick" into her answer yet again.

[10:20] If you're into it's all about expectations reasoning, Palin is winning the last third of this debate with safe but coherent answers.

[10:18] I predict lots of chatter from the more serious parts of the blogosphere tomorrow that Biden's answer on the VP, the executive and the legislative branch was just Joe being Joe.

[10:15] Still here. Just not finding anything worth typing about.

[10:13] If I'm lucky, I'll lose my connection again during this "what's the importance of the Vice-President" question.

[10:10] Lost my connection for a second. Fortunately, it was during the stupid how-would-your-administration-be-different-from-your-running-mate's question.

[10:08] Biden just criticized the Bush doctrine he tacitly endorsed in his previous answer. Just Joe being Joe, I guess.

[10:05] Biden is pretty much articulating the Bush doctrine right now, we should intervene if we think we can make a difference, and countries that harbor terrorists lose the full protection of sovereignty.

[10:04] Palin supports a no-fly zone in Darfur.

[10:03] Biden supports pretty direct military involvement in Darfur.

[10:00] The pool camera-guy gave Palin a good angle on her answer on counter-insurgency principles! She cowed Biden for a moment, then he defaulted over to fibilbuster mode.

[9:57] Palin's answer on nukes: see my comment at 9:24.

[9:54] What's Biden's point on Israel? I got the we'll stand behind Israel part. But we'll stand behind Israel and then...

[9:51] Biden's point about Spain saves his substantively incoherent answer.

[9:49] To use the progressive lingo, Ifill goes with the Obama "frame" on pre-conditions and negotiations. Palin gets the anwer right, but probably too subtly for most of the public to pick up on.

[9:48] On no, it's the preconditions issue again...

[9:46] Ifill is a terrible moderator. Lots of charged, contentious stuff is left hanging there, and she just moves on.

[9:44] Call me biased, but I don't think the "McCain voted to cut off funding for the troops" charge is going to stick.

[9:42] Wait...calling the Obama plan a "surrender" is a pretty strong charge. How will Biden respond...

[9:41] I'm not learning anything new from either candidate's Iraq answer.

[9:38] No support for gay marriage from either candidate. Andrew Sullivan might have a fit about Biden saying he doesn't support gay marriage, then going on to say he supports full civil rights for gay couples -- if Biden were a Republican, of course.

[9:36] I'm still confused on the clean coal issue.

[9:33] Will Ifill push Biden on his clean-coal answer? Stay tuned...

[9:32] But the mention of the Alaska climate-change sub-cabinet is fair. It does involve actual governing.

[9:31] Palin obviously doesn't like talking about the details of climate change.

[9:27] Biden is winning on the who's a better financial-industry reformer question because he's being more specific.

[9:24] Palin has mastered the art of the televised debate: give good, coherent statements, even if they're only marginally related to the questions.

[9:22] Biden is apparently going to pay for $700B in new spending by not cutting taxes.

[9:20] Let me get this straight. Biden wants us to be shocked that health insurers will receive the payments for health insurance?

[9:18] Palin should be asking is a Fannie Mae for healthcare a good idea? Otherwise, a pretty good defense of the McCain tax plan.

[9:15] I don't believe the "no one under $250,000 will see a tax-increase" claim. Isn't the Obama tax plan based on a child tax-credit?

[9:12] Neither side is glorifying themselves on substance...

[9:09] Palin noticably relaxes whe she doesn't feel she has to work McCain's name into her answer. SO STOP TRYING TO FORCE IT IN.

[9:08] Good defense against Biden's canned talking point against McCain.

[9:06] Palin was doing well until she started robotically mentioning McCain's name.

[9:03] First gaffe is Ifill's -- the bailout "passing" the House on Monday!

[9:02] No book promo in Gwen Ifill's intro.

[9:00] Chances are, either the race is even tomorrow, or conservatives are on day #1 of planning for the aftermath, so this is a good night to do a liveblog.



A Creative Lack of Imagination

Justin Katz

In search of a Why for my heartbroken disappointment at finding the fifth installment of George R.R. Martin's excellent Song of Ice and Fire series absent from the bookstore shelves although long expected, I found my way to this post on the author's blog:

Doing Good Is Its Own Reward...

... but when you can Do Good and add some nifty autographed books to your collection at the same time, well, that's even better.

So here's your chance to end the war, defend the constitution, and help take back this country from the corrupt plutocrats who have given us this latest financial crisis. And get some great swag at the same time.

I'm talking about Books for Barack.

Shortly thereafter, I came across the following blurb on the cover of the Providence Journal's Lifebeat section:

Rock stars Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel are teaming up for their first joint concert to benefit Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Obama plans to attend the concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Oct. 16, the day after Obama's final debate with Republican John McCain at Hofstra University, located several miles outside the city in Hempstead, N.Y.

Seeing the two superstars together won't come cheap. Tickets start at $500 and range up to $10,000.

What's painful — from this talented writer, my fellow Jersey boy made it big, and one of the principal comforters of my churning adolescence — is how little imagination they display. Their advocacy, their message, and their promises and expectations are all according to script and serve to reinforce the laughable trope that liberals are anti-establishment rebels fighting for all that's good and true. Think of that the next time some left-wing conformist strikes the Brave One pose.

And think of it the next time the Obama campaign pushes an agenda of silence and, in Andy McCarthy's words, "severing of our body politic from the moorings that make us America."



Insufficient transparency and yet more unanswered questions

Donald B. Hawthorne

For a guy who already has associations with unrepentant terrorists, America-hating preachers, and convicted felons, this latest information does not inspire trust or confidence in his judgment, now does it?

(H/T to Instapundit.)

ADDENDUM

Joe raises a fair point in the Comments section about NewsMax and I posted this because the article's author, Timmerman, has been a generally credible reporter over the years in my opinion.

I believe the bigger issue here is the refusal by Obama's campaign to disclose his donors. Unlike McCain who has. I have been extremely critical of McCain's definition of campaign finance reform and the resulting impact on limiting free speech but at least he has told us who has given money to his campaign.

More to the point, as I have written before, if I could set the campaign finance laws of this land, I would strip away all dollar limits by donors and require that all donations be given to the candidate directly, the party directly or to defined third parties...on the condition that the names of specific persons making the donations to any such entity are posted on the Internet within 24 hours of the donation. Complete and immediate transparency. I don't care if George Soros wants to give Obama $25 million tomorrow. But I do care about knowing it within 24 hours thereafter. And I don't want Soros or anyone else hiding anonymously behind some PAC entity.

Maybe Obama's getting foreign donations. Maybe he isn't. The problem is that we don't know the answer today and that means there could be unacceptable foreign influences on this campaign. It is unacceptable to only find out the answer to that after the election. I want everyone to know the answers now and I want Obama to have to explain any anomalies. Same with any Republican. One standard: complete and immediate transparency...and then let the public decide if the resulting information influences their opinions.

ADDENDUM

More here, here, and here.


October 1, 2008


McCarthy: Stifling political debate with threats of prosecution is not the "rule of law" — it’s tyranny

Donald B. Hawthorne

Andy McCarthy:

In London last week, a frightful warning was sounded about encroaching tyranny. At an important conference, speaker after impassioned speaker warned of the peril to Western values posed by freedom-devouring sharia — the Islamic legal code. Like all tyrannies, sharia’s first target is speech: Suppress all examination of Muslim radicalism by threats of prosecution and libel actions, and smugly call it "the rule of law."

But we may already be further gone than the London conferees feared. And without resort to the Islamicization that so startled them. For that, we can thank the campaign of Barack Obama.

I’ll be blunt: Sen. Obama and his supporters despise free expression, the bedrock of American self-determinism and hence American democracy. What’s more, like garden-variety despots, they see law not as a means of ensuring liberty but as a tool to intimidate and quell dissent.

We London conferees were fretting over speech codes, "hate speech" restrictions, "Islamophobia" provisions, and "libel tourism" — the use of less journalist-friendly defamation laws in foreign jurisdictions to eviscerate our First Amendment freedom to report, for example, on the nexus between ostensible Islamic charity and the funding of terrorist operations.

All the while, in St. Louis, local law-enforcement authorities, dominated by Democrat-party activists, were threatening libel prosecutions against Obama’s political opposition. County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, abetted by a local sheriff and encouraged by the Obama campaign, warned that members of the public who dared speak out against Obama during the campaign’s crucial final weeks would face criminal libel charges — if, in the judgment of these conflicted officials, such criticism of their champion was "false."

The chill wind was bracing. The Taliban could not better rig matters. The Prophet of Change is only to be admired, not questioned. In the stretch run of an American election, there is to be no examination of a candidate for the world’s most powerful office — whether about his radical record, the fringe Leftism that lies beneath his thin, centrist veneer, his enabling of infanticide, his history of race-conscious politics, his proposals for unprecedented confiscation and distribution of private property (including a massive transfer of American wealth to third-world dictators through international bureaucrats), his ruinous economic policies that have helped leave Illinois a financial wreck, his place at the vortex of the credit market implosion that has put the U.S. economy on the brink of meltdown, his aggressive push for American withdrawal and defeat in Iraq, his easy gravitation to America-hating activists, be they preachers like Jeremiah Wright, terrorists like Bill Ayers, or Communists like Frank Marshall Davis. Comment on any of this and risk indictment or, at the very least, government harassment and exorbitant legal fees.

Nor was this an isolated incident.

Item: When the American Issues Project ran political ads calling attention to Obama’s extensive ties to Ayers, the Weatherman terrorist who brags about having bombed the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, the Obama campaign pressured the Justice Department to launch an absurd criminal prosecution.

Item: When commentator Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center was invited on a Chicago radio program to discuss his investigation of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an "education reform" project in which Obama and Ayers (just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood") collaborated to dole out over $100 million, the Obama campaign issued an Internet action alert. Supporters, armed with the campaign’s non-responsive talking points, dutifully flooded the program with calls and emails, protesting Kurtz’s appearance and attempting to shout him down.

Item: Both Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, have indicated that an Obama administration would use its control of the Justice Department to prosecute its political opponents, including Bush administration officials responsible for the national security policies put in effect after nearly 3000 Americans were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Item: There is a troubling report that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Section, top officials of which are Obama contributors, has suggested criminal prosecutions against those they anticipate will engage in voter "intimidation" or "oppression" in an election involving a black candidate. (Memo to my former DOJ colleagues: In a system that presumes innocence even after crimes have undeniably been committed, responsible prosecutors don’t assume non-suspects will commit future law violations — especially when doing so necessarily undermines the First Amendment freedoms those prosecutors solemnly swear to uphold.)

Obama may very well win the November election but he, like Sen. McCain, should be forced to win it fair and square: by persuading Americans that he is the superior candidate after our free society has had its customary free and open debate.

One understandably feels little sympathy for McCain here. His years-long assault on the First Amendment under the guise of campaign-finance "reform" has led inexorably to the brazenness of Obama’s Chicago-style strong-arming. But the victim here is not McCain. The victim is democratic self-determination. The victim is our right to informed participation in a political community’s most important decisions. The victim is freedom.

The Justice Department’s job is to prosecute those actively undermining our freedom, not to intimidate citizens in the exercise of that freedom. Consequently, instead of threatening criminal investigations of phantom future civil-rights violations, it should be conducting criminal investigations into whether public officials in St. Louis are abusing their offices to affect a national election.

The federal Hatch Act (codified in Title 5 of the U.S. Code) prohibits executive officials (such as prosecutors and police) from using their offices to interfere with federal elections. The statute may be of limited utility in St. Louis since it principally targets federal officials. Still, state and local government may come within its ambit if their activities are funded in part by the national Leviathan — as many arms of municipal government are these days.

The same bright-line demarcation does not limit application of the federal extortion and fraud laws. The extortion provision (also known as the Hobbs Act and codified at Section 1951 of the federal penal code) makes it a felony for anyone, including public officials, to deprive people of their property by inducing fear of harm. Property interests have been held to include, for example, the right of union members to participate in a democratic process; the harm apprehended can be either physical or economic. Inducing voters to fear prosecution and imprisonment unless they refrain from exercising their fundamental right to engage democratic debate may well qualify.

An easier fit may be fraud, which under federal law (Section 1346 of the penal code) prohibits schemes to deprive citizens of their "intangible right of honest services" from their public officials. Prosecutors and police who abuse their enormous powers in order to promote the election of their preferred candidates violate their public trust.

Regardless of the legal landscape, however, it is the political consequences that matter. Day after day, Obama demonstrates that the "change" he represents is a severing of our body politic from the moorings that make us America. If we idly stand by while he and his thugs kill free political debate, we die too.



Oh my, it just never stops: In the tank for Obama

Donald B. Hawthorne

Gwen Ifill, moderator for this Thursday's VP debate, is in the tank for Obama.

From Instapundit:

A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS: "Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working." I asked permission to reprint without attribution and it was granted.

It just never stops, does it?

ADDENDUM

More on Ifill's questions about Palin at the RNC. The earlier link shows how she wrote a positive magazine article about the Obama family while she negatively questioned Palin. Also, Ifill appears not to have disclosed the existence of the book to the people selecting the moderator and the McCain campaign didn't know about the book. As Greta writes elsewhere, the failure to disclose would be reason for a mistrial in the legal world.

Even more:

The problem with the Ifill selection is not that she is for Obama (how could the media easily find any moderator who was not?), but that her Age of Obama encomium is, according to press releases, set to appear on January 20, Inauguration Day — the implication being that the book will sell far more copies as a timely analysis of Obama just as he assumes office. Yes, moderators are usually liberal, and yes, authors of books on contemporary politics usually try to find timing gimmicks to sell them; but in this case, the problem is that Ifill's book stands to do far better should Obama be elected, and her publishers seem in advance to have recognized, and thus counted on, that. That's the rub, and the result is that it will make it hard for her to seem unbiased when moderating a debate in which one side is trying to demonstrate to the nation why we should not have embrace an age of Obama. As a matter of ethics, this is a no brainer.

ADDENDUM #2

More from the Columbia Journalism Review.


September 30, 2008


Creepy, indeed

Donald B. Hawthorne

A Kinder, Gentler, Happier Cultural Revolution.

At least as long as you don't speak out against The One.

ADDENDUM

From Instapundit:

Reader Raymone Eckhard writes that this is creepy. Yes. Roger Simon finds it disturbing, too. "It is the kind of exploitation of children that reminds me of Young Pioneer Camps I saw when visiting the Soviet Union in the Eighties...And they complain about the religious right - can you imagine the reaction to a similar group of kids singing about McCain under the tutelage of an evangelical minister?"

UPDATE: "Daddy says if we sing well enough, we might get an extra flour ration!"

Comments from this link:

Obama's not that bad. It's not like he has his own flag (oops, he does in that first video). Well, it's not like he has his own presidential seal (Oh wait, he did, but he stopped using it). It's not like he has his own gold coins with his image on them (Oh, wait, yes does).

Uh oh...

And its not like he wrote his own book detailing his radical past or plans...(Oh, wait, he did.)...

But at least he didn't give a rousing speech to a huge crowd in Berlin.

Oh...

Well, at least he never proclaimed that his ascension would heal the planet and make the rising waters recede.

Oh, man...

Looks like the video is no longer available on certain links. Hmmm. Think somebody is unhappy with the attention it is getting?



If "No" Is Racist, then Race Must Be an Ideology

Justin Katz

Jerry Landay provides an inkling as to why the Left is so viciously anxious to destroy any successful minorities who do not carry its water: They scuttle a semantic game that otherwise allows disagreement to be portrayed as bigotry. Consider:

Race determined the primary outcome in three industrial swing states. Hillary Clinton, a white, won by large margins in the Democratic primaries of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Barack Obama, half-black, but self-identified as an African-American, lost. Some 15 to 20 percent of voters confessed to post-election pollsters that race was a “factor” in their decision. Obama must win these states. ...

A York law-enforcement officer declared that America was ready for a black president. But . . . "I just don't think Obama's the right one." He declared that Palin "has more experience than he does. No one has ever told me what a community organizer is." In fact, in speeches and two books, Obama has repeatedly described his efforts to help the people who live in southside Chicago. "Community organizer" in this context has been made a code word for "black."

I'm sure that in certain company this is treated as high wisdom, but for my part, this "code word" legerdemain is so much gibberish. The officer in the anecdote raises "community organizer" in Obama's biography as a comparison to "mayor" in Palin's. The utility of liberal word games, though, is that any phrase may be made suspect for the purposes of promoting representatives of the ideology.

If Obama loses, many among his supporters will not ask themselves those tough introspective questions that failure ought to inspire. They'll simply blame racism — so simple, so comforting. And if Obama wins, the rest of us will have the opportunity to observe how quickly it becomes a matter of racial bigotry to oppose a far Left agenda.


September 29, 2008


The real and unforeseen public consequences of "private" behaviors

Donald B. Hawthorne

Setting aside for a moment how the MSM has made itself an all-but-formal part of the Obama presidential campaign team, there is another undiscussed angle to how Obama became his party's nominee for President.

Remember a decade ago how we were told Bill Clinton's improper behavior with Monica Lewinsky was a "private" matter which had no relevance or impact on his public role as President?

Well, maybe not. Is it really all that suprising that the same man who had no principles in his private life would carry the same ethical indifference into his public role as President?

Consider this issue and its impact nearly a decade later on this year's presidential race:

'Smear!" "Guilt by association!" "Politics of fear!" The Obama campaign has its cue cards at the ready whenever any of us right-wing demagogues has the temerity to suggest it might be relevant that a candidate for president is a friend of — is a business partner of, is simpatico with — a died-in-the-wool, America-hating terrorist.

The campaign doth protest too much. The sheer thuggery in their reaction to patently relevant questions about Obama's ties to Bill Ayers, raised by the intrepid Stanley Kurtz and the American Issues Project, betrays their candidate's panicked self-awareness. Of course it's relevant. Compound an era of terrorist threat with the Democrats' decision to nominate a walking, speechifying tabula rasa and what could be more relevant?...

Here's the dirty little secret: You can thank Bill Clinton and his co-president.

For all Bill's whining about Obama playing the race-card, for all the armchair psychoanalyses of Hillary campaign infighting and mismanagement, the Clintons and all the rest of us should know that Hillary — not Barack Obama — would be the Democrats' Anointed One today were it not for a single, solitary, gut-check issue.

Terrorism...

...No, Barack Obama is the Democrats' nominee because Bill and Hillary Clinton, reputed geniuses, are short-sighted Hedonists, so self-absorbed, so intoxicated by their craving of the moment, that they can't plan for the fix they'll need five moments from the moment.

In 1999, Hillary Clinton — feminist champion whose claim to fame was riding her more politically gifted husband's coattails — was scheming a run for the legendary Pat Moynihan's U.S. senate seat. Rudy Giuliani, New York City's fabulously successful but then-reeling Republican mayor, loomed as a potential opponent. Rudy would eventually drop out, but the Clintons couldn't resist: Despite a terrorist onslaught that had just claimed over 200 innocent lives in Kenya and Tanzania, the Clintons decided Hillary's prospects could be advanced if Bill pardoned terrorists.

To appease Democrat activists, who somehow seem always to have a soft spot for assassins, Clinton pardoned 16 members of the FALN terror organization who'd set off scores of bombs in the United States. How better to lock up the Puerto Rican vote …. in an election Hillary could have won with no Puerto Rican votes?

That, though, was little-league stuff. On the last day of his presidency — that is, on his way out the door, with no debts to pay and no groundwork to lay — Bill Clinton decided it was time to use his raw, unreviewable power to make his bones with the Communist radicals he'd always admired but lacked the courage to join.

The embassy bombings were almost a distant memory. Not three months had passed since terrorists bombed the U.S.S. Cole, murdering 17 American sailors and nearly sinking a U.S. destroyer. No matter. Clinton's last official acts in office included the pardons of Susan Rosenberg, a Weatherman terrorist serving a richly deserved 58-year sentence, and Linda Sue Evans, a Weatherman terrorist serving a richly deserved 40-year sentence.

Barack Obama has an inexplicable relationship with Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers — and Ayers's wife, the equally disgusting Weatherman terrorist Bernadine Dohrn. It's a disqualifying relationship. All that needed to happen was for Obama's opponent to point it out.

Hillary Clinton couldn't point it out.

You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Remember this story the next time you hear another argument about how improper private behaviors have no relevance to that person's public role. Yes, there are real and unforeseen public consequences to "private" behaviors. Maybe even four years of an Obama presidency.

Now think of how Obama dismisses his longstanding connection to unrepentant Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers. Is that really all that different from how Clinton dismissed his relationship with Lewinsky? Yet, at another level, a "private" relationship with potentially far more serious public implications?

Then ask yourself what could be the real and unforeseen consequences in the future should America, at a time of war and growing tensions in the world, elect a man as president who not only has longstanding relationships with terrorists, convicted felons, and other people who openly state their hatred and disdain for America but can't come out and say he is committed to leading us to victory against the terrorists who threaten our very existence.

Thanks, Bill and Hillary.


September 28, 2008


Clarifying the deeper problems with Barack Obama

Donald B. Hawthorne

What is so unsettling about Barack Obama?

Jay Nordlinger says:

...What's depressing, to a person like me, is that Obama has mastered the trick of coming off as perfectly moderate — even when your career and thought have been very different. Listening to Obama last night, you would have taken him to be a Sam Nunn, David Boren type. No ACORN, no Ayers, no Wright, no community-organizin' radicalism, no nothing. He certainly knows what it takes to appeal to people in a general election. Then, once he's in — if he gets in — he will govern as far to the left as possible...

I agree with much of what Nordlinger says but think the issue requires further elaboration.

Underneath Obama's very liberal tax-and-spend policies which - for some of us - would be reason alone not to support him, there are some deeper philosophical problems with Obama's world view, a troubling world view which he layers on top of a track record devoid of tangible accomplishments. The differences in his world view from mainstream American values are not like the differences between Ford Republicans and Reagan Republicans or what used to be differences between Scoop Jackson Dems and other Dems years ago.

Why is this important? Because, since no one can predict today what world events will occur in the next four years, understanding Obama's world view offers insights into how he might approach issues should he be elected President.

There are many unanswered and disturbing questions about Obama's radical associations, associations unparalleled in the history of a major party candidate for President. These associations have been written about in various places such as here and here. More links can be found here, here, and here. Add to that spending 20 years attending a church whose pastor preached hatred of America, including getting married there and having children baptized there.

No less significant is Obama's prior affiliation with ACORN. More here.

Then there is his association with convicted felon Tony Rezko and questions about Obama's house purchase.

More on Obama's poor judgment in selecting associates here.

This heritage of radical associations translates periodically into Obama articulating an unsettling post-modern and relativistic view of the country he says he wants to lead, as he did in last Friday's debate:

...But then Obama concludes [the first debate] by saying "I don't think any of us can say that our standing in the world now, the way children around the world look at the United States, is the same." CLANG. He then states, reminiscent of Kerry's "Global Test", that we need to "show the world that we will invest in education" and "things that will allow people to live their dreams".

The Obama campaign spent months countering Michelle Obama's "for the first time in my life I'm proud of my country" statement and then Obama himself suggests our ideals and values don't inspire the world, and that we ourselves realize our values and ideals are suspect.

Criticizing George Bush or any of our other political leaders is one thing. Contending America's ideals and values are somehow suspect is a breathtaking statement for a prospective commander in chief to make, especially when thousands of Americans have given life and limb, sons and daughters, in brave demonstration of our ideals and values.

In case Mr. Obama missed it, millions remain sufficiently inspired to try to come to America; our values and ideals still cause the rest of the world to look to us first whenever there's a crisis. And we always respond.

Like Obama and millions of other Americans, my father also came to America from another country. Not after writing letters trying to come to a prestigious college here, but after escaping from the death squads of the Soviet empire. Once here, he saluted the American flag every single day. And although he has since passed, I'm certain he'd marvel at our ideals and values today. He'd hold Obama's statement in contempt.

Insulting the values and ideals of America may be fashionable in the salons occupied by William Ayers and Rev. Wright. It may be a matter of course at swanky fundraisers in San Francisco attended by pampered glitterati. But it's not something likely to fly with those who expect their president to have unwavering pride in America and the sacrifices of its best and bravest.

No less unsettling are the instances of how his campaign seeks to silence criticism from domestic opponents via Alinsky-Chicago thuggery, with the latest examples being here, here (follow the links), here, and here.

Steyn writes:

...As Stanley Kurtz, Milt Rosenberg and David Freddoso can tell you, this pattern is well established: The Obama campaign's response to uncongenial allegations is not to rebut them but to use its muscle to squash the authors. This is especially true when it comes to attempts to lift the curtain however briefly on the Senator's mysterious past...

Even more from Stanley Kurtz here:

...As I point out in "Not Without a Fight," what really protects free speech here in the United States is the value we place upon it, and the shame we would feel handling criticism by way of law suits. When it comes to silencing critics, on the other hand, the Obama campaign appears to have no shame. That augers poorly for the culture of free exchange. As Tocqueville reminds us, habits of the heart, even more than the law itself, stand as our most important protections against tyranny. If Obama continues to break one free-speech taboo after another, the law will surely follow.

So continued media silence on Obama’s intimidation tactics threatens not only the fairness of this election, but press freedom itself. Yet to defend the freedom of the right as if it were their own is something our left-leaning press has forgotten how to do.

And if Stalinist-type intimidation isn't used against its domestic opponents, the Obama campaign has been willing to play the race card all while claiming it is the other side which is playing the race card, a cynical move that would make George Orwell smirk.

While he tries to silence domestic opponents in a most un-American way, Obama has said he is willing to meet with Castro, Chavez, Ahmadinejad, etc. - dictators committed to destroying freedom and America - and to do so without preconditions in the first year of his presidency.

Furthermore, even as he is willing to meet with the tyrants of this world, it is particularly disturbing that Obama is unwilling to come out and stand up for America's interests in the broader world:

...Saturday, before the Sportsmen Alliance, John McCain had this to say:

I noticed during our debate that even as American troops are fighting on two fronts, Barack Obama couldn't bring himself to use the word "victory" even once. The Obama campaign saved that word for the spin room, where they tried to convince themselves and others that their man had left the stage victorious. Well, maybe this attitude helps explain why it wasn't such a good night for my opponent. When Americans look at a candidate, they can tell the difference between mere self-confidence and an abiding confidence in our country. They know that the troops who are bravely fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan want to come home in victory and in honor. And we need a president who shares their confidence — a commander in chief who believes that victory for America will be achieved.

McCain has a point. With the help of the nifty "Speech Wars" tool, I checked on Barck Obama. It appears that Obama didn't use the word "victory" in his Denver speech either. It is simply not something he says much. (You have to go back to the Berlin speech to find "victory" in an Obama speech – generally referring to what we did in the past.)

Should that concern voters? Only if you think our national security requires victory over determined enemies. If you think it's all about getting along and making ourselves understood or convincing others to like us, this should be of no concern.

Just to add a bit more to the picture, Charles Krauthammer documents all of Obama's recent policy flip-flops and concludes:

...When it's time to throw campaign finance reform, telecom accountability, NAFTA renegotiation or Jeremiah Wright overboard, Obama is not sentimental. He does not hesitate. He tosses lustily.

Why, the man even tossed his own grandmother overboard back in Philadelphia — only to haul her back on deck now that her services are needed. Yesterday, granny was the moral equivalent of the raving Reverend Wright. Today, she is a featured prop in Obama's fuzzy-wuzzy get-to-know-me national TV ad.

Not a flinch. Not a flicker. Not a hint of shame. By the time he's finished, Obama will have made the Clintons look scrupulous.

On top of all these issues, Peter Robinson comments on the personal character issue of Obama's lack of any sense of humor:

...What Barack Obama lacks is simple--and a lot more important than it might seem: a sense of humor.

Evident throughout his campaign for the Democratic nomination--can you recall a single Obama witticism?--this proved especially striking at his party's convention. In an acceptance speech of some 4,600 words, Obama provided not a single good laugh...

Gov. Palin's performance undermined Sen. Obama in two ways. It made him appear prim and self-serious by comparison. And it thoroughly unnerved the man...Even now, more than two weeks later, he has yet to employ humor effectively. Instead he has "sharpened his speeches," to quote the Associated Press, adding "bite." Obama can take a blow. What he can't take is a joke...

Humor reveals character. It shows voters that a candidate possesses a certain fundamental confidence in himself and in the country. It demonstrates that he's in command...

Newt Gringrich offers another take on Obama's non-existent track of record of accomplishments, noting how all Obama has ever done is talk and write about himself.

And when talk by Obama about his candidacy includes messianic wording like this

...I am absolutely certain that, generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless...this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal...this was the moment when we ended a war, and secured our nation, and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.

it is enough to make one agree with the commentator who stated: "Maybe Obama thinks he is running for dictator or he thinks he is the messiah. Does he even know that our system of government was not designed for this type of radical change?...This is just Kool Aid Cult stuff."

If you had asked me how I was going to vote just over one month ago, I would have told you that I was seriously considering sitting out this election. That I had no particular liking for either presidential candidate. I still don't care for McCain.

But now I must say that the more I learn about Obama, the more frightening it is to consider him leading our great country in an increasing hostile world.

ADDENDUM

In the Comments section, TomW provides a link to this IBD series about Obama.

ADDENDUM #2

A friend writes these words after reading the post: "Very nice. But I must say that nothing is more convincing of the danger of Obama than reading the Audacity of Hope, which I did a week ago. Anyone who can suffer through that and not be persuaded that this is a very dangerous, if slyly talented man, must be a pre-determined convert."


September 27, 2008


Re: Sarah Palin, revisited

Justin Katz

We've all seen movies or TV shows in which the unlikely, different-from-the-norm character somehow acquires a position of influence. (For some reason the mid-'80s classics Brewster's Millions and Protocol spring to mind.) And it always seems so utterly natural when they convey their charmingly naive selves with perfect ease when the plot puts them before microphones and reporters' cameras.

Now, I've no reason to have even formed expectations for Sarah Palin, but the inaccuracy of Everyman's eloquence in film came to mind when I watched her interview with Katie Couric (once, that is, I got over Couric's crystal clear conveyance of scorn). Palin's pauses followed by a repeat of what she'd just said are strongly suggestive of a mental Rolodex flipping: The question is asked, an answer thought, the answer compared against a lists of dos and don'ts, and a more compatible answer sought and spoken. Whether that's habitual or evidence of overhandling, I don't know, but I'm still inclined to give a successful woman (in politics, no less!) the benefit of the doubt on that count.

With that, I'll confess a certain personal sympathy to her plight. There are a number of activities at which I'm reasonably competent, and sometimes, I find new ones that I'm able to learn with relative rapidity. The premier exception to that general proposition is sales, and I think the reason is that my strategy when faced with new challenges is to fit their components to my skills and personality, whereas sales require one to make a skill of mirroring personalities. When, for example, I've been tasked with managing people as part of my job, I've fallen back on my organizational abilities and willingness to fill any gaps personally (staying ahead of coworkers and leading by example, as it were). An extemporaneous motivator, I am not, so when I've been pressed to be more taskmaster than job-site adviser, I've found myself at a loss.

There's something of that in Palin's awkward pauses and garbled responses, I think. The loner struggling to hew to the team line for the greater cause. I could, of course, be projecting. Although perhaps it's still possible (albeit a hair shy of fantastical) that the campaign is using the media's predictable hostility to lull the other side into yet another rope-a-dope.



Sarah Palin, revisited

Donald B. Hawthorne

Some of us had an initial positive impression of Sarah Palin. At the same time, we acknowledged that only time would tell whether she could cut it on the national stage. Her selection also brought out into full public view again the political agenda of the feminists and Left as the attempts to destroy Palin reached new extremes. All of which were discussed in the earlier posts noted below at the bottom.

Palin did not do well in the Couric interview. She seems to have lost her mojo. Is it because she is being overhandled? Is it because she is in over her head? Or both? Does she have the talent but her time on the national stage is premature? Who knows. Only more time and exposure will tell.

Here are several recent commentaries which speculate on these questions:

Free Sarah Palin!
Has the McCain Campaign Broken Sarah Palin?
Should Palin walk the plank?

Unlike those who are afraid of competition and the resulting success or failure, let's see how it plays out. Let her be herself and let the chips fall where they fall. No bailouts.

EARLIER POSTS:

Where is the "REDO" button?
The complete Palin interview with Gibson
The Bush doctrine and the psyching out of Barack Obama
Left-wing feminist masters to Sarah Palin: How dare you try to leave our plantation!
Sarah Palin's speech
The ferociously totalitarian response of the Left to Sarah Palin: Sexism, intolerance, and fear
Sarah Palin's refreshing words


September 26, 2008


Presidential Debate Open Thread

Carroll Andrew Morse

Something witty may be retrofitted into this space later.

UPDATE:

I like this new more aggressive Jim Lehrer. Where's he been for his last 30 years of interviews?



Presidential Debate Open Thread

Carroll Andrew Morse

Something witty may be retrofitted into this space later.

UPDATE:

I like this new more aggressive Jim Lehrer. Where's he been for his last 30 years of interviews?



Yep. Scary.

Donald B. Hawthorne

Irwin Stelzer writes New Capitalism: Market capitalism in the United States will never be the same:

No matter what deal is finally cut between Hank Paulson, the Democrats, and unhappy conservative Republicans, or even if no deal at all is finally worked out, market capitalism as practiced in the United States will never be the same. Well, "never" might be too long, so let's say it won't be the same for a very, very long time.

We are witnessing a radical modification of capitalism. Some of this is obvious. We know that the old view that some banks are too big to fail has been augmented by the view that some financial institutions are too interconnected to fail. So Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG and others are bailed out by one device or other, even though no depositors were directly threatened by the demise of these institutions. Carnegie Mellon economist Allan Meltzer might be right when he says, "Capitalism without failure is like religion without sin." But it seems safe to say that our tolerance of failure is just not what it used be. The great economist Joseph Schumpeter talked of capitalism's awesome power of creative destruction. Were he still around he would be unhappy to note that we are in for both less destruction and less creativity. There is a growing desire for shelter from the storms of market economics.

But the change in attitudes and policy towards failure--the greater willingness of policymakers to risk moral hazard in order to reduce risks of threat to the financial system--is only one of the changes reshaping market capitalism.

Another is increased dissatisfaction with the way incomes are distributed. The picture of executives of failed companies strolling off with multimillion dollar bonuses has made more and more people wonder whether what goes on in the nation's boardrooms is a search for ways to reward stellar performance, or a meeting of cronies to decide how to cut up the pie, far from the view of the shareholder-owners of the company.

More important is the fact that globalization, which along with free trade has done more to alleviate world poverty than all the misbegotten foreign aid programs combined, is now producing results that are seen as unacceptable. Over one billion workers in India, China and elsewhere have entered the world labor market, putting pressure on the wages of low and not-so-low income workers. At the same time, globalization has expanded the canvass on which skilled managers can paint. That makes them more valuable, and higher-paid.

This is not the place to resolve the dispute over whether the non-rich have done well or badly in recent years. Suffice it to say that the benefits of free trade--the t-shirts and sneakers in Wal-Mart, the rising living standard of developing-country workers--are less obvious to many Americans than the costs. The perception that trade has inflicted collateral damage on innocent bystanders has taken hold sufficiently to allow Barack Obama to attack trade-opening measures, and to force John McCain to promise training and other programs to soften its consequences. Neither believes the market should be left free to sort things out, despite America's record of creating millions of new jobs every year.

Add suspicion over executive salaries, ostentatious displays of wealth by some private equity and other financial types, pressures on real wages of ordinary workers, the feeling that free trade is not "fair" trade, and you have a cocktail that might prove lethal to the principle of minimalist government intervention.

Instead we have a capitalism in which financial institutions trade freedom for the protection of access to the government's balance sheet (Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley). In which institutions under stress accept pervasive government regulation in return for insurance against failure. In which the advantages of free trade are sacrificed in the interests of preserving jobs in industries best left to adjust to the winds of change. In which regulation of executive salaries is seen as a necessary political price to pay for preventing systemic failure of the banking system. In which taxes on the "rich" and not-so-rich are seen as necessary to offset the inequities of the income distribution system created by capitalism as we have known it.

These changes are already being played out in the campaign for the American presidency. Barack Obama is calling for higher taxes on the "rich"--families with incomes of $250,000 or more--with the proceeds to be redistributed to the middle class. He also wants to end free trade deals that his union supporters tell him depress the wages of blue collar workers.

Meanwhile, John McCain is railing against Wall Street bankers and assorted other villains, including most notably short sellers. And promising to fund huge training programs to enable workers displaced by trade to find new jobs in growth industries--the intelligent man's alternative to protectionism.

Both do have a tiny problem: they have made promises they cannot possibly keep, now that the government has taken uncounted billions onto its balance sheet. McCain will find it impossible to cut the corporate tax rate, and Obama to spend billions on infrastructure, alternative energy and an expansion of the social programs dear to his party.

None of this is meant to do more than catalogue the changes that are occurring far from the glare of the headlines that instead report day-to-day fluctuations in markets and in the progress of various bail-out plans. Those changes will undoubtedly deny us of some of the benefits of the creativity and dynamism of a capitalism in which failure was a greater goad to achievement. Sic gloria transit mundi.


September 25, 2008


Of Economics, Leadership, and Debate

Justin Katz

I took the Anchor Rising Slot with with Matt Allen on 630AM/99.7FM WPRO last night to talk about John McCain's return to work, this week, and Barack Obama's pledge to debate. Stream by clicking here, or download it.


September 24, 2008


McCain Suspends Campaign to Assist Bailout Negotiation

Monique Chartier

From Drudge:

MCCAIN SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN TO FOCUS ON ECONOMY; WANTS DEBATE DELAY

Wed Sept 24 2008 14:58:02 ET

McCain: America this week faces an historic crisis in our financial system. We must pass legislation to address this crisis. If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy. People will no longer be able to buy homes and their life savings will be at stake. Businesses will not have enough money to pay their employees. If we do not act, ever corner of our country will be impacted. We cannot allow this to happen.

Last Friday, I laid out my proposal and I have since discussed my priorities and concerns with the bill the Administration has put forward. Senator Obama has expressed his priorities and concerns.This morning, I met with a group of economic advisers to talk about the proposal on the table and the steps that we should take going forward.I have also spoken with members of Congress to hear their perspective.

It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration' proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.

Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me.

I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.

We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved.I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.

I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.

Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now. Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.

Developing...

The report yesterday by ABC's Jake Tapper that both Democrats and Republicans on Capital Hill had balked at approving any bailout unless McCain voted yea may have in part precipitated the senator's decision.

[Tapper] It's McCain who may hold the fate of the $700b bailout proposal in his hands.

* * * *

And Democratic leaders have told the White House a deal without McCain on board will mean no sale.

* * * *

[Senate President Harry Reid] "We need the Republican nominee for president to let us know where he stands and what we should do."


ADDENDUM

Senator Obama has declined to postpone the debate or suspend his campaign. From Reuters.

Democrat Barack Obama on Wednesday rejected opponent John McCain's call to postpone the first U.S. presidential debate to work on legislation dealing with the worst U.S. financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Obama made the statement shortly after McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona, called for Friday's debate to be postponed and said he would suspend his campaign to help work out agreement among lawmakers on a proposed $700 billion financial bailout plan.

"What I'm planning to do now is debate on Friday," Obama said from the hotel where he has been preparing for the debate.

"It's my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess," he said. "I think that it is going to be part of the president's job to deal with more than one thing at once."

Aren't some situations serious enough to warrant the president's full attention? Wouldn't this be one of them? Further, Senator McCain did not suspend his campaign indefinitely; he proposed to negotiate a resolution with all parties by Monday morning.

Faced with such a serious problem, would a President Obama "multitask", inclusive of tending to his reelection campaign, through a resolution?



Where is the "REDO" button?

Donald B. Hawthorne

This week has been the latest version of the perfect storm on why it seems appropriate to say, how about we punt on all the presidential candidates and press the REDO button.

John McCain
George Will
Back to Square One
More on Andrew Cuomo

Sarah Palin
(okay, what follows below is a bit dated because the only visible thing this week is actually a positive)
The Bush Doctrine
More on the Gibson interview

Barack Obama
Obama's Leftism
Obama’s Challenge: The campaign speaks to "Radicalism."
Obama and Ayers
Pushed Radicalism On Schools

Barack's Glass House

Joe Biden
Victor Davis Hanson
Interview with Katie Couric
Historical ignorance
No coal plants, either

And none of the above even touches how, under George Bush, we are seeing the nationalization of the financial sector of the economy. A fitting conclusion for a man who brought us outrageous domestic spending increases, NCLB, and the new Medicare spending program.

Then there is the proposal to ban short-selling. Heck, why don't we just turn over all matters to control by Washington politicians and bureaucrats since they seem to understand everything better than the rest of us.

Or touches the likes of Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, neither of whom is capable of talking about public policy issues such as energy here and here (or theology issues, in Pelosi's case) without sounding like a buffoon.

Where is the REDO button? Too bad we can't send all of Washington's politicians and bureacurats on an extended vacation. Even a paid vacation as long as they all got out of town so they stopped messing with our freedom and our hard-earned monies!

Creeping socialism is shifting into galloping mode right in front of our eyes. Scary.


September 21, 2008


Christopher Hitchens Identifies the Candidate Stronger on Pakistan

Monique Chartier

That would be Senator Barack Obama.

First, from the text of Senator Obama's mid-July speech on Iraq and Afghanistan.

The greatest threat to that security lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where terrorists train and insurgents strike into Afghanistan. We cannot tolerate a terrorist sanctuary, and as President, I won't. We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO to secure the border, to take out terrorist camps, and to crack down on cross-border insurgents. We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region. And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.

Make no mistake: we can't succeed in Afghanistan or secure our homeland unless we change our Pakistan policy. We must expect more of the Pakistani government, but we must offer more than a blank check to a General who has lost the confidence of his people. It's time to strengthen stability by standing up for the aspirations of the Pakistani people.

[Side question: How does this differ from President George Bush's policy on Iraq and his aspirations for the Iraqi people?]

Now, from Hitchens' September 15 column Fighting Words on slate.com. It should be noted that the column was posted days prior to the horrendous attack on the Islamabad Marriott, an attack believed to have been carried out by the Pakistan Taleban.

Meanwhile, and on Pakistani soil and under the very noses of its army and the ISI, the city of Quetta and the so-called Federally Administered Tribal Areas are becoming the incubating ground of a reorganized and protected al-Qaida. Sen. Barack Obama has, if anything, been the more militant of the two presidential candidates in stressing the danger here and the need to act without too much sentiment about our so-called Islamabad ally. He began using this rhetoric when it was much simpler to counterpose the "good" war in Afghanistan with the "bad" one in Iraq. Never mind that now; he is committed in advance to a serious projection of American power into the heartland of our deadliest enemy. And that, I think, is another reason why so many people are reluctant to employ truthful descriptions for the emerging Afghan-Pakistan confrontation: American liberals can't quite face the fact that if their man does win in November, and if he has meant a single serious word he's ever said, it means more war, and more bitter and protracted war at that—not less.

September 19, 2008


Levelling

Marc Comtois

Sen. Joseph Biden, September 18, 2008:

“We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle class people. Anyone making over $250,000….Is going to pay more. You got it. It’s time to be patriotic, Kate. It’s time to jump in, it’s time to be part of the deal, it’s time to help get America out of the rut.”
Alexis de Tocqueville:
The evils that freedom sometimes brings with it are immediate; they are apparent to all, and all are more or less affected by them. The evils that extreme equality may produce are slowly disclosed; they creep gradually into the social frame; they are seen only at intervals; and at the moment at which they become most violent, habit already causes them to be no longer felt.

The advantages that freedom brings are shown only by the lapse of time, and it is always easy to mistake the cause in which they originate. The advantages of equality are immediate, and they may always be traced from their source.

Political liberty bestows exalted pleasures from time to time upon a certain number of citizens. Equality every day confers a number of small enjoyments on every man. The charms of equality are every instant felt and are within the reach of all; the noblest hearts are not insensible to them, and the most vulgar souls exult in them. The passion that equality creates must therefore be at once strong and general. Men cannot enjoy political liberty unpurchased by some sacrifices, and they never obtain it without great exertions. But the pleasures of equality are self-proffered; each of the petty incidents of life seems to occasion them, and in order to taste them, nothing is required but to live.



McCain Explains Government's Role in Current Financial Crisis

Marc Comtois

John McCain today (via The Corner):

The financial crisis we're living through today started with the corruption and manipulation of our home mortgage system. At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

These quasi-public corporations led our housing system down a path where quick profit was placed before sound finance. They institutionalized a system that rewarded forcing mortgages on people who couldn't afford them, while turning around and selling those bad mortgages to the banks that are now going bankrupt. Using money and influence, they prevented reforms that would have curbed their power and limited their ability to damage our economy. And now, as ever, the American taxpayers are left to pay the price for Washington's failure.

Two years ago, I called for reform of this corruption at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress did nothing. The Administration did nothing. Senator Obama did nothing, and actually profited from this system of abuse and scandal. While Fannie and Freddie were working to keep Congress away from their house of cards, Senator Obama was taking their money. He got more, in fact, than any other member of Congress, except for the Democratic chairmen of the committee that oversees them. And while Fannie Mae was betraying the public trust, somehow its former CEO had managed to gain my opponent's trust to the point that Senator Obama actually put him in charge of his vice presidential search. {Johnson resigned over the controversy --ed.}

This CEO, Mr. Johnson, walked off with tens of millions of dollars in salary and bonuses for services rendered to Fannie Mae, even after authorities discovered accounting improprieties that padded his compensation. Another CEO for Fannie Mae, Mr. Raines, has been advising Senator Obama on housing policy. {This charge is based on Washington Post reporting and the Post now says it's a stretch, apparently, it is doubting its own veracity -- ed. This even after Fannie Mae was found to have committed quote "extensive financial fraud" under his leadership. Like Mr. Johnson, Mr. Raines walked away with tens of millions of dollars. {All links added -- ed.}


September 18, 2008


"Two Faced": Does a Constituency Even Exist for the Obama Campaign's Latest Ad?

Monique Chartier

One of the requirements for American citizenship is naturally:

Language

Applicants for naturalization must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language.

Applicants exempt from this requirement are those who on the date of filing:

- have been residing in the United States subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 15 years or more and are over 55 years of age;

- have been residing in the United States subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for periods totaling 20 years or more and are over 50 years of age; or

- have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, where the impairment affects the applicant’s ability to learn English.

Such a requirement is reflected in the immigration laws of most if not all other countries. The recent Barack Obama ad referring to John McCain as two-faced is voiced entirely in Spanish. ABC's Jake Tapper dissects the accuracy issues of the ad's content, here. [The ad itself is apparently no longer available at the Obama website.]

The target of all campaign ads sponsored by McCain, Obama and their supporters is presumed to be eligible voters. My question is simple if, perhaps, naive. In view of the reasonable and universal citizenship requirement to learn the language of the destination country, what is the necessity to create a campaign ad in some other language?


September 16, 2008


Equal Pay? Acta non Verba Senator Obama

Marc Comtois

Senator Obama is accusing Senator McCain (via this ad, for instance) of not being for equal pay for equal work (specifically as it concerns woman and men). This is based on John McCain's opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Legislation is fine, Senator Obama, but what about putting your policy position into practice?

"Barack Obama says he's for equal pay for women, but women working in his Senate office earn an average of $9,000 less than men. By contrast, women in John McCain's Senate office actually earn an average of nearly $2,000 more than men. The American people understand that real leadership for the change we need is all about what you do, not just empty words." -- McCain-Palin spokesman Brian Rogers
The Boston Globe tries to spin this:
The study that McCain's campaign cites, however, notes that a major reason for the disparity is that McCain has more women in senior, higher-paid positions -- not that women are being paid less than men for the same job.
So, let me get this straight. To follow the Globe's line of reasoning: just because Senator McCain has more top-level--and thus higher-paid--women campaign staffers than Senator Obama doesn't mean that Senator McCain necessarily supports equal opportunity and equitable pay for women. I guess he just makes it look that way by his actions.


September 15, 2008


Press to McCain: "Don't Cross Us... or Our Messiah"

Justin Katz

With suspect editing of the VP candidate's recent interview and dueling front page hit pieces against her, yesterday, Boston Phoenix blogger Adam Reilly would say that "by declaring war on the media, McCain has given them license to cover his candidacy the way they should have from the beginning." The move "could actually be a corrective to the fawning press treatment the allegedly liberal media has for years lavished on McCain."

Now that the Democratic and Republican pep rallies are over, the candidates desperately need the press’s assistance to get their message out. But now that McCain has given the press the finger, most members of the media will be a lot less inclined to do anything that aids his campaign.

Some of them may actually respond by leveling direct, aggressive challenges at the McCain-Palin ticket.

So much for the pretense of news being an uninvested, objective medium! (It's just Obama's turn to for lavishment, I suppose.)

Rather than an objective analysis, however, Reilly's piece reads as a balm for a newly insecure mainstream media. Never fear that our candidate doesn't have the lead one would expect based on our candidacy, the subtext goes, the other guy has finally given us reason to take off the gloves.

That's not unexpected. What's surprising is how very Old Media the column sounds. As far as I can tell, it's now an open question as to whether candidates "desperately need" the establishment media to communicate with voters. Those massively successful "The One" ads grew their buzz on the Internet, which is a force that The Press can no longer ignore, and which by its very openness exposes egomaniacal twists of the truth — whether out of liberalism or revenge — as politicking masked as journalism.


September 14, 2008


The complete Palin interview with Gibson

Donald B. Hawthorne

Here is the complete transcript of the Palin interview with Gibson.

Now everyone can see what was edited out. NewBusters comments:

A transcript of the unedited interview of Sarah Palin by Charles Gibson clearly shows that ABC News edited out crucial portions of the interview that showed Palin as knowledgeable or presented her answers out of context...

we see that Palin was not nearly as hostile towards Russia as was presented in the edited interview...

We also see from Palin's...remark, which was also edited out, that she is far from some sort of latter day Cold Warrior which the edited interview made her seem to be...

Palin's extended remarks about defending our NATO allies were edited out to make it seem that she was ready to go to war with Russia...That answer presented Palin as a bit too knowledgeable for the purposes of ABC News and was, of course, edited out.

Palin's answers about a nuclear Iran were carefully edited to the point where she was even edited out in mid-sentence to make it seem that Palin favored unilateral action against that country...

Laughably, a remark by Gibson that indicated he agreed with Palin was edited out...Gibson took her point about Lincoln's words but we wouldn't know that by watching the interview since it was left on the cutting room floor...

H/T Power Line.

And, after a performance like that, the MSM is upset over how IT is being treated. LOL.

You would think at some point these people would catch on that their behaviors and words make them come across like a bunch of partisan imbeciles.

ADDENDUM

The contrast is stark:

Sending lots of people into Alaska to investigate Palin's history is fine. Aggressively questioning Palin is fine.

But it is the double standard which is appalling. Not sending anybody into Chicago to do a similar investigation of PRESIDENTIAL candidate Obama doesn't cut it. What about Wright, Ayers, Woods Foundation, Rezko? There you have specific and explicitly known questionnable behaviors and affiliations by Obama and the MSM has no interest. Combining that with a lack of aggressive questioning of Obama about these dubious affiliations only magnifies the contrast, magnifies the bias. In addition, the MSM also don't even have any interest in digging into Obama's missing years earlier in his life.

But the MSM has spent months publishing glowing, uncritical stories about Obama, ignoring all the strange and seedy relationships in his past. Or his lack of experience and how easily rattled he has gotten. And then publish stories about Palin which contain either thin gruel or outright falsehoods. Flagrant contrast.


September 13, 2008


Missed Opportunity on How Our Constitution Works

Justin Katz

As loath as we must all be to slip into the mire of political discussion on The View, I have to note that McCain missed an excellent opportunity to provide a grown-up explanation for a reckless question from Whoopi Goldberg. While the group was apparently discussing Roe v. Wade and the types of judges whom McCain would nominate, Goldberg chimed in:

Sir, I don't want to misinterpret what you're saying. Did you say you wanted strict constitutionalists, because ... should I be worried about being returned to slavery? Because certain things happened in the Constitution that you had to change.

McCain credited her with making an excellent point, but left it at that. The correct response would have been to remind the audience that the Constitution has been amended (i.e., changed) to abolish slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment reads:

Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

In other words, even a strict constitutionalist would find that the Constitution bans slavery.


September 12, 2008


Re: Two-faced McCain

Justin Katz

Without challenging Don's feelings about McCain — considering that the candidate would find it difficult indeed to get me much past ambivalent about him — I'm not sure it's entirely fair to characterize the Spanish ad as "two-faced." Here's a translation posted on a forum that appears to be hostile to McCain:

Obama and his Congressional allies say they are on the side of immigrants. But are they?
The press reports that their efforts were 'poison pills' that made immigration reform fail.
The result:
No guest worker program.
No path to citizenship.
No secure borders.
No reform.
Is that being on our side?
Obama and his Congressional allies ready to block immigration reform, but not ready to lead.

Is that playing with some vagueries in such terms as "guest worker program"? Perhaps, although we've seen that the Hispanic Caucus's version of immigration reform is indeed holding up desirable guest worker programs (that are particularly important for Rhode Island) in order to achieve more extreme ends. But I see no reason to doubt that McCain is developing a consistent message (whatever one's opinion of his sincerity might be). Consider another ad; this one in English. He mentions the contributions of Hispanic Americans, and even non-Americans, to the U.S. military:

So let's, from time to time, remember that these are God's children. They must come into this country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them.

A strong case can be made that McCain is too willing to compromise on certain policies, but if his point is that Americans should respect immigrants (and hopeful immigrants), while enforcing the law, and that problems with immigration law should be resolved expediently, then nothing in these ads contradicts that message. (I'd note that he could go even further, stressing that Democrats have an electoral interest in keeping the immigrant strife an active issue.)



Two-faced McCain

Donald B. Hawthorne

I don't like John McCain's politics. Never have.

This piece from Mickey Kaus is the latest example of why:

Attention Ms. Coulter: John McCain is running an ad in Spanish attacking Obama for allegedly failing to support the "comprehensive immigration reform" bill that McCain himself has said he no longer supports. ... I guess McCain got the "message" but not the mensaje. ... P.S.: The picture of Sen. Patrick Leahy is especially terrifying. ... P.P.S.: Would McCain ever run this ad in English? ...

Here is the ad. I don't know Spanish so will have to take Kaus' word.

More on the problems with McCain in the coming weeks.



The Bush doctrine and the psyching out of Barack Obama

Donald B. Hawthorne

Charles Krauthammer on the Bush doctrine:

...The New York Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.

There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.

He asked Palin, "Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?"

She responded, quite sensibly to a question that is ambiguous, "In what respect, Charlie?"

Sensing his "gotcha" moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine "is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense."

Wrong.

I know something about the subject because, as the Wikipedia entry on the Bush doctrine notes, I was the first to use the term...

Michael Gordon of NYTimes on Palin's foreign policy answers

Jonah Goldberg on Feminist Army Aims Its Canons at Palin - Because womanhood is a state of mind

The Anchoress on the Gibson interviews of Palin and Obama

Protein Wisdom on Alinsky, Obama and progressives

No Left Turns on Howard Kurtz and the media's anger

Just One Minute on Lincoln's prayer

Mark Penn on press treatment of Palin

Gerard Baker on Obama: How there is a yawning gulf between what the Democratic candidate says and how he has acted. That's why the race is so close

Obama has been psyched out by Palin. Not even the media's distortion campaign can hide that fact.

Geez, if a 44-year-old American citizen - who is just a small-town mayor with no experience, right? - can get under his skin, then how is Obama going to handle Putin or Ahmadinejad?

Obama is a self-absorbed and arrogant wimp. Some Messiah.



So What Are the Odds That the Hateful Left Will Stop Falling into These Jabs?

Justin Katz

What a wonderful thing is the Internet, on which a few minutes of catch-up browsing can bring both smear and counterpoint. RIFuture has the smear:

Do you really think we will grow our IT and ET economies with a president [McCain] who doesn't even understand how to use a computer?

And Jonah Goldberg has the explanation:

The reason he doesn't send email is that he can't use a keyboard because of the relentless beatings he received from the Viet Cong. From the Boston Globe (March 4, 2000):
McCain gets emotional at the mention of military families needing food stamps or veterans lacking health care. The outrage comes from inside: McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes.

Thank goodness for Obama's politics of change! Used to be candidates would investigate and weigh the possibility of the "oh" sound of a political backfire.

(And, by the way, could anything be more emblematic of the chill-inducing thought processes of the Left than Matt's apparent belief that the New Economy, the world of High Tech, the Marketplace of Innovation cannot possibly operate and advance in the absence of a "with it" president? One could argue that such a president could know just enough to do some real harm to the industry.)

ADDENDUM:

After multiple distractions, I've finally worked my way down the Corner to find Victor Davis Hanson's summation of the point that I meant to convey:

The problem with all this, as we saw with the lipstick quote and small-town mayor sneers, is twofold. Obama's original charm for many was his Olympian other-worldliness and easy cool post-politics. Now he seems no different from, or nastier than most, any other candidate. (You saw another sort of that disconnect between divinity and reality when he chose a plastic Greek temple and outdoor stadium throng to deliver pedestrian wonkish points about spending priorities). In his defense, his thousands in media are doing him a disservice, and turning off the electorate in daily buffonish partianship.

Also, his recent attacks against an 'old fish' and 'lipsticked pig', and those of his supporters, come off as ageist and sexist and that can't go well with a lot of voters. Yes, he is registering new voters, but since 2004, millions, to match them, have gone into their sixties and are "evolving," as they say, in their views. Some may well identify with a feisty older McCain in the way middle America does with Palin. And when you add up the daily outbursts of disdain and condescension from Hollywood celebs, unhinged pundits, Biden's daily fare, and the sneers of lower-tier Democratic politicians, the image is one of furor and panic, not calm governance. Another 2 weeks of this and I think millions are going to keep quiet, say they are "undecided," but privately conclude that they have had enough of all this bias, and simply won't vote for any more of Obamania.

Begin with the assumption that most Americans do not keep up with bloggers' and politicos' hour-by-hour pace. You've got one side making deliberately offensive comments (see also, "cocky wacko") while trying to sell the politics of rising above and the other side pointing out that a little moderation of rhetoric might be in order.

Whether Obama wins or loses, the output of the American Left is likely to be intolerably toxic. Of course, if he loses, at least that toxicity won't have a man in the White House.

ADDENDUM II:

As Will says in the comments: "Checkmate." This 2000 story comes via Jonah Goldberg again:

McCain himself was convinced early on that the Internet had to play a critical role in the campaign. Time and again it allowed him to leverage his money and his organization. "In the Virginia primary," McCain told me, "we needed a lot of petitions signed to get on the ballot. We had the form available to download off the Internet and got 17,000 signatures with very little trouble." ...

In certain ways, McCain was a natural Web candidate. Chairman of the Senate Telecommunications Subcommittee and regarded as the U.S. Senate's savviest technologist, McCain is an inveterate devotee of email. His nightly ritual is to read his email together with his wife, Cindy. The injuries he incurred as a Vietnam POW make it painful for McCain to type. Instead, he dictates responses that his wife types on a laptop. "She's a whiz on the keyboard, and I'm so laborious," McCain admits.

Look, I haven't quizzed McCain on his Internet savvy, but he's clearly got enough background with the technology to counter the substantive claims made in Obama's ad, and the fact that his personal usage is affected by POW injuries tarnishes with a streak of manure the high-saturation, halo-effect image of Obama as the New Politician. See, that's the thing with thinking your candidate is "inevitable"; every hunk of lead can begin to look like the silver bullet that's going to off the pointless competition.


September 11, 2008


Lipstick Talk

Justin Katz

Monique took the Anchor Rising slot with Matt Allen on 630AM/99.7FM WPRO last night to talk about painted pigs. Stream by clicking here, or download it.


September 10, 2008


Lipstick-on-Pig Round-Up

Monique Chartier

Barack Obama, September, 2007:

I think that both General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are capable people who have been given an impossible assignment," Sen. Barack Obama said yesterday in a telephone interview. "George Bush has given a mission to General Petraeus, and he has done his best to try to figure out how to put lipstick on a pig."

John McCain, October, 2007:

While he said he had not studied Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's health-care plan, he said it was "eerily reminiscent" of the failed plan she offered as first lady in the early 1990s.

"I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," he said of her proposal.

Barack Obama, yesterday:

The other side, suddenly, they're saying 'we're for change too.' Now think about it, these are the same folks that have been in charge for the last eight years," the Illinois senator told a crowd of 2,400 people in Lebanon, Virginia.

"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig.

In all of these instances, "pig" as a negative adjective was directed towards concepts or plans, not towards the individual. [Not that it's pleasant to be accused of attempting to carry out the specified action.]

Sarah Palin's comment about hockey moms, pitbulls and lipstick is what made Obama's most recent lipstick on pig comment ... er, stick a bit more than the prior two. Was it intended as a sexist insult? No. Was it a not-so-clever effort to play on Palin's lipstick comment? Yes. Is the McCain/Palin campaign making hay of it in dramatic fashion? You bet.

(Of course, this lipstick-on-pig round-up would not be complete without everybody's favorite, cited by the Ocean State Republican - the one uttered right here in Rhode Island during the 2004 state budget process by a charged up but constitutionally confused House Majority Leader.)

Would an Obama/Clinton campaign have been in equally high dudgeon if John McCain had made a similar comment about Dem VP candidate Hillary Clinton? Presumably. Are these tit-for-tat exchanges between the two campaigns productive? Probably not. Are they disproportionately damaging to one campaign? That's above my pay grade.



BDS to Become PDS

Justin Katz

Here's a theory — attractive more for the likely reaction than the likelihood that it's correct: America's liberals are preparing themselves for the possibility that McCain will win the presidency. That would explain why they're salvaging the emotionally satisfying, if self destructive, Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) that they've enjoyed for at least the past four years by recasting it as Palin Derangement Syndrome (PDS).

The thought came to mind upon reading Hilary Cosell's fumination (excuse the coinage) against Sarah Palin, particularly the line that I've emphasized:

It's also further proof that John McCain and the Republican Party believe that one woman is the same as the next. That voting women, and former Hillary Clinton supporters, are just too dumb to notice that this Governor Palin is anti-choice and a right-wing evangelical Christian who wants creationism taught in Alaska schools, who has no record of speaking out on equal pay for equal work, health care, child care, or anything at all relevant to the women- and family-oriented issues that are the heart and soul of the concerns of the women of the Democratic Party. (We won't even bother to mention foreign policy here, because there is no Palin foreign policy record or experience to mention.)

Let's move beyond spin and the surprise — rather shock — of McCain's choice and see what it really says: disdain for women as equals, as power holders, power brokers and human beings. Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, or in the vice-presidential mansion, it's the same thing. Palin isn't female empowerment. She, who has benefited from decades of tireless work of the feminist movement, is a slap in the face to us all.

Put aside foregoing falsehoods and note the resurrection of the "barefoot and pregnant" cliché to describe a sitting governor who has been climbing the political ladder with great energy and alacrity. If sexism is mainly a symptom of one's lack of empathy and imagination, I'd put forward Miss Cosell as a candidate. That wouldn't give her any more standing than being "a master's degree candidate at General Theological Seminary" (as her bio proclaims) to hiss so sourly at a vice presidential candidate, but the fact that she lacks a certain male protuberance doesn't make Ms. Cosell's vicious insecurity any less galling.


September 9, 2008


Re: Busting the Palin Caricature

Carroll Andrew Morse

In addition to the areas that Marc mentioned, members of the Projo editorial board (and some other organs of the MSM) are playing fast-and-loose also with their description of Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's position on stem cell research. Here's the the unsigned editorial from Saturday…

Governor Palin didn’t mention…that she opposes stem-cell research.
…and the Froma Harrop op-ed from Sunday…
It’s four more years of national humiliation as our leadership undermines the teaching of evolutionary science, and if something happens to John McCain, opposes stem-cell research.
But the statement that Governor Palin "opposes stem cell research" is not accurate and leaves the reader in the dark about the important developments into non-embryonic stem-cell research that have occurred over the past year.

The most promising research into stem cell medical treatments is coming from the use of "induced pluripotent stem-cells", using cells taken from adults and not human embryos. Time Magazine described the most recent breakthrough in July…

After nearly a decade of setbacks and false starts, stem-cell science finally seems to be hitting its stride. Just a year after Japanese scientists first reported that they had generated stem cells by reprogramming adult skin cells — without using embryos — American researchers have managed to use that groundbreaking technique to achieve another scientific milestone. They created the first nerve cells from reprogrammed stem cells — an important demonstration of the potential power of stem-cell-based treatments to cure disease.

Led by Kevin Eggan at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Christopher Henderson at Columbia University, the 13-person team reported online today in Science Express that they had generated motor neurons from the skin cells of two elderly patients with a rare form of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, a progressive neurodegenerative condition. The new study marks an important first step on the road toward real stem-cell-based therapies, and also answers several plaguing questions about the pioneering stem-cell technique known as induced pluripotent stem cell, or iPS, generation.

IPS was first described by Japanese biologist Shinya Yamanaka, who, in 2007, showed that the introduction of four genes into an adult human skin cell could reprogram it back to an embryonic state (Yamanaka had reported the same achievement in mice the previous year). Like embryonic stem cells, these reprogrammed adult cells could be coaxed into becoming any other type of cell — from skin to nerve to muscle. But researchers questioned whether the new stem cells would behave as predictably or as safely as embryonic stem cells, or whether iPS would consistently yield usable cells. "Our work shows that the original method developed by Yamanaka works great," says Eggan.

Is anyone opposed to this line of research? If not, than the Projo op-ed page should stop running claims that someone is.

The idea the Governor Palin opposes all stem cell research traces back, as best as I can determine, to statements made in her 2006 campaign for Governor of Alaska, before the major 2007 breakthrough in creating stem-cells from adult tissues had occurred, but some MSM writers don’t seem interested in this critical distinction, nor in helping the public keep pace with the science.

Is that a rational position for those who fancy themselves as pro-science?


September 8, 2008


Busting the Palin Caricature

Marc Comtois

The ProJo editors and From Harrop (perhaps one and the same--and Harrop's piece is particularly nasty) are quite exorcised over GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin's social stances. As Steven Hayward writes, "The left and the media are trying to force Palin into a rigid social-con box..." But C-Span ran video of Palin in the 2006 Republican debate during the Alaska governor's race that shows she's pretty pragmatic when it comes to sex education and birth control. Byron York has more details:

[T]here was a passage in the debate that will lay to rest all those reports we have seen that Palin supports abstinence-only education when it comes to sex. It seems Palin had written in a questionnaire that she opposed "explicit" sex-ed programs, so she was asked:

In a recent survey you said that you would support abstinence-until-marriage education but that you would not support explicit sex-ed programs. What are explicit sex-ed programs, and does that include talking about condoms in school?

Palin's answer:

No, I don't think that it includes something that is relatively benign. Explicit means explicit. No, I am pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues. So I'm not anti-contraception. But yeah, abstinence is another alternative that should be discussed with kids. I don't have a problem with that. That doesn't scare me, so it's something that I would support also.

As for the charge that she would push "creationism", well, that's false, too. Here's an AP account of Palin's stance on teaching creationism and evolution in schools (via Jim Lindgren, who was initially critical of Palin on this issue):
As a candidate for governor, Sarah Palin called for teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools. But after Alaska voters elected her, Palin, now Republican John McCain's presidential running mate, kept her campaign pledge to not push the idea in the schools.

As for her personal views on evolution, Palin has said, "I believe we have a creator." But she has not made clear whether her belief also allowed her to accept the theory of evolution as fact.

"I'm not going to pretend I know how all this came to be," she has been quoted as saying. . . .

When asked during a televised debate in 2006 about evolution and creationism, Palin said, according to the Anchorage Daily News: "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."

In a subsequent interview with the Daily News, Palin said discussion of alternative views on the origins of life should be allowed in Alaska classrooms. "I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum," she said.

"It's OK to let kids know that there are theories out there. They gain information just by being in a discussion." . . .

Neither have Palin's socially conservative personal views on issues like abortion and gay marriage been translated into policies during her 20 months as Alaska's chief executive. It reflects a hands-off attitude toward mixing government and religion by most Alaskans.

"She has basically ignored social issues, period," said Gregg Erickson, an economist and columnist for the Alaska Budget Report.

As Hayward observes:
...she's much more about bread and butter issues and good government that [sic] a frothy social-con agenda. Sure, she has social-con views, but what people don't recognize is that she exudes Alaska's very libertarian, live-and-let-live attitude, such that her expressed policy views are much more moderate.
Is it too much to ask that the press not jump to conclusions? And they wonder why they are stereotyped as the "MSM" and "liberal media"? How about a little more digging before printing your assumptions? Here's some help.


September 7, 2008


Re: A Study in Contrasting Responses

Donald B. Hawthorne

UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 8 & 9

Incentives drive human behavior but, especially in government where there are no market forces, rarely does anybody pay attention to the impact of the incentives created by laws, regulations or government actions. Which is why government actions will always create "unintended" consequences and less than efficient solutions.

There is a concept called "moral hazard" in the finance world which one source defines as:

One of two main sorts of MARKET FAILURE often associated with the provision of INSURANCE...Moral hazard means that people with insurance may take greater risks than they would do without it because they know they are protected, so the insurer may get more claims than it bargained for.

What both Palin and especially Obama are missing in the Freddie and Fannie bailouts/takeovers is the larger issue of moral hazard. These bailouts/takeovers are signaling to the marketplace that nobody in the future will suffer meaningful adverse economic consequences as a result of their bad decisions.

As a first step into the moral hazard world, the federal government enabled this situation by not officially giving its full faith and credit guarantee to backstop any future defaults by Freddie and Fannie, as government-sponsored enterprises...but then winking at investors, as if to tell them that the government would step up if they had to.

Now think of how a bailout works, about what incentives and rewards it dishes out:

    Investors have generated greater than T-bill rates of return on Freddie and Fannie debt investments in past years while really only having marginally more risk than T-bills, which are explicitly guaranteed by the federal government. So investors have made out by generating a higher rate of return.
    Who paid for giving investors that higher rate of return? The American taxpayers. By now bailing them out, American taxpayers - who never contributed one iota to the misdeeds of Freddie and Fannie - are forced to pay billions of dollars of their hard-earned monies toward the bailouts. Said another way, taxpayers are being forced to make a payment for a past-due risk premium which is the difference between a T-bill level of risk and the Freddie and Fannie risk actually taken.
    The government says that the bailout proceeds will be repaid, while adding that it will be up to the next administration and Congress to decide the particulars. The players committing publicly today to a payback won't be around to ensure it happens so their words are meaningless. The government players who could be responsible for repaying taxpayers in the future have no obligation to do so and the government world provides them with no incentives to do so. Which, I predict, will yield a not-surprising indifference to paying back American taxpayers.
    Meanwhile, the people in Freddie and Fannie who actually made the bad decisions (including, it sounds like, aggressive accounting practices) that led to the bailout have no incentive to moderate their risk-taking behaviors because they have learned - just like children learn from bad parenting practices - that they will get away with acting out of line. Sure a few top executives lost their jobs but what else has changed? So the bailout/takeover has largely rewarded bad behavior and even those who lost their jobs have not suffered consequences anywhere near the magnitude of the actions they took or allowed under their watch.
Lovely.

The only genuine solution to stop the stupidity of incentivizing bad behavior that costs taxpayers money is to let something fail completely. Yes, it would be painful and that is never pleasant. But if anybody had the courage to do it, the proper alignment of incentives, of risk and reward, would ensure organizations rapidly returned to paying attention to their business fundamentals.

This is yet another example of what happens when government gets too large and when big business can buy favors from government.

ADDENDUM

See, once it starts, it just keeps going.

Don't lose sight of the obvious: It's big government and big companies doing corporate welfare OR it's big government doing other forms of undeserved welfare.

Meanwhile, average working Americans have no such welfare options. Nope, the government just takes more of their hard-earned monies via taxation to fund everyone else's misbehavior.

Call it justice, big-government style.

ADDENDUM #2

With a H/T to Ramesh Ponnuru, the Wall Street Journal weighs in:

...Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wants to prop up the walking dead so the world keeps buying their mortgage-backed securities. His action may calm jittery credit markets, and it may get the companies through the current mortgage crisis -- albeit at enormous cost to American taxpayers. The tragedy is that he and Congress didn't act 18 months ago -- when the cost would have been far less -- and that he still isn't killing the Fannie and Freddie business model that has done so much damage. These corpses could still return to haunt us again...

At least Mr. Paulson has finally figured out he's been lied to...[previously] saying that the battle over the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) was nothing but a scrap between "ideologues." So he bought the Congressional line that Fan and Fred weren't a problem and would help financial markets through the housing recession...

This weekend's formal rescue puts an end to those illusions...

The new federal "conservatorship" is a form of nationalization that puts regulators firmly in control. The feds fired the company boards and CEOs, though the clean up needs to go further to change the corporate cultures. Both companies remain Beltway satraps that hire for reasons of political connection, not financial expertise.

The taxpayer purchase of preferred stock means that the feds will own about 80% of the companies if all the warrants are ultimately exercised. The feds also stopped dividend payments, saving about $2 billion a year. This amounts to significant dilution for current Fannie and Freddie shareholders, and it offers taxpayers some return on their bailout risk if the companies recover.

We only wish Mr. Paulson had gone further and erased all private equity holders the way the feds do in a typical bank failure. Fan and Fred holders had profited handsomely for decades by exploiting an implicit taxpayer guarantee that their management claimed didn't exist. Now that the taxpayers are in fact stepping in, the current common and preferred holders deserve to lose everything. Mr. Paulson apparently wanted to dodge that political fight...

The Treasury chief also gave a free pass to the holders of some $18 billion in Fan and Fred subordinated debt. He did so even though these securities were understood not to have the same status as mortgage-backed securities or other Fannie debt, and even though this will set a bad precedent for other bailouts. Watch for Citigroup's subordinated debt to jump in price as investors conclude that the feds would do the same thing if Citi needs a rescue.

By far the biggest risk here, however, is that the companies could still emerge with their business model intact. That model is the perverse mix of private profit and public risk, which gave them an incentive to make irresponsible mortgage bets with a taxpayer guarantee.

Mr. Paulson could have ended that model immediately by putting the companies into "receivership." Both companies could have continued to securitize mortgages, even as their riskiest businesses were wound down...And in any case, had Mr. Paulson acted sooner and given markets time to understand that receivership doesn't mean immediate liquidation, the risk of a run might now be far less.

The Treasury plan does at least put some useful limits on Fan and Fred risk-taking, albeit starting only in 2010...

Treasury says all of this will provide a motive for Congress and the new President to change how Fan and Fred do business, and in the meantime the conservator has also ordered a stop to their political lobbying. It's also nice to see that on this point Mr. Paulson has found religion. In his statement Sunday, he blamed the need for a bailout on "the inherent conflict and flawed business model embedded in the GSE structure." Welcome to our merry band of "ideologues," Mr. Secretary.

The Treasury chief has nonetheless decided to leave the hardest political choices to his successor, who will have to face down the usual phalanx of Fannie apologists: Democratic barons Barney Frank and Chuck Schumer, the homebuilders, various Wall Street sages and left-wing journalists...

...who knows how the political mood will have shifted once the housing slump passes. It's easy to imagine the next Treasury Secretary concluding that he also thinks the fight for permanent reform is too difficult. Then we are back to the same old stand.

The Fannie-Freddie bailout is one of the great political scandals of our age, all the more because it was so obviously coming for so long. Officials at the Federal Reserve warned about it for years, only to be ignored by both parties on Capitol Hill. The least we can do now is bury these undead monsters for all time.

ADDENDUM #3

More from Jim Rogers:

Has America created its own variety of communism with the U.S. Treasury Department’s bailout of two beleaguered government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? According to Rogers Holding CEO Jim Rogers, the answer is yes.

"America is more communist than China is right now," Rogers told CNBC Europe’s "Squawk Box Europe" September 8. "You can at least have a free market in housing and a lot of other things in China. And you can see that this is welfare for the rich. This is socialism for the rich. It’s bailing out the financiers, the banks, the Wall Streeters."

Rogers...said the bailout was not benefiting homeowners or helping average citizens improve their standing for a home mortgage.

“It’s not bailing out the homeowners who are in trouble, by the way,” Rogers said. “It’s not bailing out people who want a mortgage – it’s just bailing out financial institutions...I think it’s a mistake.”...

"This is a big huge mess and neither [Obama nor Palin] has a clue as to what to do next year," Rogers said. "Bank stocks around the world are going through the roof, that’s because they’ve all been bailed out. You don’t see the homeowners in Kansas going through the roof because they’re not being bailed out."

Rogers had previously called for Fannie and Freddie to be allowed to go bankrupt...

"Let the patient go bankrupt,” he said. “We have courts in America; they will be reorganized."

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "wove a mantle of invincibility" through lobbying according to a September 8 Wall Street Journal "Deal Journal" blog post. According to the Journal’s Heidi N. Moore, the mortgage giants had $170 million in lobbying bills in the past decade and spent $3.5 million on lobbying just in this year’s first quarter, spreading their largesse among 42 outside lobbying firms.

Yep, big government works for the powerful who can buy favors. Now if the less powerful only had some more community organizers to help them out...

ADDENDUM #4

McCain and Palin weigh in with a WSJ editorial.

Corruption. Politicians and former politicians scratching each other's backs, getting wealthy at the expense of average Americans while not serving the public. Where is the outrage?



A Study in Contrasting Responses

Justin Katz

Put aside, for a moment, the very interesting fact that the article is one of an increasing number that place Obama in parallel with Palin and compare and contrast the pair's responses to the question of government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Obama:

"These entities are so big and they are so tied into the housing market that it is probably true that we have to take steps to make sure they don't just collapse," Obama told an audience in Terre Haute on Saturday.

But Obama added that the government needed to take steps to guard against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ultimately profiting from the government assistance.

Palin:

"Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they've gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers," Palin said. "The McCain-Palin administration will make them smaller and smarter and more effective for homeowners who need help."

Note Obama's distancing of himself from the decision making — "probably true," "we have to take steps," and "don't just collapse" (with no notion of what they should be) — but with a touch of anti-corporate seasoning for good measure. Palin, on the other hand, jumps right into that aspect of the question over which the administration in which she'll play a role has a say, and she gives a direct and simple reason: "they've gotten too big and too expensive."


September 6, 2008


Anti-Obama Books

Marc Comtois

Catching up on the "to do" list and I thought I'd mention a couple interviews Dan Yorke had with some authors of "anti-Obama" books.

The first was with Jerome Corsi, author of Obama Nation (podcast). Corsi is a lightning rod right out of the box thanks to his co-authoring of the book about John Kerry a la the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth controversy. He talked to Yorke about the "cult of personality" that has grown up around Obama and that Obama is largely a creation of Saul Alinsky disciples, Black liberation theology and other radical, leftists. A lot of politically savvy folks have heard it before, but Corsi delves deeper into some of the personal associations that others have only touched on. Understandably, Corsi feels a bit under siege, but that is owing both to his subject matter and his apparently confrontational writing style.

Dan also interviewed David Freddoso, author of The Case Against Barack Obama (podcast). Freddoso writes for National Review and his book sounds well-researched. He talked about how Michelle Obama's father came up through the Chicago's political machine and how Obama benefited from this. Further, when the time came, Obama supported candidates of the Chicago machine over real reformers. He also discusses Obama's ties to Tony Rezko. Freddoso also explains that the Chicago media has done a great job of looking into Obama's background (seems like he relied on those accounts to a large degree when researching Obama's Chicago years). However, the national, New York/Washington, D.C. press has yet to really pick up on those stories to any real degree. Further, Freddoso illustrates Obama's extensive ties to lobbyists and his support for such business-as-usual legislation as the 2008 Farm Bill to show that Obama really isn't the reformer he claims to be.

I haven't read either of the books (only excerpts), but of the two, Freddoso's sounds the more measured and journalistically credible. Corsi is more willing to take a rumor and amplify it. Here's a positive review of Freddoso's. This is a more skeptical review of both Corsi's and Freddoso's books, which notes Corsi's reliance on debunked rumors and faults Freddoso mostly for his stretched analysis, not his journalism.

ADDENDUM: I later found that Jim Geraghty (also of NR, which he makes clear) agrees that Freddoso's is the more responsible and credible.


September 5, 2008


The Old Warrior

Marc Comtois

The old Warrior still has some fight left in him. No one can doubt John McCain's commitment to his country or his belief in his ideals. He speaks with conviction, a conviction fostered and formed throughout a life of service to his country and that was strengthened--even as his body weakened--in a dank cell in Hanoi. So we see the determination in his eye and the set of his jaw and we're asked to trust his judgment. But is that enough? For some.

Unfortunately, he doesn't wax as eloquently as some; his injuries contribute to his awkwardness at the podium; he smiles weirdly after delivering a line. In short, he isn't a gifted presenter, which worries may people, especially in our style-over-substance era. Like it or not, many people need a president who is able to attractively convey his ideas and decisions to short-attention spanned Americans who will give short shrift to the ideas and policies of word bumblers and halted speakers and, in the Northeast especially, anyone with a southern accent. If they don't like the presentation, they won't take your ideas seriously. Change the channel, this is boring.

But it's probably too late for McCain to get better at giving a speech. So now it's all about the debates. The physical juxtaposition of an older, leaning white man and a younger, leaner black man will be obvious. So McCain will have to prove his mental agility and experience over a younger, more charismatic opponent. He'll have to keep his temper, but show his passion. He'll have to be tough but not condescending. The Old Warrior has a few more battles before he can take the Hill.


September 4, 2008


McCain's speech

Donald B. Hawthorne

On the recent Republican party behavior:

I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.

We're going to change that. We're going to recover the people's trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics.

On education:

Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.


When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I'm President, they will.

On energy:

My fellow Americans, when I'm President, we're going to embark on the most ambitious national project in decades. We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much. We will attack the problem on every front. We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we'll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.

Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet. It's an ambitious plan, but Americans are ambitious by nature, and we have faced greater challenges. It's time for us to show the world again how Americans lead.

This great national cause will create millions of new jobs, many in industries that will be the engine of our future prosperity; jobs that will be there when your children enter the workforce.

On war:

We face many threats in this dangerous world, but I'm not afraid of them. I'm prepared for them. I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it should not do. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it. I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don't. I know how to secure the peace.

His conclusion:

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's.

I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.

If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.

I'm going to fight for my cause every day as your President. I'm going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach. Fight with me. Fight with me.

Fight for what's right for our country.

Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.

Fight for our children's future.

Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.

Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.

Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We're Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

Not a great public speaker, McCain delivered a generally effective speech which conveyed the depth of his life experiences in a self-effacing manner and a willingness to battle for the common man and woman. The contrast with the soaring rhetoric of an empty suit was striking and also done in a completely different and less dynamic way than last night.

However, whether McCain's speech defined a sufficiently clear contrast with Obama for an effective and focused Fall campaign was less clear.



The Voice of Small-Town America

Marc Comtois

Like the majority of Americans, and to quote John Mellencamp (who'd not appreciate it, I'm sure), "I was born in a small town" and I was raised by small-town parents, grew up with small-town people and married a small-town gal. That's why, even as Sarah Palin introduced herself to America last night, many people like myself felt like we already knew her. I've mentioned before George Will's construction that sensibility (or disposition) comes before philosophy or ideology. Last night's speech exhibited small-town, middle-America sensibility and it will resonate with millions of Americans who can identify with Palin and her family.

Just like Palin, small-town folks are fiercely protective of their family, particularly their children, who they consider their personal stake in the future. This also extends to friends and neighbors. They work hard and they play hard. They are in the PTO, they volunteer, they coach sports teams and they help at shelters, soup kitchens and churches. And small-towners are smarter than their given credit for. They know that simple words that get to the point are more effective than running to a thesaurus--who has the time for that? They know B.S. when they see it and they don't want to deal in it. (New Englanders should know this--what is Yankee wit, after all?). Most importantly, they know the genuine article when they see it.

Does this make small-towners somehow unique or better than other Americans? Of course not. For while city and suburban folks may not share the same background as Sarah Palin and the rest of small-town America, they are just as protective and just as devoted to family and community. Yet, there are differences in the city, suburban and small-town sensibilities. Sarah Palin is the first national politician in a long while who can legitimately speak to and relate to small-town America. She addressed their concerns and sensibilities on the national stage in a way that goes beyond lip-service and pandering.

It goes even deeper, though. For while Palin's political rise has been mercurial, her small-town roots are important in understanding the type of politician she is. She wasn't just the mayor of any small-town, she was mayor of the town she grew up in. Then she ran for lieutenant governor and, later, became governor of her home state, Alaska. As her confidence in her ability to serve her community grew, the size of that community--small-town, state, nation--has grown along with it. That doesn't mark her as unique, but it does explain her ability to relate and speak to first her neighbors, then her state and, now, America.

Fundamentally, then, it is the small-town roots that have helped her grow to national prominence. Her sensibilities that were cultivated and grew in a small American town inspired her "servant's heart." Her actions and words reveal that she is a woman who is consistent in her service to those she represents. She means what she says. That's all small-town Americans, any Americans, can ask for.



Left-wing feminist masters to Sarah Palin: How dare you try to leave our plantation!

Donald B. Hawthorne

I wish I could find an old political cartoon I recall from the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearing days which showed Ted Kennedy as the plantation master talking about how blacks weren't allowed off the left-wing plantation.

Well, today's plantation masters are left-wing feminists like Gloria Steinem.

Catch the irony here:

Roughly a decade ago, Steinem excused Bill Clinton's bad behavior with women, essentially declaring he was entitled to one free grope of women as long as he stopped after that.

But today Steinem writes an editorial about Sarah Palin entitled Palin: wrong woman, wrong message - Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

What did I already tell you? The leftists are saying a woman can't be an authentic female unless she believes what the Left believes. But, as long as a man believes what the Left believes, then he is entitled to a free pass at abusing women. And that's liberation? This is enough to make your head spin!

Steinem says:

Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president...

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie...

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality...

Yep, gotta love the Left's tolerance for diversity. And what condescension! LOL.

(Another example here from Mark Steyn: What was it the feminists used to say? "You can have it all." Sarah Palin is a mom, and the first female governor of her state. But the enforcers at the National Organization of Women dismiss her as "more a conservative man than she is a woman." Golly. These days, NOW seems to have as narrow and proscriptive a view of what women are permitted to be as any old 1950s sitcom dad.)

Reminds me of the final words of a 1984 WSJ editorial - my favorite of all time - entitled Liberal Fundamentalism: Who are the intolerant extremists?, highlighted in this 2005 post:

...It could be that a great many voters have taken a good look at the fundamentalists on the religious right and the fundamentalists on the political left and made up their own minds about which pose the greater threat to their own private and public values.

Will Palin be effective in articulating a coherent message, at highlighting the incoherence and intolerance of the left-wing fundamentalists between now and November 4? Who knows. But her nomination has drawn them out and caused the public spotlight to turn back onto the left-wing political fundamentalist plantation masters. So, even if Palin slips up, the country at least knows what world view plays a large part in animating the Obama alternative.

Gotta go now, back to clinging bitterly to my guns and religion. That's all for now, folks!



VP Talk on the Radio

Justin Katz

In case you missed it, Don talked Palin with Matt Allen on 630AM/99.7FM WPRO last night. Stream by clicking here, or download it.



Re: The ferociously totalitarian response of the Left to Sarah Palin: Sexism, intolerance, and fear

Monique Chartier

Excellent, accurate title, Donald.

The one bit of good news to emerge from the anti-Palin furor is that women appear to have well and truly "arrived" - our gender is less important than our political orientation.

Here are some helpful guidelines for commentators who wish to criticize Governor Palin without appearing hypocritical or biased.

- Would you utter that criticism of a man?

- When you examined comparable actions of a Democrat in the identical situation at some point in the past (none of the matters for which Governor Palin has been criticized is without precedent), did you criticize him or her? Or were you silent or even praising?

- Are you actually changing your stance on an issue in order to criticize Gov Palin?

- Did you yourself, in your professional or personal life, willingly and deliberately take the action for which you are about to criticize Gov Palin?

- Are you about to precede your criticism with a fatuous statement such as, "Should this even be a subject of discussion?"

Avoiding these pitfalls in the course of your evaluation will engender a more open, honest and substantive debate as to the comparative merits of the two tickets.


September 3, 2008


Sarah Palin's speech

Donald B. Hawthorne

Along the way, Sarah Palin asked what the difference was between a pit bull and a hockey mom: Lipstick.

Ahem, after listening to her speech, ladies and gentlemen, I'm betting she is plenty tough enough and most surely ready for primetime.

Some excerpts:

On her experience as a public servant:

"I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, and signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids’ public education better. When I ran for city council, I didn’t need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and knew their families, too. Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities."

On why she is going to Washington, D.C.:

"I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion - I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country."

On energy policies that the McCain-Palin administration will implement:

"Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems - as if we all didn’t know that already. But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all. Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines...build more nuclear plants...create jobs with clean coal...and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources. We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers."

On John McCain:

"Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election. In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."

Other excerpts:

...in small towns, they don't know what to make of a candidate [Obama] who "lavish praise" on them when he's around and then, behind their backs, "talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns." Don't talk about us "one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco."

ADDENDUM

Here is a link to the speech.

In the comments section, Monique provides another excerpt:

"The American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of 'personal discovery.' This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn't just need an organizer."

More:

"I've noticed a pattern with our opponent. Maybe you have, too.

We've all heard his dramatic speeches before devoted followers. And there is much to like and admire about our opponent.

But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate.

This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign.

But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed ... when the roar of the crowd fades away ... when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot - what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet?

The answer is to make government bigger ... take more of your money ... give you more orders from Washington ... and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world. America needs more energy ... our opponent is against producing it.

Victory in Iraq is finally in sight ... he wants to forfeit.

Terrorist states are seeking new-clear weapons without delay ... he wants to meet them without preconditions.

Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America ... he's worried that someone won't read them their rights?

Government is too big ... he wants to grow it.

Congress spends too much ... he promises more.

Taxes are too high ... he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan, and let me be specific.

The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes ... raise payroll taxes ... raise investment income taxes ... raise the death tax ... raise business taxes ... and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

For goodness sake, why just read word excerpts when you can watch it live on video?

And I reiterate my points here. The quality of her performance tonight only ups the ante.

ADDENDUM #2:

Thanks to CQ Politics for the link.



The ferociously totalitarian response of the Left to Sarah Palin: Sexism, intolerance, and fear

Donald B. Hawthorne

Why the ferocious reaction by both the Left and the MSM to the Palin nomination?

The conventional wisdom is that it is sexism, a variation on what Hillary experienced during the Democratic primaries. That is certainly part of the explanation. When have you ever heard male candidates, such as Obama, asked about how they will handle their job given their young children?

But there is more going on here than sexism.

A second factor is how the Left is notoriously intolerant of women and minorities who don't tow their ideological line. Just like they react fiercely to blacks who wander off their plantation, women who hold different views are deemed as lacking authenticity. Can't be a real feminist if you don't think their left-wing way. (What is no less appalling is how overtly the MSM has fully joined the Left's insanity.)

A third factor explaining the intensity of the reaction to Palin is she is a direct threat to the existing culture of death. Whether it is Trig's birth or her daughter's pending child, there has rarely been such a direct challenge to the abortion culture. The culture war is alive and the Left is facing having to deal with a young, dynamic and contrary role model who has walked the life walk.

What is not lost on many of us is how tolerant the evangelical community has been toward Palin's daughter's pregnancy. One of the most striking comments in several articles below is how several people have said that it was a similar development in their family's life which drew them into the pro-life movement. And what a contrast they offer to the rabid anger of the Left.

So the Left has to try to destroy Palin out of the box because she appears to be a strong, capable and "regular" woman who offers, by her life example, an appealing alternative vision for the future. Again, we don't know her well enough yet to know if she can pull it off - especially given how committed the Left is to destroying her.

But, if Palin can pull it off, she could be one of the biggest threats of my lifetime to the cultural and political Left, someone who could potentially alter the political and philosophical landscape in the United States.

Which explains the ferocious response by the Left to her nomination.

More thoughts to come.

Jonathan Adler on Sarah's rough start?
Kathryn Jean Lopez on We’re Not Sisters with Her: Palin exposes the feminist Left
Kathryn Jean Lopez on Heart of the Matter: Sarah Palin and a new feminism
Rich Lowry on Hating Sarah: Partisanship at its worst
Byron York on Why the Palin Baby Story Matters: What it means to evangelical voters
Ed Morrissey on We have walked in the Palins’ shoes
Focus on the Family on Pastor doesn't preach
Richard Adams on A tale of two philosophies
John Pitney, Jr. on Go Ahead and Laugh: How Palin matters
NR Editors on Pregnant Pause: Trying to end the Palin candidacy before it begins
Thomas Lifson on Sarah Palin and the Two Americas
Jeff Jacoby on A stark choice on abortion
Michelle Malkin on The Four Stages of Conservative Female Abuse



What Debate Would You Like To See?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Regular readers know how I voted on this one (h/t Instapundit).



A Snapshot of Sarah Palin's Domestic Governing Experience

Carroll Andrew Morse

A review of Sarah Palin's administrative orders (what many other states call "executive orders") shows action taken on a range of statewide issues. In two years as Governor of Alaska, she has implemented policies in areas ranging from healthcare reform to housing policy to mental health reform to energy production. Here are the highlights.

Very soon after taking office, Governor Palin issued Administrative Order 232 (February 15, 2007), establishing the Alaska Health Care Strategies Planning Council and giving it a broad mandate to create an action plan. By the end of 2007, the Council had reported back with an extensive set of proposals; Governor Palin had obviously selected commissioners who weren't afraid of detail. The first area the commission focused on -- even coming up with some proposals that are economically rational -- was lowering costs…

  • Increase the place of consumerism in health care purchasing by giving people control over their health care dollar – the foundations are accessible, transparent, evidence-based price/quality information about providers and services (short-term).
  • Create an easily accessible and constantly updated website containing evidence-based price and quality information about health care providers and services (short-term)
  • Increase community-based health care services, both public and private sector
  • Stabilize the costs of health care by reducing the rate of increase relative to other states (national increase is 6%, decrease Alaskan rate to 4% annual increase)
The report contains similar lists in six other areas; creating a sustainable health care workforce, guaranteeing clean and safe water and wastewater systems, making quality health care accessible to all Alaskans, making personal responsibility and prevention in health care a top priority, developing the statewide leadership necessary to develop and support a comprehensive health care policy, and increasing the number of Alaskans covered by health insurance.

Following the release of the report, Governor Palin introduced legislation to begin implementing of the recommendations. To facilitate an increase in community-based health services, she has proposed repealing Alaka's certificate-of-need (CON) program, which prohibits new health care facilities from being constructed unless the government determines that there is a "need" for a new facility in a given area. To make costs and prices more transparent, Governor Palin has proposed requiring that all health care facilities in Alaska make accurate and updated lists of the costs of their procedures available to the public. The Governor explains her initial legislation here, in an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News.

In response to the discovery of unexpected corrosion in Alaska's oil-pipeline system, Governor Palin issued Administrative Order 234 (April 18, 2007), creating a Petroleum Systems Integrity Office to monitor and coordinate the maintenance of Alaska's oil infrastructure. The office was up and running quickly enough so that by July 6 of 2007, the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office Coordinator was the go-to person when the U.S House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce wanted detailed answers to questions on dangers to pipelines, for example...

1. Does the build-up of sediment in a pipeline send up a red flag, since bacteria can flourish under sediment and lead to aggressive microbial corrosion?

Yes. Sediment in a pipeline can cause or contribute to problems, including providing an environment in which corrosion-causing bacteria can grow, creating difficulties with intelligent pigging, and blocking of corrosion inhibitor interface with the pipe wall. The presence of sediment is therefore a red flag for consideration of these issues, and generally calls for measures to remove it and to prevent its build-up.

In the area of housing policy, Governor Palin issued Administrative Order 236 (May 1, 2007), continuing the work of a commission created in 2004 by former Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski. The major recommendation from Murkowski's commission had been the creation of a housing trust fund to assist people in need, but he never implemented it. Palin proposed $10 million dollars in her 2009 budget, to be overseen by a new body created through the administrative order, to be used to jump-start the trust fund. Her actions won plaudits from Alaska's housing advocates.

The Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet was created by Governor Palin through Administrative Order 238 (September 14, 2007). Among the areas where the sub-cabinet is to develop recommendations on are…

  • The assembly of scientific research, modeling, and mapping information in ways that will help the public and policymakers understand the actual and projected effects of climate change in Alaska, including the time frames in which those effects are likely to take place.
  • The prioritization of climate change research in Alaska to best meet the needs of the public and policymakers.
  • The policies and measures to reduce the likelihood or magnitude of damage to infrastructure in Alaska from the effects of climate change.
  • The potential benefits of Alaska participating in regional, national, and international climate policy agreements and greenhouse gas registries.
  • The opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Alaska sources, including the expanded use of alternative fuels, energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, land use management, and transportation planning.
The sub-cabinet has opened the civic dialogue about the science and the potential impacts of global warming to a broad cross-section of Alaskans.

Finally, Governor Palin reshuffled the governing board of the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, "the only public inpatient psychiatric hospital" in Alaska, through Administrative Order 241 (July 1, 2008). What's interesting about this reshuffle is who the Governor added to the board…

Six members representing the general public; members appointed under this paragraph must be or have been consumers of behavioral health services and have been diagnosed with one of the mental disorders [defined elsewhere in law].
…or, as the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services described it…
The Alaska Psychiatric Institute is forming a new advisory board with a unique feature: at least seven seats will be held by people who have used the state’s mental health services.

The new board will focus on patient rights and responsibilities, as well as continuing the transformation of the hospital to a recovery-based organization. “To accomplish this, we need — at the table — the very people we serve,” API Chief Executive Officer Ron Adler said.

Let's cut to the chase now. Did Barack Obama get so many changes underway as a community organizer? How about as a United States Senator?



Newt and Rudy on Palin vs Obama

Donald B. Hawthorne

Newt.

Newt: "I don't know of a single thing Obama has done except talk and write. And I would like you to tell me one thing..." at which point the MSNBC reporter sent it back to the desk.

Rudy.

All of this talk about experience only serves to put more of the spotlight on Obama's lack of executive experience and leadership.

ADDENDUM

Or, as Joe Lieberman said:

Senator Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But eloquence is no substitute for a record — not in these tough times.


Don Roach: Then and NOW

Engaged Citizen

Then and NOW

What a difference twenty-four years and a political party make. In 2008, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has an interesting take on Sarah Palin's selection as John McCain's running mate. It is quite a departure from their role in 1984 campaign

2008: NOW statement on Sarah Palin (emphasis added):

Gov. Palin may be the second woman vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, but she is not the right woman. Sadly, she is a woman who opposes women's rights, just like John McCain

The fact that Palin is a mother of five who has a 4-month-old baby, a woman who is juggling work and family responsibilities, will speak to many women. But will Palin speak FOR women? Based on her record and her stated positions, the answer is clearly No.

In a gubernatorial debate, Palin stated emphatically that her opposition to abortion was so great, so total, that even if her teenage daughter was impregnated by a rapist, she would "choose life" — meaning apparently that she would not permit her daughter to have an abortion. ...

Finally, as the chair of NOW's Political Action Committee, I am frequently asked whether NOW supports women candidates just because they are women. This gives me an opportunity to once again answer that question with an emphatic 'No.' We recognize the importance of having women's rights supporters at every level but, like Sarah Palin, not every woman supports women's rights.

How can a woman oppose "women's rights"? Is she opposed to herself, or do Palin's political views not fit within the narrow liberal confines of NOW? You decide.

1984: NOW pressures Mondale to select a "woman" VP:

Arriving at NOW's national conference in Miami just two weeks before the convention, Mondale was "confronted with a sea of green lapel buttons bearing a terse message: 'Woman VP Now.'" During his July 1, 1984 address, Mondale was interrupted not only by applause, but chants of "run with a woman" from an audience waving placards featuring the names of potential women running mates, including three-term New York Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro. As the New York Times noted, Mondale tried to assuage his audience:
Walter F. Mondale told the National Organization for Women today that he had "broken the barrier" of considering a woman to run for the Vice Presidency and that women would "never again" be barred from the nation's highest offices.

That may have been sufficient to secure for Mondale the first-ever presidential endorsement from NOW, but it came at a price. With just three dissenting votes, the organization overwhelmingly approved a resolution insisting a woman be nominated for Vice President from the floor of the Democratic Convention if Mondale chose a man as his running mate.

Twenty-four years separate the first and second female vice-presidential candidates ever selected by the major U.S. political parties. One candidate was liberal, and the other is conservative. Nonetheless, they broke through the glass ceiling, and one would hope that the National Organization for Women would applaud both, regardless of whether it disagrees on one of various ideological points. Unfortunately, as with most "liberal" organizations trying to purport themselves as speaking for particular demographics, the organization is unable to separate its particular political preferences from something even more intrinsic: being a woman. And regardless of your political persuasion, McCain's selection for a 44-year old female governor who has five children, should be celebrated. It's too bad that NOW and other liberal groups cannot see beyond their political agenda and note this monumental breakthrough for women.



More Anti-Palin Pack Journalism

Carroll Andrew Morse

There are times when I'm not sure if the immortal words of Krusty the Klown...

I'm gonna need a shoebox full of blow to get through this dreck,
...apply more appropriately to the product of the left-blogosphere, or to that of the mainstream media. Then again, at the moment, they're pretty much indistinguishable, so maybe there's no point in asking.

Left-blogger Andrew Sullivan is leading readers to this item posted on what I think is supposed to be a down-the-middle blog hosted by the Washington Post...

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee who revealed Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, earlier this year used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live.

After the legislature passed a spending bill in April, Palin went through the measure reducing and eliminating funds for programs she opposed. Inking her initials on the legislation -- "SP" -- Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million.

Slashed funding. The mean, hypocritical Republican slashed funding...except...

...that if you actually bother to examine the information that Alaska's Covenant House makes available about its operations, it's obviously not true. Start with the financials. In 2007, Covenant House reported $1.3 million dollars in "grant income". In 2006, the figure was $1.2 million. So why, all of the sudden, did Covenant House seem to need 4 times that amount, $5 million or so in state money?

The answer is that Covenant House is expanding. The plans are described in the 2009 Alaska capital budget proposal...

State funding will assist Covenant House to relocate, and construct a new Crisis Center for Covenant House in downtown Anchorage.
$22 million is needed to complete the expansion. Covenant House asked the Alaska legislature to provide $10 million, the legislature answered with $5 million in the 2009 budget. Governor Palin cut the figure back to $3.9 million -- for this year. This likely doesn't stop the expansion; Covenant House will either have to get more from the state in a future year and/or increase the amount from private donations to make it happen. But no existing program that helps teenage mothers or the children of teenage mothers has been affected by this budget decision, and calling a one-time infusion of $3.9 million added by the state on top of normal operating expenses a "cut" only makes sense if you can't do math, if you don't understand the difference between a capital outlay and an operating outlay, or if you hate Republicans.

Sorry Washington Post, you don't get your scoop. You'll have to find some other backdoor way to try to legitimize bringing Sarah Palin's daughter into your reporting.


September 1, 2008


Major Hillary supporter comes out for McCain; says Obama not who he says he is and Dems being taken over by MoveOn.org types

Donald B. Hawthorne

Here is some interesting news:

John Coale, a prominent Washington lawyer, husband of Fox TV host Greta Van Susteren and a supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton, announced today that he was supporting John McCain for president. Coale, who traveled with Sen. Clinton, President Clinton and her family through out the primary season, complained of sexism, and said the Democratic Party is "being taken over by the moveon.org types" in an exclusive interview with Newsweek.com's Tammy Haddad.

Watch the video. Says he is recruiting "lots" of Democrats who will come out for McCain in the next few weeks.

Given their now well-documented inability to discern fact from fiction, how well do you think the Kos Kidz will handle this actual news? Maybe they will learn something about not over-playing their hand between now and when they hit puberty. LOL.

ADDENDUM

Froma Harrop reflects on Hillary's words and actions at the Democratic convention as well as the reaction of her supporters to being Kos'd. Bush Derangement Syndrome seems to have begotten Hillary Derangement Syndrome and now Palin Derangement Syndrome. Sounds like a clinical condition, doesn't it?! Or, at least a maturity problem!

As I wrote in the comments section:

It is also probably true that Coale and his ilk are political pragmatists who are motivated by wanting to see Hillary be able to run again for President in 2012. For that to happen, Obama has to lose in 2008 and they need to be able to pin the loss on him and the MoveOn.org types so they can marginalize all of them in time for 2012 - without Hillary being tainted directly by their actions. A 1-term McCain presidency provides them with the chance to make that gameplan happen.

More broadly, what these immature Kos Kidz don't get is that some of us have intensely disagreed with Bush, the Republican Party, and Hillary at various times but we haven't felt the need to do what they have done and jump off the emotional deep end over our disagreements.

By overplaying their hand, the Kidz have polarized people and appear to have fractured their party's coalition. Hard to win elections - even in what should be a slam-dunk year - when you drive away key elements of your left-of-center coalition.

Hey, Kidz, politics is a contact sport so either grow up now so you can play ball with the rest of us grownups or sit on the sidelines until you have the emotional and intellectual maturity to run onto the field.


August 31, 2008


The Only Way to Settle the "Experience" Question

Carroll Andrew Morse

There's only one real way to add meaningful information to the Obama-vs.-Palin qualifications question before the 2008 general election actually occurs: through a one-on-one debate between Senator Barack Obama and Governor Sarah Palin.

Obama partisans who claim that their candidate's years of thinking about issues are better than actual executive experience should relish this opportunity for their man to prove his clear superiority in this format.

And Palin supporters who say she's ready for the job should welcome the chance for their candidate to face as high-profile a test, working without a proverbial net, as can be conducted within the context of an American Presidential campaign.

Tell me this wouldn't be the highest-rated Presidential debate ever -- and wouldn't bring a little bit of political substance to the attention of more Americans than ever before!


August 30, 2008


Even Surly Liberals Can Enjoy This Attempt at Direct Action by Sarah Palin

Carroll Andrew Morse

Ultimately, it didn't work. More conventional means had to be used to achieve the goal. But tell me you don't find this 2007 directive from Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be worthy of some praise…

Governor Sarah Palin today directed Department of Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, to sell the jet that was purchased by former Governor Frank Murkowski’s administration. The Westwind II will be put up for auction on eBay.


August 29, 2008


Sarah Palin's refreshing words

Donald B. Hawthorne

Beginning at 16:36 in this video of her speech today when she accepted John McCain's selection of her as his Vice Presidential partner, Sarah Palin said these words:

...I signed major ethics reforms...And I championed reform to end the abuses of earmarked spending. In fact, I told Congress: Thanks, but no thanks, to that Bridge-to-Nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we'd build it ourselves.

Well, it's always safer in politics to avoid risk, to just kind of go along with the status quo. But I didn't get into government to do the safe and easy things.

A ship in harbor is safe but that is not why the ship is built.

Politics isn't just a game of competing interests and clashing parties.

The people of America expect us to seek public office and to serve for the right reasons. And the right reason is to challenge the status quo and to serve the common good.

Now, no one expects us to agree on everything, whether in Juneau or in Washington.

But we are expected to govern with integrity and good will and clear convictions and a servant's heart.

Time will tell whether Palin has the ability to play successfully on the national stage. But in terms of an initial impression, Palin made a good one with those refreshing words.

ADDENDUM

Various interviews with Sarah Palin
Listen especially to the first one where she talks about energy issues. I believe Palin has a chance to alter the domestic energy debate during this presidential race. Sounds like she has more experience, judgment, and knowledge on the topic than any of the other 3 presidential/vice-presidential candidates. More on her experience in the following WSJ piece.

Wall Street Journal on Palin Has Long Experience Dealing With Big Oil in Home State.
Dean Barnett on Diminishing Palin: How the left will try.
Bill Stuntz on Palin, Obama, and the Experience Issue.
Bill Kristol on Let Palin Be Palin: Why the left is scared to death of McCain's running mate.
Kenneth Davenport on The Wrong Kind of Woman? NOW's crusade against Sarah Palin.
Fred Barnes on Providential Palin: She may be the one conservatives have been waiting for.
John McCormack on Sarah Palin, Not a Buchananite.
Volokh Conspiracy on Palin and Buchanan, II.
Helen Smith on Why Palin Is a Fantastic Choice: A Vice President Palin would help women in ways that are often ignored.
Jonah Goldberg on Commander of the Alaskan National Guard, Cont'd.
Jonathan Adler on The Alaska National Guard.
Jonah Goldberg on Pivot Palin, Pivot!
Rich Lowry on Fighting for the Middle Class.
NRO editors on The Palin Pick.
Jonathan Adler on Palin and Creationism.
Hot Air on Palin no panic pick: WaPo.
Flopping Aces on Palin's Trooper'Gate: Beating MSM distortions to the truth.
Lisa Schiffren on The Fighter Pilot and the Moose Hunter: McCain’s V.P. pick has electrified the base—for good reason.
John Podhoretz on She's Palin by Comparison.
Dick Morris on Lady is a Champ: McCain takes back the race with an inspired, maverick selection.
Father Raymond J. de Souza on McCain unveils a secret weapon for culture wars.

As to the issue of women in politics, I would say this: We have to get beyond the current politically correct gender silliness. The national debate on the role of women often has the depth of an elementary school playground argument. The horrible quality of that debate seems particularly ironic for some of us conservatives who were huge fans of Margaret Thatcher 25+ years ago and, had she been an American, would have voted for her in a heartbeat. Yet it wasn't her gender which endeared her to us. It was her world view, her ability to articulate that view, and her courage to act on that world view. She was principled, she was tough, and the fact that she was a woman was utterly irrelevant. Irrelevant to her, too, which is something most feminists don't get in today's America. And what will make history record Thatcher as great will not be that she was a woman but that time proved her world view and actions were wise and timely.

In a nutshell, the metrics by which we should measure the quality of any man or woman are their world view, their ability to articulate it, and their courage to act in a principled manner. For the good of our country, we should encourage a never-ending competition between different world views from both men and women. May the best ideas triumph over time.

It is extremely inappropriate at this very early stage to mention Palin in the same breath as Thatcher. But what is appropriate is to point out that there is often an intolerance among many feminists for their sisters who don't tow the politically correct left-wing feminist line. And these women don't see the obvious irony of how intolerant they are of intellectual diversity among even their own gender. I hope Palin stops talking about the glass ceiling because, by doing so, she is playing the game on her opponent's turf. She will do more for advancing the opportunities for other women by being competent and wise, by showing it is possible to play in the political big leagues while holding a different world view. Now that would be true diversity, a diversity which would shake the very foundation of feminist politics! Which is why the Left is so desperately trying to smear her upfront. It is far too early to tell how well Palin will do. She will most certainly be tested in the next 60+ days and let's hope she finds her own distinctive voice like Hillary Clinton found hers in the latter stages of the Democratic primaries.

Finally, I will close with a response I wrote in the comments section:

Hey, this is getting fun!

I write a simple post noting how Palin's initial impression was positive even as she is unproven on the national stage. That would be called a balanced and understated comment.

And that brings out the MoveOn.org wackos who then call people who disagree with them idiots!! Somebody must be getting anxious. Better be careful in your name-calling though. You wouldn't want to be accused of being sexist and treating Palin like Hillary was treated by other Dems. Or of trying to swift-boat Palin. LOL.

Yes, Andrew Sullivan is so persuasive when he writes: "[Obama] is a man who has spent his adult life thinking serious thoughts about serious issues and having serious conversations about them with other serious, well-informed people." Would Sullivan mean Obama's conversations for the last 20 years with his preacher who openly states his hatred of America? Or would he mean Obama's working directly with an unrepentant terrorist who has said he should have done more to hurt America? Or would Sullivan mean all those "present" votes Obama has done as a legislator? Yes, such heavy and principled thinking indeed. Sounds presidential to me!

Some things never change: All of this reminds me of Bill Buckley's long ago comment that he would rather be governed by the first several thousand names out of the Boston phone directory than the Harvard faculty.

LMAO.

Regardless of what unfolds, good or bad, the bottom line is that this presidential race just got a lot more interesting. And that is good for the country.



Krauthammer: The Solo Act that is Obama

Marc Comtois

Charles Krauthammer has an observation one the unique "oneness" of Obama:

Barack Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life. Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions. But himself.

Nothing wrong or even terribly odd about that, except that he is laying claim to the job of crafting the coming history of the United States. A leap of such audacity is odd.

The air of unease at the Democratic Convention this week was not just a result of the Clinton psychodrama. The deeper anxiety was that the party was nominating a man of many gifts but precious few accomplishments — bearing even fewer witnesses.

When John Kerry was introduced at his convention four years ago, an honor guard of a dozen mates from his Vietnam days surrounded him on the podium attesting to his character and readiness to lead...Eerily missing at the Democratic Convention this year were people of stature who were seriously involved at some point in Obama's life standing up to say: I know Barack Obama. I've been with Barack Obama. We've toiled/endured together. You can trust him. I do....

So where are the colleagues? The buddies? The political or spiritual soul mates? His most important spiritual adviser and mentor was Jeremiah Wright. But he's out. Then there's William Ayers, with whom he served on a board. He's out. Where are the others?

The oddity of this convention is that its central figure is the ultimate self-made man, a dazzling mysterious Gatsby. The palpable apprehension is that the anointed is a stranger — a deeply engaging, elegant, brilliant stranger with whom the Democrats had a torrid affair.

Obama always seemed to have been working toward the next plateau--from Harvard to community organizer to state legislator to Senator to nominee for President. As a result, with the obvious exception of his wife, there are precious few people who have shared his journey on his impressive historical run. He's been in such a mad rush to go ever higher, that he hasn't taken the time to set down roots anywhere. I think many Americans, perhaps intuitively, find that a little weird. Of course, many others could care less--they either agree with him or don't based on his espoused ideas, not his life journey.



Re: Sarah Palin

Carroll Andrew Morse

Since Matt Jerzyk of Rhode Island’s Future has said it as directly as anyone, and since there’s no doubting his sincere belief that Barack Obama is eminently qualified to hold the office of President, I’ll use his reaction as an example of what's being heard from the Democrats on the selection of Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee…

Can YOU imagine Sarah Palin one hearbeat away from the White House.
So let me make sure I understand. A 47 year-old man, who first won statewide office in 2004, but has no executive experience is clearly qualified to be President, while a 44 year-old woman who first won statewide EXECUTIVE office in 2006 clearly is not.

Is it the two years that make the difference? Or is the Democrats' problem with Governor Palin what Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton suggested, when he decided her origins rather than her current job were more important in criticizing the selection…

Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency,
…i.e. if you’re not from a city, there’s no place for you in national politics?

Or is there some other double standard that I'm completely missing in play?



Sarah Palin

Marc Comtois

The biggest talking point you'll hear from the Dems re: Palin is "There goes the Obama is inexperienced argument!!! " Perhaps. Except, the Dems "inexperienced" candidate is at the top of the ticket. Where does the American voter want the experience more? In the President, or the V.P.?

And you know what's ticking them off? McCain picked a woman and Obama didn't. Demographic-obsessed Dems are worried, don't let 'em fool you. Of course, the reality is that Palin's political ideology isn't exactly appealing to the average PUMA out there.

Nonetheless, she'll appeal to a lot of Mom's out there. She's a working mother with five kids (one son headed to Iraq, four kids at home including a newborn with Down's syndrome) and has a blue-collar husband whose worked in the oil fields and as a fisherman. Of the four people on the respective tickets, she's probably the most down-to-earth. And she's got the most executive experience of them all.



McCain VP? A guess...Palin

Marc Comtois

Mildly Self-Serving Bump: Looks like my gut-feeling was right: Palin is the pick. I'll leave it at this: finally, a conservative is on someone's ticket.

=======================
A la Sgt. Schulz, "I know nothink", but I've had a feeling for a few days (really, honest) that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin would be the pick. Makes sense politically on a number of fronts.


palin.jpg


I know I'm not breaking any new ground, nor do I expect plaudits as the next Nostradamus. Just a guess. We'll see soon.

UPDATE: And it looks like the buzz is that she is the one, from NRO and Drudge's current front page.
UPDATE 2: Or not. She's still in Alaska according to ABC News. See, this is why I don't predict stuff. We'll soon find out.
UPDATE 3: Screw it, I'm all in. I still think it's Palin and we're seeing some head fakes from McCain.



AP Says It's Palin

Carroll Andrew Morse

Link here.


August 26, 2008


Two Strong Views from the Right

Justin Katz

Yesterday brought a couple of opposing must-read columns from the right. First, John Derbyshire:

So I won't be watching either of the party conventions. Both parties' choices of nominee are appalling to me. I contemplate the next four years with dread.

I don't want either of these men in charge of the federal government, neither the crazy old fool nor the simpering sophomore. I don't want either the moralistic imperialism of John McCain or the welfare-state-to-the world sentimentalism of Barack Obama. I don't want my country represented by either a Compassionate Crusader or by Oprah Winfrey in drag. (Possibly in person, too, if the rumors we're hearing about Obama's plans for Ms. Winfrey are true.)

Next, Orson Scott Card:

In the election coming in November, we face the kind of choice that shapes the future of nations. On the one hand, we have an irascible Republican who is wrong as often as he is right, but at least has the courage to act according to his conscience often enough to earn the enmity of party hacks.

On the other hand, we have a candidate who has shown himself to be a complete captive of the intellectual elite, voting their party line in Congress, sneering in private at ordinary citizens that he does not even try to understand, wrapping himself in ersatz victimhood, changing his mind whenever it seems politically prudent while denying that he ever had any other view.

We are at the great political divide, and most Americans -- especially the young, who have been so grossly miseducated by the intellectual elite -- are getting their news from comedians who parrot the slanders of the elitists.

Solzhenitsyn saw what we seem determined to ignore: Power is fleeting, and so is freedom. The "world's only superpower" can only maintain the current world order if it acts with courage and vigor to stop the enemies of freedom and prosperity.

Perhaps the difference comes in whether one believes McCain is a fashionable elitist with an irascible streak or that he's a guy trying to muddle through, often acting with conviction in the wrong direction. If the former, he's a mildly better-than candidate. If the latter, he might be correctable.


August 25, 2008


The DNC Caves on Florida and Michigan

Monique Chartier

Just in time for the convention, but only after all the Democrat state primaries are over and

with some adjustments in Obama's favor

Following upon the revelation that Senator Hillary Clinton never made Senator Barack Obama's vice-presidential short list, isn't this a little offensive to Senator Clinton and her supporters, not to mention generally undemocratic? "Okay, you're back in. But only now that the primaries are over and what's-her-name can't pick up any momentum from them, plus we've artificially skewed the results."

Further, hasn't the DNC opened the door to rampant lawlessness during the next Democrat state primary season [what's that? the Rhode Island Democrat primary has already been scheduled for next September? * ] by failing to stick by its sanctions and their deterrent effect to the end?

* Strictly an illustrative joke; Rhode Island's next Dem presidential primary has not yet been scheduled.


August 24, 2008


The Media's Side, and a Surplus of Senators

Justin Katz

There's something strikingly inappropriate about the Providence Journal's top-of-the-front-page headline for this story:

Biden adds foreign policy expertise to Obama ticket

It's arguably a factual statement, but it carries the strong subtext of: "Readers can stop worrying about those questions of Obama's inexperience on such matters."

Reading on, a separate area of concern arises (emphasis added):

Barack Obama introduced Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware on Saturday as "a leader ready to step in and be president," and the newly named running mate quickly converted his debut on the Democratic ticket into a slashing attack on Republican John McCain.

The GOP presidential contender will have to "figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at" when considering his own economic future, said Biden, jabbing at the man he nevertheless called his personal friend.

This presidential race is far too seeped in the collegiality of the U.S. Senate. Whatever the outcome, our nation seems likely not to receive the full benefit of a healthy contention and interpersonal friction that comes from the leaders of our governmental branches being of different worlds.


August 21, 2008


Obviously Senator Reed is the Darling of the Neoconservative Cabal

Carroll Andrew Morse

William Kristol thinks Jack Reed is Barack Obama’s Vice-Presidential pick (h/t Kathryn Lopez).

Ramesh Ponnuru is not enthused.

I’m not writing any more posts on Vice-Presidential speculation.


August 20, 2008


Donald Roach: "I like Obama, but I'll be voting for McCain"

Engaged Citizen

So says Tom Christian, who attends Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California, after hearing both Presidential candidates make their cases to evangelical voters this weekend.

Both McCain and Obama were asked identical questions ranging from their views on leadership, the definition of marriage, and other subjects that affect the evangelical demographic. With respect to abortion, Warren asked Obama, "At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?" Certainly, there is some biased phraseology within the question. Yet, like the seasoned compassionate liberal he is, Obama replied (according to the unofficial transcript notes):

Well, I think that whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade. But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion because this is something obviously the country wrestles with. One thing that I'm absolutely convinced of is there is a moral and ethical content to this issue. So I think that anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue I think is not paying attention. So that would be point number one. But point number two, I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade and come to that conclusion not because I'm pro abortion, but because ultimately I don't think women make these decisions casually.[emphasis mine]

And so he tries to straddle the line between understanding the moral, theological, and scientific — the latter two above his pay grade — issues surrounding abortion but ultimately concludes that "women don't make these decisions casually." From an intellectual standpoint, that was a let-down. And I can imagine Tom Christian and other members of Warren's church thinking to themselves, "Wait a minute. This guy just said it's a difficult moral issue in one sentence but then supplanted the same difficult moral issue by giving supremacy to a woman's choice in the very next breath. He sounds like he is concerned, but it seems he's just holding to the tried and true liberal position on abortion."

Truth be told, earlier this year, I wrote that I was leaning toward Obama. I found myself drinking the "Kool-Aid" and, unlike Tom Christian, not reading through the tea leaves.

My main reasoning rested upon my perception of his integrity and my complete lack of hope for our current administration. I'd almost resigned myself to the notion of preferring a president I didn't agree with, but could trust when he acted on positions, versus a president I did agree with, but in whom I had little faith concerning in his ability to address real-world situations with any modicum of wisdom. Other conservatives like me — they call us Obamacons — have become disillusioned with the Bush administration's inept handling of issue after issue, moving the Republican party away from its true conservative roots. So why not give a hard-line liberal with conviction a chance, especially one as charismatic as Obama? Can it really get any worse?

Tom Christian would say "yes" and argue that, even though many Americans, evangelical Christians included, like Obama's message of hope and change, a closer examination of those positions illustrate nothing more than a fruitless liberal framework buttressed by empathetic dicta and inspiring rhetoric. And if Obama turns out not to be the dynamic once-in-a-generation leader many think he is, should we not heed Christian's observation: note the persuasiveness and allure of Obama but cast our lot with McCain, the pragmatic and proven leader?


August 8, 2008


"...there are two Americas. Edwards had a wife in one and a girlfriend in the other..."

Marc Comtois

John Edwards has admitted that he had an affair with Rielle Hunter around the same time his wife was fighting cancer.

Disgusting.

The National Enquirer broke it weeks ago--with plenty of corroborating evidence--but it was ignored by the MSM (unlike McCain's supposed "affair" that was "reported" by the NY Times earlier this year) and it was left to blogs and the online community to carry the story. Now that the coast is clear, all of the usual suspects are picking up the story.

Edwards claims the child isn't his--though he did visit her last month--and also is trying to lay out a timeline that shows he wasn't actually romancing Hunter while Mrs. Edwards was fighting for her life. Nope, he claims he waited until after she was in remission (the first time). Well, I guess that just makes it better: why on earth would a woman trying to deal with the effects that chemo, radiation and cancer have on the body and spirit need the attention and affection of her husband, right John?

Again, disgusting.



Friday Poll

Marc Comtois

Hey, it's Friday going into an RI-only long weekend. How 'bout a poll? So, intrepid AR reader, vote away.

If the Election for President were today, you'd vote for....
Barack Obama
John McCain
Against McCain
Against Obama
Hillary Clinton
Nader or Paul
Not Voting
  
pollcode.com free polls

August 7, 2008


If it Happened, Would She Really Say, "Shucks, I Decline"?

Monique Chartier

Our corporate overlords have asked us to distract from this. So quick, let's talk about Hillary.

Senator Clinton has not ruled out allowing her name to be placed into nomination in Denver, noting,

Senator Obama and I share the goal of ensuring that the voices of everyone who participated in this historic process are respected

We all remember vividly that Senator Obama won more delegates but that the final count was close. Can Senator Obama take the chance that it won't go the other way in a re-count at the convention? In putting her name back into consideration, is Senator Clinton truly motivated by a desire to respect and thank her supporters? Alternately, to take a slightly ominous view, is she putting the political strong arm on Senator Obama to name her to the V.P. position?

Or, most ominously, has she not quite given up the idea of landing the nomination itself?


ADDENDUM

Commenter Will points out

... the President and Vice President are nominated separately at these conventions. They are actually nominated by the convention delegates, not simply appointed by the would be president. Because the race is so close in actual delegates (due to the unelected super delegates), you are literally going to have a situation where roughly half the people on the convention floor are going to be Hillary backers. If they can't get what they really want (the number one spot), I think they will try for the number two position, even if they have to force it.

So the V.P. spot is the prerogative of the delegates, not the presidential candidate. This indeed is shaping up to be an action-packed convention.



The Fighter Pilot and the Organizer

Marc Comtois

For those interested in campaign tactical theory (I assume there is such a thing), the blogs Classical Values and Belmont Club both critique the "community organizer" Barack Obama for not doing a good job of adhering to Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals." And Simon at CV offers a helpful analogy apt for this contest between a fighter-pilot and an organizer" McCain has gotten inside of Obama's OODA Loop.

The OODA Loop, often called Boyd's Cycle, is a creation of Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret.). Col. Boyd was a student of tactical operations and observed a similarity in many battles and campaigns. He noted that in many of the engagements, one side presented the other with a series of unexpected and threatening situations with which they had not been able to keep pace. The slower side was eventually defeated. What Col. Boyd observed was the fact that conflicts are time competitive.
Simon elaborates:
Elections are nothing if they are not time competitive. Evidently the "freezing of the opponent" that Alinsky recommends has not worked on McCain. He was not frozen. Once that happened McCain was operating inside Obama's decision loop.
Wretchard at BC also explains why Obama hasn't been a very good Alinsky acolyte:
Alinsky’s Community Organizing model was above all a response within the Left to the Cult of Personality. Rules for Radicals is founded on the principle of “letting the people decide”, and while it does not dogmatically discount the influence of leadership it fundamentally rejects the idea that a “vanguard” intellectual elite can lead the “masses”....

The ideal organizer never takes personal credit for success. He finds existing currents and empowers people to free themselves from oppressors in culturally familiar ways. Organizers may provide background support for the popular activity — often doing the hard, dangerous stuff behind the scenes — but the people must always see achievements as being due to their own effort. Finally an organizer fades away. The ambition of a great organizer is to ride into the sunset like Shane, leaving a people’s organization that will persist after he is gone....

A real organizer works in small settings, amplifying, exhorting, putting others on the stage. He doesn’t work in front of large crowds and from the front pages of newspapers. And if it is objected that nobody can become President of the United States that way, the answer is that community organizers don’t want to become Presidents. They want to be organizers.

Gee, that sounds just like the organizers I know (quack quack).



The Pseudo-Intellectuals' Candidate

Justin Katz

Has anybody else gotten the sense that the Obamanation has the interesting effect of highlighting how extensively the zany intellectual clichés from the academic Left are ingrained in the liberal/Democrat movement? Consider Victor Davis Hanson's post aptly titled "Postmodern Architecture":

What was stunning about the NY Times' Bob Herbert's charge that the McCain campaign, in its satire on Obama's messianic sense of self, had deliberately inserted clips of the phallic Leaning Tower of Pisa and Washington Monument to drive home a racist trope about black men and white women was not just his embarrassing ignorance of architecture, or his infantile pop-Freudianism, or even his preemptory efforts to tie all criticism of Obama to racism and thereby stifle dissent. It was the sheer arrogance in the manner in which he persisted in his false points: "An image right there... of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and ... the Washington Monument.... You tell me why those two phallic symbols are placed there...".

Anybody who's sat through a college literature course no doubt recognizes Herbert's over-reliance on Freudian symbolism. (E.g., "His use of the word 'thrust' during the sword-fight scene emphasizes the phallic nature of the sword and raises the question of the white man's primal fear of being sexually compromised by the African American.")

Here's another example:

I think that the writer thought it smart to use the word "biracial" instead of "black" to feed on white male fear of black men taking white women.

I also think that the writer also thought it was brilliant to use the phrase "tiger by the tail" which is very close to the children's rhyme "tiger by the toe" which was originally the not so childish "n***** by the toe".

The blogger goes on, in the comments, to highlight the ostensibly racist letter writer's use of the word "lust," but a more rewarding deep reading can be performed without ripping the word from its succulent context:

Every scientific analysis of news coverage has noted the vastly dissimilar treatment of the two candidates. The media lust to be a part of "making history" by helping elect a biracial candidate. So, in the process, everything from ethics to integrity is chucked over the side. We're gonna make history. But, oh, at what cost?

We can well imagine the orgasmic euphoria with which the headline "Obama Wins!" would be written, and some of us may already harbor the foreboding fear of the governance that may follow it, but when it comes to fantasies, I'd suggest that the dark ones of the White Male are not nearly as significant a factor as the titillated craving for the expiation of guilt by means of submission to the Other from those who see in every tower a phallus and therein an expression of power.


August 3, 2008


About McCain

Marc Comtois

Some of you asked for it, so what the heck. Herewith are the "good things about McCain" list from a conservative perspective, gathered by your intrepid parrot of the right wing machine. Also with new and improved suggestions!

1) Judges -- is an explanation needed? Sure, there could be a Souter lurking there, but we know what kind of judge Obama will put up.
2) Pro-life -- Obama isn't and radically so.
3) Taxes--much better (though not perfect) than Obama. Needs to focus on helping the middle-class more dramatically. Reducing payroll (instead of income) taxes, via a child tax credit is one thought out there.
4) Supports domestic oil drilling and nuclear power--Obama only just came out for the former in a qualified way. No chance he'll support the latter.
5) Fight on Terror and "right" about the surge in Iraq. Tough but willing to work with Iran. Obama World Tours notwithstanding, McCain holds the edge and experience in the minds of the public. That won't change. Only question is if foreign matters are as important as domestic.
6) His health plan is all about portability and more options, making it more affordable. Tapping Mitt Romney--who can point to Massachusett's state health plan--could help McCain.

Finally, regardless of the above, McCain needs to tap into the domestic mood and strike the right tone. People are ticked and, like it or not, want "change." The thing is, Obama (he's new!) and McCain (he's a Maverick!) both meet that mark. The difference will be if we go with the untried-but-cool or the old-and-boring-but-solid.

Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru explain in a recent National Review that McCain should call upon his pedigree as a "fighter" to help bolster his campaign:

The fighter theme would work on multiple levels. It would tap into the public mood of disenchantment with Washington and politics. It would suit McCain, who is at his best when expressing an outraged irascibility (getting angry is not something he usually has trouble doing) and whose sense of honor is genuinely offended by many Washington practices. It would be in keeping with an aggressive anti-Obama campaign. It would communicate a certain vigor, perhaps mitigating concerns about his age. It would excite conservatives because — much of the time — McCain would be fighting against a confirmed liberal with an adoring media, while the populism and the anti-Washington cast of the message would appeal to independents as well.

The McCain campaign shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the narrowness of Obama’s lead. It may be that the best analogy is not 1976 — when the upstart challenger Jimmy Carter opened a huge lead over President Ford that steadily diminished over the fall — but 1980. That race was close until the end, when voters decided they were comfortable with Ronald Reagan, allowing him to blow out President Carter. If that’s the case, McCain helps Obama every day he fails to define and challenge him, as the public slowly gets used to the idea of the Democrat as a national leader.

The environment is so tough for Republicans that McCain won’t be able to win just on points. If it’s even a close call whether Obama is acceptable, Obama probably wins. McCain needs to fight, and time’s a-wastin’.



August 1, 2008


McCain Ad: "The One"

Marc Comtois


Now c'mon, that's gotta make you chuckle a little bit...

July 31, 2008


Two Cents on Obrangelina

Justin Katz

You know those small portrait pictures that newspapers include with stories after they've continued from the first page — so that the reader can gain the context quickly from the familiar faces? Well, seeing Obama's and Britney's pictures accompanying the same story in today's Providence Journal, I wondered how many papers around the country have similar juxtapositions. Even knowing the background story, I pictured a celeb-feud between the two, à la Trump and Rosie.

McCain should thank the Obamanation for transforming a relatively mild ad into a national news item that associates the Democrat candidate — fresh from a European tour (now with twice the pretension!) — with publicity-seeking tarts. Look for the next big YouTube video to be an Obama-related takeoff of this guy (explicit language).



....and can McCain Get Some?

Marc Comtois

Trying to undermine your opponents credibility is one thing. What can McCain do to make himself something other than the Unbama? David Ignatius thinks McCain should get back to his roots as the "maverick."

When he says he preferred political defeat for himself to military defeat for his country, he is telling the truth. With an ex-POW's stubbornness, he could not abide the notion of failure and dishonor for U.S. forces.

But what makes McCain's account of his captivity truly remarkable is not the heroism but the humility. In page after page, he praises men who he insists were braver than he was. Though even the toughest prisoners were broken by torture, he cannot forgive himself for signing his own confession....McCain's triumph, finally, was that he got over Vietnam. He didn't fulminate against antiwar activists....He accepted the ways America had changed in his absence. He didn't bear grudges. He had finally grown up. McCain wrote in a magazine article soon after his homecoming in March 1973: "Now that I'm back, I find a lot of hand-wringing about this country. I don't buy that. I think America today is a better country than the one I left nearly six years ago."

That healing gift is what McCain, at his best, brings to the presidential race -- not the brass marching band of military valor but the tolerance of someone who has truly suffered. It's evident in his achievements as a senator: He had been tortured himself, so he campaigned, against intense pressure from the Bush administration, for a ban on torture; he had been caught as one of the "Keating Five" in a sleazy campaign finance scandal, so he defied his party and became a crusader for campaign finance and ethics reforms.

What's damaging the McCain campaign now, I suspect, is that this fiercely independent man is trying to please other people -- especially a Republican leadership that doesn't really trust him. He should give that up and be the person whose voice shines through the pages of his life story.

Of course, he's done that already, which is why he's a known quantity. What we've got going on here is Ignatius pining for the "maverick" of old. The one embraced by many in the media because he was butting against those they loathed: GWB and the GOP. To boot, he championed causes that they, if no one else, held dear (like campaign finance reform). Now, even though McCain may not agree with the GOP "base" on some things, he still needs them to have a shot at winning and he recognizes that. So, like it or not, this is a marriage of convenience. Because the bottom line is that decision to be made is between Obama or Unbama.



Where's the Obama MoJo....

Marc Comtois

Andrew Malcolm wonders where the Obama mojo is and, after reciting all of the reasons why he should be way ahead, finally stumbles on the root cause of doubt amongst much of the electorate:

Obama's...a legislator who's been in Washington three years now, two of them as a member of a Democratic-controlled Congress that was elected in 2006 with great promise but currently holds historically low favorability ratings.

What's Obama done for D.C. change since arriving? What's Obama done for reform back home within the historically monolithic and corrupt Chicago Democratic machine, where some up-and-comers are sent off to Congress for seasoning before advancing to the big-time of City Council?

The mojo is also being damaged by the McCain campaign's latest tactics, which appear to be gaining traction:
It wasn’t until the last week, however, that the narrative of Obama as a president-in-waiting — and perhaps getting impatient in that waiting — began reverberating beyond the inboxes of Washington operatives and journalists.

Perhaps one of the clearest indications emerged Tuesday from the world of late-night comedy, when David Letterman offered his “Top Ten Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident.” The examples included Obama proposing to change the name of Oklahoma to “Oklobama” and measuring his head for Mount Rushmore.

“When Letterman is doing ‘Top Ten’ lists about something, it has officially entered the public consciousness,” said Dan Schnur, a political analyst from the University of Southern California and the communications director in John McCain’s 2000 campaign. “And it usually stays there for a long, long time.”

Following a nine-day, eight-country tour that carried the ambition and stagecraft of a presidential state visit, Obama has found himself in an unusual position: the butt of jokes.

Jon Stewart teased that the presumptive Democratic nominee traveled to Israel to visit his birthplace at Bethlehem’s Manger Square. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd amplified the McCain campaign’s private nickname for Obama (“The One”).

And the snickers about Obama’s perceived smugness may have a very real political impact as McCain's camp launched its most forceful effort yet to define him negatively. It released a TV ad Wednesday describing Obama as the “biggest celebrity in the world,” comparable to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, stars who are famous for attitude rather than accomplishments.

The harsher treatment from comedians and columnists — coupled with the shift by McCain from attacking on policy to character issues — underscores the fine line that Obama is walking between confident and cocky. Once at pains to present himself as presidential, Obama now faces criticism for doing it too well....

Obama and his supporters dismissed the line of attack as the latest desperate missive from a foundering Republican campaign.

Bloggers at the Huffington Post launched a backlash to the backlash against Obama’s overseas trip, arguing in part that he wouldn’t face such criticism of acting premature if he were white.

And there it is. As Glenn Reynolds has been observing, "...have you noticed that it's always Obama who's actually injecting race into the campaign, under the guise of warning about what those Evil Republicans will do?" And his supporters take their cue from him, as the above from the HuffPo illustrates. Reynolds provided a couple recent examples and I've added a couple more:
"So what they are going to do is make you scared of me. You know he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like those other presidents on the dollar bills." ~ Barack Obama

"I know that I don’t look like the other Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city." ~ Barack Obama

"I note with interest today, John McCain's new tactic of associating Barack Obama with oversexed and/or promiscuous young white women." ~ Josh Marshall, TPM

Jake Tapper own observations support Reynold's:
There's a lot of racist xenophobic crap out there. But not only has McCain not peddled any of it, he's condemned it.

Back in February, McCain apologized for some questionable comments made by a local radio host. In April, he condemned the North Carolina Republican Party's ad featuring images of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

With one possible exception, I've never seen McCain or those under his control playing the race card or making fun of Obama's name -- or even mentioning Obama's full name, for that matter!

I've seen racism in campaigns before -- I've seen it against Obama in this campaign (more from Democrats than Republicans, at this point, I might add) and I've seen it against McCain in South Carolina in 2000....What I have not seen is it come from McCain or his campaign in such a way to merit the language Obama used today. Pretty inflammatory.

Actually, it's altogether unsurprising: Obama's done it before.


July 30, 2008


Now is the time on Sprockets when we Dance!

Marc Comtois

Via N4N


July 29, 2008


Bob Barr on Global Warming and Other Subjects

Carroll Andrew Morse

At a conference call for bloggers, I was able to ask Libertarian Presidential Candidate Bob Barr about his views on global warming, an area where I had criticized him last week for some seeming inconsistencies. Here is candidate Barr's answer…

Although I certainly do not believe that there is anything approaching a clear linkage between CO2 emissions and global warming, as many maintain, I do believe that it is something we need to be looking at, to establish exactly what the parameters and correlations are, if any, between man-made phenomena such as CO2 emissions and industrial emissions and global warming.

If it bears out that it is simply a geological cyclical issue or whatnot, regardless of where we might wind up with regard to global warming, I do commend, for example, folks like Boone Pickens, who has indicated -- again regardless of what we find are the causes of global warming -- that we need to really start working towards developing alternative sources of energy over the long-term. Some people, as the former Vice-President has indicated, believe this is an imperative because of global warming. Others, like Boone Pickens, take a more market-driven approach, that is that global warming seems to be occurring, and we need to discover why and what the correlations are, but even regardless of that, we need to be developing alternative sources of energy over the long term.

Over the short term – and this is me talking, not Boone Pickens – we are and will continue to be petroleum-based economy. That is not going to change in the short term, and we need to therefore do everything we can to develop sources of petroleum, so that we have the energy we need in the short term so that in the long term, we will be able to develop the alternative sources we need, whether that is natural gas, solar to some extent, wind to some extent, or perhaps something that has not even been invented yet.

In response to other questions from other call participants, Congressman Barr laid out his positions on a range of other issues…
  • On social security, he wants to restore the idea of "ownership" of contributions, and move away from the entitlement assumptions that the program has taken on. He is opposed to any tax-increases to maintain solvency, but would consider raising the retirement age, as the assumptions about life-expectancy and retirement-age expectancy have changed from what they were when the current parameters were established.
  • Barr's top priority, if elected, will be cutting government spending. He will not support any increases in the debt-ceiling, nor any "emergency" supplemental spending, unless it is really for an emergency.
  • On foreign policy, Barr believes in "robust relations" with countries around the world, which includes exchanging political ideas to spread freedom and economic ideas to promote free-trade. Barr believes in a strong military, "but for defense, not for offense", and in maintaining the technological edge that the United States has developed. He would scale back American military commitments in places like South Korea, Japan, and Germany, and dramatically cut back foreign aid. He has "no use at all for the United Nations", though he is not opposed, in principle, to some American participation in multilateral institutions, in bodies that have narrow and well-defined goals.
  • With regards to immigration, Barr feels that the biggest flaw in the existing system is that our federal bureaucracies give second-class treatment to people who are trying to immigrate here legally, delaying their processing sometimes for years for no other reason than bureaucratic inertia; Barr would change that, and make lawful immigration much easier. Anyone discovered in the United States illegally would have to go to "the back of the line" and then wait for some penalty period before being able to re-enter the country legally.
Barr also discussed his problems with the new FISA reform, and his feeling that allowing warrantless surveillance of electronic communications when one party is outside of the United States is too broad an expansion of government power. For me personally, this is a deal-breaker. However, given the totality of Congressman Barr's views, this is clearly an objection to a specific program, and not a manifestation of a broader "if we conduct intelligence operations in other countries, they might get mad at us" mentality that sometimes infects contemporary libertarian thinking. Refreshingly for a high-profile libertarian, Congressman Barr seems to understand that most other foreign governments aren't as keen on liberty as the people of the United States are, and that the United States needs to take reasonable steps to protect itself from foreign dictatorial powers including, in the long term, bringing them about to our broader views of liberty.


July 28, 2008


Spinning Off Pieces of the Surge

Justin Katz

Statements such as this suggest that Obama (probably among many Democrats and some Republicans) either doesn't think comprehensively when it comes to strategy or is anxious to diminish America's importance as an agent for change:

... the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," contended that the decline was brought about not just by the U.S. troop increase, but also by a combination of factors, including Iraqi Sunnis' decision to turn against al-Qaida.

The Sunnis' turn was hardly independent of a confidence that American troops were there in force (and for the duration) for assistance.


July 27, 2008


The New Refrain That We've Heard So Many Times

Justin Katz

Conservatives don't seem to be "attacking" Obama so much as expressing a lack of surprise at his hollow recitation of trigger phrases. Consider the ending to a piece by Andrew Ferguson:

To pump a little vigor into his limp sentiments, Obama attached them to a hypnotic refrain. "This is the moment," he said in Berlin, repeatedly. But where's the urgency come from? What's the rush? In the long train of platitudes he suggested no discrete, definable policy that needed to be adopted urgently, beyond his call to unity, which isn't a policy but an aspiration. You get the idea that the urgency doesn't arise from an assessment of reality but from a rhetorical need. He's got to keep the folks on their toes somehow.

Obama couldn't come to Berlin and deliver a speech full of portent, as Reagan and Kennedy did before him, and as his publicists suggested he might. For all the talk about this being our time and us being the people, Obama shows no sign of really believing we live in portentous times. This is surely part of his appeal. It's not surprising that when he came to Berlin and said nothing at all, none of his admirers seemed disappointed. After eight years of overheated history, nothing comes as a relief.

For his part, Jeff Jacoby offers a notable contrast:

... Obama seemed to go out of his way not to say plainly that what saved Berlin in that dark time was America's military might. Save for a solitary reference to "the first American plane," he never described one of the greatest American operations of the postwar period as an American operation at all. He spoke only of "the airlift," "the planes," "those pilots." Perhaps their American identity wasn't something he cared to stress amid all his "people of the world" salutations and talk of "global citizenship."

"People of the world," Obama declaimed, "look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one." But the world didn't stand as one during the Cold War; it was riven by an Iron Curtain. For more than four decades, America and the West confronted an implacable enemy on the other side of that divide. What finally defeated that enemy and ended the Cold War was not harmony and goodwill, but American strength and resolve.

Back to Ferguson:

The thing about wars, even cold ones, is that the world doesn't stand as one; that's why there's a war. And in the Cold War the Soviet side was as united as the West; more so, probably. Left out of Obama's history was any mention of the ferocious demonstrations against the United States in the streets of Paris and West Berlin during the 1960s and 1980s, when American presidents were routinely depicted as priapic cowboys and psychopaths. Probably a fair number of the older members of Obama's audience had been hoisting those banners themselves 25 years ago.

Obama's fellow travelers have been on the wrong side when American confidence and fortitude have been required. Their intellectual forerunners decried actions that today they must embrace, however indirectly. Not through the toil of leftists did the Berlin Wall fall. And the empty echo to be heard in his representation of history and its lessons for the present and future suggest that a President Obama would not make those sorts of courageous decisions by which great men carve a path through history toward freedom.


July 26, 2008


We Can Change What We Believe In

Justin Katz

Catholic blogger Mark Shea has been keeping an eye on the messiahfication of Barack Obama, and I have to admit that there's something foreboding about the fanaticism. The feel is not unlike that sparked by a piece, years back, reporting that Pat Buchanan's young staffers referred to him reverently as The Candidate.

Enthusiasm for a particular candidate can be a great thing, if he or she merits the dedication, but we humans have a tendency to forget that our leaders rank among us.

ADDENDUM:

For the record, this photo of Obama is probably Photoshopped to include the cigarette, but my point wasn't an anti-smoking one, merely a non-celestial being one. Referring to the photos on Mark Shea's post, I'd suggest a high likelihood that pictures of Obama glowing or floating among clouds are manipulated, as well.


July 25, 2008


Fonz-bama

Marc Comtois

Many in the press have recognized that the surge in Iraq has worked. USA Today (no right-wing paper), for instance:

Why then can't Obama bring himself to acknowledge the surge worked better than he and other skeptics, including this page, thought it would? What does that stubbornness say about the kind of president he'd be?

In recent comments, the Democratic presidential candidate has grudgingly conceded that the troops helped lessen the violence, but he has insisted that the surge was a dubious policy because it allowed the situation in Afghanistan to deteriorate and failed to produce political breakthroughs in Iraq. Even knowing the outcome, he told CBS News Tuesday, he still wouldn't have supported the idea.

That's hard to fathom. Even if you believe that the invasion of Iraq was a grievous error — and it was — the U.S. should still make every effort to leave behind a stable situation. Obama seems stuck in the first part of that thought process, repeatedly proclaiming that he was right to oppose the war and disparaging worthwhile efforts to fix the mess it created. Hence, his dismissal of the surge as "a tactical victory imposed upon a huge strategic blunder."

The great irony, of course, is that the success of the surge has made Obama's plan to withdraw combat troops in 16 months far more plausible than when he proposed it. Another irony is that while Obama downplays the effectiveness of the surge in Iraq, he is urging a similar tactic now in Afghanistan.


July 23, 2008


BerlinObama

Marc Comtois

obamagerman.jpgThe Obama campaign's worldwide campaign--er, fact-finding--tour continues. (h/t)

For days, campaign advisers have attempted to present the trip as a listening tour with key leaders who Obama said he expects to forge relationships with for years to come. But the extent of the stagecraft and planning makes it hard to ignore that the campaign, long intent on positioning Obama as commander-in-chief material, has its eye on a much broader audience.

Yet, a campaign aide at the briefing said the Berlin speech “is not for campaign purposes.”

“I don’t think the fact that large numbers of people gather to hear a speech makes it a campaign speech,” the aide said. “The substance of what he addresses is what’s important. And what he is addressing has nothing to do with campaigns. It has to do with his view of where we are today in the world.”

Aides suggested the speech would not target Republican John McCain, but might draw contrasts with President Bush’s policies.

When pressed by reporters, aides could not rule out that the campaign might use a film crew to shoot footage for an ad.

Yup, that poster certainly doesn't seem campaign-ish. It's not like there is any overt campaign iconography included in the poster, or anything.


“It is not going to be a political speech,” said a senior foreign policy adviser, who spoke to reporters on background. “When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally.

“But he is not president of the United States,” a reporter reminded the adviser.

Minor technicality. Just ask the German press.
“The German press, looking from Berlin, behaves as if the election of Obama is a foregone conclusion,” said Josef Joffe, publisher-editor of Die Zeit, a weekly German newspaper. “He’s being celebrated like a victorious Roman general who comes back from the conquest of Gaul or something.”


July 22, 2008


Rasmussen: Presidential Race Tightens

Marc Comtois

We haven't done a lot of Presidential poll tracking around here, mostly because of the "meh" factor we feel for the two candidates, I suppose. But in case you're wondering, it looks like Obama and McCain are neck and neck.

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday shows Barack Obama attracting 43% of the vote while John McCain earns 42%. When "leaners" are included, it’s Obama 46% and McCain 46%.... McCain is viewed favorably by 57% of voters, Obama by 55%.
Just thought I'd bring it to your attention since I couldn't find this info on any of the other local blogs that devote a lot of time to Obama and the like. 'Course, they seem to never miss the chance to post the Obama-in-a-landslide type poll numbers......


July 20, 2008


Misunderstanding Maliki

Justin Katz

Via Instapundit comes re-reportage that reports of Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's support for Obama's withdrawal plan were over-hyped. From CNN:

But a spokesman for al-Maliki said his remarks "were misunderstood, mistranslated and not conveyed accurately."

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements, echoing statements that the White House made Friday after a meeting between al-Maliki and U.S. President Bush.

As with much else in the Obama legend, his supporters are quick to run with reports that just seem too good (from their perspective) to be true.


July 17, 2008


Is it Enough to Make Tom W Into At Least a Tepid John McCain Supporter?

Carroll Andrew Morse

From John McCain's remarks delivered yesterday to the 99th NAACP Convention in Cincinnati…

If I am elected president, school choice for all who want it, an expansion of Opportunity Scholarships, and alternative certification for teachers will all be part of a serious agenda of education reform.
Does this kind of statement make any McCain skeptics willing to give the candidate a fresh look? Or does the fact that, in a McCain administration, we're likely to see an education proposal like this shoved into the background, while amnesty for illegal aliens moves to the top of the agenda, too much of a dealbreaker?

(Just trying to help the McCain folks understand why their candidate isn't catching fire in conservative circles).

UPDATE:

Tom W responds...

I’m ALL FOR real school choice (i.e., choice among “public” and “private” schools). And I give him credit for raising the subject before the NAACP (which if it really worked toward its stated mission would be screaming to high heaven for school choice … instead it’s just a front group for the Democratic Party’s welfare wing).

But it’s a throwaway line – there’s no way that a Democratic Congress is going to sign-off on school choice, for the Democratic Party is addicted to teacher union money and influence, children be damned.

And we will get amnesty under McCain (btw, how does he define “secure the borders first” – what does he really mean)? Amnesty will bring “family reunification” and tens of millions of “legal” children and senior citizens who will not be coming here “to do the jobs that Americans won’t do”...

... but to go to our schools and take advantage of taxpayer funding for ESL and “special needs” programs (you can just picture the dues whores at NEA salivating at the prospect of hundreds of thousands of new dues units hired to service this new influx of millions ESL and “special needs” children). Now add in the millions of “legal” seniors who presumably will be immediately eligible for Medicare / Medicaid, if not Social Security.

Think your taxes are high now?

Continue reading "Is it Enough to Make Tom W Into At Least a Tepid John McCain Supporter?"

July 16, 2008


Bob Barr Already Giving Up on Pretending He's a Libertarian

Carroll Andrew Morse

This is from a Bob Barr-for-President media advisory I received via e-mail…

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr to attend former VP Al Gore's *We* Campaign event…

Bob Barr and former VP Gore have met privately to discuss the issue of global warming, and Barr was invited by Mr. Gore to attend the *We* Campaign event. Barr believes warming is a reality and is aware that scientists differ on its causes, impact and remedies.

…which is a very different sentiment than candidate Barr expressed during a June 6 Glenn Beck interview on CNN…
Bob Barr: Global warming is a myth. And yet it`s being used by the environmental folks, by the internationalists. A lot of the pressure is coming from the United Nations and other countries. Some of which, like China, of course, are pushing the Kyoto Protocol. Why? Because they`re exempt. It`s going to saddle us.

And what is McCain doing? He`s out there buying into this global warming, carbon emission cap and trade.

…or on Beck's radio show on May 22…
GLENN BECK: Do you believe in manmade global warming and to what extent will you try to correct it, if you do believe in manmade global warming?

BOB BARR: Mankind has done a lot of good in the world. They have done a lot of bad as well, but change in the climate is not one of them. I've seen no legitimate scientific evidence that indicates that the cyclical -- and they are very much cyclical -- you know, increases and drops in global temperatures over the decades and over the centuries is the result of, you know, mankind.

Is a politician who flip-flops his positions in order to gain access to one of the biggest-government guys around really the guy Libertarians want to put forth as the best they have to offer?

ADDENDUM:

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed running today, Barr certainly sounds like he's more comfortable with the thought of Barack Obama choosing judges than he is with John McCain…

Mr. McCain is a convenient convert to the cause of sound judicial appointments. He has never paid much attention to judicial philosophy, backing both Clinton Supreme Court nominees – Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He also participated in the so-called "Gang of 14," which favored centrist over conservative nominees as part of a compromise between President George W. Bush and Senate Democrats…

Nor is it obvious that Barack Obama would attempt to pack the court with left-wing ideologues.

So if you like Al Gore on global warming and Barack Obama on judges, then Bob Barr is your kind of Libertarian!

If the Libertarian Party was anywhere before, it's going to take them a decade to recover from the damage they've done to themselves by nominating Bob Barr as their Presidential candidate.


July 15, 2008


Cleaning the Attic

Marc Comtois

Time to clean out the "To do" link "attic" I keep handy. So, before they vanish into the ether, here are some that may be interesting to others.

Part I: Politics and Economy

Obama, Shaman by Michael Knox Beran:

Obama-mania is bound in the end to disappoint. Not only does it teach us to despise our political system’s wise recognition of human imperfection and the pursuit of private happiness; it encourages us to seek for perfection where we will not find it, in politics, in the hero worship of a charismatic shaman, in the speciousness of a secular millennium.
But Obama is for school choice...and for union "card-checks," as Mickey Kaus mentions in his refutation of the same:
It seems to me that a) a tight 90s-style labor market and b) direct government provision of benefits (e.g. health care, OSHA) accomplishes what we want traditional unions to accomplish, but on a broader basis and without encouraging a sclerotic, adversarial bureaucracy that gets in the way of the productive organization of work.

A Newsweek report on the economic feasibility of oil shale.


Megan McCardle
on Sweden, cultural homogeneity and the welfare state.

"A behavioral economist explores the interaction of moral sentiments and self-interest." Surprise! The guy who wrote about the "Invisible Hand" and The Theory of Moral Sentiments was on to something.


Part II: History

A piece on America's "special grace" :

If America has been given a special grace, it is because its founders as well as every generation of its people have taken as the basis of America's legitimacy the Judeo-Christian belief that God loves every individual, and most of all the humblest. Rights under law, from the American vantage point, are sacred, not utilitarian, convenient or consensual. America does not of course honor the sanctity of individual rights at all times and in all circumstances, but the belief that rights are sacred rather than customary or constructed never has been abandoned.

"The Paranoid Style Is American Politics" reminds that conspiracy theories have abounded in American politics since, and including, the American Revolution. Mentions one of my favorites, Bernard Bailyn.

How "luck" is an important, if often overlooked, factor in American History (or any History, for that matter). It's not all about conspiracy or inevitability.

A long and interesting piece on Herodotus and why he wrote his history (from the New Yorker--if you're not banning it or anything...).

Book review of Sean Wilentz's Age of Reagan.

A review of a book about the "Black Death."


Part III: Culture

A "conservative" review of Iron Man (I haven't seen it):

The fantasy wish-fulfillment that makes Iron Man so winning is not being a guy who can fly around and shoot fire from his robot suit. It's being the guy with all the money in the world, the guy who can afford to make that suit.

In "Cleavers to Lohans: The Downhill Slide of the American TV Family", Katherine Berry traces the devolution of "quality family TV" to the reduced importance of parental figures. (Isn't the Lohan show reality tv?).

"Violence and the Video Game Paradox," a fairly recent ProJo op-ed by Dr. Gregory K. Fritz:

...the boom in violent video games correlates with the sharpest decline in youth violence in many decades....The answer to this apparent paradox is that correlation does not prove causation.
But, says Dr. Fritz, parents should still pay attention!

Finally, Where'd Generation X go?


July 10, 2008


Jesse Jackson Unintentionally Weighs In

Monique Chartier

In his quest for the Presidency, has Senator Barack Obama been talking down to African Americans? [For my part, I have no idea; I haven't been able to get past the price tag of some of his proposed initiatives.]

If he has, was the reaction by Reverend Jesse Jackson appropriate and proportional?


ADDENDUM

Video available here.

For the record, Reverend Jackson has apologized for his remarks.


July 8, 2008


Sowell:"Conservatives for Obama?"

Marc Comtois

Thomas Sowell, noting that more than a few conservatives/Republicans are voicing their intent to vote for Obama, opines as to why they may believe they have legitimate reasons for taking the leap of faith.

Partly what is going on is that, in recent years, the Congressional Republicans in general-- and Senator John McCain in particular-- have so alienated so many conservatives that some of these conservatives are like a drowning man grasping at a straw.

The straw in this case is Obama's recent "refining" of his position on a number of issues, as he edges toward the center, in order to try to pick up more votes in November's general election.

Understandable as the reactions of some conservatives may be, a straw is a very unreliable flotation device.

If all that was involved was Democrats versus Republicans, the Republicans would deserve the condemnation they are getting, after their years of wild spending and their multiple betrayals of the principles and the people who got them elected. Amnesty for illegal aliens was perhaps the worst betrayal.

But of course, that isn't all that is involved. And Sowell explains how the difference between Obama's past actions and current words should be enough for conservatives to reassess.
But, while the media may treat the elections as being about Democrats and Republicans-- the "horse race" approach-- elections were not set up by the Constitution of the United States in order to enable party politicians to get jobs.

Nor were elections set up in order to enable voters to vent their emotions or indulge their fantasies.

Voting is a right but it is also a duty-- a duty not just to show up on election day, but a duty to give serious thought to the alternatives on the table and what those alternatives mean for the future of the nation.

What is becoming ever more painfully apparent is that too many people this year-- whether conservative, liberals or whatever-- are all too willing to judge Barack Obama on the basis of his election-year rhetoric, rather than on the record of what he has advocated and done during the past two decades.

Many are for him for no more serious reasons than his mouth and his complexion. The man has become a Rorschach test for the feelings and hopes, not only of those on the left, but also for some on the right as well.

I know: here I go again, being the Obamapostate. But I keep harping on this stuff because I'm fascinated by how people can put so much faith--and that's what it is--in any politician with a track record as sparse as Obama's. Especially combined with his recent, quite remarkable, tendency to change positions on some of the fundamental issues that got him the nomination in the first place. Further, while I can understand how this typically political action ("moving to the center") is ignored by the converted, I don't understand how conservatives can't see through this aspect of Obama's, ahem, change.

Then again, I get the emotional satisfaction, the temptation, of supporting the compelling, and potentially historical, figure that is Obama. And I get that conservatives have had it when they see a GOP that has forsaken some key conservative principles and then topped it off by nominating a guy who predicated his primary run on attracting non-Republicans!

But is the logical reaction against a 70% solution to succumb to a negative political emotionalism and vote for the guy who you might agree with 20% of the time? Of course not, but this all about emotion. The temptation to contribute to a crash and burn scenario is strong, as we Rhode Islander conservatives know. But how can we be sure he's going to fail spectacularly? What if he does just enough to get re-elected, entrenches a couple Supreme Court Justices and enlarges government beyond what it is now? Then who will get burned?



Providence Phoenix Political Hit-"Journalism"

Justin Katz

One hopes that some vestige of integrity left Mary Ann Sorrentino feeling dirty as she submitted a hit piece on McCain to the Providence Phoenix. Inasmuch as the paper actually published it, however, that hope is likely baseless.

The more than 1500 pages detailing McCain's medical information do not dispel the notion that the candidate's notorious temper may be related to his more than five years in a Vietnam prison camp. Reporting on his health in May, the New York Times noted how McCain's doctors called him robust. The end of the story also noted: "As a prisoner of war, Mr. McCain told doc-tors, he had tried to commit suicide twice. But by 1977, he said he had 'all but forgotten the traumas of captivity.'" ...

In John McCain: An American Odyssey (Free Press, 2007) author Robert Timberg (who knows, the candidate has said, "more about me than I do") calls McCain's legendary rages "out of all proportion to the provocation." He has also cited the sound of jangling keys as a trigger for McCain's POW-related nightmares.

The second paragraph is a freshman-year "paraphrasing" of a passage from this Salon piece by Mark Benjamin, and the "more about me" line apparently comes from promotional materials for Timberg's book, the most complete rendering of which that I've been able to find being: "Bob Timberg...often gives me the unsettling feeling that he knows more about me than I do." As with all such press-kit one-liners, however, the absent context likely makes all the difference; the next sentence could have, for example, been "But most of the time it seems as if he's just making stuff up." (I'm trying to track down the full source.) The limited context that Benjamin/Sorrentino brush off certainly diminishes the quotation's usefulness of proof that McCain affirms Timberg's telling.

No doubt — for the sake of fairness and in the name of journalism — the Phoenix will seek out reportage explaining that Obama's medical records do not "dispel the notion" that he suffers from black rage.


July 5, 2008


Can Obama, or Anyone, Live Up to the H(y)ope?

Marc Comtois

Brown U. senior and Darfur activist Scott Warren had a piece in Saturday's ProJo describing his recent visit to Kenya where he saw first-hand how much the Kenyan people love the idea of one of their own--Barack Obama--on the doorstep of becoming President of the U.S. The enthusiasm in Kenya may match or even exceed that in the U.S., but in both places, while Warren doesn't quite put it this way (heh), Obama has succeeded in becoming an empty vessel of hope and change to be filled by whatever is needed. But Warren warns that this exuberance, this dependence on a man to make it all better for each person according to their own desire, is a dangerous thing:

Obama’s Kenyan supporters, not unlike much of his domestic constituency, often carry unrealistically high expectations, thinking that he can single-handedly cure AIDS, materially improve the lot of Kenyans and end economic inequality. Kenyans may be disappointed if their lives do not significantly improve after four years of an Obama White House.

The enthusiasm for Obama’s candidacy has intrigued many Americans, who marvel that Kenyans have named beers after him. This enthusiasm, however, carries real consequences. The American president is not only held responsible for peace in his own country, but also for stability around the globe. Obama’s excitement could generate unprecedented levels of international support for American policies. Heightened expectations, however, could lead to real disappointment.


July 1, 2008


Whitehouse in the White House?

Marc Comtois

This is a true not for nuthin': Obama announced his candidacy for President about two years after being elected to the U.S. Senate and look at him now. Well, we're just about two years into the Senatorial Career of one Sheldon Whitehouse. If the timeline were right, how seriously would we take a Whitehouse announcement that he's running for the White House after two years of national political experience? Why do I think the term hubris would get thrown around? Yeah, it's probably simplistic as all hell, but maybe it shows how much luck and timing , and how little experience, plays in this arena. Anyway, just a thought.



Obama, Unscrupulous Developers and Campaign Cash

Marc Comtois

The Boston Globe recently took a look at the sort of public/private partnerships that Sen. Obama forged in an attempt to make public housing in his Chicago district "better."

As a state senator, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee coauthored an Illinois law creating a new pool of tax credits for developers. As a US senator, he pressed for increased federal subsidies. And as a presidential candidate, he has campaigned on a promise to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could give developers an estimated $500 million a year.
I support the concept, but such public/private arrangements require oversight and, shucks, a little bit of morality on the part of the developers. In this case, both were missing.
But a Globe review found that thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state, and federal subsidies - including several hundred in Obama's former district - deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama's close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama's constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.


Continue reading "Obama, Unscrupulous Developers and Campaign Cash"


Environmental Discipline in Denver

Monique Chartier

If you're attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, get ready to put your best green face on. The convention will certainly be sporting one.

Naturally (get it??), you'd expect that 70% of food items on all menus would be organic or locally grown. But with the slightly inexplicable mandate that "each meal should include at least three of the following colors: red, green, yellow, blue/purple, and white", there's the added bonus that your food will also be colorful. (The prohibition on fried foods is a little past me.)

And, of course, the convention has hired an

Official Carbon Adviser, who will measure the greenhouse-gas emissions of every placard, every plane trip, every appetizer prepared and every coffee cup tossed. The Democrats hope to pay penance for those emissions by investing in renewable energy projects.

If you're a volunteer who was looking forward to sporting that fannypack or baseball cap made in the USA of organic cotton by unionized labor, however, you're in for a disappointment - it was determined, after an exhaustive, country-wide search, that such an item does not exist.

[This would be a good place to quote Andrew: none of this is from The Onion]

To end the suspense about the fannypacks and baseball caps, these items will be

made in the USA of undyed, organic fabric. [Official merchandiser Bob] DeMasse vows to get a union shop to print the logo, but he says the ink will be petroleum based. Unless, that is, he decides to get the logo embroidered -- with biodegradable thread.

Petroleum based ink? With the advent years ago of soy based ink, this is inexcusable.

What about rubbish per se, you ask? Good question.

Perhaps [Director of Greening and longtime environmental activist Andrea] Robinson's most audacious goal is to reuse, recycle or compost at least 85% of all waste generated during the convention.

* * *

To police the four-day event Aug. 25-28, she's assembling (via paperless online signup) a trash brigade. Decked out in green shirts, 900 volunteers will hover at waste-disposal stations to make sure delegates put each scrap of trash in the proper bin. Lest a fork slip into the wrong container unnoticed, volunteers will paw through every bag before it is hauled away.

"That's the only way to make sure it's pure," Ms. Robinson says.

"Make sure". Trust but verify seems to be Ms. Robinson's motto. Not content to take the manufacturer's word about the biodegradability of "celebratory balloons",

Ms. Robinson buried samples in a steaming compost heap.

Initial results are not promising. But the convention is more than seven weeks away. A lot of decomposing can take place in that time. Ooo, seven whole weeks. That should be plenty of time to make the ultimate request for the sake of environmental purity: that all attendees travel to the convention without using fossil fuels.


June 30, 2008


Obama Says He'd Pay Women The Same...but doesn't

Marc Comtois

Another example of the Change we are waiting for from ourselves if we vote for him:

While Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has vowed to make pay equity for women a top priority if elected president, an analysis of his Senate staff shows that women are outnumbered and out-paid by men.

That is in contrast to Republican presidential candidate John McCain's Senate office, where women, for the most part, out-rank and are paid more than men.

Details after the jump.


Continue reading "Obama Says He'd Pay Women The Same...but doesn't"

June 28, 2008


Bill Clinton Has Not Arrived in Unity

Monique Chartier

Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama ended campaign hostilities yesterday with a near embrace in Unity, New Hampshire. But Senator Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, is not feeling the vibe. From the Telegraph (UK); h/t NewsBusters.

The Telegraph has learned that the former president's rage is still so great that even loyal allies are shocked by his patronising attitude to Mr Obama, and believe that he risks damaging his own reputation by his intransigence.

A senior Democrat who worked for Mr Clinton has revealed that he recently told friends Mr Obama could "kiss my ass" in return for his support.

* * *

It has long been known that Mr Clinton is angry at the way his own reputation was tarnished during the primary battle when several of his comments were interpreted as racist.

But his lingering fury has shocked his friends. The Democrat told the Telegraph: "He's been angry for a while. But everyone thought he would get over it. He hasn't. I've spoken to a couple of people who he's been in contact with and he is mad as hell.


June 22, 2008


Obama's Supporters: Oh the Contortions You'll See

Marc Comtois

I mentioned that local progressives were taking Congressman Langevin to task for voting for FISA. I wondered what they'd do once they found out that Senator Obama agreed with Langevin.

ANSWER: Give him a pass.

Apparently "Obama had a legitimate political reason for supporting the 'Democratic' compromise on FISA....Congressman Jim Langevin did not" and "Obama predictably has to move to the center. "You see, He Who is Change is excused for practicing practical politics in the short term, because he's gotta do it to get elected. Besides, he'll just flip-flop once he's in office, so just bear with him.

Huh. I guess that was pretty quaint of us to think that Obama was supposed be different and all that. But it shouldn't go without noting that one of the Left's favorite writers, Glenn Greenwald, who was cited by the same locals for his argument against FISA, isn't letting Obama off the hook.

The excuse that Obama's support for this bill is politically shrewd is -- even if accurate -- neither a defense of what he did nor a reason to refrain from loudly criticizing him for it. Actually, it's the opposite. It's precisely because Obama is calculating that he can -- without real consequence -- trample upon the political values of those who believe in the Constitution and the rule of law that it's necessary to do what one can to change that calculus. Telling Obama that you'll cheer for him no matter what he does, that you'll vest in him Blind Faith that anything he does is done with the purest of motives, ensures that he will continue to ignore you and your political interests.

Beyond that, this attitude that we should uncritically support Obama in everything he does and refrain from criticizing him is unhealthy in the extreme. No political leader merits uncritical devotion -- neither when they are running for office nor when they occupy it -- and there are few things more dangerous than announcing that you so deeply believe in the Core Goodness of a political leader, or that we face such extreme political crises that you trust and support whatever your Leader does, even when you don't understand it or think that it's wrong.

At least Greenwald is ideologically consistent. Anyway, I don't particularly care whether Obama acts like any other politician that's come down the pike. That's what I expect him to do, but doesn't his base expect something more? Won't these sort of normal, finger-in-the-wind political calculations kinda, sorta undercut the whole "change" mantra?

Sure, the local wonks over on the left get what he's doing, but Obama is depending on bringing in a whole new bunch of young and idealistic voters. And to the degree that the idealism is dependent on ideological purity, too many politically pragmatic flip-flops may undercut that idealism and the votes that are so inspired. Or not. After all, I suspect that a lot of the voters in this cohort live by the analogy: As Bush is to Everything that is Wrong, so is Obama to Everything that is Right. So it won't matter what he does, because he can't do anything wrong. It must be comforting knowing you're voting for the Alpha and Omega.

ADDENDUM: More here and here.


June 8, 2008


Attacking McCain

Marc Comtois

First, they made fun of the teeth that replaced the ones that got knocked out when Sen. John McCain was a POW (and local bloggers parroted the post and the snark, incidentally). Then they questioned (h/t) his military pension, because, well, he only got tortured--he didn't really suffer a permanent disability--and he's rich, too. But, then again, we also have a local columnist, Bob Kerr, using a WWII vet as cover to question whether or not Senator John McCain actually did suffer a long term disability: psychological damage in the form of post traumatic stress syndrome.

Kerr's piece contains the story of a local WWII vet who "worries" that his own experience with PTSD is projectable onto Senator McCain. It's a bit of conjecture attempting to equate the experience of one particular individual with that of another in an attempt to call into question the mental stability of a Presidential candidate. I'm sure that the fact that Kerr is going to vote against Senator McCain (no one doubts that, right?) isn't a factor at all. But Kerr tries to get cute at the end:

Perhaps there is no need for worry. Perhaps John McCain made a clean break with his prison experience and suffers no lingering effects. But the question is a legitimate one that will eventually have to be dealt with.
Gee, isn't that clever. So the presumption Kerr is operating under ("Perhaps...") is that McCain is kooky because of his experience in Vietnam and it's up to the good Senator to prove otherwise. Dress it up however you like, Mr.Kerr, it's still a low blow. You can disagree with McCain's politics (much of which I do, incidentally) without calling his psychological stability into question. Nothing in his political past has indicated that PTSD is a factor. Kerr tried to play it cute, but only succeeded in classing himself alongside the characters who made fun of Senator McCain's teeth and think his military pension should be means-tested, or something. Hope he enjoys the company.


June 7, 2008


Does Hillary as VP Satisfy Her Supporters?

Monique Chartier

Following upon the face to face meeting of Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton yesterday at the house of Senator Dianne Feinstein (about which no details have yet emerged), the question now for all of Senator Clinton's supporters who are disappointed with her finish in the primary to the point that they have decided not to vote for the Democrat candidate in November:

Would you reconsider that stance if she were on the ticket as the vice presidential candidate? While it is not the presidential position, would it be enough that she is on the ticket and, if elected, that she would presumably have a say in formulating policy across the board as well as in selecting nominees for the Supreme Court, US Attorneys, etc?


June 5, 2008


Turnabout Doesn't Feel Like Fair Play

Marc Comtois

Froma Harrop taps into the frustration felt by the Hillary-supportin' womyn out there, such as one Jean B. Grillo:

I am so tired as a white, ultra-liberal, McGovern-voting, civil-rights marching, anti-war fighting, highly educated professional woman who totally supports Hillary Clinton to be attacked and vilified as racist and/or dumb.
Or Shauna Morris:
I am upper-middle class, and I still can’t stand him — and it has nothing to do with race, believe me.
Or this little anecdote:
Tara Wooters, a 39-year-old mother from Portland, Ore., told me that wearing a Hillary sticker around town has become an act of defiance. She recalls one young man telling her, “I’d rather vote for a black man than a menopausal woman.”
Welcome to the "wrong side", ladies.


June 4, 2008


Contrast

Marc Comtois

John McCain:

I don't seek the presidency on the presumption I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save my country in its hour of need. I seek the office with the humility of a man who cannot forget my country saved me. I'll reach out my hand to anyone, Republican or Democrat, who will help me change what needs to be changed; fix what needs to be fixed; and give this country a government as capable and good as the people it is supposed to serve.

Barack Obama:

...I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment -- this was the time -- when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.


May 31, 2008


The DNC Rules Committee Takes King Solomon's Suggestion

Monique Chartier

The Democratic Party Rules and Bylaws Committee wimped out this afternoon and allowed Michigan and Florida delegates to be seated at the convention, though the delegates from those states will have only half a vote to cast for either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama.

This decision seriously jeopardizes Senator Clinton's presidential campaign, which needed every Michigan and Florida delegate to have a full vote. The Clinton campaign has specifically not ruled out an appeal to the DNC Credentials Committee.

The committee's action marked a significant setback for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and makes her already improbable bid to overtake Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination even less likely. Out of today's proceedings, Clinton netted 24 delegates -- 19 from Florida and 5 from Michigan. She remains roughly 175 total delegates behind Obama heading into tomorrow's Puerto Rico primary, which Clinton is expected to win.

Primaries in South Dakota and Montana next Tuesday, both of which Obama is favored to win, will close the voting portion of the nomination fight. There now exists almost zero chance that Clinton can reduce Obama's delegate lead below 100 before the end of voting on Tuesday.

The magic number for either candidate to formally clinch the nomination rises to 2,118 (from 2,026), according to a release being distributed by the DNC.

* * *

In a joint statement by [Harold] Ickes and Tina Flournoy, another committee member and Clinton supporter, the New York senator's campaign made clear that they will strongly consider continuing the fight over delegate allocation in Michigan.

"We reserve the right to challenge this decision before the Credentials Committee and appeal for a fair allocation of Michigan's delegates that actually reflect the votes as they were cast," the duo said in a statement.

Michigan and Florida broke the rules by moving their state primaries ahead of the cut-off date set by the DNC. The DNC needed to hold firm on their prior decision barring those delegates altogether. Why should rule-breakers be rewarded, even by half?


UPDATE: Clinton Campaign Recalls Advance Teams

Ben Smith at Politico reports:

Members of Hillary Clinton's advance staff received calls and emails this evening from headquarters summoning them to New York City Tuesday night, and telling them their roles on the campaign are ending, two Clinton staffers tell my colleague Amie Parnes.

The advance staffers — most of them now in Puerto Rico, South Dakota, and Montana — are being given the options of going to New York for a final day Tuesday, or going home, the aides said. The move is a sign that the campaign is beginning to shed — at least — some of its staff. The advance staff is responsible for arranging the candidate's events around the country.

* * *

UPDATE: Clinton spokesman Mo Elleithee says the advance staffers haven't been let go or told to find other jobs, just sent home. They aren't typically paid for off days. "We just haven't figured out our schedule past Tuesday," he said.



Someone Alert Paula McFarland

Carroll Andrew Morse

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (h/t Kathryn Jean Lopez)...

Koryne Horbal, the 71-year-old founder of the DFL Feminist Caucus, doesn't care whether her idea costs Democrats the White House.

Though she acknowledges it is a difficult sell, Horbal said she and other feminists are promising not to vote for Barack Obama and write in Hillary Rodham Clinton's name in November if the disputed Florida and Michigan delegations are not fully seated at the Democratic National Convention and Obama becomes the presidential nominee.

A petition drive to get feminists across the country to make a similar pledge began Friday, she said.

(DFL stands for "Democratic Farmer Labor" Party, Minnesota's state-level Democratic Party organization).

If you're confused by the title of this post, click here.


May 21, 2008


Sexism or Politics Ain't Beanball?

Monique Chartier

While stating her belief that the 2008 Democrat presidential primary has not been racist, Senator Hillary Clinton on Sunday made the claim that she received "sexist" treatment during her presidential campaign.

"The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted, and . . . there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head," she said. "It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists."

Googling the words "Hillary Clinton sexism" quickly brought up incidents on the campaign trail characterized as sexist. From a CNN online story:

At a rally, hecklers yelled to her to iron their shirts. Radio host Rush Limbaugh told listeners, "Will this country want to actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?"

MSNBC's Chris Matthews suggested "the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around."

Hillary Clinton's hairdos, ankles and even her cleavage have sparked discussion.

* * *

Online, Clinton is targeted, too. Clinton toilet brushes are being marketed as your "First Cleaning Lady" and a Clinton nutcracker is also for sale.

Do I need to compile and formally cite the childish or appearance-based or nasty attacks that have been made on male candidates to prove that they occurred? John Edwards being called the Breck girl. Implications (less so now) that Barack Obama is Muslim. The ugliness directed against John McCain during the 2000 South Carolina primary. The perfection of Mitt's hair. This list could be extended to a very long and negative post because (excuse the cliche) the stakes are high in politics and sharp elbows are thrown, especially to achieve a very powerful and prestigious elected position.

And that is the point. Senator Clinton is very much in that mix. Has she, in fact, endured more nastiness than other candidates? Or is it that the nastiness of political campaigns manifests itself uniquely to every candidate?


ADDENDUM

Arlene Violet, writing in today's Valley Breeze, asserts that female candidates do, in fact, encounter sexism.

A woman's negatives get highlighted more than a man's. In the Clinton-Obama stand-off, she appeared as a political insider more than he, or for that matter, Republican John McCain. Yet, they are all insiders. How else would they be respectively running with the imprimatur of major PACs and donors to the tune of tens of millions in campaign cash?

This truth, i.e., that a woman's negatives are highlighted more than a man's, not only explains Hillary's political demise but also the demise of women in Rhode Island who try to crack the glass ceiling for the governor's post. Democrat Myrth York found that three times was not the charm for being elected governor. Recently, the Providence Journal ran the pictures of the Republican and Democrat party's hopefuls for governor. Among all the white men was the picture of Lt. Gov. Liz Roberts. Ironically, none of the Democrat party's males are card-carrying John Birchers. They are just as liberal as she is, except she has the tag.



National Popular Vote: Is the Time Now?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Question for the National Popular Vote for President folks out there: If Hillary Clinton nets about 123,000 popular votes over Barack Obama in the remaining Democratic primaries -- enough to make her the popular vote leader, according to Byron York of National Review, working from RealClearPolitics vote totals -- should she become the Democratic nominee?

Just think what a great way this would be for Obama supporters to show that their commitment to National Popular vote is meaningful. If it is.

(And, of course, in the nomination process, there's no issue of Section 2 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to deal with).


May 16, 2008


Senator Obama's naive, ahistorical, and unrealistic foreign policy viewpoints: His Achilles Heel for the November election

Donald B. Hawthorne

In Israel for the 60th anniversary celebration of its founding, President George W. Bush gave a speech in the Knesset, saying these words:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along . . . We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

Kathryn Jean Lopez writes about what happened next:

Immediately, the Democratic party responded in outrage, insisting it was an unprecedented political attack on their presumptive nominee from foreign soil. Barack Obama himself said: “It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack.”

Senator Joseph Biden called the president's remarks “bulls**t.”

The White House denied the remark was about Obama. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino responded, “I would think that all of you who cover these issues and for a long time have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to. I understand when you’re running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case.”

The White House’s denial is believable, and the Democrats’ accusation is a distortion and a distraction. The commander-in-chief, believe it or not, might have been concerned with something besides The Situation Room running a clip of him hitting Obama. The presidency, you see, is about more than the spin-cycle, the next election, and even the next president.

The president could have been speaking of any number of Democrats. Say, Jimmy Carter, who in April, 2008 said: “Through more official consultations with these outlawed leaders [Hamas and Syria], it may yet be possible to revive and expedite the stalemated peace talks between Israel and its neighbors. In the Middle East, as in Nepal, the path to peace lies in negotiation, not in isolation.”

Or Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, freelance diplomat, who in December 2007 said: “the road to Damascus is a road to peace.”

Or, perhaps he meant Speaker Pelosi in April 2007: “I believe in dialogue. As my colleagues have said over and over again, unless you communicate, you cannot understand each other. You cannot reach agreement.”

Or maybe he meant recent Obama endorser and former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who, according to his own press release in February of last year, believes “the U.S. should step up our diplomatic efforts by engaging in direct talks with all the nations in the region, including Iran and Syria.”

Or Bill Richardson, who has said, about meeting with Iran and Syria: “They’re bad folks … But you don’t have peace talks with your friends.”

It could have been about Congressman Henry Waxman, who in April said: “A Democratic administration would go back and try to open that possibility up for discussions [with Iran] of a grand bargain of one sort or another ... Democrats would certainly have seen that as a missed opportunity.”

Or Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich: “I can go to Syria. I can go to Iran and work to craft a path towards peace. And I will … How can you change peoples minds if you don’t meet with them?”

Or former Democratic presidential candidates and senators Chris Dodd and John Kerry, who met with Syria’s al-Assad and said: “As senior Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee, we felt it was important to make clear that while we believe in resuming dialogue, our message is no different: Syria can and should play a more constructive role in the region … We concluded that our conversation was worthwhile, and that … resuming direct dialogue with Syria should be pursued.”

Or the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, from April 10: “[Diplomats] can deliver some pretty tough messages … You don’t begin with a president of the country, but you do need to talk to your enemy.”

You get the idea. The world does not actually revolve around Barackstar. It doesn’t even revolve around contemporary Democrats. There are two very different ways of looking at the world, represented by the two parties here in the U.S. President Bush, obviously, believes the other party’s approach is wrong. To say so, in his mind, was of historic importance, for obvious reasons. Obvious, at least, to any statesman who can see before and beyond this current election season. Thank you, Senator Obama, for helping make clear where you stand on that front.

Two different world views, for sure. John Podhoretz and Peter Wehner have more.

Ed Morrisey reports on what Obama has said on his own website and in political debates here. (And now Obama says this? Would that be change you can believe in?)

Power Line points out another significant and contradictory foreign policy position of Obama's here. Check out the photo at the bottom of the post and reflect on these words:

Commenting on the distinction that Obama vehemently observes between Iran and Hamas, Geraghty is unconstrained by the norms that Newsweek seeks to impose: "Obama contends a face-to-face summit with the guy on the left is long overdue; a face-to-face summit with the guy on the right is crazy talk."

Taking a further step back, recall Obama's NC victory speech when he said:

I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did.

To which, Tom Maguire writes:

Obama's supporters are too young to know any of this, but Roosevelt led the United States in the war against Hitler; the Allied policy was unconditional surrender, so there was very little for Roosevelt and Hitler to discuss, and in fact, the two did not meet at all (but they did exchange correspondence before the war).

So my guess is that Obama is thinking of the Yalta Conference with Churchill and Stalin as talking to "our enemies," although of course we were still allied with the Soviet Union against Germany and Japan at that point. Beyond that, is the Yalta Conference something Obama and his advisers view as a success worthy of emulation? Puzzling.

Power Line adds these additional words:

And the United States has been talking with Iran right along in any event. It's not for lack of communication that Iran has been conducting its war on the United States.

Michael Novak discusses the implications of Obama's world view.

Glenn Reynolds summed it up with this pithy statement:

MEMO TO THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN: When somebody condemns appeasement, it doesn't help things to jump up and yell "Hey, he's talking about me!"

I think Obama's views on this related set of foreign policy issues are his single greatest vulnerability in the general election. They are a vulnerability because they provide the clearest and deepest insights into his view of the world and human nature, at a time of an unrelenting global war against our country. And it is in the context of those insights about Obama's world view that it is possible to attach a related and unfavorable interpretation to his parallel relationships with Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers.


May 13, 2008


A GOP Veepstakes Aside

Marc Comtois

Many conservatives are swallowing hard and coming to accept that John McCain is the best option out there. But I wonder if that will change should Mike Huckabee become the VP choice. James Pethokoukis has the scoop:

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and defeated contender for the GOP presidential nomination, is currently at the top of John McCain's short list for a running mate. At least that's the word from a top McCain fundraiser and longtime Republican moneyman who has spoken to McCain's inner circle. The fundraiser is less than thrilled with the idea of Huckabee as the vice presidential nominee, and many economic conservatives—turned off by the populist tone of Huckabee's campaign and his tax record as governor—are likely to share that marked lack of enthusiasm. But here is the logic of picking Huckabee:

1) He is a great campaigner and communicator who could both shore up support in the South among social conservatives (Huckabee is a former Baptist minister) and appeal to working-class voters in the critical "Big 10" states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

2) As any pollster knows, voters search for candidates who "care about people like me," and Huckabee would probably score a lot higher on that quality than millionaire investor Mitt Romney. Plus, given all the turmoil on Wall Street, 2008 would seem to be a bad year to pick a former investment banker for veep.

3) Economic conservatives and supply-siders may balk, but the threat of four years of Obamanomics and higher investment, income, and corporate taxes might be enough to keep them on board.

Let me add that a top Republican political strategist told me about a month ago that he also believed Huckabee to be the leading veep contender.

It might seem like a smart political move in the short term as explained by Pethokoukis. However, should McCain go with Huckabee, setting him up as the presumptive heir, it would signal to conservatives that McCain was attempting to change the ideological foundation--and future--of the GOP from center-right to populist-middle. (Heck, he could go with Hillary Clinton and achieve the same thing). Of course, if Huckabee is the choice, I suspect that many conservatives will throw their hands in the air and just stay at home and McCain would lose anyway. We'll see.


May 11, 2008


Obama Believes in Recycling

Monique Chartier

... old political scandals.

Senator Barack Obama said today that a scandal from Senator John McCain’s past – the Keating Five – was just as relevant to the presidential campaign as questions about who Mr. Obama has associated with over the years.

In a news conference here, Mr. Obama was asked whether his campaign intended to raise the banking scandal from the 1980s, which Mr. McCain has apologized for. Every piece of every candidate’s public record, Mr. Obama said, is “germane to the presidency.”

Senator Obama became the presumptive Democrat nominee this week, surpassing Senator Hillary Clinton's regular delegate count and either narrowing or exceeding her superdelegate accumulation. And pollster John Zogby is now predicting that Senator Clinton will drop out of the race even before the remaining primaries are held.

Naturally, Senator Obama is turning to his general election opponent.

"November is a long way away", "a lot can happen between now and then" and "this promises to be a lively campaign". But this is a pretty boring item by which Senator Obama is kicking off his new status.


May 8, 2008


Differing Perspectives on America

Marc Comtois

Historian Dale Light offers an interesting summary of how the candidates and their supporters view the country.

One benefit of this interminable Democrat nomination process is that fundamental issues do get discussed -- no I'm not talking about health care, or foreign policy, or the war, or any of those other transitory things; I'm talking about things that really matter in the long run, such as how the candidates and their supporters see America.

By now it is clear that "Hillary!" and her supporters see America solely in terms of competing interest groups. This is pretty standard for mainstream Democrats, has been ever since the rise of the "broker state" concept in the Roosevelt years. It's a social science vision of the country and in terms of electoral politics it consists of identifying and pandering to a sufficient number of interest groups to accumulate a majority.

Tonight in his North Carolina victory speech, "O-ba-ma!" went out of his way to disparage that sociological approach to America, emphasizing instead common approaches to common problems. This is at first glance similar to the unifying nationalistic themes on which Republican candidates have run ever since the party's inception in the middle of the nineteenth century. But there is a significant difference. Republicans love the country for what it is and what it has been as much as for what it might be in the future. Obama, with his strong liberal and radical associations, focuses almost exclusively on negative aspects of the American experience, and talks instead about an ideal America that has never been, but which he promises to bring into existence.

I think he's being a little too rosy with his description of Republicans, but his point is that, all in all, Republicans are more apt to view the country as a whole--the history, the institutions, the traditions--as being a net positive. (I include conservatives with this group, but they also view government as being naturally, and detrimentally, expansionistic. As the last few years have shown, not all Republicans believe this, too). I also understand Light's point about the Clintonian factionalism, but we also have a long tradition of that in our politics, despite the express desires of the founders. Finally, Obama truly is a Progressive with a belief that a group of experts--with Obama in charge--can lead our nation to a virtual (or, to some apparently, a very real) Heaven on Earth. We just have to trust him.


May 7, 2008


His Speculation is Predicated on a Major Presumption ...

Monique Chartier

... namely, the quality of his own presidency.

From the Telegraph (UK):

Standing in his cowboy boots on the back of a 1941 Ford pick-up truck in tiny Zebulon (population: 4,329), Bill Clinton bestowed on his wife Hillary what he perhaps considers the ultimate accolade. She would, he stated gallantly, be an even better president than he was.

April 23, 2008


Magic Number

Carroll Andrew Morse

It looks like Hillary Clinton has the 10-point win that horserace analysts said she needed to keep going...


April 21, 2008


Camille Paglia is not Swayed by Hillary's Gender

Monique Chartier

Camille Paglia writes in yesterday's Telegraph:

All women, on pain of excommunication from the feminist claque, must now support Hillary. Never mind her spotty record or her naked political expediency. Any woman with the temerity to endorse Barack Obama (as I do) is condemned as a "traitor" to her sex. "Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life," trumpeted Steinem earlier this year in an article promoting Hillary in the New York Times. Barriers of race, class or economics are waved away as mere frippery.

Paglia also points out that while Senator Hillary Clinton has made derogatory comments about certain "traditional" female activity or behavior

... Hillary's public statements have often betrayed an ambivalence about women who chose a non-feminist path. "I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies," she sneered during Bill's 1992 presidential campaign. Then, defending her husband against the claims of a 12-year affair by Gennifer Flowers, Hillary snapped: "I'm not sittin' here like some little woman, standing by my man like Tammy Wynette" - a sally that boomeranged when Hillary had to make an abject apology.

she is not above deploying her feminine side when she herself is in a jam.

Losing ground with other core groups - notably her own cohort of upper-middle-class, baby-boom career woman - Hillary played the gender card to the max. When polling showed she had seemed too harsh to the caucus-goers of Iowa, she rolled out teary eyes for New Hampshire, which handed her a primary victory. Hillary will scratch, claw, and morph through every gender trick if it rakes in votes.

Her feminine side also came out during her husband's presidential campaign, as Christopher Hitchens pointed out, when questions arose about the 10,000% profit she made in cattle futures.

When asked how it was she couldn’t remember any of the facts about her infamous cattle futures trading, Mrs. Clinton replied, batting her eyelashes, that, Well, she was pregnant with Chelsea at the time and in such a hormonal state that it was very hard to keep track of such mannish matters.

Paglia makes the ultimate criticism of a woman who would wear the feminist mantle: that Senator Clinton's success is attributable to a man.

Whatever her official feminist credo, Hillary's public career has glaringly been a subset to her husband's success. ...

In Little Rock, every role that Hillary played was obtained via her husband's influence - from her position at the Rose Law Firm to her seat on the board of Wal-Mart to her advocacy for public education reform. In a pattern that would continue after Bill became president, Hillary would draw attention by expressing public "concern" for a problem, without ever being able to organise a programme for reform. ...

The argument, therefore, that Hillary's candidacy marks the zenith of modern feminism is specious. Feminism is not well served by her surrogates' constant tactic of attributing all opposition to her as a function of entrenched sexism.


April 18, 2008


Live by the Biography, Die by the Biography

Marc Comtois

Like other conservatives, I've been amused by how Saints Bill and Hillary have transmogrified into untrustworthy and selfish snakes-in-the-grass in the eyes of so many of their former water-carriers. Along the way, we've learned that those who were once part of the media conspiracy arrayed against them in the '90s are now taking their side against He Who Endures for Us All. But at least the bucket brigade has been consistent in one manner: in their world, traditional methods of assessing character weren't applicable to their favored candidate (Bill) then--shady land deals, extramarital sex and plain ol' lying--and they don't count now. Just look at the reaction in the press and amongst the Obama flock to the questions asked in the recent debate.

It used to be that you took a measure of a person by looking at how they acted and with whom they associated. How else could you assess their judgment, prudence and character? But some began to think that it was an old fashioned way to judge people, especially if such close scrutiny brought up some, er, personal foibles that weren't very attractive to particular candidates (Bill, again).

So what to do? Why, instead of worrying about how a candidate actually behaves and treats others--you know, all of that real world crap--how about defining character by the policy positions someone holds. Heck, makes sense. If you're trying to tear down the religion and culture upon which the moral judgment (that ain't currently working for you, anyway) is based, then why not try to define a new morality based on your new touchstone: politics. All you gotta do is check off the right boxes and you're on your way.

But, this time around, that's caused a problem for the Democrats. Because Clinton and Obama have checked so many of the same boxes this has been a primary campaign where the candidate's nearly-identical political substance has been overshadowed by their personal styles and biographies. And it's in the latter where, to the non-wonk set, the real difference lay.

To date, Obama has benefited from the comparison of biographies and styles, mostly because we all know (too much) about the Clintons. Obama didn't have to do much to sully her with her own past; it was already known (if heretofore ignored back when she was one of the Elect). But finally, in an attempt to to get behind the Obama hagiography, an unexpected quarter of the media, ABC, decided to delve into some of his associations (Wright and Ayers) and comments ("bitter", "cling to"). When you run a campaign based on biography and rhetoric, you had better be prepared to answer questions about both. He wasn't and, despite the screams from the Disciples, this was all fair game and quite the norm. Just ask a Republican.


April 10, 2008


Mistaking Thoughtfulness for Misogyny?

Monique Chartier

Sir Elton, isn't it possible that some people oppose Senator Clinton's candidacy on the basis of issues and character and not because they hate women?

And how can we resist flipping it around? In the unlikely event Condoleezza Rice ever runs for office, will you support her or will you be a misogynist?

British pop star Elton John, playing a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton in New York on Wednesday, said he was amazed at the misogyny of some in America and he hoped that wouldn't stop her being president.

At the fund-raiser which Clinton's campaign manager said raised $2.5 million, John said there was no one more qualified to lead the United States into the next era.

"Having said that, I never cease to be amazed at the misogynistic attitude of some people in this country.



April 6, 2008


A Hillary Update

Monique Chartier

Senator Hillary Clinton yesterday renewed her call for admission of the Michigan and Florida primary ballots.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday strengthened her pitch to allow disputed Democratic primaries in Michigan and Florida to be counted in the nominating contest, noting the vote totals had been officially recognized in each state.

"Some say their votes should be ignored and the popular vote in Michigan and Florida should be discounted. Well, I have a different view," Mrs. Clinton said at a rally.

Understandable, as the viability of her campaign is in danger without them.

Mrs. Clinton's latest comments came a day after Michigan Democrats announced there would be no do-over of that state's Jan. 15 primary, vastly dimming Mrs. Clinton's chances of catching Mr. Obama in the popular vote and in pledged delegates. Democrats in Florida had already announced there would be no revote there.

Simultaneously, Senator Clinton has been forced to drop another truth-challenged story she had been telling on the campaign trail.

For the past month, the New York senator liked to tell the tale of a pregnant woman who was denied health care from an Ohio hospital because she did not have $100 the hospital demanded to treat her. After being turned away, the woman was brought back to the hospital days later with severe complications. She had to be rushed to another facility for advanced treatment, but it was too late. Both the woman and the baby died, Clinton told her audiences.

For Clinton, the story was an example of how everyone should have universal healthcare. It is a powerful tale and always drew gasps from the audience.

The hospital, which was never named in Clinton's speeches, objected this weekend, saying it wasn't true and demanded that Clinton stop telling it. The O'Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio, told the New York Times that the woman was insured and was never denied treatment.

The Clinton campaign told ABC News today that the candidate heard the story from a deputy sheriff and had no reason to doubt the story. "If the hospital claims it didn't happen that way, we certainly respect that and she won't repeat the story," said Clinton spokeswoman Mo Elleithee.

If the phony story "was an example of how everyone should have universal healthcare", its expose is a reminder of one of the positives (and some would say, one of the weaknesses) of the American health care system: no one is turned away at the Emergency Room.

Meanwhile, Christopher Hitchens examines the depth of the mendacity of her other tall campaign tale, that of landing under fire in Bosnia as First Lady.

The punishment visited on Sen. Hillary Clinton for her flagrant, hysterical, repetitive, pathological lying about her visit to Bosnia should be much heavier than it has yet been and should be exacted for much more than just the lying itself. There are two kinds of deliberate and premeditated deceit, commonly known as suggestio falsi and suppressio veri. (Neither of them is covered by the additionally lying claim of having "misspoken.") The first involves what seems to be most obvious in the present case: the putting forward of a bogus or misleading account of events. But the second, and often the more serious, means that the liar in question has also attempted to bury or to obscure something that actually is true. Let us examine how Sen. Clinton has managed to commit both of these offenses to veracity and decency and how in doing so she has rivaled, if not indeed surpassed, the disbarred and perjured hack who is her husband and tutor.

* * * * *

Yet Sen. Clinton, given repeated chances to modify her absurd claim to have operated under fire while in the company of her then-16-year-old daughter and a USO entertainment troupe, kept up a stone-faced and self-loving insistence that, yes, she had exposed herself to sniper fire in the cause of gaining moral credit and, perhaps to be banked for the future, national-security "experience." This must mean either a) that she lies without conscience or reflection; or b) that she is subject to fantasies of an illusory past; or c) both of the above. Any of the foregoing would constitute a disqualification for the presidency of the United States.


March 29, 2008


Obama and His Misguided Minister: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Monique Chartier

In point of fact, if he were not running for President, Senator Barack Obama would have stayed.

From the AP:

Obama discussed his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright on ABC's "The View," which was taped Thursday and aired Friday.

Had the reverend not retired and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying there at the church," Obama said.

But Reverend Wright would not have retired over his own remarks if they had not been spotlighted by Senator Obama's candidacy. Nor would Senator Obama have objected to or distanced himself from the Reverend's remarks if he were not running for president. He would, to this day, have continued attending the church and endorsing Reverend Wright's odious remarks with his presence and even financial support. Only because the Reverend's remarks drew publicity followed by condemnation did Senator Obama distance himself from the remarks.

Barack Obama seems like a nice guy. But it is troubling that he has one set of standards as a private citizen and another as a candidate, especially when it comes to a serious mis-characterization of the country he wishes to lead.


March 22, 2008


Illegal View: Deja Vu?

Monique Chartier

The illegal accessing of official government files possibly for political gain?

Not good. Not good at all.

Well, it's a relief to know that the targets of this invasion of privacy - all candidates for the highly sensitive office of the President of the United States - are themselves above such scurrilous activity. Certainly this is not the reason that one candidate is hesitant to comment on this week's deplorable revelation.

"I expect a full and thorough investigation. It should be done in conjunction with those congressional committees that have oversight so it's not simply an internal matter," Mr. Obama told reporters.

Mr. McCain, who is traveling in France, called for an apology and a full investigation of the breach. "The United States of America values everyone's privacy and corrective action should be taken," he said.

Mrs. Clinton had not publicly commented by yesterday evening.



March 16, 2008


An Assassinated Mythology

Justin Katz

The following passage from Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism struck me as relevant to the (thankfully abated) speculation of Barack Obama's assassination:

On November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. As if on cue, Dallas was christened "the city of hate." A young TV reporter named Dan Rather heard a rumor that some Dallas schoolchildren had cheered when they heard the news of Kennedy's death. The rumor wasn't true, and the local Dallas CBS affiliate refused to run the story. Rather made an end run around the network and reported the story anyway.

Rather wasn't the only one eager to point fingers at the right. Within minutes Kennedy's aides blamed deranged and unnamed right-wingers. One headline proclaimed the assassination had taken place "deep in the hate of Texas." But when it became clear that a deranged Marxist had done the deed, Kennedy's defenders were dismayed. "He didn't even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights," Jackie lamented to Bobby Kennedy when he told her the news. "It's — it had to be some silly little Communist."

Or maybe not, the Kennedy mythmakers calculated. They set about creating the fable that Kennedy died battling "hate" — established code, then and now, for the political right. The story became legend because liberals were desperate to imbue Kennedy's assassination with a more exalted and politically useful meaning. Over and over again, the entire liberal establishment, led by the New York Times — and even the pope! — denounced the "hate" that claimed Kennedy's life. The Supreme Court justice Earl Warren summed up the conventional wisdom — as he could always be counted upon to do — when he theorized that the "climate of hatred" in Dallas — code for heavy right-wing and Republican activity — moved Lee Harvey Oswald to kill the president.

The fact that Oswald was a communist quickly changed from an inconvenience to proof of something even more sinister. How, liberals asked, could a card-carrying Marxist murder a liberal titan on the side of social progress? The fact that Kennedy was a raging anti-communist seemed not to register, perhaps because liberals had convinced themselves, in the wake of the McCarthy era, that the real threat to liberty must always come from the right. Oswald's Marxism sent liberals into even deeper denial, their only choice other than to abandon anti-anti-communism. And so, over the course of the 1960s, the conspiracy theories metastasized, and the Marxist gunman became a patsy. "Cui bono?" asked the Oliver Stones then and ever since. Answer: the military-industrial complex, allied with the dark forces of reaction and intolerance, of course. Never mind that Oswald had already tried to murder the former army major general and prominent right-wing spokesman Edwin Walker or that, as the Warren Commission would later report, Oswald "had an extreme dislike of the rightwing."

Amid the fog of denial, remorse, and confusion of the Kennedy assassination, an informal strategic response developed that would serve the purposes of the burgeoning New Left as well as assuage the consciences of liberals generally: transform Kennedy into an all-purpose martyr for causes he didn't take up and for a politics he didn't subscribe to.


March 15, 2008


Not For Nuthin' But...

Marc Comtois

I've been scarce around here lately, sorry about that. A couple quick things:

The RI Refrigeration thing is yet another manifestation of the frustration so many have with lax immigration policy. Personally, I think asking for an SS # crosses the line, but I'm not into engaging in such confrontation anyway. Not sure what purpose it serves other than fomenting the sort of tempest in a teapot we've witnessed. In the end, emotions got temporarily raised but the event is not going to change minds either way. Most immigrants aren't evil and most of those who want to enforce or toughen immigration laws aren't racist. Unfortunately, heated rhetoric is what gets the attention.

Apparently, Barack Obama regularly attended church, except for those times when his minister engaged in outrageous, anti-American hyperbole. And he never got wind of it until now. New politics?

Funny how so many progressives have finally realized how despicable the Clinton's are. I wonder if they'll be singing the same tune should HRC win the nomination? Yeah, right....


March 10, 2008


A Generous Offer Rejected?

Monique Chartier

Senator Hillary Clinton has proposed Senator Barack Obama for the vice presidential spot (with her as the presidential candidate) not once, but twice. And former President Bill Clinton has been talking up a Clinton/Obama ticket as "unstoppable".

Today, Senator Obama declined the number two spot, pointing out

With all due respect, I have won twice as many states as Senator Clinton. ... I have won more of the popular vote than Senator Clinton. I have more delegates than Senator Clinton. So, I do not know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who is in first place.

... oh, that's right.


March 5, 2008


Explaining Rhode Island to Outsidahs

Carroll Andrew Morse

For any national folks out there searching for an explanation of Hillary's Clinton victory in Rhode Island, forget about all of the identity politics stuff that the analysts are trying to foist on you. Here's all you need to know, starting with some wisdom from Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online

The Clinton team reinforced the perception that Hillary is the closest thing to an incumbent the Democrats have.

This is not the year for incumbents. This is not the year for a candidacy whose central argument amounts to “it’s my turn”.

Then realize, despite the relevance of Goldberg's observation to other states, that Rhode Island is the state that in 2006 -- despite facing recurring multi-hundred million dollar deficits in the previous years -- re-elected an incumbent Governor and every incumbent state legislator who re-ran for his or her seat, regardless of their race, gender, age, or party.

Rhode Islanders don't do "change". They just expect it to happen. End of story.


March 4, 2008


Hillary's Delegate Deficiency

Monique Chartier

Using formulas and data provided by Jason Furman of the Brookings Institution, Slate has created a nifty delegate calculator.


080227_Pol_CalcLaunchModule.jpg


[Pretty picture only; please click on the link to access the calculator.]


Slate's Chadwick Matlin and Chris Wilson have plugged in the delegates from states which have yet to hold their primaries and, at 4:36 this afternoon, concluded that

Even if Hillary Clinton wins tonight's primaries, she still has an increasingly difficult road ahead. Going into this evening's results, Clinton needs an average margin of victory of 16 points in every remaining primary to tie Obama's pledged delegate total. If Clinton wins by fewer than 16 points, then her job only gets tougher going forward.

And what about the super delegates? Until now, common wisdom had it that these would break decisively for Hillary. But this is no longer the case, in a campaign that at every step has failed to conform to expectations and sage predictions.

Currently, Clinton has a 44-superdelegate lead, according to CNN, but Tom Brokaw is reporting that Obama's campaign may be set to announce a 50-superdelegate envoy this week. That would make both candidates about even in superdelegates, which would make Clinton's climb even tougher.

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter availed himself of the calculator and went one step further.

So no matter how you cut it, Obama will almost certainly end the primaries with a pledged-delegate lead, courtesy of all those landslides in February. Hillary would then have to convince the uncommitted superdelegates to reverse the will of the people. Even coming off a big Hillary winning streak, few if any superdelegates will be inclined to do so. For politicians to upend what the voters have decided might be a tad, well, suicidal.


Clinton Wins Rhode Island...

Carroll Andrew Morse

...says WJAR-TV (NBC 10)...

...and WPRI-TV (CBS 12)...

...and WLNE-TV (ABC 6).



Huckabee Drops Out...

Carroll Andrew Morse

...according to CNN.



Sapping the Know-Nothings

Justin Katz

To some degree, it's often the case that the media hypes the youth vote — the excited kids who show up for the rally but not for the vote. Still, it seems likely that the unique factor in this election will be the "know-nothing vote," by which I mean kids and other generally uninvolved, uninformed Americans who flock to the personality cult of Barack Obama. As Rhode Islanders are particularly well positioned to appreciate, that's a very dangerous force.

I'm sympathetic to the strategy of allowing a Democrat candidate to hold the reins for a few years in order to heat the crucible in which a stronger, more conservative Republican Party can be formed, and were the presidency the sole question mark, I might sway that way. But there will be candidates further down the ticket whom we can't afford to watch washed away. We mustn't underestimate the extent or longevity of the damage that a too strongly Democrat government can do in just a few years.

So the question is: Which Republican candidate will drain the know-nothing force to a greater extent? My gut says McCain. One could argue that Huckabee will excite more conservatives, who might otherwise be demoralized and stay home, but I haven't seen much evidence of a conservative rally behind him. On the other hand, McCain will surely keep national security central in the general election while, at the same time, reminding some moderates that the Democrat candidate (whether Obama or Clinton) is farther from center.

It's not a very uplifting or optimistic reason for picking a candidate, but the times are what they are.


March 3, 2008


Dave Talan: Why I'm Supporting Mike Huckabee For President

Engaged Citizen

The Republican Party has an embarrassment of riches, when it comes to choosing our nominee for President. Every one of the candidates on our GOP Primary ballot on Tuesday is outstanding, and deserves our support in November if he is running against Hillary or Obama.

Senator John McCain is a war hero, and a respected and principled leader. Congressman Ron Paul has contributed to the discussion of the proper role of government in today's society. Ambassador Alan Keyes is a passionate spokesman for protecting life and family. Dr. Hugh Cort is a knowledgeable author about national security and terrorism. Governor Mitt Romney (who is still on our ballot) did a fine job running our neighboring state. And the candidates who are no longer in the race (Fred Thompson; Rudy Giuliani; Duncan Hunter; Tom Tancredo) made us proud to be Republicans.

But I have decided to support GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE for President on Tuesday. Let me tell you about some of the reasons that I LIKE MIKE.

* GREAT COMMUNICATOR. Nobody is better than Mike Huckabee at explaining our Republican issues to the general public, in ways they can easily understand and support. If you close your eyes when you listen to Mike speak, you would swear you were listening to Ronald Reagan.

* GENUINE AND SINCERE. I have had the chance to talk personally with Mike Huckabee the 2 times he has been in Rhode Island: last June when he spoke at the Health & Fitness Fair at R.I.C.; and last Monday, when I was able to ride with him all day to the 10 events he went to in our state. In person, he is the same honest, passionate, funny and compassionate man that you watch on TV. What you see is what you get with Mike Huckabee.

* CARES ABOUT ORDINARY PEOPLE. I am the GOP Chairman in Providence, where I live on the poor side of town. Most of my neighbors are Blacks or Hispanics, many of them 1st-generation immigrants. All of the GOP candidates agree on most issues. But I admire Mike Huckabee's emphasis on remembering that the people served by our government are "real human beings". In his career as a minister, and as Governor & Lt. Governor for 12 years, Mike Huckabee has helped ordinary people to deal with day-to-day problems. This is a pretty good background to bring to the Presidency.

* GET GOVERNMENT OFF OUR BACK. Mike Huckabee's plan to abolish the income tax and the IRS is just the change we need. (He would replace it with a sales tax, where people of all incomes would pay no more than what they do now.). Too many decisions in our lives now are based on how tax policy affects them. Under President Huckabee, we will make decisions based on what is best for us as individuals and as citizens.

Let me respond to some questions that people have asked me.

"Isn't this race already over? Why doesn't Mike Huckabee just quit?" The race is not over until some candidate wins 1,191 Delegates, which nobody has done yet. Only 5 months ago, John McCain was dead in the water, and people suggested he get out of the race. To his credit, John McCain refused to quit, and kept on fighting. Now Mike Huckabee is doing the same, and is fighting for what he believes in.

"But isn't Mike Huckabee hurting the eventual nominee's chances of winning in November, by continuing this campaign?" The GOP convention isn't for another 6 months. The election is still 8 months away. If Mike Huckabee quit now, before anybody had clinched the nomination, then the Party's nominee would disappear from the news until September. Just ask Rudy Giuliani what happens when you are out of the news for just 2 months. Mike Huckabee's positive campaign helps whoever the GOP nominee turns out to be (hopefully Mike himself) by continuing this race.

So, if you believe as I do, that MIKE HUCKABEE is the best man for the job of President; and that MIKE HUCKABEE has the best positions on the issues; then join me in voting for MIKE HUCKABEE on Tuesday.

Dave Talan is the chairman of Providence's City Republican Committee.



Insight from a Chronicler of Obama's Rise

Marc Comtois

Todd Spivak was a local reporter for a small newspaper in Chicago when Barack Obama first came onto the scene. In this story, he describes how both he and Obama came of age in their professions at about the same time and, more importantly, gives his perspective on the rise of Obama from legislator to Presidential candidate in 7 years. (For more on Obama's early years--and some of the contacts he made--read John Fund's latest in the WSJ). Here are some extended excerpts from Spivak's story.

Continue reading "Insight from a Chronicler of Obama's Rise"


Change You Actually Can't Believe In

Justin Katz

One hears it all around, from radio-show hosts to blog commenters to acquaintances, or perhaps feels it personally: the hint of a sense that maybe Obama's worth a try. Oh, there are rationalizations, whether a cynical desire for entertainment, a curiosity over dice to be rolled, or even a scheme to let the whole unsustainable bomb of left-drifting government policy explode in his face, rather than a Republican's. Some such considerations have merit (I'm particularly susceptible to the anybody-but-Hillary ploy), but let's not proceed blindly.

It's become the common wisdom that Obama is all rhetoric, no substance — like those Bill Clinton SOTU addresses that promised everything to everybody — but one can fill in his blanks. From his op-ed in yesterday's Providence Journal:

We also have to be clear that the American dream must never come at the expense of the American family. But even as politicians in Washington talk about family values, we haven't had policies that value families. As the son of a single mother, I don't accept an America that forces women to choose between their kids and their careers. That's why I'll expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover millions of additional Americans. We need to make sure you can take leave to care for elderly parents, and to join school activities with your kids.

We also need to expand paid leave. Today, 78 percent of workers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act don't take leave because it isn't paid. And this has a far greater impact on families with less income and less savings. To make sure our system is fair, I will press states to adopt paid-leave systems, and set aside $1.5 billion to fund the start-up costs and help states offset the costs to employers. And I'll require employers to provide all of their workers with seven paid sick days a year, because you shouldn't be punished for being sick.

With this, we have a taste of the socialist change promised by Candidate Barack: Government burdens sold to the masses at the expense of their employers, favoring the accommodation of poor choices (such as single motherhood), rather than encouraging citizens to change the culture to be more conducive to family life.

The result, which we can predict with near certainty, will be almost the opposite of that intended. Single mothers who are established in their careers won't miss quite so many dance recitals, but young families will find themselves locked in intern limbo (as is happening in France). Public union workers won't even have to negotiate for the benefit of paid time off for parental care, but more average Americans will have to work harder for less money and die before they get to retire.

I'm sure Obama's rhetoric has a universally soothing tone as it flows from beginning to end through the loudspeakers — especially with the distraction of feeling part of a happening — but slow it to a stop, and we can see just how damaging his reign could be.


March 2, 2008


Interesting

Justin Katz

I just deleted two identical comments — one each on the latest posts here and on Dust in the Light — peddling the conspiracy that Barack Obama is a packaged "product" of powerful corporations with Republican ties, with the objective of building a nuclear power industry across the nation.

That may be the first political attack spam that I've noticed as such.

Anybody know Karl Rove's IP address?


February 28, 2008


A Nunu Testament

Justin Katz

Mark Shea pens some gospel truth:

1:11 Blessed are those who Believe, for they shall say, "Yes We Can!"
1:12 Blessed are those who say, "Yes We Can!" for they shall audaciously Hope.
1:13 Blessed are those who Hope, for they shall speak of Change.
1:14 Blessed are those who speak of Change, for they shall Get Fired Up.
1:15 Blessed are those who Get Fired Up, for they shall be baptized with the Spirit of the Age.
1:16 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst during long rallies, for they shall drink the waters of Evian and I shall not lose my photo op.
1:17 Blessed are we. For we are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the Change that we seek.
1:18 Blessed are you, when men shall question you, and ask specifics, and seek all manner of policy detail for clarity's sake. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for so persecuted they the vague-minded which were before you. They shall drag you before TV cameras and microphones, and ask all manner of questions about specifics and you shall give testimony to me before the kings of the earth. But he that remains vague until the end shall receive a great reward in the Administration that is come.

Of course, the germane question is for which gospel this is truth.


February 26, 2008


Four Interesting Things Said by Mike Huckabee at his Rally in Warwick

Carroll Andrew Morse

On the connection of the pro-life position to the American founding…

There are many of us across this country not into the pro-life movement because of the politics of it, but into the political world because we believe that being pro-life is one of the most important ways in which we affirm what our Founding Fathers' believed. Listen to what they said when signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. They made a pretty bold and audacious statement. They said "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"…

Now, the idea of everyone being equal was dramatically different from what the rest of the world was practicing. It was such a radical idea because, up until then, there were variations in people's perceived worth and value. With the signing of that document, they established a government unlike any other that said that no person was more valuable than another, which meant that no person was less valuable than another. What that still means, after all these years, is that where we live, what job we have, our abilities, or our disabilities do not factor in to who we are in terms of our worth as a person. And at any point in our personhood, our value is equal to that of anybody else...

On how a pro-life culture stands in stark contrast to our Islamofascist enemy (and kudos to Governor Huckabee for his willingness to use the term Islamofascism)…
Contrast this to the Islamofascists. Theirs is a culture in which it is OK to strap a bomb on to your own child, and send that child into a room like this and detonate it in order to make a political point. Ladies and gentleman, I prefer a culture of life.
On his basic defense philosophy…
As Commander-In-Chief, I am going to make sure that America has the most prepared, well-equipped, well-trained, well-financed army Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, so that nobody on this earth would want to engage us in a battle, because they would know that the outcome would be determined by the quality of the forces we have in place to overcome them.
And on the logic of a consumption tax system over an income tax system in a globalized world…
A table built in Rhode Island has a 22% embedded cost from the government, for every unit that is built. If that same table is built in China…it's not taxable when it's being made, and it’s not taxable when it comes to this country. And we wonder why American made things are struggling?



Mike Huckabee on School Vouchers

Carroll Andrew Morse

I was able to attend Governor Mike Huckabee's Rhode Island press event last evening, immediately preceding his rally in Warwick. During the press conference, Russell J. Moore of the Warwick Beacon broke a chain of horserace and identity politics questions being asked by other reporters to -- get this -- ask an actual question about policy, inquiring about Governor Huckabee's position on school vouchers…

Governor Mike Huckabee: I think [vouchers are] a state issue. And the only thing I believe is that the Federal government shouldn't tell a state whether they can or can't do. If a state believes vouchers will improve educational opportunities for it students, they should do it. So I'm for them, if that's what a state chooses to do. What I don't want is a Federal mandate telling a state it has to have them or that it can't have them, because that is not a function or role or right of the Federal government.

Anchor Rising (Er, perhaps shouting out a bit louder than is normally done at a formal press events. Retroactive apologies for being a surly New Englander): How about a judicial ban?

MH: Pardon me?

AR: What if a court says you can't have vouchers?

MH: It depends on why they said it. If it is because it creates a racial imbalance or some issue that goes to the heart of the constitutional question, then the courts would have to be followed. But I don't know about any case like that, I didn't confront that in Arkansas.

Now, at a mainstream press event, I don't expect a candidate to be in full wonk mode, but I found this answer to be unsatisfying. It is true that the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2002 in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that there are no federal grounds for blocking voucher programs, even when vouchers are applied to religious schools, but there is still much that will be litigated with respect to vouchers. The year after Zelman, the State Supreme Court of Colorado struck down a voucher program that had been approved by the legislature on the grounds that it violated a state constitutional provision on local control. And, at the beginning of 2006, the State Supreme Court of Florida used even vaguer language to strike down an "opportunity scholarship" program, on the grounds that the state constitution requires that education be "uniform".

It may be legitimate to say that cases like the recent Florida and Colorado cases shouldn't involve the Federal government, but that's different from taking the position that there are no court issues involved. When the well-financed, well-organized opponents of vouchers take to the courts to block programs passed by state legislatures, would a President Mike Huckabee use the bully pulpit (and maybe support the writing of a Justice Department amicus brief or two) to support giving parents the maximum resources for finding the best education for their child, or will he be OK with an education policy that tells teachers and students that their job is to meet federal goals (Governor Huckabee is a proponent of No-Child-Left-Behind) while limiting them to a narrow range of means deemed allowable by judges in the name of "uniformity"?

Plus, there is still at least one remaining issue with vouchers at the Federal level, the so-called "Blaine amendments" written into the constitutions of 36 states that expressly ban the public financing of religious-based schools. New Hampshire's provision provides one of the most direct examples…

. . . no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools or institutions of any religious sect or denomination."
(Incidentally, Rhode Island is one of the states that doesn't have a Blaine amendment, which would make implementing a voucher plan easier here than in other states.) Does Governor Huckabee believe that vouchers are a cut-and-dried federalism issue when their implementation is blocked by state constitutional provisions that mandate discrimination on the basis of religion?

Unfortunately, Governor Huckabee's squishy answer on the subject of vouchers reinforces the idea that if elected President, he is not someone who will be an innovative policy guy. Yes, I know he's in favor of a national sales tax, but say that his tax plan, which is a longshot at this moment in history whether it's a good idea or not, fails to win Congressional approval. What comes up next on President Huckabee's domestic agenda? De-centralizing things so that people have maximum freedom to use their tax dollars as they see fit, however they are collected? Or is he more of a Rockefeller Republican than his blue-state critics give him credit for, someone who is satisfied with saying, well, with a good guy like me in charge, we can make big bureaucratic government work! Mike Huckabee has to show a little more creativity on policy to convince conservatives that his positions don't tend towards the latter.

I hope that the Governor's supporters will take this as a constructive criticism, as Governor Huckabee could be a figure who could help unite the different wings of the Republican party -- if he is truly open to the full range of conservative ideas on domestic policy.


February 22, 2008


Obama's Effect on Race Relations

Justin Katz

A few weeks ago, Dan Yorke brought one of his coworkers (a sports guy) into the studio to discuss his Massachusetts primary vote for Barack Obama. That coworker characterized himself as the only non-racist person he knew and sought to explain why it was appropriate to look at Obama and see only a black man who would help to advance race relations in America.

Dan posed the question of whether that approach to voting was racist. To those who'd say "no," because the vote wouldn't be motivated by the candidate's race so much as his effect on a particular issue of defining import in this country, I'd ask whether the same would hold true for somebody who voted the other way for the same reason. That is, would it be racist to vote against a black man simply because the voter believes that doing so would exacerbate race relations?

John Derbyshire offered some thoughts in this line over in the Corner, yesterday:

... Imagine an Obama presidency overwhelmed and floundering, like Carter's. There are enough issues, domestic and foreign, coming down the pike to make this very possible — you know them, I don't need to enumerate. Black Americans will of course go on voting for the party of a black president regardless. Nonblacks will flee from the Democrats in droves, though. A Republican landslide in the 2010 midterms (think 1994); a clear GOP victory in 2012 (think 1980).

By that point the Democratic Party might be nothing other than the party of black Americans. To the degree that black and nonblack Americans get on with each other at all, it is largely thanks to the coalition of black citizens and nonblack liberals and interest groups represented in the national political life by the Democratic Party. A permanent sundering of that coalition would be greatly to America's peril. Black Americans would be shut out of our political life.

Plausible? More to the point, even assuming it's plausible, would it (of itself) justify an anti-Barack vote?


February 15, 2008


Reactions to the Chafee Endorsement of Obama

Carroll Andrew Morse

Part of me says that one conventional liberal endorsing another isn't really news. Still, given the history involved, the Chafee endorsement of Barack Obama for President is a legitimate news blip, if only for a brief moment.

At yesterday's John McCain rally in Warwick, Tom Shevlin of Rhode Island Report, MTV & the AP captured a few reactions (former Chafee camapaign manager Ian Lang, current RI GOP chairman Gio Cicione, former Congressional candidate and Republican activist Jon Scott) to the endorsement announcement…



February 14, 2008


Chafee's (Last?) Day in the Sun

Marc Comtois

So former Senator Lincoln Chafee has endorsed Barack Obama, primarily, he says, because Obama (like Chafee himself) was against the Iraq War from the beginning. Can't say anyone should be surprised. As the ProJo reported last week, Chafee was leaning this way for a while and he has a book coming out that is critical of Democrats for rubber-stamping President Bush's "rush to war."

In his upcoming book, Against the Tide [due April 1 from St. Martin’s Press], Chafee excoriates congressional Democrats who voted in 2002 to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq.

He writes: “Being wrong about sending Americans to kill and be killed, maim and be maimed, is not like making a punctuation mistake in a highway bill.” Some leading Democrats “argue that the president duped them into war, but getting duped does not exactly recommend their leadership. Helping a rogue president start an unnecessary war should be a career-ending lapse of judgment.”

Spare me any stories of Chafee being principled and all that. The guy was more than happy to take money from his former party in 2006. And this endorsement effectively places him in opposition to his "good friend" John McCain, a man who campaigned for Chafee back then. Once again, I guess loyalty is a one-way street in Chafee-land.


February 13, 2008


Obama and the Teleprompter

Marc Comtois

Dean Barnett of the Weekly Standard took in a recent Obama speech and noted that the lack of a teleprompter changed the effectiveness and substance of Obama's typically soaring rhetoric:

The results weren't just interesting because they revealed Obama as a markedly inferior speaker without the Teleprompter. Obama's supporters have had ample notice that the scripted Obama is far more effective than the spontaneous one. The extremely articulate and passionate Obama that makes all the speeches has yet to show up at any of the debates. For such a gifted and energetic speaker, he is an oddly tongue-tied and indifferent debater.

What was especially noteworthy about his Virginia speech were the diversions Obama took from the prepared text. Because of Obama's improvised moments, this speech was different than the usual fare he offers. We didn't get the normal dosages of post-partisanship or even "elevation." Virtually every time Obama deviated from the text, he expressed the partisan anger that has so poisoned the Democratic party. His spontaneous comments eschewed the conciliatory and optimistic tone that has made the Obama campaign such a phenomenon. It looked like the spirit of John Edwards or Howard Dean had possessed Obama every time he vamped. While Paul Krugman probably loved it, this different Obama was a far less attractive one.

***
What makes Obama's Jefferson-Jackson speech especially relevant is where he went when he went off script. The unifying Obama who has impressed so many people during this campaign season vanished, replaced by just another angry liberal railing against George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Exxon Mobil, and other long standing Democratic piñatas. The pressing question that Obama's decidedly uninspiring Jefferson-Jackson oratory raises is which Obama is the real Obama--the one who read beautifully crafted words from a Teleprompter after his victory in Iowa, or the tediously angry liberal who improvised in Virginia?

Should he get the Democratic nomination, I expect "hope" we'll find out.


February 7, 2008


It's McCain's Party (You Can Cry if You Want To)

Marc Comtois

Mitt Romney has "suspended" his campaign (ie; he's done, via Byron York):

I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror. If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our supporters... many of you right here in this room... have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country.

Classy move. Hey, it was obvious McCain was going to win, but Romney had the money to keep in the fight. Let's see what Mike Huckabee does next. Anyone wanna bet he hangs on a while longer? Methinks he likes the spotlight.



Reactions to the McCain Juggernaut

Carroll Andrew Morse

With John McCain's lead in the campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination now looking nearly insurmountable, Tom Shevlin of RI Report and MTV has recorded an interview with one of Rhode Island's earliest and biggest McCain supporters, House Minority Leader Robert Watson...

Rep. Watson argues that Republicans, especially in New England, should support McCain because he is a moderate.

Meanwhile, in a National Review Online article, Mac Owens argues that Republicans should consider backing McCain despite his lack of conservative credentials…

McCain is far superior to the Democratic contenders on the basis of character and virtue. For instance, once the North Vietnamese found out that McCain was the son of the U.S. military commander in the Pacific theater, which included Vietnam, they offered him the chance to go home before his POW comrades. Had he accepted, it would have been a great propaganda coup for the Vietnamese communists. But he refused. That’s character and it ought to mean something even to those who are not convinced of his conservative bona fides.


January 29, 2008


Giuliani Making it Official?

Carroll Andrew Morse

ABC News is reporting (on Nightline) that Rudy Giuliani will withdraw tomorrow and endorse John McCain.



Florida GOP Primary: McCain Wins It

Monique Chartier

Senator John McCain has won the Florida primary. Further, those fifty seven delegates have given him the "yellow jersey" of the Republican Presidential primary.

Delegate-wise, here is where they stand:

McCain - 95

Romney - 67

Huckabee - 26

Paul - 6

Giuliani - 1



Reviewing my Presidential Predictions, or I Like My Eggs Sunny-Side Up

Carroll Andrew Morse

Today is the official end of the beginning of the primary season, as the last "early" state, Florida, votes. One way or another, the Republican race will be transformed in a fundamental way, either with Rudy Giuliani emerging as a viable candidate in a three-way race with John McCain and Mitt Romney heading into Super-Tuesday, or, as seems increasingly likely, Giuliani fading fast after a poor showing, and the race becoming a two-way between McCain and Romney.

However, if you go to the tape, and review the Presidential predictions I made in my last appeared on On the Record with Jim Hummel (WLNE-TV, ABC 6), you may decide to disregard anything I have to say about Presidential politics anyway.

1. On the Republican side, my big predictions were 1) John McCain was dead (oops) and 2) we were waiting to see how organized the Fred Thompson campaign was, to determine how it would impact the race.

Since then, we've learned that McCain wasn't dead and Thompson wasn't organized enough to impact the race at all. I missed Mike Huckabee completely. Even if McCain doesn't win the nomination, there's really no way to spin this as me having coming anywhere close.

My error was buying into the idea that the compressed primary schedule meant that early state momentum wouldn't matter as much as it has in the past, but whatever the primary schedule is, to win a national campaign, a candidate must be able to effectively campaign across the nation. If a candidate can't make him or herself competitive in at least one early state (when there's a diverse mix of early states voting), it means that there's a good chance that he or she may not be able to connect with voters anywhere. Future prognosticators, learn from my experience, go forth and be wise.

2. On the Democratic side, I predicted that Hillary Clinton would probably win the nomination, barring a perfect Barack Obama campaign combined with a Clinton gaffe.

Though the Democrats appear neck and neck now, this prediction was closer to the mark. I don't know if I'd call Obama's campaign "perfect", but it's certainly been solid, while the Clinton campaign's decision to turn former President Clinton lose as a raging pit-bull certainly looks to have become a serious and unnecessary negative, reminding everyone (including some Dems who would never admit it publicly) what they didn't like about the Clinton years and giving establishment Dems a respectable reason for breaking ranks with the Clinton machine.

And now on to Super-Tuesday, for which I will be offering no predictions (just incredibly insightful analysis)...



Florida Today (officially and not...)

Marc Comtois

The Florida primary is the big story of the day for GOP presidential hopefuls...and unofficially for Democratic hopefuls who can't believe they may be losing.

Kinda like this.... (h/t):


January 28, 2008


Is the Bloom off the Clinton Rose?

Marc Comtois

So the Kennedy clan is coming out strong for Obama, saying that he is the next generation's very own JFK. Heck, I can understand what they mean. Of course, the cold political calculation of hopping on the bandwagon can't be dismissed. But what is most interesting is that--all of a sudden--the Clinton machine doesn't seem quite so unbeatable to a lot of the old guard Dems and even Bill's personal touch is going cold (h/t). Worse, the Clinton's are becoming (suddenly?) unlikeable to many of their former allies. Some are even wondering if (gasp!) the "right" has been "right on the Clintons" all along (that they lie--or will do anything--to get power). I guess we'll know for sure if Hillary wins the nomination and they still stay away (heh).


January 26, 2008


Obama Wins South Carolina

Monique Chartier

CNN reports:

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Obama had 55 percent of the vote. Clinton was second with 27 percent, followed by Edwards, with 18 percent.

In the meantime, Christopher Hitchens warns the Senator from Illinois (...er, Obama, not Clinton) to watch his back:

On the very next day, I heard via three different people in New Hampshire that they had been approached by Clinton operatives and told that there was "something" about Barack Obama that would "come out" if he looked like getting the nomination.

The politics of personal destruction may not run in only one direction when it comes to the Clintons.


January 22, 2008


GOP Primary: Where We Are, What's Coming

Marc Comtois

First things first, here is the current GOP delegate count according to RealClearPolitics:

1-22-08-gopdelegates.bmp

"Super Tuesday" is February 5, but there are two primaries before then: Florida and Maine. Florida is so important because it is a winner take all contest with 57 delegates up for grabs (it actually has more, but the GOP has penalized the state for moving their primary up in the calendar). Maine has 21 delegates at stake and awards them proportionally, like the previous states have done. Obviously, Florida is a big deal and marks the first time this primary season where a primary is actually as important as the media is playing it up to be. Here is the Real Clear Politics Poll Average for Florida:

rcp-1-20-avg.bmp

It looks like McCain, Romney and Guiliani are all within striking distance of winning (I think we are witnessing the Huckabee Waterloo). If Giuliani can win, he instantly becomes a contender, which has been his strategy all along. If McCain or Romney win, that probably knocks Rudy out and (obviously) strengthens the winner going into Super Tuesday, which has 991 delegates up for grabs (with 373 coming from winner-take-all states).

That being said, there's a significant likelihood that I'm talking out of my posterior, so Michael Barone might be a better place to go for your primary prognostication!

UPDATE: Now that Fred Thompson has dropped out, there is a solid 8-10% of the GOP electorate now searching for a new candidate. I wonder who will benefit?


January 21, 2008


According to Script

Justin Katz

Catching up on some regrettably lapsed blog reading habits, I came across a post by Lane Core that notes a January 2 post by the Anchoress with the following bit of prescience:

What I dread most in this political season is the "genuine" moment - and it is coming, soon, sometime between today and tomorrow, or tomorrow and New Hampshire - when Mrs. Clinton, in her ongoing effort to turn herself into whatever the polls says she must be, cries in public. It's going to be genuinely ghastly.

And on such things does history turn. Too bad modernists killed poetry. A. Pope would have produced a classic.

Oh, Muse! Forgive my tempered state.
What cold decline can't tears make good,
When they, from poll-led candidate,
Still serve to warm the sisterhood.

January 20, 2008


Barack Obama in Candidates and the Pulpit

Monique Chartier

From the AP:

Heading into the most racially diverse contest yet in the presidential campaign, [Senator Barack] Obama took to the pulpit at Martin Luther King Jr.'s Ebenezer Baptist Church on the eve of the federal holiday celebrating the civil rights hero's birth 79 years ago. His speech was based on King's quote that "Unity is the great need of the hour."

The words he spoke from the pulpit were certainly applause-worthy:

"The divisions, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame the plight of ourselves on others, all of that distracts us from the common challenges we face: war and poverty; inequality and injustice," Obama said. "We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing each other down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late."

But Senator Obama is a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. And this church presumably enjoys the tax-exempt status of most churches. How do we distinguish when someone is speaking from the pulpit as a candidate and when s/he is speaking as a private citizen to celebrate the ideas and achievements of a great man? Is it even possible to do so?

It appears, then, that this church may have committed a no-no:

Section 501(c)(3) of the IRC prohibits organizations that are exempt from federal income tax under its provisions, including Catholic organizations exempt under the USCCB Group Ruling, from participating or intervening in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. This prohibition has been interpreted as absolute.

That document, entitled "2007 Political Activity Guidelines for Catholic Organizations", is from the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and presumably applies equally to the Baptist Church at which Senator Obama spoke.

Even hypothetically, suppose this church allowed other candidates to speak from the pulpit? Would that equalize their invitation to Senator Obama? Or would that only exacerbate the problem of mixing politics with a tax-exempt institution?


UPDATE

Senator Hillary Clinton, also a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, visited the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem yesterday where she received the endorsement of its pastor, the Reverend Calvin O. Butts III. Such an action by the good pastor appears to fall well within the above list of prohibited activities.


January 18, 2008


A Rare Zen Moment of Simplicity

Donald B. Hawthorne

Roger Simon frames the debate:

While watching the endless pundit blather on TV tonight after the Republican Michigan Primary and Democratic Nevada Debate and reading the various opinion meisters commentaries online, I had one of those rare zen moments of simplicity. It all comes down to a simple question:

Who would you like to be in the White House if Pakistan fell to al Qaeda and the Islamists gained control of its nuclear arsenal?

Answer that question and you will know your candidate. All the rest, as they say, is commentary.



Surveying the Punditry on the GOP Prez Potentials

Marc Comtois

According to various (fellow?) nattering nabobs....Fred Thompson is either callous or thoughtful...and he may be surging in South Carolina. However, SC will probably go to Scoop Jackson Democrat John McCain or the limited Mike Huckabee. Questions remain: can Romney catch on? Did Rudy miscalculate? One thing is for sure, we'll probably have to wait until Feb 5 to figure it out. Besides, the most important contest this weekend is occurring right here in New England!


January 16, 2008


Breaking Through the Media Meme on GOP "Disarray"

Marc Comtois

Ian has linked to a typical MSM piece that purports to show that the GOP is in disarray because there have been 3 different winners in the caucus/primaries so far. It's a common theme. My gut reaction is that--contra the Democrats--Republicans are fighting over ideas, not identity, and that takes some figuring out. But a more basic fact is that, for the most part, the primary calendar is such that the early states are outliers to a typical primary. In short, they are wide open to others than simply Republicans. If you look closely at the numbers, you'll find that, thus far, Mitt Romney is doing very well amongst Republicans. (Everything that follows has been distilled from here).

First: there is a long way to go. But the 4 states that have made decisions actually do provide some insight into how Republicans are thinking (at least, Republicans in those states). Again--remember--of the four states, only Wyoming has a GOP-only(ie; "closed") primary. The rest are "open" to independents (and even Democrats). That is why for Iowa, NH and Michigan, there is a disparity between the overall % of vote garnered and the GOP-only vote:

gop-prim-99.bmp

Now, there are benefits to open and closed primaries, but my point here is to argue against this idea that Republicans are in a state of flux. So, in addition to the above, Romney won 67% of the Wyoming primary (which is "closed") and Thompson got 25%--both are more traditional Republicans of the Reagan mold (...that is supposedly broken).

Finally, taking a look at both the current delegate count and the % of GOP votes cast so far, it's pretty clear that Romney is the GOP frontrunner.


overall-gop99.bmp

The only social conservatives Huckabee has proven he can get are Evangelicals (who are falling for "identity" politics, btw) while McCain relies heavily upon center-left Independents. Romney is the only one who has consistently pulled traditional, conservative Republicans, no matter how you spin it. Obviously, these "standings" can--and will--change. Giuliani is banking on a Florida + Super Tuesday plan and Thompson is banking on South Carolina. Both are more traditional Republicans (of the left and right kinds) than either Huckabee or McCain, so there will probably be some cutting into Romney's hold on the core demographic of, you know, actual Republicans.

ADDENDUM: Contra to some of the comments, I'm actually not a Romney guy, fellas. And trying to cite the media for proof of anything is exactly the problem. It is they who are "vexed" because they rely upon a simplistic frontrunner/underdog narrative to push their product. The GOP voters aren't complying by selecting multiple winners in, as I said, 3 (or 4) very different states. What I think the numbers show is if you focus just on GOP voters only, you'll see that the majority favors a candidate--Romney--with a more traditional, Republican message. (I also agree that Romney's 11th hour Michigan bailout is most definitely not "Reaganesque." However, most of his philosophy is what can be classified as tradional Republican--especially when compared to McCain or Huckabee).

Also, to reiterate, the GOP vote may swing to Guiliani or even Thompson in the upcoming states and I think either are more traditional Republicans--Guiliani a typical Northeastern Republican and Thompson a typical southern one--than either McCain or Huckabee. As for a national poll, well, primaries (and caucuses) are 50 individual contests--most for Republicans only and not just those who say they're Republican over the phone--and they can change based on the latest "conventional wisdom" and actual, you know, changes on the ground as candidates campaign in each individual state. Finally, I think Romney has enough money to stick it out for a while whether he wins or loses the next few states.



Michigan Presidential Primary Results

Carroll Andrew Morse

100% of the precincts have reported to CNN. The results are…

Republican:

  • Mitt Romney, 337,847 (39%)
  • John McCain, 257,521 (30%)
  • Mike Huckabee, 139,699 (16%)
  • Ron Paul, 54,434 (6%)
  • Fred Thompson, 32,135 (4%)
  • Rudy Giuliani, 24,706 (3%)

Democrat:

  • Hillary Clinton, 328,151 (55%)
  • Uncommitted, 236,723 (40%)
  • Dennis Kucinich, 21,708 (4%)
Barack Obama and John Edwards chose not to appear on the Michigan ballot, to support the Democratic party's effort to prevent states from moving their primary dates too far forward (According to CNN, no actual delegates are being awarded on the Democratic side as the result of this primary). Thus Hillary Clinton won only 55% of the vote in a Democratic primary where she was running virtually unopposed.


January 15, 2008


Obama and Clinton Can't Escape Identity Politics

Marc Comtois

David Brooks says it better than I did:

Both Clinton and Obama have eagerly donned the mantle of identity politics. A Clinton victory wouldn’t just be a victory for one woman, it would be a victory for little girls everywhere. An Obama victory would be about completing the dream, keeping the dream alive, and so on.

Fair enough. The problem is that both the feminist movement Clinton rides and the civil rights rhetoric Obama uses were constructed at a time when the enemy was the reactionary white male establishment. Today, they are not facing the white male establishment. They are facing each other.

All the rhetorical devices that have been a staple of identity politics are now being exploited by the Clinton and Obama campaigns against each other. They are competing to play the victim. They are both accusing each other of insensitivity. They are both deliberately misinterpreting each other’s comments in order to somehow imply that the other is morally retrograde.

All the habits of verbal thuggery that have long been used against critics of affirmative action, like Ward Churchill and Thomas Sowell, and critics of the radical feminism, like Christina Hoff Summers, are now being turned inward by the Democratic front-runners.

Yet, now it seems both are backing off the race kerfuffle--perhaps because the controversy du jour is over Nevada polling places:
As this link shows, the Clinton campaign is supporting, if not actually inciting, a Nevada State Teachers Association lawsuit against the Culinary Workers Union. The reason? The Culinary Workers Union has arranged for its members to caucus in their workplaces, to cast their votes in the hotels and casinos that support that state's economy instead of taking time off to get to polling places -- at the risk of getting fired.

That lawsuit was filed right after the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Obama.

Gosh. What a coincidence. It's an unfair disadvantage, the teachers union lawsuit says -- they are supporting Hillary -- to let all those maids and bellboys vote while they are on the job.

The caucus is on the 19th. It's a Saturday. I guess the teachers are going to be -- really busy compared to those maids and bellboys?

I don't know this for a fact but my guess is that the Nevada's Teachers Association is more entrenched in the state power hierarchy than the Culinary Workers Union. It's more white, more middle class. I bet the teachers are much more spread out, demographically and geographically, firmly ensconced in tenured security.

The Culinary Workers Union, on the other hand, represents all the little brown people who clean hotel rooms in Las Vegas and Reno. Living and working from day to day.

Well, maybe the candidates are putting the identity politics behind them....


January 14, 2008


Dems are Split on President

Marc Comtois

Maybe it was inevitable?

Somewhat surprisingly, as the campaign has tightened, racial tensions have bubbled to the surface with the two camps exchanging accusations. Those tensions are reflected in this week’s polling data. Overall, Clinton and Obama are close nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll. But, among white voters, Clinton leads 41% to 27%. Among African-American voters, Obama leads 66% to 16%.
How can we be surprised when a Democratic party that has made a living out of exploiting the fears and desires of minorities and women suddenly finds itself split when their two main Presidential contenders are a black man and a white woman? Well, I suppose it was heretofore unimaginable that the party of "open-minded" liberals would split along such blatant interest-group lines. Right? Well, it isn't really that clear cut:
Hillary Clinton had said King's dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of while Bill Clinton said Illinois Sen. Obama was telling a "fairy tale" about his opposition to the Iraq war. Black leaders have criticized their comments, and Obama said Sunday her comment about King was "ill-advised."

"I think it offended some folks who felt that somehow diminished King's role in bringing about the Civil Rights Act," he told reporters on a conference call. "She is free to explain that, but the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous."

***
But no sooner had Clinton said she hoped the campaign would not be about race than it got even more heated. A prominent black Clinton supporter, Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson, criticized Obama and seemed to refer to his acknowledged teenage drug use while introducing Clinton at her next event.

"To me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues—when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood; I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book—when they have been involved," Johnson said. {Remember, to some, Bill Clinton was the first Black President. - ed.}

Obama wrote about his youthful drug use—marijuana, alcohol and sometimes cocaine—in his memoir, "Dreams from My Father."

***
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Obama's wife rose to his defense over Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" comment. Michelle Obama said some blacks might be skeptical that white America will elect her husband, but advised them to look to his win in Iowa.

"Ain't no black people in Iowa," she said during a speech at the Trumpet Awards, an event celebrating black achievement. "Something big, something new is happening. Let's build the future we all know is possible. Let's show our kids that America is ready for Barack Obama right now."

John Edwards, a third candidate in the Democratic primary, waded into the dispute Sunday.

"I must say I was troubled recently to see a suggestion that real change came not through the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King but through a Washington politician. I fundamentally disagree with that," Edwards told more than 200 people gathered at a predominantly black Baptist church in Sumter, S.C.

Edwards has two get his two cents in. I'm just surprised he didn't mention that his class envy campaign is color blind!


January 11, 2008


Democrats Have Choices in Their Rhode Island Primary Too

Carroll Andrew Morse

Apart from the nine options Republican voters will have in the upcoming RI Presidential primary, I should mention that Rhode Islanders voting in the state's Democratic primary will also have a range of options to choose from…

  • They can choose Hillary Clinton, who promises that her iron-fisted management of every aspect of your life she can inject the government into will finally make conventional liberalism work.
  • Or they can choose Barack Obama, who promises that his ability to unite people through his youthful energy and good looks will finally make conventional liberalism work.
  • Or they can choose John Edwards, who promises that his ability to turn anger into a positive force will finally make conventional liberalism work.
  • Or they can choose Dennis Kucinich, who is the most qualified to work with aliens on beaming the signals directly into our heads that will finally make conventional liberalism work.



Democrats Have Choices in Their Rhode Island Primary Too

Carroll Andrew Morse

Apart from the nine options Republican voters will have in the upcoming RI Presidential primary, I should mention that Rhode Islanders voting in the state's Democratic primary will also have a range of options to choose from…

  • They can choose Hillary Clinton, who promises that her iron-fisted management of every aspect of your life she can inject the government into will finally make conventional liberalism work.
  • Or they can choose Barack Obama, who promises that his ability to unite people through his youthful energy and good looks will finally make conventional liberalism work.
  • Or they can choose John Edwards, who promises that his ability to turn anger into a positive force will finally make conventional liberalism work.
  • Or they can choose Dennis Kucinich, who is the most qualified to work with aliens on beaming the signals directly into our heads that will finally make conventional liberalism work.



Bringing Rhode Island Class and Values to a National Campaign

Carroll Andrew Morse

The political blog of the San Francisco Chronicle relays a story told by Hillary Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe abount an unnamed Democratic dissident less-than-enthusiastic about the Clinton political machine...

Just one of McAuliffe's fond memories: ''We were all sitting at the Cafe Milano the night [John Kerry] wrapped up the [2004 Presidential nomination,] and a group of top Kerry campaign people came in, and I sent over a bottle of champagne,'' he wrote…
The group of Kerry aides drinking the champagne...raised their glasses to toast me from a few tables away, to thank me for the bottle....I raised my glass to them as well.

'Now we can get rid of McAuliffe and get control of the money,' a drunk Kerry fund-raiser from Rhode Island said, loud enough to be overheard.

A top Kerry media consultant nodded, but held up his hand to silence the inebriated Kerry fund-raiser.

McAuliffe's final jab: ''So as they were drinking my champagne, they were already plotting to get their hands on the DNC bank account.''



Bringing Rhode Isla