Category ►►► Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance

January 25, 2012

Spring Forward, Fall Back

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I see that Newt Gingrich has a new talking point, but it seems a bit -- odd:

Gingrich also talked extensively about immigration policy in Latin America, and, in a nod to Cuban-American voters, he offered to push for "Cuban Spring" if elected president.

What, Newt will push for the Muslim Brotherhood to colonize Cuba? Or is he just completely out of touch with what the putative "Arab Spring" has actually wrought in the Middle East?

Another newtron bombard from Newt "Shoot from the lip" Gingrich!

This illustrates my problem with Gingrich as nominee, an October surprise every day. In the very same article, we find this:

The former House speaker ripped Romney's immigration policy, laughing off the idea of self-deportation that Romney had suggested during a Monday night debate saying it wouldn't work.

During a debate earlier this week, Romney said he favors self-deportation over policies that would require the federal government to round up millions of illegal immigrants and send them back to their home countries. Advocates of Romney's approach argue that illegal immigration can be curbed by denying public benefits to them, forcing them to leave the United States on their own.

"You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatically $20 million income for no work to have some fantasy this far from reality," Gingrich said, alluding to details in Romney's income tax returns made public on Tuesday. "For Romney to believe that somebody's grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this is an Obama-level fantasy."

You think Barack H. Obama's oppo research won't be able to latch onto the obvious rejoinder? Heck, the Romney campaign and even Newsmax caught on immediately:

But Gingrich's campaign has spoken of the self-deportation policy he ridiculed Wednesday.

Romney's campaign directed reporters to past comments by Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond, who said that only a small percent of illegal immigrants would likely be allowed to stay in the U.S. under Gingrich's plan. Hammond went on to say that the vast majority of them would likely "self-deport."

(And note, he is still sticking it to Mitt for being richer and more successful than Gingrich has ever been. Evidently, Newt really and truly has a great big grudge against Capitalism.)

Words pop into his head and bubble out his mouth without even a moment's pause for reflection. Can Newt Gingrich ever demonstrate the discipline to think twice before speaking?

Or even after?

I very much worry that conservatives, in their understandable zeal to find a candidate who is energetic in attacking the real enemy of freedom (Obama), will saddle us with the caffeinated squirrel from Under the Hedge -- a candidate who windmills his arms with great vigor, flailing ineffectually, producing "sound and fury that signifies nothing" -- but electoral disaster.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 25, 2012, at the time of 1:22 PM | Comments (1)

August 28, 2011

In Case I Ever Contract Mad-Cow Disease and Decide to Run for President...

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

New York Times' Executive Editor Bill Keller, is just about to expire; I mean, he has set his expiry date in September, when he will step down to become "a full time writer." Keller will be replaced by Jill Abramson, who, along with Jane Mayer, wrote a despicable smear-job cum character assassination of Justice Clarence Thomas titled Strange Justice in 1994.

I think she'll settle into the top Times job nicely.

But soon-to-be-but-humble-writer Keller is going out with partisan flair: He crafted a series of smarmy questions on religion, religous nuttery, and how a presidential candidate's goofy religious cult (like Rick Perry's "Christianity") might adversely impact his decision-making and rationality, leading to national catastrophe and faith-caused disaster.

Curiously, he asks his questions only of Republican candidates; I can only conclude that Keller, too, believes that the current squatter at 1600 Pennsylvania is lame duck quacking.

We already have quite a number of GOP candidates; but it's always possible that every one of them will drop out, a la Tim Pawlenty -- see? it's happening already! Thus there's a chance the resulting power vacuum will force the Republican National Conceders to search deeper down the bench for our nominee. In fact, the RNC might finally end up tapping people with zero political training, zero interest in politics, negligible mental stability, and even less experience than Barack H. Obama. That is, people like me!

When that time comes, I'm sure even we schlimazels and schnorrers will have to confront the inquisition and come up with some reasonable (and reasonably waggish) answers. Ergo (Latin for "tell the girl to leave"), firmly taking up the witty man's burden (or at least the half of it), I shall be more than happy to answer the K-man's vital questions for myself, by myself, and as always, only thinking about myself. Read on, assuming you have nothing better to do, like grooming baboons or filing your teeth.

(Keller's questions are in blue below; my answers are in regular, unadorned, manly black. Or rather in manly reddish brown, the normal, lovable, Big Lizards standard typeface color you've all come to know and loathe.)

Keller's Curiously Concentrated and Condescending Killer Questions

1. Is it fair to question presidential candidates about details of their faith?

Under some circumstances, yes. For example, it may be worthwhile to discover whether a candidate's faith requires him to sacrifice pious virgins to the Volcano God -- if for no other reason than to determine how many interns he might need in a given year. (Not that one is likely to find a D.C. intern, male or female, who met the qualifications.)

2. Is it fair to question candidates about controversial remarks made by their pastors, mentors, close associates or thinkers whose books they recommend?

Show 'nuff! And also about whether it takes more than a bicycle path disagreement to cause said candidate to change religions.

3. (a) Do you agree with those religious leaders who say that America is a "Christian nation" or "Judeo-Christian nation?" (b) What does that mean in practice?

(a) Yep.

(b) Take a look around you, clod: Our entire culture -- its laws, religious sects, recreational activities, marital habits, prandial habits, and everyday idioms and expressions all scream "Judeo-Christian." For example, the United States rarely holds auto-da-feys anymore, in which infidels are tortured to death in arenas and sporting venues, while spectators bet on which sinner will survive the longest during his the stoning; so evidently, we're not a Moslem country.

And most of us have long ago given up virgin sacrifices (see question 1 above); so it appears we are not a nation of atheistic, lefty film makers with Polish surnames, either.

As Sherlock Holmes wrote in one of his stories about the ficticious writer "Arthur Conan Doyle," when you eliminate all the incredibly stupid things in politics, then whatever remains, no matter how bizarre, must be... Well, I reckon you're usually left with a fistful of nothing. Nevermind.

Look, America is a Judeo-Christian country, see? And if you're not aware of this fact, you're unqualified to live here. Move somewhere else!

4. If you encounter a conflict between your faith and the Constitution and laws of the United States, how would you resolve it? Has that happened, in your experience?

Hasn't happened, unless it did and I missed it.

Now, if I were Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Mecca, 100%), I would have six impossible conflicts before breakfast, as my religion would demand that I overturn all democratic institutions, marry multiple wives, wage literal war upon liberty, eschew porcine delectables, cease drinking like a chimney, and remake America into a vassel state of the world Caliphate. All without giving up any of the myriad privileges that go with being a member of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body. (Wait, I think that's supposed to be the Senate; a member, then, of the World's Greatest Second-Rate Body.)

But then again, I don't CAIR.

5. (a) Would you have any hesitation about appointing a Muslim to the federal bench? (b) What about an atheist?

(a) If he was Michael Moore, darn tootin'! Oops, correction: You said Moslem, not mausoleum, right? Sorry.

What was the question again?

(b) Appointing a Moslem to be an atheist? What you been smoking, Keller?

Oh, wait; your clumsy grammar threw me off. Do you mean, would I hesitate before appointing an atheist to sit on a bench owned by the feds? Not if it was full of splinters.

6. Are Mormons Christians, in your view? Should the fact that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons influence how we think of them as candidates?

Are Progressivists socialists? Opinions are like... well, you know the saying. Since I'm neither Mormon nor Christian, my long thought out, brilliantly articulated opinion is that I couldn't care less.

(But for the Mormons Romney and Huntsman, I would be more impressed if they were Myrmidons.)

7. What do you think of the evangelical Christian movement known as Dominionism and the idea that Christians, and only Christians, should hold dominion over the secular institutions of the earth?

Objection, question assumes a fact not in evidence: What do you mean, "what do I think?"

8. (a) What is your attitude toward the theory of evolution? (b) Do you believe it should be taught in public schools?

(a) Leaning just forward enough to be off-balance.

(b) It would be nice if something was taught in the public schools!

9. Do you believe it is proper for teachers to lead students in prayer in public schools?

Not if the prayer is, "Please God, don't let me get caught!"

Questions Keller intended for Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN, 100%)

1. You have said that watching the film series "How Should We Then Live?" by the evangelist Francis Schaeffer was a life-altering event for you. That series stresses the "inerrancy" ­-- the literal truth -- of the Bible. Do you believe the Bible consists of literal truths, or that it is to be taken more metaphorically?

My life-altering film was 2001: A Space Odyssey; and yes, I believe the aliens on the other side of the wormhole obelisk orbiting Jupiter are literally true!

We await the starchild from Sirius -- arf arf!

2. You have recommended as meaningful in your life works by leading advocates of Dominionism, including Nancy Pearcey, whose book "Total Truth" warns Christians to be suspicious of ideas that come from non-Christians. Do you agree with that warning?

The books that meant most in my life are the oeuvre of Robert Anton Wilson. Not the Wilson of the last few years before he died, when he was a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, wheelchair-bound kook who had rediscovered his inner Hefner; I mean his earlier, funnier period.

But as for your warning, I am suspicious of all ideas. Period.

Especially those of Robert Anton Wilson (in his earlier, funnier period).

3. Last year, in a documentary produced by Truth in Action Ministries, you espoused the idea that the government is not entitled to collect as taxes more than 10 percent of a household’s income, the amount Christians are called upon to tithe to the church. Is that a goal you would pursue as president?

Heck no. As future president (and current Archdruid of the Truth Inaction Miniseries), I would never pursue a goal to set the maximal income-tax rate at 10%.

I was thinking more along the lines of setting each American's income-tax rate to his average blood-alcohol level for the year, though I admit that could disparately affect the protected class of elected officials.

4. One of your mentors at Oral Roberts University, John Eidsmoe, teaches that when biblical law conflicts with American law, a Christian must work to change the law. Do you agree? Are there examples where the Bible guides you to challenge existing secular law?

I believe conservative Christians should seek to overturn every idiotic law that conflicts with basic public sanity; and the quickest way to do this is to find the nearest liberal and smite the jawbone of an ass.

5. Another book you have recommended is a biography of Robert E. Lee by J. Steven Wilkins, who contends that the Civil War was a clash between a Christian South and a godless North. He writes that in the South, contrary to the notion that slaves were victims, there was a "unity and companionship that existed between the races" because they shared a common faith. Do you agree with Mr. Wilkins?

Mr. Keller; is the phrase "tendentious caricature" still in the NYT's stylebook?

(And while we're on the subject, did you know that the word "gullible" is not found in any dictionary?)

Questions Keller intended for Texas Gov. Rick Perry

1. A recent article in The Texas Observer questioned your relationship with the New Apostolic Reformation, which advocates the belief that Christians and only Christians should hold dominion over earthly institutions. A number of leaders of this movement were given prominent roles in the prayer event called the Response. Would you like to clarify your relationship with these leaders? Do you hope for their support in your campaign?

I have never heard of the New Apostolic Reformation Dominionists (NARDs), but I'll try to answer the question as best I can.

I try never to fool around with NARDs; they can be very sensitive, and they bruise easily. And I certainly don't want to kick the NARDs when they're down, as you seem to want us to do; they're not a bunch of nuts, they are precious jewels in the conservative family.

And I very much wish I could have more satisfying relations with all the leading NARDs in America.

But on the other hand, I'm not going wear them on my sleeve or to blow kisses at them, either. I believe the only appropriate response would be to find the nearest NARDs, take them in hand, and firmly apply pressure in a vigorous and manly way; we might thereby raise the pitch of political discussion an octave or two.

But conservatism cannot simply sit on its NARDs. We need them; and when we neglect or abuse our NARDs, the entire body of conservatism aches.

We can only get satisfaction if we keep agitating them, rattling them around in constant motion. And we cannot sever our NARDs, cutting them off from the rest of the movement. Rather, we must hurl our NARDs straight into the melting pot, grinding them togther with all the other strains of conservative thought. After all, NARDs alone can do little without the great pillar of Republicanism that sucks in mere aimless effusions and directs them into a concentrated spray of intellectual fecundity.

For we must always remember that our ultimate target is not a mere trickle of rhetorical fluency here and there, but rather a great gusher spurting straight into the mainstream of voters. We must always aim directly at those busy, little beavers whose hard work joins us all together in an eruption of national love.

Those are my thoughts on this subject; I think I'll go smoke a cigarette.

2. You have been close to David Barton, founder of WallBuilders, who has endorsed your campaign. He preaches that America is a Christian nation, that we should have a government "firmly rooted in biblical principles" and that the Bible offers explicit guidance on public policy -- for example, tax policy. Do you disagree with him on any of these points?

Sorry I can't rise to the occasion; I'm still pretty drained.

3. In 2008, Senator John McCain disavowed the endorsement of the Rev. John Hagee, after Reverend Hagee made remarks offensive to Catholics and declared that the Holocaust was part of God’s plan to drive the Jews to Palestine. In this campaign, Reverend Hagee has reportedly decided you are his favorite candidate. Are you willing to accept his endorsement of your campaign?

I would never accept the endorsement of anyone who would stoop so low as to support someone like me for president.

Questions Keller intended for Sen. Rick Santorum

1. Some voters -- you have probably encountered them -- worry that religious zeal can lead to a rejection of scientific evidence, resulting in policy proposals that are essentially faith-based. In an interview with Rush Limbaugh, you described global warming as "junk science" and "patently absurd," and accused proponents of being part of a plot to expand government control over our lives. Among scientists who specialize in climate, there is now a strong consensus that earth is experiencing a pronounced warming trend, and that human behavior contributes to it. How did you decide that on this issue you agreed with the scientific outliers? Was this an example of faith-based policy judgment?

How did you settle on the phrase "strong consensus?" Do you believe the great scientific questions should be decided by voice vote?

And if so, is this an example of your faithless-based policy judgment?

Personally, I think scientific disputes should be resolved by duels. If you're not willing to guarantee your hypothesis with your body, then we should axe your accolades and eradicate your honorifics.

2. You signed a pledge circulated by the Family Leader, an Iowa conservative group, promising "personal fidelity to my spouse." Do you think cheating on a spouse disqualifies a candidate from being president?

Depends on whose spouse you cheat on. For example, if it's Joachim Sauer's spouse, you might be disqualified on grounds of poor judgment.

If it's Bill Clinton's spouse, you might be disqualified on grounds of insanity!

Questions Keller intended for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

1. In your 2007 speech on religion, you said that "freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." Where does that leave unbelievers, in your view?

In a box, with the ambiguity.

2. This year, as in the 2008 election, polls show that there is some resistance to voting for a Mormon -- including among some evangelical Christians, who have been taught that the Mormon church is a "cult." Do you sense that this prejudice is still a factor in the campaign? If so, how do you address it?

By converting to Algorism. Show the jackanapes what a real cult looks like!

3. Was your religion a factor in your decision to oppose gay marriage and civil unions?

Was your liberalism a factor in your decision to devote the last twenty-seven years of your life to using the old Gray Lady as a bludgeon to dismantle American culture?

4. Do you believe that your upbringing in the Mormon faith provided you with some qualities that enhance your abilities as a political leader?

Why yes, if gave me a great capacity for dealing firmly with liberal mor -- oh wait, did you say Mormons?

Questions Keller intended for Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman

1. Though you were reared Mormon, you have described yourself as "not overly religious." I can imagine that is doubly unhelpful in winning the votes of evangelical Christians who figure so heavily in the Republican primary season: on the one hand, many of them have been taught that the Mormon church is a "cult"; on the other, many of them are looking for a candidate they regard as godly. How do you persuade conservative evangelicals to vote for you?

By turning my microphone into a serpent that devours the other nominees, including the incumbent master debater himself. Can't get much better political theater than that!

2. If not religion, what do you use as your guide in deciding what is right and what is wrong?

At any crossroads, I always ask myself, "WWZD?" He has never failed me.

~

See? Now how hard was all that. I swear, I don't know what these candidates are whining about.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 28, 2011, at the time of 2:46 PM | Comments (2)

August 22, 2011

Paul Bunyan Ryan Says He's Out; Let's Take Him at His Word

Confusticated Conservatives , Fed Spending: to Infinity and Beyond! , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , Rheumatic Republicans
Hatched by Dafydd

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 96%), chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, looms like a giant in an election year focused almost entirely on the economy; he is the only person in any branch or chamber of the government not only to craft but actually enact (in his chamber, the House of Representatives) a plan to simultaneously grow the economy and shrink the government, restoring fiscal sanity. Understandably, many seek to draft him for the presidential race -- notably lawyer and blogger Beldar (here, here, here), but the ten-gallon Texan is certainly not alone.

But today, Ryan appears to have finally closed and locked that barn door before the horserace got out; he states without equivocation that he is not running:

"I sincerely appreciate the support from those eager to chart a brighter future for the next generation. While humbled by the encouragement, I have not changed my mind, and therefore I am not seeking our party's nomination for President. I remain hopeful that our party will nominate a candidate committed to a pro-growth agenda of reform that restores the promise and prosperity of our exceptional nation. I remain grateful to those I serve in Southern Wisconsin for the unique opportunity to advance this effort in Congress."

I personally was never aboard the Paul Ryan bandwagon (neither, evidently, was Ryan himself!) I think he's great where he is right now, and I'd like to see some actual executive experience before dropping him into the maelstrom of the presidency. Beldar tried to answer that charge in the first of the three Beldar links above, but his argument was weak and unconvincing hand-waving; there really is a difference between being a congressman and being a chief executive, and Ryan ain't got none'a the latter.

But clearly, he still has a strong role to play:

Ryan has said publicly he is concerned that those currently running for the GOP nomination are not addressing long-term fiscal and economic issues in a way that makes clear the magnitude of the challenges.

And I'll go further: I would strongly support him playing that role at a higher and more effective level -- for example, as Vice President of the United States. I believe he would tremendously compliment Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who doesn't seem to have much international economic or fiscal experience, and would even be an asset to the much more financially experienced Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; alas, much of Romney's experience is negative, falling into the "fatal conceit" of believing in big-government solutions to problems more properly and effectively solved by Capitalism, rugged individualism, and American exceptionalism. I would hope that Ryan can lead a Romney or a Perry out of the socialist wilderness and into the promised land of liberty.

I think it would be wonderful if both of the two most likely nominees made a joint announcement (after sounding Ryan out, of course) that whichever of them is nominated, he will name Paul Ryan as his running mate. But I'm not going to hold my breath for more than a couple of minutes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 22, 2011, at the time of 2:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 5, 2011

Reagan's Eleventh Commandment... Texas Style

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

President Ronald Reagan used to enunciate what he called "the eleventh commandment," which was, "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." Obviously that cannot be taken absolutely literally, else it would mean we cannot speak ill of a registered Republican who also happened to be a bank robber. But read rationally and reasonably, it means that we shouldn't waste time tearing down Republicans just because they happen to be more conservative, less conservative, more libertarian, or more "country club" than we. Mindless destruction is the Democrats' job.

So when I read about the supposed "rivalry" between former President George W. Bush and potential presidential candidate and current Texas Gov. Rick Perry, I was skeptical; I figured the Rive Gauche media were just playing "Let's you and him fight" again. I hoped that the contretemps in a cuppa was more like this:

The rivalry has become lore in the state capital, at times bordering on urban legend. “An eight-foot alligator in the sewer,” said Mr. Perry’s chief political strategist, David Carney. Stressing that the two men were friends with more similarities than differences, Mr. Carney said, “They are in the same church, different pews.”

Neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Perry would be interviewed for this article, and people close to both said the rivalry existed far more between their aides than between them personally...

...than like this, from the same article:

But in recent years, Mr. Perry has broken politically with Mr. Bush, questioning his credentials as a fiscal conservative, accusing him of going on “a big government binge” and playing down some of Mr. Bush’s accomplishments in Texas in light of his own.

Mr. Perry’s public statements exposed a long-simmering rivalry that had been little known outside of the political fraternity here but underscores the rightward drift of the Republican Party since Mr. Bush was president. More acutely, Mr. Perry’s criticism holds potential peril and benefit for him should he decide to mount a presidential campaign, allowing him to establish an identity distinct from Mr. Bush but risking a guerrilla campaign against him by the former president’s inner circle.

Yes, of course Perry is more ideologically conservative than Bush, or especially than the latter's father, George H.W. Bush. But W. was certainly never a raging RINO, for all that he differed on issues both politic and policy with many contempo-conservatives. Such a difference resides squarely within the realm of Reagan's eleventh.

So assuming the former -- that the rivalry is more between staffers than principals -- I offer this immodest proposal; most of the onus is on the former president, who is much better known and has nothing to lose, being "at liberty," as the saying goeth. It's a three-step plan; Bush should be comfortable with n-step plans:

  1. George W. Bush should call a press conference. In a scowling, angry-looking and -sounding voice, he should announce that he won't allow Rick Perry's criticisms of him to go unanswered, so he is going to respond to them right now. That should guarantee maximum coverage; the Casa Blanca press corpse -- sorry, corps -- should be salivating like Pavlov's pups at the prospect of Bush tearing a Republican hopeful a new, let us say, Angus.
  2. On the ordained date, W. steps up to the podium and rattles off the main charges against him from the Perry camp: That he allowed spending to grow far too large, that he was too accommodating to those who wanted full amnesty for illegal immigrants, and that his policies were too "big government" in a number of social policies, notably education.

    Then W. says, "I regret to say that most of Gov. Perry's criticisms are true. When I came to Washington, I'd hoped to push more small government, private-sector solutions; but I came to believe that my policies were the best that I could get through Congress at that time. I still think so, but times have changed; and today I would offer very different, more Reaganesque policies than I felt able to offer during my tenure in office.

    "While Republicans controlled the House and Senate until the 2006 elections, I never had a majority of fiscal and regulatory conservatives to work with in Congress; and after that election, I had to contend with a Democratic Congress that saw every problem as evidence that the federal government was too small, didn't tax and spend enough, and didn't have enough control over the rest of us.

    "But after the 2012 election, whichever Republican is the new president will have a Congress that is much more fiscally conservative, that won't try to balance the government's budget by raising taxes on families and companies, and much more reluctant to put its thumb on the scales and declare winners and losers within the private sector. The Congress elected next year will get out of the way and allow the American economy to roar back to full strength, once the anchor of government regulation is chopped away.

    "As far as I'm concerned, the George W. Bush of today has no policy disputes with the Gov. Rick Perry of today. In fact, I would be overjoyed to see a President Perry, or a President Romney, President Bachmann, President Pawlenty, or any other Republican as President of the United States."

  3. And for the last step, Bush should conclude thus: "And to that end, I am announcing here and now that whichever Republican is nominated at the GOP convention in Tampa, my staff, my friends, my fundraisers, and I will work tirelessly to elect him or her in November 2012. Because every Republican running would make an excellent chief executive, and there's not a one of 'em that wouldn't be a gift from God compared to the incumbent.

    So you asked for my response to what Rick Perry has been saying about my tenure as president... and this is it: I've listened to Perry and all the rest, and I like what I hear. As far as I'm concerned -- and I'm sure my staff wouldn't want to violate Ronald Reagan's eleventh commandment either -- I can wholeheartedly endorse any one of them. Thank you and good evening; I will not be taking questions."

As I said upstairs, George W. Bush has nothing to lose; so he is the logical person to make the first conciliatory move. If he doesn't, I will be very disappointed... just as I was at the conclusion of his second term.

I hope by now that, like Beaver Cleaver, he has learned his lesson.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 5, 2011, at the time of 5:21 PM | Comments (1)

June 4, 2011

I Like Paul Ryan, But... vol. 1

Election Derelictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In company with Beldar, I am a big fan of the Roadmap for America's Future, crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 96%), Chairman of the House Budget Committee; I believe it to be the best and most feasible plan for true economic recovery in the United States... in fact, the only feasible plan; and at that only feasible in the 113th (next) Congress. But unlike Beldar, I am still rather skeptical of electing (or for heaven's sake, "drafting") Ryan to become President of the United States. I just don't know enough about the man, the Commander, or the leader.

I am a bit shaken, for example, by this speech of Ryan's, delivered last Thursday to the Alexander Hamilton Society, outlining his views (Ryan's, not Hamilton's) on foreign and military policy. In particular, I am troubled by the lack of specificity, of any real plan to defeat the axis of radical Islamism, of any real understanding of what such a long war entails, and especially by the "on the one hand, on the other hand" dithering that reminds me rather disturbingly of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA, 85%).

Heck, Ryan doesn't even seem to have much of an opinion on non-economic domestic policy either, at least as far as one can tell from his official website. His interests seem somewhat limited, although if he runs, I'm sure he'll flesh them out some; his only committee assignments are the Budget, Ways and Means, and the Ways and Means subcommittee on Health -- which I presume primarily deals with health care from an economic perspective. Ryan is a green-eyeshade accountant, good on economic issues; but the presidency encompasses so much more than that!

He gives us no discussion of strategy in the long war, neither grand nor regional strategy. His only reference to our greatest cultural and wartime enemy, Iran, and its national (Syria) and extra-national extensions (Hezbollah), is almost farcical in its perfunctoriness:

In Syria and Iran, we are witnessing regimes that have chosen the opposite path. Instead of accommodating the desires of their peoples for liberty and justice, these regimes have engaged in brutal crackdowns, imprisoning opposition leaders, and killing their own citizens to quell dissent....

We have a responsibility to speak boldly for those whose voices are denied by the jackbooted thugs of the tired tyrants of Syria and Iran. [Emphasis added.]

This is straight out of Lewis Carroll:

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

Our Iran strategy is to verbally chastise them? And what else? What are we going to do to counter Iran's determined war against us, against our allies in the Middle East and Europe, and its existential threat to Israel?

Anent Israel, he has little of substance to say:

What we can do is affirm our commitment to democracy in the region by standing in solidarity with our longstanding allies in Israel and our new partners in Iraq.

Meaning what? Does he support or oppose a Palestinian state? With what boundaries? Contiguous, even if that means Israel must be cut in half? I wish he would just spill the beans about what he really would do, were he living in la Casa Blanca.

How about the other prong of the axis: the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al-Qaeda, and other extra-national threats to the United States and the West? He never really addresses this scourge squarely; in fact, he only mentions al-Qaeda once:

Our ability to affect events is strongest in Iraq and Afghanistan, where for the last decade we have been fighting the scourge of global terrorism. In these countries, we can and we must remain committed to the promotion of stable governments that respect the rights of their citizens and deny terrorists access to their territory.

Although the war has been long and the human costs high, failure would be a blow to American prestige and would reinvigorate al Qaeda, which is reeling from the death of its leader. Now is the time to lock in the success that is within reach.

Would anything here sound strange or bizarre coming from George W. Bush -- or Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 73%), John Kerry, or even Barack H. Obama? This is simply hand-waving: He recognizes that since we have troops in those two countries, we have more of a say there; that we like stable governments that respect rights; and that it would be bad if we screwed up now. It tells us exactly nothing about Ryan's strategy for the Middle East and Central Asia.

What's his plan for eliminating, or at least crippling, the wave of violent, anti-American, anti-Jew, anti-democratic, thoroughly radicalized Islamism? Has he one? Has he even thought about it?

Ryan does recognize that there's a series of revolutions going on in Arabia (or perhaps one many-headed, revolutionary hydra). Here is his prescription, such as it is:

In the Arab Spring we are seeing long-repressed populations give voice to the fundamental desire for liberty [on the one hand...]. But we are also seeing the risks that emerge when the advancement of freedom is stunted for want of the right institutions [on the other hand]. In such societies, the most organized factions often lack tolerance and reject pluralism. Decades without a free press have led many to treat conspiracy theories as fact.

It is too soon to tell whether these revolutions will result in governments that respect the rights of their citizens [on the one hand...], or if one form of autocracy will be supplanted by another [on the other hand]. While we work to assure the former [on the one hand...], American policy should be realistic about our ability to avert the latter [on the other hand].

I hate that formulation, which Kerry made famous in 2004; I suppose it's intended to sound above the fray, taking the long view, seeing all sides. But what the heck does it mean as a practical matter?

  • What criteria should we employ to separate new "governments that respect the rights of their citizens" from those where "one form of autocracy will be supplanted by another?"
  • Should we help the revolutionaries that appear to fall in the first category?
  • If so, how? With American forces, with arms, with "advisors," with humanitarian aid, or just with brave words of exhortation?
  • Should we interfere with revolutions that appear more like the latter category, say those that appear headed towards creating a sharia state ruled by Hamas or the Ikwan, the Muslim Brotherhood?
  • If so, how? Merely with strong words of denunciation, with monetary aid to the existing government, with intelligence sharing and advice, or with actual U.S. troops helping put down the latest incarnation of the Moro Rebellion?

It's nice that he hopes the rebellions are led by democratic republican nation-builders; but as the saying goes, hope is not a strategy. What actual policies would Ryan push?

Ryan tells us he opposes promiscuous budget-cutting in the Department of Defense (though I'm sure we already knew that):

A more prosperous economy enables us to afford a modernized military that is properly sized for the breadth of the challenges we face. Such a military must also be an efficient and responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in order to maintain the confidence of the American people. The House-passed budget recognizes this, which is why it includes the $78 billion in defense efficiency savings identified by Secretary Gates.

By contrast, President Obama has announced $400 billion in new defense cuts, saying in effect he’ll figure out what those cuts mean for America’s security later. Indiscriminate cuts that are budget-driven and not strategy-driven are dangerous to America and America’s interests in the world. Secretary Gates put it well: “that’s math, not strategy.”

But what is Ryan's vision of the ideal military for the United States in 2013 and beyond?

  • What mix of traditional combat units and units organized more for counterinsurgency (COIN) warfare does he forsee?
  • What mix of expensive high-tech and cheaper low-tech?
  • How much should we rely on air power versus boots in the mud?
  • How much should we invest in battlefield intelligence -- including exotic (and expensive!) new intel platforms?
  • What is his position on gays being allowed to serve openly in the military and women being allowed to serve in overt combat roles?

On virtually every issue other than the budget and intimately related programs, Paul Ryan's policies seem vague, if not MIA, a fluffy cloud of good wishes and skyhooks. I'm not saying he doesn't have specific visions or ideas about them, nor even that they would be antithetical to my own positions; I simply can't say, because he won't enunciate his non-economic positions with clarity and precision.

In fact, if you read the entire speech, he appears observe everything on America's plate through the crystal goblet of economic policy. For example, he is scornful of President B.O.'s proposal to cut $400 billion from the Pentagon budget (over some number of years), yet proud of his own proposal to cut $78 billion -- solely (it seems to me) because Ryan's plan, unlike the president's, is that of "an efficient and responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in order to maintain the confidence of the American people."

Well that's fine. It's nice to be fine. Who could be opposed to efficiency and responsibility anent taxpayer dollars? But given the military's function, there are other overriding concerns.

Ryan mentions grand strategy as an afterthought, never making any attempt to define it or flesh it out. He is either unaware of (or uninterested in) designing a force structure based upon the missions we expect them to undertake; he focuses instead like a laser pointer on how much we can afford to pay.

And what about non-economic, non-budgetary, domestic policies? Where does Ryan stand on vital issues such as:

  • The right to self defense (on his website, he sees gun rights only in terms of "Sportsman's Issues")
  • Defending DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act
  • Card check (I presume he's agin' it, but has he ever said so in a policy speech?)
  • The misuse of the Endangered Species Act to shut down farms, recreational facilities, factories, power plants, and suchlike
  • A federal law requiring picture ID for federal elections and allowing states to implement the same requirement for state and local elections

Hard to say where he stands, as not a single one of these issues is so much as mentioned on his website.

He does discuss immigration policy; his position is quotidian within the Republican Party, falling somewhere between Hugh Hewitt and John McCain -- e.g., he supports 700 miles of actual fencing plus a "virtual fence," but he opposes an immediate "path to citizenship" for existing illegal immigrants. Nothing here but standard positions that could be enunciated by 90% of the Republican congressional conference.

His energy policies seem adequate, though I'm not a fan of his insistance upon "alternative energy" and "conservation" (the latter means continuing to increase the CAFE (combined average fuel economy) standards by government fiat, rather than allowing the market itself to take care of the problem. Again, there's nothing original or particularly interesting here: He wants to streamline regulation of gasoline refining and nuclear power plants. I can't tell if he supports ethanol subsidies.

None of this gives me confidence that Ryan would be a leader on any issue other than the economy. None of this encourages me to call for him to be drafted into the presidential snoozeapalooza.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 4, 2011, at the time of 3:26 PM | Comments (1)

May 26, 2011

Hesitating at the Doors of the Ryan Express - a Response to Beldar

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, Beldar came out of the closet: He called for a draft-Chairman-Paul-Ryan (R-WI, 96%)-for-president movement.

But color me skeptical -- not of what Ryan could do in office but of his ability to capture said office in the first place, which is of primary (and general) importance.

Look, I like Paul Ryan, and I love his plan to rescue the budget and economy. But I'm nervous about him being the GOP standard bearer next year -- given that the last time anyone went directly from the House to the White House was James Garfield in 1880.

A representative running for president was of course far more common in the nineteenth century, and the House was held in much higher regard than now. Too, Garfield was a nine-term congressman first elected during the Civil War; and he served for five years as Appropriations Committee chairman. But in 2012, Ryan will be a seven-term congressman who will have served as Budget Committee chairman less than two years. So far, he has not yet shepherded a single major budget or economic bill into law as chairman; and with congressional gridlock, it's unlikely he will before the election.

He has never held any substantive job other than politics (like Obama)... though he did drive the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile during college. (I shudder to imagine Obama's campaign ads!)

Despite Ryan's current stature, on paper Ryan in 2012 could be construed as having even lower qualifications for president than did Obama in 2008, considering House vs. Senate and depending on how many bonus points he gets for his chairmanship.

(I stress this is on paper; obviously I consider him far more qualified in reality. But paper qualifications play a vital role in voters' minds, especially when most of them don't even know who Paul Ryan is.)

He would be the youngest person ever elected president, at 42 years (Kennedy was 43 when elected); Ryan would also be the second youngest ever to serve as president, at 42 years, eleven months, and twenty-two days. (Teddy Roosevelt, who became president following McKinley's assassination at 42 years, ten months, and eighteen days of age, wins that contest by only a scant month.)

Now we all know Ryan would make a wonderful president, lightyears ahead of the fellow currently polluting 1600 Pennsylvania Ave with his half-baked and half-witted Progressivism, like Will Rogers without the charm, patriotism, or rope tricks. But again the problem: Ryan will not get a chance to demonstrate his skill if he isn't elected in the first place.

My worry is that Ryan will easily be painted by the Left as an untested and unqualified callow youth, himself a radical; they will portray his "Roadmap for America's Future" as a Ponzi scheme cooked up by Republicans to dismantle Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security; and as we just witnessed in the special election in New York's 26th district, not all Republicans are on board with the "Roadmap."

I believe it will eventually be enacted into law in a post-Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-NV, 75%), post-Obama political environment; and once passed will eventually prove to have been a brilliant idea and help Republicans immeasurably. But I do not believe that it would help the GOP ticket to have the "Roadmap's" sponsor as our presidential nominee; nor would it help getting the requisite Senate pickups to pass it through that body in the first place.

Rather, I worry that voters might recoil from so many drastic changes coming all at once like that, harkening back to all of Obama's drastic changes and how many Americans have come to despise them. I just don't believe the voter will appreciate being whipsawed back and forth between Scylla and Charybdis.

So where do I stand? I think Ryan might be a very good choice for president -- in 2020, as a follow-up to the Republican who is elected next year. Perhaps by then he will have served a term as Gov. of Wisconsin, or at least served as a high-ranking cabinet member, say Secretary of the Treasury or somesuch.

For next year, there is very little chance for a superstar, celebrity, outside-the-box nominee; Gen. David Petraeus looks to be headed for Director of the CIA, thus unavailable for the top job, and I can't think of anyone else with that star power. Therefore, we have to duke it out against the incrumbent on competence, repeal, and normalcy -- that is, a traditional election run against a sitting president.

So for right now, I'd rather see a traditional nominee, someone to sooth the waters and reassure voters that everything is back to norble: a successful governor who isn't a Tea-Party activist, in other words; which more or less narrows the betting line down to Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Rick Perry of Texas, or on a long shot, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (dicey).

We're necessarily rolling the bones next year, because when all is said, Obama is still the incumbent president, with all the power and clout and bully pulpititude appertaining thereto. So for goodness' sake, let's not make it even harder on ourselves by taking one die (executive experience) off the table and trying to make our point with just the other!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 26, 2011, at the time of 6:27 PM | Comments (4)

August 26, 2010

Ladies and Germs, Meet the Next President of the United States...

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

...Unless the 2012 Republican presidential primary turns into a brawl between this guy and David Petraeus, in which case all bets are off:

 

 

In terms of ability to communicate, Gov. Christopher J. Christie of New Jersey is George W. Bush's antiparticle.

This is what we need: a strong conservative with a capitalist ideology, tons of street smarts, and the missing link from the previous president -- the ability to talk directly to the American people, explain what he's doing and why, and persuade them to follow the cause.

If Christie wins the primary and gets set to run against Barack H. Obama in the general election, I believe the Obamacle will abruptly realize that the presidency is too small a job for a demigod like him; he will exit the race in order to become the first post-American, "citoyen du monde" elected Secretary General of the United Nations.

Then Christie will crush L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (and not just by sitting on him) to become the 45th President of the United States.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 26, 2010, at the time of 7:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 5, 2010

The Drumbeat Grows Louder: Petraeus for President?

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I sincerely believe Gen. David Petraeus is sincere: He really, really, really doesn't want to run for president.

But that's not the point, is it? Who but a dyed in the rib politician would eagerly seek a job that requires one to be "on call" 24-7, for a minimum of four years and perhaps eight? That feels like being the molten material battered between hammer and anvil? Who but a career power-monger would actually enjoy being the last word on what Americans want, need, and shall get? Who but a certifiable loon could actually desire all that pressure, responsibility, accountability; all the lies, the remorse, the grief; the heavy weight of history, and the delicious poison of power?

The question with Petraeus is not whether he wants to do it, or is running to do it -- but whether he would be willing to do it if prevailed upon by enough respected women and men on both sides the aisle. Despite all his denials and flat refusals, he has never yet said that he would not serve, even if his country desperately needed him.



Gen. David Petraeus

General confusion

Even the Daily Telegraph has noticed, in its article titled "David Petraeus for President: Run General, run":

The problem is that Petraeus appears to have no desire to be commander-in-chief. His denials of any political ambition have come close to the famous statement by General William Sherman. The former American Civil War commander, rejecting the possibility of running for president in 1884 by stating: "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected."

Close, but no cigar. By the way, our chums across the "pond" (by which one means the Atlantic Ocean) appear to have taken that quotidian quotation from Bartlett's, refusing to succumb to the more elegant version usually attributed -- without citation -- to William Tecumseh Sherman:

If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.

I don't care if he didn't actually say it that way; he should have.

The conundrum for Petraeus is this: If it becomes clear that Americans truly yearn for a non-politician as president -- following the most political, partisan, and most unAmerican president in American history -- how then can patriot Petraeus refuse? There literally is nobody else with his stature, nobody else whose reluctant acquiesence would instantly vault him to front-runner status and open the floodgates of campaign contributions. Beside David Petraeus, all other pretenders to the throne (including the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave) shrink to the stature of Miguelito Quixote Loveless... or for those with no cultural memory, the size of "Mini-Me."

And yet -- we don't know the first thing about Petraeus' political opinions! For all we now, he could be another Eric Shinseki or Colin Powell, eager to further the "Europeanization" of America and knife Republicans -- and Tea-Party activists -- in the back. Yet somehow, I doubt it; I think that if Gen. Petraeus were free to tell us what he truly believes, he would be neither a liberal nor a conservative, and certainly not a Dick Cheney "neoconservative" (which I mostly find myself being), but rather a Tea Partier... whose motto would be "Taxed Enough Already," and who would be horrified by what the Left has done to his country.

I don't know if he will come 'round to accepting the plea from hoi polloi and politico alike, or whether, like Caesar, he will refuse it three times. (I hope not the latter; it didn't do J.C. a bit of good to be so dismissive.) But I have little enough interest in the professed and eager candidates already announced or rumored to be waiting in the wings that I would dearly love to roll the bones with Dr. Gen. David Howell Petraeus, PhD... if for no other reason than I would be bewitched, bothered, and bemused at the mismatch of the presidential debates between B.O. and CENTCOM.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 5, 2010, at the time of 2:50 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 19, 2010

General Courters

Military Machinations , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Gen. David Petraeus is edging closer and closer to calling for the end of President William "Billery" Clinton's "don't ask, don't tell" policy anent gays serving openly in military service. Gen. Petraeus has not yet announced his support for dropping the prohibition entirely, but he seems on the verge of doing so:

Meanwhile, Petraeus, who was catapulted to fame by overseeing the troop surge in Iraq more than two years ago, said “the time has come to consider a change” but cautioned that the change to the Clinton-era law should be done in a “thoughtful manner,” and it should not be rendered without first making assessments as to how a change would affect recruiting, retention, morale and cohesion within the military services....

Petraeus, the most popular general of his generation, stopped short of giving his personal take on the current ban, but told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had an eight-minute prepared statement on his position regarding the repeal of the ban.

“This is not a sound-bite issue,” Petraeus said.

There are several ways to interpret this endorsement, if indeed it is one...

  1. Some might argue that Petraeus is just mouthing politically correct sentiments but doesn't really mean them. This strikes me as most unlikely; he is not generally known as a PC kinda guy.
  2. Some might hint that he only supports the "gay agenda" because he's sucking up to President Barack H. Obama (though perhaps a better verb is called for), hoping the president will name him Chief of Staff of the Army.

    But I don't think Petraeus has any hope or expectation of being picked by Obama for such an intensely political position; nobody knows Petraeus' politics exactly, as he quite properly will not divulge them while wearing the uniform of his country. But it's a good bet that David Howell Petraeus is considerably more conservative than Obama would want.

In addition, Petraeus is inextricably shackled to George W. Bush, who promoted him and put him in charge of the Iraq War. Given how the resident president feels about his predecessor, the idea that Obama would ever elevate David Petraeus is laughable. He would be more likely to find some excuse to cashier him or move him to a "window seat."

Eric Shinseki, Clinton's pick in 1999, is more Obama's type. In 2011, Obama will undoubtedly name a four-star who also happens to be a doctrinaire liberal who shares Obama's peculiar ideas about the use of (or abstention from) military force. Bog only knows where he'll find one.

  1. The most straightforward explanation is this: Petraeus honestly believes gays can serve openly without disrupting discipline or damaging morale. If this is true, he becomes the most persuasive and authoritative voice of that policy in American history... for nobody could deny the general's leadership, command ability, and real-world combat experience.

No one can say, "What does he know about unit cohesion and the intense bonding of combat?"

This is the explanation I personally favor, that Gen. Petraeus has concluded that fears about military catastrophe, arising from removing a barrier that I consider risible and indefensible, are overblown and exaggerated -- or unconsciously fabricated post-hoc to rationalize deep prejudice.

But there is a fourth possibility that I would be remiss to miss cataloging:

  1. Gen. Petraeus could be pushing this issue because he intends to run in 2012 for a promotion from Commander of CENTCOM to Commander in Chief.

He may believe he already has a solid base among conservatives, so he may be reaching out to social moderates. If Petraeus ran as an economic and military conservative -- while being less ideological on non-economic domestic issues such as gays serving in the military; outreach to immigrants who truly want to assimilate; support for basic abortion rights, though with more stringent restrictions on late-term and partial-birth abortion (even Ronald Reagan never seriously tried to make abortion illegal); embryonic and adult stem-cell research (perhaps with a prohibition on killing the embryos while extracting stem cells, see our 2006 post on the bioresearch breakthrough) -- I say he would vault immediately to the head of the class.

David Petraeus is the first general since Dwight Eisenhower to capture the fancy and imagination of the American people in a positive way. Gen. Colin Powell came close, but his war was over too soon for the public really to form an opinion. Petraeus' campaign against the One could flow from a single sentence: Petraeus led us to victory in Iraq after Sen. Obama announced we'd already lost.

The only tea leaf that points to his next address being 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is that he plans to deliver a major policy speech in New Hampshire on Wednesday, May 24th. Why New Hampshire? He currently serves at the Pentagon or in the field in U.S. Central Command, he was born and raised in upstate New York, he has no particular tie to New Hampshire. The Granite State is, however, the traditional kick-off point for presidential campaigns.

A candidate such as Gen. Petraeus is a monster-under-the-bed scenario for the Democrats. He is charismatic, articulate, clean; he has no closeted skeletons they can rattle, no ratty little scandals as city councilman or corrupt, small-town mayor; he has no paper trail of questionable compromises as representative or senator. Even a Chicago sleaze machine of epic chutzpah like Organizing for America needs something to work with; Petraeus can't even be attacked as a Mormon!

And imagine voter reaction if Obama tried to run against Petraeus by saying, "What has he ever accomplished? He's not even a politician!"

In fact, he's just as big of a headache to other Republican hopefuls. By contrast, the GOP field seems a tired retread (Mitt Romney), a callow and flighty poseur (Sarah Palin), a who-dat? unknown quantity (Tim Pawlenty), or a goofy kid brother on a 1990s sitcom ("Everybody Loves Bobby" Jindal).

In many ways, Petraeus is the anti-Obama:

  • He comes from a conservative section of New York State, Orange County, which just barely gave its vote to Obama in 2008 by 51% to 48%... when the state as a whole went for Obama by 62% to 37%. By contrast, Obama is from Honolulu, Hawaii, one of the most liberal cities in the United States.
  • He has a PhD from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs -- a quintessentially ivy-league university (and ultra-liberal school within that university); yet he has chosen to devote his life to commanding troops in combat -- very aggressive, bloody combat, furthering the national security of the United States. To a man like Barack Obama, this does not compute.
  • Petraeus has an intensely American view of life, duty, and the world; Obama has a more "cosmopolitan" or Euro-socialist viewpoint.
  • Petraeus is a decider who is always ready to act on his decisions and put his life on the line; Obama habitually avoids making decisions, preferring to be the philosopher king who stands above the fray and disdains personally to act: He leaves such vulgarities to his minions in the administration and his acolytes in Congress.
  • Petraeus spent his entire career in the Army; Obama has spent his entire professional life loathing the Army.

Electability aside, if Petraeus' political positions are in line with the mainstream of the GOP, I think he would make a much better president than any of the other likely GOP candidates. I would certainly trust his understanding of our current war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis better than any president since Ronald Reagan, who understood our war against the evil Soviet Empire.

The only slight flaw in this spiderweb of speculation is that Petraeus himself has repeatedly, emphatically, and betimes rather earthily rejected the idea of running for political office, and especially of running for the presidency. But perhaps he can be persuaded by an appeal to his sense of duty... particularly if he sees a continuing deterioration of America's national-security apparatus.

Here's hoping; beside Petraeus, the other potential GOP candidates seem drab and tedious, and I'm not at all sure any can defeat Obama in 2012 -- unless the president manages to defeat himself.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 19, 2010, at the time of 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 2, 2009

NY-23: New York Race - Chicago Rules, and What Dede Learned From David

Elections , Politics 101 , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

As the Permanent Presidential Campaign rolls along, the most recent victims are the Republicans of New York's 23rd district... who awoke today to discover something truly remarkable about erstwhile congressional candidate Dierdre "Dede" Scozzafava -- that "lifelong Republican" who swore she would never leave the GOP -- and her seemingly inexplicable endorsement of the Democrat remaining in the race, Bill Owens, rather than the conservative Republican, Doug Hoffman.

They learned (if they read the news ) that -- drum roll, please: The betraying endorsement was engineered by the Barack H. Obama White House.

Politico reports that the administration and Friends of Barack lured Scozzafava to the dark side by playing on her senses of grievance and entitlement:

The story of how it went down began in Washington, where the White House and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee quarterbacked the effort to secure Scozzafava’s endorsement.

According to several senior Democratic officials, Rep. Steve Israel, a Long Island Democrat and DCCC official, was dispatched to meet face to face with Scozzafava in her upstate New York district, within hours of her departure from the race, to make the case on behalf of the national party. He carried the proxy of the White House and congressional Democrats.

Scozzafava, according to one account, was receptive to the entreaties after becoming a target of intense conservative opposition over the past month. The nomination of the moderate to liberal assemblywoman who was backed by the national GOP establishment had become a rallying point for conservative grass-roots activists, who argued that she was far too liberal for them to support.

“She’s devastated that these outside interests are trying to hijack her moderate wing of the party," said one New York Democrat who had spoken to Scozzafava.

Hijack? Those forces (outside or in) were trying to push the moderates aside and support the conservative wing... just as the moderates did the exact opposite when eleven GOP party bosses anointed DIABLO Scozzafava to succeed RINO John McHugh, who jumped at the chance to join the Obama administration. (For those of you who have lived in Plato's cave for some months now, RINO is of course "Republican in name only," while DIABLO, coined by Mark Steyn, stands for "Democrat in all but label only.")

Of course, by "outside interests," the unnamed "New York Democrat" meant only conservatives across the country who rallied to Hoffman's cause, and possibly Hoffman himself, who resides in a nearby district. For some reason, the specter of a far-left president and his top aides, most from Chicago, don't count as "outsiders;" and neither do other New York Democrats who reside all over the state.

What they're really saying seems clear to me: Dede Scozzafava thought the fix was in, and she was gobsmacked by the speed of the unraveling.

She was selected by the Republican nomenklatura to succeed John McHugh; sure, she was trailing Bill Owens in the polls, but that was all just for show. When election time rolled around, Scozzafava was sure the conservatives, having made their displeasure known, would hold their noses and vote for her. After all, they had nowhere else to go.

(The same dynamic had already happened with the national GOP and several big names in the party; having nowhere else to light, they smiled and nodded and gave Scozzafava their blessings.)

She would be elected, and her life would be set: She would serve several terms then be appointed a federal judge; or perhaps she would receive a succession of appointments at la Casa Blanca, culminating in a minor cabinet position... perhaps Secretary of Health and Human Services or Director of the EPA under President Biden.

Sure, this is rank speculation on my part; but her reaction to conservatives in her own district rallying to Doug Hoffman, the collapse of her own support, her whiny departure, and her immediate embrace of the Democrat tells me that she herself feels "betrayed" by her own party... and she's lashing out in angry revenge. Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.

In fact, Dede Scozzafava reminds me a lot of David Brock. Brock is a former Republican investigative writer who flipped to the Democratic side, reportedly because he was furious over being snubbed by a few conservatives at cocktail parties. (He could only name one such snubbery, by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. of the American Spectator, Brock's former employer.)

Short detour: Brock was the toast of Washington after his first and still best book, the Real Anita Hill. In that book, he took apart the self-serving portrait of Clarence Thomas' wannabe political character assassin, Nina Totenberg of NPR, exposing her as an ultra liberal, Democratic Party hatchet-girl. Brock argued (with good evidence) that Totenberg and her fellows in the anti-Thomas brigade of the "shadow government" suborned perjury by Anita Hill.

They worked hand in sock puppet with top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to attempt to destroy Thomas -- for the crime of being a conservative black man. Or as Emerge, a black magazine, so graciously put it -- "Uncle Thomas, Lawn Jockey for the Far Right."

Brock did yeoman work exposing this dark undercurrent of Democratic racism and dirty tricks. He rightly noted that if Republicans had tried the same vile tactic to defeat a black liberal Democratic Supreme-Court nominee -- accusing him of uncontrollable sexuality, a traditional racist attack on black men -- the screams of rage from Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the usual ranks fo the perpetually aggrieved would have rolled three times 'round the world. David Brock was feted and petted, courted and bedded.

But after his second book, the Seduction of Hillary Rodham -- in which he was perceived as having cuddled a bit too close to his subject -- he drifted off everybody's A-list.

Gone were the invites to cocktail parties starring top congressional Republicans, the talk-show circuits, the frequent appearances as guest commentator on TV ("the Republican," given twenty seconds to counter the six Democrats who had yammered on for twenty minutes about whatever issue burned that day).

Brock reportedly flew into a Rumplestiltskin-like rage at his maltreatment, especially at parties; he flipped completely, turning not only Democrat but attack-dog Democrat. He published Blinded by the Right, an unreadable screed against everyone he had formerly worked with; and he accused Republicans of rejecting him because he was openly gay.

Of course, he was openly gay when he published the Real Anita Hill, and that didn't seem to bother Republicans. Logic is not the long suit of avatars of self pity.

I have no idea whether Scozzafava ever met David Brock; the latter quickly dropped off the radar, after the sensation of his complete betrayal and subsequent toadying up to the far left lost its novelty. But she is following the same pattern as he, and I strongly suspect for the same reason: Thwarted entitlement.

Just as Brock believed his future was set (he was going to be the next conservative icon, a literary Rush Limbaugh, and incidentally a multimillionaire best seller), so Scozzafava -- judging by her campaign, her collapse, and her subsequent openness to complete betrayal of her former party -- saw the actual vote as mere formal flummery. She had already won the seat when the boys in the back room anointed her. They promised!

It turns out, Politico notes, that Scozzafava was promised power, prestige, and support if she flipped -- especially if she formally turned her coat. Such promises are invariably part of the wooing process... and almost always disingenuously so:

Also critical was [New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon] Silver’s assurance, in a phone conversation with Scozzafava, that the state Assembly Democratic caucus would embrace her if she chose to switch parties, now viewed as a real possibility after her endorsement Sunday of Owens.

Yep. I'm sure that next year, New York state Democrats will be eager to shove aside some life-long Democrat in favor of a humiliated and crushed erstwhile Republican, hated by a huge number of voters in the district, who just lost an election that was expected to be a shoe-in. Lots of luck, Dede.

I make a further prediction: After tomorrow, when Hoffman wins the race -- or even if Democrat Bill Owens squeaks out a narrow victory -- the Chicago Left will toss Scozzafava aside like a used Kleenex.

She may think she will be showered with gratitude from the president; she may fantasize that she'll have an honored place in the pantheon of New York liberals; but the reality is that nobody ever trusts a traitor again, especially not the beneficiaries of her partisan treason. Instead, Scozzafava will be utterly marginalized and shunted aside, abandoned, and embittered... just as was David Brock. (Anybody hear from him recently? Perhaps, continuing our Rumplestiltskin comparison, Brock stamped his foot so hard, he opened a crack and fell through the Earth.)

Such is the fruit of betrayal. I can't work up much sympathy, either for the party bosses who called themselves "the moderate wing" of the Republican Party or for Dede Scozzafava herself; I'm repelled by those who see the democratic process as nothing but a necessary and annoying evil, the klunky mechanism for their own career ambitions -- and to hell with what their constituents want.

But I do feel some pity for those honest moderate GOP voters: It's bad enough to lose what amounts to a post-hoc primary against the conservatives, without having to be humiliated by the thoughtless and insulting antics of their erstwhile standard bearer. Gracious and fairminded Democrats must have felt the same sinking horror in 2000, as they watched Al Gore try to sue his way into the White House.

Perhaps moderate New York Republicans should likewise think a second time before picking the next champion of their cause.

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 2, 2009, at the time of 4:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 14, 2009

Is Obama '12 the new Clinton '96?

Elections , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

According to John Hinderaker at Power Line, some Democrats are already comparing the reelection attempt by Barack H. Obama in 2012 to the successful reelection of Bill Clinton in 1996. I say the analogy is not just flawed but ludicrously so.

Those Democrats who see Clinton '96 as the prophetic analogy for Obama '12 miss a huge distinction: Clinton did not win reelection; rather, the Republicans threw away their chance to defeat him by nominating the Most Boring Candidate Since the Mesozoic -- Senate Majority Leader Blob Dole.

I believe Clinton was eminently defeatable that year, had Republicans simply nominated someone more dynamic, even exciting; the only excitement in the entire Dole campaign was when he inadvertently dove into the mosh pit at some campaign event.

A more fiscally conservative and dynamic GOP nominee might have kept H. Ross Perot out of the '96 race, or at least held his numbers down to the traditional 1% - 1.5% of a normal third-party candidate (Perot took 8.7% in the actual election). Then the Republican would have only had to take a tiny bit more of the vote in some key states to dethrone the unprincipled one.

(Note that Clinton beat Dole by 8.5%, more than Obama beat McCain by; yet Clinton managed only 49.9% of the vote against a weak spread. That is the mark of an electorate dissatisfied with the field.)

But the race in 2012 will likely include several very exciting GOP candidates, including possibly Mitt Romney (in what will assuredly be an "it's the economy, stupid!" election), Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal, and possibly Sarah Palin (though I consider that unlikely), any one of whom is far better a candidate than was Dole (yes, even Palin). Depending on how much voters blame the man sitting in la Casa Blanca for the idiocy of the Democratic Congress, Obama might well be sitting on a lower job approval in 2012 than Clinton had in 1996; Clinton was above 50% in the polls for many months prior to the November election.

I think it's a bad analogy all around; a better analogy might be Jimmy Carter, except that the 1980 race had its own distorting factor involving the Republican nominee, this time in the opposite direction: It's impossible to say whether Carter would have been reelected if George H.W. Bush had eked out a primary victory to become the nominee instead of Ronald Reagan.

The presidential election of 2008 was absolutely unique, and it may turn out that the presidential reelection attempt of 2012 is similarly sui generis. But certainly it's not plausibly modeled by the reelection campaign of Clinton in 1996; that's just Democratic wishful thinking.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 14, 2009, at the time of 2:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 16, 2009

Sarah Palin and Guilt by Disassociation

Confusticated Conservatives , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Ah, the distinctly noisome bouquet tells me that the 2012 presidential campaign has been uncorked early this year...

The attacks on Sarah Palin have begun again; and as before, since none of Palin's enemies can find anything troubling or disturbing about the woman herself, they're targeting her family, especially her children, once more:

Teen pregnancy, drug charges, burglary arrests. Appearances on the "Tyra Banks Show" that resembled a Jerry Springer segment. Charges of being publicity hounds and not paying for the diapers.

The family foibles continue to play out in tabloid fashion for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, adding unwelcome public drama for the former vice-presidential nominee as she seeks to solidify her clout within a Republican Party that is smarting from the November election and sorely in need of a leader.

But wait... before proceeding further, let's get a little mroe specific on exactly what charges Palin's opponents within the GOP and her enemies among Democrats have leveled:

  • We all agree that Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol got knocked up; but that's last year's news, and it wouldn't cause a stir today, let alone in three more years.
  • What's this about drug charges? Oh yes, "somebody" in Bristol's former boyfriend's family -- not Palin's family -- was arrested for something involving drugs. That somebody was Levi Johnson's mother, Sherry Johnson.
  • "Appearances on the 'Tyra Banks Show',"charges of being publicity hounds and not paying for the diapers" all refer to the aforementioned Levi Johnson, Bristol's ex; he and his mother and sister decided -- without the blessing of Todd, Sarah, Bristol, or the infant Tripp Palin -- to appear on the tabloid show, goodness only knows why. (I have my suspicions, and they do, in fact, include the Johnson family being publicity hounds.)
  • After the appearance, during which Levi retailed lurid accounts of his sexual exploits that are hotly denied by his former girlfriend Bristol, Sarah Palin's father accused Johnson of not supporting Tripp Palin -- his legal obligation -- and suggested that he should take some of the money he's now making off of his former association with Alaska's first family and use it to "buy some diapers."
  • And burglary? That appears to be the half-sister of Sarah Palin's husband Todd. Diana Palin is married and has her own two children; she does not live with Todd and Sarah Palin.

So out of all the smoke of the allegations -- both the Democratic Party and Republican Party spokesmen puckishly decline to comment -- only one charge actually involves Sarah Palin's family. The rest involve Bristol's former boyfriend, his family, and Palin's husband's married sister.

Yes, I can see how the foibles of people distantly connected to Sarah Palin logically should damage her candidacy; after all, the bad behavior of her daughter's ex-boyfriend's mother certainly demonstrates that Sarah Palin is the hillbilly so many sources (on both sides the aisle) have insisted she is. And we certainly never see any relatives or family members of Democrats having problems... especially not the Democrat current occupying the White House; this situation is something utterly unique to Palin.

When Democrats (with GOP complicity) finish off Palin, they will surely start in on Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana. Did you know that he's a hillbubba? And he has a funny name... what's up with that?

I will certainly admit one solid slam against Palin: She clearly was not firm enough in teaching her daughter the sort of boys to avoid. If that's enough to turn you away from her future candidacy, so be it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 16, 2009, at the time of 3:57 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 11, 2008

The FEC Shrugged

Logical Lacunae , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Obama's Brobdingnagian fundraising is simply too huge to be investigated

Politico casually drops a bombshell (and of course, tilts the story a bit towards Barack H. Obama):

The Federal Election Commission is unlikely to conduct a potentially embarrassing audit of how Barack Obama raised and spent his presidential campaign’s record-shattering windfall, despite allegations of questionable donations and accounting that had the McCain campaign crying foul.

Adding insult to injury for Republicans: The FEC is obligated to complete a rigorous audit of McCain’s campaign coffers, which will take months, if not years, and cost McCain millions of dollars to defend.

It turns out that when Obama broke his word and refused to accept public funding in the general election, the first presidential candidate to do so in the modern era, he thereby skated away from the automatic audit that accompanies acceptance of such cash; while John S. McCain's honesty in accepting public funding as he promised is exactly why he will be audited.

Worse, the very hugeness of Obama's fundraising -- over $600 million through September and probably topping $700 million overall -- means that not even the millions of dollars of questionable and completely unmonitored credit-card donations will be investigated either: The formula the FEC uses to decide on an audit takes into account the amount in question as a percentage of the total raised by the candidate. Thus, substantial and well-founded allegations of even $5 million of potentially criminal fundraising would represent less than 1% of Obama's funds raised, and therefore the FEC is not required to investigate.

Of course, the commission could still simply vote to authorize an audit, no matter what their formula says about automatic audits; but it's unlikely to trouble itself. The commission membership is deliberately kept to an equal number of Democrats and Republicans (whether or not it's fully staffed or even has a quorum); and, well, the Democratic commissioners have signalled that they're going to vote en masse against any audit of Barack Obama's fundraising practices. Thus any vote on an audit will at best be a stalemate, with three for and three against (a majority is required except for automatic audits).

So Obama will almost certainly waltz away without any audit at all, while McCain will have to spend millions of dollars defend his own fundraising practices. Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Riverboat ride tonight.

Meanwhile, it appears, astonishingly enough, that even now, Politico is completely ignorant of the real scandal of the Obama fundraising machine: They deliberately disabled fraud monitoring of credit-card donations. This despite the fact that reputable conservative blogs with hundreds of thousands of daily readers -- more than many mainstream newspapers -- have published many substantial blogposts on the issue... for example, this sequence of posts from Power Line:

  1. Who is John Galt?
  2. What did Della Ware?
  3. ObamaFraud: Still Not News
  4. Obama shrugged
  5. Obama Shrugged: The Website
  6. Obama Shrugged: An update
  7. Obama Shrugged: Neil Munro is on the case
  8. An irregular campaign

That series of eight posts represents quite a substantial and in-depth analysis of probable criminal violations not only of the McCain-Feingold fundraising laws but also credit-card fraud: The Obama campaign evidently turned off all fraud-monitoring processes whatsoever, in order to make it easier for anybody to donate any amount under any name... or even to charge donations to the credit cards of people who never authorized such charges.

You'd think such a substantial allegation of deliberate criminal fraud would deserve at least a mention in an article specifically on the possibility that Obama's campaign fundraising might possibly, but probably wouldn't be audited. But either Politico never heard a word of it... or else they're still in the tank for the One, even after he has been safely elected. Either nonfeasance or outright malfeasance; that's a heck of a dilemma that bodes ill for future reporting.

And they're hardly alone; the entire elite media has been mimicking the three monkeys (see-no, hear-no, report-no) throughout the 114 years of this campaign (except for Neil Munro at National Journal; see link 7 in the list above); and many appear determined to maintain the frantic pace of campaigning even after the campaign has ended. What started as rewriting the election is now metastisizing into rewriting history even as it's being made.

So it goes. And so it will go for the next four or even eight years... welcome to Obamaland.

I suspect there is only one solution to this problem: The GOP should likewise disable all monitoring and throw the fundraising valve wide open. We might not raise as much as Obama did, but at least we'll be at less of a disadvantage than we were this time, when we foolishly played by rules that were, in reality, "no longer operative."

If Chicago rules are the to be the new rules of the game, then we'd better begin playing by them as well. We should appoint nothing but absolute GOP partisans to the FEC, and they can deadlock on every vote on an audit of Republican candidates, just as the Democratic commissioners already do for their side.

In a bizarre way, the FEC's inaction is good: It makes the complete failure of campaign finance reform brutally clear. It's a backdoor way finally to overturn the unworkable, thoroughly discredited, and unconstitutional (no matter what the Supreme Court says) McCain-Feingold "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act," BCRA.

Too bad its collapse must take with it the perfectly reasonable laws against donations by foreigners; but as A.E. Housman says, we find ourselves "In a world [we] never made":

And since, my soul, we cannot fly
To Saturn nor to Mercury,
Keep we must, if keep we can,
These foreign laws of God and man.
-- Housman, A.E., "Last Poems," 1922

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 11, 2008, at the time of 12:56 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

November 8, 2008

Conservatives: Obama's Secret Army

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

According to the Ass. Press:

Democrats made up 39 percent of the electorate and Republicans 32 percent in a national exit poll for The Associated Press and television networks. That left the share of voters considering themselves members of the GOP lower than in any presidential election since 1980 and was a sharp contrast with the 37-37 split between the two parties in the 2004 election.

But there was virtually no change in the ideological spectrum: This year 22 percent called themselves liberal, compared with 21 percent in 2004; 44 percent moderate, compared with 45 percent; and 34 percent conservative, same as four years ago....

Then again, some voters can't be pigeonholed by ideology. For instance, one in five self-described conservatives voted for Obama. One in 10 liberals voted for Republican John McCain.

Let's hop aboard my Syllogismobile and go for a ride...

  1. 34% of voters called themselves "conservatives."
  2. Of that 34%, 20% voted for Barack H. Obama; that means 6.8% of the electorate both called themselves conservatives and also voted for Obama. (Would that include Christopher Buckley and his ilk?)
  3. Contrariwise, only 10% of self-dubbed liberals voted for John S. McCain. Conservatives defected at twice the rate of liberals.
  4. Suppose, just for a giggle, conservatives had only voted for Obama at the same percentage that liberals voted for McCain... in other words, that conservatives were no more likely to defect than liberals. In that case, half of the conservative defectors would have remained loyal, and 3.4% of votes would shift from Obama to McCain.
  5. According to the most recent quasi-official unofficial tally, the popular tallies for the two nominees were 52.6% for Obama and 46.1% for McCain.
  6. Switching 3.4% from left to right yields 49.2% for Obama and 49.5% for McCain. (Note McCain number higher than Obama number.)
  7. Conclusion: Had conservatives defected at the same rate as liberals, instead of twice the rate, then John McCain would have won this election.

Thanks, guys!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2008, at the time of 4:36 AM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

November 7, 2008

The Great Leap Forward: How the Heck Can We Win Anyway?

Elections , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

It's a serious question: If a candidate like John S. McCain can be beaten by an empty suit with no experience spouting policies that "seem vague but are in fact meaningless," then what the heck are we supposed to do in order to win next time?

Surprisingly enough, I'll tell you what we should do. So there.

What's past...

In this election, each side did a great job of turning out their partisans: CNN's exit polling shows that McCain got 90% of the GOP vote, while Barack H. Obama got 89% of the Democratic vote. But Obama surged among independents by 8%, 52 to 44 for McCain. As far as ideology, Obama did somewhat better among liberals (89%) than McCain did among conservatives (78%); but again, it was the moderates that really killed McCain's chances, giving Obama a 21-point advantage, 60-39.

Clearly, Republicans are not able to appeal to independents merely by running "centrists"; it didn't work with McCain, George W. Bush, Blob Dole, nor George H.W. Bush. The last time Republicans won the nonaligned vote was with Ronald Reagan (remember those "Reagan Democrats" and "neoconservatives?") -- but Reagan was certainly not a moderate.

But on the other hand, running a staunch conservative is no guarantee of success, either, as President Barry Goldwater can attest.

Perpetual guest blogger DRJ at Patterico's Pontifications has an interesting take; I think she is correct but too specific... her thesis can be broadened a bit. She argues that what doomed McCain's candidacy was that he never presented (or even developed) a comprehensive economic policy with, one presumes, an overarching philosophy. Obama did -- however vague it was -- and that made all the difference on the issue of the economy... which turned out to be the only issue that mattered in this election.

But let's broaden this out a bit. It doesn't matter even if a candidate has a comprehensive economic policy, if he's unable to communicate it effectively to voters. And everything said about McCain's inability to communicate a comprehensive economic policy (whether or not he had one) can also be said about his inability to communicate a comprehensive policy on energy (drill everywhere -- except ANWR"), on climate change (his "drill, baby, drill" motto conflicts with his insistance that globaloney is real and the most urgent problem we face), on the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis (fight the war with everything we have -- but don't harshly interrogate captured terrorists, don't hold military tribunals, close Guantanamo Bay, and release the prisoners), on immigration (he argued for a process to allow eventual legalization of illegal aliens but never explained how that helps the American economy or national security).

I believe that all of those cases could have been made. Some would have required McCain to change some of his policies:

  • Coming up to date about the new evidence casting much doubt upon anthropogenic global climate change;
  • Admitting that oil can be drilled from ANWR without damaging the environment;
  • Dropping or at least mitigating his objections to harsh interrogation techniques and agreeing that terrorist combatants should not receive civilian trials alongside carjackers and check kiters.

But other cases could have been made by more effectively explaining the very positions he already held: for example, the benefit to our economy and even our national security by immigration reform and a process of legalization of those here illegally. But the fact is that John McCain never really made any of those arguments; in some instances, such as energy and immigration, he didn't even try.

...Is prologue

He never even really articulated a long-term plan for resolving the financial meltdown, nor for dealing with the real root causes -- the "money for nothing" syndrome so evident not only in subprime lending but also in the Social Security and Medicare boondoggles. McCain really needed to tie everything together under a few simple precepts:

  • Money has to come from somewhere. Ultimately, every dollar spent comes from your pockets. That doesn't mean we shouldn't spend anything; but it does mean we must be honest about how we're going to pay for things we like... including retirement programs; medical programs for senior citizens, veterans, and the poor; and rescuing American citizens from the folly of Wall Street bankers.

    We must cut expenses, or America is going to go bankrupt. And that means finding a better way to fund Social Security (privatize), reforming and revamping Medicare and other medical entitlement programs (ownership, portability, innovation, defined contribution, MSAs), and being more careful about how we inject liquidity into the mortgage market (lending rather than letting government buy -- partially nationalize -- the banking industry).

  • Energy is not "free" either; all of the electricity, gasoline, and natural gas that we use to power our society comes at the expense, to some extent, of the environment. The only way to prevent 100% of all environmental damage would be to smash all the technology and go back to the way people lived in the Dark Ages.

    We cannot power our country on biomass, solar cells, and wind; but they can help somewhat in the margins, and we should pursue them, so long as it's not too expensive. That said, we must strike a balance between the environment, which we all need and which we all want to be able to enjoy, and the raw energy we need to live, work, and prosper. My administration will pursue every, last method of producing energy, but we'll do so in as environmentally friendly a way as practicable. Sometimes that will mean less energy and more wilderness; but other times that must mean less wilderness for more energy.

  • Immigration also requires a delicate balance: On the one hand, we must control our borders; that's the primary duty of any country. But on the other hand, we cannot allow a population in the millions that lives inside our borders -- but as outsiders to society. On the third hand, we haven't the means to round them up and deport them... and it would kill our economy, which has come to rely upon lower-wage workers in many areas.

    The solution is an overarching policy that America is for those of any nationality who have American values: We should only admit immigrants who plan to become citizens... and only immigrants who are willing to assimilate and Americanize. No "guest workers," no hordes of immigrants who want to turn the United States into a carbon copy of whatever country they left behind. But no immigrant who truly wants to become an American should be rejected arbitrarily or without being told why, and what he can do to qualify next time.

President Who?

I believe that the next Republican nominee for president must himself have a comprehensive and consistent set of policies, driven by an optimistic and truly American overall philosophy:

  • One that can easily be explained to people (the philosophy, not necessarily each individual policy);
  • Whose pieces should all fit together;
  • And the whole of which, while small-c conservative and big-C Capitalist, should be neither rigid nor inflexible, nor seem censorious, dour, defeatist, or gloomy.

Nor should it be some airy-fairy fantasy about getting everything for nothing when "the world all comes together as one." We need realism, optimism, consistency, and an overall guiding philosophy... coupled with the ability to fully and effectively articulate this vision to the entire country.

That is what Ronald Reagan offered, but not a single Republican nominee since then has even attempted. Instead, except for 1988, Republicans have tried to negotiate the presidency. (In 1988, George Herbert Walker Bush simply coasted into la Casa Blanca by sheer momentum of the Reaganism that he personally despised).

We keep trying to put together a coalition of special interests (military hawks, deficit hawks, entrepeneurs, free-traders, libertarians, and social conservatives), then pick one from Column A, two from Column B, and so forth. This has usually worked, but it's not reliable -- as we just saw, where a decent, intelligent man of substance by beaten by a shiny, rainbow-colored soap bubble.

I think what I'm saying is that we need to nominate a great communicator and leader, not a great compromiser; not a nominee designed to appeal to just enough members of each interest group to hold the coalition together. There's a saying that a camel is a horse designed by committee; since our last strong horse in 1980, we've nominated nothing but camels, camels, camels, all the way down.

I also agree that we should look beyond the "usual gang of idiots" to candidates outside the D.C. beltway. Sarah Palin was a great choice precisely because she was the governor of an important state that was about as far away from the District of Columbia as possible (Hawaii is too liberal). Her problem was twofold: She was too recently elected, and the McCain camp did not let Sarah Barracuda be herself; they tried to micromanage her into a John McCain "mini-me." The electorate had never heard of her before the nomination, and many moderates and independents were furious that an "inexperienced" and "out of her depth" "lightweight" was put into such an important role.

The McCain campaign really blew the roll-out; but that shouldn't hurt Palin herself in 2012, provided she follows my advice below.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is also a strong contender... another "beltway outsider" with real experience governing. But we could look even further afield. How about Gen. David Petraeus? If it turns out that he has a comprehensive and consistent overarching philosophy of government that fits within the GOP orbit (which I strongly suspect to be true), he might be a fantastic candidate. We already know he's a wonderful communicator.

President -- how?

But whoever is the nominee should make it clear very soon now -- no more than a year from today -- that he (or she) is going to run for president. Then he should barnstorm the country, talking to anyone and everyone: from the Elks and Masons, to the local councils of La Raza, to NRA chapters, to businesses large and small, to campus groups -- lots and lots of campus groups! -- to various forums to which women voters pay attention, to organizations of black businessmen, to churches, synogogues, and mosques, and so forth. It doesn't matter if the group agrees or disagrees with the future candidate's policies; what matters is that he makes it clear that they matter to him.

And I have one final suggestion: When the campaign starts in earnest, I want this candidate to refuse to participate in mass "debates." Instead, he should challenge every other major candidate to a one-on-one debate... and offer to pay for it.

Any opponent who refuses should be mercilessly mocked for being afraid to face the candidate. These mass "debate" events are monkey debates; they're not really debates at all but just collective press conferences. The one-on-ones that our candidate offers would be real debates, a town-hall format where, besides questions from the audience, each candidate also puts questions to his opponent.

I think voters would find this format far more interesting, stimulating, even exciting, than the warmed over mashed potatoes we get nowadays. And it would also play to the strengths of the outsider candidate, rather than consummate insiders like John McCain, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden.

In other words, a presidential election is a nonviolent war, where the stake is leadership of the free world; for God's sake, can't we plan the next one with the same intensity that we would plan a military campaign?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2008, at the time of 8:33 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

It's Official: a Rise in "New Registrations" Means Nothing - UPDATED

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

If you'll recall, the big concern in the months leading up to the election was how many new voters, homeless voters, felon voters, and young voters the campaign of Barack H. Obama registered via groups like ACORN and Project Vote... millions and millions of them; in fact, a study released today by the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University found ten million new registrations.

But in the actual vote, this mass of new registrations did not translate into any increase in the percent of Americans over the age of 18 who voted. I'll use the total population as a proxy for the population of those over 18, because the former is easier to find. According to the U.S. Census Department, between 2004 and 2008, the U.S. population increased from 293.2 million to 305.6 million, a gain of 12.4 million or 4.2%.

UPDATE: Using the census figures linked by SlimGuy (thanks!), we get an increase in the population of Americans 18 and older of 10.1 million, which is a percentile rise of 4.6%, slightly higher than the 4.2% rise overall. This actually makes the case even better, because the rise in votes was within the range of 3.5% to 5.2%, and the midpoint of that range is 4.4%. In other words, the number of votes did not even rise as much as the population of people old enough to vote. But of course, many of those over 18 might not be eligible to vote for other reasons (citizenship, for example); so we really don't know. But the numbers won't be too different, so I'm not going to bother correcting the rest of this post by 0.1% or 0.2% here and there. The point carries; in fact, it's even a little stronger now!

And according to the study linked above, the number of voters increased from 122.2 million in 2004 to between 126.5 and 128.5 million this year; this translates to an increase of from 4.3 to 6.3 million -- or from 3.5% to 5.2%, with a midrange percentile increase of 4.3%. Thus, as Shakespeare put it, all that sound and fury appears to have signified nothing (not surprising, since it was a tale told by the idiots in the elite news media.)

In fact, there is little evidence even that registrations went up by much more than the ordinary increase in the American population would have predicted; registrations increased between 2004 and 2008 by about 4.8%, as compared to the population increase of 4.2%; the difference of 0.6% is the number of "extra" new registrations over and above what we would have expected.

The population increase alone accounts for 8.7 million of the 10 million -- leaving only 1.3 million "extra" registrations. But of that 1.3 million extra registered voters, better than one million of them failed to vote. At the midrange value, this means that all the hoopla and hullabaloo was over a measely increase of 300,000 new voters, or 0.2% of the vote.

That still might have made a difference in one or two battleground states; Obama won Ohio, Florida, Colorado, and Virginia by 200,000 votes each. But even if the extra voters were perfectly distributed only within those four states, they cannot account for Barack Obama's victory. Absent those paltry few new voters, Obama would still have won at least three of those four states -- and John S. McCain needed to prevail in all four of them (along with Indiana, North Carolina, and Missouri, the last of which McCain may still get).

Bottom line: New voters, felons, and bums did not impact the vote in any significant way. ACORN failed; Obama won the election not by bringing "new blood" to the voting booth but by doing a better job than McCain at wooing the traditional voter, the guys and gals who always vote.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 7, 2008, at the time of 7:01 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 6, 2008

Post-Mortem for the First Post-Partisan Partisan Election

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I find myself curiously untheatrical about Barack H. Obama's victory last night, much as I'm appalled by his dishonesty, his radicalism, and his friends. I think I had seriously internalized that Obama was reasonably likely to be elected, so I got all the hand-wringing out my system early.

Besides, there's little to analyze there. I'm more interested in comparing the popular vote to the final polls released by the various pollsters. According to CNN, the current figures for the popular tally are 53% for Obama, 46% for John S. McCain. (We don't have complete figures, however, because the CNN site does not give actual tallies for those votes that went for neither major-party candidate; we'll have to take CNN's word for it.)

That gives Obama a 7% victory over McCain. So let's look at the final poll numbers.

Pollsters vs. voters

They range from a low of 3.5% from the averaged Battleground poll to a high of 11% from both Zogby and Gallup. The pollsters who came closest were CNN, Fox News, and Ipsos, who all appear to have called it exactly. Pew Research came close with 6%... but this was after having the spread as high as 15% (!) just a week before the election. This is an astonishing example of pollsters letting Obamania run away with their reason, then "walking the dog" back to rationality for the final polling release.

The following table ranks the polls from most Republican to most Democratic and includes both the raw difference and also the percentile difference; in that last column, for example, a pollster who predicted Obama by 11 points would have a raw differential of 4 (a predicted number of 11 minus the actual number 7), and a percentile difference of 57% -- 4 points differential divided by 7 points of actual victory:

 

Final polls, divergence from actual results
Pollster Final Obama poll lead Poll minus actual Percentile difference
Battleground 3.5% -3.5 points -50% off
Hotline 5% -2 points -29% off
Rasmussen 6% -1 -14% off
Pew 6% -1 -14% off
CNN 7% Direct hit On the money
Fox News 7% Direct hit On the money
Ipsos 7% Direct hit On the money
IBD 8% +1 points 14% off
NBC/WSJ 8% +1 points 14% off
ABC/WaPo 9% +2 points 29% off
CBS 9% +2 points 29% off
Marist 9% +2 points 29% off
Gallup 11% +4 points 57% off
Zogby 11% +4 points 57% off

 

First, it's very clear that, as expected, McCain significantly outperformed his final poll numbers -- and correspondingly, Obama significantly underperformed. Four polls underestimated Obama's lead, three got it right on the money -- and seven of the fourteen (half) overestimated Obama's lead. Clearly, the pollsters underestimated Republican strength in this election.

Just as in the primaries, McCain closed noticibly on Obama in the actual election... and just as in the primaries, when Hillary Clinton closed on Barack Obama, it wasn't quite enough: The big lead that Obama had built up proved insurmountable.

The Democratic victory -- convincing but not overwhelming

That out of the way, here is a comparison to bear in mind... Obama came into this election with:

  • A huge headwind against Republicans in general;
  • A Republican president with a job approval below 30%;
  • A "wrong track" number of 84.2% (!);
  • A fundraising and spending advantage that boggles the mind;
  • The weight of the massed elite media behind him 137.4%;
  • A complete collapse of the world financial markets -- wrongly blamed on Republicans -- just a couple of weeks before the election, with the market hitting a local nadir on October 27th, just eight days before the vote;
  • A massive boost from being the first black presidential nominee with a serious chance of winning (obvously);
  • A unified base that was ravenous for la Casablanca;
  • And a disunited GOP base, many of whom still harbored rage over McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, the Gang of Fourteen, and so forth; many of whom pointedly voted for Librarian nominee Babar instead of McCain. (In the end, though, I believe McCain retained more Republicans than Obama retained Democrats; but I just heard that, I haven't seen the figures.)

Yet even so, Barack Obama did not do as well in the election as did Bill Clinton in 1996, the previous Democratic victory.

Obama has won at least 349 electoral votes, possibly as many as 375 (if he ends up taking both Missouri, where McCain leads by 6,000 votes, and North Carolina, where Obama leads by 14,000); and he had a 7% victory over John McCain. But in 1996, Bill Clinton won 379 electoral votes with a margin of 8.5% -- and that was after numerous substantiated allegations of corruption and wrongdoing by the president. (If McCain ends up winning either Missouri or North Carolina, then Obama will have done worse than both of Bill Clinton's elections.)

Obama's was not a landslide victory; it was more substantial than either of George W. Bush's victories, but it was still less than the average presidential margin of victory of the past few decades. There have been 27 presidential elections from 1900 to 2004; at least 17 of them (63%) have been more substantial than this year's, and possibly as many as 19 (70%).

The Democrats have definitely picked up at least five net Senate seats; but the Republican leads in three of the four outstanding races -- Georgia, Minnesota, and Alaska; the Democrat leads by about 8,000 votes in Oregon. If these results hold up, Republicans will retain 43 seats... probably enough to maintain a filibuster against the worse excesses of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid troika. (If, as some aver, Joe Lieberman switches to Republican after he is stripped of all his committee assignments from vengeful Democrats, that would bring the total up to a more comfortable 44 Republicans.)

Finally, Democrats gained at least 18 House seats, with 8 still undecided; if the parties split the undecideds, that would mean a gain of 22 for the Democrats -- nine fewer than they gained in 2006. (By contrast, Democrats picked up 52 net seats in 1930, and an additional 101 seats in 1932; Republicans recaptured 81 seats in 1938 and 54 seats in 1994. There have been many, many other elections -- possibly a majority -- where more than 22 seats changed parties.)

By all measures then, Democrats won a substantial victory Tuesday, but not an overwhelming one.

Ballot propositions

I had three priorities in this election; two succeeded, one failed:

  • The election of John McCain (failed);
  • Holding onto enough Senate seats to allow the GOP to filibuster the most egregious of insane Democratic proposals (appears to have succeeded);
  • And the passage of California Proposition 8, the restoration of the traditional definition of marriage, after our rogue state Supreme Court decided to cram same-sex marriage down our throats (definitely succeeded).

That last is on the list because I believe traditional man-woman marriage is a cornerstone of Western civilization; I will be happy to debate Patterico -- or anyone else with a similar standard of rationality, honesty, and decency as he -- on its importance, but for now, I'm just very happy that it won, even in a down year for Republicans and conservative causes in general.

But in fact, conservatives fared quite well on our ballot initiatives here, except for Proposition 4, which would have required parental notification before minors could get abortions. For such a liberal state, California is still pretty conservative. The release-a-thug initiative failed big time, as did the global-warming "renewable energy" initiative; another victims' bill of rights initiative passed; and the bond initiative to pay people to buy "alternative fuel" vehicles was crushed.

There were no conservative issues with which I took issue this time, so I could stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with movement conservatives this time.

The only stupid-goofy initiative was the PETA-inspired, if not actually PETA-backed (I have no idea) free-range chickens initiative, which passed almost 2-1. Proposition 2 mandates that "calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely," with a few trivial exceptions. It sounds great -- but is it necessary? Is there really a problem? Is this even a current issue?

I voted against it for two reasons: First, we have no idea if this is necessary, because none of us has the relevant knowledge of current practices. Those who do -- farming communities -- seemed mostly opposed.

Second, this initiative was sold entirely on the basis of raw, seething emotion, complete with a "smoking gun" videotape propagated virally, showing chickens being abused.

The YouTube was produced by Mercy for Animals, founded by a "super PETA volunteer; MFA's statement of purpose is:

Mercy For Animals (MFA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit animal advocacy organization that believes non-human animals are irreplaceable individuals who have morally significant interests and hence [sic] rights, including the right to live free of unnecessary suffering. MFA is dedicated to promoting nonviolence towards all sentient beings through public education campaigns and demonstrations, undercover investigations, and open rescues.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also produces videotapes that it propagates virally; and many have been revealed as either very old (decades out of date on treatment), creatively and tendentiously edited, or even containing completely fabricated sequences. This doesn't prove that Mercy for Animals' YouTube is similarly propagandistic... but I think it's a pretty good bet.

Patterico totally bought into this video, embedding it on his site; but the video consists of a series of images (many of them repeated) of some chickens being killed and some chickens with injuries, while an MFA narrator tells us about all sorts of chicken atrocities observed by an "undercover" MFA "investigator." But such investigators (or even the narrator, for that matter) are about as impartial and believable as a charter member of Klanwatch "investigating" racism and incipient Naziism at a local NRA chapter.

Patterico sees that movie as dispositive. He may be correct, he may be wrong -- I don't know, and neither does he, because there is no way to check out MFA's claims unless we, ourselves, go "undercover" in an egg factory... or rather, many egg factories, so we can compare them; else we have only Mercy for Animals' word that this is really a problem, that these images are current, that they are widespread, that they spread disease, and so forth. I doubt that Patterico (and about 2/3rds of California voters) did so before jumping wholeheartedly aboard this bandwagon.

For that matter, much is made in the video of killing chickens by holding them by their feet and shaking them vigorously, to break their necks. They show images of such chickens still thrashing about after being allegedly killed. But in the first place, we all know that chickens can thrash and even run around even after being decapitated; and if Patterico doesn't like chickens killed in that manner, how would he prefer them killed? I know he's not a vegetarian.

But let's leave the realm of animal-"rights" hysteria and return to the very real issue of the survival of traditional marriage. With 100% of precincts reporting, the quasi-final tally on Proposition 8 is 52.5% yes, 47.5 no; no recount is going to change a five-point result, so I'm quite confident that the California constitution now formally recognizes only the traditional definition of marriage.

(To quote Larry Elderberry, "and now, the big butt...")

But, it will doubtless take several months before this result becomes final. Several things will happen in the interim:

  1. A state-court case will be filed to declare the constitutional amendment unconstitutional; this will be thrown out of court.
  2. A federal case will be filed in district court to declare Proposition 8 unconstitutional according to the United States constitution; the plaintiffs will judge-shop, and the judge will find in their favor, nullifying the initiative constitutional amendment just passed.
  3. On appeal, I cannot say what the three-judge panel of the 9th Circus Court of Appeals will do; it depends upon the makeup of the panel.
  4. But regardless the decision, it will be appealed to the entire 9th Circuit sitting en banc, and they will overturn the district-court judge's decision, restoring the just passed initiative.
  5. This decision will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which will deny certiorari. At that point -- and not until then -- it will become official.

I'm very glad that Arnold Schwarzenegger is our governor; he is a socially liberal Republican who personally supports same-sex marriage... but he has a history of upholding the rule of law on this very issue.

If we had a Democratic governor such as Cruz Bustamante, I have no doubt that he would simply ignore the initiative as if it had been merely a bad dream. We would have to find someone with standing to sue to force California to follow its own constitution.

Still, I feel sad and angry: A bunch of very nice and totally sincere same-sex couples who "got married" after the California Supreme Court decision will find their supposed marriages abruptly nullified, causing them to feel very understandable pain. But it's their own fault: They foolishly trusted radical "progressives" who told them, to hell with what voters want; the people will think what we, the anointed, tell them to think!

I feel sorry for those same-sex couples who just wanted to get married. They knew (or should reasonably have known) that the proper way to change the secular institution of marriage would be to qualify a clean initiative onto the ballot to overturn the year 2000's Proposition 22 -- which had the exact same wording as Proposition 8, but created only a law, not an amendment to the constitution. If such a clean initiative passed, we would have enacted same-sex marriage through the ballot box (and would be the first state to do so). This is the only valid way to change such an important principle of American culture... by the vote.

But many same-sex marriage supporters allowed themselves to be suckered into a dirty short-cut. Probably, they were convinced by the Left that there were so many bigots and homophobes in California (that bastion of conservatism) that the only way they could win was to force the decision through the courts. In any event, now it's a part of the California constitution... and all because professional political proponents of same-sex marriage (and in many cases, polygamy, polyandry, incestuous marriage, and eventually, the abolition of legal marriage altogether) decided to force it on the state, "whether you like it or not," as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom triumphantly crowed during an earlier attempt.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am to the California electorate, which rejected the vile, slimy no-on-8 campaign... culminating in that despicable video assault that depicted the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints -- by name! -- invading the house of some poor lesbian couple, trashing the place, and tearing their marriage certificate in half, while laughing at the pain they're causing.

What religious bigots. What bastards. I revel in the pain felt by the anti-religion, anti-democracy, and anti-marriage activists, even as I feel the pain of ordinary same-sex couples, a pain I ascribe almost entirely to the moral depravity of everyone who applauds judicial imperialism "for our own good."

But that wasn't the only state proposition that went in a direction away from Liberalism; here are a few other initiatives that appear victorious, from the CNN elections website:

  • A ban on same-sex marriage in Arizona and Florida, as well as California;
  • A ban (or at least limitations) on "unmarried 'sexual partner[s]'... adopting children or... serving as foster parents" in Arkansas;
  • A bill to end affirmative action in Nebraska. A similar bill in Colorado is trailing by 14,000 votes with 92% of precincts reporting; but for some unfathomable reason, the Colorado Secretary of State Election Center website does not report any election results, or if they do, they hide the fact. Evidently, it never occurred to the secretary or his web designer that viewers might, you know, want to know how things turned out.

In conclusion

So take heart, mateys; it was a bad election, but it probably won't be catastrophic. Don't throw yourselves into the Komodo dragon pit -- at least not just yet.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 6, 2008, at the time of 1:14 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 4, 2008

No Last Minute Surge for Obama in States; Lizardly Analysis Unchanged

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In the final state polls released today, there were no significant changes in either direction. Therefore, our analyses over the last few days still hold. The three electoral stages are:

  1. After polls close in the Eastern time zone, watch Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
  2. After polls close in the Central time zone, also watch Florida.
  3. After they close in the Mountain time zone, keep an eye on Colorado.

John S. McCain needs to hold Ohio, Virginia, and Florida; then he needs to take either Colorado or Pennsylvania. That's the likeliest route to victory.

If Barack H. Obama can take Virginia, Ohio, or Florida, he will probably end up winning... unless McCain takes Pennsylvania and Colorado.

The wild card is Minnesota: Most polling puts it out of McCain's reach, but the most recent poll there by Survey USA -- which typically leans a bit to the left -- has it a 3-point race. If this isn't just a polling fluke, then Minnesota could be an opportunity for McCain to replace Colorado, if necessary.

I've read in several places that the elite media have declared that they plan to call the election at 8:00 pm Eastern time -- presumably whether it's callable or not. The implication is that they feel comfortable enough wallowing in the wake of the red wizard that they just don't care if everyone knows whose side they're on. But this may be an exaggeration or sheer bravado; we'll have to wait and see.

Frankly, I'm skeptical of the prediction that, assuming McCain is doing well in VA, OH, PA, and FL, the drive-by media will go ahead and falsely and knowingly call the election for the One anyway. The hit they would take to their credibility would dwarf what has happened over the past eight years and might even lead to the complete collapse of one or more major media organs.

Therefore, I expect they won't call any state early unless it's so obvious that there's no chance they could be mistaken... for example, if Obama were winning in Virginia even in the most conservative areas. But that's very unlikely, in my mostly uninformed opinion.

In any event, ignore any pronunciamentos about "Obama's historic landslide victory!" that are promulgated while polls are still open in the Pacific time zone; if made, they're meant as propaganda to demoralize Republicans, not legitimate "reporting." The media are not our friends.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 4, 2008, at the time of 11:45 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 3, 2008

Big Lizards Election Night Viewing Protocol on a Nutshed

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Here's all you need to watch, in the order of poll closings:

  • Step 1: John S. McCain must win Virginia and Ohio (234 electoral votes, counting the other states he's bound to win). Yes, technically he could lose Ohio and win Pennsylvania; but you know he's not going to. Just assume he must win these two states. If the media calls either of these states for Obama (after the polls close in the West, so there's a least a chance that the call is honest), the election is over. All hail the One.
  • Step 2: If McCain makes it past that first hurdle, then he must win Florida (261 electoral votes). (Ditto.)
  • Step 3: Assuming he gets past these three states, then it all comes down to Colorado (270 electoral votes -- winner!) and Pennsylvania (282 electoral votes -- winner!):

    - If McCain wins at least one of those two states, or both (290 electoral votes -- convincing winner!), he wins the election.

    - Contrariwise, Barack H. Obama must take both states (277 electoral votes) to win.

That's it; that's all you need watch for.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 3, 2008, at the time of 11:13 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Four Paths to Victory

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Looking at the current Real Clear Politics electoral map, it seems clear that John S. McCain has four possible paths to victory. Realistically, however, each begins with winning all the states that are currently considered toss-ups. It's still possible to win if, for example, he loses Ohio but wins Pennsylvania -- but that's an unlikely outcome. (Not impossible, but less likely.)

If McCain can pick up the so-called toss-ups states, the ones that are colored neither red nor blue on the map, then the four paths to victory are these. If McCain...

  • Wins Pennsylvania (Mason-Dixon says Obama by 4, Zogby says by 14), or --
  • Wins Colorado (Mason-Dixon says Obama by 5, ARG says 7), or --
  • Wins Minnesota (Survey USA says Obama by 3, Maxon-Dixon says 8, Rasmussen 12), or --
  • Wins both Nevada (Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen say Obama by 4, Zogby says 8) and New Mexico (Survey USA says Obama by 7, Rasmussen says 10) --

Then he wins the election and becomes President-elect John McCain. Otherwise, say hello to President-elect Barack H. Obama.

We'll have a pretty good idea early in the election how things are going, because Virginia (polls range from Mason-Dixon, Obama up by 3, to Zogby, 6), North Carolina (Mason-Dixon and Zogby say it leans McCain), Georgia (all polls say McCain leads), and Florida (Mason-Dixon, Quinnipiac, and Zogby say Obama leads by only 2, ARG says 4) are all must-win states, all but the last being entirely in the Eastern time zone. If any of these is called for Obama -- after the polls close in the Pacific time zone, of course -- it's almost certain that Obama will win. But if McCain can hold them all, that's a very good sign.

(Again, beware of states that are narrowly called based upon exit polling; it's generally not representative of the entire vote.)

If they're still not being called late into the night, that too is a good indicator; in an Obama blowout, at least one of those would clearly resolve into a Democratic pickup (probably Virginia).

It's also essential that McCain win either Ohio (Mason-Dixon says McCain leads by 2; others range from Survey USA, Obama by 2, to Quinnipiac, Obama by 7) or Pennsylvania (see above), both in the Eastern time zone. If both go to Obama (again, after the polls close here in California, so we're sure the call is not a voter-suppression tactic), then that's the unmistakable sound of the fat lady's last aria.

Ergo, we ought to have a good idea by, say, eleven o'clock Eastern, as soon as the polls close in the West, whether we'll be popping champagne or sobbing into our beer.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 3, 2008, at the time of 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Different Kind of Unity

Elections , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dave Ross

As the country collectively gets ready to point a gun barrel into the roof of its mouth and pull the trigger, it’s interesting to reflect that for most of the two years that Barack Obama has been running for president, his main theme is that he is the kind of guy who can bring us all together in love and unity.

Increasingly it is becoming clear that the Obama formula for unity is to silence those who disagree with him as much as possible -- or else to make sure that those on a soapbox aren’t able to shout their messages very far.

It never was particularly believable to begin with, given that roughly half of the country is going to object to a straight socialistic program that isn’t really different in any signficant degree from the left-wing programs that the Demcoratic party has been banging the drum on for many decades.
It’s just that this time, the country as a whole is allowing its deep disgust with the Republicans to translate into turning over the reins to what will, at best, be an extremely liberal program.

There’s certainly going to be as many people on the right objecting to Obama’s left-wing program as there were vocal left-wingers who objected to George W. Bush’s programs. Remember, Bush was supposed to be the president who was going to bring us together and be bipartisan.

Or going back even farther in history, here’s a statement that Richard Nixon made right after his 1968 win over Hubert Humphrey: “I saw many signs in this campaign. Some of them were not friendly. Some were very friendly. But the one that touched me the most was -- a teenager held up the sign ‘bring us together.’ And that will be the great objective of this administration, at the outset, to bring the American people together.”

Bring us together might acquire a similar meaning under Obama. Bring us together -- forcefully, might be more what we’re talking about. Kind of makes you wonder what Obama is thinking when he calls for a “civilian national security force,” as he did in a recent speech.

Now, that could be something perfectly innocuous, like a beefed up CERT force, funded with federal dollars and ready to help with emergencies like Hurricane Katrina; but it does set the suspicious mind ruminating.

I’m not one of those people who, when Bill Clinton was president, predicted darkly, “when it comes time for his term to end, he’ll find some excuse not to have an election,” because I know that our republic is strong enough that if a president were fruity enough to try that, he would not be obeyed.
When Congress returns to do its work under the new president, it will be interesting to see just how many of the liberals in the chamber will be true to the liberal tradition of supporting freedom of speech.

Conservatives expect -- because liberals have been pretty open about it, that there will be a strong attempt to bring back the Orwellian “fairness doctrine,” which is about as fair as infanticide is “pro life.” The purpose of regulating the airwaves in this way is to return all major media to their proper orientation, i.e. towards the Left.

Talk radio will not go quietly into that good night. And given that talk radio hosts helped orchestrate the defeat of “comprehensive immigration reform” last year, the Democrats may wish that they had done something less painful, such as stepped naked into a nest of rattlesnakes.

Still, if they have the 60 seat majority in the senate, they may be able to force it through.

That wouldn’t shut down Rush Limbaugh and company, although it might force them into exile on Satellite and Internet radio.

Once again, is a battle of this kind what Obama has in mind when he talks about bringing us all together in unity and brotherhood?

This willingness to trash freedom of expression isn’t confined to the leaders of the Democratic party. The rank and file, when polled are quite comfortable with it, especially when it is pointed out that a reimposition of the doctrine will drive shows like Limbaugh and Sean Hannity off the air.

“Bring it on!” the Left seems to be saying.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, November 3, 2008, at the time of 7:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 2, 2008

Another Bright Ray of Hope - UPDATED

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

While Barack H. Obama pulled into a bigger (but still catchable) lead in most of the national polls, John S. McCain has suddenly started improving in the more critical state polling, bizarrely enough. Ohio is now back to being a toss-up state, with a new Mason-Dixon poll showing McCain leading for the first time in a long, long time, after nearly a week of the average leaning towards Obama.

Whoops, correction: The national polls did not tick up for Obama today; I spoke too soon. When the rest of today's tracking polls came in, Obama's already small lead shrunk 0.7% down to 5.3; this is based upon Rasmussen (holding steady), Gallup traditional (Obama drops 2 points from yesterday), Zogby (Obama up one tick), and IBD (Obama down two ticks). We're still waiting for the newest release of the Battleground poll.

One other interesting point on the national polling: Rasmussen has a ludicrous (in my opinion) turnout model where Democrats will outperform Republicans by 6.5%! In 2004, the gap was about 1.5% on election day; in 2006, it was 6.1%. But there are two related points to note:

  • First, what Rasmussen is measuring is not turnout but rather the party affiliation claimed by respondents in a separate poll of adults. In other words, at best, Rasmussen is measuring total party registration (self reported) -- not what percent of each party will turn out. Thus, when they weight their polling on that basis, they're making the stealth turnout assumption that all the first-time registered Democrats and youth Democrats and such are just as likely to vote as older Democrats or Republicans who have voted every election for many years, that 6.5% more registered Democrats directly translates into 6.5% more votes for Obama. This is a questionable projection, to say the least.
  • Second and even more intriguing... Rasmussen predicts a 6.5% Democratic advantage in turnout and adjusts its polling accordingly; but even so, they have Obama up by only 5%. Aren't they tacitly admitting that McCain will do significantly better in winning over Democrats than Obama will in turning Republicans to the dark side?

Now let's get back to the state polls released today...

Virginia is on the bring of becoming a toss-up (it's been leaning Obama for a while), and would already be except for one CNN poll; Nevada, while still technically leaning Obama, would also be a toss-up, except for one single-day poll I've never heard of -- Suffolk -- from a week ago.

Colorado is achingly close to being a toss-up as well; the most recent Denver Post/Mason-Dixon poll has Obama ahead by only 5 points, and Obama's overall lead is only 5.5.

If we change those states to toss-ups on the RCP electoral map, Obama drops below the magic 270 for the first time in a couple of weeks -- a stunning improvement for McCain. If the most recent polls are accurate, that means that John McCain can now win the election by only winning enough of those toss-ups, without having to take a single state where Obama has a significant lead right now.

But that's not all... in Pennsylvania, where John McCain and Sarah Palin have been campaigning heavily (against the advice of well-meaning Democrats, who have been advising McCain that he can't win there, so he should pull out), there are five polls in the RCP average; one of them, Marist, is clearly an outlier (Obama +14, twice as big a lead as the next nearest poll). Take Marist out of the mix, and Obama only leads by 5.3% in Pennsylvania -- making that state as close as makes no difference to a toss-up as well.

If we make Pennsylvania a toss-up, that leaves Barack Obama at only 243 in the electoral count -- rather, 242, since McCain is very likely to win that one electoral vote in Maine decided by a Republican-leaning district.

I have always assumed that McCain will win every state that is already a for-real toss-up in the RCP average right now, since he's a closer... and in the primaries, Obama underperformed his polling in nearly all the later races against Hillary Clinton. Thus I give McCain Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana, and Arizona. Those are all states that went to George W. Bush in both the 2000 and the 2004 elections; McCain has improved his standing in each of those states recently, so he has momentum; and in fact, McCain currently either leads by more than 1% or is tied (less than 1% lead for one or the other nominee) in all of those states except Florida, where he trails by only 3.3 points, within the margin of error (I don't count the addlepated Los Angeles Times poll).

Everything then comes down to four states: Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. All except the last are states George W. Bush won twice. Obama must win two of them -- and the correct two -- to take the election away from McCain; he has to win one of either Ohio or Pennsylvania, and then he must win Colorado. If McCain wins both Ohio and Pennsylvania, or if he wins one of them plus Colorado, then he wins the race, 270 to 268.

I suspect McCain is going to win Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada, giving him a narrow but comfortable victory of 275 to 263... but he might sweep all four on a reasonably good night, making it a more convincing 296 to 242.

The real election looks much, much better today than yesterday. The country might be saved. But much more important, I might not have to pay off my gambling losses on Tuesday after all!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 2, 2008, at the time of 10:11 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 1, 2008

Another Caution: Ignore Projections Based Upon Exit Polling

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

This is another tip for watching the returns Tuesday night: You cannot project the winner of a state from the exit polling, becuase by its very nature, the respondent pool is not representative of the voters themselves..

The respondent pool in any exit poll of a state comprises:

  • Those voters who waited to vote until election day and --
  • Who voted at one of the precincts where the pollsters were polling --
  • At the time of day during which they were polling --
  • Who volunteered to stand still and be asked a bunch of intrusive questions that, in spirit, violate the sanctity of the secret ballot and --
  • Who decided to tell the truth about how they cast their votes.

Needless to say (but try to stop me!), none of these characteristics fits the voting population as a whole. A very significant portion of voters in most states vote early or absentee; pollsters don't lurk at every polling place but only a select few; they don't stay there from opening to closing, but only as long as they have money to pay for workers; Democratic voters tend to be more eager than Republicans to talk to pollsters (they see kindred souls); and of course, the "PC effect" is at super strength when voters are being interviewed face to face, without even the anonymity of the telephone: Many people are apt to tell you that they voted the politically correct way, no matter how they actually voted; they don't want an interviewer to think them ignorant, bigoted, or unsophisticated.

Predicting how the state will turn out was never the reason for exit polling, because most good pollsters realize the two pools (poll respondents and voters) are quite divergent. Rather, it was supposed to be an informational tool for statisticians to study elections after the fact and determine why people voted the way they did.

How do they do that? It's actually interesting: Rather than using the poll to predict the actual vote -- setting the stage for losers to think "we wuz robbed" -- valid pollsters collect all the exit-poll data, then align the respondent pool to the actual vote in that precinct, rather than the other way 'round. This allows them to draw reasonable inferences about what caused voters to vote a certain way... "Voters for Barack H. Obama were most persuaded by arguments or policies A and B, while McCain voters were most persuaded by C, D, and E." This allows for a post-mortem on the entire election, giving a wealth of data and correlations to all parties.

But it's incompetence bordering on malfeasance to attempt to project from the unrepresentative exit polling to declare who will win the state. Unless, of course, the goal is to suppress the Republican vote by projecting an Obama landslide.

(Contrariwise, it's perfectly proper to project who will win a particular state based upon the partial count by precinct -- provided you know enough about each precinct and polling place to know which voting patterns correlate to victory and defeat. Michael Barone, author of the Almanac of American Politics, is particularly adept at doing this.)

So don' t be a sucker: Ignore any state projection based upon exit polling -- even if they're calling it for John S. McCain.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 1, 2008, at the time of 6:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 31, 2008

How to Watch the Election and Know What's Going On

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Movie Badger

Note from the Mgt: Movie Badger is a new occasional contributor to Big Lizards. It is not any of the normal contributors. It is involved in the entertainment industry, thus prefers anonymity to avoid job complications... since it emphatically is not a liberal.

Watching election night coverage can be confusing and frustrating, because reporters rarely give you a complete picture of what's going on. They want you to keep watching and think every development is of utmost importance; clarity often gets sacrificed for this end.

This is your guide of what to look for and how to determine the results of the election before the news is willing to tell you.

First, I urge you to download the Election Tracker I put together:

  1. Right-click the link;
  2. Select save link or save target from the context menu that opens.

This Microsoft Excel file will combine results with expected results from safe states, and give you predicted vote totals. There are lots of websites that let you do the same thing with maps, but they'll all be slammed on election night; this tracker will actually be saved on your local system, so there will be no internet-induced delays. (Plus my interface is quicker.)

If you have trouble getting the tracker to work, please leave a comment and I will try to help.

Will the election be close?

Polls range from showing a statistical dead heat to Obama with an insurmountable lead. Which ones are right, if any?

The answer is that nobody really knows. Built into every poll are the pollsters' own assumptions about voter turn-out. The pollsters all predict huge Democratic turn-out -- far more than in previous elections; but these assumptions are little more than educated guesses. They may turn out to be right, since the pollsters are the experts about this sort of thing. But there's no science behind them, and they could just as easily turn out to be wrong. Treat these predictions as having the same degree of veracity as an expert sportswriter's opinion on who's going to win the Superbowl.

There are some indications that these turn-out guesses could be wrong: In early voting, the split has been pretty even between Democrats and Republicans, and both campaigns (who have access to much more accurate polls than the public ones) are acting as if the election is close. But then, early voters aren't necessarily representative of voters in general; and strategically, it makes sense for both campaigns to act as if the election will be close, even if they think this only has a small likelihood of being the case. If the election's a blowout, nothing they do will matter at this point; so they might as well focus exclusively on the possibility that it won't be.

This analysis will allow you to determine relatively quickly whether the election's a blowout or not. If it is, you'll be able to turn off the TV at 8:30 Eastern Time, knowing that Obama's the winner. If it's close, you'll know what to look for to figure out the winner before anyone else.

Safe states

Each nominee has a bunch of safe states they are almost certain to win. The media may try to hype results from these as if they're news, but they're not. You can just check them off the list. On the other hand, if a nominee loses any of his safe states, that's huge news; that can only happen if he is losing horribly overall. If any of these states switch sides, the election is over, and you can turn off the coverage.

McCain will almost certainly win the following 21 states:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Obama will almost certainly win the following 16 states:

California, Connecticut, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine*, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.

With these safe states, Obama has 197 electoral votes, while McCain has 163. (It takes 270 to win, but the nominees can theoretically tie at 269 each; see below for that possibility.)

In addition to safe states that each nominee will certainly win, each nominee has states that he must win; if he loses one of these, you can count the election over. (Unless the nominees start trading must-win states; but with a few exceptions, that's not very likely. Overall opinion will lean one way or the other, which ought to have a similar impact on each state's race.)

I'll take these by region, in order of when the polls close.

The East

Obama must win: Pennsylvania
McCain must win: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia*
Toss-ups: New Hampshire, one electoral vote of Maine.

If both nominees win their must-win states, then it's a close election. In that case, New Hampshire will be a good bellwether: Its four electoral votes may not determine the election, but should give you a good idea of which way the toss-up states are leaning. And there are a lot of scenarios in which those four votes could make the difference.

Maine is a safe state for Obama; but Maine and Nebraska have a different system for allocating electoral votes than all other states (which are winner-take-all). In Maine and Nebraska, two electors are chosen by the statewide vote total, but the rest are allocated district by district. This won't matter for Nebraska, which will be solidly McCain; but Maine may not be solidly Obama: One of its two districts -- therefore one of its electors -- might go for McCain. Like New Hampshire, this is a bellwether that has a slight chance of determining the election.

I put an asterisk by Virginia because it's not quite a must-win for McCain; if McCain loses Virginia but wins New Hampshire, there are still some realistic but less likely paths to victory for him. He'd either have to pick off one of Obama's must-win states, or win every toss-up. On the other hand, Obama winning Virginia and McCain winning Pennsylvania is one of the realistic swaps of must-wins; in that case, Obama's the one who's in a lot of trouble. He would have to either pick off another McCain must-win or else sweep all the toss-ups. (If McCain loses Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire, the election is over.)

The center

Obama must win: Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin
McCain must win: Indiana, Missouri, Ohio

No toss-ups or complications here. Just a simple opportunity to call the election over if one of the nominees loses a must-win state.

Mountain and Pacific states

There are no must-win swing states in these areas. Only safe states and toss-ups.

Toss-ups: Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico

Putting the math together

If each nominee wins his safe and must-win states, McCain would be leading by 260 electoral votes to Obama's 254, with 24 votes up for grabs: 4 for New Hampshire, 1 for the swing district of Maine, 9 for Colorado, 5 for New Mexico, and 5 for Nevada. As the toss-up states are announced, you can add up these numbers. McCain would need 10 points worth of toss-ups to win, while Obama would need 16.

Adjust these as necessary for any wackiness. For example, if they swap Pennsylvania and Virginia, that nets McCain 8 votes; he would only need 2 more from the toss-ups, whereas Obama would need all 24 available votes. By contrast if McCain loses Virginia and Obama holds Pennsylvania, McCain will need to win 23 of the 24 toss-up votes available, while Obama would just need to win 3.

What if there's a tie?

If it's tied 269 to 269, the first thing to worry about is a faithless elector: If someone votes differently from how his state voted, and if that ends up being determinative, it will cause a constitutional crisis that will make the 2000 debacle look like peanuts. Electors are generally chosen because they're party faithfuls -- but even the most partisan of partisan whores can be bribed or blackmailed.

Assuming we get past that minefield, and every elector votes the way he's supposed to, the election will be decided by the newly elected House of Representatives, with each state getting one vote; Democrats currently have a slim majority of delegations, which they will probably, but not definitely, hold in the election... so a tie means that Obama will probably but not definitely win. The vice president is chosen by the Senate using ordinary voting rules, and the Democrats will certainly keep their majority; so Joe Biden would definitely be selected VP. There is an outside chance that we could end up with McCain as President and Biden as VP, which would be silly.

How to know the results early

The media will know more than they're telling you. They wait until polls are closed before giving out results, and will err on the side of caution to avoid a repeat of the 2000 Florida debacle. [Or not; they've been awfully much in the tank this year. -- Dafydd.] But you should be able to get some idea of what's going on just by looking at the news anchors. If you see a lot of happy faces, that's good news for Obama. A lot of sad faces in the media is good news for McCain. (Reverse that if you're watching Fox News.)

Also, as one nominee nears the 270 electoral-vote threshold, the media will start getting more and more reluctant to call states that put a nominee over the top. But if you look at different channels, you'll see that they are calling different states. If any one channel is confident enough to call a state, they're probably right -- unless there's a freak mishap like in Florida in 2000 when some flunkie in charge of compiling exit poll data mistyped the results.) If you add up the states that different channels are calling, you may find that one of the nominees has enough to win. In 2004, I used this method to figure out the winner a half-hour before any channel was willing to declare it.

Lastly, use the tracker I made. If it's a really close election, they may not be willing to call it until the last polls close in Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands. But except for Nevada, everything in the Pacific time zone and points west is safe for one nominee or the other, so by that point the tracker should be making it obvious who's going to win.

Hatched by Movie Badger on this day, October 31, 2008, at the time of 1:18 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 30, 2008

...And the Elite Media Are NOT the "Fat Ladies" We Mean

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I titled an earlier post Don't Give Up the Ship Until the Last Fat Lady Is Hung. I want to make it clear that each and every one of the drive-by media anchors is going to try to become a "fat lady" and sing in the landslide for the One. Let me be less poetic and more specific:

Every network (except maybe Fox News) is at some point going to erroneously call a state for Barack H. Obama (or even accurately but untimely call a state for Obama), in order to suppress GOP voter turnout in states further west... just as Voter News Service did in 2000, with the early and false call of Florida for Al Gore.

(Even Fox News jumped on the pony cart in 2000, but that was only because they too were part of VNS; I expect Brit Hume has learnt his lesson.)

Considering the closeness of Florida, no statistical analyst who looked at the exit polling there could possibly believe that Florida's result was callable -- especially not while polls in the Florida Panhandle were still open It's a statistical absurdity that a state that ends up being so close it takes weeks to decide could possibly have been clear enough to call the moment the polls closed in Miami.

That is why I have always believed that that first call, while polls in Florida were still open, was a deliberate attempt to suppress the GOP vote there... and indeed, across the nation; if a Republican voter believed that Bush had lost Florida, he would think the presidential election was over; such disheartened GOP voters would be less likely to turn out and vote.

In fact, the corrupt early call led directly to the election deadlock -- which was the single greatest factor in the Democratic Party being able to claim with a straight face that Florida was "stolen," and that President George W. Bush was not the legitimate president.

Professor John R. Lott did a statistical analysis of voting patterns in the Panhandle before the call, after the call, and after the retraction; and he concluded -- and nobody has a contradictory analysis of similar heft -- that the early call, which included the false claim that the polls were closed across the state, cost Bush at least 7,500 votes and as many as 10,000 votes in Florida. (Not to mention the vote hit that Bush took for one hour in every other state in the Central and Pacific time zones.)

In other words, were it not for those false claims, repeated many times over the next hour by every major network news team, Bush would have won Florida by 7,500 to 10,000 votes... and I doubt Gore would ever have gone to court over it. No recount imaginable would switch that many votes, so why take the PR hit for nothing?

Just think how different Bush's first term would have been without the meme that he was the "commander in thief" or the "president select!" No long count, no Supreme Court of Florida (SCOFLA) decision for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn, no news "consortium" to revote the election, no chanting mobs.

And we had to suffer through all this why? Because the elites tried to throw the election to Gore by falsely calling Florida for Gore, when they knew for a fact it was too close to call.

Two events were required for this reptilian maneuver (let me rephrase that...) this sly, calculated maneuver to have the effect it did; the first we have no control over:

  • The elite media had to be willing to throw its journalistic reputation into the Andy Gump in order to try to get Al Gore elected;
  • But just as important, Republicans had to be gullible enough to be fooled into staying home and sulking, rather than going out and defiantly voting anyway.

After all, even were it true that the presidential race was lost, and that Gore -- or today, Barack Obama -- was the president-elect, there were still other races. There are representatives and senators to elect to Congress: A President Obama with 45 Republican senators is worlds apart from a President Obama with 40 Republican senators, or even 42 (we would always be in thrall to the most liberal RINOs, who would threaten to vote for cloture unless they got A, B, and C).

There are governors to elect; besides running your state, which may well affect you more directly than whatever the president does, where do you think our candidates for president and vice president in 2012 and 2016 will come from? There are state legislators to vote for, legislators who are not only the guys and dolls who enact state law but also our recruiting pool for the U.S. House and Senate.

And of course, many states have important initiatives on the ballots that can dramatically affect our culture; here in California, for example, we have the marriage amendment, Proposition 8, that would change the California constitution to restore traditional, man-woman marriage (after our state Supreme Court tossed out an earlier citizen's initiative and mandated same-sex marriage). But there are other initiatives on our ballot Tuesday:

  • Proposition 4, amending the California constitution to require parental notification before a minor can get an abortion;
  • Proposition 9, a crime victims' bill of rights;
  • Proposition 11, changing the authority for drawing legislative districts from the legislature to a citizen committee.

The bottom line is this: Democrats prefer to win by silencing (or pre-eliminating) their opponents. We see this most clearly in Barack Obama, who has a disturbing habit of finding a way to disqualify all of his opponents before the election, thus leaving voters with only one choice -- the One. He even tried it with John S. McCain, sending his minions out to argue that McCain was not a "native born American" because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, where his father, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was stationed (both McCain's parents were American citizens).

One of the Democrats' favorite techniques is to try to demoralize Republican voters, so they will stay home instead of voting on election day. And the easiest way to do this is to falsely claim the election is over. In fact, the Democratic Party, though its media wing (the elite news media), has already been playing the card for the last several months... don't bother voting, Republicans; Obama has the cat in the bag!

Don't be a sucker. Don't believe anyone who tells you that we've already lost, so there's no point in going to the polls and voting... not even if the person telling you this is a Republican poltroon too afraid (or effete) to fight. Do not believe any stunning Obamic pronunciamento until the last polls close in the Pacific (Hawaii and Alaska are both already in the bag -- HI for Obama and AK for McCain -- so Pacific Time is the line to watch). What an anchor has done, an anchor can aspire to do.

Here in California, the polls close at 8:00 pm PST (please remember to turn your clock backwards one hour this Sunday from 2:00 am to 1:00 am, as Daylight Savings Times switches back to Standard Time). That's 11:00 pm in the East. Anything you hear about states before that time is at least partially intended to suppress Republican voting in the West.

So don't listen. Remember AD 2000, smile quietly, and go ahead and vote. Vote early, vote often.

Just take a vow today not to play Charlie Brown to Obama's Lucy and the football, and you will have disarmed the Democrats of their most potent weapon: Republican fatalism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 30, 2008, at the time of 5:26 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 29, 2008

Early Voting... One Battleground State... Where Are They?

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The Las Vegas Review Journal has a story up about early voting in Nevada. The campaign of Barack H. Obama has assiduously, compulsively courted three groups in particular... and Obama hangs his campaign on the premise that these three groups can be induced to turn out in record, even staggering numbers:

Traditionally, older people, whites and people who vote consistently tend to turn out at the highest rates overall, said David Damore, a political scientist at UNLV. But this year, much has been made of the idea that the youth vote, the Hispanic vote and first-time voters would turn out at unprecedented rates, galvanized by a heightened political climate and the candidacy of Democratic nominee Barack Obama....

The idea that the electorate will be radically reshaped this year remains an open question, he said, and it's possible the Obama campaign faces a challenge turning out the untested voters it's relying on to win.

Recent polling shows Obama leading in the Silver State by varying margins. Democrats' hopes have been boosted by a tectonic shift in voter registration that has left them with more than 110,000 more registered voters than Republicans, but the GOP insists there's hope because the election will be decided by who votes and how.

Bear in mind that all the polls showing Obama leading in this battleground state are based on that very assumption by the Obama campaign -- that minorities, young voters, and first-time voters will turn out in eye-popping numbers. Pollsters weight their results according to that assumption, boosting the number of responses they receive from members of those three groups and correspondingly reducing the number of responses by older whites who have voted in every election since the Mesozoic Era.

But what if they gave an electoral revolution, and nobody came? Or at least not enough guests for a quorum. We may be about to find out how that affects the accuracy of political polling; if pollster's turnout assumptions are wrong, then the polls have consistently overstated Obama's support and understated that of John S. McCain:

Analysts have predicted that new voters, young voters and Hispanic voters will turn out in record numbers in this election. But as Nevadans continue to flock to the polls, turnout among those three groups is lagging, at least in the early going.

While turnout statewide was nearly 25 percent through Sunday, it was just 20 percent among Hispanic voters, 14 percent among voters under 30 and 15 percent among those who didn't vote in the last three elections, according to an analysis of state early voting records through Sunday prepared by America Votes, an organization that works to mobilize voters....

"I would have expected those numbers to be a little higher," Damore said. "At the same time, the people who come out for early voting may tend to be the tried and true."

Yeah, well, that's the whole point, isn't it? Democrats are relying upon untested voters of dubious enthusiasm, many of them recruited with booze or direct financial inducements by groups like ACORN, to show up and actually vote; in fact, voter registration drives have specifically urged newly registered voters to vote early, either at their local precincts or by absentee balloting.

By contrast, Republicans are relying upon those voters who have always voted in the past. Which group do we suppose is most likely actually to show up in the voting booth?

Now, it's still early in the process; and Obama's "Chicago machine" may yet kick in, even in states as far from Illinois as Nevada, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. But if early voting in Nevada is any indication, we may be witnessing the bursting of the Obamabubble.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 29, 2008, at the time of 10:42 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 28, 2008

My "Two Elections" Thesis in a Nuthouse

Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Nothing could more perfectly illustrate my point -- that we have two completely different elections, depending on which pollster you ask -- than a pair of polls released today:

  • First, we have the Gallup tracking poll with its traditional test for likely voters, in which Barack H. Obama's lead over John S. McCain has shrunk to 2%... well within the margin of error (not even counting general biases in favor of Democrats, particularly with most of the poll conducted over the weekend).
  • And on the same day, covering nearly the same period, we have the Pew poll... which finds Obama's lead over McCain ticking up to fifteen points!

The poll by Pew Research would lead to Obama winning somewhere north of 400 electoral votes... essentially winning every single toss-up state, plus every state that is currently shown as leaning towards McCain (pale red) on the Real Clear Politics electoral map; that would give Obama 411 electoral votes to McCain's 127.

But the traditional Gallup poll would almost certainly result in McCain winning all of the toss-up states, plus several of the states currently shown as leaning towards Obama (pale blue) -- in particular, the Bush states of Virginia, Ohio, and Colorado, plus the conservative district of Maine; this would give McCain a 275 to 263 electoral victory over Obama. (If we headed into the election with Obama and McCain in a photo finish, McCain would probably add New Mexico and possibly Pennsylvania to his stack for a convincing 301 to 237 win.)

So one respected poll tells us it's going to be a watershed landslide for Obama, with McCain's haul being reduced to a small core in the middle of the country -- while another respected poll tell us that McCain is going to win by 12 electoral votes. Reconcile that, brother!

It is of course theoretically possible that the actual spread on election day will be right in between those two, with Obama winning the popular tally by 8.5% (and the election, of course). But my instinct tells me that it's more likely that one of these two scenarios is prophetic, while the other is flat-out wrong, based upon completely erroneous turnout predictions.

The only question is -- which is which? We'll have to hold our collective breath for one more sennight to find out, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.

Note: In another mesmerizing blogpost, WLS -- now calling himself WLS Shipwrecked (God knows as your dog knows) -- goes into more detail about his own thesis: Obama probably must win the popular tally by more than 5% in order to win the electoral-college vote, the only one that counts. I have used WLS's analysis in this post, in the paragraph discussing what an Obama "win" in the popular tally of a scant 2% would look like in the electoral college.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 28, 2008, at the time of 6:48 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

October 27, 2008

Maybe Sarah Palin Reads Big Lizards...!

Congressional Corruption , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Earlier today, I gave Mrs. Palin a piece of my mind (I haven't many left) about what to do in response to the corruption convictions of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK, 64%). I suggested:

At the presser, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin should discuss the verdict, note that she has fought Sen. Stevens for a long time over his corruption, and announce that when he is finally forced to resign his office -- she will call for a vote to expel him from the Senate feet first, if he won't go vertically -- she will appoint David Cuddy as his successor.

A vote for Stevens, she should say, will really be a vote for Cuddy.

I'm sure she reads Hugh Hewitt's blog -- at least the Palin posts by Bill Dyer (Beldar). I envy him the invitation to either the inaugural reception or the Alaska governor's mansion that I'm sure he'll receive.

But maybe she reads Big Lizards, too; either that, or it's a case of two thoughts with but a single mind between them. For as Dyer notes, she just released the following response:

This is a sad day for Alaska and for Senator Stevens and his family. The verdict shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company that was allowed to control too much of our state. That control was part of the culture of corruption I was elected to fight. And that fight must always move forward regardless of party or seniority or even past service.

As Governor of the State of Alaska, I will carefully monitor this situation and take any appropriate action as needed. In the meantime, I ask the people of Alaska to join me in respecting the workings of our judicial system. I'm confident Senator Stevens will do what is right for the people of Alaska.

All right, it's not exactly what I suggested: She didn't overtly threaten to get the Senate to expel him nor mention Cuddy or any other successor. But Bill Dyer points out that the verdict is not official yet, not until the trial judge accepts it. Then there are the inevitable appeals, but I don't think that will delay her more forceful statement; she must only wait for the trial judge to enter the judgment officially -- meaning he concurs that the jury had the necessary facts before it to find him guilty of those charges.

In any event, Palin evidently agreed with Big Lizards that she had to jump out immediately and say something about such a massive corruption decision in her own state. So there.

...So when do I get my own invitation to the inaugural or the Juneau jubilee? Or at the very least, my invitation to the next Iditarod, starting March 7th? I don't want to have to masquerade as Beldar's manservant yet again, just to get a free chicken dinner.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 27, 2008, at the time of 11:36 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Some Interesting Polling Figures and Map Games

Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Currently -- before most of the October 26th polling trickles in -- Barack H. Obama is ahead in the Real Clear Politics average by 7.6%; but that includes some whoppers (in both senses of the word) from several days ago, polls of dubious character: the Newsweek poll (Obama +12) and the CBS/New York Times poll (Obama +13). Both are outliers by far; no other poll shows a bigger spread than 8 points, except for the Gallup "expanded" poll -- Obama +9 -- which is essentially a poll of registered voters, not likelies, and which I completely discount... hence do not count.

Taking only the most recent polls that include October 25th or later, Obama's lead drops to 6.2% [correction, now down to 5.3% with a couple more polls].

But I suspect that any voter who is still undecided on election day will vote for John S. McCain: Obama is the riskier candidate of "hopey changitude," as Beldar puts it; and those who are hesitating are likely those who kinda sorta want to vote for Obama but just aren't sure he's up to the job, having virtually no resume at all. In any event, if we assign all the undecideds to McCain, that tells us the best McCain can get without having to pry Obama supporters away from the One They Have Been Waiting For.

Going through the recent polls and assigning all the undecideds to McCain gives us the following numbers: Barack Obama, 50.2%; John McCain, 49.8%... Obama leads by 0.4%.

Of course, there is a certain built-in bias towards Democrats in polling; it stems from several sources:

  • Exaggeration of probable Democratic turnout and a corresponding minimization of Republican turnout;
  • The "self-selection" fallacy, wherein Democrats are more willing to cooperate with pollsters than Republicans;
  • The "weekend polling" fallacy;
  • The "PC effect." I don't believe much in the pure Bradley effect -- voters saying they will vote for the black candidate but really voting for the white candidate, due to racism; but there is clearly a tendency for respondents to falsely tell pollsters they will vote the "politically correct" way, then vote the opposite in the privacy of the voting booth. This effect is especially pronounced when during a concerted campaign to paint anyone who doesn't vote for Obama as a "racist."

Given all this, depending on how the undecideds break, it's entirely possible that McCain would actually be ahead right now in some hypothetically perfect poll. But even if Obama would still lead, it's not by very much... a couple of percentage points at worst.

In the meanwhile, it's good to remember that this is not a single election but 51 separate elections (50 states plus the District of Columbia) that will determine the electoral vote. As I've noted in the past, Real Clear Politics has a facility where one can take an Electoral College map and reassign states at will, to explore possible routes to la Casablanca.

I believe I already mentioned one such scenario: If McCain ends up winning Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia, where he is currently running slightly behind in state polling, then he will almost certainly win every state that is currently a toss up as well (especially since every toss-up state is a state that George Bush won in 2000 and 2004); that would give McCain 274 electoral votes, and he would win with four points to spare.

But here is another route to the White House... even if McCain loses Colorado:

First, read this blogpost on Virginia Virtucon about a Democratic pollster's assessment of the real status of several battleground states... as opposed to the probably biased state polls that are reported on RCP (hat tip to "Radioblogger" Duane Patterson on Hugh Hewitt's blog). The female Democratic pollster says:

[T]he results of their polling lead her to believe that McCain will definitely win FL, OH, NC, MO and NV. She says Obama definitely wins New Mexico. She said that Colorado and New Hampshire were absolute dead heats. She said she thinks there is a 55% chance Obama holds on in Pennsylvania and a 75% chance McCain wins Virginia....

Anyway, her companies conclusion is that the election will come down to Colorado, New Hampshire and the Republican leaning district in Maine, which in her opinion might very well decide the Presidency.

Let's take her at her word; here is my alternative scenario. I had forgotten that Maine is one of only two states (I believe) that split their electoral votes. Assume McCain wins all the toss ups, and that he wins Ohio and Virginia but loses the Rocky Mountain state. That gives him 265, Obama 273. But now, if the pollster in the article above is correct, McCain could win New Hampshire.

The only poll showing Obama way ahead in NH is the Boston Globe's, one of the most notoriously biased polls around. If Rasmussen (Obama +4) is more correct there -- or even Rasmussen averaged with the Concord Monitor (Obama +7), the only two recent polls besides the Globe's -- then McCain is only 4 or 5 points down in that state... or 3 points if McCain gets the undecided vote.

If McCain wins New Hampshire, that makes it a 269-269 tie. But McCain has a very good shot at winning one of Maine's electoral votes, because they split: There is a Republican-leaning district that contributes one of the four votes.

If that happens, then even with Obama taking Colorado, it's McCain 270, Obama 268... and Keith Olbermann's head explodes like the overripe pumpkin it actually resembles, inside and out.

So as I have previously said, don't give up the ship until you see the whites of their eyes; get out and vote -- and get 3-5 friends to get out and vote, too!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 27, 2008, at the time of 7:11 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 26, 2008

Obama MUST win!

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dave Ross

Barack Obama must be elected president! We are told this by no less than the mainstream media, which long since abandoned any pretense of neutrality in covering the election.

We are told this by the Europeans, and pretty much the rest of the world, who will never forgive us if we don’t elect this attractive, articulate man who will make them forget how much they resent us -- if only for a few hours.

We are told this by many blacks themselves, who imply none too subtlely that to vote against this handsome young black man is the equivalent of being a bigot. Never mind that he is a socialist.

Do you doubt that? Just check out the online link where Obama was confronted by a plumber. “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” the plumber asked.

Obama replied:

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. 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.

Finally, we are told that if we don’t elect Obama president, whether or not we like his politics, that we can expect the oppressed underclass to take to the streets and do whatever spoiled underclasses do when they don’t get their way. Burn stuff, I guess.

Obama must be elected. We have no choice!

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, October 26, 2008, at the time of 10:37 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 24, 2008

The Little ACORN That Couldn't

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Recently, Republicans have been quaking in their boots over the oak-thewed ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and their mighty voter registration drive that netted (they claimed) more than 1.3 million newly registered voters. It's a tidal wave! We'll be swamped on election day!

But word trickled out today that, well, not quite:

On Oct. 6, the community organizing group Acorn and an affiliated charity called Project Vote announced with jubilation that they had registered 1.3 million new voters. But it turns out the claim was a wild exaggeration, and the real number of newly registered voters nationwide is closer to 450,000, Project Vote’s executive director, Michael Slater, said in an interview.

The remainder are registered voters who were changing their address and roughly 400,000 that were rejected by election officials for a variety of reasons, including duplicate registrations, incomplete forms and fraudulent submissions from low-paid field workers trying to please their supervisors, Mr. Slater acknowledged....

“We were wondering how many were Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse,” said Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “The group is really tainted, and any work they do is suspect.”

But not to worry; ACORN is perfectly willing to submit to investigation of its voter registration project... self-investigation, that is. In fact, they've already conducted just such a self-examination and discovered themselves a clean bill of health:

In interviews this week, Acorn officials said they had an extensive program to detect fraudulent applications, which included calling the registrants to verify information provided on the forms. They also said they had combed through electronic records from the group’s field offices across the country, and that their internal audit did not show evidence of pervasive voter registration fraud.

The key word there is of course "pervasive." ACORN itself estimated 15,000 fraudulent registrations; in addition, up to 25% of new registrations were actually duplicates, and an additional 5% were "incomplete." Brian Kettenring, an ACORN spokesman, says the group intends to correct its website -- which today still touts the wildly inflated 1.3 million figure -- to say they've only registered 900,000 voters... despite the fact that they have already determined that only about 450,000 are actually new registrations.

Thus they are apparently going to correct an error of 190% too high down to an error of only 100% too high; after all, "the group did not intend to be misleading," explains the New York Times. (Keep checking back on the ACORN link above to see how long it takes them actually to make this correction; will it be before or after the election?)

The ACORN affilliate actually running the voter-registration drive, Project Vote, angrily responded to the Times article:

In our interview with the Times we explained that roughly 35 percent of our registrants are expected to be brand-new voters, and another 35 percent will be Americans who needed to update their registrations. Perhaps another 30 percent will be incomplete, will fail to match in government systems, or will be from people who did not realize they were already registered. Less than 1-2 percent will turn out to be deliberately falsified by canvassers.

The Times article’s characterization is particularly disappointing since Project Vote has been open and forthcoming about these numbers throughout our drive, and in fact explained the same realities about voter registration drives to New York Times reporter Shaila Dewan for a story that appeared on June 15th of this year.

Here is an example of ACORN's forthcomingness, from their own website:

Registering to vote is one of the first steps toward becoming a full participant in American democracy and a citizen who can influence change in a community. ACORN helped more than 1.68 million citizens to register to vote in voter registration drives leading up to the 2004 and 2006 elections.

This year we have seen unprecedented interest in the Presidential election. We are proud that we have been able to capture the excitement by helping over 1.3 million citizens register to vote. This has been the largest, non-partisan voter registration effort in history. Please see our news section to read updates about our voter engagement work.

ACORN helps the people register who most need to make their voices heard in this election: African Americans, Latinos, low-income citizens, and youth. These new voters are getting involved in the election process because they want to see changes in health care, the economy, mortgage lending practices, and public schools.

I can't quite find exactly where they've been forthcoming about the fact that only 35% of that 1.3 million figure comprises new registrations, rather than reregistering people who are already registered to vote; perhaps I'm just not reading closely enough. But to be fair, they mentioned it in a quote buried deep within an interview back in June -- and yet again a scant four months later. I reckon that about covers their "forthcomingness" responsibility.

So ACORN's internal evaluation completely clears them; it's time to MoveOn. But other investigators don't seem quite so sanguine:

In Las Vegas, where state officials raided Acorn offices this month to seize records, the county registrar of voters, Harvard L. Lomax, said his workers had found hundreds of potentially fraudulent registrations beyond those identified by Acorn.

Hundreds more fraudulent registrations in one city alone (population 558,880) translates to many thousands more fraudulent registrations on top of the 15,000 already admitted to by ACORN. That doesn't sound like much, until one realizes that Project Vote has been targeting swing states where (by definition) the vote will be close: A few thousand fraudulent voters could possibly swing Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, or Florida; if even one of those states flipped, it would without question hand the presidency to Barack H. Obama.

Regardless of the fact that ACORN turned out to be the little engine that couldn't -- at least not to the extent they're still claiming -- nevertheless, they are still the largest community voter-fraud organization in the country and Obama's favorite financial recipient and donor both. No matter how the election goes in eleven days, it's urgent that the Republican Party find a way to break the back of ACORN's illegal voter-fraud program.

We need high-level prosecutions of top ACORN officials and the "community organization" itself under RICO statutes as an ongoing criminal enterprise. Nothing less will deter its leaders... certainly not the jailing of a few low-level "soldiers."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 24, 2008, at the time of 4:26 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 22, 2008

Don't Give Up the Ship Until the Last Fat Lady Is Hung

Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Take a look at these polls listed at Real Clear Politics, as of 11:40 am PST, October 22nd, 2008; each poll was released today and covers either through October 21st or through October 20th. All trends are based on the previous poll (yesterday's unless marked) and are relative to Barack H. Obama... so +2 means 2 points better for Obama, -2 means 2 points better for John S. McCain:

  • Zogby: Obama +10 (trend +2)
  • AP: Obama +1 (trend -6 from October 1st)
  • NBC/WSJ: Obama +10 (trend +4 from October 6th)
  • Battleground: Obama +2 (trend +1)
  • Fox News: Obama +9 (trend +2 from October 10th)
  • IBD: Obama +4 (trend -2)
  • Ipsos: Obama +8 (trend unknown -- last poll was registereds, not likelies -- probably positive)
  • Gallup trad: Obama +5 (trend -2)
  • Rasmussen: Obama +6 (trend +2)
  • Hotline: Obama +5 (trend -2 from October 10th)

(Polls in blue trended towards Obama, those in black trended towards McCain.)

Not only are the polls all over the place -- Zogby has Obama up 10 points, AP has Obama up only one point? -- but even the trends are all over the place, from 4 points towards Obama to 6 points towards McCain.

This is a near perfect illustration of how different respondent pools, order of questions asked, and turnout assumptions all affect poll results. We cannot single out any particular poll in advance and declare that poll to be the "correct" one, while the others are more or less wrong. We simply don't know today which poll will prove to be prophetic of election day.

Obviously, Zogby and AP cannot both be accurate, but which should we believe? What Real Clear Politics does is simply take the mean average of the polls: They add up all the recent poll numbers for Obama and divide by the number of polls, do the same for McCain, and compare them. But the standard deviation here is hellish; it's like the old joke...

Three statisticians go hunting. They see a deer, and two of them fire simultaneously. The first misses 12 feet to the right, the second misses 12 feet to the left -- and the third whoops, "On average, we hit the buck dead center!"

It's useless to average a +10 poll and a +1 poll to say that on average, Obama is 5.5% ahead. It's reasonable to suppose that Obama is "really" 8-10 points up; but it's just as reasonable, and just as accurate, to suppose that he is "really" only 2-3 points up. And if the latter turns out to be the "correct" figure -- that is, if the turnout assumptions that produced the lower figures more accurately match what happens on November 4th than the assumptions that produced the higher lead -- then John McCain has a very strong chance to win the election.

Democratic turnout will certainly be a bigger percent of the electorate than in 2000 and 2004, but how much bigger? Let's label the two scenarios illustrated by the polling above "big" Democratic turnout and "tsunami"-sized Democratic turnout. A projected big Democratic turnout yields a 2-3 point current advantage for Obama, while a projected tsunami turnout for the Democrats yields an 8-10 point advantage. Since we don't know at this point whether Democratic turnout will be merely big or a tsunami-like tidal wave, we cannot begin to guess how far ahead Obama is... or even whether he is catchable.

If it turns out to be tsunami, then nothing McCain does can change the outcome: He will lose, end of analysis. So let's look at the other scenario exclusively. Here is a very useful tool, the Real Clear Politics' "Create your own map" facility. You can click on different states, set them to either Obama or McCain, and see how that affects the final electoral count.

Currently, counting leaners, the RCP map shows Obama/Biden with 286 electoral votes, McCain/Palin with 160, and 92 votes are contained in states that are toss ups, meaning leaning one way or the other by less than five points (in fact, all but one lean by less than three points).

We're assuming, for sake of analysis, that the Democratic turnout is big, but not tsunami. If that is the case, then the structural Democratic advantage inherent in most polling means that McCain is likely to win all the states currently listed as toss ups: Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio -- all of which were won by George W. Bush in 2004 and 2000. So let's go ahead and change them on the map from "toss up" to "leaning McCain."

When we do that, the electoral vote becomes Obama/Biden 286, McCain/Palin 252. So what states does McCain need to switch to win the election?

The two that spring readily to mind are both Bush states from 2004 and 2000: Colorado and Virginia. I frankly disbelieve the polling showing Obama ahead by 5.4% in Colorado and by 6.8% in Virginia. But even if we accept those numbers, neither is very significant: Colorado is just barely out of the toss up category, and even Virginia is subject to assumptional poll fluctuation (Rassmussen has Obama up by 10, but Mason-Dixon has Obama up by only 2). Again, if we're talking the big scenario, not the tsunami scenario, then these two states are very winnable.

If McCain wins them -- taking not one single blue state, and giving up the former (slightly) red state of Iowa, which has become deep blue in the last four years -- then John McCain wins the election by 274 to 264. In fact, he could even lose either Montana or North Dakota and still win (barely).

Curious sidebar: If McCain wins Colorado and Virginia, plus all the toss ups except Nevada, then we have a 269-269 tie; the race would be decided by the House of Representatives, with each delegation getting one vote -- and that means Obama wins, because Democrats currently control 27 state delegations in the House, while Republicans control only 21; 2 are split... but even if they both break for McCain, he still loses by 27 to 23.

Joe Biden is almost certain to be chosen as vice president in this case, because the Twelfth Amendment appears to leave the VP selection to the Senate on an ordinary majority vote; the Senate currently comprises 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats; but even if Joe Lieberman votes for Sarah Palin, there will certainly be more Democrats in the Senate in the new 111th Congress, which would do the voting in such a case.

This is why it's ridiculous to panic, despair, and resign ourselves to President Obama: Everything, even the winner, still depends upon which turnout assumption we pick; Each outcome still has support in the polls. Neither outcome is the overwhelming favorite.

So as I've said many times, it's time to put on our manly gowns, gird our loins, and pull up our socks. Let's go out there and win one for the old nipper!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 22, 2008, at the time of 5:10 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 20, 2008

My One Obligatory Slow-Joe Biden "Inadvertent Truth" Post

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

One point about the fascinating and illuminating two-paragraph "gaffe" (i.e., letting the mask slip) committed by Joe Biden yesterday. Beldar (Bill Dyer) hinted at it, but I'll make it explicit. Here is what Biden let slip:

"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

John F. Kennedy became president on January 20th, 1961; six months after his inauguration -- the time frame Biden specified -- would be July 20th, 1961.

There was only on "world test" that Kennedy had to face during that period, and it was not the Cuban missile crisis (October 1962), nor the Berlin wall (which began construction in August 1961), nor even the Bay of Pigs fiasco -- which was a personal test (that JFK failed), but not really a world test; the "world" only found out about it after the fact, not before.

Rather, the only world test he faced in his first six months was the infamous Vienna conference with Nikita Khrushchev on June 3-4, 1961. Here is an excellent summary by Scott Johnson of how wonderfully that turned out for us:

The parties reached no agreement on any set agenda or proposals prior to their meeting in Vienna on June 3 and 4. The meetings were therefore confined to the informal exchange of views referred to in Kennedy's February letter. By all accounts, including Kennedy's own, the meetings were a disaster. Khrushchev berated, belittled, and bullied Kennedy on subjects ranging from Communist ideology to the balance of power between the Soviet and Western blocs, to Laos, to "wars of national liberation," to nuclear testing. He threw down the gauntlet on Berlin in particular, all but threatening war....

Immediately following the final session on June 4 Kennedy sat for a previously scheduled interview with New York Times columnist James Reston at the American embassy. Kennedy was reeling from his meetings with Khrushchev, famously describing the meetings as the "roughest thing in my life." Reston reported that Kennedy said just enough for Reston to conclude that Khrushchev "had studied the events of the Bay of Pigs" and that he had "decided that he was dealing with an inexperienced young leader who could be intimidated and blackmailed."

Based upon the impression that Khrushchev took from that dreadful performance by President Kennedy, the Berlin wall and the Cuban missile crisis followed as night follows dusk.

This is the only incident Biden could possibly have been referring to in his rambling "warning" yesterday. He goes on to prophecy that when Barack H. Obama receives his own "Vienna conference" world test -- probably a conference without preconditions with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- Obama's performance will also appear to be catastrophic:

"And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right [in how Obama handles that world test]."

47 years ago, Nikita Khrushchev received the impression of a weak American president who would negotiate, bargain, wheedle, appease, even beg, all to avoid a fight he was afraid to fight. Right or wrong, that impression had terrible consequences: We almost went to nuclear war. The only reason we didn't is that Khrushchev offered a deal... he would pull Soviet missiles out of Cuba if we pulled ours out of Turkey. The Soviet Union got its deal; we lost an advantage we'd had over them, but we avoided atomic Armageddon.

Khrushchev didn't want nuclear war; the old Commie was rational. Does Barack Obama dare make the same assumption about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Obama's own running mate predicts that within six months of his inauguration, BO will face a "world test" like the Kennedy-Khrushchev summit of June, 1961... and that Obama will flunk it exactly the way Kennedy did.

Kennedy's failure nearly led to nuclear war; fortunately, the Soviets in 1961 were sane. I'm not so sanguine about the Iranians in 2009.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 20, 2008, at the time of 5:35 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Palin Doped Iditarod Sled Dogs, and Other Possible October Surprises

Dancing Democrats , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Commenter Baggi suggests that the Colin Powell endorsement wouldn't be Barack H. Obama's big "October surprise" against John S. McCain, because it comes too early in the month. The true October surprise ideally materializes the last week before the election -- as when George W. Bush's DUI arrest was released a week before the 2000 election, or when Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh announced the indictment of former Bush-41 Secretary of Defense Cap Weinberger four days before the 1992 election.

(And why is it that it's always Democrats who launch such surprises against Republicans, never the other way round? Of course, the essence of an October surprise is to catch the other guy falling short of his principles; so how can Democrats fall short of what they haven't got in the first place?)

Thus, Obama may still put one more shoe on the other hand. Here are some lizardian suggestions of what that bootless shoe might comprise:

  • During the several years when Sen. McCain resided abroad in Vietnam, he and his dorm-mates pooled all their resources and shared them equally. Can you say "spread the wealth around" -- Comrade McCain?
  • In 1946, in a 6th grade English assignment -- long after World War II had ended -- John McCain used a hurtful racist slur against our then-allies. He wrote, "When I grow up I want to be a solder because I will get to drive a tank and a jap and a airplan and kill Natzes." Apparently, McCain's violent, racist fantasies began a long time before his current campaign.
  • In stunning news, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin turns out not to be eligible for that high office because she is not a "natural born citizen;" although her parents were both American citizens, she herself was born in Alaska, way up north past Canada -- not in the continental United States of America at all. Can we trust a foreigner in the highest office of the land?
  • Two years ago, John McCain proposed a risky scheme to give illegal aliens a "path to citizenship." But recent research has revealed one element of that plan that McCain never disclosed to the American people: Once those illegal immigrants were U.S. citizens, under the McCain plan, they would be eligible for drivers licenses. Illegal immigrants and drivers licenses -- now which pot is calling the kettle African American?
  • An independent congressional watchdog whistleblowing reform taxpayer's association has stumbled upon shocking evidence that "Senator Clean," John McCain, has allowed taxpayer money to be diverted into his own pocket for half a century. This diversion of funds went unchecked even after he was elected to the Senate. Do we need four more long years of the Republican culture of corruption?
  • By now, most of us have suffered through the embarassing video of Alaskan hussy Sarah Palin, wearing little more than lipstick, parading around on stage in front of hundreds of people. But a few years before that, she went much, much farther: We have obtained photographs she allowed to have taken where she is completely nude and giggling with glee, lolling on a rug made from the skin of a bear, which her father may well have personally slaughtered. Can America afford such a wanton roundheel just a heartbeat away from the presidency?
  • John McCain demands "honesty" in government economic policy. But independent researchers have discovered that he has funneled large sums of money to so-called "charities" and concealed those payments by not reporting them on his tax returns. Thousands to questionable special interests with no disclosure whatsoever. Falsifying tax forms is a federal felony. Would you cast your precious vote for a felon?
  • In 1967, the USS Forrestal suffered one of the most devastating fires ever on an American naval vessel. Many know that John McCain was a young officer on that aircraft carrier; but they may not be aware that a Navy investigation subsequently found a direct connection between McCain's actions and that horrific fire, as he voluntarily taxied his A-4 to the exact spot that a supposedly "errant" missile was going to strike. When his plane was hit, rather than stay and fight the fire, McCain ran from his plane, saving himself and allowing 134 brave sailors to die while he lived. America deserves better than a man with such depraved indifference to human life.
  • Many of those closest to hunter-killer Sarah Palin have noticed a frightening instability in the would-be vice president's emotional health. This instability manifests nearly every month; its symptoms include the inability to fully control her emotions, sudden anger with little provocation, distracted attention, inexplicable pain, and sudden bleeding from unknown lacerations, possibly self inflicted. Doctors have expressed grave concerns whether Mrs. Palin is medically fit to serve, given her condition. We feel sorry for anyone with such an infirmity -- but America needs a president who is healthy, emotionally stable, and mentally balanced.

Democrats are never more creative than when they're concocting bizarre charges of sex, corruption, or psychiatric disorders to lodge against Republicans... so that they never have to defend their actual policies, which the country by and large despises. I'm sure this post barely scratches the surface of what we'll see in the next fortnight.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 20, 2008, at the time of 4:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 19, 2008

The Howl of Powell; Does It Matter?

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In a move somewhat unexpected, though broadly hinted at for several days, Colin Powell, the first secretary of state of President George W. Bush, endorsed Barack H. Obama today -- while also praising John S. McCain:

Colin Powell, a Republican who was President Bush's first secretary of state, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president Sunday and criticized the tone of Republican John McCain's campaign.

The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said either candidate, both of them senators, is qualified to be commander in chief. But he said Obama is better suited to handle the nation's economic problems as well as help improve its standing in the world.

"It isn't easy for me to disappoint Sen. McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that," Powell, interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press," said of his longtime friend, the Arizona senator.

But, he added: "I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain."

Some might think race trumped politics, but I disagree: Powell has always been a Lincoln Chafee Republican, and McCain is just too far to the right for his taste. (Actually, in the quotation above, Powell seems to be saying he endorses Obama because Obama is younger than McCain!)

In fact, virtually the entire Republican Party is too far to Powell's right, and I would not be surprised to see him reregister as a Democrat after the election, no matter who wins:

Powell said he remains a Republican, even though he sees the party moving too far to the right. Powell supports abortion rights and affirmative action, and said McCain and Palin, both opponents of abortion, could put two more conservative justices on the Supreme Court.

"I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that's what we'd be looking at in a McCain administration," Powell said.

On the other hand, Powell doesn't seem all that enthused by Obama, either:

Powell said he does not plan to campaign for Obama.

I'm sure Barack Obama has long known that he had Powell's endorsement; this is clearly the "October surprise" that the One has been planning for months, waiting for the killer moment to make the announcement.

Team Obama must believe this will be the game changer, finally putting the election away for them. The scenario goes as follows:

  1. Those undecideds and even some of the weak McCain supporters have been just dying for a reason to vote for Obama; they really want to give his plan of raising taxes and tariffs during a world recession a chance!
  2. The only thing holding them back has been their nervousness about whether Obama has the national-security credentials to keep us as safe from attack as George W. Bush has.
  3. So now that one of Bush's top national-security cabinet officers has given Obama the thumbs up, they can relax and vote for the One they have been waiting for. Thank God he turns out to be strong on national security after all!

I don't buy this premise for several reasons:

  • I don't believe anybody actually thinks Obama is as strong on national security as McCain, not even those who say so in polls: Rather, those who want Obama are willing to ignore national security. Anybody for whom national security matters is already in the McCain camp. Alas, Darryl Worley aside, most voters have indeed forgotten that we are under attack by the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, and they really don't care about (yawn) "national security."
  • Those who are still truly undecided are worried about Obama's economic policies, not whether he'll keep us safe from terrorist attack -- or from Russia, China, and North Korea. The "undecideds" at this point are those who are nervous about their taxes being raised, whether they'll keep their jobs, and whether their 401Ks will survive; in short, whether Obama can handle the looming economic downturn.
  • Colin Powell does nothing to allay these fears, though he sure tries in his endorsement. The problem is that he has no credentials in this area.

Does anyone? I don't think there is any financial figure who is both universally respected and associated with the Republican economic policy whose surprise endorsement of Obama could throw this election to the Democrat.

(No, Paul Volcker doesn't count: (a) Few remember him, and (b) those who do remember that he was first appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve by Jimmy Carter, not Ronald Reagan -- and that he didn't do very well; his policies led to 20%+ interest rates that destroyed small businesses across the nation and even crippled large ones, directly leading to a significant recession in 1982-83.)

We'll know shortly which scenario rules. I'm sure the adverts were in the can long before Powell made his announcement. Within 24 hours, everyone and his monkey's paw will know that the great Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama.

If Obama now leaps up to double-digit leads in all the tracking polls, then I think the Obama Scenario will have been proven right after all: A foreign-policy affirmation was just what the undecideds were breathlessly waiting to see before turning en masse to Obama.

But if the bump is only a point or two, then I believe it will quickly subside, likely to a smaller lead than Obama has right now. The October surprise will turn out to be the Fall fizzle.

I truly believe this election is all about economics, not foreign policy or even national security. Whatever misgivings are keeping Obama from putting McCain away are not going to be swayed by the endorsement of a politically ambivalent, Bush-hating, Clinton-appointed former general. If that were Obama's big problem, it would have been solved long ago by the much more enthusiastic endorsement of Eric Shinseki.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 19, 2008, at the time of 1:35 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

October 15, 2008

Plungers to Left of Me, Plungers to Left of Me!

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
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My nomination for this week's most overused and misused word was repeated again today by conservative columnist Joel Mowbray; but regardless who says it, it is a Democratic meme that is completely false:

With McCain plunging in the polls, it's not hard to see why the protesters seemed so tranquil.

Plunging? The RCP average of polling between the two candidates, Barack H. Obama and John S. McCain, has shown only a 2% move towards Obama in the last two weeks. In fact, Obama's lead is currently 7.3% -- lower than it was on the 11th (7.6%) and yesterday (8.2%). A drop of 2% over two weeks hardly counts as "plunging."

But that average includes a lot of weird polls -- such as the CBS/New York Times outlier that found Obama 14 points (!) ahead of McCain. Just looking at the major tracking polls -- Rasmussen, Gallup, Zogby/Reuters (telephone, not internet), and Battleground -- none has shown any significant rise for Obama this last fortnight:

  • Rasmussen: From +6 to +5 -- up 1% for McCain
  • Gallup (registered voters): From +5 to +7 -- down 2%
  • Gallup (traditional definition of likely voters): From +5 to +3 -- up 2% (they're reported two "likely" scenarios over the past week; the "expanded" definition simply tracks with the registered voters poll above, they say)
  • Zogby/Reuters: From +1.8 to +3.8 -- down 2% (only one week)
  • Battleground: From +5 to +8 -- down 3%

During the last two weeks (or one week for Gallup Traditional and Zogby), all polls have had Obama both closer and farther ahead than he is right now.

In general, in national polling, there has been no statistically significant movement towards either Obama or McCain in the last two weeks; the major movement all occurred longer ago than that -- and comprised the loss of McCain's convention bump.

Evidently, this is some new definition of the word "plunging" of which I was previously unaware.

(Some of the state poll "averages" have produced plunging behavior; but the problem here is the paucity and infrequency of state polling, which allows for huge swings based upon a single poll. In fact, the average typically features completely different polls from week to week, making the appearance of a huge jump one way or the other -- even though each underlying poll has shown very little change.)

The "plunging in the polls" meme of course helps Obama; its purpose is to dishearten Republicans so they don't turn out -- and enthuse Obamatrons to a fever pitch, especially those whose history indicates they're disinclined actually to show up at the polls unless they're really, really, really excited about an Obama victory.

I understand why the liberal media keeps using the phrase... but why are so many conservatives and other McCain supporters falling into the trap? For heaven's sake, get a grip! Yes, McCain is behind right now; but he's not out, and the game isn't over. Obama is still only ahead by a small margin... absolutely miniscule compared to how far ahead the Democrats and media mavins expected him to be (a number clearly reflected in the goofy CBS/New York Times poll).

6%-7% can be turned around: A slight "Obama effect" combined with the traditional "Democrat effect" likely means that the real average, if such a thing could be measured, is closer to the Zogby number of 3% than the Battleground number of 8%. If so, then just a slight shift -- as voters finally take that last long look that Paul Mirengoff at Power Line expects after tonight's debate -- would leave McCain in the lead.

Let the plungers all head out to Vegas; words have meanings... and this one doesn't mean what a lot of people seem to think.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 15, 2008, at the time of 1:28 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

October 10, 2008

Buckley Beds Banality - but Will They Wed?

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Buckley -- that's Christopher Buckley, of course -- has just published a brief, self-indulgent note on a cybermagazine called the Daily Beast announcing that he is going to vote for Barack H. Obama.

His "reasoning," if I may so dub his excuse-making, is obscure, to say the least. He argues that he once liked John S. McCain, but that was back when McCain was "authentic." During this campaign, however, McCain has become inauthentic (says Buckley); the only specific Buckley gives us is that McCain now says he can balance the budget in four years, when we all know that is an "unrealistic" promise. "Who, really, believes that?" chuckles Buckley.

Ergo, he will vote for Obama -- who (Buckley crisply admits) is not really as bad as he seems, because he won't really do all the horrible things he threatens:

But having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

So Obama is a "lefty," Buckley says, who has called for raising taxes, throwing up tariff walls, and opening the treasury of the Democratic Party to "bribe-money from the special interest groups" that he has railed against -- "disingenuously;" but worry not, because he doesn't really mean it and won't actually enact it. Its only purpose is to get him elected by promising everything. And after all, "Who, really, believes that?"

But at least Obama is authentic.

Christopher Buckley shows his hat anent the real reason he will be voting for Obama early in the piece: He is appalled by the trailer-trash Sarah Palin and will never forgive McCain for choosing her, when he could just as easily have chosen some Yalie, or even a Harvard man. Someone of the right sort, the kind one might find at the better affairs, if you know what I mean. While Mrs. Palin may be droll, you certainly wouldn't take a moose hunter home to meet "dear old mum," would you?

For a reason: My colleague, the superb and very dishy Kathleen Parker, recently wrote in National Review Online a column stating what John Cleese as Basil Fawlty would call “the bleeding obvious”: namely, that Sarah Palin is an embarrassment, and a dangerous one at that. She’s not exactly alone. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who began his career at NR, just called Governor Palin “a cancer on the Republican Party”....

And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can [McCain] have been thinking?

One wonders what Christopher Buckley would have made of that earlier cancer on the Republican Party, that gangly, homespun, cornpone man of halting speech and curious ugliness -- much remarked upon at the time -- who never attended Harvard or Yale (or anywhere else) and never lost his back of the woods demeanor... but who nevertheless achieved historical significance and undisputed greatness as our sixteenth president.

Mr. Buckley's father was just as elitist as the son, but pere William had the saving grace of having lived through times of crisis so visceral that the nation truly did pull together; everyone had to make terrific sacrifices, even those born to privilege.

William F. Buckley, jr. was born in 1925; the market crash occurred when he was four, and he grew up during the Great Depression. Even though his family wealth shielded him from personal privation, he could not help but see the populace around him unemployed, broke, waiting in line for bread and soup -- not because of any personal failing, but due to a worldwide economic crisis compounded by staggering government nonfeasance and malfeasance, starting under the leftist Republican Herbert Hoover and continuing under the liberal fascist Franklin Roosevelt.

Later, like nearly all men in his cohort, he served in the military during World War II -- another venue that made no allowance for wealth or privilege. Rich and poor served alongside each other, and virtually no one was exempted.

These shared experiences forced upon W.F. Buckley a deep understanding of the range of human experience... and he must have learnt from his years in the service what Thomas Gray meant in "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard": that the potential for greatness was not confined only to those who speak in a cultured drawl, bore easily, join preposterous "secret societies" at university, and summer in the Hamptons. Sometimes, the only element lacking in those who never achieve greatness is opportunity. (Imagine if John McCain had never been shot down; who would have heard of him? Greatness requires both potentiality and opportunity to manifest itself.)

Fils Christopher had no such leavening experience. He was born in 1952, the beginning of a period of great economic prosperity; he never lived within sight of otherwise fine, decent men and women struggling simply to survive.

One would think, given his birthyear, that he would have served ably and honorably in Vietnam one way or another; but he got himself a medical deferment in 1971 for asthma. (Was that the year that the Senate Armed Services Committee gave President Nixon authority to reject student deferments?) I have no reason at this point to suspect skulduggery; I've struggled with asthma, though it didn't stop me joining the Navy.

Christopher Buckley wrote about his decision in the September, 1983 issue of Esquire, in an article titled "Viet Guilt," but I haven't yet obtained a copy of that number (it's not available online, and the local libraries here close on Fridays). But the relevant point is that, unlike his "pup," C.J. Buckley never had to fight, to kill or be killed, alongside soldiers of all classes and degrees of greatness, which might have taught him that there is rarely any connection between those two qualities. There are other ways to learn it -- Gray himself never served in the military -- but that's a good one.

Thus he appears unable to consider Sarah Palin in the light of understanding. I don't know his exact reasons; but those who harbor such puzzlingly harsh feelings about a woman they barely know (if at all) are often terribly offended by her small-town origin, her participation in beauty pagents as a teen, her uncultured and sometimes disjointed style of speech, by the fact that her governmental experience is entirely local -- and very frequently by her dining on moose and tearing about on snowmachines, rather than dining on foie gras and playing squash. I cannot say for sure, of course; but it would not surprise me if Christopher Buckley looked down upon Palin, condescend to her.

I don't believe his father would have done so. In too many ways, Christopher Buckley reminds me of Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger, current publisher of the New York Times and anemic shadow of his father, "Punch."

But Christopher, having never experienced the same wide swath of life that William F. Buckley, jr. perforce imbibed, including the leavening effect of shared sacrifice for one's country, and with no financial worries, is free, should he choose, to indulge the worst excesses of lifestyle libertarianism: the idolatry of ideology; a passionate belief that all one's whims and desires are natural rights; the uncomprehending rejection of corresponding duties; the unshakable faith in one's own mental superiority; and a precious and irritating narcissism.

Not every libertarian suffers from these deep character flaws; the best recognize the danger and fight against it. But the tendency is always there and must be resisted, the way a Baptist must deafen himself to the siren song of Satan. Easier by far for the lazy man to wallow in self-serving libertinism and dub it a virtue. Having from his teenaged years cultured the habit of avoiding combat, it's not surprising that we don't see Christopher Buckley battling the libertarian Devil; his surrender to decadence appears voluntary and absolute.

For these reasons, I'm utterly unmoved by his snarky announcement that he's voting for Barack Obama; he has only lived down to my expectations. But he is right to fret about what his immediate forbears would think:

It’s a good thing my dear old mum and pup are no longer alive. They’d cut off my allowance.

Let's take a page from Christopher Buckley himself and call this "Vote Guilt." Howeer, unlike his "Viet Guilt" failure in 1971, Buckley's moment has not yet passed; he still has the opportunity to not wallow in folly by endorsing, voting for, and even campaigning for a far-left radical, merely (I believe) to be outrageous for its own sake.

Christopher Buckley has now slept with the Devil; but he hasn't yet exchanged vows. Will he come to his senses before finding himself trapped in a dreadful marriage from which there is no divorce?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 10, 2008, at the time of 3:00 PM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

October 9, 2008

My Fellow Prisoners

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dave Ross

In Wednesday night’s debate John McCain made a verbal gaffe in which he referred to his audience as “my fellow prisoners.” Not yet. But that comes later.

Because under even the most optimistic scenario, if either of these two boobs wins the election -- and obviously as John McLaughlin would say, the chances that one of them will become president approaches metaphysical certitude -- we are in a world of hurt.

Both are total illiterates when it comes to knowing about the many forces that shape economies. McCain, at least, has admitted his ignorance. Obama has this knowing smile, like Chauncey Gardener in Being There, that implies that he possesses some secret knowledge. But when he opens his mouth, it is obvious that he too has no idea what to do about the economic tornado that we have all been snatched up by -- but which his political allies Barney Frank and company had much to do with creating.

Pundits have been trying to figure out why the stock market has been reacting negatively even though Congress agreed to pump nearly a trillion dollars into the credit markets. The answer should be obvious: they have finally realized that Barack Obama is going to be elected president. Although on inauguration day, somewhere in Washington, Barbra Streisand will be singing “Happy Days Are Here Again,” that is not the song they will be singing on Wall Street as they watch the good times roll... away. When FDR took over an America wracked by the Great Depression, he and his advisers spent eight years tinkering with the economy yet never managed to significantly improve unemployment figures, despite throwing billions of dollars at the problem. It was WWII that solved the Great Depression, as any but the most partisan historian will be forced to admit.

We are facing the most liberal crowd since LBJ’s days taking control of the White House and Congress. These are not pragmatists like Bill Clinton, who, when confronted by policy that didn’t work, nimbly danced away and tried something else. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Obama are true believers; when they try their socialist solutions to the economy, they will not be deterred by negative consequences. Like a medieval doctor confronted by a patient who slowly loses strength under repeated blood lettings, they will be inspired to open up a few more veins.

My most optimistic scenario sees Barack Obama as another Jimmy Carter, and possibly Sarah Palin as the new Reagan. If Obama gets a filibuster proof 60 seat majority in the senate you could see a whirlwind of legislation that could so stun the electorate and harm the economy that we could see a repeat of the 1994 Republican takeover.

Remember, we continue to live in a center right political landscape; unless Obama’s solutions are different than what he is preaching right now, they will put the economy into a death spiral. The Democrats in victory have always shown themselves vulnerable to overreaching. So expect them to reimpose the so-called Fairness Doctrine and put Talk radio into orbit... quite literally since Rush and company will undoubtedly set up a resistance in exile on satellite radio, which could lead to even more overreaching by the left -- i.e. trying to extend FCC regulatory powers to satellite.

The one wild card here is the Supreme Court, which, one hopes, will get to rule on challenges to these blatant attempts at silencing dissent early on in the Obama presidency. But don't count on it.

Like Carter in 1980, even a wounded Obama will probably be able to fend off a challenge by Hillary, which means we will likely see a match up between an incumbent Obama and a much savvier, much more seasoned Palin than the one we see wowing crowds by the tens of thousands.

So, my fellow prisoners, settle in for the long haul.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, October 9, 2008, at the time of 4:40 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack

October 6, 2008

Transformation Is the Only Certainty

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I believe more firmly than ever that this not be a "holding action" presidential election, as were the last five; it will indeed be "transformational" -- but it's now 50-50 in my mind which way we will be transformed.

If John S. McCain is able to beat Barack H. Obama, it will not, I believe, be close; it will be because the American voters fundamentally and finally reject Obama and everything for which he and that wing of the Democratic Party stand. It will be a resounding defeat; and when the Democrats once again claim it was "stolen" from them -- racism! lies! panic! Diebold! -- they will only make themselves utter laughingstocks for a generation.

The new Republicanism will be conserative at its core but practical and reformist in its methods... a huge transmogrification away from the two Bushes, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower, and even old Blob Dole, and back towards muscular Reaganism instead.

Contrariwise, if Barack Obama wins, it will be because the voters have so thoroughly rejected McCain and George W. Bush and Sarah Palin and the Republican Party in general that it will be a Tuesday Night Massacre, and the Democrats will probably get their fillibuster-proof Senate, thus able to enact any policy they want.

In this nightmare scenario, don't smugly anticipate another Gingrich revolution in two years; the 2008 election will not be like 1992, it will be like 1932... and we will have many years of total Democrat dominance of all levers of power, eventually even including the Court, our own 14-20 years of the New New Deal.

What will drive this choice? It will be a basic, core decision by the American people: We shall either embrace or emphatically reject the very idea of American exceptionalism, the notion that we are different from Europeans. That is why this election will transform us as a nation: We shall either cast off many of the cords from the days of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton that shackle us to the Old World, or we shall give up entirely and become a Euro-style "social democracy."

(We may eventually rise up and once again remember who we are; but last time, that uprising was delayed for nearly half a century.)

We faced just such a crisis in 1980; and after a month in which the nation held its breath, wondering which way the sky would fall, we eventually made what, in the hindsight of today, I agree was the best possible choice. (At the time, being still only an egg, I feared Reagan and hated Carter; I called a murrain on both their houses and wrote in some candidate, I forget who. Probably some Libertarian.)

Will we make the same choice next month? We're in a state of flux now, with Obama ahead by a scant handful of points -- but unable to muster a majority in any poll but the Rasmussen daily tracker. This is not yet a runaway train... and McCain's best bet is the traditional two-pronged attack:

  • McCain himself must take the higher path, arguing again and again what he will do in the future to resolve the various crises that beset us from all sides (much from horrific failures of the same European states that Obama and the Democrats would have us emulate). Particularly on the economy, he must tell us in clear, unmistakable, and unambiguous terms what the McCain administration will do differently from the Bush economic policies. That is, he must persuade America that, personalities and character aside, our only hope as a nation is to reject Socialism, populism, protectionism, and defeatism -- and embrace Capitalism, free markets, freedom, and victory.
  • Simultaneously, Sarah Palin must embrace the traditional role of the vice-presidential running mate and attack every element of Obama's bad character, untrustworthiness, and unfitness to serve as president. She must make rigorously certain that every attack is sustainable and provable, for any hint that she is smearing Obama (the way Obama routinely smears McCain) with false charges will destroy the Republican cause... playing, as it does, into 2006's theme of "the Republican culture of corruption." Palin's quest is clear: Even if the voters say the Democrats have the better plan, she must make them add, "but not this particular Democrat!"

This is always how Republicans must fight; sometimes the strategy wins, sometimes it loses. But if we don't employ it, if this isn't our fundamental strategy, then defeat is certain.

Buckle your breath, folks; this is going to be one wild landing. We shall either end up safe on the tarmac (albeit pointed in some impossible direction after a merry-go-round spin down the runway)... or else at the bottom of a smoking crater. And at this point, I could not even give odds which one.

All depends upon the answer to one question: Are we, those of us fighting for the Republican cause, going to be as heroic as were the "greatest generation?" If so, victory is at our finger-ends.

Or will we passively allow the bleeding-heart barbarians to overrun our country, as we did in the Vietnam war? Both choices, courage and poltroonery, lie in our history; we are bound to repeat one of them. But which?

All of us, including you, dear readers, must choose up sides now.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 6, 2008, at the time of 2:03 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

October 5, 2008

Bill Draws a Blank

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Friend Lee sent me this wonderful YouTube moment. Former President Bill Clinton is being interviewed by Greta Van Susteren. (She must be a red-meat conservative, because she's on Faux News!) She asks the only Democrat since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to serve two full terms as president what the difference is between the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack H. Obama's spiritual mentor -- and David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Here is Clinton's attempt to answer:

 

 

With friends like these, does Obama need enemas?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 5, 2008, at the time of 12:31 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

October 4, 2008

Courtesy Amnesia

Injudicious Judiciary , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Patterico is the latest to fulminate over Sarah Palin being unwilling (or unable) to recite for schoolmarm Katie Couric a Supreme Court decision she truly disagreed with -- one that was more recent than Roe v. Wade.

Palin now says she did have some cases in mind, but she wouldn't answer because she felt annoyed and belittled by the trivia that Couric was asking in place of intelligent questions. Patterico isn't buying that explanation; here is how our pal Pat ends his post:

Her explanation is not implausible as it relates to the question about what she reads.

But let’s be honest: on the question about Supreme Court cases, she either didn’t have an answer or froze. That’s fine; just admit it when asked about it. But she’s describing that answer of hers as “flippant” -- implying that she had a good answer but refused to give it out of annoyance. That makes no sense.

Again, I’m not trying to tear her down or make a stupid suggestion like calling for her to leave the ticket. I’m just saying: she didn’t fail to name Supreme Court cases out of annoyance. She seemingly didn’t know any, or froze. Either way, admit it and move on.

There is however a third and much more plausible explanation than either of those two; here is where I suspect her answer was headed, before she swallered it down (the blue text is where I diverge from what she actually said):

COURIC: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?

PALIN: Well, let's see. There's --of course --in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings, that's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are--those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know--going through the history of America, there would be others but--

COURIC: Can you think of any?

PALIN: Oh yeah, you betcha... the one that pops into my mind first is when the Supreme Court wrongly upheld that dreadful McCain-Feingold law...

Heck, it would've topped my list! That would, perhaps, account for Gov. Palin "freezing up" while she tried to navigate her way out of that quagpatch.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 4, 2008, at the time of 4:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 2, 2008

McCain-Palin "All In" This Week - On Two Counts

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The candidacy of John S. McCain is truly all-in today (a poker term that means betting every chip you have on a single hand)... on two fronts.

I anticipated that the polls would be much better -- with McCain a little ahead -- when this debate was held; but I was blindsided by conservative Republicans in the House voting down the Paulson-Bernanke rescue plan en masse.

On the other hand, Barack H. Obama has not managed to pull away, either; the race is still in single digits in every last poll in the RCP average -- even CBS! -- with an average Obama lead of 5.7 right now. Single digits can easily be overcome in four-plus weeks, if momentum can be flipped around towards McCain.

I believe this is one major reason why McCain hasn't been able to get any traction: The House vote against the rescue bill hurts him with both camps, the pro and the con:

  1. To those who oppose the plan, McCain looks wrong, because he supports it.
  2. But to those who support the plan, McCain looks ineffectual, because he couldn't even to get his fellow Republicans to support it.

If enough HRs now support the Senate-modified plan, however grudgingly, that it passes, that might well flip both 1 and 2: Supporters of the plan will believe that McCain did finally help corral the renegades; it just took a second round, during which McCain did not surrender the field. And even many opponents of the bill will have to rethink whether those who were courageous enough to vote against it last time have suddenly become cravens... or perhaps that the Senate added enough to make it at least potable from the conservative point of view.

But if the HRs again resoundingly reject the bill, they will double-down on the damage they caused last time.

I believe the House will, in fact, pass the bill tomorrow; in fact, I believe that many, many more HRs will vote for it. I have heard believable reports that a number of conservative HRs have already announced a switch in their votes on this new version.

That should help McCain... but only if voters haven't already made up their minds that he is not up to the job as president. (And if they have, then nothing would help anyway; so McCain was "pot committed" to go all in -- another poker term that means the pot is big enough and your last bet small enough that you cannot rationally fold. McCain was already so close to all-in anyway, it would be foolish not to commit the rest of his stack now.)

Another reason the polls may be down is that, after the initial euphoria over McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate, she disappointed many people in a couple of interviews, particularly the ongoing Katie Couric snippet parade. She came across as programmed to the point of not even being herself.

Because she was McCain's bold and unconventional pick, he rises or falls on that decision (as he should). Thus, if she disgraces herself tonight, she will torpedo McCain's campaign.

Now, considering the boatload of false charges, absurdist claims, and elite-media hit pieces against Sarah Palin, I agree with those who say that in the history of modern presidential and vice-presidential debates, expectations have never been lower for a candidate than they are for Palin tonight.

However, I don't think it will be enough for her simply to show up and not be a raving, creationist, gun-waving, moose murdering, gap-toothed hick who married her own brother, as she has been portrayed by the elites. Rather, I believe she must actually defeat Joe Biden in the minds of conservatives -- and she must at least battle to a tie in the minds of independents.

Sarah Palin has the talent and gumption to pull this off... but the McCainiacs must keep their grubby mitts off'n her and just let Palin be Palin. Don't make her match Biden, bloviation for bloviation; let her perform the way she has in her many previous candidates' debates in Alaska. If she does this, if she relaxes and just debates as herself, not as a Stepford Candidate, she will easily, even wildly surpass expectations; and even in retrospect, after a few days to digest, her performance will help John McCain's candidacy (and her own).

Once again, ignore the snap polls -- even if they are favorable to Sarah Palin. Look instead at what the presidential polls are saying next Thursday and Friday. If Obama still leads by high single-digits, that's bad news; if he has expanded his lead to double-digits, it's probably all over, barring some stunning October surprise.

But if we're back to dead necktie, then that is very, very good news... because it would indicate that the momentum has once again reversed and is now running towards John McCain.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 2, 2008, at the time of 2:08 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

September 26, 2008

The Roads Must Roll, Along With a Few Heads - slight UPDATE

Congressional Corruption , Econ. 101 , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , Toxic Jackassets
Hatched by Dafydd

Here is the bailout problem in a nutbag. There was indeed a deal before John S. McCain arrived... a completely bicameral deal between House Democrats -- and Senate Democrats. The deal also included (evidently) the White House; and the Senate Republican conference climbed aboard the bandwagon.

The outlines of the deal were that President George W. Bush gets the Paulson-Bernanke emergency rescue plan -- and the Democrats extort a number of their domestic welfare programs:

  • Long-term extension of unemployment benefits, so that fewer people will go back to work;
  • A "housing trust fund" that would funnel taxpayer money to ACORN and other radical groups;
  • Salary caps on everyone who makes more money than members of Congress;
  • A secret, back-door restoration of the ban on shale-oil development, which Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 85%) tried to sneak into the rescue bill;
  • Fascistic government ownership of the banks, and so forth.

Of course, if you pore over the list above of participants in this deal, you will of course notice one missing piece: House Republicans. The House Republican conference is consistently more conservative, free-market, and even libertarian than any of the other four groups... and not surprisingly, they completely rejected this deal.

But nobody was speaking for the House Republicans; in fact, it appears that nobody was speaking to them, either. So despite the fact that McCain is a senator, not a representative, he nevertheless realized that without the House Republicans (HRs, from now on), no deal would ever be inked. Even though Democrats have a majority in the House (and no filibuster rule), they refused to pass legislation without the "cover" of a majority of the HRs along for the ride. (Which itself is a telling sign: The Democrats did not want to "own" the package.)

Thus, McCain thought it important enough to temporarily (for a few days) suspend his campaign, fly back to D.C. -- which is where his actual job is (and Barack H. Obama's too, by the way) -- and see if he could restart the dialog between the HRs and Everybody Else.

I believe every element of the House plan is worth some consideration in itself, and several would probably help the situation; but I do not believe that even all of them put together would actually resolve the illiquidity of the mortgage markets.

The core of their plan is to get the financial institutions to buy the toxic assets themselves by federally insuring them:

Under the alternative Republican plan, the government would set up an expanded insurance system, financed by the banks, that would rescue individual home mortgages. The government would not have to buy up the toxic mortgage-backed assets that are weighing down financial institutions.

They've also proposed a two-year suspension of the capital-gains tax -- which might actually be counterproductive in the short-term: These toxic assets are of course worth much less than the institutions paid for them; which means if they sell them, they would actually have a capital loss, not gain. Under the current system, they can claim a deduction for that loss; but if we suspend the cap-gains tax for two years, the financial institutions won't be able to deduct their losses.

In the long run, reducing or even eliminating capital-gains tax is a great idea. But it's not going to help in the present crisis.

In the end, I suspect the HRs will relent and compromise: They will accept the guts of the Paulson-Bernanke proposal in exchange for some significant trimming of the Democrats' grab-bag of socialist-populist goodies, particularly including the "equity stake" that the federal government would take in the affected institutions; my reading of the tea leaves tells me this is something that Senate Republicans love but of which House Republicans are very, very skeptical, for the same reasons I enunciated yesterday.

There is already some movement towards a compromise:

Cantor said that some of the "exotic sliced and diced" mortgage-backed securities at issue for the financial institutions are of such little value -- because the underlying mortgages are already in foreclosure -- that using the Republicans' preferred approach of federally insuring them is pointless. "So you've got to go with Paulson's model," Cantor said today, endorsing the federal purchase of those securities to clean up the books for financial firms in distress.

In exchange, Cantor said he is seeking some sort of assurance that that the Treasury secretary would be allowed to create an insurance program for the other mortgages, charging premiums to the firms holding securities tied to those mortgages.

There are some other proposals floating about. Steven Pearlstein in the Washington Post has a very interesting one... Treasury sets up a resolution corporation (as per Paulson-Bernanke); but then instead of buying the illiquid securities with cash, they swap them for preferred stock in the new resolution corporation itself:

My own suggestion would be to structure the rescue around a new government-owned corporation that would be capitalized, initially, with $100 billion in taxpayer funds. The company would use auctions or other mechanisms to buy the troubled securities from banks and other regulated institutions, but instead of paying for them in cash, the government would swap them for an equal number of preferred shares in the new company. (Preferred shares are something of a cross between a bond and common stock.) Those preferred shares would pay a government-guaranteed dividend and could be redeemed by the government at any time. But they could also be used by banks to augment the capital they are required to maintain by regulators.

The beauty of this arrangement is that, rather than protecting taxpayers by having the government take an ownership stake in hundreds of privately owned banks, it would be the banks that would own a stake of the government's rescue vehicle. The government would suffer the first $100 billion in losses from buying and selling the asset-backed securities, but any further losses would be borne by the other shareholders. And should the rescue effort actually wind up making a profit, then the banks would share in that as well.

I don't believe this would have happened without John McCain's presence: It took the support of a man so universally respected on the Republican side, even by those Republicans who frequently oppose him -- ironically, the very same House Republican conservatives whose cause he champions today -- to get the corrupt Democrats and the blowhard Senate Republicans to pay their House brethren any attention at all.

My guess is that many of the HRs' proposals (and several proposals of other critics, such as Pearlstein's "preferred shares" swap) will be rolled into the plan; much of the Democratic garbage will be stripped out; and the guts of the Paulson-Bernanke plan will be enacted with near universal support in both the House and Senate, to be signed by the president into law.

The liquidity crisis will be averted; companies will stop going under; the stock market will rebound (it hasn't dropped all that much, really); the Democrats will be exposed (well, by us, at least) as the venal rats who caused the problem in the first place; President Bush will seem a bit more presidential; John McCain will seem a lot more presidential.

The biggest loser will be, I think, Barack H. Obama, as more and more voters start to ask -- "Who is this guy anyway?"

And he'll lose tonight's debate, too.

UPDATE:

These two videos are making the rounds; they fit so perfectly here, I just have to include them.

First, here is the blunt Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO, 96%), official negotiator for the HRs in the Big Blowout, discoursing on how helpful John S. McCain has been during the negotiations, appointing himself Speaker to Animals... that is, guardian angel for the House Republicans. Watch this one first...

 

 

Now, here is the "same" video -- as creatively edited by the Barack H. Obama campaign, or some surrogate. Notice a few very subtle excisions, almost too small even to notice:

 

 

Team Obama is pointing to the truncated video to claim that even Roy Blunt agrees that McCain has been nothing but a roadblock, toppling a done deal and plunging America into a dark night of the financial soul.

Want to know just how corrupt, mendacious, and dishonorable is the campaign by the One We Have Been Waiting For, campaigning by what we call "Chicago rules?" That's how.

If in fact they have nothing to do with this disgraceful knife-job on Blunt's praise, there is a simple way to show it: The campaign can denounce this bearing of false witness. Let's see if any such denunciation forthcomes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 26, 2008, at the time of 6:03 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 24, 2008

John McCain Chooses Sarah Palin... Again

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, John S. McCain announced that he will suspend his presidential campaign for a few days, so he can return to Washington D.C. and -- funnily enough -- work on the people's business; to wit, participate in the negotiations on the Paulson-Bernanke rescue proposal.

The announcement knocked the Barack H. Obama campaign, the Democrats, the congressional leadership, and the elite news media (to the extent that those are not simply synonyms) back on their heels... like walking up an unlit stairway and taking that last step that isn't there. They scrambled around like prats, denounced McCain, called it a "political stunt," contradicted each other (and themselves two minutes later), and in general, ran around like chickens with their legs cut off.

In other words, just exactly what they did when McCain named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate.

The decision by Sen. McCain to return to the Senate and worry about the country before his own political interests is the same bold, maverick move as the Palin choice... and it tells us once again, if more proof were needed, who the real "change agent" is in this campaign: Consistently, from the moment the Democratic primary was settled, John McCain has been the leader and Barack Obama the reactionary, either following or angrily denouncing. Today was a "denouncing" day:

Some Democrats reacted skeptically to Mr. McCain’s surprise announcement, charging that it seemed like a political ploy to try to gain the confidence of voters concerned about the economy.

“What, does McCain think the Senate will still be working at 9 p.m. Friday?” Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania said in an interview, referring to the scheduled start time of the debate.

Yes, actually, I think he does. Or they should, for God's sake.

“I think this is all political -- I wish McCain had shown the same concern when he didn’t show up in the Senate to vote on the extension of the renewable energy tax credit.”

Oh yeah. That was certainly a comparable emergency.

Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who is leading House Democrats in negotiating the bailout deal with the administration, was dismissive of Senator McCain’s announcement. “It’s the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys,” Mr. Frank told a group of reporters outside the House chamber.

Great leaping horny toads. Is Barney Frank, of all people, calling John McCain a Mary?

Meanwhile, Obama at his presser was reduced to hemming and hawing that he didn't know whether he would go to D.C. even for the vote; he allowed as how he might go... if his own party thought he was "needed" and wouldn't be a superfluous bump on a log.

This is a truly bizarre response: We know with certainty that the next President of the United States will be either John S. McCain or some fellow named Barack H. Obama; I think we also know to a fare-thee-well that it will fall to the 44th POTUS to implement this legislation, considering how close we are to the next term. So of course both presidential nominees are "needed" -- even the One -- because it does no good for Congress to enact legislation that the One or the Other rejects, because then it will just be slow-rolled into oblivion.

All parties to the final implementation must be represented: congressional Democrats and Republicans, Obama, McCain, President Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and of course, financiers and banking executives, consultants, and other experts. And none should be allowed to vote "present."

I believe this will be another turning point in the election; it will take a few days to sink in (Palin's effect was immediate), but it may be more long-lasting: The shock of Sarah Palin's investiture was electrifying, but the amour was soon damped out under the relentless resistance of the elite media, probing, poking, prying (and preening at their own perspicacity). I believe Palin will continue to lift the campaign; but we no longer hear so many hosannas (to Mrs. Palin's probable relief) as we settle into the daily grind of the final days.

But McCain's simple ode to the country, his country, will resonate more quietly but echo longer and deeper into the campaign. I don't recall any other candidate suspending his campaign so close to the finish line, just for a few days, and just to do the people's business.

You remember the people, don't you? Us, the living, the demanding, the voting?

But in the clutch, Barack Obama was not so gallant. When the spotlight suddenly shone on the One, he froze, like a -- like a young actor on stage in his first improv, lips moving but mind a blank. Like a beach bum watching in horrified fascination as the eight-story tidal wave washes up to engulf him. Like a hobo sleeping on the railroad tracks, waking up to the fearsome scream of the Midnight Special, too hypnotized even to roll to one side.

Obama baubled, fumbled, stumbled; he stood aloof, so painfully befuddled... until the president personally summoned him to join Bush and McCain in the White House. Reluctantly, like a young wastrel ordered home from wanderjahr, scuffing his feet, Obama slinks back to the ringing of the klaxton, the tumble of the drum. And much of the pixie dust is scraped from his butterfly wings.

John McCain demonstrates himself not only to be the man of change in this race, but the man in this race. Planned or not -- and everything in a presidential race is planned -- it was a brilliant political chess move, not least because it shines the light of reality on the shadowplay of Obama's silver-screen candidacy.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2008, at the time of 11:58 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

September 17, 2008

Sub-Prime Crisis On a Nutshell: Corrupt Democratic Mortgage Manipulation

Econ. 101 , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The good: President George W. Bush; Sens. John McCain and Phil Gramm; Senate Republicans.

The bad: Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton; Sens. Chris Dodd and Barack Obama; Congressional Democrats; the propagandistic "news" media.

The cowardly and flummoxed: House Republicans.

All else is dicta. (Dicta follows below.)

Credits: I am indebted to a post by "Karl" over on Patterico's Pontifications; Karl has all the information... but (pace) I found his explanation a bit compressed and opaque. I wrote this post as much to understand it all myself as to explain to anybody else! I also call your attention to an excellent post on Wolf Howling, from which I learned a great deal. Also, a pair of posts by Captain Ed Morrissey at Hot Air explain much of this (with links galore).

Note that I am not a lawyer, and I really don't understand all this as well as do those who actually work in the field as lawyers, mortgage brokers, or loan agents. If anyone who knows what he's talking about can correct any misinformation I have here, I will pay close attention. Thanks!

I hope you have all taken note that Barack H. Obama has been rising in the polls and is now ahead of John S. McCain on several major tracking polls. If McCain doesn't do something quick, we will head right back to where we were six months ago, in early March, with Obama consistently leading by 5% in the polls. Obama could win and Democrats take huge majorities in both House and Senate.

If you're wondering why this is happening now, it's unquestionably because McCain is losing again on the economy -- what with the whole ongoing, slow-motion collapse of the entire charade of "sub-prime mortgages"... which the Democrats, aided by the elite media, of course, have blamed entirely on President George W. Bush -- and on McCain. This allows the Democrats to campaign on fear, their favorite "issue."

Economic fear drove the huge sell-off on the stock markets today. Money panic drives people to the Democrats, who promise to "tax the ultra-wealthy" and give that money to everybody else. If McCain doesn't calm voters down immediately, he will lose.

At the end of this post, I suggest that McCain cut a new commercial with him speaking directly to the American people, himself. This is what I suggest he say:

My friends, let me give you some Straight Talk about the economy. The American economic system is not the problem. The free market is not the problem. The problem is sub-prime lending, where the government forced banks to lend too much money to people who cannot meet the payments; when they default, the taxpayer picks up the bill. This is nothing less than housing welfare.

Now it's time for some straight talk from my opponent. Sen. Obama blames the Republicans; but he knows the entire failed program was created by his fellow Democrats, who have stopped Republicans from reforming it for decades.

He talks the talk of reform but refuses to walk the walk. Any plan that doesn't get the government out of the business of forcing banks to issue bad mortgages is a sham and will only make the crisis worse.

There's no time left for Sen. Obama and his fellow Democrats to dither. We must reform mortgage lending now. I've put a detailed plan on my website to resolve this crisis, reform the system, and return to fiscal sanity, giving a powerful, short-term boost to the economy. The long-term fix must come from cutting out-of-control spending, letting you keep more of your own money, and producing dramatically more real energy right here in America.

I'm John McCain, and I emphatically approve this message.

For the rest of the story, please click the Slither On.

Where things stand

John McCain must speak directly to the American people about the economy, lest Obama and the Democrats get a chance to "define" McCain as an old, out of touch beltway boy. Voters can see that we're in the midst of a collapse in the mortgage market, as lender after lender (and now insurers, like American International Group) goes belly-up or must find a buyer; and folks want to hear what McCain himself has to say.

But perhaps the public doesn't understand -- as I didn't until this month -- just how much of that collapse was in fact orchestrated by the socialist hijinks of congressional Democrats (including Obama), by Bill Clinton, and by Jimmy Carter: Between them, they forced banks and S&Ls into the volatile and risky sub-prime market; and then the Democrats repeatedly prevented any attempt by congressional Republicans (and by President Bush) to oversee and regulate that market.

Why would they do this? First, because Democrats have long been getting huge campaign donations from banks and other mortgage lenders; in fact, the top two recipients of such money are Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT, 95%) and Barack Obama. Both subsequently encouraged exactly the sort of loan speculation they now decry, an act that reeks of corruption. In addition, many former members of the Clinton administration, including Franklin Delano Raines, former Commerce Secretary William Daley, and Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick (of "Gorelick's wall" infamy), ended up running Fannie and Freddie or lobbying for them... and incidentally raking off tens of millions of dollars for themselves.

But the real culprit in this collapse isn't just Democratic corruption; it's the leftist demand to increase minority home ownership by lending low-income borrowers more money than they qualify to borrow, with higher mortgage payments than they are able to pay. That is, offering mortgages that violate the most basic rules of banking, as a form of "housing welfare." That is the crux of this very real, but very specific crisis.

What caused the sub-prime mortgage crisis?

One of the most evil, anti-capitalist movies ever made is also one of the most beloved by audiences and critics (including supposedly capitalist critics and pundits such as Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt): It's a Wonderful Life, directed by liberal fascist Frank Capra and starring conservative Jimmy Stewart.

In that movie, George Bailey (Stewart) is shown to be a great guy because he offers mortgages to people who cannot afford to pay them -- and then lets them slide on their payments without foreclosing. Such a wonderful life! (Well, not for the bank's investors; and not for the depositors, when the bank fails -- as it inevitably will do.) In a sense, then, Philip Van Doren Stern (author of the short story, "the Greatest Gift," that was the basis for the movie) invented the utopian idea of "sub-prime mortgages."

It's a Wonderful Life makes great theater but lousy economics, and the financial events of the past few months illustrate why.

The primary rules to prevent the collapse of banking are (1) not to lend money to unqualified borrowers -- you can't give a mortgage to someone who cannot possibly pay it -- and (2) to maintain a sufficiently high cash reserve that people who need to draw out all their money can do so -- the bank can't lend out all its depositors' money. But those rules make it more difficult for the poor (disproportionately minorities and Democrats) to obtain housing loans: They're restricted to much smaller mortgages for a smaller percentage of the total cost of the house; and because the bank can't lend out every penny, it must pick and choose to whom to lend.

This infuriates liberals, who believe the very purpose of a bank is to give the poor a chance to own their own home (even without pulling themselves out of poverty first). Thus, liberals have long championed a supposed "reform" that is actually an element of unbridled liberal fascism: That government should force private banks to make bad loans to Democratic constituents, under threat of massive fines from the SEC... or even loss of their license.

Democrats in Congress forced that act of semi-nationalization on the banks as long ago as 1977, where they pushed through Congress the anti-capitalist, Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977. That was the year that was: Democrats in the 95th Congress, still surfing the tsunami of Watergate, enjoyed a 61% majority in the Senate and a 67% majority in the House; and in Jimmy Carter, they had the most left-liberal Democrat in office since FDR. It was the perfect storm of socialism.

The umpires strike back

In 1999, Republicans, who by then controlled the House and Senate, tried to do away with that horrible piece of utopianism. Sen. Phil Gramm, then chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, offered a sweeping deregulation of the financial industry (S. 900, later called the Financial Services Modernization Act, FSMA). It was true deregulation that left the financial institutions free to decide what activities to engage in and with whom, but left them accountable for their actions; and it explicitly removed the CRA mandate to offer mortgages to poor people who couldn't afford them.

Democrats voted en masse against this version of the FSMA, with only one Democrat -- Sen. Ernest F. Hollings -- voting for it. Nevetheless, it passed the Senate by 54-44; every single Republican voted for this clean version, including John McCain. But President Clinton threatened to veto the bill for that very reason: He wanted to strengthen the CRA, not gut it! Clinton wanted to make it even easier for low-income borrowers to get a mortgage... and even easier to find somebody else to make the payments (while the borrower kept the house) when the inevitable happened. So President Clinton made it clear that the bill, as passed by the Senate, would never become law:

Administration officials say the President would veto the Senate version because it would dilute requirements that banks make loans to minorities, farmers and others who have had little access to credit. The legislation also contains provisions that have been criticized by Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin because they reduce his department's oversight of banks.

But privately, some Democrats and Administration officials say that Mr. Clinton might agree to legislation if the objectionable provisions in the Senate measure were watered down or eliminated when the House and Senate negotiate a final bill in conference.

Alas, that is exactly what happened. Throwing gasoline to the winds, Senate Democrats insisted on retaining the It's a Wonderful Life provision, Jimmy Carter's CRA; the final version of the FSMA, passed in 1999, still compelled banks and S&Ls to issue sub-prime mortgages. The provision was inserted during the House-Senate conference, and no senator or representative ever got to vote for it... very similar to an earmark, except it was designed to protect Democratic votes (the poor and irresponsible being their natural constituency), rather than enrich some particular Democratic crony.

Shamefully, the Senate Republicans eventually agreed to this version, which passed 90-8. The only Republicans who did not vote for it were Richard Shelby (R-AL, %), who voted Nay, and John McCain, who did not vote.

I suspect McCain wanted to vote Nay, but he did not want to oppose his longtime friend and ally Phil Gramm -- who voted for this version, since it did contain most of the deregulation he wanted. Gramm and the other Republicans who went along probably thought the sub-prime lending was just a small "bone" they'd thrown to the Democrats.

But it was exactly this Democratic bone that led to the current collapse, the Law of Unintended Consequences in full cry.

President Bush tries to reform Freddie and Fannie

Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) was part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal; founded in 1938, its purpose is to buy mortgages from banks and savings & loans to inject more liquidity (cash) into the mortgage market. In other words, it's a legal way for the government to pump more money into the banking industry... exactly the sort of government intervention in the market that is rightly dubbed "liberal fascism." It was turned into a quasi-private corporation in 1968, to get it off the government accounts due to its perennial shortfalls. (This sort of quasi-private company is called a "government sponsored enterprise," or GSE.)

Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation) is another GSE, this one founded in 1970; its purpose is to create the illusion of competition with Fannie Mae. Fannie and Freddie have been in near constant financial deep water for decades because of their very nature -- but especially after they became the primary avenues for implementing Jimmy Carter's vision of housing welfare, the CRA.

As of September 7th, 2008, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed under conservatorship of the federal government, due to extraordinary mismanagement by the former members of the Clinton administration who have been running the two GSEs.

In 2003, Bush proposed a major reform of Freddie and Fannie. Specifically, he wanted regulation to be put under the Treasury Department, which would tighten the lending rules... again, trying to bring some capitalist rationality to Carter's CRA. But again, the Democrats threw themselves athwart fiscal sanity and cried "stop!" As the New York Times reported:

Significant details must still be worked out before Congress can approve a bill. Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

''These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.''

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

''I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,'' Mr. Watt said.

Bear in mind that to Democrats, "affordable housing" is code for giving Democratic constituents mortgages that they cannot pay to buy houses they cannot afford -- with the proviso that when they default on their loans (as so many do), you, the American taxpayer, will pick up the tab so that other fellow can keep his house.

Bush's reform attempt went nowhere, due to lack of congressional support, primarily by Democrats but without much help from Republicans, either. (In this sense, it was very much like Bush's attempt to reform Social Security. Thanks, GOP Congress!)

Republicans' last shot at averting the looming disaster

Republicans, including John McCain, made one more valiant effort to stave off the implosion that he and others actually foresaw; in 2005, just three years ago, McCain joined as a co-sponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005.

The bill sought to shift authority over Fannie and Freddie from HUD -- which historically pushes lenders towards quasi-socialism and liberal fascism, including the It's a Wonderful Life provision -- to an independent agency, the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Agency.

McCain spoke powerfully in its favor; but Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd killed it in the Senate Banking Committee, in which he was ranking minority member. (Thanks, Senate parliamentarians!)

Bottom line

Here are the "straight talk" bullet points you need to know about the sub-prime mortgage crisis:

  • Starting three decades ago, Democrats have used every parliamentary trick in the book to construct exactly the system we have today, where banks are bullied into making bad loans to borrowers who cannot afford them; then they sell those bad loans to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae; and when a borrower defaults, taxpayers pick up the bill for the defaulter's nice, new house. This amounts to housing welfare for Democrats;
  • Republicans have tried repeatedly to kill that program, warning that such an anti-capitalist practice can only result in a complete, diastrous collapse;
  • Democrats "denounced" those warnings as "exaggerated." Because of the arcane rules in the House of Representatives and especially in the Senate, Democrats have repeatedly managed to squash those attempts at real reform -- whether they were in the majority or the minority;
  • Now that the warnings are proved prescient, and the collapse is underway and impossible to conceal any longer, Democrats point their fingers at President Bush, John McCain, and Republicans in general -- "Look what you made us do!"
  • Democrats pretend that the collapse was caused by a lack of regulation and government control -- when it was actually caused by overregulation, amounting to quasi-nationalization of mortgage lenders, vigorously pushed by Democrats in 1977, 1999, 2003, and 2005 -- the It's a Wonderful Life provision;
  • Democrats pretend that John McCain was pushing for complete deregulation of Fannie and Freddie, when in fact he was pushing for greater oversight -- but favored the rescinding of the particular Democratic provision that has now led to the collapse. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have consistently supported this provision -- and now blame McCain when its inevitable, predictable, and predicted consequences come crashing down upon us.

What's to be done, then?

Very simple: It's time for some straight talk from Mr. Straight Talk himself.

So far, McCain hasn't said anything stupid about this crisis. But he hasn't said anything smart, either. In fact, he has barely said anything at all.

John McCain needs to move and move quickly. He needs to jump out in front of this issue and not allow himself to become "Katrina-ed." McCain needs to cut a commercial; and taking a page from his opponent, he should simply talk straightforwardly to the camera and say something along the following lines:

My friends, let me give you some Straight Talk about the economy. The American economic system is not the problem. The free market is not the problem. The problem is sub-prime lending, where the government forced banks to lend too much money to people who cannot meet the payments; when they default, the taxpayer picks up the bill. This is nothing less than housing welfare.

Now it's time for some straight talk from my opponent. Sen. Obama blames the Republicans; but he knows the entire failed program was created by his fellow Democrats, who have stopped Republicans from reforming it for decades.

He talks the talk of reform but refuses to walk the walk. Any plan that doesn't get the government out of the business of forcing banks to issue bad mortgages is a sham and will only make the crisis worse.

There's no time left for Sen. Obama and his fellow Democrats to dither. We must reform mortgage lending now. I've put a detailed plan on my website to resolve this crisis, reform the system, and return to fiscal sanity, giving a powerful, short-term boost to the economy. The long-term fix must come from cutting out-of-control spending, letting you keep more of your own money, and producing dramatically more real energy right here in America.

Both parties contributed to this collapse, and it's time to hold both accountable... and come together to fix this problem before it wrecks our otherwise strong economy.

I'm John McCain, and I emphatically approve this message.

I agree we should let John McCain be John McCain; but for God's sake, can't he be John McCain a little faster and louder, please?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 17, 2008, at the time of 10:55 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

September 12, 2008

Raking Whoopi

Constitutional Maunderings , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, John S. McCain was a guest on the View, where he has in the past been treated more kindly -- when he was nought but a maverick Republican tweaking President George W. Bush's nose. Now that he is the Republican nominee for president (and leading in nearly all the polls), it's a whole different kettle of horses.

Among the challenging and deranged questions he was asked, the best of the worst came from noted political scholar and seasoned electioneer Whoopi Goldberg, now ensconced in the Rosie O'Donnell memorial deep-analysis chair. During a discussion of the types of federal judges McCain would name, bouncing off of the overly obvious Roe v. Wade "crisis," the following hijinks ensued:

Goldberg

Sir, can you just -- and I don't want to misinterpret what you're saying -- did you say you wanted... strict constitutionalists? Because that -- that --

McCain

No, I want people who interpret the Constitution of the United States the way our Founding Fathers envisioned them to do.

Goldberg

Should I be worried about being a slave, we'd be returned to slave -- because certain things happened in the Constitution that you had to change. [Wild cheering from audience]

Alas, McCain did not really respond to Whoopi Goldberg's "question;" he seemed a bit stunned by the audacity of her stupidity, and he just placated her, telling her it was a good point and he understood. He all but patted her head, the way one would a child who was particularly thick.

So we lizards must take up the smart man's burden and explain, in words of few syllables, what is so terribly wrong with Ms. Goldberg's argument... for argument it was; it certainly was not an actual question to which she wanted an answer.

Goldberg, like most liberal Democrats, is confused about judges, John McCain, and the Founding Fathers; she imagines that a judge who is a "strict constitutionalist" -- an expression I confess having never heard before -- wants the Constitution returned to its pristine condition as written in 1787, before even the Bill of Rights was added.

I supposed it's barely possible that there may be a lawyer or law professor somewhere in America who wants such a thing; it's a big country. But certainly such a static thinker would not have been found among the Founding Fathers themselves. We must recall the Founders were rather revolutionary thinkers.

The Founders of our republic never intended the Constitution to remain changeless; that is why they included an elaborate amendment process to change it, which has successfully been invoked 27 times in the last 217 years -- an average of once every eight years (or once every 12 years, if you count the Bill of Rights as a single agony in ten fits).

One of those changes was the Thirteenth Amendment, ratified 143 years ago, which reads in toto:

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.

As this more-or-less duly enacted amendment* would allay Ms. Goldberg's fears about "being a slave" once more (perhaps she believes she was a slave in a previous life), the only logical explanation is that she thinks the judges that "President" McCain would appoint reject that amendment as marring the original beauty of the Constitution. In fact, I suspect that all hysterical Democrats think that's what "strict constitutionalist" judges believe. It's one of the sure signs of hysterical dementia.

In the real world, however, judicial conservatives and strict constructionists -- terms I am more familiar with than Whoopi Goldberg's term -- have no desire to roll the Constitution back to what it was the day it was ratified in 1789. They don't reject subsequent amendments; but they do insist upon ruling on the basis of what is actually in the Constitution today: the original text, all constitutional amendments that have been ratified, plus the actual words of relevant statutary law. Where none of the above decides the case, then judicial conservatives turn to previous interpretations and understandings of the law from court precedent; this is to resolve ambiguities, contradictions, and countervailing rights or interests.

A judicial conservative asks only that changes in the Constitution come about by the amendment process the Founders carefully enunciated in the document itself.

By stark contrast, the sort of judge supported by Democrats like -- well, like Whoopi Goldberg -- do not rule on what's actually in the Constitution; instead, they rule on the basis of their own personal gut feelings, which they would insert into the Constitution if only they could. Since they can't, however, they pretend it's there anyway and rule according to their whim du jour. That, as I understand it, is the difference between a strict constructionist/judicial conservative and a judicial legislator.

But you know I'm not a lawyer; I'm just playing sea-lawyer here. So if some lawyer who actually knows what he's talking about (unlike me) wants to correct my quickie definition, please feel free. Beldar, Patterico, and XRLQ, this means you!

I wonder if Whoopi Goldberg reads Big Lizards? Nah; can't picture it.

-----------

* Yes, I know that some or all rebellious Southern states had not been readmitted to the Union and Congress when the 13th Amendment was ratified; tough. They may have gotten the short end of the totem pole, but they buttered their own petard, and now they can smoke it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 12, 2008, at the time of 9:21 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 11, 2008

Obama and the Old Switcheroo? Not a Chance.

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

From several unrelated sources, I have heard or read the suggestion that Barack H. Obama might dump the ineffectual Slow Joe Biden -- whose only accomplishment is breaking the world record for stupid verbal gaffes (in the United States Senate, a remarkably tough league!) -- and name Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 100%) instead as his running mate.

Alas, I don't think there is a chance in a thousand that Obama will dump Biden for anybody... and most especially not for Hillary. He's savvy enough to realize that if he did, he would lose even worse than he's already likely to do.

Several reasons:

Judgment day

It's not that making such a switch "reeks of desperation," as some suggest. That might have been the case had he picked her first; but to dump his first pick and grab for Hillary now would raise a far more serious question about Obama's fitness: Such an obvious U-turn screams "bad judgment," which is already the biggest slam against him.

When a gaffe plays directly into the gaffing candidate's worst quality, it resonates out of all proportion:

  • John F. Kerry's two most questionable characteristics were deferring to the world community, rather than putting America first, and his inability to make up his mind. Thus his own statements -- calling for a "global test" for U.S. policy and his boneheaded explanation that, "I was actually for the $87 billion before I was against it" -- became the two defining moments of his campaign.
  • The issue that most dogged George H.W. Bush was whether the man who called Ronald Reagan's tax cuts "voodoo economics" in 1980 was any more committed to them as president; so his "read my lips, no new taxes" promise, followed by a big tax increase, sealed his doom in 1992.
  • And the biggest question voters had about Michael Dukakis was whether he was qualified to lead American forces in the event of war; his "bobblehead" ride in a tank, as it served left and right, wandering aimlessly, destroyed his shot at the White House.

In this case, Obama's Achilles' heel is the question of judgment: Dumping his running mate only a couple of weeks after naming him conjures up memories of Gerald Ford -- remembered (wrongly but strongly) as a bumbler who was as clumsy in his judgment as he was on his feet.

(Yes, I know he was an athlete and his proclivity for tripping was greatly exaggerated by Chevy Chase; but I'm talking about perception not reality.)

All the cows come home to roost

Others argue that picking Hillary would bring back all those disaffected former Hillary Clinton supporters, who were only turning to Sarah Palin out of disappointment at not getting the gal they really wanted.

If Barack Obama had picked Hillary first, that might have helped him, if he could overcome the "desperation" charge. But to first pass her over, and then, to dump Biden and pick Hillary only after John S. McCain picks Palin... well, not only would that not bring back those PUMAs ("Party Unity My Ass") who are now jumping ship to McCain -- the blatant disrespect for women inherent in such a cynical ploy would accelerate the trend.

Picking a powerful, self-made woman as running mate is exciting and galvanizing to the many women who believe -- not without some justice -- that one major reason no woman has ever been elected vice president or president is that a lot of people, especially the "old boys" in the upper ranks of government, really don't believe women as a class can handle the job.

But to dump one's first VP pick, a man, and quickly stick a woman on instead -- to "counter" the woman that your opponent chose -- is tantamount to saying, "You chicks are only supporting McCain because you want to vote for a women. Fine. Here! Here's your lousy woman! Now you can vote for me."

It shows contempt for female voters. Rather than reaching out to a qualified woman -- as McCain did -- Obama would be turning to a woman he already rejected, who he didn't even think was worthy of being shortlisted, just because she is female; and he thinks he has to have his own token woman to lure lure female voters away from his opponent.

What he said

Finally, such a defensive reaction would transform Obama from an "agent of change" into the Sour Kangaroo's joey from "Horton Hears a Who"... the baby kangaroo whose only line is -- "Me too!"

What is Obama supposed to say in his announcement? "I know I should have picked her earlier, but I was too cowardly and sexist to do so. But now that John McCain has blazed the trail, I'm going to run right up behind him and slap his butt." (In a manly, congratulatory way, I mean.)

A mighty wind

Some suggest, however, that it doesn't matter what Obama does, because the mainstream media will always have his back; they will defend any decision he makes, so it won't hurt him.

Yes, the elite media would frantically spin such a switch; but we mustn't fall into the trap of many Republicans who have an unexamined assumption that the media are not only all-in for Obama, which is true -- but also all-powerful at achieving their goals, which is provably false: If they really had that power, don't you think they would have managed to defeat George W. Bush at least once?

So far, the elites have been spinning and spinning the meme that Sarah Palin is an inexperienced, incompetent, gun-clinging, earmark-hugging, animal-murdering, secession-supporting, child abusing, rabid, fascist, right-wing, creationist, Jeebus Crispie, book-banning lunatic. How has that project worked out?

You can fool some of the people all the time -- but they're already Democrats

Such a transparent switcheroo would make Obama look so small, so sexist, so reactionary, that he would lose whatever shred of credibility, gravitas, and "presidentiality" he currently retains. He is an intelligent man; he's not an idiot. He realizes this; and that is why he will never even consider dumping Slow Joe for Hillary.

Barack Obama will stick with his first choice and just try to get lemonade out of a sow's ear.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2008, at the time of 5:22 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

September 9, 2008

Obama's Macaca Moment: It's a Gaffe, Gaffe, Gaffe! UPDATED

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Studiously avoiding all buoyancy, pneumatic, and materials-science analogies, the presidential campaign of Barack H. Obama certainly appears to be in trouble. One symptom of failing candidacies is the tendency to magnify the external problems with personal mistakes, misjudgments, and gaffes.

Here is the newest... and it could well become a seam-splitting, steam-leaking, presidential amibition-sinker:

With voters craving change and Obama offering it, McCain has started pushing hard to reclaim the reformer mantle he owned eight years ago. His running mate, Sarah Palin, has energized his conservative base while attracting droves of white women to the Arizona senator's candidacy. The GOP ticket has soaked up a great deal of attention over the last 10 days, between Palin's selection and the party's convention.

That has left Obama, the change candidate of the primaries, spending much of his time explaining to voters why McCain and Palin don't deserve the label....

"You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," he said to an outburst of laughter and applause from his audience in Lebanon, Va., Tuesday. "You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, but it's still going to stink after eight years."

Obama left himself some squealing room; but as indicated above (and in all other accounts of the gaffe), his audience in Lebanon, Virginia certainly understood him to be referring to Palin's quip at the Republican convention that the only difference between a hockey mom, such as herself, and a pit bull was "lipstick" -- thus, the "pig" in Obama's ungentlemanly, snarky riff was Sarah Palin herself. (McCain is obviously the target of the "old fish" that stinks after eight years insult.)

Obama insists he didn't mean that Gov. Sarah Palin is a pig; he was talking about the "reform" slogan of the McCain-Palin ticket. But he's not such a fool that he didn't know how the audience, both immediate and over TV, would take it.

Besides, it was only the first hoggish reference the Democratic nominee made; later in the same event, after hearing the audience's reaction to Obama's first Palin/pig joke, he essayed another porcine jape:

Hogs were a theme of Obama’s town hall. Later in the event, while discussing the No Child Left Behind policy that puts stress on teachers to test students, he made another swine reference. “There’s a saying in Southern Illinois that you don’t fatten a hog by weighing it. You can weigh it everyday, that’s not how you fatten it up,” Obama said.

Well, no; but that is how you decide whether it still needs more "fattening up." This attack doesn't even make sense; has anybody argued that giving a student a test, by itself, educates him? So far as I've seen, proponents of No Child Left Behind argue that testing a student allows the school and parents to track the student's progress, so you know whether he is learning -- or whether he needs urgent attention so he won't fail.

Is that really such a difficult concept?

But the real point is this, from the AP article:

Even so, the Illinois senator's focus on bringing down McCain and Palin underscores the worry among some Democrats that the Republican ticket is gaining, and in no small part because of the addition of the first-term Alaska governor who is the first Republican woman on a presidential ticket....

Democrats, if not Obama himself, seem unsure how exactly to go after Palin, and some Democratic strategists say they hope Obama will assign Biden the task of countering Palin, rather than do it himself.

McCain has jumped to a tie or lead in national polls, depending on the survey, with Palin helping to drive the gains, particularly by solidifying the conservative base and attracting swing voters as well as a slew of white women.

A "gaffe" is defined not by the intentions of the speaker but by the reactions of the listeners. Everybody in that audience "heard" Obama call Sarah Palin a pig and John McCain a rotting fish; if B.O. didn't realize it before speaking, he must have figured it out -- being the smartest man in the universe -- when the audience roared, laughed, and applauded. And the McCain campaign is making the most of it... as they should.

The problem for Obama is the same as the one that hounded former Sen. George Allen to defeat in his 2006 re-election campaign, also in Virginia. Allen used the term "macaca" to refer to the mole that opponent Jim Webb kept sending to Allen's campaign rallies with a videocam, hoping for something to use -- like being called "Macaca." Allen swore over and over that when he used the term (at one speech, singling out the mole, S.D. Sidarth), he had no idea that "macaca" was actually a racial slur in the Belgian Congo early in the 20th century.

The fact that nobody else in the United States was familiar with that slur either made no difference at all: Allen had clearly intended the word as an insult, a low-blow slam belittling Mr. Sidarth -- who was, obviously, of East Indian ancestory, not Congolese. And voters don't like such schoolyard taunts.

Neither will it make any difference to voters whether Obama actually meant to call the McCain-Palin ticket a "pig," rather than Palin herself; voters in the swing states will likely label the attack boorish, unmannerly, and sexist.

Obama needs to apologize immediately and plead fatigue; it's better to look old and tired than young, condescending, and pissy. But he won't; I don't think he can bring himself to be humble, especially not to the "rival false prophet" (as Scott Johnson put it on Power Line) who came bubbling up like the Swamp Thing to grab Obama's halo. If Obama goes even farther and begins exploding whenever he's asked about the comment, then he can add "paranoid and defensive" to his list of undesirable and unbecoming attributes.

Political campaigns are all about two antagonistic forces: momentum and labels. Both teams compete to see who can attach a label to both himself and his opponent (thesis), a task made more difficult the greater the momentum of the campaign (antithesis). The resulting synthesis defines the arc of the campaign.

In the early days of the primaries, Obama succeeded in attaching the labels of "ideological purity" and "change" to his campaign and the label of "old-style politics" to Hillary Clinton's; Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee succeeded in attaching the label of "old coot" to McCain's campaign but couldn't get any label to stick on their own; and John McCain made the "maverick" label his own.

But then momentum took hold. Hillary Clinton's campaign juggernaut used every dirty trick in the book to rip the self-adhesive labels from Barack Obama, and they succeeded in removing the first, the "purity" issue. Alas, that was not enough to derail Obama, because he still had the "change" label... but it was a darned close primary.

McCain's relentless campaigning on his biography, his record, and his now firmly ensconced "maverick" label produced sufficient momentum to blast away the "old coot" label; instead, he became "dynamic" and a "reformer." The graceful dropping out by the other Republican candidates and the Sarah Palin pick increased the momentum and solidified the "maverick" and "reformer" labels.

But Obama is now in danger of moving so slowly, with so little momentum, that McCain has the opportunity to attach any label he wants to the Democrat's campaign; Mr. Audacity can't get himself out of first gear and has become a more or less stationary target.

At the moment, McCain is jogging alongside Obama, trying to attach the labels of "ultraliberal," "inexperienced," and "Chicago machine" to the Democratic campaign. Obama's hit job on Palin -- calling her a pig -- accentuates the third label: I believe it will strike voters as exactly the sort of dirty pool to which the "Daley machine" would stoop.

Labels, once attached, are darned hard to tear off; you need enough momentum that they will be borne away by the wind in your wake. But Obama just isn't fast enough off the mark... and I believe the labels applied by McCain will stick.

We'll see; but the gaffes Obama is committing now are entirely unforced. They come from deep in the bowels of him.

UPDATE: See? That didn't take long:

 

 

Barack Obama can whine until the cows come home to roost that he wasn't calling Sarah Palin a pig -- he was just calling the McCain-Palin ticket a pig. But this slur has a dynamic too large to contain with a simple huck and smirk. The meme of "Obama called Sarah Palin a pig" isn't going away; it's going to stick, and it's going to hurt Obama badly.

He's not a stupid man; he knew well how his cutesy aphorism would be taken in this context. Clearly, Obama was giggling inside like a junior-high student, tickled pink at how he "got" Palin. I know that many hard-left Obama fans openly cheered and laughed when he said it (I've read their posts): They knew exactly what he meant.

Well, he baited the hook -- and now he's got a tiger by the tail. I wish him a long and consuming acquaintance with that ferocious feline of his own fabrication.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 9, 2008, at the time of 11:58 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

September 8, 2008

Final Convention-Bounce Numbers

Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The first completely post-GOP convention releases of the Gallup and Rasmussen daily tracking polls are now available; this allows us to calculate the net bounce from the Democratic and Republican conventions... who won the "battle of the bounces?"

As we promised, here they are:

Gallup Daily Tracking
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 45 45 Tie
September 8th 44 49 McCain +5

 

Rasmussen Daily Tracking (without leaners)
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 46 42 Obama +4
September 8th 46 47 McCain +1

 

Rasmussen Daily Tracking (with leaners)
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 48 45 Obama +3
September 8th 47 48 McCain +1

 

Average of Gallup and Rasmussen (without leaners)
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 45.5 43.5 Obama +2.0
September 8th 45.0 48.0 McCain +3.0

To summarize:

  1. Before the Democratic convention began, a rolling 3-day average from Gallup found Barack H. Obama tied with John S. McCain; the same poll released today -- with all respondents having had a chance to see McCain's and Palins' acceptance speeches -- has McCain ahead of Obama by 5 points.
  2. The equivalent polling numbers for the Rasmussen Daily Tracking poll (not counting leaners) finds McCain going from a deficit of 4 under Obama to an advantage of 1, again a movement of 5 points.
  3. The average of these two polls shows McCain skyrocketing from a deficit of 2.0 before the Democratic convention to an advantage of 3.0 at this point. As predicted by Big Lizards, it was McCain, not Obama, who came out of the conventions with a significant net bounce of +5.0.
  4. Even more spectacularly, in the polls taken entirely in between the two conventions (September 1st), Obama had received a bounce of 2.5 (from 2.0 to 4.5); thus the full bounce that John McCain received from both the announcement of Sarah Palin and the convention is 7.5 points. Obama got a 2.5-point bounce from his convention, while McCain received a 7.5-point bounce from his (hence the net of 5 points).

This is what happens when voters actually get a look at both candidates, each putting his best foot down.

I mentioned our prediction from August 22nd; this is what we wrote:

I have a feeling this is going to be a very disappointing "bounce" for the Democrats this year, just as I (correctly) predicted the same for 2004. I think Obama's bounce is going to be no more than a jumping flea... say, 5% at most; and it will be gone by the time the GOP convention begins on September 1st, just four days after the Democratic convention ends.

Contrariwise, a lot fewer people know anything about John S. McCain, other than the disrespectful and risible caricature pushed by the elite media and by Obama himself in campaign ads. I suspect that a lot more truly undecided voters will watch the Republican National Convention, many of them moderate Republicans, independents, and even moderate Democrats; and they will come away much more favorably impressed by McCain than they were beforehand. Therefore, McCain will get a bigger bounce from the GOP convention than will Obama from the Democratic convention.

We were right; he did.

But let's expand to other polls. The Real Clear Politics average of all polls on August 25th -- the last day when all polling was conducted before the Democratic convention -- showed Obama with a 1.6 lead (45.5 Obama to 43.9 McCain); today, the RCP average shows a McCain lead of 3.2 (45.4 Obama to 48.6 McCain) -- a bounce of 4.8% for John McCain. (You can find the historical average for any date by hovering your pointer over the histogram and sliding left or right until you reach August 25th; the upper part will tell you the actual averages, the bottom only tells you the spread.)

This 4.8-point bounce matches up perfectly with the 5-point bounce from the two tracking polls, indicating that they are not out of line; this is real movement being picked up across the board.

Here is another point to mull: In this campaign, John McCain has been a "closer;" he went from a big deficit to victory at the end. McCain's primary campaign was dead in the water by July of 2007; but he came roaring back, of course, winning in Florida, New Hampshire, and North Carolina just six months later. The next month, he won a majority of states on Tsunami Tuesday, knocking Mitt Romney out of the race a couple of days later.

Note: Mike Huckabee hung on, but only because he nursed the hope that he would pass Romney in the delegate count, ending the campaign in second place, rather than third. Had he done so, it would have set him up to be the Republican front-runner in 2012.

He didn't; he remains in third place with 267 to Romney's 274 -- even though Huckabee campaigned for months after Romney dropped out of the race!

Barack Obama, by contrast, started out way ahead; but then it was Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 100%) who came back strongly, almost taking the nomination away from the One. In fact, were it not for the huge lead that Obama had built up in early caucus states that were "winner take all," Clinton would almost certainly have been the nominee.

McCain is already ahead; if the general campaign follows the same pattern as the two primary campaigns, then John McCain will expand his lead before the final vote.

McCain is now in very good position not only to win the race but to do so convincingly, something that President George W. Bush could not do in either of his two victories: In 2000, the vote was dead even; and even in 2004, he won by only 2.4% nationwide. In neither case did the president even crack 290 electoral votes out of 538 possible: 271 in 2000 (one point more than the smallest majority possible) and 286 in 2004.

By contrast, in Bill Clinton's two elections, he achieved 370 electoral votes in 1992 (receiving 5.6% more total votes than President George H.W. Bush) and 379 in 1996 (8.5% ahead of Sen. Robert Dole).

If McCain wins this election by, say, 6-7 points, he will almost certainly receive more than 300 electoral votes, probably more than 350; with no significant third-party candidate, to suck away votes, he will be at 53%; and he will definitely have coattails in the House and Senate races.

That would be a resounding victory. Though it will not silence the Democrats -- they will once again claim the election was "stolen" from them (this is so obvious, I don't even count it as a prediction) -- it will indelibly pin a powder-blue "L" on their frocks... L for liberal; L for loser.

Time to replace our dilithium crystals, recharge our ki, and redouble our efforts; let no one rest until John S. McCain charges across that finish line.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 8, 2008, at the time of 4:08 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 6, 2008

Interim Progress Report on Convention Bounces

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Today is the first day that Gallup and Rasmussen daily tracking polling includes some respondents (one third of them) who saw (or could have seen) John S. McCain's acceptance speech on Thursday. These polls are each three-day rolling averages; thus today's poll release includes polling from Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; but the Thursday polling ended before McCain's speech, so only the Friday polling reflects any bump that might give him.

The last polling release where all polls were conducted before the Democratic convention was Monday, August 25th; the first polling release where all polls will have been conducted after the Republican convention ended will be Monday, September 8th... so consider this a "progress report" of sorts.

For the Gallup numbers, go the linked page and hover your pointer over the trend lines to see the results for each day. The Rasmussen numbers are found here.

Note: The poll "Rasmussen Daily Tracking (with leaners)" means that those respondents who say they can't decide are pushed to say which way they lean. Only Rasmussen did this (reporting both sets of numbers); Gallup did not. Thus, in the fourth table, we average the most equivalent two data sets, Gallup and the Rasmussen Daily Tracking (without leaners). Nevertheless, Gallup polls registered voters, while Rasmussen polls likely voters; this is a difference that cannot be resolved given the companies' respective releases.

We also have final numbers on how many viewers tuned in to watch each convention. Let's jump right in....

Tracking poll numbers and averages


Gallup Daily Tracking
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 45 45 Tie
September 6th 47 45 Obama +2

 

Rasmussen Daily Tracking (without leaners)
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 46 42 Obama +4
September 6th 46 45 Obama +1

 

Rasmussen Daily Tracking (with leaners)
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 48 45 Obama +3
September 6th 49 46 Obama +3

 

Average of Gallup and Rasmussen (without leaners)
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 45.5 43.5 Obama +2.0
September 6th 46.5 45.0 Obama +1.5

To summarize:

  1. Before the Democratic convention began, a rolling 3-day average from Gallup found Barack H. Obama tied with John S. McCain; the same poll released today -- with two-thirds of respondents not having had a chance to see McCain's acceptance speech and one-third not having had a chance to see Sarah Palin's speech -- has Obama ahead of McCain by 2 points.
  2. The equivalent polling numbers for the Rasmussen Daily Tracking poll (not counting leaners) found Obama going from an advantage of 4 over McCain to an advantage of 1.
  3. The average of these two polls shows Obama dropping from an advantage of 2.0 before the Democratic convention to 1.5 at this point. He has already lost ground and is likely to lose more, as more respondents will have had a chance to have seen McCain's speech.

We will, of course, post the final results on Monday.

Nielsen ratings of both conventions

Nielsen has released the ratings for the two conventions; the ratings are the total number of televisions tuned to each show, calculated from the "Nielsen boxes" on some large number of viewer's TVs that accurately measure whether the TV is turned on, and if so, to what show it's tuned. (It cannot measure whether the viewer is actually paying attention or even watching. Surprise, surprise.)

Note: The story linked above also mentions PBS numbers, which are highly suspect: They are not tracked by a Nielsen box; instead, PBS reports "a more imprecise estimate based on samples in a few big cities." Alas, "big cities" will lean more towards Obama, while PBS can be seen in small cities, too. So I omit those numbers and run only with the main networks that are tracked by Nielsen.

Here are the Nielsen ratings; the operative number is "Persons 2+" for each day... that is, the total number of persons over the age of 2 who watched (I'm not sure how they calculate that, but it's the same formula for each party's convention):

Nielsen ratings for each convention
Convention Nominee speech VP speech Daily average
Democratic 38.4 million 24.0 million 30.2 million
Republican 38.9 million 37.2 million 34.5 million
Advantage McCain + 500,000 Palin + 13.2 million GOP + 4.3 million

(For the "daily average" figure, found on page 2 of the PDF, the operative number is persons 2+ in the "Live + Same Day" column, meaning those who either watched live, or who watched a recording of the events on the same day (as I did).

So as spectacular as were the ratings for Barack Obama's acceptance speech, John McCain's acceptance actually beat the celebrity Democrat... and for that matter, even Sarah Palin came very close. Combining the presidential and vice presidential acceptance speeches, the Republicans outdrew the Democrats by 13.7 million viewers.

How could that be? How could John "McAncient" beat "Britney" Obama? I suspect voters are starting to wake up to the realization that fame (or infamy) is not the most important issue: They have evidently begun seriously to consider judgment, accomplishment, managerial skills, courage, and character instead.

Barack Obama may win the "George" trophy -- the political equivalent of the Oscar, the Grammy, the Hugo, or the Edgar; but that's not why we're holding an election a scant 59 days from today.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 6, 2008, at the time of 7:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 4, 2008

McCain's Thing: Much Better Than I Expected (Updated)

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I surprised myself by how much I liked the speech. Part of my satisfaction was actually relief; "prompter" speeches are not John S. McCain's forte. But I found it more Reaganesque than any speech I've heard him give... in fact, more than any speech I've heard anybody give since Reagan himself.

I particularly appreciated the retelling of his POW history, but this time with a completely different theme: How his long captivity changed him from a narcissistic, jerky nasal radiator into a real mensch, a grownup, a man of humility and recognition of a cause larger than himself, and therefore a man of sagacity. I'd heard the "McCain as war hero" meme many times in this campaign, but this is the first time I've seen this version.

I liked it; it finally connects in a visceral way to the growth of his character (which, as I pointed out in a previous post, grew even more in just the last few years).

But what impressed me the most intellectually -- as opposed to what merely moved my emotions -- was the "laundry list" section in the middle; he articulated, whether by accident or design, almost every conservative theme that I share with you guys, while avoiding those that merely irritate me.

I may well be close to the target audience of McCain's speech, even though I'm already a committed anti-Barack H. Obama voter, which of course means a committed GOP voter: I'm not a conservative, yet I share many conservative values; I'm libertarian (though not Libertarian) but nevertheless believe in a robust and preemptive national defense; and I really want to hear how McCain, or any other GOP candidate, plans to get the damned government off our backs so we can get on with living long and prospering.

In that section, McCain came out foursquare for:

  • School choice, to bring a kind of "free market" to educational opportunity;
  • Expanding energy production, including drilling for oil and gas, using clean coal, and building nuclear reactors -- the only energy sources that will actually make a difference over the next 50 years;
  • Vetoing any earmark-laden bill that lands on his desk. I don't fool myself that we can cut off every ear; but at least, with a president so hostile to them, they can be kept to a dull roar. And, as McCain promised, made very public;
  • Making health insurance portable, so we don't have to stick in a lousy job we hate because we can't afford to lose the insurance;
  • Cutting taxes and spending (no explanation necessary);
  • Job retraining -- I loved the line that, instead of trying to recreate old-economy jobs that are never coming back, we'll train people for new-economy jobs that are never going away.

That's one heck of an audacious domestic agenda; the only policy I missed was 100% privatization of Social Security and Medicare, but I can certainly understand why that would be too controversial to discuss in a nomination acceptance speech.

UPDATE: Something just occurred to me: Each of these is something that George W. Bush promised but couldn't deliver. Except for cutting taxes -- and even that is temporary and due to expire, if Obama and the Democrats have their way. So this list might be another subtle way to disassociate the anticipated McCain presidency from the just-ending Bush administration.

Also notable was the absence of pandering:

  • No call for a massive bailout of idiots who got in trouble by taking bigger mortgages than they could afford (or of the banks and S&Ls that talked them into it);
  • No pledge to increase the minimum wage to a "living wage," as if teens working the popcorn counter at the local movie theater should be able to support a family of four on that paycheck;
  • No paean to a new immigration-reform bill. I fully expect -- and hope! -- there will be one; but that can only be worked out during a non-election year, as the negotiations will be as tenuous and delicate as gossamer. This isn't the time -- so he wisely left it out;
  • And no call for a vast increase in the number of species mollycoddled by the Endangered Species Act, no demand for ever more stringent EPA red tape -- and not a single mention of a vast, new Department of Anthropogenic Global Climate Change! In fact, I don't think he even mentioned global warming, or if he did, it was in passing (and quickly passed).

McCain had so many options available to royally screw up this opportunity, wounding his candidacy and forcing us to spend the next few weeks playing damage control; somehow, he dodged them all. In fact, I believe this speech actually advanced his candidacy -- and I predict a fairly substantial bounce (which won't show up in the Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls until Saturday, since they stopped polling today before McCain's speech ended.

(However, tomorrow is the first day we'll get to see whether there is a Sarah Palin bounce from yesterday's speech.)

All in all, I am in reasonable raptures... no matter what the Fox News panel said. (They seem to have yawned their way through it; shockingly, every single person who opined on the speech tonight is a metaphorical "Beltway boy" -- Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke, of course, but also Mara Liasson, William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Howard Wolfson, Chris Wallace, Jim Angle, and Brit Hume.)

I'll bet this speech plays a heck of a lot better in the real world than it does inside Pundistan.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 4, 2008, at the time of 10:22 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

September 3, 2008

Sarahphobia: Fear the Teddy!

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

First, John Hinderaker at Power Line posted about a Peggy Noonan column in which she noted that John S. McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, "could become a transformative political presence;" Noonan goes on to say, "So they [the feminist Left] are going to have to kill her, and kill her quick."

In response, Paul Mirengoff demurred:

Noonan notwithstanding, the Democrats I know don't see Palin as a "real and present danger to the American left."

Alas, I believe that Paul is out of touch with the today's mainstream Democratic activist.

The response among lefties to Palin's selection has been so over the top, so bizarre, so disturbing, that I now fully understand the genius of Charles Krauthammer in "diagnosing" a new delusional thinking called Bush Derangement Syndrome. These are the people that Noonan is talking about. They are the New Left in full squeal. (They don't call themselves that; most think they're centrists, but only because they define the "center" as running right through their own belly buttons.)

They do not of course overtly say that Sarah Palin is "a real and present danger to the American left;" but their viperous attacks upon her sink to levels far worse than what they say about McCain -- which itself is far worse than anything they said about Bush (hence the term "progressives;" their attacks grow progressively viler) -- belie their overt claims that Sarah Palin will "sink the fascist ticket."

If they really thought that, they would applaud her selection and encourage her to speak out at every opportunity. Instead, they lament the stupidity of the Jesus freaks they think will elect her for no reason other than theocratic yearnings.

Over two days, for example, there were more than a hundred posts on a bulletin board I read, in several threads, exploring how the campaign would be affected by the "fact" that Sarah Palin faked her pregnancy in order to shield her daughter Bristol; they finally concluded that such deviousness clearly proved that Palin was "unfit to serve," and should immediately be dropped from McCain's ticket.

But when the actual facts emerged, when they finally realized the biological impossibility of a pregnancy that began a month before the first one ended, they finally, grudgingly, let go the absurdist allegation about the faked pregnancy.

...And then promptly concluded that the real facts -- that Bristol and Levi had gotten pregnant, had decided to keep the baby, and decided to get married -- was even stronger evidence that Sarah Palin was "unfit to serve." She was obviously a horrible mother; her fanatical "abstinence-only" program clearly was a disaster; and in fact, Bristol's pregnancy showed the moral bankruptcy of the entire population of religious people in America -- for which population the New Left has various colorful epithets.

Paul knows too nice and rational a group of Democrats. Even having been a leftist activist himself 35-40 years ago -- I know John was, and I think I recall Paul was as well -- I don't believe Paul understands the depth of insanity of today's D-activists.

Honestly, it's worse than in the 60s-early 70s: We have our own version of Weather Underground in ALF and ELF and the various Palestinian and militant Islamist groups embraced by the Left; but the madness extends much farther today than it did during the Vietnam war, stretching right up into the Democratic leadership in Congress and the Democratic nominee for president.

Even George McGovern was not as loopy in 1972 as Barack Obama is today; for one thing, McGovern was a war hero (B-24 bomber pilot in WWII), and a true, if misguided, patriot; if a preacher had said "God damn America" in McGovern's presence, he would have hauled his family out of that church and never set foot in it again. I don't recall McGovern ever trying to justify the 9/11 attacks by pointing to America's own putative perfidies.

In 1973, the Democrats in Congress legislated defeat in the Vietnam war; they attempted to do it again during this war -- and this time, they didn't even have the fig leaf of a corrupt, lying president. They had to manufacture one by calling every mistake or policy difference a "lie" that amounted to a "crime against humanity." Taking a page from William Randolph Hearst, they more or less told their dirty-tricksters, "you supply the protests, we'll supply the lies."

And lie they did and still do today, bearing false witness against John McCain -- e.g., fabricating the charge that McCain had said he wanted us to fight the Iraq war for a hundred years (lefties, including those in Congress, started calling Iraq the "Hundred Years war"). And just yesterday, Mark Bubriski, an official spokesman for the Barack H. Obama campaign, falsely asserted that Sarah Palin was a Pat Buchanan supporter -- and then even more falsely asserted that Buchanan was a "Nazi sympathizer," making Palin a "Nazi sympathizer" as well.

The Left is even madder, even more reckless of the truth, and even more prone to lying in their teeth today than back when they were doing the bidding of their Stalinist and post-Stalinist masters in Moscow. Back in the Vietnam era, the New Left were the footsoldiers; but the Old (Soviet-inspired) Left were in charge... and the latter kept the former in check -- most of the time. When they failed, when the tools broke out of the toolbox and began smashing up the joint, it was a rare enough event that it was memorable -- the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests, for instance.

But today, when "anti-violence" protesters hurl bags of sand and cement down onto buses from a highway overpass and attack a schoolbus full of Cub Scouts, rocking it back and forth and terrifying the children inside, it doesn't even warrant an editorial -- let alone a call for restraint.

Today, the New Left inmates are thoroughly in charge of the asylum, and they recognize no limits beyond which they shall not go. Sarah and Bristol Palin are starting to find that out, as is John McCain, e.g., in the claims that the torture inflicted upon McCain -- by the erstwhile Vietnamese allies of the forbears of today's Left... "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh!" -- that the torture McCain experienced itself renders him "unfit for service," because it must surely have emotionally unbalanced him!

Oh, yes; they fear Sarah Palin. They fear her for three reasons:

  • They're so mired in identity politics themselves, they cannot imagine that the rest of us are not; thus, many on the left believe that even Democratic women for whom abortion is a sacrament will vote for McCain because he has a woman on his ticket. (Which may well be true of women on the left, but the rest of them will vote for the person they consider best for the presidency.)
  • More generally, they fear any strong woman who rejects what Noonan calls "Abstract Theory feminis[m]," just as they fear Clarence Thomas and Ward Connerly far more than they fear Antonin Scalia or Gary Bauer: Apostates who leave the liberal reservation represent a much greater threat than outsiders, because they can become trailblazers.
  • Finally, I believe Dave Ross is right: Democrats fear Palin because she exposes their own inadequacy, their own cowardice... because she's more of a man than they are.

The attacks on Palin are not simply overblown, they're overwrought, hysterical, desperate. They are of a completely different character than the partisan savaging of McCain and the ideological hatred of Bush. If I had to characterize the Palin attacks, I would say they exhibit the wild, out of control rage of a man lashing out at the female friend who caught him cheating on his wife: Equal parts guilt projected as anger, fear of the consequences if she talks, and a deliberate warning (threat) that she had better keep her mouth shut if she wants to stay healthy.

Don't be deceived by the innate desire to see everyone as more or less rational; Democrats and especially leftists deeply fear the teddy, Sarah Barracuda. It has become a sick fear, driving them to stop her by any means necessary.

We have already seen Bush Derangement Syndrome; now we have to deal with Sarahphobia. Can't someone please get the Democrats the help they so urgently need?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 3, 2008, at the time of 5:28 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

A Female T.R.

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dave Ross

She’s a pistol, and she’s packing one. Just as it took Nixon to go to China, apparently it takes a Republican to name a truly appealing woman to a national ticket. And she’s just as combative as any Democrat woman has ever been, except that she’s not afraid to wear skirts. That may be because she actually looks good in one.

Republicans have never had a problem supporting strong women, we just don’t like them to remind us of our ex-wives or mothers-in-law. Consider, if you must, the Geraldine Ferraros, Hillary Clintons, Barbara Boxers and Diane Feinsteins. They make a vow of celibacy seem appealing.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, reminds you of the dish that you always wanted to steal a kiss from, except that Governor Palin could kick your butt!

I was sitting at a barbecue with five men on Saturday whose combined ages were probably about 400. One of them looked over at me and remarked. “We’re forming a club of guys who think that Sarah Palin is hot!”

Of course, it’s always been a canard that the GOP was hostile to women and minorities, despite the misinformation campaign that the Democrats have waged all these years. The first woman named to the Supreme Court was nominated by a Republican. The first and second black secretaries of state have been Republicans. Bobby Jindal, the incredibly competent governor of Louisiana, an Indian (of India), is wildly popular among the GOP.

John McCain (who, I want to remind everyone, including myself, that I still hate) is well known for his admiration of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, before he was named to be McKinley’s vice president -- in part to get him out of the hair of the New York political establishment -- was, among other things, a passionate outdoorsman and practitioner of the strenuous life. He was a reformer who wasn’t afraid to go after anybody, who made enemies right and left, who took on the powers that be and, largely, beat them up. He littered the New York political scene with his broken enemies. He was also a devoted husband who reputedly never looked at another woman, and had tons of kids. And he was a war hero.

Whom does this remind you of?

That’s right. Sarah Palin is a female T.R. She’s such a good shot that she dismissed her state police guard since she figured she could probably wing anybody who tried to mess with her. When warned that the next few weeks could be rough, she is said to have remarked that in Alaska they have a saying, “the difference between a hockey mom (which she is) and a pit bull is the lipstick.” She is a former beauty queen. She loves to hunt big animals. She is an athlete who supposedly earned the nickname “barracuda. ” She is, in short, a man’s man. Except for the beauty queen part.

Although probably the best example of her innate toughness is that she consciously chose to bring a Down Syndrome child to term and raise him. Oh yes, she also has a son going to Iraq to fight.

So, don’t expect her to be ruffled by this kerfuffle about her 17 year old unwed daughter being pregnant, or the fact that she dismissed a state police commissioner who refused to fire a state trooper who happened to be her brother-in-law and happened to have threatened her sister with violence. This is Alaska, the final frontier, after all. I’m surprised she didn’t shoot the miscreant personally.

Yes, her family has a past. But don’t tell me, and don’t tell the great majority of blue collar, pickup truck drivin', beer drinkin’, church goin’ Americans she is likely to appeal to, that her past doesn’t compare well with the effete Barack Obama or his mouthy surrogate, Joe Biden. Let the games begin!

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, September 3, 2008, at the time of 4:42 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

John McCain: Change We Can See (Blind "Belief" Unnecessary)

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

A McCainiac commenter to Big Lizards noted -- well, crowed is the better word -- that I had long opposed John S. McCain's nomination and had supported Mitt Romney; but now, Mr. Commenter notes, I won't even support Romney for vice president. Isn't that hypocritical?

The exact charge is easily answered: If Romney had won the nomination, his best choice for running mate wouldn't be John McCain, either. The running mate must complement the presidential nominee... and Romney's fitness to be president doesn't translate into rightness as vice president. (I have always thought stupid the traditional Republican tactic of the winning candidate picking his bitterest rival as his vice president; that's as bone-headed as, say, John Adams picking Thomas Jefferson.)

But the snarky comment did start me examining why I consistently disliked McCain back in 2004-2006, and off and on through 2007 -- but actually started liking him as 2008 rolled along. Am I simply rationalizing, since he won the nomination? If so, I'm in good company; an awful lot of people have made the same mental journey anent McCain... some from considerably farther away.

But as I pored through old Big Lizards posts, I realized with pleasant surprise that I am not the one who moved: The mover here has been John McCain, who quite simply became a better Republican and better candidate. He evolved; he grew in office (actually, in campaigning) -- but in the proper sense of that term.

Let me tell you how; but first, it's critical we discriminate between two different kinds of "changing one's mind":

  • A flip-flop is a policy reversal made solely for political reasons, whether macro-politics (an election or fund-raising) or micro-politics (to align yourself with you boss, your spouse, your friends).

    For example, Barack H. Obama violently opposed the very idea of the Iraq war in 2002. But then in 2003, when we appeared to be winning and sentiment for the war ran high among voters, Obama argued that we should stay and finish the job; to leave prematurely would be catastrophic.

    However, the next year, we appeared to be losing -- and the public turned hard against the war... and Obama returned to his 2002 position that the war was a horrible mistake from the beginning, and that we should just pull out immediately, and damn the consequences.

    That is a perfect example of a flip-flop.

  • A policy evolution generally means a reversal made because of a bona-fide shift in how one thinks about the issue.

    You may change your mind because the fact-base your previous position relied upon has shifted (to quote John Maynard Keynes, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"); or because somebody has made a new and persuasive argument; or because you have simply thought it through a second (or thirtieth) time and surprised yourself with an epiphany.

    For example, a man might fight for socialism in his callow youth, then undergo an economic "road to Damascus" moment and turn more conservative and capitalist in his maturity. This isn't a flip-flop, it's wising up.

The point is that changing policy is not ipso facto evidence of hypocrisy, flip-floppery, or shallowness; it depends how you changed -- and why. With that bit of pedantry out of the way, let's MoveOn.

The commenter's point begins with a small nugget of truth... but then he goes so far overboard that this tiny kernal of validity is buried under an avalanche of nonsense.

I did dislike, even despise John McCain -- back in 2004-2006; but not "around Feb/March 2008," as the commenter suggested. I felt that way because at the time, McCain was doing fairly despicable things.

First, he held a number of policy positions that could only be described as frankly Democratic, in the worst sense: The BCRA was fresh in our minds; then there was the Gang of 14, which prevented good judicial picks from being voted upon by preserving the "judicial filibuster." He opposed drilling anywhere, anytime, for any reason. And of course, he fought against the Bush tax cuts with ever fiber of his being, not only after they were proposed but even before Bush was elected, during the 2000 campaign.

Since then, however, McCain has reversed himself on several of these issues; this is why I made such a fuss above about the distinction between flip-floppery and policy evolution: I believe each of McCain's reversals is sincere, an actual evolution of his thinking; for in each case, subsequent experience has proven McCain's earlier position wrong.

  • He now sees the need for more judicial conservatives on the bench, likely because he watched as Justice Anthony Kennedy played "swing vote," taking the Supreme Court into uncharted waters, where there be dragons.
  • He now supports drilling everywhere except ANWR -- now that gasoline prices are skyrocketing and ruining the American economy. (And I have high hopes that Sarah "Barracuda" might lead McCain to the light on drilling in a tiny flyspeck of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge... the part of it that was specifically set aside for drilling when ANWR was first created.)
  • And he has "come to Jesus" on tax cuts, realizing that funding more and more government programs is not as important as letting the people who created the wealth, at all income levels, keep more and more of their own money.

(I believe he was also right on a number of issues where others were wrong, including immigration, but notably the Iraq war -- specifically the counterinsurgency we implemented on McCain's insistence; I didn't really understand McCain's position, its similarity to my "whack a mole, plug the hole" strategy, until late 2007.)

But my objection wasn't just to policy differences; after all, Rudy Giuliani's policies differ more from mine than do McCain's, and I never despised Giuliani. My real objection to the earlier McCain was his character.

McCain spent most of his time bashing George W. Bush, even to the point where I believed in 2004 that the senator was trying to elect John F. Kerry (D-rich widows, 95%); he certainly went to the mattresses defending Kerry from the charges of the Swift-Boat Vets -- and sliming the SBVT in the process. This was below and beyond what was needed to stand up for vets; after all, by definition, the Swift Boat Vets were also Vietnam vets... just like McCain and Kerry. And brutally bashing the president during his reelection campaign was completely over the top; I am as certain today as I was then that it was entirely personal (see below, the South Carolina incident of 2000).

In fact, in general, the McCain of 2004-2006 slimed anybody who disagreed with him. Back then, his hysterical temper was in full display (again, more on that later), and so forth. I considered him -- at that time -- burning with presidential fever but unfit for the office.

In August of 2006, I summed up what I disliked about McCain and why he differed from Giuliani, who had similar political positions. About McCain, I wrote:

  • The man is untrustworthy;
  • He stabs friends in the back;
  • He has a volatile, at times uncontrollable temper;
  • He holds a grudge longer than Richard Nixon did;
  • And he believes the absolute, bloody worst about anyone who disagrees with him.

I concluded the piece thus:

The primary "values and philosophies" demanded [by Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics] are not found in either man's position on the issues Bevan examines, but rather in both men's characters in a time so fraught with peril. Everything I know, I learned from Zorro, including this: "No man can govern others until he has first learned to govern himself." John McCain cannot even govern himself; I will not trust him with my country.

However, as the facts change, I change my opinion; and McCain evidently took to heart much of the criticism that was launched against him by fellow conservatives. It took a while, but he slowly reformed the worst elements of his character... and that was probably the hardest reformation he has ever undertaken.

As he did, he began to win me over. I didn't really notice it at first. I always admired his feistiness and refusal to quit and accept defeat; but it only gradually dawned on me that the gaps between McCain doing something stupid and offensive were getting longer and longer.

John McCain had one more serious lapse in late January, 2008; I took him to task (in harsh terms) here:

If this report is true -- and it certainly seems to be -- then John McCain has done a despicable thing... and has made it clearer than ever that in his heart, he is a Democrat -- and in the Clintonian mold:

John McCain accused Mitt Romney of wanting to withdraw troops from Iraq, drawing immediate protest from his Republican presidential rival who said: "That's simply wrong and it's dishonest, and he should apologize...."

I was quite angry about the false accusation McCain leveled at Romney; it was uncalled for, and it appeared to be a flat lie. But what bothered me most was that I had begun to admire McCain -- and he suddenly reverted to his older, colder self. I concluded with temper-driven intemperance:

I can draw only two possible conclusions from this shameless attack on Mitt Romney by John McCain:

  1. Either Mr. "Straight Talk" has demonstrated that he will (if he gets desperate enough) stoop to fabricating accusations against his enemies... that is, to flatly lying about them;
  2. Or else, that John McCain rejects the Petraeus plan as a betrayal and believes there should never be any drawdown in Iraq; in addition, he doesn't want even internal, secret milestones to gauge our progress there... McCain will simply know, via mystic gnosis, how it's going and what to do next.

That is, John McCain wants us to maintain our current level of 160,000 troops in Iraq indefinitely, no matter what the facts on the ground may be, and no matter what the commanding generals in the field would prefer. I can only conclude that under a John McCain presidency, Navy Captain John "Full Throttle" McCain will simply overrule his own generals and admirals based on his gut feeling and micromanage the war, as Lyndon Johnson did.

Conclusion number one means that McCain is fundamentally dishonest. Number two means that, despite his military leadership being the only real selling point he has ever had, he would in fact be a catastrophic Commander in Chief.

I wonder which conclusion is correct?

Neither, as it happens; there was a third alternative I should have considered: Back when "Hotspur" McCain was unable to govern his temper, he made many false accusations; but he didn't realize they were false, because his biliousness got the better of him and he spoke without thinking.

For an earlier example, back in 2000, some nitwit launched a vicious, dirty, push-poll attack on McCain in South Carolina, spreading the lies that McCain had "fathered a black child," that he was gay (yes, I know they contradict), that Cindy McCain was a doper, and so forth. McCain leapt to the conclusion that Bush was behind it, despite the complete lack of any evidence pointing that way, the lack of previous instances where Bush had done any such thing, and Bush's repeated denials. It was years before McCain finally let his rage at that supposed attack subside.

Thus, it is entirely possible that McCain heard something Romney said -- and leapt to the conclusion that Romney was calling for withdrawal. All Romney had said was that he hoped the White House and the Iraqis had their own secret timetables, so they could tell whether the counterinsurgency was working; McCain seems to have misheard or misunderstood this to mean Romney was demanding public timetables for withdrawal. Thus, John McCain wasn't lying... he was just grossly negligent and evinced what came perilously close to a reckless disregard for the truth.

But just a few days later, I realized it wasn't a reversion; it was a one-time lapse... and in fact, it was the last such; ever since January, McCain has not allowed his Vesuvian rage to leap up his throat and throttle his brain. At the end of January, even before Tsunami Tuesday (on February 5th), while Romney was still a viable candidate (I voted for him in California), I wrote the following, calling McCain's charisma his "greatest asset":

I believe Mitt Romney would make better decisions as president; but John McCain would be much better at explaining those decisions to the American people. Communicating with ordinary Americans has, of course, been the bête noire of the current president, and we see how vital that skill is....

So I take heart in the fact that, even though I still think Mitt Romney would be the better policy maker in the White House, John McCain is considerably more likely to keep the property in Republican hands.

And who knows? I strongly suspect his ability to connect with, and therefore communicate with the American people will actually make McCain more effective at selling the 80% of his policies that actually match those of mainstream Republican conservatives -- than a candidate who is with them 100% of the time, but just can't move people the way McCain can. In other words, McCain will probably end up being a more effective conservative Republican president than any of the current flock of actual conservative Republicans.

It's a sobering thought, but one that is hard to deny. Such is the power of the greatest asset.

Again, Mitt Romney was still a viable rival to McCain at this point; it wasn't until two days after Tsunami Tuesday that Romney suspended his campaign. My post then hardly fits the bill of someone who thought "that McCain would be a disaster and Romney would be a triumphant march to the WH," as Mr. Commenter wrote.

The commenter's memory of the contretemps is largely irrelevant; but I'm glad he brought it up, for it gave me a chance to review my past posting and realize how far John McCain has come in making himself -- for want of a better term -- a "kinder and gentler" campaigner. I am convinced that the McCain of two years ago would absolutely have picked Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 70% D) -- or at least Lindsey Graham (R-, 83%) -- as his running mate... not Gov. Sarah Palin.

And that, I believe, is why so many conservatives, who once despised him, now embrace him: Not because they have changed what they demand in a presidential nominee, not because they are hypocritical or simply pragmatic, but because McCain himself, like good cheese, has finally mellowed with age.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 3, 2008, at the time of 4:47 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 1, 2008

The Verdict Is In: McCain Chooses "Transformative" Over "Kicking the Can"

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I think John S. McCain (or his staff) must have been reading Big Lizards back in March. If so, they can't have missed our pair of posts on selecting a running mate, in which we argued that McCain must eschew the "known quantities," like Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, or Rudy Giuliani... and instead pick his VP with a wow factor in mind; only then can the 2008 election be transformative, not simply kicking the can down the road:

In those two posts I tried to develop the concept of a transformative election: one that established a new direction for a party, ferrying it into the future. A transformative election required two criteria:

  • A new, future-looking direction, taking the party away from yesterday and towards a new tomorrow;
  • A significant enough victory that the candidate who embodies that new direction -- whether the president, vice president, or both -- has a mandate to move with authority to establish it.

Here is how I phrased it, from the first post:

What are we looking for? Maybe someone a little bit dangerous, a man or woman who sometimes is the story, just as McCain often is the story. A William Jennings Bryan, a George S. Patton. But young enough that he or she could plausibly follow McCain as president in four or eight years -- so nix on Bud Selig, who is actually older than McCain.

And from the second:

Simply put, if Republicans care about the future of the party, we cannot afford yet another narrow presidential victory. Of course it's better than a narrow loss; but it does nothing to build the brand. People are drifting away, because there is no longer anything exciting or daring about being Republican -- as there was in the 1980s.

We're losing the vision edge to the Democrats in the twenty-first century. You always must bear in mind that the Left has an automatic edge on "vision," because they're entirely defined by their vision of utopia and bringing about heaven on earth, right here and now.

This is a huge draw, especially to the young, as Jonah Goldberg argues in Liberal Fascism: Yutes always want to believe there is something sui generis about them that makes them uniquely qualified to rule the world. We on the anti-liberal side must first batter down this autogenerated conceit before showing them why our philosophy is more exciting.

Narrow victories like 2000 and 2004 do little to awaken people to the implicit failure of progressivism, and to the alternative philosophies out there... Capitalism, conservatism, and individual and family responsibility, as opposed to statism and "it takes a village (or a nation) to raise a child." With an unorthodox candidate like John McCain, we have the opportunity to wrench this election out of the normal mode on the Republican side... and we're fools if we don't roll those dice.

But I want to focus like a Fresnel lens, pulling in all the disparate threads and sending them off in parallel: Exactly what "newness" is it that John S. McCain brings to this election, and how could Sarah Palin use it four years hence to rebrand the Republican Party?

Principled pragmatism

Pragmatism has historically been associated with socialism -- code for the unprincipled will to power. Jonah Goldberg equates the fascist and liberal fascist appeals to pragmatism to mindless motion, to the socialist mantra of "action, action, action!" Constant movement prevents the masses from thinking but offers the illusion of progress; they have no idea where they're being driven, but by God they'll get there quickly! The mob depends upon its leader, who of course mercilessly exploits the rabble' brute energy.

Contrariwise, the Republican and conservative philosophIes have always been about principles, not pragmatics. I would even say we're sometimes too principled for our own (and everyone else's) good. To over-oversimplify, the utopian-socialist impulse is towards chaos reigning supreme, while conservatism all too often degenerates into "stasis über alles." In practical terms, the GOP is known derisively as "the party of orderly succession;" it's what gave us George H.W. Bush in 1988 (and almost in 1980) and Blob Dole in 1996.

McCain's great insight is that the two philosophies don't contradict, they complement each other. Pragmatism without principle is indeed utter chaos; this is what we see from Barack H. Obama, where, like Walt Whitman, he contains multitudes of contradictions. You never know what Obama will do from one moment to the next, because he is guided only by political calculation of the moment. When the parting on the left becomes the parting on the right, he turns on a dime and gives two nickles change, flipping from calling the Iraq war a crime against humanity to saying we need to stick it out until we win to saying we need to pull out immediately, no matter what the cost of defeat.

But on the other shoe, principled stances without practical means of implementing them equal magnificent failures. Ronald Reagan understood this; and he was the last transformative president of either major party: Politics is more than the art of the merely possible; it must be the art of the workable. McCain gets it, while most Republicans in the House and Senate do not. Time and again, John McCain looks at all possible options and picks therefrom those which have plausible paths to victory, discarding the rest as childish utopianism.

Sometimes this means raising the pot with the worst hand, believing that the hand will improve, as he did by talking President George W. Bush into authorizing the Iraq counterinsurgency. Sometimes it means folding a busted hand without losing too many chips, hoping for a stronger hand tomorrow -- as he seemingly did on the issue of judges. And yes, many times I have disagreed with McCain's vision of what is realistically achievable: He was clearly right on Iraq, but I still believe he was egregiously, madly wrong with his "Gang of 14."

Regardless of whether we agree with his analysis of any one particular issue, McCain's philosophy is clear: He believes that even if X is the most principled cause, if there is no plausible way to implement it, and if repeated attempts cause Republicans to lose power, then how does that advance cause X?

Reaganless Reaganism

It amazes me that we really haven't taken such an approach since Reagan. Reagan famously said that if half-a-loaf were all he could get, he would take it -- then use that as a springboard to try for the other half. But Reagan, recall, was followed not by a Reaganite but by the man who dubbed Reagan's economic ideas "voodoo economics," George H.W. Bush. Then Clinton, who obviously wouldn't follow in Reagan's footsteps, and then George W. Bush.

Bush-43 came closer than either of his two predecessors; but I think he might have been trying too hard to be different from his father -- and instead of harkening back to the Reagan style, Bush-43 tried (in his first term) to go for the pure principles of conservatism (with some concessions made for it being "compassionate" conservatism), rather than marrying principles to pragmatic considerations. Then in his second term, he pendulumed back towards too much pragmatism -- particularly on foreign policy (except Iraq).

In the meanwhile, after Republicans took over Congress after the 1994 elections, they seem to have driven the party into an "all or nothing" stance anent conservative principles: If we can't get everything, then we'd rather have nothing at all. We saw this most clearly in the debate over the immigration bill, where hard-core conservatives killed the entire bill -- thus assuring crushing levels of illegal immigration into the forseeable future -- rather than allow even one, single illegal-immigrant to come out of the shadows without having to flee back to Mexico or El Salvador or Venezuela first.

As a statement of principle, it was consistent, clear, and unambiguous; as a workable policy, it was a colossal failure.

A mighty wind

We see the Reaganesque approach today, I say, in McCain's response to Hurricane Gustav threatening the Gulf coast during the Republican National Convention. John Hinderaker at Power Line is in a lather about McCain kow-towing to the Democratic line on Hurricane Katrina by "cutting back" on the GOP convention this year. John writes:

This preemptive hurricane hysteria reflects, of course, the unfair beating the Bush administration took over Hurricane Katrina. Liberal reporters were worried about the ascendancy of the Republican Party, as President Bush had been elected the preceding November with more votes than had ever been cast for a Presidential candidate. As a result, reporters and editors were not above misleading and outright fabricated reports of events in New Orleans, as long as such reports could be twisted to reflect badly on the Bush administration.

When, in the following days and weeks, it developed that much of what television networks and newspapers had reported about Katrina was false, there was no investigation into the sources of this journalistic malpractice. Rather, the facts were quietly buried and the myth of Bush indifference lives on.

The Republicans would be much better served to proceed with their convention as scheduled, but devote some prime time to revisiting Katrina and rebutting the false claims that have circulated for the last three years. [Emphasis added]

Hinderaker's diagnosis is naturally correct; of course McCain is thinking of Hurricane Katrina. But Hinderaker's prescription, just bulling ahead with the presidential bacchanal as planned, would be disastrous: Imagine the elite media broadcasting images of the usual celebrating and clowning at the convention -- accompanied by bursts of "rebutting the false [Katrina] claims," that would come across as self-righteous and peevish lectures -- juxtaposed with heart-rending images of towns and cities being destroyed (maybe even split screen!)... with frequent interruptions from elite anchors warning, in sepulchral tones, of devastation "even worse than Katrina."

It would be like 2005 all over again. And again. And again.

But if the entire convention has a somber but hopeful tone to it, urging Americans to help out -- to donate blood and money, to send food, to open their houses to any refugees -- with politicians all talking endlessly about emergency plans and delegates having to return home to see to their families, and all the speeches altered to highlight the best of American generosity and common cause... can you not see, on the crassest level, how much better theater it will be, how much more effective to the larger cause?

(On an even cleverer tactical level, it gives us the perfect opportunity to forgo a speech by the widely and deeply unpopular president and vice president -- without it appearing that we're dissing George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. The pending natural disaster gives us an ironclad excuse. And if we get really lucky, Democrats will repeatedly accuse McCain of cutting back on the convention as a political ploy. The Democrats will thus appear as paranoid weirdos, and we'll win a second round.)

This, I believe, is what Reagan would have done under similar circumstances... because he truly cared about people (as McCain does), but also with the deep understanding that a curtailed GOP convention that almost turns into a telethon for the hurricane victims (as John suggested, not entirely seriously) will serve us much better politically than a typical quadrennial nominating circus. It's what voters love most: Americans coming together to help those in need.

Back to the future

So John McCain's "new" idea is to return to a process that worked extremely well, for the most part, in the early to mid-1980s: Establish strong conservative and Republican principles, but then be pragmatic about achieving as much of them as possible.

(In an ironic twist, one of the few areas where the Reagan technique failed utterly was amnesty for illegal aliens. But we learned a lot from that bitter betrayal by the Democrats; and the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, which spawned from the ashes of 2005's McCain-Kennedy, was carefully written to avoid that particular pitfall.)

Reaganism prevailed primarily because of his own overwhelming charisma and indominable will; his success was largely personality-driven. But when Reagan left office, many of his reforms (e.g., tax cuts and tax-code simplification, his military buildup, his firm line against Communist states) were undone by subsequent presidents and Congresses: They had been held in place only by Reagan himself.

McCain has a lot of charisma, but certainly not at the level of Ronald Reagan. This means that for McCain to succeed, he will have to do so by force of argument, not force of personality. (If Reagan is George Washington, the McCain must be more like John Adams.) The upside is that, should McCain succeed -- which I think he will -- his success will be longer lasting... it will survive his retirement, which was not true of many aspects of Reaganism. I believe McCain will be able to craft pragmatic but principled compromises that will last generations.

This is especially true now that he has chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate. More than anybody except perhaps Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana (who was not available), Palin embodies the exact kind of principled conservative pragmatism and reform that Ronald Reagan demonstrated but could never pass along -- very possibly because Reagan, for his own VP, he followed the traditional route of picking his closest competitor for the nomination. If so, it was a failure of nerve that undid Reagan's legacy.

McCain has enough experience to be a plausible candidate for president today; Palin will accumulate enough experience to be a plausible one in 2012... as will Jindal, though by a different route (four years of governorship). I expect the Republican nomination battle between Jindal and Palin will be a clash of the titans.

If McCain beats Obama by a substantial margin, as I anticipate, accompanied by Sarah "Barracuda," then they will truly transform the Republican Party and conservatism, finally and irrevocably establishing their direction for the first decades of the twenty-first century.

Thank goodness McCain didn't pick a "known quantity" like Romney or Pawlenty.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2008, at the time of 6:49 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin, How's By You? How's By You?

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Over on Power Line, both John Hinderaker and Paul Mirengoff have reacted very negatively to hints that John S. McCain may be about to select Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Both are long-time boosters of Mitt Romney, and recently both have been hopeful that either Romney or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty would get the nod. Alas, I believe both Power Liners may be allowing their perfectly respectable bias in favor of Romney and Pawlenty to taint their reaction to Palin's political and substantive potential. (If the lads at Power Line have any flaw at all -- and I'm not sure they have -- it's an almost irresistable tendency towards conventional thinking.)

What John and Paul see as a mere stunt, equivalent to Walter Mondale picking Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, could instead be seen by voters as a very exciting selection. It doesn't smack of "desperation" or a "Hail Mary," as John predicts, so much as a willingness to make a bold statement of change.

As I read through Palin's Wikipedia entry, I'm struck by how many elements of her life and career would play extremely well in the campaign:

  • She's very pro-life and very conservative on many issues, but she is not a scary hard-core conservative.
  • She ran an extraordinary campaign, knocking off the incumbent governor and former senator Frank Murkowski in the primary, then walking all over the Democrat former governor Tim Knowles with hobnailed boots in the general. And she did all this in the teeth of a deliberate and vindictive effort by the Alaska GOP establishment to engineer her loss... even though that would mean the Democrat's victory.
  • One of the Democrats' traditional attacks on Republicans -- and the Republicans' worst nightmare recently -- is ethics; Palin owns this issue, having ridden it into the governor's mansion (probably a Quonset hut; this is Alaska).

    She went against her own, highly corrupt Alaska Republican Party to do so (which is why they worked to defeat her, even in the general election: The old guard was enraged). Since then, she killed Sen. Ted Stevens' (R-A, 64%) "bridge to nowhere," rejected earmarks slated for Alaska, and gained an enviable reputation of honesty and independence from monetary interests.

  • She's especially good on energy issues, which is either the hottest (sorry) or second hottest campaign issue this year. She supports drilling everywhere; but she's also a global-warming gal. This doesn't impress me, of course; but it's certainly more in tune with the electorate today than am I.
  • She also happens to have a stunning approval rating in Alaska... upwards of 80% or so.
  • Sarah Palin would simply remove the Democratic issues of ethics, energy, and especially "change" from the campaign. What will that leave them?

I think she would be an excellent running mate. To forestall the accusation of "affirmative action," McCain should openly admit that the fact that she was female influenced his decision; but he should reiterate over and over that his bottom of the ticket pick is certainly more qualified to the presidency, in terms of executive experience, that the Democrats' top of the ticket.

I picture McCain saying something like, "I started thinking about Sarah while Sen. Clinton was still battling Sen. Obama for the nomination; it's about time we broke one or the other longstanding electoral barrier by guaranteeing either a black president or a female vice president."

And besides... Palin stands for something -- and she has excellent judgment.

He could also turn her relative lack of significant experience into a positive: "At least, between the two major parties, we'll have somebody running who isn't a member of the world's most exclusive club, the old-boy network of the United States Senate!"

I don't know how well she debates, but Joe Biden is no powerhouse there. The attacks he would make are very predictable, and she can be drilled (sorry) on the answers. For example, if he demands, "When have you ever dealt with a foreign leader, voted on going to war, or held committee hearings on a proposed treaty?" then she can respond, "When have you ever met a payroll, balanced a budget, or authorize a new oil pipeline?" She'll get the cheer -- not he.

If Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska turns out to be McCain's pick, she will energize the campaign and attract a lot of younger voters, voters who will probably be repelled by the ultimate "Beltway boy," Joe Biden. And while she doesn't strike me as immediately plausible as president, neither does Biden or Obama himself; but give Palin a term or two as vice president, and few would deny that she would then be qualified to run for the big office herself (assuming she acquits herself well at the Naval Observatory).

Then Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal could run against each other; and if the former wins the nomination, the latter could serve his own turn on the griddle.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 29, 2008, at the time of 8:11 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

August 28, 2008

Some Very Heartening Numbers That Aren't Getting Nearly Enough Attention, You Know

Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , Presidential Pomp and Circumcision
Hatched by Dafydd

Most of the polling buzz seems to center around the Gallup tracking poll -- which for the first time during the Democratic National Convention shows a small bounce (up to +6) for Barack H. Obama. But there are some other numbers that belie the idea that the convention has spawned a significant -- or even noticible -- surge towards the Democrats (yet).

Gallup notes that the pre-convention tracking poll found Obama and John S. McCain in a dead-even tie, 45-45; so this represents a 6-point bounce on this particular poll. But -- and this is a very big but -- Obama's support still remains below 50%; he has a 48-42 lead over McCain.

This is significant because, in the history of this tracking poll, from the end of March until today, Barack Obama has never been above 50%; and John McCain has never been below 40%. In fact, Obama was up to 49% in late July -- a point higher than today -- and McCain was a point lower then. So the so-called "bounce" is still within the cosmic background noise of this particular poll. (And bear in mind, Gallup is polling registered voters, not likely voters; we have no idea how much of the increased support comes from people unlikely to translate that mini-surge into actual votes two months hence.)

It's entirely possible that tomorrow -- or by Monday, when the first fully post-convention number are released -- Obama will be up to 54% or 56%; nobody has a working crystal ball (especially not Larry Sabato). But at the moment, at least, Obama is doing no better than he generally has in the months before the convention.

And this is only one poll: According to Real Clear Politics' polling aggregation today, the other major tracking poll, Rasmussen daily tracking, shows no bounce at all so far. In the final three-days before the convention -- the poll released on Monday the 25th, showing polling from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday -- Obama was ahead by 4% (46-42) without leaners and 3% (48-45) when leaners were added in. The poll released today shows Obama ahead by only 1% (45-44) without leaners -- and dead even (47-47) with leaners added. Thus according to Rasmussen, Obama's lead has declined by 3% during the convention (again, so far).

As with the Gallup tracking poll, Obama has never been above 50% going all the way back to early June (not including leaners; he had three days of exactly 50% in early June if you include leaners). Similarly, he has enjoyed an 8% or 7% lead many times in that tracking poll... far better than the 1% (0%) he has right now.

We also have some puzzling non-tracking, pre-convention polling. The USA Today/Gallup poll in late July had McCain up by 4; and just before the convention, it had Obama up by 3, a 7-point gain for the One; but over that same period, the CNN poll had Obama up by 7 in late July, and just before the convention, it had them dead even -- a 7-point loss for Obama! Such the "science" of polling.

But I find some other numbers even more encouraging: the polling on the "generic congressional vote." This number derives from pollsters who ask variations on "do you plan to vote for the Democrat or the Republican in congressional races this November?" with no specific candidate names mentioned. It measures party strength... rather, it measures people's feelings about each party's "brand name."

Democrats usually do much better on this poll -- especially this far out -- than they end up doing in the election itself. And even the raw election numbers favor Democrats more than the actual results do, since the raw data include huge leads for seats with Democratic incrumbents.

At the moment, averaging across all polls conducted entirely within this month, the Democratic advantage on the generic poll is in single digits, a scant 8.4%. To put this in perspective, for all the polls conducted in July (in whole or in part), the generic advantage for Democrats was 12% -- it has dropped 4% in one month. This includes polls that have not yet been released this month, such as the AP/Ipsos, which might come in stronger for the Democrats (AP usually does); but even comparing the August polls to the previous versions of the exact same set of polls (USA Today/Gallup then and now, Fox News then and now, NBC-Wall Street Journal, Battleground, Rasmussen), the generic advantage for Democrats was 11%... so it's at least a 3% drop no matter how you cut it.

This is very, very important; even if McCain is elected president, if there is a huge surge of Democrats into Congress, he will be forced to work with them and will perforce shift left; if there is not -- if Republicans in the Senate still have enough reliable members to filibuster, for example, and if there is no chance of a veto-override in either the House or Senate -- then more than likely, ultra-liberal legislation won't even land on President McCain's desk.

Finally, one more number that made me smile. The RCP average of President George W. Bush's job approval is now up to 30%, having been as low as the mid-twenties earlier. He's on a roll!

(Congress, led by Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid, D-Caesar's Palace, 85%, and Squeaker of the House Nancy "NARAL" Pelosi, D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%, is now down to an RCP average of 17.3% approval. If this number continues to drop as we approach the election, I'll have to ask -- is it possible for measured job approval to be a negative number?)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 28, 2008, at the time of 5:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ditto

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , Russkie Resurgence
Hatched by Dafydd

Here's an eye-opening comparison. First, read this:

The international community collectively held their breath waiting for the reaction of Russia after the savage, brutal, criminal attack by Georgia on South Ossetia. After having offered a cease fire in hostilities, the back stabbing Georgians immediately violated the cease fire, invading South Ossetia and causing massive destruction and death among innocent civilians, among peacekeepers and also destroying a hospital....

Georgian troops attempted to storm the city [Tskhinval] much as Hitler‘s Panzer divisions blazed through Europe. Also noteworthy is the fact that Georgian tanks and infantry were being aided by Israeli advisors, a true indicator that this conflict was instigated by outside forces....

Relating what has become common practice among war criminals, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reported: "A Russian humanitarian convoy has come under fire. Panic is growing among the local population, and the number of refugees is increasing. There are reports of ethnic cleansing in some villages... The situation is ripe for a humanitarian catastrophe...."

Ask anyone in the Caucasus region, and they will tell you never to trust a Georgian because they would shake your hand with a smile and then stab you in the back. On Friday morning, we saw a perfect example of this treachery, when hours after declaring a ceasefire, Georgian military units launched a savage attack on the civilians of South Ossetia.

Hours after Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili, the pro-western Washington-backed anti-democratic stooge (attacks on opposition policians in Georgia are rife) declared a unilateral ceasefire, the Georgian army lanched a savage attack on the capital of the province of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, with tanks and infantry, while the air force bombed a village and strafed a Russian humanitarian aid convoy.

And now tell me if you don't detect a certain similarity of style here:

Tonight, WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears. He's currently scheduled to spend a solid two-hour block from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. pushing lies, distortions, and manipulations about Barack and University of Illinois professor William Ayers.

Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of political discourse...

Kurtz has been using his absurd TV appearances in an awkward and dishonest attempt to play the terrorism card. His current ploy is to embellish the relationship between Barack and Ayers.

Just last night on Fox News, Kurtz drastically exaggerated Barack's connection with Ayers by claiming Ayers had recruited Barack to the board of the Annenberg Challenge. That is completely false and has been disproved in numerous press accounts.

It is absolutely unacceptable that WGN would give a slimy character assassin like Kurtz time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our public airwaves. At the very least, they should offer sane, honest rebuttal to every one of Kurtz's lies.

The first is a pair of propaganda pieces anent the Russian-Georgian war, taken from Pravda, as you probably guessed. The second is an e-mail sent out by the Barack H. Obama campaign to activists in Chicago.

One thing is clear: Those many years Obama spent poring over the purple prose of Saul Alinsky have certainly paid off.

But what has the rest of us gotten ourselves into?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 28, 2008, at the time of 6:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 27, 2008

That Ain't No "Temple"

Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The Weekly Standard published this photograph of the set for Barack H. Obama's grand speech Thursday night at Denver's Invesco Field:



Set for Obama speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention

Set for Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Everybody, including the Standard, has described this set as "a miniature Greek temple;" the post above is titled "the Temple of Obama." Alas, everybody but me has it all wrong.

Here is a zoom on that section of the photograph showing the ersatz colonnade:



Colonnade set

Colonnade set

That's not a Greek temple at all. But it certainly seems quite familiar, doesn't it? Imagine viewing it from the grandstand... do you get it?

If you're still uncertain, take a look at this picture. See any similarities?



White House

White House, Washington D.C.

Yes sir, having previously designed his own Obamic presidential seal, B.O. now constructs his own, private White House. But like everything else in Obama's campaign, it's nought but a pretty facade with nothing behind it... half of a soap bubble.

There's a moral in here somewhere, but darned if I can suss it out. However, I do wonder what comes next. Starting next week, will Obama begin delivering his airy-fairy, canned speeches from his very own knock-off of the Oval Office?

I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer rescues the set from the old Merv Griffin Show from the dumpster, sets it up in his living room, and proceeds to create mock talk shows with Jerry, Elaine, and George, just as if he really were Griffin (a weird and bizarre Griffin). Eventually, Kramer becomes so consumed by the fantasy that he cannot stop.

Isn't there something more than a little creepy about one of the two major candidates spending hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars playing "dress-up" with the trappings of the presidency?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 27, 2008, at the time of 6:18 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 26, 2008

Doesn't Anybody Have Obama's Cell?

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

According to Real Clear Politics, Team Obama just released a press statement that begins thus:

I condemn Russia's decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states and call upon all countries of the world not to accord any legitimacy to this action. The United States should call for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to condemn Russia's decision in coordination with our European allies. The U.S. should lead within the UN and other international forums to cast a clear and unrelenting light on the decision, and to further isolate Russia internationally because of its actions.

I am astonished that Barack H. Obama still, even today, doesn't know that Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council... and as such has veto authority over any "condemnation" the United States might push in the UNSC. Evidently, even after his last UN-Russia gaffe, nobody on his campaign staff picked up the phone and called the principal to enlighten him.

Alternatively, perhaps the One is so enlightened anyway that such illuminating calls from the rabble are discouraged.

I also find it illuminating that even now, the only concrete action Obama suggests to put some teeth into his condemnation is to call an international forum and wag our finger at Vladimir Putin. Perhaps the One We Have Been Waiting For has been spending too much time with the One Who Did Not Have Sex With That Woman.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 26, 2008, at the time of 1:40 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

August 22, 2008

Do You Really Think Obama Will Get That "15% Bounce?"

Elections , Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

That's what Huge Hewgitt said today, echoing what Fred Barnes said yesterday and the McCain campaign has been pushing for a week or so now. But I think it's nonsense on stilts.

Why do candidates traditionally get a bounce from their parties' conventions? Because until then, they've barely been seen by ordinary (non-activist) voters; they've popped up in occasional televised clips from some speech on the nightly news, in a campaign ad, maybe a newspaper interview. In ordinary elections, the convention is the first time that a whopping, huge segment of voters actually tunes in to see what the candidate is all about: Thus, many of them form their first impressions during or after the convention.

If the candidate has anything at all going for him, he gets a bit bounce, as people say, "So that's who he is! Nice feller." Of course sometimes, the reaction is, "So that's who he is -- what a pompous jackass!" Then you have the Kerry Phenomenon... a 1-point "bounce" in the polls (otherwise known as a 1-point dull, sickening thud).

But season we've seen wall-to-wall coverage of every last prophetic revelation by the One. The TV and radio stations follow him around with cameras and microphones, and they broadcast every utterance that trickles from his lips.

Breathes there a man or woman in America today who hasn't had his brain saturated, even oversaturated, with lashings of Barack H. Obama for the last twelvemonth? We've all been force-fed his vapid speeches, his cheap audacity, his empty-suited hope. Everybody knows virtually everything about the man -- and many of them are already annoyed at his grandiosity, his hyperinflated self-esteem -- "We are the Ones that we have been waiting for," sooth! -- and his ludicrous pretensions and self-delusions:

Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then 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!

Who in this last, best hope on Earth -- apart from those actively working on his campaign, who are probably already in his corner -- is burning with curiosity to see Obama give a speech? How many more are burning with exasperation that they can't hardly swing a dead cat without hitting Obama making yet another speech carried live by all eighteen networks? Who besides yellow-dog Democrats is going to breathlessly tune in to the Democratic National Convention from Monday through Thursday to be transported across Elysian fields by the transcendent rhetoric of Senator B.O.?

I have a feeling this is going to be a very disappointing "bounce" for the Democrats this year, just as I (correctly) predicted the same for 2004. I think Obama's bounce is going to be no more than a jumping flea... say, 5% at most; and it will be gone by the time the GOP convention begins on September 1st, just four days after the Democratic convention ends.

Contrariwise, a lot fewer people know anything about John S. McCain, other than the disrespectful and risible caricature pushed by the elite media and by Obama himself in campaign ads. I suspect that a lot more truly undecided voters will watch the Republican National Convention, many of them moderate Republicans, independents, and even moderate Democrats; and they will come away much more favorably impressed by McCain than they were beforehand. Therefore, McCain will get a bigger bounce from the GOP convention than will Obama from the Democratic convention.

Who's with me on this? Do you all think this is going to be a blowout bounce for Barack?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 22, 2008, at the time of 6:55 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

A Wicked Prank - Oh, How I Wish!

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

With Barack H. Obama coyly dragging out the naming of his running mate, I just thought of a truly inspired way (if I may toot my own kazoo) that John S. McCain could ambush the inexperienced senator from Illinois.

Imagine if today, McCain were to call a press conference -- and name his own running mate before Obama names his!

That would turn today into a huge McCain-news day, forcing Obama to put off naming his VP, lest it have no impact at all. But he can't wait; the convention is starting Monday, I think. So either Obama has to withhold the unveiling until the convention speech... or else he has to name his "fellow traveler" tomorrow, in the wake of McCain's announcement. Either way, McCain takes the initiative, and Obama is reduced to saying "me too!" like Rudy, the little joey of the Sour Kangaroo in Horton Hears a Who.

And think how it would throw the Obama campaign into a quagmire, as the Democrat begins second-guessing his own pick. Can he un-invite someone from the ticket? Or would he be forced to stick with his choice, even if McCain's choice makes some other Democrat more strategic?

Alas, it'll never happen. Steve Schmidt, McCain's campaign capo di tutti i capi, isn't that clever. Or perhaps not that wicked.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 22, 2008, at the time of 1:47 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 21, 2008

John McCain: Safe As Houses - minor update

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

So John S. McCain is "rich" and "out of touch" because he didn't know offhand how many residences he and his wife own. Right? Well, perceptions sometimes overrule reality; but for this post, let's talk about the reality.

Cindy McCain inherited a vast fortune, today worth possibly as much as $100 million, from her beer-distributing father, James Hensley; Hensley & Co. is one of the largest distributers for Anheuser-Busch. When you have what Friend Lee's grandfather calls "a lotta hell money," you would be a fool to manage it yourself. You have a veritable army of accountants, probably at several different firms, each specializing in a different aspect of money management.

Anybody who has ever had a 401K or IRA account and chosen to let professionals manage it -- which includes a great many middle-income Americans who are not by any stretch of the imagination "rich" -- understands McCain's dilemma... do all those people really know, offhand, exactly what stocks, bonds, commodities, or real properties in which their accounts are invested?

Cindy McCain probably knows; Politico should have asked her. But the question they asked McCain wrongly implies that McCain has so many residences in which he lives that he doesn't know how many... kind of like Saddam Hussein and his palaces.

In fact, the McCains own eight properties; but five of them are investment properties, some of which their kids (and one elderly aunt) are allowed to occupy in the meantime. John and Cindy McCain don't live in those properties themselves.

McCain knows exactly how many houses they have for personally living in; two: a condo in Phoenix, Arizona, and a house in Arlington, VA (used when the Senate is in session). (The Obamas also own at least two properties, one in Illinois and one near D.C.) They also have a ranch in Sedona, AZ, that McCain uses for Senate-related business, and which Cindy sometimes uses for entertaining business clients. The other five properties -- two condos in Phoenix, two in Coronado, CA, and one in La Jolla, CA -- are for long-term investment and for their kids, with one condo for Cindy McCain's aunt.

McCain made the mistake of trying to answer the question honestly and completely when Politico asked; he didn't know how many properties his wife had for investment purposes, and he said so:

Q: How many houses do you and Mrs. McCain have?

A: I think -- I'll have my staff get to you. It's condominiums where -- I'll have them get to you.

It's a classic "gotcha" question: Politico didn't ask, "how many houses do you and Mrs. McCain have as your own personal residences;" so rather than give the dishonest answer of "two," he was honest and included the condos they own as investments. That was a figure he wouldn't know (Cindy has bought several recently)... and likely neither would Sens. John Kerry (D-MA, 95%), Ted Kennedy (D-MA, 85%), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 90%), Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%), or any other very rich person who had investment portfolios managed by accountants, know exactly how many real-estate investments they have.

(Had McCain answered only as to his personal residences, the headline would have been, "McCain Lies About Number of Houses He Owns!")

Is McCain very rich today? Absolutely yes; he married an heiress. But Barack H. Obama is at least quite rich himself, earning millions of dollars a year on royalties that are, to a large extent, driven by his presidential candidacy. And unlike Obama, McCain has never argued that wealth is a sin that should be punished by confiscatory taxation.

How about the other question: Is McCain "out of touch" with concerns of the typical voter? That question, coming from somebody with the background of Obama, is laughable. Let's take a look at a few side-by-side comparisons:

Birth and childhood

  • First, Barack Obama was born in Hawaii to parents who both went on to earn advanced degrees -- his father as Harvard economist, his mother as a PhD anthoropologist.
  • John McCain was an Army brat who moved numerous times during his childhood, as his father was deployed to various military bases (McCain was born at the Coco Solo Naval Air Station's base hospital, in the Panama Canal Zone, during one of those deployments). One of his grandfathers was an admiral; the other was a bootlegger and illegal gambling-den owner.
  • McCain was shunted to one military base school after another, and was also home-schooled by his stay-at-home mother. For his junior-high years, McCain attended a religious school, St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School in Alexandria, VA; then his father was transferred again, and McCain naturally followed. All in all, McCain attended 20 different schools... at most of which he got in disciplinary trouble for fighting and talking back.
  • Obama's family moved to Indonesia for a number of years; then at age 10, Obama moved back to Hawaii (joined by his mother the next year), where he enrolled in an elite, new-leftist, private prep school, Punahou School, for his junior-high and high school education.

Higher education

  • Obama went for two years to Occidental College, then shifted to ultra-liberal Columbia University in New York City for his bachelor's degree -- in political science and international relations, of course.

    After graduation, he worked for a few years as a "community organizer" in Chicago (he has never adequately explained what that meant); then he attended Harvard Law School... where he was selected as editor of the Harvard Law Review without ever having written (or submitted) an article to that legal journal. [Actually, one anonymous "note," said to be written by Obama, has been found; it doesn't appear to amount to much. See Power Line for details.]

  • McCain attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria, where he took two letters in wrestling and played junior varsity football and tennis. He also got in trouble for fighting, earning two nicknames -- "Punk" and "McNasty."

    He had mediocre grades, but he got into Annapolis on the basis of an entrance exam. He managed to graduate, despite frequently getting in trouble for rebeliousness, being a maverick, and fighting (do we detect a pattern here?) But despite the many Naval Academy traditions he violated, he never violated any tradition related to honor, courage, or duty; he was just a frequent jackass.

Military service

  • John McCain served honorably in the United States Navy for 27 years, rising to the rank of Captain (the Navy equivalent of Colonel in the other branches). During that time, he was awarded 15 medals and decorations from the United States Navy and two from the Republic of Vietnam. The former include the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Legion of Merit with Combat-V and one gold star, and of course a Purple Heart for wounds that nearly killed him when he was shot down, shot, beaten, and bayoneted in the belly.

    He was held as a prisoner of war for five and a half years, during which he was tortured, beaten, starved, and confined in appallingly unhygienic conditions.

    Upon return, he attended the U.S. Naval War College; later he commanded the largest aviation squadron (50 A-7 Corsairs) in the Navy, RAG VA-174 "Hellrazors." He got his final promotion to Captain, then was assigned to head the Senate Liaison Office within the Navy.

  •  

     

     

     

On beyond college and service

  • After getting his J.D. at the ripe, old age of 31, Barack Obama was hired by the University of Chicago, where they paid him to write his voluminous memoirs. After several years writing, he and Michelle jetted off to Bali for a number of months for some peace and quiet.

    The memoirs of Obama's adventurous life were eventually published as Dreams From My Father. For twelve years, before and after writing Dreams, he was also a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.

    While being paid as a full-time lecturer, he also served in the Illinois State Senate, was briefly employed by a law firm, and sat on seven boards of directors for various left-wing foundations, funds, and committees. Then he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

    Certainly nobody could call such a curriculum vitae "elitist!"

  • After leaving the Navy, McCain served two terms as a U.S. Representative from Arizona, then was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he is now serving in his fourth term. As you can clearly see, John McCain grew up and lived his life almost exactly like the little guy with the top hat and spats in the Monopoly game.

Now that I think about it, I believe John S. McCain is more "elite" than Barack H. Obama, at least in one respect: McCain has the eliteness of merit, talent, duty, sacrifice, military service, and above all, honor... while Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.

Yeah. A fight between these two gentlemen over who is more in touch with ordinary people? Bring it on.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 21, 2008, at the time of 7:08 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 20, 2008

The McCainville Nine-Pointer

Elections , Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Back in June, I wrote a post, Obama Campaign More or Less Concedes Ohio and Florida to McCain, in which I finished with an obscure reference that I think needs amplification:

All in all, I believe McCain has many more paths to victory than does Obama; and I also believe that if John McCain will finally take off the gloves and start fighting Obama in the center, this will not even be a close race:

  • McCain can make an excellent start by aggressively pushing to drill for oil everywhere that he has not already taken off the table -- which only includes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the actual coastal waters of states that reject drilling.

    That still leaves the outer continental shelf on both oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bakken shale-oil formation, and other shale-oil sites. He can also push for liquification of coal, natural gas, and continue his quest for more gasoline refineries and nuclear power plants... "Drill here, drill now, pay less." Surveys show that Americans now strongly favor drilling, drilling, and more drilling;

  • He can aggressively pursue a constitutional amendment to undo the horrible Supreme-Court decision last week in Boumediene and dare Obama and the Democrats to oppose it: "Obama and his Democratic friends think foreign terrorists fighting America deserve more rights than our own soldiers," he can argue;
  • He can hammer Obama on the staggering taxes he plans to raise, on Obama's complete indifference to gasoline prices, his refusal to visit Iraq or meet with Gen. Petraeus before yanking the troops out, his wildly liberal stances on abortion, same-sex marriage, and guns, and his complete ignorance of how most people in the United States live and worship;
  • And he can tie Obama more directly to the latter's prediction that the counterinsurgency strategy would be a complete failure and disaster: If we had followed Obama's strategy, we would have withdrawn from Iraq in defeat. Fortunately, we followed McCain's judgment... and we have pretty much won, with some mopping up left to do.

...

If McCain gets ahead of the power curve on the issues listed above, I believe this will be a 9-point election... and we won't have to worry about this or that little state: McCain will take many states that Kerry held last election.

So what do I mean by a "9-point election?" I don't literally predict that John S. McCain will win by exactly nine points; a "9-pointer" is like a "quarter pounder": It's just a name, not a precision measurement.

But I do mean that I conditionally predicted -- and since the condition has by and large been met, I now turn this into a full-scale prediction -- that McCain is going to win this presidential election by a fairly substantial margin: More than 6% nationwide and around 350 electoral votes. Maybe more.

In the entire twentieth century, how many presidents were elected by less than 5%? Only four, I believe: Woodrow Wilson in 1916, John F. Kennedy in 1960, Richard Nixon in 1968, and Jimmy Carter in 1976. There were, of course, 25 presidential elections from 1900 through 1996 (I cut it off there, not at 2000, because the 2000 election was for a term that began in the 21st century) -- so 16% of 20th-century elections were really close.

And then, 24 years after the Carter election, we had back to back "really close elections" in 2000 and again in 2004. It's not normal to have such close elections, and I don't believe we'll see one in 2008; so the only question is who ends up on top.

For a number of reasons -- none related to polling, though that too is starting to confirm my sense of flow -- I do not believe that Barack H. Obama is about to surge. In fact, I believe he already peaked, and it will be John S. McCain who surges right into the White House. Putting A and B together to get 4, I believe that McCain will win the election by more than 5%.

But in fact, Obama is a particularly bad candidate who is woefully underperforming the "generic Democrat," while McCain is very much outperforming the "generic Republican." So I'm giving him that extra edge: If I must pick a number, I'll say he wins by 7% over Obama, or 52.5% to 45.5%, with 2% going to other candidates.

That isn't a landslide, by the way; Ronald Reagan beat Carter by almost 10% and Mondale by more than 18%. Still, 7% is a substantial win with no wiggle room for Democrats to cheat or sue their way into the White House... and so decisive that they cannot even whine about it. (Well, maybe that's going too far.)

That big a win translates into a lot of close states going to McCain -- Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and many others; the Electoral College tends to magnify victory. So I predict 350 electoral votes for McCain, leaving 188 for Obama. (As a subsidiary forecast, I prognosticate that Larry Sabato's "Crystal Ball" will prophesy that Obama will win... until about a week before the election, at which point Sabato will abruptly reverse himself, jumping aboard the gravy wagon.)

Also, a substantial win in the presidential race should translate into a number of victories in the congressional races; we'll likely still lose some seats, but it won't be anywhere near the debacle that "pundants" are predicting today.

I'm staking my claim now, once again cutting against the conventional wisdom. I'm often right -- as when I predicted more than a year and a half ago that Hillary Clinton would not be the Democratic nominee; but I have certainly been wrong, as I was about the 2006 elections, when I failed to take into account the GOP's astonishing talent at self immolation.

We'll see. At the moment, I think I'm the only person predicting a "9-pointer." Even the McCain campaign is saying it will be razor-close... though I think they're just playing the expectations game. So write this day in your diary, as it will either mark the point at which the Lizard demonstrated his political prescience... or the day he went off the rails on the crazy train!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 20, 2008, at the time of 6:29 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 19, 2008

One Day in the Life of Barack Barackovitch

Dancing Democrats , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

After the Saddleback fiasco for Barack H. Obama, the first meme floated by Obama surrogates (in particular by Andrea Mitchell) was that the only way John S. McCain could have sounded so prepared, so confident, and so well informed was that -- he must have cheated.

He was outside the "cone of silence;" he heard the questions beforehand; he had an unfair advantage because Obama had to go first. But that has been pretty definitively debunked; guest blogger DRJ, for one, at Patterico's Pontifications has a timeline that pretty much rules out that possibility.

So now the desperate Democrats have floated a new meme: McCain's "cross in the dirt" story is "hauntingly like" a story told by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. McCain stole it! It never happened! Sure, John McCain may have done better answering the questions... but all that is negated because he's a serial plagiarist. After all -- didn't he also steal Jackson Brown's "Running on Empty," and didn't he insert a few words from a Wikipedia entry into some speech?

(Of course, if Barack Obama selects Joe Biden as his running mate, the accusation of plagiarism might be quietly dropped.)

Well. Let's take a look at this charge...

In the first place, when did this Solzhenitsyn story appear? It dates from a 1997 article, but it is not even a direct quotation from Solzhenitsyn; instead, it's a retelling by Fr. Luke Veronis, "an American priest serving in Albania," of a moment when Solzhenitsyn had hit a nadir during his long incarceration and had given up all hope:

Laying his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude work-site bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to many other prisoners.

As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly, he lifted his eyes and saw a skinny, old prisoner squat down next to him. The man said nothing. Instead, he drew a stick through the ground at Solzhenitsyn’s feet, tracing the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.

As Solzhenitsyn stared at the sign of the Cross, his entire perspective changed. He knew that he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet in that moment, he knew that there was something greater than the evil that he saw in the prison, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that the hope of all mankind was represented in that simple Cross. And through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.

Note the most significant difference: In the Solzhenitsyn story, it's not a guard but rather another prisoner who makes the sign of the cross. If McCain stole the story, why would he change the actor from prisoner to guard? After all, if he's trying to show the fortitude they all displayed, it makes more sense if the prisoners themselves keep each other alive and hopeful, as in his other story about his fellow prisoner who sewed a small American flag out of scraps of cloth.

Second, much is made (e.g., by Andrew Sullivan) that in McCain's first full account of his captivity, written in 1973, he doesn't mention this story. But of course, one could equally well note that in Solzhenitsyn's first full accounting of his story, the Gulag Archipelago, also first published in 1973 (in French; the first English version dates from 1974, I believe), he evidently neglects to tell his own "cross in the dirt" story as well. Lot of that going around.

The story does not come from the Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn's seminal work about his many years in the Soviet political prison system. If someone can find this story there, please let me know, and I will correct this post. I don't think the book is available online in a searchable format (it's probably still in copyright), and I have no intention of thumbing through each page of both volumes of the book to find a single short anecdote. But nobody so far has claimed that the account appears in that work... just in the Veronis article.

Various liberal commentators insist that McCain first told his own story in 1999, two years after the Veronis article. But what they mean is that 1999 was when he first used it publicly as part of a campaign stump speech. But we have a very different claim by one of McCain's fellow POWs, Orson Swindle, held in the Hanoi Hilton at the same time, sometimes in the same cell with McCain:

"I recall John telling that story when we first got together in 1971, when were talking about every conceivable thing that had ever happened to us when we were in prison" Swindle told me a few minutes ago. "Most of us had been kept apart or in small groups. Then, in 1970, they moved us into the big cell. And when we all got to see each other and talk to each other directly, instead of tapping through walls, we had 24 hours a day, seven days a week to talk to each other, and we shared stories. I vaguely recall that story being told, among other stories." [1971 would be 26 years before the Fr. Veronis story first appeared, and even three years before the Gulag Archipelago itself was published in English, just in case the new claim is that the story appears there. I find it unlikely that McCain would have obtained a review copy while in the Hanoi Hilton.]

"I remember it from prison," Swindle continued. "There were several stories similar to that in which guards -- a very few, I might add -- showed compassion to the prisoners. It was rare, and I never met one, but some of the guys did."

So now, for the Democrats to maintain this meme -- vital to proving that Obama really won the Saddleback non-debate, no matter what ignorant, uninformed voters may have thought -- they must pursue one of the following options:

  • Orson Swindle, who is campaigning for McCain, is a big, fat liar. McCain never told him any such story. Swindle, like his name, is just lying to save McCain from the consequences of the senator's own serial prevarications, lies, slanders, and vicious Swift-Boating of the One, "the leader that God has blessed us with at this time," as Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%) said last Sunday.
  • Swindle is simply addled and confused, probably dating to the days of his nightmarish confinement. He's just like Ronald Reagan, whom we now know began suffering the symptoms of his unusually slow-progressing Alzheimer's disease around 1947, when he became president of the Screen Actors Guild and developed an incomprehensible loathing of Communists. Swindle is senile and befuddled and, well, he's just a bundle of nerves. He can't help it... he probably really does hallucinate that McCain told him that story in 1971. But of course, we know that's impossible -- because Solzhenitsyn himself didn't recount the original until 1997. [The wheels on the bus go round and round...]
  • All right, so maybe Swindle is right and McCain really did tell it to him and other prisoners in 1971. But all that proves is that McCain was a serial fabricator even back then. Look at all the other lies that he has told through the years: That the surge is a success, that an embryo is a person from the moment of conception, that we should lower taxes... the man is obviously a pathological liar, and you don't become one of those overnight. Therefore, the evidence is overwhelming that McCain was simply lying about that, air quotes, "cross in the dirt" story as long as 37 years ago. How can even Republicans possibly elect such a corrupt, Bible-thumping Nazi to the presidency?

So, Democrats, what's it to be then, eh? Which explanation do you pick to keep the Meme Team alive?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 19, 2008, at the time of 3:46 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 18, 2008

Obama's "No Child Left Alive" Policy

Abortion Distortion , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I rarely do this, as you know -- publish a post that simply repeats the reasoning of somebody else's article. But David Freddoso on National Review Online has an article that is so powerful and urgent that I'm inclined to emphasize it here, following the lead of Scott Johnson at Power Line.

According to Freddoso's research (along with that of the Springfield, Illinois chapter of the National Right to Life Committee), Obama voted against a bill that came before his committee in the Illinois state senate in 2003 that would simply have declared that any baby who survived an abortion attempt, and was accidentally born alive instead, shall be considered a human person with all the rights of any other baby born alive. The bill was in response to Chicago hospitals that were taking second shots at such improperly born children, making sure the "procedure" was successful, no matter how many times it took -- and no matter whether the abortion was finished before or after live birth.

But now he has realized that this vote may come back to haunt him in his quest for the presidency... so he's brazenly lying, claiming the bill was instead an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.

What makes this even more flagrant (and vile) is that the bill included language -- which Obama and every state senator on the committee, unanimously inserted -- explicitly avowing that it only affected the rights of babies that had actually been born alive and would have no impact whatsoever on foetuses still in the womb.

It would not even have forbidden partial-birth abortion, since the body of the bill explicitly defined a live birth as "the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of that member [of the species homo sapiens];" as partial-birth abortion means an incomplete extraction (as the name implies), its legality would not have been affected by this bill.

(What it would have affected is a botched partial-birth abortion, where the doctor accidentally delivers the entire baby, rather than everything but the head. It would have prevented hospitals from picking up the fully born baby and continuing with the "procedure" -- prying open the infant's skull and sucking out her brains with a vacuum.)

I really want John S. McCain and the GOP to jump on this: It's so obviously mendacious a denial, about an issue that is so fundamentally repulsive to real Americans -- letting living, born babies die of exposure in order to punish them for surviving an abortion attempt -- that I cannot see how he can weasel his way out of it.

And please bear in mind... I am pro-choice on abortion up to about two-thirds of the way through pregnancy. Nevertheless, I am not pro-choice on infanticide, which is what this bill was designed to prevent. And there is no way anybody living in a civilized culture (anybody but a lunatic liberal) can justify killing a post-born infant by deliberate neglect (starvation, dehydration, cold)... just because the mother originally wanted it removed from her womb.

All right; it's out. Why must they slay it as well?

Obama's policy itself is murderous, and his vain attempt to lie his way out of it deeply offends my intelligence and shocks my conscience.

(I have put the full text of the law in the "slither on," along with the modifying amendment unanimously adopted by the committee.)

Here is the complete text of SB1082, introduced on February 19th, 2003, into the Illinois state senate; the unanimous "neutrality language" amendment is shown in blue at the end, replacing the crossed-out section immediately above it.

AN ACT concerning infants who are born alive.

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly:

Section 5. The Statute on Statutes is amended by adding Section 1.36 as follows:

(5 ILCS 70/1.36 new)

Sec. 1.36. Born-alive infant.

(a) In determining the meaning of any statute or of any rule, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative agencies of this State, the words "person", "human being", "child", and "individual" include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.

(b) As used in this Section, the term "born alive", with respect to a member of the species homo sapiens, means the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of that member, at any stage of development, who after that expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut and regardless of whether the expulsion or extraction occurs as a result of natural or induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.

(c) A live child born as a result of an abortion shall be fully recognized as a human person and accorded immediate protection under the law.

(c) Nothing in this Section shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being born alive as defined in this Section.

Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon becoming law.

Here is the history of the bill. "Session Sine Die" at the end means that Illinois state senate term expired without any further action on the bill (meaning it was killed in committee).

And here is a list of the members of the senate Health and Human Services committee in the 93rd General Assembly; note that Barack Obama is the "chairperson."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 18, 2008, at the time of 3:12 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 16, 2008

New Obama VP Speculation...

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

For months now, various yahoos have offered wild guesses as to who John S. McCain will name as his running mate. Generally, the putative "inside information" seems more designed to freak out Republicans and send them running around in circles with their hair on fire... sort of like Homer Simpson at a typical Simpson barbecue (if Homer had hair, that is).

Nameless wretches have variously suggested Joe Lieberman, Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge, Lincoln Chafee (whose middle name is Davenport, aptly enough), or that woman who claims Don Siegelman was railroaded. At each new and increasingly bizarre claim, more and more Republicans froth at the mouth, chew broken bottles, and bay at the moon.

Evidently, however, some wag named Jon Keller, who works out of some television station in Boston (WBZTV), believes turnabout is sauce for the gander. Keller speculates on his blog that Barack H. Obama has short-listed for VP a chap with a familiar name, face, and loser history... yes, Mr. Keller suggests -- I rib you not -- that Obama is seriously considering bringing Sen. John F. Kerry onto the ticket as running mate... though I cannot guarantee that Keller isn't ribbing us all:

So why would Obama reach out to Kerry as his choice?

Kerry brings more money and name recognition to the table than any other name on the Obama list so far. Americans do tend to love a comeback kid and this would be the most amazing political comeback since Richard Nixon came back from the dead forty years ago....

Polls show many voters question Obama's foreign policy credentials to be a wartime president. As a decorated veteran and longtime member of the senate foreign relations committee, Kerry could fill that gap. [Oh please, oh please...!]

Obama suffers from being a new face on the political scene, but Kerry -- warts and all -- is well known to the voters [I'll say he is!], and in 2004, he did draw more votes than any democrat ever has. [But of course, considerably fewer than the already unpopular George W. Bush.]

Apart from the obvious boost it would give the Republicans -- and the long-awaited return of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- I have another, more personal reason why I dream of just such a cockamamie choice, as implausible and unlikely as I find it.

I so desperately want to hear some constipated conservative call up Hugh Hewitt, hyperventilate about the possibility, and finally threaten -- "If that jerk Obama picks John Kerry as running mate, I'll... I'll just vote for McCain, I swear to God I will!"

That alone would be worth the price of admission.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 16, 2008, at the time of 2:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

AP Charges McCain with Democracy Mongering

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , Russkie Resurgence
Hatched by Dafydd

The Associated Press, in the body of Pete Yost, has made serious accusations of impropriety against presumptive Republican nominee John S. McCain... charges that surely warrant federal investigation and possible disqualification from the presidential race:

McCain stands charged with deliberately and maliciously supporting democracy over the increasingly progressive, humanitarian, and laudible People's Federation of Russia.

More serious is the accusation that the senator, who is older than dirt, took onto his campaign staff a man, Randy Scheunemann, who willfully and with malice aforethought accepted money from the liberal democracy of Georgia -- but pointedly refused to do the same for Georgia's progressive neighbor to the north, which we can unanimously agree he should have done, in all fairness. To discriminate between democracy and progressivism, as McCain continues to do, is to engage in out and out discrimination.

Finally, the most serious charge: Before McCain hired Scheunemann, he was a paid lobbyist, frequently granted access to McCain's inner office; this allowed Scheunemann to argue in favor of democracy over progressive, peaceful consolidation and internationalist coalition-building -- without McCain ever giving the latter equal time, as the Progressive Fairness Doctrine-Plus (soon-to-be introduced in Congress) requires.

These astonishing lapses call McCain's judgment into serious question and raise ethical concerns. Concern at the highest levels about McCain's moral qualification are mounting, as Yost elucidates:

John McCain's chief foreign policy adviser and his business partner lobbied the senator or his staff on 49 occasions in a 3 1/2-year span while being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the government of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

The payments raise ethical questions about the intersection of Randy Scheunemann's personal financial interests and his advice to the Republican presidential candidate who is seizing on Russian aggression in Georgia as a campaign issue.

The implication that a sitting United States Senator's position on an important issue might be influenced by a paid lobbyist is disturbing enough; but when the issue is the conflict between the so-called "elected" "President" Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia and the progressive, action-oriented, people's government of Vladimir Putin -- and the lobbyist in question (Scheunemann) is paid by one of the parties to the conflict (the wrong one) -- it raises the moral stakes to EthCon 4.

Progressive law professor Stephen Gillers puts the whole issue on the back of his hand:

"Scheunemann's work as a lobbyist poses valid questions about McCain's judgment in choosing someone who -- and whose firm -- are paid to promote the interests of other nations," said New York University law professor Stephen Gillers. [Particularly nations that cling to the discredited political theory of "democracy."] "So one must ask whether McCain is getting disinterested advice, at least when the issues concern those nations."

"If McCain wants advice from someone whose private interests as a once and future lobbyist may affect the objectivity of the advice, that's his choice to make."

But the choice McCain has made about Herr Scheunemann speaks volumes.

Gillers' credentials and wisdom are certainly beyond reproach; he was, for example, the first unofficial John Kerry advisor in 2004 to suggest that he pick former President Bill Clinton as his running mate. The raised eyebrow of Gillers alone should provoke an investigation by the appropriate congressional committee; does the fact that John McCain allowed himself to be lobbied by a democratic nation, while rejecting the support of nondemocratic, illiberal nations, legally disqualify him from the presidency?

Even McCain's own spokesman was forced to admit that the senator has an unhealthy obsession with democratic nations... and a well-known bias against progressive people's republics, such as the People's Federation of Russia, the Joyful Worker's Friendship Republic of Cuba, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam:

McCain has been to Georgia three times since 1997 and "this is an issue that he has been involved with for well over a decade," said McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

McCain's strong condemnation in recent days of Russia's military action against Georgia as "totally, absolutely unacceptable" reflects long-standing ties between McCain and hardline conservatives such as Scheunemann, an aide in the 1990s to then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

The ongoing collusion between McCain and Scheunemann -- first pointed out by the campaign of Barack H. Obama -- has now drawn the scrutiny of the fourth branch of the federal government, the Associated Press; RICO charges have been considered, as well as accusations of conspiracy:

Scheunemann, who also was a foreign policy adviser in McCain's 2000 presidential campaign, has for years traveled the same road as McCain in pushing for regime change in Iraq and promoting NATO membership for Georgia and other former Soviet republics.

While their politics coincide, Russia's invasion of Georgia casts a spotlight on Scheunemann's business interests and McCain's conduct as a senator.

Scheunemann's firm lobbied McCain's office on four bills and resolutions regarding Georgia, with McCain as a co-sponsor or supporter of all of them.

AP unearthed a bombshell when they reported that McCain personally telephoned the putative "Mikheil Saakashvili" under highly suspicious circumstances involving $200,000 changing hands -- and then again yesterday; sensing the possibility of skulduggery, Barack Obama made his own follow-up call to begin the investigation into the potentially unethically and possibly even criminal behavior of his rival, behavior which could, in theory, result in John McCain being disqualified for the presidential run, clearing the way for Obama's ascension:

Four months ago, on the same day that Scheunemann's partner signed the latest $200,000 agreement with Georgia, McCain spoke with Saakashvili by phone. The senator then issued a strong statement saying that "we must not allow Russia to believe it has a free hand to engage in policies that undermine Georgian sovereignty."

Rogers, the McCain campaign spokesman, said the call took place at the request of the embassy of Georgia. And McCain campaign spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace added that the senator has full confidence in Scheunemann. "We're proud of anyone who has worked on the side of angels in fledgling democracies," she said in an interview.

McCain called Saakashvili again on Tuesday. "I told him that I know I speak for every American when I said to him, today, we are all Georgians," McCain told a cheering crowd in York, Pa. McCain's Democratic rival, Barack Obama, had spoken with Saakashvili the day before [obviously in an investigative capacity only, which has not been denied so far by either campaign].

The McCain campaign has likewise issued no statement whatsoever answering the unasked question of whether yesterday's call also involved hundreds of thousands of dollars going into the pocket (or pockets) of person (or persons -- or people, even) unknown.

The extent of Scheunemann's treacherous lobbying of McCain is jaw-dropping... always on behalf of democracies, and actually specializing, it appears, in those which have turned perversely against progressivism and the will of the people by rebelling against centrally planned, rational, scientific authority:

In addition to the 49 contacts with McCain or his staff regarding Georgia, Scheunemann's firm has lobbied the senator or his aides on at least 47 occasions since 2001 on behalf of the governments of Taiwan and Macedonia, which each paid Scheunemann and his partner Mike Mitchell over half a million dollars; Romania, which paid over $400,000; and Latvia, which paid nearly $250,000. Federal law requires Scheunemann to publicly disclose to the Justice Department all his lobbying contacts as an agent of a foreign government.

After contacts with McCain's staff, the senator introduced a resolution saluting the people of Georgia on the first anniversary of the Rose Revolution that brought Mikhail Saakashvili to power.... [!]

In 2005 and 2006, McCain signed onto a resolution expressing support for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia; introduced a resolution expressing support for a peace plan for Georgia's breakaway province of Ossetia; and co-sponsored a measure supporting admission of four nations including Georgia into NATO.

It hardly comes as a shock, then, when that same pair, McCain and Scheunemann -- now conspiring in the open to deny the American presidency to yet another progressive hero of the people -- issue utterly biased, partisan propaganda speeches opposing the reunification of Georgia with the motherland. In stark contrast, the response of Obama has been measured, uncertain, and far more nuanced; he has consistently supported both sides in this conflict, thus exhibiting perfect fairness and cultural relativism, magnificently positioning himself for his upcoming coronation over the pretender.

The aged and increasingly cranky McCain, who personally witnessed the destruction of Pompei, may not himself be as culpable as Scheunemann; many of McCain's Senate colleagues have said for years that something funny happened to him during his lengthy prison term, and he may just not be quite right anymore.

But there is no such extenuating circumstance that can explain Randy Scheunemann's persistent refusal to give the same benefit of the doubt to progressive people's republics that he routinely extends to democracies that hold "elections" -- elections that rarely produce the popular unanimity that accompanies the true elections found in the People's Federation of Russia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the Free and Progressive Islamic Republic of Iran.

Scheunemann is widely suspected of being a neoconservative, leading a cabal of neoconservatives who are trying to impose their crabbed and narrow worldview on the rest of the country. Troubling questions about McCain's moral fitness to lead -- which were already mounting -- continue to mount, as AP enumerates:

  • Scheunemann "relentlessly pushed for war in Iraq;"
  • Scheunemann and his neoconservative cronies relentless called for phony "regime change" in Iraq to create a new "world order;" yet now they hypcritically oppose the honest regime change in Georgia;
  • Scheunemann and his co-conspirators have the temerity actually to defend the supposed "surge" in Iraq... even having the gall to expropriate the noble word "progress" to describe it;
  • Scheuenemann has been described (for example, in this sentence) as the "fuhrer" of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, which nakedly called for the overthrow of a popularly elected government by force and violence -- though Scheunemann himself may have remained clothed;
  • Scheunemann has been linked to the Project for the New American Century, which propagandized about various alleged "links" between Iraq and "terrorists;" yet a massive investigation by a blue-ribbon federal commission clearly debunked PNAC's purple prose, finding that Iraq and al-Qaeda never carried out any joint operations simultaneously commanded by senior officers in both organizations under an order signed by both Osama B. bin Laden and Saddam O. Hussein at a signing ceremony held in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Not even once;
  • Most damning, Scheunemann has been connected to "a Who's Who of neoconservative luminaries including William Kristol and Richard Perle." Confronted with this evidence, Scheunemann was utterly unable to deny it.

While it may be eye-opening, mind-boggling, and astonishing, it should not be surprising that a creature like the Scheunemann is able to seduce a man with the questionable history of John McCain (whose first forray into the Senate required him to wear a toga) into supporting a brutal democratic regime like Georgia, that has engaged in some of the most aggressive, warmongering behavior that we've seen since the dark days of Ronald Reagan. Consider these accounts from a highly respected news agency (hat tip to John Hinderaker at Power Line, who is evidently just as concerned about this neoconservative unilateralism and democracy-mongering as I):

War between Russia and Georgia orchestrated from USA

Russian officials believe that it was the USA that orchestrated the current conflict. The chairman of the State Duma Committee for Security, Vladimir Vasilyev, believes that the current conflict is South Ossetia is very reminiscent to the wars in Iraq and Kosovo.

Russia: Again Savior of Peace and Life

The international community collectively held their breath waiting for the reaction of Russia after the savage, brutal, criminal attack by Georgia on South Ossetia. After having offered a cease fire in hostilities, the back stabbing Georgians immediately violated the cease fire, invading South Ossetia and causing massive destruction and death among innocent civilians, among peacekeepers and also destroying a hospital....

Georgian troops attempted to storm the city [Tskhinval] much as Hitler‘s Panzer divisions blazed through Europe. Also noteworthy is the fact that Georgian tanks and infantry were being aided by Israeli advisors, a true indicator that this conflict was instigated by outside forces....

Relating what has become common practice among war criminals, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reported: "A Russian humanitarian convoy has come under fire. Panic is growing among the local population, and the number of refugees is increasing. There are reports of ethnic cleansing in some villages... The situation is ripe for a humanitarian catastrophe."

The two-faced, underhanded foreign policy of Georgia

Ask anyone in the Caucasus region, and they will tell you never to trust a Georgian because they would shake your hand with a smile and then stab you in the back. On Friday morning, we saw a perfect example of this treachery, when hours after declaring a ceasefire, Georgian military units launched a savage attack on the civilians of South Ossetia.

Hours after Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili, the pro-western Washington-backed anti-democratic stooge (attacks on opposition policians in Georgia are rife) declared a unilateral ceasefire, the Georgian army lanched a savage attack on the capital of the province of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, with tanks and infantry, while the air force bombed a village and strafed a Russian humanitarian aid convoy.

That a member of "the world's greatest deliberative body" would align himself with such "democracy" against a progressive people's state is deeply troubling. That he would do so on the advice of a being of pure, existential evil, who used to accept filthy lucre from the bloodstained hands of a democratic state, to conspire against historical inevitability... is despicable.

I stand foresquare with the Democratic Party, the presidential campaign of Barack H. Obama, and the progressive supermajority of Americans in demanding that John S. McCain, firstborn son of Cain the fratricide after he betook himself to the land of Nod and got himself a wife, be ruled ineligible for the high office of President of the United States. And that the Republican Party, as punishment for knowingly nominating a man with such a disgraceful and stomach-turning predeliction for democracy over progressivism, be disallowed from substituting any other criminal, thuggish Republican for such an august office.

The only appropriate response to these staggering revelations from AP is for Obama's path to be cleared, so the vast majority of the American people do not have to spend months on tenterhooks, worried that the Republican-Diebold axis might once again saddle the country with one of their mindless orcs.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 13, 2008, at the time of 6:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 5, 2008

An Army of Apathetics: Registration Legislation and Nonvoters

Elections , Polling Keeps a-Rolling , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The Democratic National Committee has found a "new" crusade -- that hardy, hoary perennial: voter registration of traditionally Democratic constituencies, such as blacks, Hispanics, unmarried mothers, and the homeless.

By targeting such "potential voters," notes the Wall Street Journal, groups such as ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the National Council of La Raza ("the race"), the Urban League, and other partisan shills masquerading as civic-minded community organizers hope to pack the Senate with a filibuster-proof majority, the House with a conscience-proof majority, and propel fellow "community organizer" Barack H. Obama into the White House... all to usher in a new era of government of the downtrodden, for the downtrodden, and by -- the anointed elite.

They plan to register an additional 1.2 million welfaristas, felons, and bums before the November election; the Times jubilantly announces that the efforts have borne much fruit, reporting a shift in voter registration towards the Democrats in many states since 2005:

Well before Senators Barack Obama and John McCain rose to the top of their parties, a partisan shift was under way at the local and state level. For more than three years starting in 2005, there has been a reduction in the number of voters who register with the Republican Party and a rise among voters who affiliate with Democrats and, almost as often, with no party at all....

In six states, including Iowa, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, the Democratic piece of the registration pie grew more than three percentage points, while the Republican share declined. In only three states — Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma — did Republican registration rise while Democratic registration fell, but the Republican increase was less than a percentage point in Kentucky and Oklahoma. Louisiana was the only state to register a gain of more than one percentage point for Republicans as Democratic numbers declined.

But what the Times doesn't see fit to print -- not until "after the jump," on page 2 of the story -- is that the shift away from Republicans nearly all comprises a shift not to Democrats but to "unaffiliated":

In the 26 states and the District of Columbia where registration data were available, the total number of registered Democrats increased by 214,656, while the number of Republicans fell by 1,407,971.

Thus, at most, 15% of Republicans who reregistered became Democrats; the other 85% changed to independent, unaffiliated, or some minor party. There is no significant trend towards the Democrats; more likely, reregistration is a protest aimed at the "spend everything and then some" Republicans, who controlled Congress prior to the 2006 elections.

Here is the biggest problem with the chimera of registration drives: It is so easy to register today -- with registration booths at supermarkets, post offices, malls, churches, missions, flophouses, schools, and street corners, let alone the near-automatic registration schemes like "motor-voter" -- that one almost has to consciously reject voting to remain unregistered. Thus, those people still not registered are disproportionately those who have simply dropped out of civic society.

They have dropped out, not because Bull-Connor Republicans are using whips and firehoses to prevent blacks, Hispanics, and bums from registering, but because those particular people are simply apathetic about voting. Thus, just because you register them doesn't mean they're any more likely to vote in November.

It's well known that voter turnout in the United States (unlike countries that compel voting) centers around 50%. Some localities have much higher turnout each election cycle; but in every election, a very large percentage of registered voters don't vote.

I don't think it's a stretch to posit that those qualified adults who remain unregistered until someone form ACORN rushes up to them, pushes a registration form at them, and tells them that if they sign it, they'll get money for housing... are precisely those newly registered apathetics who will not bother to vote on election day.

Why turn to something nebulous and impossible to measure like turnout among the newly registered, when there is a much simpler explanation for the 2006 GOP losses? Voters were turned off by the GOP they saw running the 109th Congress -- the Republicans of earmarks, drunken spending sprees, and Mark Foley.

But this election is about a different GOP, one that is now more in touch with the electorate than the Democrats; now the Democrats are seen as a "culture of corruption" and as wild spenders, ineffectual and inept, aristocratic, unconcerned, and aloof. It's the "Marie-Antoinette Democrats," as Hugh Hewitt now calls them, who won't do anything (or anything good, at least) about energy woes, taxes, the Iraq war, small business, or the economy in general. And there is no reason to believe that a "massive" increase in Democratic party registration (all of 3%!) presages a wholesale shift to liberalism on the part of the electorate.

In fact, the Times itself admits that one reason Democrats are doing better is that they are running candidates who are, on paper, more conservative... winning candidates like Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA, 85%) and Gov. Tim Kaine, also of Virginia. Webb ran as more conservative than incumbent Sen. George Allen... and even so, it took the "Macaca" gaffe to give Webb the narrowest of victories. And Kaine calls himself personally anti-abortion, he supports a ban on partial-birth abortion (with the Kerry exception, of course), gun rights, and is fiscally centrist.

And now Webb votes 85% of the time with the hard-liberal Americans for Democratic Action. I don't know how he would fare if he had to run for reelection this year, but he's going to have a lot of splainin' to do in 2012. And both Webb and Kaine endorse and campaign for leftist Barack Obama.

Here is another way to look at the question: If registration is such a big determinant, why is Barack H. Obama dropping and John S. McCain rising in the polls?

It's not just the horserace aspect: Look at the internals of the Rasmussen daily tracking poll, which has the candidates tied. The incredibly useful section they call "by the numbers" reports polling on specific issues and character questions:

Of the major issues, Obama is statistically ahead of McCain (outside the margin of error) only on three:

  • Environment - Obama + 8
  • Health care - Obama + 5
  • Education - Obama + 4 (right on the edge of the margin)

In none of these three issues -- typically Democratic issues -- does Obama even top 50%.

But McCain beats Obama on eight major issues, with two over 50% (in blue):

  • Iraq policy - McCain + 12
  • Immigration - McCain + 9
  • National Security - McCain + 8
  • Taxes - McCain + 7
  • Social Security - McCain + 6
  • Abortion - McCain + 6
  • Negotiating trade agreements - McCain + 5
  • Energy - McCain + 4

The candidates are tied (within the margin) on the economy, ethics, and who can better balance the federal budget. This is vastly better than McCain was doing against Obama just a month ago, when the tracking poll had him 5-6 points behind Obama and losing on most of the issues.

We see a similar pattern on character issues:

  • Who would be the better leader? McCain by 6 points;
  • Who will raise government spending more? Obama by 21 points;
  • Who will raise taxes more? Obama by 23 points;

And some really interesting ones... 27% see McCain as too old to be president, but 41% see Obama as too inexperienced. And respondents see McCain as believing in the fundamental fairness of our society by 70% to 15%... but they're split on the Democrat, with 43% saying Obama believes American society is fundamentally fair, while a plurality of 46% says he believes our society is fundamentally unfair.

Since the American people themselves believe our society is fundamentally fair by about 75% to 25%, that puts Obama on the wrong side by a whopping margin. Again, all these numbers were much worse for John McCain a month or two ago -- despite the fact that this massive registration drive has proceeded apace, and the gap between the number of Democrat and the number of Republicans is not narrowing significantly... whether you measure by actual registration, as the Times evidently did, or by voter perception of their party affiliation, as Rasmussen does.

On a nutshell, in recent elections, the number of registered voters in each party does not appear to correlate to that party's fortunes in the election. I suspect that earlier models that showed close tracking were based upon the correspondingly earlier registration rules, when it actually took some effort on the voter's part to get registered; this meant that back then, a registered voter was much more likely to be politically aware and active, hence more likely to vote. Since motor-voter especially, I believe voter turnout has been lower... as groups like La Raza and ACORN are registering a great many apathetics who simply don't turn out and vote anyway.

So worry not and pay no attention to voter-registration drives among society's dregs; that's not going to have any significant effect on future elections. But what will have a very great effect are the policies and legislation enacted by the two parties... and the campaigns they craft based upon those actual facts on the ground. On that playing field, the GOP is doing much better indeed than in 2006.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 5, 2008, at the time of 7:32 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 1, 2008

Barak the One

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

I don't even have to bother checking other blogs; I know they've all linked this. But who are the Lizards to stand in the way of inevitability?

Here is the greatest political ad of this season, possibly the greatest since the tyrant Lyndon Johnson's evil "Daisy" ad (approved by the equally vile Bill Moyers, Johnson's de facto chief of staff and campaign mangler)... but this John McCain ad is on the side of niceness, not nastiness!

 

 

A light will shine down, from somewhere [or perhaps up]; it will -- it will light upon you; you will experience an epiphany; and you will say to yourself... I have to read Big Lizards at least four times every day.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 1, 2008, at the time of 4:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 31, 2008

Obama Campaign Selects Final Campaign Song

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

According to the International Herald Tribune, the Barack H. Obama campaign has finally selected its campaign song for the post-convention final stretch* up through the election on November 4th.

The song is intended to highlight recent Obama campaign themes debuted during the Obama Presidential Victory Lap through Iraq, Jordan, Israel, the Italian Riviera, Monte Carlo, and the Tour de France, and at the recent Unity Conference 2008, where the candidate spoke eloquently on global warming and the art of auto maintenance.

The new song replaces "Ready to Believe," which Obama has been abusing since February. The campaign released a video of the new song to YouTube. (For some obscure reason, Big Lizards is actually first with this scoop... all the other blogs must be snoozin'!)

Anyway, here is the song, such as it is:

 

 

* Though we hear through the grapevine they may hold off on this one until Guy Fawkes Day.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 31, 2008, at the time of 4:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Obama: Don't Know Much About History, Biology - or Evidently, U.S. Currency

History , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In my entire lifetime (not that long, for heaven's sake!), I have not seen a presidential candidate who ran a campaign so dirty, so vapid... and so ignorant of the ordinary characteristics of contemporary American culture and middle-school level history as Barack H. Obama is now running.

E.g.: Yesterday, Obama blatantly accused John S. McCain of plotting a racist campaign against him; today, Obama's campaign coyly pretended that wasn't what their fellow meant at all, at all.

But in the process, they made yet another ludicrous mistake, this time about currency, folding money, dollar bills -- one of the most common manufactured items ordinary people encounter every day, unless they are so out of touch with normal life that they have "people" to handle such distasteful things for them.

Here is Obama's original accusation (actually, prediction of a future accusation) with its painfuly obvious implication:

Stumping in an economically challenged battleground state, Obama argued Wednesday that President Bush and McCain will resort to scare tactics to maintain their hold on the White House because they have little else to offer voters. [They haven't done it yet, but I'm sure they're gonna!]

"Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me," Obama said. "You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

Although the McCain camp initially declined to respond to Obama's race baiting, evidently the Obama campaign started getting a little nervous about what its boss had just said, in what was probably yet another junior-moment off the teleprompter. That same day, they got out front, aggressively and pugnaciously saying the cold-blooded prediction of upcoming racism had nothing to do with race:

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the senator was not referring to race.

"What Barack Obama was talking about was that he didn't get here after spending decades in Washington," Gibbs said Thursday. "There is nothing more to this than the fact that he was describing that he was new to the political scene. He was referring to the fact that he didn't come into the race with the history of others. It is not about race."

Ah... so Obama only meant that he didn't "look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills" who got to the White House "after spending decades in Washington." All right, gentle readers, let's all open our wallets and take a look at those bills...

  • $1 bill -- George Washington: Washington -- our first president, for the benefit of Obama supporters -- was a surveyer and soldier; he first became active in politics in 1758, when he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses; but this is not "Washington," or even the equivalent of that day (which would be New York or Philadelphia)... it was more like a state legislature, though Virginia was still a royal colony.

    In 1774, Washington was selected to be a Virginia delegate at the First Continental Congress, his first national position. But less than a year later, he was chosen to be Commander in Chief of the Continental Army. The war (that would be the Revolutionary War, for you Democrats) lasted until 1781; Washington retired from the Continental Army in 1783.

    In 1787, he was sent by Virginia to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, at which he was elected president of the convention. Two years later, he was elected the first President of the United States by a unanimous vote of the electoral college.

    Total time served in "Washington" (which wasn't yet Washington, obviously) prior to his election: Less than three years, or a year less than Barack H. Obama.

  • $2 bill -- Thomas Jefferson: Jefferson was a busy fellow, the president whose federal service came closest to meeting the ironic claim of Robert Gibbs that Obama referred only to the "decades in Washington" that " all those other presidents on the dollar bills" boasted before their presidential elections.

    Jefferson was chosen as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress (one year), the Congress of the Confederation (one year), served as Secretary of State under George Washington for four years, and served as John Adams' vice president for four years.

    Total time served in "Washington" prior to his election: ten years. Still a bit shy of "decades," though.

  • $5 bill -- Abraham Lincoln: Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois General Assembly in 1832; two years later, he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1846... but he served only a single term, choosing not to stand for reelection after a fiery speech that was not well received.

    Lincoln was nominated for the United States Senate in 1858, but he lost the election to Democratic incumbent Stephen Douglas. In 1860, he successfully ran for President of the United States (shortly to become the untied states).

    Total time served in Washington prior to his election: A single two-year term in the House.

  • $10 bill -- Alexander Hamilton: First of all, Hamilton served for less than one year in the Congress of the Confederation (1782-3); he was Secretary of the Treasury for six years, giving him less than seven years in federal service.

    But second, as I'm sure Obama and all of his supporters are well aware, Alexander Hamilton was never President of the United States. He was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. So I reckon he doesn't count.

  • $20 bill -- Andrew Jackson: Another general who became president, Jackson served in the U.S. House of Representatives (from Tennessee) for one year and in the Senate for less than a year. He was again elected senator twenty-four years later, in 1822. He ran for president in the election of 1824, then resigned from the Senate in 1825, following the "corrupt bargain" that brought John Quincy Adams to the White House, despite Jackson having a plurality of the electoral-college vote. Jackson was decisively elected president in 1828.

    Total time served in Washington prior to his election: five years, spread across nearly thirty (two at the beginning, three at the end).

  • $50 bill -- Ulysses S. Grant: General. Civil War. President. He was elected three years after the war ended.

    Total time served in Washington prior to his election: Um... that would be zero.

  • $100 bill -- Benjamin Franklin: I'm really, really, really certain that all those screaming Obama fans, who see him as the next Paris Hilton, are well aware, from their deep knowledge of history, that Benjamin Franklin was also never President of the United States, having inconveniently died in the middle of George Washington's first term. He also never served a day in federal service in the country; his only national office was ambassador to France.

    Total time served in "Washington": also zero.

And that exhausts the list of current United States currency in general circulation.

There are some goofy bills only used by banks and suchlike:

  • The $500 bill has William McKinley, who spent no time in Washington prior to his election;
  • The $1,000 bill has Grover Cleveland, who also served no time in Washington before his presidency -- McKinley and Cleveland were both former governors;
  • The $5,000 bill has James Madison, who was Secretary of State under Jefferson for eight years before becoming our fourth president;
  • The $10,000 bill has Salmon P. Chase -- who served for 19 years in Washington, but was never president;
  • And the $100,000 bill -- yes, there was such a thing -- has Woodrow Wilson... who also went directly to the presidency from a governorship.

Sadly, it appears that Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs is a bit bewitched, bothered, or bewildered about American history (and currency): Not a single United States President on any denomination of our currency served "decades in Washington" prior to his election. Not one! Not on any of the circulating currency; not on any of the bank bills... and not even any of the three non-presidents who grace our currency or bank bills. (The closest non-president is Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase, with his nineteen years.)

I'm afraid that I must reluctantly conclude either that Barack Obama is completely ignorant of American folding money and/or American history... or else that he really did deal a race card off the bottom of the deck, after all.

But there is something to salvage here; there is definitely a sense in which Obama is totally unlike "all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

They all had great accomplishments in their lives prior to running for the presidency. They won wars, or served as governors, or passed significant legislation during their brief tenures in Congress. Even Abraham Lincoln, arguably the president who was closest, among our greats, to being a dark horse, during the 1850s -- and particularly because of his debates with Stephen Douglas during the senatorial election of 1858 -- was considered the foremost and most respected opponent of slavery in the immediate pre-war period, a towering national figure even without having held major elective office.

Barack H. Obama has a couple of speeches under his belt.

So in that sense, indeed yes; he doesn't look much like the presidents on American currency. And indeed yes again... he does have a funny name.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 31, 2008, at the time of 2:26 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

July 28, 2008

Fauxtonement: "Prayergate" Takes a Weird, New Turn

Israel Matters , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The bizarre "scandal" of Barack H. Obama's "stolen prayer" took a strange twist today, as the Jerusalem Post reported that the "Yeshiva student" (still no sign that there is any independent verification of his status) tearfully apologized on Israel's Channel 2 for "stealing" Obama's prayer from the Wailing Wall and returned it (to the TV station); but the putative thief was still not identified -- Channel 2 coyly revealed only his initial, Aleph, and "obscured" his face. And Mr. Aleph made a statement during his interview which makes it fairly clear that he is an Obama supporter, as Big Lizards predicted yesterday:

"I'm sorry. It was a kind of prank," Aleph said, his hands shaking as he fingered the tightly wadded-up sheet of King David Hotel letterhead. "I hope he wasn't hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency."

So if we can take Mr. Aleph at his word, then instead of a militant, right-wing Jew violating Obama's right to have a "private communication between him and God," we have a still-anonymous person, still with no evidence that he is a yeshiva student, who certainly appears to support Obama for president, and who claims it was all a "prank."

A prank? Let's review the bidding:

  • Apparently, Mr. Aleph stole Obama's Wailing Wall prayer -- unprecedented in Israel -- and handed it to at least two media outlets, one of which printed it.
  • Our point that the Secret Service guarding Obama did not take Mr. Aleph to have hostile intent, or they wouldn't have allowed him to get close enough to see where Obama tucked the prayer, also appears to have been correct: Mr. Aleph is either a juvenile jokester or else in collaboration with the Obama campaign itself.
  • Mr. Aleph hopes this didn't hurt Obama and believes, along with all his friends, that Obama will win the election.
  • The media outlet that printed the prayer, Maariv, claims that the Obama campaign itself earlier released the text of the prayer.
  • And I still cannot find a single news source who will either confirm or deny that the campaign released the text for publication -- though every reporter traveling with the presumptive nominee would of course know whether he, personally, had been given the text by the campaign.

But we should shortly find out more: Shahar Alon, a Jerusalem attorney, has demanded that the Attorney General of Israel investigate the incident with an eye towards criminal prosecution of Maariv -- and Alon has also initiated a boycott of the newspaper:

Attorney Shahar Alon asked attorney General Menachem Mazuz to launch an investigation against the editor of Israeli daily Ma'ariv, who published the content of the note last week....

"By making the note public," Alon wrote to Mazuz, "the newspaper violated the law protecting holy sites, several clauses in the penal code and also infringed upon the basic rights of a person's honor and freedom."

Alongside his petition, Alon also initiated a boycott of the newspaper. In a letter he published, Alon called on all those who felt that the newspaper offended them by desecrating the holiness of the Western Wall, or felt that Obama had been personally disrespected, to refrain from purchasing the newspaper or cancel their subscriptions.

Maariv will either have to defend itself or else plead guilty. Assuming they do the former, they will of course repeat the defense that the so-called "leak" was authorized even before Obama arrived at the wall.

But this time, as part of a criminal probe, the elite media will not be able to stand silent... at least not without cost, as such a brazen attempt to kill the story they started would severely damage their credibilty and make clear just what I personally believe they are trying to avoid making clear: That this entire event was orchestrated by the Obama campaign.

So let's keep our fingers crossed that Attorney General Mazuz does authorize an investigation; we need to know whether Barack Obama truly was victimized by an angry Jew (or juvenile jokester)... or whether the presumptive Democratic nominee is a cynical, manipulative, Chicago pol who has just done what no other American politician has ever dared do: Thuggishly politicize the holiest and most sacred site of world Jewry, the only surviving wall of the great temple in Jerusalem.

Jews especially, but Christians as well, need to know what Obama truly thinks is the purpose of religion: to make oneself into "an instrument of [God's] will," or to mold into a campaign commercial that plays on victimhood and implies a religiosity that evidence indicates the candidate does not actually attain.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 28, 2008, at the time of 1:07 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 27, 2008

Obama's Fauxtonement

God and Man In the Blogosphere , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Barack H. Obama visted Israel a few days ago; on Thursday, he went to the Western or Wailing Wall -- the last surviving wall of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans under Titus Caesar in A.D. 70 -- and placed a "prayer" in one of its cracks. Almost immediately, "a student at a Jewish seminary" purportedly removed the note and gave it to at least two Israeli newspapers, one of which (Maariv) published its contents.

Many visitors place such prayers in chinks of the wall, prayers of mourning for the loss of the Second Temple and confession of and atonement for their sins. The remains of the Second Temple is a site holy both to Jews, for obvious reasons, and for Christians, because that is where Jesus drove out the moneychangers and restored the temple to a house of prayer, not a den of thieves.

But what is rare, I suspect, is for visitors to fill a crack in that wall with a putative prayer that is as cynical, as manipulative, and as obviously intended for public consumption as Obama's was.

Having read the so-called prayer, I am completely convinced that Obama fully intended for it to be "intercepted" and published... and may even have arranged for it. The "prayer" is impersonal and vague, yet contains the perfect code phrase designed to help Obama with evangelicals; I do not entertain the slightest doubt that he wanted it to be published -- and published in a way that makes him out to be the "victim" of a spiteful invasion of his privacy. (In fact, Maariv says that the Obama campaign itself released the prayer to the media before the supposed theft.)

I'm agnostic, and it still infuriates me.

Here is the text as published in Maariv:

Lord -- Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.

Let's break it down...

The "theft" of the prayer

It's odd that we know so little about the "student at a Jewish seminary" who supposedly filtched the paper and handed it over to Maariv. I cannot even find out his name, let alone why he did what he did. I have looked at recent stories in Haaretz, the J-Post, CNN, and several other media sources; nobody has a single word about the so-called "seminary student" prayernapper.

So if nobody knows anything, how do they know he is a seminary student? How do they know he is not, say, a political operative?

Second, Maariv has an amazing defense against the charge of trafficking in stolen prayers; according to Haaretz:

Ma'ariv issued a response Sunday, saying that "Obama's note was published in Ma'ariv and other international publications following Obama's authorization to make the content of the note public. Obama submitted a copy of the note to media outlets when he left his hotel in Jerusalem [That would be before he placed the note in the wall]. Moreover, since Obama is not Jewish, there is no violation of privacy as there would be for a Jewish person who places a note in the Western Wall."

The second claim is simply a bigoted quirk of Israeli law as it relates to religious privacy (which, if it really is a defense, is abominable). But the first claim is substantive: If true -- and the Obama camp has not, so far at least, denied it -- then this was unquestionably a "prayer" intended for public consumption, hence political profit, because he released it himself. If this is true, it was not a heartfelt "private communication between [Obama] and God," as Obama told reporters.

I saw video of Obama placing his prayer; he appeared to take an extraordinarily long time to find a crack where he could put it... it took him at least three tries. But even so, there were several other prayer slips nearby; so the "seminary student" must have been standing very close and watching the operation like a hawk to make sure he got the right slip. (That is, unless he, too, was given a copy of the note, as Maariv claims "media outlets" were, and it was that copy that he submitted to the newspaper.) I admit skepticism that the Secret Service would allow a man who looked in any way hostile to stand to close behind the presumptive Democratic nominee -- in a region known for senseless political violence. They must have been very comfortable with the presence of that "seminary student."

Come to that, the Obama campaign -- now widely seen as a "victim" of some rights-violating (presumably right-wing) Israeli Jew -- is being unbearably coy about the note itself; according to CNN:

Obama's senior strategist Robert Gibbs told CNN, "We haven't confirmed nor denied" [sic] that the note is from the Illinois senator....

CNN's Sasha Johnson, who was a part of a pool of journalists who accompanied Obama to the wall, said when reporters asked Obama what he wrote, he declined to share the contents of his prayer.

Obama told the reporters it was a private conversation between him and God, Johnson said.

There's that phrase again: private conversation between Obama and God. So this is a good time to take a closer look at that "private conversation."

Text, context, and subtext

As a reminder, here is Obama's private conversation with God, which he may or may not have shared with the media before poking it into the Western Wall, depending on whether one believes Maariv or not:

Lord -- Protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.

Well! I can certainly see why he would be anxious to protect the privacy of such a personal, sensitive, individual communication. One certainly wouldn't want something like that to leak out!

He asks God to "protect" his family and himself from unspecified harm; he asks forgiveness for sins he does not enumerate (does he even believe it's possible for a higher being like himself to commit sin?); he asks help to guard against pride and despair -- again, no specific examples offered, and he is evidently unafraid of falling into sloth, gluttony, avarice, and whatnot; then he asks for wisdom without mentioning any prior instance of folly. Finally, he uses a phrase guaranteed to turn a few Democratic evangelicals to his side: "Make me an instrument of your will."

Anent that last, can you imagine the furor and hoopla that would have erupted following the revelation of those words -- had they come from John S. McCain or George W. Bush? I suspect that in such a case, a Google search on "Bush theocracy hypocrite" would have produced 750,000 hits... instead of the mere 71,000 hits it produces today. ("Obama theocracy hypocrite" generates 65,200, and "McCain theocracy hypocrite" generates 62,800, so that's probably the base level for virtually any well-known politician.)

I expect to take a lot of heat for this post, delving as I am into the private (?) religiosity of Obama... but frankly, this seems exactly the prayer I would expect from a non-believer trying to ape Christianity for the consumption of the masses, all the while rolling his eyes at the hoops he must jump through in order to take his rightful place as Supreme Leader of the Western World (of which he is a citizen). It's Bill Clinton's Bible in miniature.

Forgive me my (unspecified) sins, but I cannot imagine anybody thinking this sort of prayer should constitute a "private conversation" with God. It reads for all the world like wearing one's irreligion on one's sleeve, hoping to befuddle the religious masses, who one imagines to be illiterate and easily bamboozled boobies.

Answerless inquiries

Is Barack Obama religious? I don't believe he is. The church he frequented for two decades -- until it became politically non-viable (like Howard Dean, who quit his church over a bike path) -- preaches black liberation theology, which is to Christianity what Wahabbism is to Islam: an extremist cult that preaches hatred and separation, rather than love and assimilation. Since Obama does not preach hatred and separation and denies believing any such nonsense, I can only conclude that his presence at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago was purely for political theater... else he would have quit and joined one of the many other, more mainstream Christian denominations in that city.

I conclude that, while he may be a believer, he sure "doesn't work very hard at it," as the character Henry Drummond puts it in the 1955 Jerome Lawrence - Robert E. Lee play Inherit the Wind. And when a man who doesn't work very hard (or take very seriously) his supposed religion wants to be seen as a religious and righteous man, as in a presidential campaign, he often turns to exaggerated playacting of the trappings of religion, rather than faith itself. He carries around a gigantic Bible in a wheelbarrow, or he makes an elaborate ritual of writing a vacuous "prayer" on a piece of paper and invites two dozen journalists to come see him place it in the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

And in the latter case, of course he wants the public to read his nondenominational call for continued guidance by the higher power he wants us to think he believes in... else what is the point? He could just stick a blank piece of paper in the crack, and nobody would be the wiser (well, no human, at least).

I've frequently been accused of being the most cynical and suspicious fellow in the building, when it comes to the motives and intentions of professional politicians; I quote my hero, Bill Clinton: "I plead guilty to that." But for God's sake, somebody has to at least raise the possibility that this entire incident -- which fits so perfectly into Barack H. Obama's political campaign -- is just a cynical ploy to gain sympathy and make a play for the "Jeebus Crispy" vote.

However, let me initiate a preemptive apology process: I hereby announce that I am very sorry if anybody is offended by anything I say. My enemies accuse me of caring too much, and I admit the charge. I apologize for all the bigoted actions and statements of my remote ancestors. And I want everybody to kneel down right here and now and join me in prayer... that the hate-filled hearts of those who disagree with me may be softened and filled with love, as mine is.

So having fulfilled my obligations in advance, I leave you with this final conundrum. Numerous newspapers and other media outlets reported that Maariv claims that "Obama submitted a copy of the note to media outlets when he left his hotel in Jerusalem," before visiting the wall. This is either true or false:

  • If it's false, why didn't the reporting media who had reporters present with Obama in Israel say something like, "however, our reporter did not receive any copy of this prayer?" That would certainly have put the onus back on Maariv to prove their statement.
  • Contrariwise, if it's true, then shouldn't the reporting media point that out in the story, thus putting the lie to the Obama campaign's claim that this was a terrible violation of the privacy of his divine conversations?

Yet instead of providing the evidence they clearly had, evidence that would either have supported Obama or Maariv, every last media source chose to stand silent.

Why?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 27, 2008, at the time of 2:39 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

July 25, 2008

Jean le Kerry Redux: Obama Tops Among Americans Who Wish They Were Europeans Instead

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

From the "be careful what you wish for" department, we have this story that Barack H. Obama has found a group of Americans (?) who support him even more overwhelmingly than blacks -- Americans who choose to live in Europe:

Barack Obama's campaign has received roughly 10 times more money from declared U.S. donors living in Germany, France and Britain than his Republican rival, reflecting his popularity in Europe as he makes his first tour of the continent as the presumed Democratic nominee.

Federal Election Commission reports show Obama has raised at least $1 million from donors who identify themselves as Americans living in Great Britain, Germany and France, while John McCain has taken in at least $150,000.

It's not exactly surprising that Americans who have a European perspective and prefer to live outside the United States support the socialist-leaning Obama, who hangs out with America-bashing (and even bombing) pals like Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright, against the America-loving John S. McCain, who has actually worn a uniform and fought for his country. But the cosmopolitan worldview may not precisely help the Obama campaign; it raises the specter of John F. Kerry sitting around the family mansion chatting amiably with his latest sugar-mama wife... in French.

That image of decadence, ultra-sophistication, and condescension devastated the Kerry campaign in 2004; and I suspect the more of the same disdain for America and American values we see from Obama, the more he will repel real Americans.

Reactionary progressivism

As a general rule, today's liberal leaders have transformed the Democratic party into the party of "Americans who wish they were Europeans." For decades, I have heard that Europe (and the UK in particular) believes that "the world" -- read "the United States of America" -- ought to look to Europe (read "Britain") for a lead; there are clearly millions of Americans in the US and in Europe who agree heartily, and they're all Democrats (except for a few who are Greens). Not all Democrats are Euro-wannabes (EWs); but virtually all EWs are Democrats... and they're the ruling chunk of the party; this explains virtually every anti-American, "old world" tendency found in the modern Democratic Party.

That segment of Democrats composes Obama's core constituency; he explicitly plays to the EWs, while he simultaneously sucks up to actual Europeans who wish America were a good and obedient member of the European Union (Obama himself is a Euro-wannabe):

The fecklessness of the UN shows how little it means to be a "citizen of the world." It means something, though, to be a citizen of the EU, and Obama espoused distinctly European views, pledging to move American policy in a European direction -- and to make the United States more European -- under a President Obama.

Scott "Big Johnson" Trunk goes on to list a number of examples of Obamasms that in fact play directly to a European audience (and to an EW one); then he concludes:

Josef Joffe noted in The New Republic, “If he ran in Germany, Obama would carry the country by a landslide, with 67 percent of the vote.” This comes as no surprise, as this is a speech about turning America into the European Union more than anything else.

If the number of Americans who wish they were sophisticated enough to be Europeans outweighs (or outpolls) the number of real Americans who believe in American exceptionalism and don't look to Europe for "a lead," then Obama will win. Otherwise, the next president will be John McCain.

Two great cultures divided by a common history

Naturally, the values of Europeans and American EWs on the one hand and real Americans on the other differ markedly:

  • In general, Europeans don't believe in peace through strength but in peace through incessant prattling with each other.
  • In general, Europeans have only a sketchy understanding of the connection between intelligence (in the spying sense, not the IQ sense) and military success; they find intelligence gathering repugnant, inaesthetic, and beneath their dignity.
  • In general, Europeans don't support Capitalism; they reluctantly include it in their five-year economic plans, while holding their noses and mugging like they've just eaten something disagreeable.
  • In general, Europeans have only a sketchy understanding of the connection between intelligence (in the IQ sense, not the spying sense) added to hard work, and economic results; so they tend to have bad work habits. These can be overcome, particularly in the Northern European cultures (the Teutonic countries, the low countries, and Scandanavia)... but it's a very intense and implicate disconnect in the Mediterranean countries and in the former Soviet-run countries.
  • In general, Europeans are significantly more prone to believe wacky conspiracy theories, from the "Truther" idea that 9/11 was an inside job, to the insane idea that every scientist who disputes anthropogenic global climate change is in the pay of Big Carbon, to the "magic pill" conspiracy I discussed in an earlier post.
  • In general, European culture is areligious, often militantly secular -- not just refraining from belief but showing overt hostility to it.
  • In general, Europeans have no firm ideological beliefs... everything is up for grabs. (Even Leftism, which is simply the default condition... it can and has been modified into liberal fascism of the Wilsonian/Rooseveltian molds (they were both classic EWs), illiberal fascism of the Hitlerian mold, welfare-statism, and even what lefties who wanted to blame us for the Soviets used to call "state capitalism." But the constant is statism, about the only ideology that the typical European will fight for.)
  • And in general, the only constant belief found in virtually every European of virtually every political, social, religious, or ideological bent, is belief in his own superiority to the rest of the world -- from the Hottentots in the "Non-Integrating Gap" of Thomas P.M. Barnett to the nouveau-riche barbarians in America. This sense of superiority usually translates into an almost unbearably frothy smugness and refusal to take seriously any American leader who does not kow-tow to the Euro-elites... that is, look to "the continent" for a lead.

The vision of the anointed

I believe this list also perfectly describes the vanguard of the Democratic Party in the United States, and particularly its current Savior and Light Bearer, Barack H. Obama: They take their votes from those who wish they were sophisticated, cultured Europeans -- and who thus try to ape them in everything they do. (Including, in extreme cases of Euro-worship among native-born Americans, speaking some European language at home -- usually French, the international language of snootiness -- rather than English.)

Note, for example, that when Obama (who speaks no foreign language) chastised Americans for not speaking foreign languages, all of the examples he cited came from one particular, tiny segment of the globe:

Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual? We should have every child speaking more than one language.

You know, it's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], "Merci beaucoup." Right? [The mob of Democrats brays with derisive laughter at this point.]

He doesn't demand that we all learn Japanese, Arabic, Persian, Bahasa Indonesia, or Tagalog; he ridicules us for not teaching our kids Spanish, French, and German -- the languages of employability, according to Obama. I'm sure he would also include Italian, Dutch, and Portuguese, except he probably thinks they speak Spanish in Portugal (and Brazil). That is, he looks to Western Europe for a lead.

This trait is worrisome, but it's not particularly new; it's actually a reactionary throwback to the antebellum nineteenth century, when America still felt inferior to the old, established monarchies in the Old World. I think many Americans have the vague, uneasy feeling that every European is somehow related to royalty... and you now how Democrats go bananas over "the Royals."

We've seen such Euro-deference in John Kerry, of course, but also in Algore -- who still roams the continent (Europe, not North America) basking in the approval from his masters -- and even Bill Clinton, who was a Rhodes Scholar (though not a successful one) in his youth.

The men on the wall

It worries me, of course, because Euro-worship doesn't find any place for global guardians from evil; they do not see any reason why we need "men on the wall," as Jack Nicholson's character Col. Jessup calls them in a Few Good Men. They cannot even fathom these words -- though of course, their forebears would have had no difficulty:

We live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and curse the Marines; you have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use then as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest that you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

In fact, Europe is the source of the Democratic fallacy that the gravest danger facing us today is not radical, militant Islamism and world terrorism -- but global warming and smoking. Global "health" substitues for global security or global liberty... i.e., "the Earth has a fever," or "good health is a human right." (To whom do I complain about the deprivation of my human rights due to my cat allergy?)

I cannot see Barack Obama responding to a future 9/11 in any forceful or effective way; but I can see him issuing an executive order banning trans-fats from the American diet and making the BMI scale, the Body Mass Index of weight to height, mandatory.

So you just have to ask yourself one question: Do you feel comfortable electing a "citizen of the world" to be President of the United States? Or do you want to elect someone who thinks that the United States has nothing for which to apologize to the rest of the world, and rather is unique in its willingness to defend the liberty even of those who would throw it away at the first rustle of an aggrieved party?

How you answer presages how you will vote on November 4th.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 25, 2008, at the time of 5:59 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 20, 2008

Will Elite Media Ask Obama Whether Their Coverage of Him is Fair?

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Well, we're not quite back yet; but we're out of the back country and rarin' to jump back into the political fray. So cowboy up and read on!

˜

The elite media love to gaze upon Barack H. Obama... but if there is anything they love more, it's gazing upon their own navels. Thus, we're not at all surprised to note that the big story of the day is -- "What should the big story of the day be?" Or in this case, who should it be... and should it be Barack H. Obama all day, every day?

Television news' royalty will fly in to meet Barack Obama during this week's overseas trip: CBS chief anchor Katie Couric in Jordan on Tuesday, ABC's Charles Gibson in Israel on Wednesday and NBC's Brian Williams in Germany on Thursday.

The anchor blessing defines the trip as a Major Event and -- much like a "Saturday Night Live" skit in February that depicted a press corps fawning over Obama -- raises anew the issue of fairness in campaign coverage.

The news media have devoted significantly more attention to the Democrat since Hillary Rodham Clinton suspended her campaign and left a two-person contest for the presidency between Obama and Republican John McCain, according to research conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The media have two competing impulses here:

  • One is the irresistable force of their desire to elect the "revolutionary" Obama, whose soap-bubble-thin image mirrors every radical longing these wannabe Weathermen wannasee crammed down the throat of real America... each desire highlighted in the prismatic, rainbow aura in which these "journalists" see themselves.

(I remember when I was about five and a half years old and in a funk about something bad that had happened, I would visualize myself standing tall, arms akimbo, atop a platform shaped like a giant, scintillant number six; I convinced myself that When I Was Six, all would be airy perfection and rushy success.

(I envison Charles Gibson and Brian Williams doing roughly the same thing; respected elder statesmen that they are, they're still but pre-schoolers in the emotional and spiritual sense.)

  • The countervailing impulse is the immovable object of journalists' song of themselves: pristine, Ivory-Soap exemplars and Templars of absolute neutrality and unbiased, tell it like it is honesty.

Their desire to save the world careers headlong into their Gibraltaresque image of themselves as Murrow, Cronkite, and Rather tossed together and covered with Green Goddess dressing; they cover Obama obsessively, all the while questioning their own politicking with a primal, narcissistic scream of existential angst.

I fill to the brim with sardonicism.

A large part of my amusement flows from the inability of newsies even to recognize how biased they really are. For example, throughout this song of themselves, all actors assume that naturally, what Obama does is truly "newsworthy"... while McCain is just the same, boring old story:

News executives say there are reasons for the disparity, such as the continuing story about whether Clinton's and Obama's supporters can reconcile. [What about the "continuing story" about whether McCain and conservatives can reconcile?] They even partly blame McCain. By criticizing Obama for a lack of foreign policy experience, McCain raised the stakes for Obama's trip, "especially if he winds up going into two war zones," said Paul Friedman, senior vice president of CBS News.

Obama has traveled to Afghanistan and is expected to go to Iraq. He is also scheduled to visit Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England. Network anchors stayed home during McCain's recent foreign excursions.

When McCain travels to Afghanistan and Iraq, it's stale, old news. When Obama does the same, it's Obama traveling to two war zones! -- and it leads. But it's worse than that... the elite media simply cannot imagine that anyone in the country is interested in anything that a Republican says or does, except to the extent that it illustrates his perfidy. Thus, in their minds, there are no McCain stories to report in the first place:

Friedman cautioned against reading too much into things like PEJ's coverage index, noting that it's a long campaign. Yet it's an open question about whether Obama is simply a more interesting candidate at this point, partly because McCain has been on the scene longer.

While fairness is the goal, "what are we supposed to do, go gin up some story about McCain to get some rough equality of airtime?" he said. "I don't think so."

Well, for starters, CBS and the other nets could try honestly reporting McCain's speeches, policy proposals, legislation, pork-busting activities, biography, and growing support within both the Republican and independent communities... you know, the same things they report with breathless excitement about Obama. (Except that B.O. hasn't any of those qualities but the first -- a few speeches that push all the right buttons in all the right megaphonic media mavens).

But such open-minded, democratic coverage you will not see. Boiled down, the nabobs simply cannot bring themselves to believe that anybody cares a fig for John S. McCain. So they will go through the motions, rolling eyes and hucking and smirking, reassuring themselves that they're beacons of objectivity... all the while making the world safe from democrazy and other derangements.

But it's to no avail, because these media legends in their own minds are about as subtle, opaque, and inscrutible as Barack Obama's personal presidential seal. With every
"fawning" performance, the American voter will further discount anything he sees, reads, or hears about the Obamessiah from the anointed ones.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 20, 2008, at the time of 10:54 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

July 7, 2008

Service Record a Huge Plus - for Democratic Candidates

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Sachi

Newly minted Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA, 85%) has urged that John S. McCain should "calm down" on emphasizing his military experience and stop taking advantage of his valor and character as the Republican nominee for (among other tasks) Commander in Chief of all American armed forces:

"I think what we really need to work on over the next four, five months, and it goes back to the speech that Sen. Obama gave [Monday] and this little fight that I've been watching and that is, we need to make sure that we take politics out of service," Webb said. "People don't serve their country for political issues."

He continued: "And John McCain's my long-time friend, if that is one area that I would ask him to calm down on, it`s that, don't be standing up and uttering your political views and implying that all the people in the military support them because they don't, any more than when the Democrats have political issues during the Vietnam War. Let's get the politics out of the military, take care of our military people, or have our political arguments in other areas."

Now, who was it, during the Democratic Party national convention of 2004, saluted and declared he was "reporting for the duty?" Wasn't his bullet wound in the fundament and his imaginary trip to Cambodia -- with his imaginary CIA friend who gave him the magic hat -- good enough to earn this fellow a presidential nomination? But evidently, being shot down by the enemy and spending five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton now counts for nothing, say nine separate Democratic pols and pundits (plus Webb), according to Jim Geraghty at National Review Online:

Now, it would help if the man the Economist magazine labeled an "angry potato" would provide an example of McCain "uttering his political views and implying that all the people in the military support them when they don't." Has McCain said that everyone in the military supports the Iraq War? His idea of a "League of Democracies"? Tax cuts? Webb denounces a comment McCain hasn't made, and in fact I think Webb is the first to accuse McCain of this.

Jim Webb, a former first lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps and receipient of numerous medals (Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts... almost as many as John Kerry!) has certainly built his political career on his service. His political appointments, such as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Regan, most certainly depended upon his distinguished military background, including his graduation from Annapolis -- as well as his series of military novels.

And Webb made full use of his status as a decorated war hero when he ran for the United States Senate in 2006.

So what is this "calm down" business? When John Kerry run for the presidency, he could not finish a sentence without saying he served in Vietnam; it became a national joke. I heard no Democrat -- not even Jim Webb -- complain about that.

There is a concerted effort underway by Barack H. Obama supporters to marginalize McCain's military service record. It's not just Weasley Clark and Jim Webb; in April, Sen. John Rockefeller (D-WV, 89%), during an interview with The Charleston Gazet, criticized McCain for being "insensitive" to "human issues":

Rockefeller believes McCain has become insensitive to many human issues. "McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit.

"What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn't know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues."

Leaving aside the obvious stupidities -- McCain flew attack aircraft, A-4 Skyhawks, not fighters; you don't attack in an A-4 from "35,000 feet" but from flat on the deck; and there were no "laser-guided missiles" used during the Vietnam war -- the implication is truly disgusting: Rockefeller, based upon no evidence whatsoever, is calling McCain a war criminal who massacred civilians.

Some left wingers such as MoveOn are suggesting McCain was a traitor during his long captivity... again, without any evidence other than their own irrational hatred of John McCain. They claim he betrayed his country to the North Vietnamese, selling classified information for favors. These accusers demand McCain release his military record (I think it's clear they just want to retaliate for the earlier demands that John Kerry release his).

But that aside, accusing McCain of not thinking about servicemen because he opposed Jim Webb's G.I.bill is worse than disingenious. As Dafydd explains:

This version of the new G.I. Bill gives full benefits -- the same benefits -- to every vet who served at least three years. The net effect of this, of course, is to encourage veterans to leave the service after a mere three years, typically before even rising to the rank of sergeant or petty officer third class. Every institution from the Pentagon to the Congressional Budget Office agrees that it would hurt retention of combat veterans -- in the middle of a war.

So if a Republican uses his distinguished military service to boost his candidacy and promote a strong military, he is doing wrong and should "calm down." But if a Democrat uses his distinguised military career as a shield, so he can advocate policies that will help destroy the greatest characteristic of the American military, our stellar core of seasoned, experienced non-coms... then that is a great thing and should be applauded.

How nice.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, July 7, 2008, at the time of 9:31 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 30, 2008

Obama, On the Other Hand...

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Former General Weasley Clark, now a Barack H. Obama supporter, is skeptical of John S. McCain's pretensions to being the stuff that a good Commander in Chief is made of:

Underscoring during a national television appearance a position he has been expressing for several weeks, Clark said performing heroic military service is not a substitute for gaining command experience...

...Whereas Obama's command experience is unimpeach--

"In the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk," he said on CBS'"Face the Nation.""It's a matter of gauging your opponents and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions...

...Unlike Obama, who has been held accountable for his critical decisions on hundreds of occas--

"He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee and he has traveled all over the world, but he hasn't held executive responsibility," Clark said. "That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded - that wasn't a wartime squadron..."

...By contrast, the executive responsibility that Obama has exercised is so vast as to--

He's a great man and an honorable man. But having served as a fighter pilot -- and I know my experience as a company commander in Vietnam -- that doesn't prepare you to be commander in chief in terms of dealing with the national strategic issues that are involved...

...Now my man Barack H. Obama, contrariwise, has much greater experience dealing with the national strategic issues; after all, he's been in the United States Senate for three, almost four years now!

Barack H. Obama and his pony-pal, Weasley Clark: With fiends like these, who needs enemas?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 30, 2008, at the time of 6:26 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

June 23, 2008

Obama Hints That "Somebody" Will Mention That "He's Black" - But Which Somebody?

Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Everybody is reporting this little racist meme worm that slithered from the lips of Barack H. Obama on Friday:

We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?"

Hm... let's see if we can guess what Obama implies here: He darkly hints that John S. McCain, well-known racist and xenophobe -- just look how he's always attacking immigrants! -- will (not "might" but "will") base his campaign against Obama on reminding voters that Obama has "a funny name" (he's not one of us)... and is black.

Fortunately, Obama is "above black and white" and "beyond race."

So how long will it be before a series of thuggish, racist e-mails, street-mailings, and YouTubes crudely attacking Barack Obama really does materialize? My guess is that it will wait until the election itself looms; possibly one week beforehand, just like the DUI hit on George W. Bush in 2000.

Why wait? For a very good reason: The perpetrators of that series of attacks do not want there to be enough time to discover the actual source of the "attacks"... which will originate from some radical leftist group hoping for a "backlash" against McCain.

Obama as much as begs for a "false-flag" operation by his phraseology: "They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me." Translation: If you see any racist or xenophobic ads, you will know that they put them up. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain... blame McCain, blame McConnell, blame the racist, fascist Republicans!

I am about 70% convinced that somebody on the Left will attempt just such a dirty trick. If it happens, I only hope that McCain and the Republicans will (a) categorically denounce such attacks (that takes no courage at all); but also (b) have the guts to immediately raise the strong likelihood that the real author is an Obama supporter trying to smear McCain and the GOP.

I don't know if he will have the nerve; no GOP nominee in the last two decades would have done so: Republicans are too skittish about grabbing a live wire with their bare hands. Let's hope that McCain has learned enough from his rather eventful life to understand a critical fact: The charge of racism is so heinous, not even innocence is a defense.

The only defense is an immediate credible counter-accusation that if Democrats want to find the real racists, they should look in a mirror. After all, so far in this election cycle, the only candidate to raise the point of Obama's race has been -- Hillary Clinton, who noted (correctly) that the only reason Obama was ahead of her in the delegate count was his overwhelming support by black voters.

In fact, to even raise an unsupported, fabricated accusation of racism trivializes real racism -- and it hurts blacks; just as Tawana Brawley's and Crystal Gail Mangum's false charges of racism and rape trivialized both evils, thus hurting both blacks and women who have been vicimized by real racism or actual rape.

McCain's rapid-response team had better get those counter-accusation ads ready now, so he'll be prepared to hit back before the first slime has a chance to settle and change voters' perceptions.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 23, 2008, at the time of 4:06 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 20, 2008

Campaign Saturation Point: Can Barack H. Obama Buy the Presidency?

Predictions , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Tom Bevan published a fascinating post questioning the conventional "wisdom" that Barack H. Obama is bound to win, because he will have a huge monetary advantage over John S. McCain in the general election:

But there's also the possibility that, as with the primaries, Obama's vulnerabilities as a candidate are significant enough that McCain (and perhaps more specifically a 527 group) won't need a ton of money to be competitive in some key battleground states.

If nothing else, the general election appears to be shaping up as an interesting test case in asymmetrical political warfare.

I sympathize with Bevan's position, of course, because I have been saying the same thing for some time. But it needs more fleshing out than Bevan gave it in his (too brief!) blogpost.

I emphatically believe that every campaign in every election generates a campaign saturation point (CSP), beyond which further campaigning -- ads on TV and radio, appearances on talk shows, billboards, posters, signs, rallies, debates, GOTV, and door-knocking electioneering -- diminish, rather that augment a candidate's electoral performance. This factor should be measured in campaign density, not duration: You don't want to stop campaigning two months before the election, but you might want to throttle back on your campaigning to avoid oversaturating the market (inundating voters).

Past that point, no amount of money a campaign has on hand will help... and it can hurt a candidate badly, since there is an almost irresistable impulse for a campaign to burn through every penny it raises... even if doing so hurts rather than helps. Thus, Obama's "advantage" over McCain in campaign cash won't be as big as the raw figures naively indicate... and may not exist at all, depending where Obama's CSP lands.

CSP is a very hard factor to measure, not least because the CSP depends upon several variables, including (a non-exhaustive list):

  • The intelligence of the campaign: A smart campaign has a higher CSP than a stupid one;
  • The importance of the underlying issues: If the contested issues impact the lives of ordinary voters, they will have a greater tolerance for the candidates campaigning on those issues;
  • The likability of the candidate himself: Voters will be more tolerant of a candidate they like than one they dislike;
  • Competing interests: If there are many other stories competing for voters' interests, they will be less tolerant of a candidate campaigning.

But no matter how smart a campaign is, how important the issues, how likeable the candidate, and how little else may be on TV or in the news, there is still a CSP beyond which more campaign intensity is counterproductive.

The concept of CSP is homologous to a similar phenomenon I learned about anent reconstruction money in areas devastated by war or natural disaster: You can only pump so much money into reconstruction, an amount determined by the available infrastructure: Beyond that, money is simply flushed away. In Iraq, for example, there are only so many people available at any one time, based on skill and security, to rebuild an electrical grid or sewer lines; even if you have more money in your pocket, it won't do any good to throw it around.

This point is easy to understand by a time-honored logical technique, reductio ad absurdum. (This is probably the most abused argument in the rhetorical lexicon; but I am a trained professional, so you can trust me to use it correctly, with aplomb.)

Consider this ridiculously extreme hypothetical scenario:

Imagine that you sit down to watch your favorite TV show... and each and every last commercial is an advert for a candidate -- the very candidate you most like. Every commercial -- back to back to back during the commercial breaks.

Assume they're all clever, all different, and you really like the guy. He or she is talking about issues dear to your heart; and frankly, there is nothing else happening in the world to compete for your political attention. In other words, a perfect test case.

But this barrage of ads goes on day after day, week after week, month after month: All you ever see on TV, hear on the radio, see on billboards, or read in the newspapers in between the actual programming or news stories are ads for your candidate.

It doesn't take much imagination to realize what a nightmare this would soon become. Your guy would start reminding you of Big Brother in Orwell's classic 1984. You start thinking of the Police song: Every breath you take, every move you make, he's watching you.

After a while, you would begin muting the sound and running out of the room when a new commercial came on. You would avert your eyes from his image on posters along the street or adverts in the newspaper. And I think we can all agree that the net effect would be that many erstwhile supporters would vote against him in the election -- out of sheer pique, if nothing else.

This isn't a formal proof, of course; that would require more quantification than is available. But it does strongly indicate that a CSP always exists -- at least in theory. The real question is whether it's ever reached in practice, under real-world limitations. (There! That's an example of a professional logician at work, using reductio properly. Aren't you relieved?)

I believe we're going to see a real-world test of this hypothesis. Barack H. Obama is almost certainly going to raise more money between now and November than he raised in the primary phase of the campaign, as many former Hillary Clinton supporters will now send money to Obama for the general campaign. Since he raised in excess of $275 million (!) for the primary, we can expect him to raise well over $300 million for the general. In addition, the DNC will raise some millions (despite having Howard Dean as chairman), and of course liberal 527 groups like MoveOn.org and other Soros-backed groups, NARAL, GLAAD and ACT-UP, the Kossacks, union-owned 527s, and such will have a field day.

At the end, it would not be surprising if Obama and allies spent half a billion dollars on his campaign.

No candidate in history has ever spent this much money in a presidential race, not even in constant dollars. This campaign is already unprecedented, and it's only going to push the record farther and farther as the months pass until November 4th.

By contrast, McCain -- who is accepting public financing -- will receive $84.1 million for his general election, and he cannot raise any private money to supplement that (barring minor amounts of private money raised to pay for "legal and accounting expenses associated with complying with the campaign finance law.")

Apart from that $84 million, McCain will benefit from soft money raised by the Republican National Committee and from whatever GOP 527 organizations can raise and spend on his behalf. Note that this limit has nothing to do with McCain-Feingold per se; this system has been in effect since passage of the 1971 Revenue Act, the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act, and the 1974 Amendments to the latter.

It's hard to imagine that McCain's campaign will have even as much as $200 million available for campaigning (which, until this year, would have been considered a lot of money). There is simpy no question that Team Obama will outspend Team McCain by about 2.5 to 1, and possibly by as much as 3:1.

It's clear that Democrats, both politicians and the media wing of the DNC, passionately believe that the staggering amount of cash available to Obama will, quite simply, allow him to buy the presidency. I suspect that deep down, even most Republican and conservative pols and pundits think this.

But I'm quite convinced -- in fact, let's call this a Lizardly prediction -- that far from a benefit, this will end up crossing far beyond the CSP, the campaign saturation point, and will actually impact Obama's campaign as a negative. Here's why:

  1. Right now, voters like Obama. But as candidates edge closer to their CSP, one of the first qualities to be affected is likability... voters battered by too much campaigning tend to resent and dislike the candidate who is pounding them with ads.
  2. The importance of the underlying issues will cut against Obama; he is on the wrong side of the energy issue (which is issue number one on voters' minds this year), the wrong side of the tax issue, and even (astonishingly enough) the wrong side of what to do going forward in Iraq: He's frantically dancing, trying to weasel his way out of his longstanding demand for immediate and unconditional withdrawl -- while most voters, even those who agree with Obama that the war was a mistake, nevertheless prefer victory to defeat.
  3. Obama has shown an astonishingly tin ear when it comes to the average American and what he thinks and wants; he makes gaffes all the time, the prototype being his assertion that people "cling" to guns and God because they're embittered and helpless. But the more money Obama has, the more access to the voters, the more those gaffes (which Obama often doesn't recognize until the inevitable negative reaction) will be projected across the nation.
  4. Too, candidates with Obama-sized egos tend to believe in their own genius; and the more successful they are, the more money they rake in, the more convinced they are that they know better than everybody else about everything else. Their handlers can no longer rein them in.

    (Think of the literary excesses of J.K. Rowling, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King: The bigger they got, the harder it became for editors to actually edit their books, which became bloated and spongy.)

    They descend into preening and gloating, or they make reckless attacks on their opponents. Often they wrest complete control of their campaigns away from the professionals -- the candidate becomes his own campaign mangler.

    If Obama enters this phase, as I think he very likely will, it will amplify point (3) above through a feedback loop: There will be fewer filters between Obama in the raw and the voters, and fewer people to tell him when he's gone off the deep end. Again.

  5. Obama's success is predicated upon a fundamentally false image: that he is a "different kind of candidate," "above politics," "beyond race," who represents "real change that we can believe in" -- indeed, practically a political messiah. But the more visibility he has, due to the sheer volume of adverts, events, and activists, the more scrutiny and skepticism he invites. At every slight misstep, the contrast between well-funded Obamania and the seemy underbelly of reality will raise the specter of hypocrisy -- a mortal political sin.

Obviously, a presidential nominee needs a certain level of money to run an effective campaign; he needs enough to pay for all the appurtenances of a modern campaign: staff, administration, transportation, lawyers, adverts, crowds of enthused acolytes, street fighters, and especially GOTV (get out the vote) efforts on election day itself. But John McCain's funding only seems scant by comparison with Barack Obama's; objectively, McCain will have plenty of cash to run a strong, effective campaign.

McCain will continue to give town-hall meetings (a very inexpensive and effective way to campaign, especially in swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and so forth). And he will continue to demand that Obama debate him in just such an unstructured format... which happens to be Obama's weakest suit. (He is best at set spiels on predetermined topics that Obama can memorize or read off the teleprompter -- in other words, exactly the "Lincoln-Douglas" format that Obama insists upon.)

Eventually, I believe Obama will have to agree to at least one or two televised, prime-time town-hall meetings, because those are the only ones where audience members really feel like they participated. When he does, the contrast between how good he is in set pieces versus how dreadful he is at town-hall meetings (and how good McCain is) will stand out all the greater because of campaign saturation: It will be something completely different voters can use to judge Obama.

For these reasons and too many others to squeeze into the tiny space available in this post, I believe that we are actually going to see a clean and clear demonstration of a candidate, Barack H. Obama, far exceeding his campaign saturation point... to his detriment and McCain's benefit. It's one of many reasons I see no reason to change my prediction that John McCain will be our next president.

I don't even believe it will be that close; I predict McCain will win by more than Bush did in 2004.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 20, 2008, at the time of 7:32 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

June 19, 2008

Pooh on the Presidency

Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Note that one of the categories for this post is "Liberal Lunacy"... and in this case, I really do mean lunacy. As in mental derangement.

I know others have already discussed this. I tried to resist; really, I did. But in the end, I couldn't stop myself from looking at the train wreck. And now I must say something.

I think we all should.

America is poised (perhaps) to elect a man whose pick for National Security Advisor gets his national-security gestalt from -- yes, you already heard, so you know I'm not ribbing you -- from Winnie the Pooh.

There, I said it. I'm not proud, but I said it: The stuffed bear which doesn't actually exist (it's a fictional stuffed bear). Here's the full monty:

Richard Danzig, who served as Navy Secretary under President Clinton and is tipped to become National Security Adviser in an Obama White House, told a major foreign policy conference in Washington that the future of US strategy in the war on terrorism should follow a lesson from the pages of Winnie the Pooh, which can be shortened to: if it is causing you too much pain, try something else.

Mr Danzig told the Centre for New American Security: "Winnie the Pooh seems to me to be a fundamental text on national security...."

Mr Obama’s candidacy was given an early boost by his opposition to the Iraq war and he has repeatedly said the US needs to rethink its approach to the Middle East.

Mr Danzig spelt out the need to change by reading a paragraph from chapter one of the children’s classic, which says: "Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump on the back of his head behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming down stairs. But sometimes he thinks there really is another way if only he could stop bumping a minute and think about it."

And this is from the senior national-security advisor to the Democratic nominee who just said:

"I refuse to be lectured on national security by people who are responsible for the most disastrous set of foreign policy decisions in the recent history of the United States," Obama said in opening remarks that in part referred to the Iraq war.

He was standing before 17 American flags and a sign that said "Judgment to Lead." He was surrounded by national security experts who had formerly served in Congress and the Clinton administration and will be advising his campaign -- an effort to bring foreign policy experience to a candidate who has served just three years in Congress.

"Oh bother," said Pooh; "Piglet's out stumping for votes."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 19, 2008, at the time of 4:55 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 18, 2008

The American Military: Threat... or Menace?

Injudicious Judiciary , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

An illuminating argument has erupted between Democratic (de facto) nominee, Barack H. Obama, and Republican (de facto) nominee, John S. McCain. Simply put, Obama said in an interview that we should go back to the Bill Clinton policy of only going after terrorists in the courts, with writs and subpoenas, and not by force and violence; McCain said this was naive, that we had already tried this approach -- and it brought us 9/11; and Obama has ripped him for engaging in the "politics of fear."

Fear. This reminds me... in a BBS discussion I was just involved in, one very leftist participant sneered something (I don't rememeber the precise wording) to the effect that, "I'm not afraid of old men in turbans living in caves," and accused me of being a frightened, sniveling coward.

I asked him whether he had ever wondered why they're now living in caves, instead of Afghan training camps and Iraqi palaces... but he didn't respond, of course; having run rings around me logically, he had already moved on.

The answer should be clear with a little thought: Because military action by President George W. Bush drove them out of those camps and palaces, harried them up and down the land, until finally the only place they could find to hide -- was in a hole, whence they can no longer direct terrorist campaigns against the United States or our allies.

Keep this in mind as you read the following:

At issue were Obama's comments Monday in an interview with ABC News. Obama was asked how he could be sure the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies are not crucial to protecting U.S. citizens.

Obama said the government can crack down on terrorists "within the constraints of our Constitution." He mentioned the indefinite detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees, contrasting their treatment with the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

"And, you know, let's take the example of Guantanamo," Obama said. "What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks - for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center - we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

"And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, 'Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims....

"We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws," Obama said.

What conclusions can we draw from this unguarded admission by Sen. Obama?

  • Obama as much as admits that under his presidency, America will no longer go after terrorists militarily, but only through the courts.
  • He thinks that 1990s policy worked out much better than the current one. Evidently, he is completely ignorant of the numerous terrorist attacks on United States interests during that period... and he has even forgotten 9/11 itself.

(Or perhaps Obama thinks that 9/11 only happened because terrorists thought Bush was weak; had Algore been president, they would have been quaking in their boots so that they would never have attacked us! But that's a bit hard to swallow, considering how comfortable they had become with the Clinton policy -- which allowed for one major terrorist strike against the Great Satan every 2-3 years.)

  • As well, Obama has never even heard of any of the terrorist prosecutions conducted by the Bush administration -- including those of "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla, "failed shoe-bomber" Richard Reid, and "twentieth hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui

John McCain finds the Obama/Clinton/Carter "law enforcement" policy dangerously naive and unworkable:

The McCain campaign responded with a call in which McCain's senior foreign policy adviser Randy Schuenemann said, "Once again we have seen that Senator Obama is a perfect manifestation of a September 10th mindset. He brings the attitude, the failures of judgment, the weakness and the misunderstanding of the nature of our adversaries, and the dangers posed by them to a series of policy positions."

He added, "I have no doubt that we will hear in the course of the day that the Obama campaign will say we're practicing the, quote, politics of fear, and the reality is what Senator Obama's statement reflects last night is that he's advocating a policy of delusion that ignores what happened in the failed approach of the 1990's which allowed al Qaeda to thrive and prosper unmolested and that policy clearly made America less safe and more vulnerable."

For this attitude -- treating mass Islamist terrorism as war, not a criminal conspiracy -- Obama accuses McCain of just reiterating the "failed policies" of President Bush; failed presidential nominee John Kerry charges McCain with "defending a policy that is indefensible;" and Bush hater and presumed National Security Advisor under the Obama administration, Richard Clarke, called McCain's anti-terrorism policy the "big lie technique." Clarke thus directly compares John McCain to Josef Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

Obama continued his tirade:

"These are the same guys who helped engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9/11," Obama said on his campaign plane.

Presumably, Obama was referring to how some of the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing were prosecuted during the Clinton administration... but was not referring to, or even recalling, the utter failure ever to arrest anybody for any of the other mass Islamist terrorist attacks against the United States during the 1990s and into 2000.

It is true that some terrorists were prosecuted under Clinton; but in fact, Obama appears completely ignorant of the fact that far more terrorists have been criminally prosecuted -- in civilian courts -- during the Bush administration than during Clinton's tenure. The three high-profile cases mentioned above, Padilla, Reed, and Moussasoui, are just the tip of the ice cube.

In fact, according to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) out of Syracuse University, there have been 579 terrorism prosecutions from September 11th, 2001, through August, 2006, or 116 per year... compared to only 115 in the previous five years under Bill Clinton, or 23 per year. The rate of criminal-court terrorist prosecutions more than quintupled under Bush from what it was under Clinton.

Sure, maybe Clinton didn't go after the terrorists by force of arms; but don't forget, he didn't prosecute them, either! Does Obama really want to go back to the that failed policy?

Even more important, there are far more failed terrorist prosecutions than there are successful ones. The TRAC study, released in 2006, found that only 1% of defendants actually convicted in terrorism cases received sentences of 20 years or longer; and more than half of convicted defendants received only time already served -- or no prison time at all.

And this doesn't even include terrorists who cannot be tried because, as an integral part of the attack, they killed themselves: Not a single person who carried out the actual hijackings on September 11th, 2001, was ever tried, because all 19 of them died in the bestial orgy of murder.

Why are criminal prosecutions so dicey? The point is that the government's most important task is to prevent terrorist attacks... not sit around, wait for them to happen, and then prosecute the perpetrators (those who happen to survive). Thus lawn-forcement officers try to arrest the terrorists before they commit the attack; and this necessarily weakens the legal case. From the International Herald Tribune:

"There are many flaws in the report," said Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra. "It is irresponsible to attempt to measure success in the war on terror without the necessary details about the government's strategy and tactics."

For instance, Sierra said, prison sentences are "not the proper measure of the success of the department's overall counterterrorism efforts. The primary goal ... is to detect, disrupt and deter terrorist activities."

Because prosecutors try to charge potential terrorists before they act, they often allege fraud, false statements or immigration violations that carry lesser penalties than the offenses that could be charged after an attack, Sierra said. This "allows us to engage the enemy earlier than if we waited for them to act first."

But wait; maybe it's just the Bush administration that incompetently handles terrorism cases. Perhaps the Clinton administration was just much better at it. But that's not what the evidence appears to show:

TRAC totaled the cases that prosecutors labeled as terrorism or antiterrorism no matter what charge was brought. It found only 14 prosecutions in fiscal 2000. That rose to 57 in fiscal 2001, which ended three weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks [and which included the last four months of the Clinton administration]. The figure then soared to 355 in fiscal 2002. But by fiscal 2005 it dropped to 46. And in the first eight months of fiscal 2006, through last May, there were only 19 such prosecutions.

Even in FY 2006, the year in which the IHT sniffs that the Bush administration failed to prosecute enough terrorist cases, there were more prosecutions in the first eight months than in all of FY 2000.

But surely such prosecutions are the best method of preventing terrorist attacks... right? Hardly. During the last administration, there were several major Islamist terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda and affiliates: The first World Trade Center bombing in 1993; the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996; the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; and the USS Cole bombing in 2000. In addition, you have to count 9/11 itself in 2001, because the Bush administration had not yet shifted from the Clinton-era "law enforcement" response to terrorism to the more robust policy of military interdiction and of law enforcement driven by intelligence gathering (such collaborations were forbidden by "Gorelick's Wall" until after 9/11).

After we did shift strategy, however, from December 2001 to today, there have been exactly zero successful Islamist terrorist attacks on us, except for attacks on our military in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of "asymmetrical combat operations" in those wars. From five major successful attacks by radical Islamist terrorists to none at all... that's a pretty good argument for the McCain approach, rather than the Obama approach.

And here is yet another: Yesterday in the U.K., the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ordered the Ministry of Justice to release on bail Abu Qatada, the highest ranking al-Qaeda affiliate they currently hold -- and a direct clerical counsel to Osama bin Laden himself.

So why are they releasing him? As near as I can make out, Qatada was being held on an immigration charge:

  • He is a Jordanian, and he was tried and convicted in absentia (twice!) in a Jordanian court for "conspiracy to carry out bomb attacks on two hotels in Amman in 1998, and providing finance and advice for a series of bomb attacks in Jordan planned to coincide with the Millennium."
  • But because he had these two convictions pending, which presumably could result in a sentence of death in Jordan, he could not be deported back to that country... because the U.K. refuses to recognize the validity of executions.
  • Therefore, reasoned the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, since he could not be deported, that meant the entire immigration case against him collapsed.
  • Therefore, he could not be held indefinitely without a criminal charge.
  • But the moment Qatada was charged with a regular civilian crime, the judges told the Ministry that they had to offer Abu Qatada bail;

It seems that in the U.K., this is an even more fundamental right than here. For one difference, we do not set bail for a prisoner deemed a flight risk; and evidently, the U.K. does.

Therefore, Qatada walks tomorrow. I wonder how long it will be before he is spirited out the U.K. by his al-Qaeda friends? But in any event, that is another reason why America is much better off treating mortal combat as "warfare," rather than a mere "crime" that needs to be investigated, and a flurry of papers that need to fly out in response to the next 9/11.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 18, 2008, at the time of 4:30 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 16, 2008

McCain Energy Heads-Up: End Moratorium on Offshore Drilling (Details Tuesday)

Energy Woes and Wows , Future of Energy Production , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, John McCain gave a small preview of his major energy speech tomorrow:

Sen. John McCain said Monday the federal moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling should be lifted, and individual states given the right to pursue energy exploration in waters near their own coasts.

With gasoline prices rising and the United States chronically dependent on foreign oil, the Republican presidential contender said his proposal would "be very helpful in the short term resolving our energy crisis."

McCain also suggested giving the states incentives, including a greater share of royalties paid by companies that drill for oil, as an incentive to permit exploration.

Asked how far offshore states should be given control of drilling rights, he said that was a matter for negotiation.

He offered no other details for his proposal, which he is expected to describe more fully on Tuesday in an energy speech.

It's not clear yet (tomorrow, I hope) whether McCain distinguishes between drilling "offshore," which he wants to be up to the individual states, and drilling on the outer continental shelf (50 to 200 miles offshore, over the horizon several times over). The idea that individual states can prevent drilling 50 miles offshore, far beyond the territorial waters of the United States (12 nautical miles), is insane. It's within our 200 NM exclusive economic zone; but, per the 1982 Law of the Sea treaty, the EEZ applies to countries, not individual states. Leaving that up to the states is like allowing them to set their own customs and immigration policy.

Astonishingly enough -- and I know you're all going to be stunned to read this -- Barack H. Obama likes the current moratorium and wants it to remain in place in perpetuity. He reverently intoned, via spokesman, the enviro-hippie mantra of Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%):

McCain's presidential rival, Sen. Barack Obama, opposes an end to the moratorium, a spokesman said. Hari Sevugan said McCain's "plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies."

Generic "progressive" Democrats, such as Obama, think it the peak of absurdity to "drill our way out of the energy crisis," and they lose no opportunity to tell us unsophisticated rubes how impossible that is. The preferred plan of the anointed is to tax and conserve our way out of the energy crisis. (Rumors abound that Obama will shortly release a new plan urging the developing world to diet its way out of the world hunger crisis.)

Of course, one reason that Bush's plan for resolving the energy crisis -- more drilling and refining -- has utterly failed... is that the Democrats have repeatedly blocked it from being implemented:

  • Bush says, "we need to drill for more American oil to keep the cost down, and so that we don't have to buy billions of barrels from the Middle East and Venezuela;"
  • Democrats vote against it in lockstep, preventing it from going into effect;
  • Then they hoot that the Bush plan has "failed" -- after all, see how expensive gasoline is now?

This is worse than liberal logic... it's teen logic: Your sixteen year old son Barry gets a ticket for drag racing in the street, so you ground him; he can't drive the car for a month. Later, you spot him driving around. His argument? "You said I couldn't drive our car... you never said I couldn't drive Tony's car!"

If we let Barry get away with that, his next example of teen logic will be a real whopper... maybe yanking all the troops out of Iraq on the grounds that "we can't get in the middle of a civil war." By the time you point out that even the Associated Press admits -- very reluctantly, and with a million caveats -- that there is no civil war, and Iraq is calmer and less violent than it has been for years -- the damage is done, and Barry has already moved on to bigger, faster cars to menace more and more innocent bystanders: staggering tax increases, setting all the terrorist detainees free, inviting Iran and Syria into Iraq to take control, opening up legal marriage to any group of people of any size or gender.

It's about time we put our feet down (monkey with the plural of that expression all you want, you know what I mean). It's time to call the Democrats on their risible claim that gasoline scarcity cannot be remedied by producing more gasoline, but only by overtaxing gasoline instead.

Some political policies are so stupid and self destructive, they literally rise to the level of being anti-American.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 16, 2008, at the time of 3:36 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Obama Campaign More or Less Concedes Ohio and Florida to McCain

Elections , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In a telling and fairly stunning series of conversations, Barack H. Obama's campaign mangler, David Plouffe, has been telling "donors and former supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton" that Obama can win without siezing either Ohio or Florida from the Republicans. Their new strategy hinges on capturing Virginia (13 electoral votes) or Georgia (15):

"You have a lot of ways to get to 270," Plouffe said. "Our goal is not to be reliant on one state on November 4th."

Plouffe has been pitching such a new approach to the electoral map in calls and meetings, according to several people who discussed the conversations on the condition of anonymity because they were meant to be private. Plouffe confirmed the descriptions in the interview.

Plouffe and his aides are weighing where to contest, and where chances are too slim to marshal a large effort. A win in Virginia (13 electoral votes) or Georgia (15 votes) could give Obama a shot if he, like Kerry, loses Ohio or Florida.

In 2004, George W. Bush beat John Kerry by 34 electoral votes (286 to 252); so Obama would have to flip at least 18 electoral votes to win cleanly, 270 to 268. If he flips exactly 17, the race goes to the House of Representatives -- which votes by delegation, one vote per state; Republicans currently control 21 state delegations, the Democrats control 27, and 2 are split; Obama would be almost certain to win if the candidates tie 269-269. Therefore, Obama must win a net 17 electoral votes worth of states that George W. Bush won in 2004 to take the election.

Flipping either Florida or Ohio would do the trick, but only if John McCain is unable to capture any of the states that went to John Kerry in 2004 -- a very big "if." Plouffe, however, appears to be skeptical that either of those states will flip: He calls them "competitive," but plans for victory without them -- a dead giveaway. As well, there really are several "blue" states ripe for the picking by McCain:

The presumed Democratic nominee's electoral math counts on holding onto the states Kerry won, among them Michigan (17 electoral votes), where Obama campaigns on Monday and Tuesday. Plouffe said most of the Kerry states should be reliable for Obama, but three currently look relatively competitive with Republican rival John McCain - Pennsylvania [21], Michigan and particularly New Hampshire [4].

Neither Virginia nor Georgia by itself would do the trick for Obama, since he needs to flip 17. Indeed, Plouffe is also eyeballing Colorado (9), Nevada (5), New Mexico (5), Montana (3), Alaska (3), and North Dakota (3). But if McCain is running well in the center, these states will be very hard to steal from the GOP.

If McCain flips either Michigan (which went for Kerry by a scant 4%) or Pennsylvania (for Kerry by 2.5%), the race is probably over: Obama would have to flip Virginia, Georgia, and several other states -- a very unlikely scenario.

In his Southern strategy, Plouffe is relying on turning out new black voters to knock off one or more Dixie states:

The key, Plouffe told supporters, will be to register new black voters and new young voters in Virginia.

Likewise, Georgia has many unregistered black voters who could turn out in record numbers to support the first major-party nominee who is black, he argued. Plouffe said the campaign also will keep an eye on Mississippi and Louisiana as the race moves into the fall to see if new black voters could put them within reach.

But of course, the very quality of the nominee that would make him attractive to black voters in the South -- being an ultra-liberal senator who uses his race as a major campaign draw -- makes him correspondingly unattractive to white Southern voters, who will remember his deep connections to Jeremiah Wright and other black activist, anti-white demagogues.

All in all, I believe McCain has many more paths to victory than does Obama; and I also believe that if John McCain will finally take off the gloves and start fighting Obama in the center, this will not even be a close race:

  • McCain can make an excellent start by aggressively pushing to drill for oil everywhere that he has not already taken off the table -- which only includes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the actual coastal waters of states that reject drilling.

    That still leaves the outer continental shelf on both oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Bakken shale-oil formation, and other shale-oil sites. He can also push for liquification of coal, natural gas, and continue his quest for more gasoline refineries and nuclear power plants... "Drill here, drill now, pay less." Surveys show that Americans now strongly favor drilling, drilling, and more drilling;

  • He can aggressively pursue a constitutional amendment to undo the horrible Supreme-Court decision last week in Boumediene and dare Obama and the Democrats to oppose it: "Obama and his Democratic friends think foreign terrorists fighting America deserve more rights than our own soldiers," he can argue;
  • He can hammer Obama on the staggering taxes he plans to raise, on Obama's complete indifference to gasoline prices, his refusal to visit Iraq or meet with Gen. Petraeus before yanking the troops out, his wildly liberal stances on abortion, same-sex marriage, and guns, and his complete ignorance of how most people in the United States live and worship;
  • And he can tie Obama more directly to the latter's prediction that the counterinsurgency strategy would be a complete failure and disaster: If we had followed Obama's strategy, we would have withdrawn from Iraq in defeat. Fortunately, we followed McCain's judgment... and we have pretty much won, with some mopping up left to do.

David Plouffe is right, but not quite the way he imagines, when he says:

"You have a lot of ways to get to 270," Plouffe said. "Our goal is not to be reliant on one state on November 4th."

If McCain gets ahead of the power curve on the issues listed above, I believe this will be a 9-point election... and we won't have to worry about this or that little state: McCain will take many states that Kerry held last election.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 16, 2008, at the time of 3:34 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 11, 2008

Latest and Lamest Attack on McCain

Iraq Matters , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Politico reports that Democrats, in a coordinated attack, are once again attacking McCain -- based upon a tendentious, and deliberate misunderstanding of McCain's clear words. It is, without question, the lamest attack yet. (It would have been second lamest, except that no Democratic heavy-hitter jumped aboard the attack that McCain couldn't be president because he was born in the Canal Zone... where his active-duty American naval-officer father was stationed.)

Really? The lamest? See for yourself; here is what McCain said during a television appearance:

The exchange that has Democrats licking their chops began when co-host Matt Lauer asked about the surge strategy in Iraq: “If it's working Senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?”

McCain replied: “No, but that's not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea, Americans are in Japan, American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw; we will be able to withdraw. General [David] Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are.

“But the key to it is that we don't want any more Americans in harm's way. That way, they will be safe, and serve our country and come home with honor and victory, not in defeat, which is what Senator Obama's proposal would have done. I’m proud of them. And they're doing a great job. And we are succeeding and it's fascinating that Senator Obama still doesn't realize that.”

Without reading the rest of the article just yet, see if you can guess how Democrats from Susan Rice (the anti-Israel foreign-policy advisor to Barack H. Obama) to Sen. John Kerry (D-MA, 90%) to Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 85%) have conspired to attack McCain on this answer. I'll bet you can't; it's too stupid to be believed.

All right, time's up; here they go again:

The Obama campaign and Democratic leaders accused Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of being confused and heartless after he told NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday that it’s “not too important” when U.S. troops return from Iraq.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said on a quickly organized Obama conference call that McCain’s comment was “unbelievably out of touch with the needs and concerns of most Americans,” saying that to families of troops in harm’s way, “To them, it's the most important thing in the world....”

Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was first out of the gate with a statement, calling McCain’s comment “a crystal clear indicator that he just doesn’t get the grave national-security consequences of staying the course. … We need a smart change in strategy to make America more secure, not a commitment to indefinitely keep our troops in an intractable civil war.”

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) said McCain had “displayed a fundamental misunderstanding about the situation in Iraq, our strained military, and American troops and their families.”

This, of course, is exactly the same misreading Democrats used before when they pretended that John McCain said he would be fine with the Iraq war raging for a hundred years... when in fact he said he would be fine with us having troops in Iraq for a hundred years, if they were not being attacked and were not suffering any casualties. Then -- as now -- he made his meaning clear by invoking our decades-long troop deployments in Germany, Japan, and South Korea... in none of which places are we suffering casualties or coming under attack (barring the occasional terrorist attack that can occur anywhere).

Democrats might have claimed an ignorant misunderstanding the first time; but having had their misapprehension corrected once, the innocent excuse that they 'misunderstood' cannot be resurrected. This is enemy action: The Democrats know darned well that McCain meant (then and now) that it doesn't matter whether we withdraw troops from Iraq if our victory results in a lack of casualties; he was not saying that it was "not too important" to a particular soldier's family when he, specifically, comes home.

To illustrate the preposterousness of the Democrat's intentional misreading, I say: "It doesn't matter how many hours a day the factory operates, so long as it meets its goals without overtaxing its labor pool." The Democrat responds, "that's crazy! It makes all the difference in the world whether some poor woman's husband works eight hours a day or 24 hours a day!"

I know what's next: McCain will say "Good morning;" and the nearest Democratic talking head will jump on a table and scream, "How can that heartless bastard think it's good for soldiers' families to live in mourning for a loved one?"

I wonder if individual Democrats ever react to their leaders' antics by feeling a bit queasy.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 11, 2008, at the time of 6:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 8, 2008

Jimmy Obama, Meet Barack Carter

Future of Civilization , Future of Warfare , Liberal Lunacy , Missile Muscle , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Thanks to long-time caller, first-time listener KarmiCommunist -- wait, I think I mean long-time reader and commenter -- we have a thought-provoking window into the heart of Barack H. Obama. Who would have guessed that he turns out to loath the military and dismiss the necessity of defense?

On Friday, the Investor's Business Daily published an editorial that recalled this pledge that Obama made, way back before the Iowa caucus propelled him into the front ranks of the Democratic nomination army... and began the long, slow, humiliating collapse of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Before reading further, please watch this video; it's about a minute and a half long:

 

 

Here is how the IBD responds:

The Obamatons of the mainstream media have failed to report one of the most chilling campaign promises thus far uttered by the presumptive Democrat nominee for president.

He made it before the Iowa caucus to a left-wing pacifist group that seeks to reallocate defense dollars to welfare programs. The lobbying group, Caucus for Priorities, was so impressed by Obama's anti-military offering that it steered its 10,000 devotees his way.

In a 132-word videotaped pledge (still viewable on YouTube [but maybe not for long! -- the Mgt.]), Obama agreed to hollow out the U.S. military by slashing both conventional and nuclear weapons.

The scope of his planned defense cuts, combined with his angry tone, is breathtaking. He sounds as if the military is the enemy, not the bad guys it's fighting.

In the speech, Obama pledged to...

  • Slash "tens of billions of dollars" of "wasteful" defense spending;
  • Eliminate "investments in unproven [!] missile defense systems;"
  • Set a "goal" of "a world without nuclear weapons." He promises to first cease all development of nuclear weapons in this country, and then to go to Russia, hat in hand, to beg them to follow suit (presumably without preconditions). A strong bargaining position, Mr. O!

    Will he also then go to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il, Hu Jintao -- or even our nuclear-armed allies? Or does this unilateral disarmament apply only to the United States?

  • He also wants a "global ban" on fissile materials. I wonder what President Obama will accept as evidence of such destruction... the Supreme Leader of Iran's absolute oral assurance?

I actually know somebody who works on ballistic missile defense (BMD); and I can tell you, without revealing any classified information, that missile defense is not only proven, it has already been implemented on many Navy cruisers and destroyers, and even on ships in the navies of our allies, such as Japan. Does President Obama plan to order all those ships to drydock to have their BMD and Aegis systems ripped out with a clawhammer?

Channeling Jimmy Carter's vice president, Obama made a solemn promise to the Caucus for Priorities -- which the Communist magazine the Nation awarded the title, "Most Valuable Progressive Activist Group of 2007," according to the Caucus' website. Obama swore, "I will not weaponize space." I guess by "space," he means he will remove all those weapons we have in Earth orbit.

Is Obama using cocaine again? There are no orbital weapons. We have done hardly any work outside the laboratory -- decades ago -- on orbital weapons.

I can only conclude that Barack H. Obama is so clueless, he thinks that our current BMD programs include orbital nukes. It's a sobering thought that the man who is only a vote away from becoming the Commander in Chief could display such an astonishing ignorance about basic defense policies that are not even classified.

Our Aegis systems (to defend against short-range missiles) and BMD systems (to defend against longer-range missiles, including ballistic missiles) comprise completely conventional missiles, not nuclear: SM-2 (Standard Missile) for Aegis, SM-3 for BMD. They're fired from ships floating (we hope) on the sea, not from Imperial Star Destoyers in deep space, as Obama evidently fantasizes.

If they "weaponize" anything, it's the ocean... on which, I am reliably informed, there may already have been some weapons, even before we deployed Aegis.

I hate to judge before all the facts are in, but it appears the Democrats have nominated Chance the gardener to be president.

Barack "Chance" Obama ends his spiel saying that his sole priority will be "protecting the American people." Unless, of course, such protection requires a weapons system to which he has taken a dislike (that would be all of them, it appears).

The IBD editorial ends its own, more considered offering with this chilling reminder:

Like the Ben & Jerry's crowd that supports him, Obama believes "real" national security is "humanitarian foreign aid" -- essentially using our troops as international meals-on-wheels in Africa.

We've been down that road before, too, in Somalia and elsewhere. Thanks, but we don't need a third Clinton, or a second Carter, term.

Or even a first Walter Mondale term.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 8, 2008, at the time of 1:09 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 7, 2008

We Are Living "Atlas Shrugged"

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , Wordwooze
Hatched by Dave Ross

Last October, the 50th anniversary of the monumental novel by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, was celebrated by freedom-loving people all over the world.

This life-changing book, second only to the Bible in its influence on 20th Century Americans, was a quasi science fiction that predicted what would happen if the people who actually create things, the inventors, industrialists, the entrepreneurs, drop out of society and left the world to the people who think that the most noble job is to “serve mankind” rather than make money, be happy and live one’s life to the fullest. Predictably, the world grinds to a halt.

I have a friend, who is a specialist in the life of George Orwell and his equally groundbreaking work, who has said for years that Orwell’s predictions about Big Brother are all coming true.

I think it is just as demonstrable that Rand’s dystopian vision of government bureaucrats running peoples’ lives and ruining the economy is coming true -- and the worst is yet to come.

Barack Obama, giving commencement speeches, sneers at graduates whose vision is to own their home or business. Instead he exhorts them to do something about global warming or other manufactured crises of the left.

“You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should by,” he said about a week ago, as if this were an ignoble pursuit.

He would prefer this:

But I hope you don’t. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, though you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get here, though you do have that debt.

“It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in America’s story.

That interpretation of the promise of America might be a surprise to the people who actually did build the country. You know, those who hitched their wagons to oxen, not ideology. That’s how this country was built. Obama might know that if he had ever actually created a job, instead of attacking those who have.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, June 7, 2008, at the time of 8:05 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 6, 2008

"What's Bad for General Motors Is Good for the DNC!"

Congressional Corruption , Econ. 101 , Energy Woes and Wows , Future of Energy Production , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , Tax Attax
Hatched by Dafydd

Over at Real Clear Politics, Tom Bevan speaks for nearly all pundits, spread across three parties unto the tenth generation, when he writes:

Of course, the worse the economy gets, the better it is politically for Obama...

This is Conventional Wisdom 101. But why? What is the connection?

CW 102 explains CW 101 by postulating the following syllogism:

  1. Economy heads south;
  2. Voters decide to blame the "party in charge" and punish them at the polls;
  3. The elite media always declare that the party in charge is the Republican Party;
  4. Thus, the voters will inevitably punish the GOP (and the country) in November by voting Democratic. It's elementary!

The truly sad thing is that Democrats actually do believe this; they believe what's bad for America is good for them, because they can play "pin the blame on the elephant" and parlay some terrible catastrophe -- an earthquake, an act of terrorism, an economic challenge -- into furthering their congressional careers.

But there's something kind of weird about this syllogism... for some odd reason, whenever anything bad happens that (we are told) will earn the ire of the electorate against the party in charge -- it always seems to turn out that the responsible party is the Republican Party.

Today the voters will blame the GOP because, while Democrats control Congress, a Republican sits in the White House. But conversely, back in the 1990s, the voters blamed the GOP... after all, while a Democrat sat in the White House, it was the Republicans who controlled Congress!

I understand why the elite media would always blame Republicans for anything bad; they're knee-jerk New Left liberals who vote 93% for Democrats.

I even understand why commentators on the right so often assume voters will blame the Republicans: First, they see all the other pundits around them blaming Republicans, and if they did the opposite, they would experience cognitive dissonance; second, Republicans by their very natures tend to be dour and pessimistic... so much so that they, themselves, reflexively assume that everything that can go wrong will... and even things that can't go wrong will find a way to do so anyway.

You just watch: The closer we slide to the election, the more depressed and apocalyptic will be the Republican and conservative columnists, talking heads, and bloggers, no matter what the facts on the ground may be; the perennial pundits' pessimism and pity parade will once again take over Fox News Channel, the WSJ and the Washington Times, the Weekly Standard and the National Review, and virtually the entire dextrosphere.

In terms of Republican Party temperment (as opposed to policy), Ronald Reagan is the exception; Richard "They're coming to take me away, ha ha!" Nixon is more the rule.

But understanding a bizarre psychological syndrome of conspiracy and defeat is not the same as believing it. Here's a new syllogism that begins from my own core political belief:

  1. Contrary to what the Left thinks, ordinary voters are not utter fools;
  2. If the economy goes south, they will want to punish the predators and incompetents who caused it to go south;
  3. Whichever party is best able to make a logical and rational argument that the economic problems are caused by the policies of the other guys will be rewarded at the polls;
  4. The biggest economic problem today is the ludicrously high cost of fuel, which is driving up the price of virtually everything else;
  5. The primary cause of that high cost is legislation preventing us from exploiting our own energy resources;
  6. The party responsible for that legislation is the Democratic Party, not the GOP;
  7. Thus if John McCain will actually articulate that argument and run on policies that would significantly increase our energy production -- something that Barack H. Obama will not, cannot do -- McCain has a very good shot at actually being rewarded by voters in November;
  8. Even better, if the GOP across the board were to run on that platform in congressional, gubernatorial, and other races, it might mitigate by future-policy promises the "bad branding" that threatens to decimate Republicans once again, as it did in 2006.

The only really big "ifs" in this syllogism, I believe, are the last two points, (7) and (8). So far, neither the presumptive Republican nominee nor Republicans running for reelection has embraced the stark difference between the two parties: In general, the GOP defines success through growth and expansion -- while Democrats define their success through contraction, contrition, and condemnation of everything American.

But right now, McCain is still stuck on globaloney hysteria, while Republican congressmen running for reelection stand on the brink of accepting the Devil's bargain that the California GOP bought into long ago: Accepting permanent minority status in exchange for perpetual reelection. This is the basest of bargains: GOP incrumbents get their perks, and we get punked.

You can't recapture Congress by graciously conceding defeat -- months before the election!

Boldness is what we need now: Instead of accepting our political dhimmitude at the hands of Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 85%) and Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 93%, not counting missed votes), we must risk everything on a real campaign to take back the Congress.

The GOP needs a new national strategy, similar in some ways to the Contract With America in 1994; but that contract was entirely procedural and inside-baseball. What we need today is a substantive national strategy.

Obama has his "American Moment" speech; fine. But for those of us who want America to last more than a moment, let's have a strategy based around the theme, Vote For an American Future:

1 - Vote for American energy for America and our friends

America is an energy nation: We use a lot, but we have a lot more reserves than we're allowed by law to tap.

We need to drill for oil everywhere on American territory where oil is to be found, as well as in international waters; but we'll use American high-technology to drill in an environmentally safe and sound way.. Produce energy for America, while preserving nature's beauty for all Americans.

With oil above $130 per barrel and people feeling the pinch everywhere, we no longer have the luxury of leaving our oil fields and natural gas mines unexplored and untapped. We must drill in the Bakken oil formation, off the two coasts, in ANWR, in the Gulf of Mexico, in international waters in the Caribbean and elsewhere. We mine oil shale and extract the oil. We mine for natural gas. We begin building smaller nuclear reactors using the safest of modern designs... and the federal government should insure them.

2 - Vote for an economy of wealth, not illth

A simple rule that applies universally: You cannot tax yourself into prosperity. We need some form of taxation to pay for things we need; but we don't need taxes to "level the playing field" by crippling successful people so that life's losers don't feel so bad.

Unless we make the tax cuts permanent, they'll expire (the Democrats forced that poison pill on us)... resulting in the largest tax increase in American history. But we need to go farther: We need to eliminate the alternative minimum tax altogether, cut the capital-gains tax to zero, and shift to a "fair tax" flat tax.

And we "pay for" these tax cuts, not with more tax increases, but by actually cutting spending -- reducing entitlements (see 4 below) and trimming unnecessary government departments and agencies -- and by growing the economy, letting Americans keep, spend, and invest more of what they earn.

3 - Vote for security, not surrender

We stand at a tipping point of history: We have it in our power to destroy the Iran/al-Qaeda axis and secure not just America but the West for decades. But we need to mobilize more than just our military, brilliant as it is. This existential struggle cannot be won by bullets and bombs alone.

We need to bring together defense, diplomacy, intelligence, and the ideology of freedom in this world-wide conflict. Americans instinctively distrust "nation building;" but that makes us ideal stewards to help failed states in the "non-integrated gap" to rebuild their own nations -- with our support and know-how.

We must completely rebuild our intelligence agencies from the ground up. They have failed terribly in recent years, but not because of the men and women who work tirelessly to get inside our enemies' heads. They failed because we're asking our intelligence agencies to do things they were never designed to do; they were birthed during the great wars of the twentieth century and raised during the cold war... but this is the twenty-first century, and we're fighting an enemy we've never faced before: A world-wide death cult that wants to destroy the entire modern world and drag us all back to the seventh century.

We fight on behalf of modernity -- so we need modern, up to date, redesigned, and reenergized intelligence agencies to be our eyes and ears.

Finally, the enemy has an ideology of repression, human sacrifice, and slavery. It sounds horrible to us; but to Muslim subjects living under totalitarian tyrants, peasant tribesmen whose world is a nightmare, the promise that, if they'll slaughter the innocent in this world, they'll gain paradise in the next must sound like a bargain.

You can't fight something with nothing: We need to create an ideological counterinsurgency to fight the war of ideas with the Iran/al-Qaeda axis. We need to spread the ideology of freedom, hope, security, stability, and the rights of the individual across the hellholes of the Earth. We must give potential terrorist recruits alternatives to that dreadful path, if we're ever going to be safe ourselves.

4 - Vote for the ownership society

So-called "entitlements" are bleeding us dry. Out of the $3 trillion budget, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security alone account for nearly 50% of spending. This is completely unsustainable; either we find a long-term solution to out of control entitlement programs, or else we give up on America.

The problem is right in the name: "Entitlement" programs are services and money that we've told citizens they're "entitled" to extract from the government, no matter how fiscally catastrophic that is. The amount we pay each recipient increases by more than inflation every year, while the number of recipients grow as we all live longer, due to better medical care, and lead healthier lives. Add those together, and you have a prescription for disaster.

Like the intelligence agencies, entitlement programs were created during a very different era, when people didn't live much past 65. Senior citizens, the disabled, and the poor had very real problems that were going unaddressed; and these three programs and similar ones were created by Democratic Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson out of compassion. But their compassion turned out to be based on extremely bad economics.

We don't live there anymore... so we need a new paradigm to solve the old problems. The solution is to shift retirement planning and health care for the elderly, disabled, and poor from a "hand-out" mentality to an "ownership" mentality: Turn benefits into investments, and let the very people who need them control them.

This saves money two ways: First, when you're living on other people's money, it's easy to slip into the trap of "the sky's the limit;" but when you own your own programs, you have an incentive to avoid waste, fraud, and abuse. Second, owning your own retirement program is more economical in the long run for exactly the same reason that owning your own home is more economical than renting all your life: It's an asset that appreciates.

It would save big money for the country, too. The government invests today's Social Security so badly, it barely earns interest at all; that's because the feds want to be able to loot the money at a moment's notice, so it can't be tied up in anything high-yielding.

The government must pay for every dime of retirement out of current receipts. But in an ownership society, Social Security is like a government-guaranteed 401K that earns most or even all of its own expenditures by interest paid.

So your kids (and grandkids) won't be breaking their backs supporting you; with the same SSI tax you pay now, you'll have an account that could well earn more money per year than you take out of it. Thus, no matter how long you and your spouse live, you won't run out of money... and you can even leave it to your kids as a nest egg.

5 - Vote for Capitalism, not crony liberalism and corruption

Earmarks are the corruption of ruling elite; they're personal budget items stuffed into legislation in the dead of night, often without any other senator or representative even seeing them. They pour money into the pockets of special interests, to the tune of hundreds of thousands, millions, and sometimes even tens of millions of dollars.

The recipient then kicks back some of that money to the reelection campaign of the member who pushed through the earmark. Earmarks as close as you can get to out and out bribery without being arrested.

The Republican Party has tried time and again to get the rest of Congress to eliminate earmarks altogether, but the Democrats won't do it. John McCain has refused to insert earmarks into legislation for many years now -- and his constituents know that and respect him for his principled stand.

But America simply cannot wallow in quasi-legal corruption. It brings our entire government into disrepute. Neither Republicans nor Democrats can resist the temptation to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars for a twine museum or cookbook library in their home districts... or even giving public money to local churches, including the Rev. Michael Pfleger's church in Chicago.

Earmarks to a politician are like whiskey to an alcoholic: He can't have "just one drink." The only solution is that we must do away with earmarks, root and branch. Every expenditure in a piece of legislation must go through the regular process, with all senators and representatives getting a chance to vote up or down.

When no member of Congress has the power to sneak your tax money to his own favorite business (the one that supports his reelection most heavily); when you can look on the internet and find where every dollar of your tax money went; then the citizens can regain control of their government once more.

E pluribus unum

Democrats have controlled Congress for the past two years, and they had significant veto power even before the 2006 elections. The president is not a dictator; he can only sign the bills he's sent... he can't simply make up legislation and put it into effect by decree. There is no reason to assume from the outset that everybody in America thinks every bad thing that happens is all Bush's fault -- or that every Republican running is a Bush "mini-me." Voters are not stupid; they're you and me and that feller behind the tree.

Politically, an economic downturn is going to hurt whichever party is perceived as not having a clue how to grow the economy again. The only plan the Democrats have for growing the economy is to tax us all to death.

It shouldn't be too hard to show voters that we Republicans have a better plan than "taxicide." But we have to be unified. I want to see the party develop some sort of "Vote for an American Future" contract with voters: This is what we stand for; this is where we're miles ahead of the Democrats; this is what we will do if elected. Then each GOP candidate should flesh out what exactly these points mean in terms that resonate with his own constituents.

If we do that, we'll very quickly "rebrand" the Republican Party... and we might lose hardly any seats at all.

Heck, we could conceivably even gain seats; it wouldn't take much to flip either the House or Senate back to GOP control. But if Republicans stubbornly refuse to unite; if they don't support the Republican nominee for president; if they try to run as "diet liberals," then we're going to get kicked in the stomach by Jubilation T. Jackass.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 6, 2008, at the time of 6:39 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

May 22, 2008

A Modest Campaign Proposal...

Future of Energy Production , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

...for the man who really is a conservative, after all!

John Hinderaker (I cannot stop thinking of him as "Hindrocket," no matter how the lads try to bury the past) has a wonderful post up at Power Line: Oil Executives Try to Educate Senate Democrats, But Democrats Appear Hopeless. It's an eye-opening primer on the oil biz and the relationship between prices at the pump and the price that American oil companies must pay to buy foreign oil, since congressional Democrats refuse to allow them to drill in the United States. Not only that, but it's even longer than its title!

Here is how John ends his post, quoting from the transcript of the Senate hearing on gasoline prices, to which many top executives of Big Oil were invited -- including John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil:

Later in the hearing, Senator Orrin Hatch walked Hofmeister through the Democrats' latest efforts to block energy independence:

HATCH: I want to get into that. In other words, we're talking about Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. It's fair to say that they're not considered part of America's $22 billion of proven reserves.

HOFMEISTER: Not at all.

HATCH: No, but experts agree that there's between 800 billion to almost 2 trillion barrels of oil that could be recoverable there, and that's good oil, isn't it?

HOFMEISTER: That's correct.

HATCH: It could be recovered at somewhere between $30 and $40 a barrel?

HOFMEISTER: I think those costs are probably a bit dated now, based upon what we've seen in the inflation...

HATCH: Well, somewhere in that area.

HOFMEISTER: I don't know what the exact cost would be, but, you know, if there is more supply, I think inflation in the oil industry would be cracked. And we are facing severe inflation because of the limited amount of supply against the demand.

HATCH: I guess what I'm saying, though, is that if we started to develop the oil shale in those three states we could do it within this framework of over $100 a barrel and make a profit.

HOFMEISTER: I believe we could.

HATCH: And we could help our country alleviate its oil pressures.

HOFMEISTER: Yes.

HATCH: But they're stopping us from doing that right here, as we sit here. We just had a hearing last week where Democrats had stopped the ability to do that, in at least Colorado.

HOFMEISTER: Well, as I said in my opening statement, I think the public policy constraints on the supply side in this country are a disservice to the American consumer.

The committee's Democrats attempted no response. They know that they are largely responsible for the current high price of gasoline, and they want the price to rise even further. Consequently, they have no intention of permitting the development of domestic oil and gas reserves that would both increase this country's energy independence and give consumers a break from constantly increasing energy costs.

Every once in a while, Congressional hearings turn out to be informative.

Informative and also prescriptive; I think this would be a dandy centerpiece to John McCain's campaign, the core of his energy program: Lower gas prices by letting American oil companies drill for American oil on American soil.

How will the argument go between McCain and Barack Obama? Something about like this:

McC: We should allow American companies to drill in the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and start expoilting shale oil in the West.

BHO: But that will produce pollution.

McC: No more than the pollution produced by burning the same quantity of foreign oil.

BHO: But that will increase global warming!

McC: No more than the global warming produced by burning the same quantity of foreign oil; the only difference will be more good, high-paying jobs for more Americans. Does my opponent have something against job creation? Or something against lower gasoline prices, when companies are spending $40-$50 a barrel to develop our own oil, rather than $135 a barrel to buy it from the Saudis, from Iran, and from Venezuela?

BHO: Yes I do -- lower prices mean that Americans will buy more gasoline. And lower gasoline prices mean lower food prices, so we'll buy more food. With lower prices overall, our economy will have a boom... which means we'll use more of the world's resources, which we already hog. After all, 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. [The blue part is an actual Obama quotation.]

McC: My friends, there you see the difference between us. My fellow Republicans and I want to see America thrive and our economy grow, creating more jobs for Americans and more wealth and prosperity for everyone. But my opponent would rather create a "global test" for the American economy to pass, where Europe and Asia dictate how much Americans are allowed to consume.

So you have a stark choice: You can vote for jobs and prosperity -- or you can vote for limits, cutbacks, making do with less, and bowing our heads before the rest of the world, both economically and militarily. When you step into the voting booth, that is what you're really deciding.

If McCain were to pound on this theme from now until November -- let us drill for American oil on American soil -- I believe he would crush Obama like a butterfly against a speeding windshield.

And by the end of campaign season, Democrats would be begging the Market gods for gasoline prices to plummet! That alone would be worth the trip.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 22, 2008, at the time of 1:43 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

May 16, 2008

Democrat Limbo - How Low Can They Go?

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

An amazing accusation has just been flung at John McCain by a completely "disinterested" party: James Rubin, President Clinton's State Department spokesman. Rubin accuses McCain of "hypocrisy" for attacking Barack Obama on his willingness to meet with rogue leaders and America's enemies throughout the world. While it seems a simple smear job -- easily debunked, as we do in this piece -- it's also a window into the utter inability of Democrats, not Republicans, to parse nuance, to understand why talking is sometimes good -- and sometimes a horrible blunder.

And as always, a primer into how deeply the elite media is in bed with Obama. "Slither on" for the whole sordid tale...

The bluff...

Let's open with Rubin's smear. In his op-ed in the Washington Post, he writes:

McCain, meanwhile, is guilty of hypocrisy. I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton and believe that she was right to say, about McCain's statement on Hamas, "I don't think that anybody should take that seriously." Unfortunately, the Republicans know that some people will. That's why they say such things.

But given his own position on Hamas, McCain is the last politician who should be attacking Obama. Two years ago, just after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, I interviewed McCain for the British network Sky News's "World News Tonight" program.

Rubin then gives a single pair of question and answer; I am always suspicious when a person is accused of some terrible sin -- and the only evidence offered is such a small snippet that we cannot possibly know what, exactly, the target meant.

So I hunted a bit and managed to find a brief video clip from Sky News which shows part of the piece where Rubin interviews McCain. I use Rubin's own transcript, which seemed accurate -- as far as it went (except for one mistranscribed word, in blue font):

Rubin: Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?

McCain: They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so... but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, then they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.

The continuation bet...

Based upon this single Q&A of ambiguous meaning, Rubin builds an imposing edifice of sweeping conclusion:

For some Europeans in Davos, Switzerland, where the interview took place, that's a perfectly reasonable answer. But it is an unusual if not unique response for an American politician from either party. And it is most certainly not how the newly conservative presumptive Republican nominee would reply today.

Given that exchange, the new John McCain might say that Hamas should be rooting for the old John McCain to win the presidential election. The old John McCain, it appears, was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States.

Even if McCain had not favored doing business with Hamas two years ago, he had no business smearing Barack Obama. But given his stated position then, it is either the height of hypocrisy or a case of political amnesia for McCain to inject Hamas into the American election.

Rubin plays to the crowd...

Notice the sly way that Rubin seeks to play into what he perceives as McCain's greatest weakness -- the supposed squishiness of conservative support for the "maverick" nominee:

  • Rubin compares McCain to "Europeans in Davos, Switzerland;"
  • He calls McCain "newly conservative," as if he had switched his positions in order to fool the Republican electorate (Rubin names no issue on which McCain has become "newly" conservative);
  • He says that McCain in 2006 "was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States;" in fact, McCain says no such thing in this exchange... he says that because Hamas was elected, "sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another." With the modifier "one way or another," how could anybody dispute this statement?
  • Finally, Rubin says that it was McCain who "inject[ed] Hamas into the American election;" actually, it was Hamas itself, by endorsing Barack H. Obama... and domestically, it was Obama's former advisor Robert Malley, who got the boot from the Obama campaign a week ago today, after he disclosed that he had actually been negotiating with Hamas. (So much for Team Obama's revulsion at the very thought of meeting with terrorists!)

Before truth can lace up its boots...

The Associated Press has already run with the Rubin smear, others are sure to follow. Naturally, AP simply accepts the accusation as proven beyond all reasonable doubt -- in spite of the fact that even the snippet Rubin himself offers (his only evidence) falls short.

In fact, there is much better evidence that Rubin's claim is groundless and fraudulent; but it requires more work to ferret out than big-budget elite-media reporters can afford to give it. Thus, you must turn to a more determined source, one with the tenacity to dig deeper than the lazy reprinting of other people's stories that is the specialty of the mainstream media: You're left to the tender mercies of Big Lizards instead.

It turns out that the clip on Sky News doesn't end where James Rubin -- the interviewer -- chooses to stop transcribing. Behold, there is a second Q&A that Mr. Rubin asks McCain, but which he chose not to highlight... and you'll see why directly.

Before we look at it, however, let's turn to the question of what, exactly, John McCain accused Barack Obama of doing. (This seems jumpy, but we're going somewhere... trust the lizard.)

The Democrats -- both the main party wing and the media auxiliaries (the Fleet Street Irregulars) -- persistently misstate why McCain and other Republicans have chastised Obama. They repeatedly claim (as does Obama himself) that Obama is attacked for wanting to talk at all to leaders of rogue nations, as in the AP story linked above:

On Thursday, McCain suggested that Obama was naive and inexperienced for expressing a willingness to meet with rogue leaders like Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In another AP story, Obama repeats that mischaracterization of his blunder:

Meeting with reporters, Obama argued that tough-minded diplomacy and engagement with rivals is a bipartisan foreign policy that dates to former Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan.

"That has been the history of U.S. diplomacy until very recently," said Obama, who said he was comfortable engaging McCain in a foreign policy debate. "I find it puzzling that we view this as in any way controversial. This whole notion of not talking to people, it didn't hold in the '60s, it didn't hold in the '70s ... When Kennedy met with Kruschev, we were on the brink of nuclear war."

He also noted that former President Nixon opened talks with China, "with the knowledge that Mao had exterminated millions of people." He said he was confident making the case that McCain's policy is flawed.

Don't know much about history...

Even this short response from Obama reveals the shallowness of his understanding of history -- and his inability to parse simple English statements. First of all, Obama is right; "Mao had exterminated millions of people." We agree.

But those exterminations occurred from 1949 to 1953; Mao's subsequent idiotic agriculture policies caused tens of millions to starve to death from 1959 to 1962.

Nixon met with Mao in 1972 -- a decade after the famine, and nearly twenty years after the exterminations ended. In the interim, China had changed dramatically. It was still totalitarian and Communist, but it had certainly stopped murdering millions of people a year, as it did at the beginning of the Communist era. It was only murdering a handful... which, believe me, is great progress where Communist dictatorships are concerned. (They're even better now, though they took a Great Leap Backward with their brutal suppression of dissent and protest in Tibet as the Beijing Olympics approached.)

Perhaps more to the point, Nixon did not meet with Mao "without precondition," as Obama would meet with the presidents of Iran, Syria, and Venezuela and the Dear Leader of the DPRK; President Nixon himself met Mao only after many months of secret discussions between National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and his Chinese counterpart, including a visit by Kissinger to China in 1971. During those earlier discussions, China agreed to several preconditions of any future agreement or diplomatic recognition, including the following:

  • They agreed not to launch a military invasion of Taiwan;
  • They agreed that they would be satisfied with a statement that both Taiwanese and mainland Chinese agreed that there was only one China, and that Taiwan was part of it -- without demanding that Taiwan agree that the government of this "one China" would be the Communist government of Red China.

These were both very significant: Until the Kissinger visits, China insisted that Taiwan was a renegade province of the People's Republic of China. After meeting with Hammerin' Hank, the Red Chinese agreed to disagree about the final status of Taiwan.

Thus, far from being an example of the kind of meeting Obama wants to hold, Nixon in China demonstrates the polar opposite approach: A long, slow, careful buildup of diplomacy and negotiation, culminating with -- not starting from -- a mano-a-mano summit.

That long, long river in Africa...

This short history lesson illuminates the actual accusation against Obama: naïveté and fecklessness. It's not that he would meet with leaders of rogue states (Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela); there are certainly situations where that would be useful. It's that he would do so without any preconditions -- without a preliminary agreement on what the final agreement would and would not contain. Such open-ended summit meetings serve only two purposes:

  • They legitimize the leaders of nations that support terrorism against the United States and our allies;
  • And they offer the great temptation for the American president, desperate for a deal, any deal, to agree to unconscionable terms that empower our enemies and enervate our allies and our own forces, civilian and military.

Today, Obama himself and through his spokespeople, denies that he ever said he would meet with such despots "without precondition." Here is Susan Rice, Obama's foreign policy advisor and an official spokeswoman for the campaign, in full denial mode:

Susan E. Rice, a former State Department and National Security Council official who is a foreign policy adviser to the Democratic candidate, said that “for political purposes, Senator Obama’s opponents on the right have distorted and reframed” his views. Mr. McCain and his surrogates have repeatedly stated that Mr. Obama would be willing to meet “unconditionally” with Mr. Ahmadinejad. But Dr. Rice said that this was not the case for Iran or any other so-called “rogue” state. Mr. Obama believes “that engagement at the presidential level, at the appropriate time and with the appropriate preparation, can be used to leverage the change we need,” Dr. Rice said. “But nobody said he would initiate contacts at the presidential level; that requires due preparation and advance work.”

The house of cards...

Yet here is what the man himself said, during the fourth Democratic debate on July 23rd, 2007, in response to a question about meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar Assad, Kim Jong-Il, or Oogo Chavez without any preconditions:

COOPER: Let’s go to another YouTube video.

QUESTION: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.

In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

COOPER: I should also point out that Stephen [the question submitter] is in the crowd tonight.

Senator Obama?

OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.

And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We’ve been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they’re going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.

They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.

Translation: Obama plans to have a summit with Ahmadinejad "without precondition," during which he will tell the Iranian president that we're going to pull out... and invite Iran to step in and "carry some weight" in Iraq. This is precisely why such ad-hoc summit meetings without our enemies are so pernicious... Obama is just looking for a chance to hand Iraq over to Iran for safekeeping.

If you're still skeptical, here is the YouTube of Stephen's question and Obama's answer:

 

 

Like a web, the pieces start to fall in to place...

First of all, even the New York Times, in the story linked above, added a correction contradicting Dr. Susan Rice and admitting that Obama said exactly what McCain accused him of saying, just as the transcript above shows.

And second, if you further in the transcript of the debate, both Hillary Clinton and John Edwards are asked the same question, and both insist that such meetings must be preceded by much groundwork and preconditions describing the scope of any future final agreement. Obama listens to both his main Democratic rivals... yet he never says a word; he never says, "Oh, yes, I meant with preconditions and groundwork," or anything similar. He simply stands on his original answer of "I would."

It's a head-cutting competition, and Obama clearly is contrasting his own reckless boldness with the almost conservative sobriety of Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

Thus we draw the following conclusions:

  1. McCain's charge against Obama is not simply that he would meet with tyrants, despots, and Hezbollah's grandboss, but that Obama himself said -- unlike either Clinton or Edwards -- he would hold such meetings without any preconditions whatsoever;
  2. Obama did indeed say that; both the NYT transcript of the debate and a YouTube clip from it clearly prove McCain's charge was true and accurate;
  3. Nevertheless, Obama now denies ever having said such a thing, though even the Times must admit Obama is lying;
  4. Worse, he and many other Democrats now pretend that McCain attacked Obama merely for saying he would meet with rogue leaders... as if the Obama version of a summit were no different than those held by Nixon with Mao or Reagan with Gorbachev.

    Obama claims the mantle of "statesman" by impulsiveness and shooting from the lip.

The bluff rebuffed...

And now, at long last, we can return to Clintonista-turned-Obamaniac James Rubin's smear of John McCain. When we last left him, Rubin had called McCain a hypocrite based upon the former's interview of the latter for Britain's Sky News:

The old John McCain, it appears, was ready to do business with a Hamas-led government, while both Clinton and Obama have said that Hamas must change its policies toward Israel and terrorism before it can have diplomatic relations with the United States.

Even if McCain had not favored doing business with Hamas two years ago, he had no business smearing Barack Obama. But given his stated position then, it is either the height of hypocrisy or a case of political amnesia for McCain to inject Hamas into the American election.

As I said, however, the Sky News clip linked above runs on past the single pair of question and answer Rubin quoted; it also includes the next question Rubin asked of McCain, a Q&A Rubin himself seems curiously anxious to forget. This is my own transcript; I haven't seen this anywhere else; I'll give you the original Q&A first, followed by the second:

Rubin: Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?

McCain: They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that.

Rubin: So should we, the United States, be dealing with that new reality through normal diplomatic contacts to get the job done for the United States?

McCain: I think the United States should take a step back, see what they do when they form their government, see what their policies are, and see the ways that we can engage with them. And if there aren't any, there may be a hiatus. But I think part of the relationship is going to be dictated by the way Hamas acts, not by how the United States acts.

In other words, John McCain most certainly was not "ready to do business with a Hamas-led government;" far from it: McCain said we'll have to "deal with them, one way or another"... and then he went on to explain, face to face with Rubin, that how we deal with Hamas will depend entirely upon what course Hamas pursues. He says nothing about any meetings, with President McCain or any member of his administration. And he says nothing at all about meeting "without precondition."

Like a puzzle, the fine strands come together at the center...

So we can add to our conclusions above:

  1. James Rubin has completely fabricated the entire "hypocrisy" charge against McCain.

It is the lie direct: And I think Rubin knows it, because he says, "Even if McCain had not favored doing business with Hamas two years ago, he had no business smearing Barack Obama." That's a dead giveaway that this is not merely "political amnesia" on Rubin's part... it is a brazen falsehood.

I think the thought never occurred to Mr. Rubin that Sky News would so inconveniently make available a clip, not only of the one question Rubin wanted to highlight, but also the next question he asked -- which shows conclusively that McCain did not mean what Rubin slyly tried to make it seem he meant.

Just as Seymour Hersh was caught with his pants on fire when the Taguba Report about Abu Ghraib was released, Rubin has now been caught with smoking trousers with the release by Sky News of the clip we linked above.

And the fact that all this is already in the elite-media record -- and in fact, the New York Times already included a correction in its own article that Obama did indeed say just what McCain chastised him for saying -- leads to the final conclusion:

  1. The Democrats -- elected and media -- know full well that their attacks on McCain are scurrilous lies... yet they make them anyway, hoping they will not be exposed before the November elections.

They are slanderers, false witnesses, and traducers of better men -- McCain, David Petraeus, Mitt Romney, and yes, George W. Bush -- than any screamer of the Left can ever hope to be. (If indeed they hope to be anything other than what they already are.)

I suspect most readers of this blog already knew that; but there are still people in this country for whom hard evidence still counts for something. Chalk it up to tarring and feathering the dead horse.

'Tis better to keep silent and be thought a fool...

I have one final cautionary parable...

One example that Barack Obama cited for how productive and important are such ad-hoc meetings between the President of the United States and our enemies' leaders -- the one he seemed most proud of -- was the June 1961 meeting in Vienna between President John F. Kennedy and General-Secretary Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union; from the first AP story linked above:

Meeting with reporters, Obama argued that tough-minded diplomacy and engagement with rivals is a bipartisan foreign policy that dates to former Presidents Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan.

"That has been the history of U.S. diplomacy until very recently," said Obama, who said he was comfortable engaging McCain in a foreign policy debate. "I find it puzzling that we view this as in any way controversial. This whole notion of not talking to people, it didn't hold in the '60s, it didn't hold in the '70s ... When Kennedy met with Kruschev, we were on the brink of nuclear war."

Like the proposed Obama summits, this meeting was held without preconditions or much legwork on the part of the Kennedy administration.

Many historians now consider that Vienna summit to have been a disaster for the United States. Kennedy was unprepared for the bombastic and overbearing Khrushchev, who had already been in power for eight years (JFK had been president for only five months). It now appears that it was Kennedy's weakness and unpreparedness that gave Khrushchev the impression that he could put nuclear missiles into Cuba with impugnity:

One key that did not come loose without a struggle, however, was the translator's notes from the 1961 Kennedy-Khrushchev summit meeting in Vienna.

Mr. Beschloss made five requests for the notes, from mid-1986 until they were released in September of last year. What did they add?

"There was nothing earth-shattering," he said, but the "virtually a word for word" account of two days of talks gave a feel for the meeting, and in particular a sense that "Kennedy's Cuba language was vague enough to have contributed" to Mr. Khrushchev's belief that he could get away with putting missiles on the island.

As Hugh Hewitt noted on his show today, contrary to Obama's misinformed claim, we were not "on the brink of nuclear war" with the Soviets in June 1961; but we certainly were after that disastrous conference, which likely precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

And that, evidently, is the template which Obama looks to for his own diplomatic adventures, should he become president (heaven forbid).

Conservatives, our country simply cannot afford to have this man as president. You have to come home to the GOP, even if John McCain is not your choice for nominee. You cannot sit back and allow a man like Barack Hussein Obama to become president by default: The stakes are too high.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 16, 2008, at the time of 10:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 15, 2008

Appease Porridge Hot, Appease Porridge Cold

Hezbollah Horrors , Iran Matters , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

In a brilliant speech before the Knesset today, President George W. Bush said the following (you can read the complete speech by clicking the Slither On):

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the 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 I could only have talked to Hitler, all 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.

Almost immediately, Barack Obama reacted with volcanic fury, leaping to the conclusion that the warning against "appeasement" was aimed squarely at him:

By tradition, partisan politics comes to a halt when a U.S. president is on foreign soil, and Bush's remarks led Obama to quickly cry foul. The first-term Illinois senator responded to the comments as if they were criticism of his position that as president he would be willing to personally meet with Iran's leaders and those of other regimes the United States has deemed rogue.

"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," Obama said in a statement his aides distributed. "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel." [Actually, if they help keep Obama out of the Oval Office, then I think they do a tremendous lot to secure the American people and our stalwart ally Israel!]

Let's ponder that exchange for a moment. I see three fascinating dynamics at play in the fields of the Obamessiah...

Dynamic 1: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth"

Bush attacked appeasement -- and Obama instantly recognized himself, reacting angrily and defensively. So even Obama realizes that his proposed unconditional dialoging with Mahmoud, Jong-Il, Raul, and Oogo skirts perilously close to appeasement.

But since Obama sees America -- not Iran, North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela -- as the cause of all the world's ills, he truculently believes that it's up to us to "make amends." We must meet with those we have "wronged" by our "cowboy diplomacy" all these years -- which wrongs created a patriotic backlash that takes the form of groups we falsely label as "terrorists" (that would be Hamas, Hezbollah, even al-Qaeda). We must meet with our victims and humble ourselves before them; then they will forgive us and stop all the attacks against us... which were all based on a GOP-inspired misunderstanding anyway.

(Obama likely learned this attitude from two decades of listening to Jeremiah Wright's sermons.)

But he knows he can never say such a thing out loud: He would never be elected. In his own mind, he probably imagines this is because Americans are afraid the face the truth; but for whatever reason, this attitude is a secret he's trying desperately to hide.

Thus Obama's guilty start when he hears that very thing trip from the not so agile lips of George W. Bush. Since it's so overwhelmingly obvious to Barack Obama that Bush meant to single him out, he probably didn't even notice that his name never came up.

Dynamic 2: "If you know who I mean -- and I think you do!"

But in reality, I think it is patently obvious that Bush had Obama directly in mind... and that he knew everyone in the country (and especially Obama himself) would "get it." The presidential spokeschick had a quip all ready to run once Obama plunged into the trap as everyone in the Bush (and McCain) teams expected:

In turn, White House press secretary Dana Perino denied that the Knesset remark was aimed at Obama. In fact, the language is fairly typical for Bush speeches, and Gordon Johndroe, a national security spokesman for the president, said Bush was referring to "a wide range of people who have talked to or suggested we talk to Hamas, Hezbollah or their state sponsors" over a long period of time.

One such person most recently was former President Carter, who held talks with Hamas leaders, leading to criticism from Bush officials as well as Obama and McCain.

Even as the White House said Bush meant no dig at the Democrat, Perino couldn't resist the opportunity to get in a small one.

"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," she said.

"Um... thank you, Ma'am. May I have my eggs back again now?"

Barack Obama looks a fool, not only for instantly leaping to the conclusion that "appeaser" must mean himself -- but then for being so outraged and offended, getting all het up, when in fact nobody even mentioned him. It makes him seem not only guilty but narcissistic.

This was a sly and very effective nudge-nudge wink-wink attack on the New Kid by the president.

Dynamic 3: The "left-handed monkey wrench"

And boy, did it work like a charm!

There is a tradition in many fields that when the New Kid first shows up to work, he is given a number of bootless errands and impossible tasks to perform, things that a more experienced worker would instantly recognize as senseless; the stereotypical version is sending the new hire on the assembly line in search of a "left-handed monkey wrench."

The trick is based upon ignorance and inexperience... and that is just what Barack Obama evinced in this humiliating exchange.

Any experienced politician would immediately recognize the offer of Fool's Mate -- and would decline. Consider this response, had the theoretical target been, say, Bill Clinton...

George W. Bush: "We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

(Bill waits for a question at his current campaign stop)

Reporter: "Mr. President, what do you think of the line about appeasers in the speech by that fascist guy illegally occupying Al Gore's and John Kerry's White House?"

Bill Clinton: "Well, heck, I listened to that speech -- and I couldn't agree more. The president was sure right about that: We can never 'negotiate with the terrorists and radicals,' and I'm glad he understands that. I just wish he would understand that there are some people, heads of state, that you just gotta talk to. I mean, heck, when I was president, I always --" [We skip forty minutes of self praise.]

See, the trick only works if the target publicly recognizes himself as the butt of the speech. If instead he pretends not to notice, then what is the president going to do? He can't out and out say, "and I mean you, Bubba!" because then the target could rightly be outraged.

But Obama was such a green hayseed that he ran pell mell right into the bear trap, flapping his arms and caterwauling like to wake the dead; nobody in America could fail to notice when his leg was grabbed by the steel jaws.

Once the voters notice, they will laugh, because he just made himself look like such a buffoon.

"You can't make a silk purse out of a pig's breakfast"

But when they finish laughing, many undecided Americans will stop to ponder a couple of points:

  • The connection between Barack Obama's grandiose foreign-policy schemes and appeasement (and by extension, the fecklessness of the entire Democratic Party)... sure, maybe he doesn't call for dialog with Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hezbollah; but he calls for dialog with Nasrallah's boss, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Which is worse?
  • The poor judgment and cranky attitude exhibited by Obama accusing the president of "launch[ing] a false political attack." It's like the old coot all the kids love to torment, because they know will always get apoplectic and scream, "You kids get outa my yard!"

I cannot guarantee this will immediately show up in the polls; gaffes do their best work in the weeks leading up to the election, as the accumulated weight of a hundred stupid miscommunications come back to haunt the nominee. But I strongly suspect this will raise serious doubts in the minds of more than a few undecided voters about entrusting the presidency at this time to an entry-level candidate.

(If you don't feel like jumping to the White House website, the full speech by the president is just below.)

President Bush Addresses the Israeli Knesset - May 15th, 2008

President Peres and Mr. Prime Minister, Madam Speaker, thank very much for hosting this special session. President Beinish, Leader of the Opposition Netanyahu, Ministers, members of the Knesset, distinguished guests: Shalom. Laura and I are thrilled to be back in Israel. We have been deeply moved by the celebrations of the past two days. And this afternoon, I am honored to stand before one of the world's great democratic assemblies and convey the wishes of the American people with these words: Yom Ha'atzmaut Sameach.

It is a rare privilege for the American President to speak to the Knesset. Although the Prime Minister told me there is something even rarer -- to have just one person in this chamber speaking at a time. My only regret is that one of Israel's greatest leaders is not here to share this moment. He is a warrior for the ages, a man of peace, a friend. The prayers of the American people are with Ariel Sharon.

We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel's independence, founded on the "natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate." What followed was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David -- a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael.

Eleven minutes later, on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel's independence. And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel's closest ally and best friend in the world.

The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul. When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of Jeremiah: "Come let us declare in Zion the word of God." The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state.

Centuries of suffering and sacrifice would pass before the dream was fulfilled. The Jewish people endured the agony of the pogroms, the tragedy of the Great War, and the horror of the Holocaust -- what Elie Wiesel called "the kingdom of the night." Soulless men took away lives and broke apart families. Yet they could not take away the spirit of the Jewish people, and they could not break the promise of God. When news of Israel's freedom finally arrived, Golda Meir, a fearless woman raised in Wisconsin, could summon only tears. She later said: "For two thousand years we have waited for our deliverance. Now that it is here it is so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words."

The joy of independence was tempered by the outbreak of battle, a struggle that has continued for six decades. Yet in spite of the violence, in defiance of the threats, Israel has built a thriving democracy in the heart of the Holy Land. You have welcomed immigrants from the four corners of the Earth. You have forged a free and modern society based on the love of liberty, a passion for justice, and a respect for human dignity. You have worked tirelessly for peace. You have fought valiantly for freedom.

My country's admiration for Israel does not end there. When Americans look at Israel, we see a pioneer spirit that worked an agricultural miracle and now leads a high-tech revolution. We see world-class universities and a global leader in business and innovation and the arts. We see a resource more valuable than oil or gold: the talent and determination of a free people who refuse to let any obstacle stand in the way of their destiny.

I have been fortunate to see the character of Israel up close. I have touched the Western Wall, seen the sun reflected in the Sea of Galilee, I have prayed at Yad Vashem. And earlier today, I visited Masada, an inspiring monument to courage and sacrifice. At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: "Masada shall never fall again." Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will be at your side.

This anniversary is a time to reflect on the past. It's also an opportunity to look to the future. As we go forward, our alliance will be guided by clear principles -- shared convictions rooted in moral clarity and unswayed by popularity polls or the shifting opinions of international elites.

We believe in the matchless value of every man, woman, and child. So we insist that the people of Israel have the right to a decent, normal, and peaceful life, just like the citizens of every other nation.

We believe that democracy is the only way to ensure human rights. So we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world.

We believe that religious liberty is fundamental to a civilized society. So we condemn anti-Semitism in all forms -- whether by those who openly question Israel's right to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them.

We believe that free people should strive and sacrifice for peace. So we applaud the courageous choices Israeli's leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction.

We believe that targeting innocent lives to achieve political objectives is always and everywhere wrong. So we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve.

The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On the one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is an ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.

And that is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the "elimination" of Israel. And that is why the followers of Hezbollah chant "Death to Israel, Death to America!" That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that "the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties." And that is why the President of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the 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 I could only have talked to Hitler, all 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.

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you.

America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal for future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Ultimately, to prevail in this struggle, we must offer an alternative to the ideology of the extremists by extending our vision of justice and tolerance and freedom and hope. These values are the self-evident right of all people, of all religions, in all the world because they are a gift from the Almighty God. Securing these rights is also the surest way to secure peace. Leaders who are accountable to their people will not pursue endless confrontation and bloodshed. Young people with a place in their society and a voice in their future are less likely to search for meaning in radicalism. Societies where citizens can express their conscience and worship their God will not export violence, they will be partners in peace.

The fundamental insight, that freedom yields peace, is the great lesson of the 20th century. Now our task is to apply it to the 21st. Nowhere is this work more urgent than here in the Middle East. We must stand with the reformers working to break the old patterns of tyranny and despair. We must give voice to millions of ordinary people who dream of a better life in a free society. We must confront the moral relativism that views all forms of government as equally acceptable and thereby consigns whole societies to slavery. Above all, we must have faith in our values and ourselves and confidently pursue the expansion of liberty as the path to a peaceful future.

That future will be a dramatic departure from the Middle East of today. So as we mark 60 years from Israel's founding, let us try to envision the region 60 years from now. This vision is not going to arrive easily or overnight; it will encounter violent resistance. But if we and future Presidents and future Knessets maintain our resolve and have faith in our ideals, here is the Middle East that we can see:

Israel will be celebrating the 120th anniversary as one of the world's great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved -- a democratic state that is governed by law, and respects human rights, and rejects terror. From Cairo to Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy and tourism and trade. Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, with today's oppression a distant memory and where people are free to speak their minds and develop their God-given talents. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause.

Overall, the Middle East will be characterized by a new period of tolerance and integration. And this doesn't mean that Israel and its neighbors will be best of friends. But when leaders across the region answer to their people, they will focus their energies on schools and jobs, not on rocket attacks and suicide bombings. With this change, Israel will open a new hopeful chapter in which its people can live a normal life, and the dream of Herzl and the founders of 1948 can be fully and finally realized.

This is a bold vision, and some will say it can never be achieved. But think about what we have witnessed in our own time. When Europe was destroying itself through total war and genocide, it was difficult to envision a continent that six decades later would be free and at peace. When Japanese pilots were flying suicide missions into American battleships, it seemed impossible that six decades later Japan would be a democracy, a lynchpin of security in Asia, and one of America's closest friends. And when waves of refugees arrived here in the desert with nothing, surrounded by hostile armies, it was almost unimaginable that Israel would grow into one of the freest and most successful nations on the earth.

Yet each one of these transformations took place. And a future of transformation is possible in the Middle East, so long as a new generation of leaders has the courage to defeat the enemies of freedom, to make the hard choices necessary for peace, and stand firm on the solid rock of universal values.

Sixty years ago, on the eve of Israel's independence, the last British soldiers departing Jerusalem stopped at a building in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. An officer knocked on the door and met a senior rabbi. The officer presented him with a short iron bar -- the key to the Zion Gate -- and said it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to the gates of Jerusalem had belonged to a Jew. His hands trembling, the rabbi offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God, "Who had granted us life and permitted us to reach this day." Then he turned to the officer, and uttered the words Jews had awaited for so long: "I accept this key in the name of my people."

Over the past six decades, the Jewish people have established a state that would make that humble rabbi proud. You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on the United States of America to be at your side. God bless.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 15, 2008, at the time of 8:00 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

May 13, 2008

Hagee Non-Recants and Issues Non-Apology Apology for Words He Never Said

God and Man In the Blogosphere , Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The neverending quest by liberals to find a "conservative Jeremiah Wright" to bash over John McCain's head -- uh -- never ends. The newest wrinkle is the putative "open letter of apology" that Pastor John Hagee sent to the President of the Catholic League, William Donohue.

Nearly every elite-media source has falsely reported that Hagee admitted he made the attacks he has been denying all along... thus, they falsely accuse him of hypocrisy and perjury. (Wouldn't the Ten Commandments call that bearing false witness?) Here are a couple of examples...

Fox News:

Televangelist John Hagee, one of John McCain’s highest-profile supporters from the religious right, has apologized for calling the Roman Catholic Church “the great whore” and “the apostate church....”

Pastor Hagee, leader of San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church, had said his anti-Catholic remarks had been taken out of context, but in the letter he appeared to own up to them.

“Neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church,” he wrote. [How exactly does this quotation "own up to" the supposed "anti-Catholic remarks?"]

The Los Angeles Dog Trainer:

The Catholic League called on McCain to repudiate Hagee at that time, stating that he had "waged an unrelenting war" against the church and noting the pastor had referred to the Catholic Church as a "false cult system," among other terms. Hagee also said Hurricane Katrina was "the judgment of God" on the city's "sin...."

In his letter to the Catholic League today, Hagee said he now understands that other terms he used to describe the church -- "the great whore" and the "apostate church" -- are "rhetorical devices long employed in anti-Catholic literature." He said he had gained a better understanding in recent weeks of the Catholic Church's relationship to the Jewish faith. Hagee wrote of his "profound respect for the Catholic people" in the letter and said he hoped to advance "greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals."

The New York Times:

Some have interpreted Mr. Hagee's references to “the great whore” prophesied in the Book of Revelation, as a slur on the Catholic Church. Mr. Hagee now says that was never his intention. In his book, “Jerusalem Countdown,” he accused the Vatican of collaborating with Hitler in the Holocaust. [Given the Times' record, can we please see the passage in question?]

Note the cowardice of the New York Times, which poltroonishly attributes the interpretation to "some," rather than to the Times itself -- which is what the author really means. This is an old and dishonorable rhetorical trick to say the most appalling things with "plausible deniability" when someone calls you out.

I was intrigued by the selective quotations and strange refusal to quote the letter at length... and I suspected foul play, particularly after reading one somewhat less-unfriendly source, the Political Intelligence blog on the Boston Globe's website. That story raised this cryptic point, quoting from William Donohue:

"And while he stresses that his invocation of terms like 'apostate church' and the 'great whore' were never meant by him to describe the Catholic Church, he acknowledges that anti-Catholics have long employed such language," Donohue said in his statement.

But was that really true? Phrased better, did John Hagee ever actually call the Catholic Church either "the Great Whore" or "the apostate church," either of which would be clear and unambiguous anti-Catholic bigotry? I know that many conservatives say he has not; yet that is the type of negative claim that is virtually impossible to prove but easy to disprove -- all you need is one example.

So far, however, such a clear example has not forthcome... in contradistinction to Jeremiah's jeremiad, which triggered scores of similar examples from primary sources -- newsletters, sermons, publications, speeches, interviews, interviews with parishoners -- and YouTube after YouTube, until we were nearly inundated in Jeremi-ism:

And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more --
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

Here is the usual source cited by liberals trying to make Hagee out to be as bigoted and conspiratorial as the Right Reverend Wright, Barack Obama's spiritual mentor (until political expediency forced a schism), a sermon on the Great Whore and apostate church, a snippet of which was shown on YouTube:

 

 

Again, this is unsatisfying to anyone with a skeptical mind: Nowhere does Hagee say that those two terms represent the Catholic Church today, or as a whole in any era. While I am certainly no specialist in eschatology, it sounds as if Hagee is talking about one specific manifestation of some (unnamed) church during the eventual Apocalypse.

So I really, really wanted to read Hagee's entire letter. Did he really "own up to" calling the Church "the Great Whore" and "the apostate church," as Fox News claims?

It took some digging, but at last, I found a newspaper with guts enough to print the full letter that Hagee sent. It was the Wall Street Journal; here is what the Journal had to say in its Washington Wire blog about the letter:

John Hagee, the controversial evangelical pastor who endorsed John McCain, will issue a letter of apology to Catholics today for inflammatory remarks he has made, including accusing the Roman Catholic Church of supporting Adolf Hitler and calling it “The Great Whore....”

Hagee’s letter explains some of the harsh words he has used when describing the Catholic Church. “I better understand that reference to the Roman Catholic Church as the ‘apostate church’ and the ‘great whore’ described in the book of Revelation” -- both terms Hagee has employed -- “is a rhetorical device long employed in anti-Catholic literature and commentary,” he wrote. [Again with the vague implications! All right, he "employed" those terms -- but in that context?]

After Hagee’s endorsement of McCain, both came under fire after the spotlight was placed on other disparaging comments Hagee has made in the past. The dissection of their relationship -- How did the McCain campaign court Hagee’s endorsement? Did he know about Hagee’s comments at the time? -- coincided partly with the attention placed on Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor of Barack Obama.

(It's important to understand that, other than their editorial pages, the WSJ is pretty much just as left-liberal as the rest of the elite, drive-by media.)

The article contains a link to a PDF of the letter -- just a graphic image, not OCRed. As a service to the blogosphere, I transcribed it to ordinary text; you'll find it in the "slither on."

Despite years chronicling what I call "media madness," I was nevertheless stunned by the sheer mendacity of the mainstream press, and by their casual willingness to destroy a man's life just to try to mitigate the relationship between Barack Obama (their favored candidate) and a truly horrific example of "Black Liberation Theology," the racist, America hating, conspiracy monger Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Let's start with the repeated claims that (a) John Hagee used those terms to refer to the Catholic Church, (b) lied about having done so, and (c) has now confessed to his religious bigotry. A few newsies covered Hagee's defense of himself by quoting a scant single sentence out of context; here's the Fox News version:

“Neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church,” he wrote.

By itself, that is baffling... especially after the same article has just told us that "Hagee... has apologized for calling the Roman Catholic Church 'the great whore' and 'the apostate church.'" The obvious conclusion we're expected to draw is that Hagee is simply lying, and clumsily so.

Yet here, from Hagee's actual letter, is the entire paragraph ending with that sentence, quoted in full:

I hope you recognize that I have repeatedly stated that my interpretation of Revelation leads me to conclude that the "apostate church" and the "great whore" appear only during the seven years of tribulation after all true believers -- Catholic and Protestant -- have been taken up to heaven. Therefore, neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church.

I'm not a theologian, either... but a person who believes the above would never use either term to identify the Catholic Church. Just as no religious Jew could believe that a man can be "the Messiah," no matter how holy, if he has already died -- without gathering all the Jews together again from the Diaspora, rebuilding the Temple, or ushering in the world of Isaiah's dream of beating swords into ploughshares.

Eschatologists believe in a particular sequence of events during the End Times, and the "Great Whore" and "apostate church" do not come before, but after the rapture. So Pastor Hagee has a pretty good argument that he did not mean to identify today's Catholic Church with those terms.

Any purveyor of so-called "news" with the least interest in truth would have investigated the slurs before repeating them, being squeamish about libeling an innocent man. But journalists are made of sterner stuff: For the cause, they're always willing to sacrifice -- the nearest conservative, Republican, or Christian.

So there we are. The news media live by a Spartan ideology:

  1. Anent conservatives, good news is no news;
  2. The media motto is "All the news we see fit to print;"
  3. Truth is negotiable; its definition is "That which advances the prospects of the Democratic Party;"
  4. November elections are decided in May -- so by election day, the Democrats have already won;
  5. If the Republicans win, see (4);
  6. And the typical American is liberal headed towards socialist, angry at conservatives, and an atheist, as proven by the fact that this describes the typical respondent in any media-sponsored political poll.

If you bear this in mind, a lot of otherwise inexplicable actions by the elite media suddenly make perfect sense.

As promised, click the Slither On to read the complete (two full typewritten pages) letter from John Hagee to William Donohue.

Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights
Attn: Mr. William Donohue, President
450 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10123

Dear Mr. Donohue,

Insofar as some of my past statements regarding the Roman Catholic Church have raised concerns in your community, I am writing in a spirit of mutual respect and reconciliation to clarify my views.

Out of a desire to advance greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful. After engaging in constructive dialogue with Catholic friends and leaders, I now have an improved understanding of the Catholic Church, its relation to the Jewish faith, and the history of anti-Catholicism.

In my zeal to oppose anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms, I have often emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews. In the process, I may have contributed to the mistaken impression that the anti-Jewish violence of the Crusades and the Inquisition defines the Catholic Church. It most certainly does not. Likewise, I have not sufficiently expressed my deep appreciation for the efforts of Catholics who opposed the persecution of the Jewish people. It is important to note that there were thousands of righteous Catholics -- both clergy and laymen -- who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust. According to many scholars, including historian Martin Gilbert and Rabbi David Dalin (author of the Myth of Hitler's Pope), Pope Pius XII personally intervened to save Jews.

In addition, I better understand that reference to the Roman Catholic Church as the "apostate church" and the "great whore" described in the Book of Revelation is a rhetorical device long employed in anti-Catholic literature and commentary.

I hope you recognize that I have repeatedly stated that my interpretation of Revelation leads me to conclude that the "apostate church" and the "great whore" appear only during the seven years of tribulation after all true believers -- Catholic and Protestant -- have been taken up to heaven. Therefore, neither of these phrases can be synonymous with the Catholic Church.

In recent decades, Catholics and Evangelicals of good will have worked together to defeat the evil of Communism, promote what Pope John Paul II called "a culture of life" that protects every human life from conception to natural death, honors the institution of marriage, and defends the rights of the poor.

As I wrote in my tribute to Pope Benedict XVI after President Bush welcomed him to the White House, he "spoke for all of us when he said that 'any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted' and called for Christian participation 'in the exchange of ideas in the public square.'" Both Catholics and Evangelicals have been engaged in an effort to assert the primacy of faith and values in our increasingly secular society.

My profound respect for the Catholic people has been demonstrated in my own ministry. For example, when the Ursuline Sisters of San Antonio were on the verge of losing their home, our church bought the property for our school and allowed them to continue living in their home free of charge for twelve years. The sisters were part of the daily life of the school, walking the grounds and the hallways where the children would embrace them and hold their hands in friendship. The love of our school children for these sisters symbolized my own feelings as well. I pledge to address these sensitive subjects in the future with a greater level of compassion and respect for my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is this sense of Christian fellowship I hope to reestablish with Catholics with whom I and all Evangelicals must unite to be a voice for life, the family, marriage, and Christian values to our nation and the world.

Sincerely,

Pastor John Hagee

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 13, 2008, at the time of 6:36 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

May 12, 2008

So What Will President McCain Do...

Globaloney Sandwich , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd
...When it becomes utterly clear that there has been no net "global warming" in the past decade (despite a big increase in atmospheric CO2), and that any climate change that does occur for a few decades from time to time is driven by forces far beyond human control?


John McCain has made globaloney a cornerstone of his campaign, a way (as Agence France-Presse puts it) to "differentiate" himself from George W. Bush's "skepticism on global warming":

The Arizona senator was due to propose a cap-and-trade system designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, in remarks which will clearly separate him from the skepticism on global warming which has marked Bush's presidency.

The initiative will also signal that McCain plans to challenge the Democrats for independent voters in the November presidential election, targetting especially the climate change stance of leading Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

Now, if this were purely a cynical attempt to peel off some of the independents and moderate Democrats from the Democratic nominee, then as scientific data piles up debunking the myth of anthropogenic global climate change (AGCC), it would presumably be easy for McCain simply to let it all drop into the memory hole. But I'm skeptical that McCain is such a cynic; I think it far more likely that he is a true believer in globaloney... in which case, it will be difficult for him to accept the data, no matter how prestigious the scientist, university, or scientific agency may be in the fields of meteorology, atmospheric sciences, or climatology. (Not impossible but quite tough.)

It's not McCain's worst sin; that would still have to be the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 -- which was held by the Supreme Court to be constitutional in this century's "Roe v. Wade" legal fiasco, McConnell v. FEC, 540 U.S. 93 (2003). But a passionate belief in globaloney would surely give the "Gang of 14" a run for its money in the Sincere but Misguided Judgment sweepstakes.

But the odd thing is that McCain always seems to have lots of company in his little insanities. On the BCRA, he had the full support of President Bush and even Sen. Fred Thompson in the Senate vote on March 20th, 2002; and on globaloney, he has the enthusiastic company of both Democratic candidates, Hillary and Obama.

McCain's approach is called "cap and trade;" it includes a bit of a nod towards a free market, although with a government-enforced, anti-Capitalist, "Pigovian" ceiling:

McCain proposed a cap-and-trade system, which sets a limit of total greenhouse gas emissions but allows companies to sell unused greenhouse gas emission credits to other firms which have exceeded their quota.

His plan would seek to return emissions to 2005 levels by 2012, and a return to 1990 levels by 2020. It foresees a reduction of 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

This perfectly encapsulates the Do Something! disorder: Whenever a sufferer sees a problem (real or imaginary), his disorder prompts him to demand that the government "do something" about it.

He impatiently dismisses any suggestion that if the putative problem is let alone, it will probably cure itself. He rejects as "do nothingism" the strategy that we can best cure macro problems by allowing natural processes to work their magic (Capitalism, the ordinary weather cycle, the ordinary business cycle, the march of technology, the biennial vote). Rather, sufferers insist that "the time for debate is over" and demand "action, action, action!" Don't debate, don't plan, don't think -- just do something... anything!

Normally McCain is immune to the disorder; but on two issues -- campaign corruption and globaloney -- he exhibits symptoms of an advanced stage.

Barack Obama's plan (from his website) is strikingly similar, except he wants to reduce emissions by significantly more than does McCain:

Obama supports implementation of a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

For collectors, here is the Hillary Clinton carbon plan, which is -- surprise, surprise -- virtually identical to Obama's:

Centered on a cap and trade system for carbon emissions, stronger energy and auto efficiency standards and a significant increase in green research funding, Hillary's plan will reduce America's reliance on foreign oil and address the looming climate crisis.

Setting ambitious targets, the plan would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of global warming, and cut foreign oil imports by two-thirds from 2030 projected levels, more than 10 million barrels per day.

But nobody really cares and it makes no difference; she is not going to be the nominee.

Both Democrats would cut emissions by a third again as much as would McCain... which is precisely why globaloney nonsense is not going to be an issue in the election: If you really rejects the whole crumbling edifice of AGCC, what are you going to do -- vote for Bob Barr?

But there is one other point that cuts for McCain in the election. I believe that, while McCain is sincere, neither Obama nor Clinton is; I believe neither Democrat cares one way or another whether we "do something" about AGCC or not: They care only that the liberal electorate cares.

Thus, while it may be difficult for John McCain to accept that his deep belief about global warming is wrong -- requiring him to admit he was taken for a ride by politicians masquerading as scientists, like NASA's James Hansen -- nevertheless, since he was rationally (if invalidly) convinced of AGCC, he is open to being rationally convinced that it's simply wrong.

But the Democrats were not "rationally convinced" of the truth of globaloney, they were politically convinced. Thus, as long as the great liberal unwashed believe in it, Obama and Hillary will support it -- no matter what the science eventually says.

While this belief in globaloney bothers me (though not nearly so much as the conservative obsession with finding "scientific" alternatives to established evolutionary theory), the Democratic candidate will be much worse than John McCain. Therefore, there's no reason to bring it up in the future: As bad as we many think McCain is, he is still better than the only plausible alternative, even on this issue.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 12, 2008, at the time of 3:20 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

May 6, 2008

Gee, He Really Is Conservative - Page 3: Judges

Injudicious Judiciary , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

The third in our series about John McCain's conservatism, which turns out, funnily enough, not to be oxymoronic at all. The earlier installments were:

Today, John McCain gave his new stump speech on the judiciary and his own judicial philosophy. You don't need to be a judge or even a lawyer to have a judicial philosophy; I have one, and I'm not a lawyer... I do sometimes play sea-lawyer on the internet, but that doesn't really count.

Being blessed with towering ignorance of the law, I really have little to say about this issue. (Little of value, I mean; that certainly does not imply I'll shut up in future.) Instead, I turn the floor over to my friend Paul Mirengoff at Power Line, who is a lawyer -- or at least claims to be one -- and is a conservative. Or at least claims to be one.

Paul says that McCain's speech on his future judicial appointments was "very strong, very sound." Since I know that many of our readers are lawyers, real ones; and as I've heard that lawyers sometimes disagree with and don't trust the judgment of one another; I have continued the tradition of quoting extensively from McCain's own speech in the "slither on;" in this case, "extensively" means the entire speech. Y'all can pick nits to the utter fulfillment of those greedy, little lumps of coal you people call hearts.

Paul Mirengoff begins, "Senator McCain delivered an address on judicial philosophy at Wake Forest University today. It's very strong, very sound speech." Continuing in that vein, after a long, lazy quotation from McCain's speech, Paul concludes the following (long, lazy quotation from Mirengoff's blogpost follows):

Should McCain's speech satisfy conservatives? Not in and of itself; actions speak louder than words. However, McCain's actions over the years have mostly been consistent with these words. For example, he was a solid supporter of Roberts, Alito, and nearly all of the court of appeals nominees that Democrats attempted to block. His decision to join the Gang of 14 seems to have been a tactical one -- he thought it would maximize success in confirming worthy nominees. One can disagree with that judgment, as I do, without seeing it as inconsistent with a sound judicial philosophy....

For my part, I don't expect that McCain will be perfect on these issues; indeed, even Reagan at times came up short. But I certainly agree that McCain understands most of the basics and that, in all likelihood, his approach to the judiciary will generally be sound.

(But notice, I'm marginally less lazy -- because I made judicious use of the elipsis to spare you the necessity of reading every word, even those that are less dispositive than the ones I chose to quote. Just like Prof. Higgens, "[I have] the milk of human kindness by the quart in every vein." Consider yourself blessed to have found this site; think how drab, listless, and unexciting was your life before discovering Big Lizards!)

In any event, as the mantra goes, read the whole thing. I mean the Power Line whole thing. Oh heck, both whole things; and read this whole thing, too. You'll be as happy as a doornail that you did.

What follows is the entire text of McCain's speech...

Remarks By John McCain on Judicial Philosophy

May 6, 2008

U.S. Senator John McCain will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery at Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem, NC, today at 10:00 a.m. EDT:

Thank you, Ted, and thank you all very much. Dr. Hatch, I'm grateful for your invitation to this great university. And Senator Richard Burr, thank you for that warm welcome to North Carolina and to Wait Chapel. I'm honored to be here, and I brought along a friend. I'm sure you'll recognize him -- my pal, Senator FredThompson of Tennessee.

We appreciate the hospitality of the students and faculty of Wake ForestUniversity, and especially during exams. I know exam week involves some tough moments, likewhen you're up at 3:00 a.m. and have to choose between studying or watching one of Fred's old movies. Most of the students here look confident and ready, so you need no advice from me as final exams draw near. But for those of you who might be feeling a slight sense of panic coming on, all I can say is that a few bad grades don't have to be end of the road -- so just give it your best and move on. An undistinguished academic record can be overcome in life, or at least that is the hope that has long sustained me.

Your kind invitation brings me here as a candidate for president of the United States, and anyone in that pursuit has plenty of promises to make and to keep. When it's all over, however, the next president will be compelled to make just one promise, in the same words that 42 others have spoken when the moment arrived. The framers of our Constitution had a knack for coming right to the point, and it shows in the 35-word oath that ends with a pledge to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution itself.

This is what we require and expect of every president, no matter what the agenda or loyalties of party. All the powers of the American presidency must serve the Constitution, and thereby protect the people and their liberties. For the chief executive or any other constitutional officer, the duties and boundaries of the Constitution are not just a set of helpful suggestions. They are not just guidelines, to be observed when it's convenient and loosely interpreted when it isn't. The clear powers defined by our Constitution, and the clear limits of power, lose nothing of their relevance with time, because the dangers they guard against are found in every time.

In America, the constitutional restraint on power is as fundamental as the exercise of power, and often more so. Yet the framers knew that these restraints would not always be observed. They were idealists, but they were worldly men as well, and they knew that abuses of power would arise and need to be firmly checked. Their design for democracy was drawn from their experience with tyranny. A suspicion of power is ingrained in both the letter and spirit of the American Constitution.

In the end, of course, their grand solution was to allocate federal power three ways, reserving all other powers and rights to the states and to the people themselves. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches are often wary of one another's excesses, and they should be. They seek to keep each other within bounds, and they are supposed to. And though you wouldn't always know it from watching the day-to-day affairs of modern Washington, the framers knew exactly what they were doing, and the system of checks and balances rarely disappoints.

There is one great exception in our day, however, and that is the common and systematic abuse of our federal courts by the people we entrust with judicial power. For decades now, some federal judges have taken it upon themselves to pronounce and rule on matters that were never intended to be heard in courts or decided by judges. With a presumption that would have amazed the framers of our Constitution, and legal reasoning that would have mystified them, federal judges today issue rulings and opinions on policy questions that should be decided democratically. Assured of lifetime tenures, these judges show little regard for the authority of the president, the Congress, and the states. They display even less interest in the will of the people. And the only remedy available to any of us is to find, nominate, and confirm better judges.

Quite rightly, the proper role of the judiciary has become one of the defining issues of this presidential election. It will fall to the next president to nominate hundreds of qualified men and women to the federal courts, and the choices we make will reach far into the future. My two prospective opponents and I have very different ideas about the nature and proper exercise of judicial power. We would nominate judges of a different kind, a different caliber, a different understanding of judicial authority and its limits. And the people of America -- voters in both parties whose wishes and convictions are so often disregarded by unelected judges -- are entitled to know what those differences are.

Federal courts are charged with applying the Constitution and laws of our country to each case at hand. There is great honor in this responsibility, and honor is the first thing to go when courts abuse their power. The moral authority of our judiciary depends on judicial self-restraint, but this authority quickly vanishes when a court presumes to make law instead of apply it. A court is hardly competent to check the abuses of other branches of government when it cannot even control itself.

One Justice of the Court remarked in a recent opinion that he was basing a conclusion on "my own experience," even though that conclusion found no support in the Constitution, or in applicable statutes, or in the record of the case in front of him. Such candor from the bench is rare and even commendable. But it was not exactly news that the Court had taken to setting aside the facts and the Constitution in its review of cases, and especially in politically charged cases. Often, political causes are brought before the courts that could not succeed by democratic means, and some federal judges are eager to oblige. Politicians sometimes contribute to the problem as well, abdicating responsibility and letting the courts make the tough decisions for them. One abuse of judicial authority inspires more. One act of raw judicial power invites others. And the result, over many years, has been a series of judicial opinions and edicts w andering farther and farther from the clear meanings of the Constitution, and from the clear limits of judicial power that the Constitution defines.

Sometimes the expressed will of the voters is disregarded by federal judges, as in a 2005 case concerning an aggravated murder in the State of Missouri. As you might recall, the case inspired a Supreme Court opinion that left posterity with a lengthy discourse on international law, the constitutions of other nations, the meaning of life, and "evolving standards of decency." These meditations were in the tradition of "penumbras," "emanations," and other airy constructs the Court has employed over the years as poor substitutes for clear and rigorous constitutional reasoning. The effect of that ruling in the Missouri case was familiar too. When it finally came to the point, the result was to reduce the penalty, disregard our Constitution, and brush off the standards of the people themselves and their elected representatives.

The year 2005 also brought the case of Susette Kelo before the Supreme Court. Here was a woman whose home was taken from her because the local government and a few big corporations had designs of their own on the land, and she was getting in the way. There is hardly a clearer principle in all the Constitution than the right of private property. There is a very clear standard in the Constitution requiring not only just compensation in the use of eminent domain, but also that private property may be taken only for "public use." But apparently that standard has been "evolving" too. In the hands of a narrow majority of the court, even the basic right of property doesn't mean what we all thought it meant since the founding of America. A local government seized the private property of an American citizen. It gave that property away to a private developer. And this power play actually got the constitutional "thumbs-up" from five m embers of the Supreme Court.

Then there was the case of the man in California who filed a suit against the entire United States Congress, which I guess made me a defendant too. This man insisted that the words "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance violated his rights under the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit court agreed, as it usually does when litigious people seek to rid our country of any trace of religious devotion. With an air of finality, the court declared that any further references to the Almighty in our Pledge were -- and I quote -- "impermissible." And it was so ordered -- generations of pious, unoffending custom supposedly overturned by one decree out of a courtroom in San Francisco. And now it turns out the same litigant is back for more in the Ninth Circuit, this time demanding that the words "In God We Trust" be forever removed from our currency. I have a feeling this fellow will get wind of my remarks today -- and we're all in for trouble when he hears that we met in a chapel.

In the shorthand of constitutional discourse, these abuses by the courts fall under the heading of "judicial activism." But real activism in our country is democratic. Real activists seek to make their case democratically -- to win hearts, minds, and majorities to their cause. Such people throughout our history have often shown great idealism and done great good. By contrast, activist lawyers and activist judges follow a different method. They want to be spared the inconvenience of campaigns, elections, legislative votes, and all of that. They don't seek to win debates on the merits of their argument; they seek to shut down debates by order of the court. And even in courtrooms, they apply a double standard. Some federal judges operate by fiat, shrugging off generations of legal wisdom and precedent while expecting their own opinions to go unquestioned. Only their favorite precedents are to be considered "settled law," and everything else is fair game.

The sum effect of these capricious rulings has been to spread confusion instead of clarity in our vital national debates, to leave resentment instead of resolution, and to turn Senate confirmation hearings into a gauntlet of abuse. Over the years, we have all seen the dreary rituals that now pass for advice and consent in the confirmation of nominees to our Supreme Court. We've seen and heard the shabby treatment accorded to nominees, the caricature and code words shouted or whispered, the twenty-minute questions and two-minute answers. We have seen disagreements redefined as disqualifications, and the least infraction of approved doctrine pounced upon by senators, their staffs, and their allies in the media. Always hanging in the air over these tense confirmation battles is the suspicion that maybe, just maybe, a nominee for the Court will dare to be faithful to the clear intentions of the framers and to the actual meaning of the Constitution. And then no tactic of abuse or delay is out of bounds, until the nominee is declared "in trouble" and the spouse is in tears.

Of course, in the daily routine of Senate obstructionism, presidential nominees to the lower courts are now lucky if they get a hearing at all. These courts were created long ago by the Congress itself, on what then seemed the safe assumption that future Senates would attend to their duty to fill them with qualified men and women nominated by the president. Yet at this moment there are 31 nominations pending, including several for the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that serves North Carolina. Because there are so many cases with no judges to hear them, a "judicial emergency" has been declared here by the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. And a third of the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is vacant. But the alarm has yet to sound for the Senate majority leadership. Their idea of a judicial emergency is the possible confirmation of any judge who doesn't meet their own narrow tests of party and ideology. They want federal judges who will push the limits of constitutional law, and, to this end, they have pushed the limits of Senate rules and simple courtesy.

As my friend and colleague Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma points out, somehow these very same senators can always find time to process earmark spending projects. But months go by, years even, and they can't get around to voting on judicial nominations -- to meeting a basic Senate duty under our Constitution. If a lobbyist shows up wanting another bridge to nowhere, or maybe even a courthouse with a friend's name on it, that request will be handled by the Senate with all the speed and urgency of important state business. But when a judicial nominee arrives to the Senate -- a nominee to preside at a courthouse and administer justice -- then he or she had better settle in, because the Senate majority has other business and other priorities.

Things almost got even worse a few years ago, when there were threats of a filibuster to require 60 votes for judicial confirmations, and threats in reply of a change in Senate rules to prevent a filibuster. A group of senators, nicknamed the "Gang of 14," got together and agreed we would not filibuster unless there were "extraordinary circumstances." This parliamentary truce was brief, but it lasted long enough to allow the confirmation of Justices Roberts, Alito, and many other judges. And it showed that serious differences can be handled in a serious way, without allowing Senate business to unravel in a chaos of partisan anger.

Here, too, Senators Obama and Clinton have very different ideas from my own. They are both lawyers themselves, and don't seem to mind at all when fundamental questions of social policy are preemptively decided by judges instead of by the people and their elected representatives. Nor have they raised objections to the unfair treatment of judicial nominees.

For both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, it turned out that not even John Roberts was quite good enough for them. Senator Obama in particular likes to talk up his background as a lecturer on law, and also as someone who can work across the aisle to get things done. But when Judge Roberts was nominated, it seemed to bring out more the lecturer in Senator Obama than it did the guy who can get things done. He went right along with the partisan crowd, and was among the 22 senators to vote against this highly qualified nominee. And just where did John Roberts fall short, by the Senator's measure? Well, a justice of the court, as Senator Obama explained it -- and I quote -- should share "one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy."

These vague words attempt to justify judicial activism -- come to think of it, they sound like an activist judge wrote them. And whatever they mean exactly, somehow Senator Obama's standards proved too lofty a standard for a nominee who was brilliant, fair-minded, and learned in the law, a nominee of clear rectitude who had proved more than the equal of any lawyer on the Judiciary Committee, and who today is respected by all as the Chief Justice of the United States. Somehow, by Senator Obama's standard, even Judge Roberts didn't measure up. And neither did Justice Samuel Alito. Apparently, nobody quite fits the bill except for an elite group of activist judges, lawyers, and law professors who think they know wisdom when they see it -- and they see it only in each other.

I have my own standards of judicial ability, experience, philosophy, and temperament. And Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito meet those standards in every respect. They would serve as the model for my own nominees if that responsibility falls to me. And yet when President Bill Clinton nominated Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg to serve on the high court, I voted for their confirmation, as did all but a few of my fellow Republicans. Why? For the simple reason that the nominees were qualified, and it would have been petty, and partisan, and disingenuous to insist otherwise. Those nominees represented the considered judgment of the president of the United States. And under our Constitution, it is the president's call to make.

In the Senate back then, we didn't pretend that the nominees' disagreements with us were a disqualification from office even though the disagreements were serious and obvious. It is part of the discipline of democracy to respect the roles and responsibilities of each branch of government, and, above all, to respect the verdicts of elections and judgment of the people. Had we forgotten this in the Senate, we would have been guilty of the very thing that many federal judges do when they overreach, and usurp power, and betray their trust.

The surest way to restore fairness to the confirmation process is to restore humility to the federal courts. In federal and state courts, and in the practice of law across our nation, there are still men and women who understand the proper role of our judiciary. And I intend to find them, and promote them, if I am elected president.

Harry Truman said that he gave "more thought, more care, and more deliberation" to the selection of judges than nearly any other duty of the office. I will bring that same level of care and caution to my judicial nominations, expecting in return that the Senate will do its own part, and confine itself to the duty of confirming qualified men and women for the courts. The decisions of our Supreme Court in particular can be as close to permanent as anything government does. And in the presidential selection of those who will write those decisions, a hunch, a hope, and a good first impression are not enough. I will not seek the confidence of the American people in my nominees until my own confidence is complete -- until I am certain of my nominee's ability, wisdom, and demonstrated fidelity to the Constitution.

I will look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint. I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist -- jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference. My nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power, and clear limits to the scope of federal power. They will be men and women of experience and wisdom, and the humility that comes with both. They will do their work with impartiality, honor, and humanity, with an alert conscience, immune to flattery and fashionable theory, and faithful in all things to the Constitution of the United States.

There was a day when all could enter the federal courthouses of our country feeling something distinctive about them -- the hush of serious business, the quiet presence of the majesty of the law. Quite often, you can still find it there. And in all the institutions of government there is nothing to match the sight of a court of law at its best. My commitment to you and to all the American people is to help restore the standards and spirit that give the judicial branch its place of honor in our government. Every federal court should command respect, instead of just obedience. Every federal court should be a refuge from abuses of power, and not the source. In every federal court in America, we must have confidence again that no rule applies except the rule of law, and that no interest is served except the interest of justice. Thank you very much.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 6, 2008, at the time of 6:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 5, 2008

NYT: Leadership and Patriotism Merely "Symbolic" "Distractions" From the Issues

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Here is a fascinating (and betimes repellent) glimpse inside the liberal mindset, where a "distraction from the real issues" is any ground on which the Democrat in question doesn't want to fight.

Yesterday, the New York Times published another of its unbiased, nonpartisan analyses of the race; oddly, it turns out that Democrats are fighting on important issues (like gasoline prices -- what is Obama going to do, impose price controls?)... while Republicans are squabbling over irrational, distracting, and "symbolic" issues -- leadership, character, patriotism, and the candidates' visions of a future America:

Sometimes, as Senator Barack Obama seemed to argue earlier this year, a flag pin is just a flag pin.

But it can never be that simple for anyone with direct experience of the 1988 presidential campaign. That year, the Republicans used the symbols of nationhood (notably, whether schoolchildren should be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance) to bludgeon the Democrats, challenge their patriotism and utterly redefine their nominee, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts.

The memory of that campaign -- reinforced, for many, by the attacks on Senator John Kerry’s Vietnam war record in the 2004 election -- haunts Democrats of a certain generation.

And by the way, Barack Obama is now playing the race card. I know this comes as a great shock to readers here, who never thought that the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy -- and a Democrat! -- would ever use his race as an issue in the campaign. I mean, that’s a storybook, man. But there he goes again:

Mr. Obama himself seemed chastened by the re-emergence of the old politics last week. “Let’s be honest,” he said in an interview on NBC. “You know, here I am, an African-American named Barack Obama who’s running for president. I mean, that’s a leap for folks. And I think it’s understandable that my political opponents would say, ‘You know, he’s different. He’s odd. He’s sort of unfamiliar. And what do we know about him?’ ”

Note that he didn't try to demonstrate any actual racism directed against him; he flings the inuendo of bigotry while taking constant refuge within real bigotry, as with his twenty-year flirtation with the race-baiting Jeremiah Wright. It's as if racism has no inherent evil but is freely available for anyone to use as a weapon against the Right ("any stick to bash a conservative"). Consider this a preview; we'll come back to this later, when it will become the central point.

What fascinates me is that Democrats still don't understand the whole "values" thing; and I begin to believe that, like eunuchs in a seraglio, they're aware of something wonderful going on, but they're unequipped by their natures to participate.

Like George H.W. Bush and the "vision thing," that failure to understand speaks volumes, saying more about the unacceptability of Democrats in a time of war than any policy dispute their political opponents can raise. Consider this, the heart of what drew me to this Times story in the first place:

But David Axelrod, chief strategist to Mr. Obama, argues that any Democratic nominee will be subject to the same withering attacks on values and character.

Character, of course, is a moral value; it includes such "symbolic" elements as courage, honesty, loyalty, patriotism, civility, constancy, and -- wait, what is that again? oh yeah -- leadership. Democrats still can't wrap their brain lobes around the fact that the American people consistently elect their president based on these "symbols," rather than on the "plan" that the "man" (or woman) enunciates.

Perhaps it would penetrate if we noted that absent those seven deadly virtues above, it's impossible to know whether the man will actually implement the plan... or will change his mind, lie to his constituents, and do something completely different once elected.

Remember this? Bill Clinton ran, among other platform planks, on fully integrating gays into the military; it was, he said several times, going to be his "first executive order." But once elected, the Democratic Congress turned truculent on gays. So without a second thought, Clinton dropped the whole issue like a wad of used Kleenex

It makes no difference whether you agree or disagree with the policy. The point is that character matters a great deal more than any particular "issue." Those who voted for Clinton because he had "the plan" they liked, and who were angry and impatient with anyone who questioned his character, got the shock of their lives when "the plan" went straight into the can:

  • He ran as a moderate charter member of the Democratic Leadership Council, but immediately turned hard left; then after the 1994 elections handed Congress to the Republicans, Clinton made another U-turn to start "triangulating" on issues such as welfare and taxes. This is inconstancy.
  • He threw a bunch of Army Rangers into Somalia, vowing to track down Mohamed Farrah Aidid and bring him to justice (Operation Gothic Serpent); but when a couple of Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and 18 Rangers killed in the subsequent battle -- and even though they killed about 700 Somali militiamen -- Clinton nevertheless panicked and yanked out the troops; this demonstrates a distinct lack of courage.
  • He denied the accusations of having an affair with Monica Lewinsky (in the Oval Office of the White House -- rather, the small working vestibule off of the Oval Office) and even sent surrogates out to the talk shows to insist it was all a GOP hit job on him. He detailed Hillary Clinton to declare it a "vast right-wing conspiracy." Then, when the blue dress was produced, he almost casually did another about-face, admitting everything (including the lies)... leaving all his sock puppets looking like liars and fools (including Mrs. Rodham Clinton Rodham). Thus his basic dishonesty.

One of the most gifted politicians of the post-World War II era did himself in by his own colossal narcissism, dishonesty, and other character flaws. One would think, given this example, even Democrats would understand why character is not just a "distraction," and values are not just "symbolic" issues.

Yet evidently not; they still don't get it... and I believe this stems from the very character flaws that led them to liberalism in the first place: moral vacuity, nihilism, and terminal egoism.

This isn't the 1930s, 40s, or even early 60s, and today's liberals didn't become so in response to Jim Crow, Joseph McCarthy, or the Great Depression. The most seminal influence on their political walkabout was the rioting and unrest of the late 60s and early 70s. Their heroes were the overeducated, overfed, and overly pampered ersatz "revolutionaries" of that era. Their heroes were those:

  • Who zealously took up the Red crusade to create the New Socialist Man;
  • Who spouted the jingoisms of America's enemies during the Vietnam War;
  • Who accused America of being the biggest terrorist and war criminal in the world;
  • Who didn't want to save the environment for people, but rather from people;
  • Who demanded that we fight "racism" (meaning the bad life decisions made by people of "protected" racial groups) by instituting even more racism;
  • Who preached that whites were racially guilty, males were sexually guilty, and ordinary, middle-class people had stolen everything they had from the poor, from minorities, and from "Native Americans;"
  • And who never saw a problem they didn't want to politicize and turn into a statist grab.

These are the saints of contemporary left-liberaldom: Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Bernadine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, Andrea Dworkin, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Malcolm X, Russell Means, and "Field Marshal Cinque" of the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Their contemporary followers are neither so grandiose nor as infamous; in fact, they are rather squalid: Markos Moulitsas, Keith Olbermann, Sean Penn, Janeane Garofalo, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Spike Lee, Ward Churchill, and Eli Pariser of MoveOn.org. Their worldview is likewise squalid, unimaginative, concrete-bound, and transcendentally narcissistic. David Axelrod -- chief "strategist" to Obama, remember him? -- continues, with an interpretive assist from Times reporter Robin Toner:

“The question,” Mr. Axelrod said, “is whether given the abysmal state of our economy, given the war, given all the challenges that people sense we face that have led George Bush to have the lowest rating ever, do you believe that voters are going to be distracted from the fundamental need for change? I think the answer to that is no.”

In fact, as Mr. Axelrod suggests, these are very different times.

Twenty years ago, the nation was in an era of comparative peace and prosperity; a sense of crisis did not hang over the election [I reckon the imminent collapse of the evil empire doesn't count]. Today, with the war in Iraq in its sixth year and the economy stumbling, more than 8 in 10 Americans say the country is on the wrong track. A new generation of voters have entered the electorate, who may not be as susceptible to values issues.

In such a climate, it would presumably be far more difficult than in 1988 to keep the campaign focused on symbolic, values-related issues, or matters of personality.

Honesty, courage, loyalty, patriotism, civility, constancy, and leadership -- just "matters of personality." A belief in freedom, personal responsibility for one's own life, Capitalism, rugged individualism, the unique greatness of America... just "values-related issues."

Some people are tone deaf; they literally cannot distinguish one melody from another or from a random collection of notes. Contemporary liberals are values-deaf -- they cannot distinguish virtues from vices, their only principle is expediency, and they imagine that any grab-bag of disconnected "issues" constitutes a "political philosophy."

Thus, they fly into a rage whenever Republicans or conservative, the elite media, or the people themselves begin questioning them about "distractions" from the "real issues," distractions like Hillary Clinton's fundamental dishonesty or Barack Obama's appallingly bad judgment and almost belligerent vagueness... from the complete lack of a real vision for America that both Democrats share. (According to the Times: "Mr. Obama rose to national prominence largely on the basis of his oratorical skills, and has never been accused of lacking vision!")

To leftists, American values have no intrinsic worth or meaning. The only function of such "symbolic" issues is to bludgeon the enemies of contemporary liberalism. For example, the New York Times falsely accused John McCain of adultery in February of this year, made no attempt to back it up, and refused to make a correction when the charge fell apart. Yet have they ever been concerned about such "distractions" when the accused was a Democrat? To paraphrase Tim Rice, lyricist of Jesus Christ, Superstar, "What is this new respect for marriage? Till now this has been noticibly lacking!"

Liberals fling accusations of sin and corruption the way monkeys fling poo at rival tribes... as a smelly missile weapon that actually came from themselves, not the target.

So the next time some progressive New Leftist works himself into a lather about the "distractions" of "symbolic, values-related issues" -- followed immediately by an attack on the character of the nearest conservative -- give him a banana, and maybe he'll go away.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 5, 2008, at the time of 4:46 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 29, 2008

Gee, He Really Is Conservative - Page 2: Health Care

Health Care Horrors , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

A week ago yesterday, we posted about John McCain's economic policy speech delivered at Carnegie Mellon. We summarized thus:

What was refreshingly unexpected was how fiscally conservative McCain is, particularly in comparison to the last few GOP presidential candidates... by some measures, McCain is more fiscally conservative than Ronald Reagan, who never made much of a move to rein in spending (Reagan was more concerned with winning the Cold War and lowering taxes).

Today, McCain delivered his next big policy speech, this time on fixing the health insurance... well, "crisis" would be too strong a word; but certainly there's a vast unease in the air. He spoke in Tampa, Florida, at the University of South Florida; specifically, at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. And once again, I believe most of us would agree that McCain's approach is not only more conservative than either Democrat running -- it's intrinsically conservative on its face, not merely by comparison.

(I have placed the transcript of McCain's entire speech in the "slither on.")

Personalizing health-insurance decisions

McCain begins with a strong denunciation of socialized medicine, or "a nationalized health care system," as he puts it. He notes that when families make their own health-care decisions, that alone reduces the cost of the system: Patients become more frugal of expenditures when they're paying for it themselves... either directly, via a health savings account (HSA), or indirectly through paying their own premiums.

So the first change McCain proposes is the biggest and most radical. Right now, most Americans (158 million, according to Hillary Clinton) get their insurance through their employers. Employers offer one or more health insurance plans, and the government gives a tax credit to the employer for each employee who enrolls. John McCain proposes that this employer credit be eliminated -- and the same credit given directly to each person or family instead; it works out to $2,500 for an individual or $5,000 for a family.

This money would only be available for use in paying medical premiums or for building up an HSA; from the transcript of the speech:

Americans need new choices beyond those offered in employment-based coverage. Americans want a system built so that wherever you go and wherever you work, your health plan is goes with you. And there is a very straightforward way to achieve this.

Under current law, the federal government gives a tax benefit when employers provide health-insurance coverage to American workers and their families. This benefit doesn't cover the total cost of the health plan, and in reality each worker and family absorbs the rest of the cost in lower wages and diminished benefits. But it provides essential support for insurance coverage. Many workers are perfectly content with this arrangement, and under my reform plan they would be able to keep that coverage. Their employer-provided health plans would be largely untouched and unchanged.

But for every American who wanted it, another option would be available: Every year, they would receive a tax credit directly, with the same cash value of the credits for employees in big companies, in a small business, or self-employed. You simply choose the insurance provider that suits you best. By mail or online, you would then inform the government of your selection. And the money to help pay for your health care would be sent straight to that insurance provider. The health plan you chose would be as good as any that an employer could choose for you. It would be yours and your family's health-care plan, and yours to keep.

The value of that credit -- 2,500 dollars for individuals, 5,000 dollars for families -- would also be enhanced by the greater competition this reform would help create among insurance companies. Millions of Americans would be making their own health-care choices again. Insurance companies could no longer take your business for granted, offering narrow plans with escalating costs. It would help change the whole dynamic of the current system, putting individuals and families back in charge, and forcing companies to respond with better service at lower cost.

This is clearly a step towards a freer market in health-insurance and health-care, thus a good, conservative approach. But of course, it brings up a problem: What about those with pre-existing conditions?

Under the current system, employers buy group plans that include all employees and their families (or a significant portion of them). That's good for insurance companies, because it reduces the otherwise staggering administrative overhead. But the payback is that insurers cannot refuse coverage to people who are bad health-insurance risks; even if you or your spouse has, say, a heart condition, the group-plan insurer must still take you -- even if it knows in advance that you're going to be a net financial loss. The rest of the plan makes up for it.

But when insurance plans are held by individuals, not groups, how do we (as a country) prevent insurers from simply refusing to accept any bad-risk patients? Since a great many of us have pre-existing conditions for which we must take prescription medicine, insurers would naturally want to drop us and take only healthy people who will be big money-makers for the insurance company.

McCain's solution to this is about the least statist possible. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama promise simply to force insurers to accept poor-risk members, thus forcing the companies to act contrary to their own economic self-interest, wrecking any hope of a free market that could reduce costs. From the New York Times:

Unlike Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, both Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton would both make it illegal for health insurance companies to deny an applicant because of age or health status. The two Democratic rivals argue that such regulation is needed to end discrimination against those with pre-existing medical conditions.

McCain has a different approach: He will work with the states to create a pool of high-risk patients. The administration would contract with insurers such as Blue Cross to offer pool members special insurance -- more expensive than for healthy people, but the rates limited to prevent companies from completely excluding people with pre-existing conditions. Here is McCain, from his speech:

Even so, those without prior group coverage and those with pre-existing conditions do have the most difficulty on the individual market, and we need to make sure they get the high-quality coverage they need. I will work tirelessly to address the problem. But I won't create another entitlement program that Washington will let get out of control. Nor will I saddle states with another unfunded mandate. The states have been very active in experimenting with ways to cover the "uninsurables." The State of North Carolina, for example, has an agreement with Blue Cross to act as insurer of "last resort." Over thirty states have some form of "high-risk" pool, and over twenty states have plans that limit premiums charged to people suffering an illness and who have been denied insurance.

Personalizing health-care decisions

McCain also calls for government to deregulate both insurance companies and doctors so that they can provide services across state lines; and he wants new "transparency" rules to force health-care providers (doctors, hospitals, hospices, clinics, and so forth) to clearly post the cost of medical treatment, their safety records, and so forth, thus allowing patients to become better shoppers... and again, allowing the market to come into play. We can choose to go to a lower-tier facility and pay significantly less, or pay premium rates for the best care available; we'll have access to all the information we need to make wise decisions.

Removing money-sinks from the system

McCain calls for major tort reform to stop out-of-control malpractice cases -- the kind that made former senator and failed presidential candidate John Edwards a multi-millionaire. Currently, they drain tens of billions of dollars out of the system; but that's not the worst effect.

Far more insidious is that lawsuit-fever and jackpot justice forces doctors to prescribe likely hundreds of billions of dollars of "defensive medicine" -- tests and procedures with no real medical value in that cast, performed solely to stave off lawsuits in the event that a medical risk occurs... even one that was well known and thoroughly disclosed to the patient in advance.

Fostering healthier habits

I don't know how important exercise and preventative care are to McCain's health-care policy; they are of course vital to an individual's health, but they're things each individual must do for himself.

In this case, McCain says he will "work with business and insurance companies to promote the availability and use of these programs." I get the feeling this is mostly lip service -- bully pulpit stuff -- so it's really not relevant to the McCain health-care policy. (Besides, I'm sure that all three candidates would "work with business and insurance companies, blah blah.")

Interconnecting to the future

I like this point McCain makes, particularly because it doesn't really cost anything but can have a gigantic payoff. I'll just let McCain speak for himself:

We can make tremendous improvements in the cost of treating chronic disease by using modern information technology to collect information on the practice patterns, costs and effectiveness of physicians. By simply documenting and disseminating information on best practices we can eliminate those costly practices that don't yield corresponding value. By reforming payment systems to focus on payments for best practice and quality outcomes, we will accelerate this important change.

Finally, he favors lots of experimenting with different kinds of health-care delivery. Again, everybody promises this; but I trust McCain actually to do it more than I trust either Democratic candidate.

Gravitas (bottom)

Simply put, this is a very presidential health-care policy; it is a clear break from the past, even from President George W. Bush's policies; and it is distinctively conservative: The centerpiece -- switching from employer-based to consumer-based insurance plans to put more power into the hands of patients and their families, thus keeping cost down -- is anathema to the Democrats. From AP:

Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton said under McCain's plan, millions of Americans would lose their health care coverage through their jobs.

"The McCain plan eliminates the policies that hold the employer-based health insurance system together, so while people might have a 'choice' of getting such coverage, employers would have no incentive to provide it. This means 158 million Americans with job-based coverage today could be at risk of losing the insurance they have come to depend upon," Clinton said in a statement.

Right... we'll lose the insurance we have come to depend upon; but we'll gain insurance over which we have much more control, and which is better geared to our needs.

But Obama is no better:

A spokesman for Democrat Barack Obama said McCain was "recycling the same failed policies that didn't work when George Bush first proposed them and won't work now. Instead of taking on the big health insurance companies and requiring them to cover Americans with preexisting conditions, Senator McCain wants to make it easier for them to reject your coverage, drop it, or jack up the price you pay."

In other words, both Mr. Change Agent and his cobelligerent argue against the McCain policy by saying we should reject substantive change towards a market-based system.

The Democratic position is Statism on parade. I don't know how he managed it, but McCain has somehow lured both his rivals into standing foursquare behind the current system... which everybody, even Democrats, know is inefficient, intrusive, impersonal, and ludicrously expensive.

Yet even while praising the status quo -- they continue to agitate for socialized medicine! I don't follow their point at all; a quick survey of socialized medicine in Great Britain, Canada, and Japan demonstrates that its most common result is to magnify all the bad parts of the current system, while adding no benefit (except for greater government control, which only seems like a benefit if you happen to be a member of Congress).

Socialized medicine is a twentith-century delusion for a twenty-first century problem; it simply doesn't fit. As I've seen many people put it, who wants to get his health care from the same kind, considerate, responsive, respectful people who staff the IRS?

Socialism: McCain denounces it; Democrats embrace it.

With every passing month and every new policy offering, McCain comes closer and closer to being a pure conservative on every issue except two: immigration and political speech. And even with those two, he is still more conservative than either Democrat who threatens to seize power in la Casablanca.

(Full text of McCain's speech is in the slither-on.)

Remarks By John McCain On Health Care On Day Two Of The "Call To Action Tour"

April 29, 2008

ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain will deliver the following remarks as prepared for delivery at the University of South Florida -- Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, in Tampa, FL, today at 10:00 a.m. EDT:

Thank you. I appreciate the hospitality of the University of South Florida, and this opportunity to meet with you at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute. Speaker Moffitt, Dr. Dalton, Dean Klasko, thank you for the invitation, and for your years of dedication that have made this campus a center of hope for cancer victims everywhere. It's good to see some other friends here, including your board member and my friend and former colleague Connie Mack. And my thanks especially to the physicians, administrators, and staff of this wonderful place.

Sometimes in our political debates, America's health-care system is criticized as if it were just one more thing to argue about. Those of you involved in running a research center like this, or managing the children's hospital that I visited yesterday in Miami, might grow a little discouraged at times listening to campaigns debate health care. But I know you never lose sight of the fact that you are each involved in one of the great vocations, doing some of the greatest work there is to be done in this world. Some of the patients you meet here are in the worst hours of their lives, filled with fear and heartache. And the confident presence of a doctor, the kind and skillful attentions of a nurse, or the knowledge that researchers like you are on the case, can be all they have to hold onto. That is a gift only you can give, and you deserve our country's gratitude.

I've had a tour here this morning, and though I can't say I absorbed every detail of the research I certainly understand that you are making dramatic progress in the fight against cancer. With skill, ingenuity, and perseverance, you are turning new technologies against one of the oldest enemies of humanity. In the lives of cancer patients, you are adding decades where once there were only years, and years where once there were only months. You are closing in on the enemy, in all its forms, and one day you and others like you are going to save uncounted lives with a cure for cancer. In all of this, you are showing the medical profession at its most heroic.

In any serious discussion of health care in our nation, this should always be our starting point -- because the goal, after all, is to make the best care available to everyone. We want a system of health care in which everyone can afford and acquire the treatment and preventative care they need, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are covered. Health care in America should be affordable by all, not just the wealthy. It should be available to all, and not limited by where you work or how much you make. It should be fair to all; providing help where the need is greatest, and protecting Americans from corporate abuses. And for all the strengths of our health-care system, we know that right now it falls short of this ideal.

Some 47 million individuals, nearly a quarter of them children, have no health insurance at all. Roughly half of these families will receive coverage again with a mother or father's next job, but that doesn't help the other half who will remain uninsured. And it only draws attention to the basic problem that at any given moment there are tens of millions of Americans who lost their health insurance because they lost or left a job.

Another group is known to statisticians as the chronically uninsured. A better description would be that they have been locked out of our health insurance system. Some were simply denied coverage, regardless of need. Some were never offered coverage by their employer, or couldn't afford it. Some make too little on the job to pay for coverage, but too much to qualify for Medicaid or other public programs. There are many different reasons for their situation. But what they all have in common is that if they become ill, or if their condition gets worse, they will be on their own -- something that no one wants to see in this country.

Underlying the many things that trouble our health care system are the fundamental problems of cost and access. Rising costs hurt those who have insurance by making it more expensive to keep. They hurt those who don't have insurance by making it even harder to obtain. Rising health care costs hurt employers and the self-employed alike. And in the end they threaten serious and lasting harm to the entire American economy.

These rising costs are by no means always accompanied by better quality in care or coverage. In many respects the system has remained less reliable, less efficient, more disorganized and prone to error even as it becomes more expensive. It has also become less transparent, in ways we would find unacceptable in any other industry. Most physicians groups and medical providers don't publish their prices, leaving Americans to guess about the cost of care, or else to find out later when they try to make sense of an endless series of "Explanation of Benefits" forms.

There are those who are convinced that the solution is to move closer to a nationalized health care system. They urge universal coverage, with all the tax increases, new mandates, and government regulation that come along with that idea. But in the end this will accomplish one thing only. We will replace the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of the current system with the inefficiency, irrationality, and uncontrolled costs of a government monopoly. We'll have all the problems, and more, of private health care -- rigid rules, long waits and lack of choices, and risk degrading its great strengths and advantages including the innovation and life-saving technology that make American medicine the most advanced in the world.

The key to real reform is to restore control over our health-care system to the patients themselves. Right now, even those with access to health care often have no assurance that it is appropriate care. Too much of the system is built on getting paid just for providing services, regardless of whether those services are necessary or produce quality care and outcomes. American families should only pay for getting the right care: care that is intended to improve and safeguard their health.

When families are informed about medical choices, they are more capable of making their own decisions, less likely to choose the most expensive and often unnecessary options, and are more satisfied with their choices. We took an important step in this direction with the creation of Health Savings Accounts, tax-preferred accounts that are used to pay insurance premiums and other health costs. These accounts put the family in charge of what they pay for. And, as president, I would seek to encourage and expand the benefits of these accounts to more American families.

Americans need new choices beyond those offered in employment-based coverage. Americans want a system built so that wherever you go and wherever you work, your health plan is goes with you. And there is a very straightforward way to achieve this.

Under current law, the federal government gives a tax benefit when employers provide health-insurance coverage to American workers and their families. This benefit doesn't cover the total cost of the health plan, and in reality each worker and family absorbs the rest of the cost in lower wages and diminished benefits. But it provides essential support for insurance coverage. Many workers are perfectly content with this arrangement, and under my reform plan they would be able to keep that coverage. Their employer-provided health plans would be largely untouched and unchanged.

But for every American who wanted it, another option would be available: Every year, they would receive a tax credit directly, with the same cash value of the credits for employees in big companies, in a small business, or self-employed. You simply choose the insurance provider that suits you best. By mail or online, you would then inform the government of your selection. And the money to help pay for your health care would be sent straight to that insurance provider. The health plan you chose would be as good as any that an employer could choose for you. It would be yours and your family's health-care plan, and yours to keep.

The value of that credit -- 2,500 dollars for individuals, 5,000 dollars for families -- would also be enhanced by the greater competition this reform would help create among insurance companies. Millions of Americans would be making their own health-care choices again. Insurance companies could no longer take your business for granted, offering narrow plans with escalating costs. It would help change the whole dynamic of the current system, putting individuals and families back in charge, and forcing companies to respond with better service at lower cost.

It would help extend the advantages of staying with doctors and providers of your choice. When Americans speak of "our doctor," it will mean something again, because they won't have to change from one doctor or one network to the next every time they change employers. They'll have a medical "home" again, dealing with doctors who know and care about them.

These reforms will take time, and critics argue that when my proposed tax credit becomes available it would encourage people to purchase health insurance on the current individual market, while significant weaknesses in the market remain. They worry that Americans with pre-existing conditions could still be denied insurance. Congress took the important step of providing some protection against the exclusion of pre-existing conditions in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in 1996. I supported that legislation, and nothing in my reforms will change the fact that if you remain employed and insured you will build protection against the cost of treating any pre-existing condition.

Even so, those without prior group coverage and those with pre-existing conditions do have the most difficulty on the individual market, and we need to make sure they get the high-quality coverage they need. I will work tirelessly to address the problem. But I won't create another entitlement program that Washington will let get out of control. Nor will I saddle states with another unfunded mandate. The states have been very active in experimenting with ways to cover the "uninsurables." The State of North Carolina, for example, has an agreement with Blue Cross to act as insurer of "last resort." Over thirty states have some form of "high-risk" pool, and over twenty states have plans that limit premiums charged to people suffering an illness and who have been denied insurance.

As President, I will meet with the governors to solicit their ideas about a best practice model that states can follow -- a Guaranteed Access Plan or GAP that would reflect the best experience of the states. I will work with Congress, the governors, and industry to make sure that it is funded adequately and has the right incentives to reduce costs such as disease management, individual case management, and health and wellness programs. These programs reach out to people who are at risk for different diseases and chronic conditions and provide them with nurse care managers to make sure they receive the proper care and avoid unnecessary treatments and emergency room visits. The details of a Guaranteed Access Plan will be worked out with the collaboration and consent of the states. But, conceptually, federal assistance could be provided to a nonprofit GAP that operated under the direction of a board that i ncluded all stakeholders groups -- legislators, insurers, business and medical community representatives, and, most importantly, patients. The board would contract with insurers to cover patients who have been denied insurance and could join with other state plans to enlarge pools and lower overhead costs. There would be reasonable limits on premiums, and assistance would be available for Americans below a certain income level.

This cooperation among states in the purchase of insurance would also be a crucial step in ridding the market of both needless and costly regulations, and the dominance in the market of only a few insurance companies. Right now, there is a different health insurance market for every state. Each one has its own rules and restrictions, and often guarantees inadequate competition among insurance companies. Often these circumstances prevent the best companies, with the best plans and lowest prices, from making their product available to any American who wants it. We need to break down these barriers to competition, innovation and excellence, with the goal of establishing a national market to make the best practices and lowest prices available to every person in every state.

Another source of needless cost and trouble in the health care system comes from the trial bar. Every patient in America must have access to legal remedies in cases of bad medical practice. But this vital principle of law and medicine is not an invitation to endless, frivolous lawsuits from trial lawyers who exploit both patients and physicians alike. We must pass medical liability reform, and those reforms should eliminate lawsuits directed at doctors who follow clinical guidelines and adhere to patient safety protocols. If Senator Obama and Senator Clinton are sincere in their conviction that health care coverage and quality is their first priority, then they will put the needs of patients before the demands of trial lawyers. They can't have it both ways.

We also know from experience that coordinated care -- providers collaborating to produce the best health outcome -- offers better quality and can cost less. We should pay a single bill for high-quality disease care, not an endless series of bills for pre-surgical tests and visits, hospitalization and surgery, and follow-up tests, drugs and office visits. Paying for coordinated care means that every single provider is now united on being responsive to the needs of a single person: the patient. Health information technology will flourish because the market will demand it.

In the same way, clinics, hospitals, doctors, medical technology producers, drug companies and every other provider of health care must be accountable to their patients and their transactions transparent. Americans should have access to information about the performance and safety records of doctors and other health care providers and the quality measures they use. Families, insurance companies, the government -- whoever is paying the bill -- must understand exactly what their care costs and the outcome they received.

Families also place a high value on quickly getting simple care, and have shown a willingness to pay cash to get it. If walk-in clinics in retail outlets are the most convenient, cost-effective way for families to safely meet simple needs, then no policies of government should stand in their way. And if the cheapest way to get high quality care is to use advances in Web technology to allow a doctor to practice across state lines, then let them.

As you know better than I do, the best treatment is early treatment. The best care is preventative care. And by far the best prescription for good health is to steer clear of high-risk behaviors. The most obvious case of all is smoking cigarettes, which still accounts for so much avoidable disease. People make their own choices in this country, but we in government have responsibilities and choices of our own. Most smokers would love to quit but find it hard to do so. We can improve lives and reduce chronic disease through smoking cessation programs. I will work with business and insurance companies to promote the availability and use of these programs.

Smoking is just one cause of chronic diseases that could be avoided or better managed, and the national resources that could be saved by a greater emphasis on preventative care. Chronic conditions -- such as cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma -- account for three-quarters of the nation's annual health-care bill. In so many cases this suffering could be averted by early testing and screening, as in the case of colon and breast cancers. Diabetes and heart disease rates are also increasing today with rise of obesity in the United States, even among children and teenagers. We need to create a "next generation" of chronic disease prevention, early intervention, new treatment models and public health infrastructure. We need to use technology to share information on "best practices" in health care so every physician is up-to-date. We need to adopt new treatment programs and fi nancial incentives to adopt "health habits" for those with the most common conditions such as diabetes and obesity that will improve their quality of life and reduce the costs of their treatment.

Watch your diet, walk thirty or so minutes a day, and take a few other simple precautions, and you won't have to worry about these afflictions. But many of us never quite get around to it, and the wake-up call doesn't come until the ambulance arrives or we're facing a tough diagnosis.

We can make tremendous improvements in the cost of treating chronic disease by using modern information technology to collect information on the practice patterns, costs and effectiveness of physicians. By simply documenting and disseminating information on best practices we can eliminate those costly practices that don't yield corresponding value. By reforming payment systems to focus on payments for best practice and quality outcomes, we will accelerate this important change.

Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid should lead the way in health care reforms that improve quality and lower costs. Medicare reimbursement now rewards institutions and clinicians who provide more and more complex services. We need to change the way providers are paid to focus their attention more on chronic disease and managing their treatment. This is the most important care for an aging population.

There have been a variety of state-based experiments such as Cash and Counseling or The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) that are different from the inflexible approaches for delivering care to people in the home setting. Seniors are given a monthly allowance that they can use to hire workers and purchase care-related services and goods. They can get help managing their care by designating representatives, such as relatives or friends, to help make decisions. It also offers counseling and bookkeeping services to assist consumers in handling their programmatic responsibilities.

In these approaches, participants were much more likely to have their needs met and be satisfied with their care. Moreover, any concerns about consumers' safety appear misplaced. For every age group in every state, participants were no more likely to suffer care-related health problems.

Government can provide leadership to solve problems, of course. So often it comes down to personal responsibility -- the duty of every adult in America to look after themselves and to safeguard the gift of life. But wise government policy can make preventative care the standard. It can put the best practices of preventative care in action all across our health-care system. Over time that one standard alone, consistently applied in every doctor's office, hospital, and insurance company in America, will save more lives than we could ever count. And every year, it will save many billions of dollars in the health-care economy, making medical care better and medical coverage more affordable for every citizen in this country.

Good health is incentive enough to live well and avoid risks, as we're all reminded now and then when good health is lost. But if anyone ever requires further motivation, they need only visit a place like the Moffitt Center, where all the brilliance and resourcefulness of humanity are focused on the task of saving lives and relieving suffering. You're an inspiration, and not only to your patients. You're a reminder of all that's good in American health care, and we need that reminder sometimes in Washington. I thank you for your kind attention this morning, I thank you for the heroic work you have done here, and I wish you success in the even greater work that lies ahead.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 29, 2008, at the time of 8:40 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 23, 2008

Once Upon a Radical

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dave Ross

Although I am rather appalled to find myself agreeing with Tom Hayden about anything, I was actually able to make it to the end of “Why Hillary Makes My Wife Scream” without gnawing my arm off.

I’m attracted to any title that couples Hillary with “scream,” or screech, but to my disappointment, the article was not about “that voice” or the ability of the former first lady to make a fingernail across a chalkboard seem soothing by comparison. If you are familiar with Edvard Munch’s painting “the Scream,” you may have some idea of how I react whenever this woman is on television.

Seeing her every night on the news since December has reinforced just what a disaster it would be hearing her every night of the year for an entire “term.” [Dafydd adds: "Sentence" would be the better word, as least as far as the American people are concerned.] You think George Bush’s smirk has gotten grating (it has!)? This has the makings of suicide by Michael Bolton. Listen to Hillary long enough and your head explodes. Or you become a member of the Village of the Damned.

But I degress. Fact is, I began this column with a digression, so I’m going to force myself back on the road and consider Hayden’s column.

Tom Hayden, for those of you who think you might have heard of him, is an original, unreconstructed, unrepetent 60s radical. The kind that was quite seriously trying to pull down the republic by violent revolution during the Vietnam War. He was a member of the Chicago Seven, and was put on trial with the likes of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin for conspiracy to incite riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention. He helped found the Students for a Democratic Society, also a radical group. He later acquired respectability of a sort by becoming a California state senator and marrying, for a time, Jane Fonda.

His point, and he does have one (as do I, somewhere), is that he knows radicals. And he knows that Hillary Clinton used to be one. Which is why he finds it so frustrating that Hillary and her surrogates attack Barack Obama (the messiah, the all merciful, blessed be his name!) because of past associations with radicals.

It’s actually pretty enlightening to be reminded that in the 60s Hillary was part of this movement, although she never achieved any kind of notoriety over it to the extent that Hayden did. Obama, of course, was a little boy while all this was going on.

As Hayden points out:

She was in Chicago for three nights during the 1968 street confrontations. She chaired the 1970 Yale law school meeting where students voted to join a national student strike again an "unconscionable expansion of a war that should never have been waged." She was involved in the New Haven defense of Bobby Seale during his murder trial in 1970, as the lead scheduler of student monitors. She surely agreed with Yale president Kingman Brewster that a black revolutionary couldn't get a fair trial in America. She wrote that abused children were citizens with the same rights as their parents.

All of this reinforces the hypocrisy of the Clintons, who will repeat lies without batting an eye, lies that even the majority of people listening to them know are lies, yet which they must figure some people will buy as the truth.

Barack will be a bad president, of that I have no doubt. But the Clintons are a breed of cat that only infrequently surfaces in American politics, the Aaron Burrs and the Alexander Hamiltons, the Richard Nixons, politicians with the scruples and ambition of the Borgias and the intestinal fortitude to do anything to win.

Hatched by Dave Ross on this day, April 23, 2008, at the time of 8:48 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 22, 2008

LAT: Is McCain Fit to Serve as Prez - Even Though He Can't Raise His Arms Above the Shoulder?

Media Madness , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

This entire post is a fractal, contained within its title. Only a quote or two is necessary from today's Los Angeles Times:

John McCain gets tax-free disability pension [merely for being disabled! Outrageous!]

The disclosure of the Navy benefit for injuries incurred as a Vietnam POW may raise fitness questions.

When McCain released his tax return for 2007 on Friday, he separately disclosed that he received a pension of $58,358 that was not listed as income on his return.

On Monday, McCain's staff identified the retirement benefit as a "disability pension" and said that McCain "was retired as disabled because of his limited body movements due to injuries as a POW."

McCain campaign strategist Mark Salter said Monday night that McCain was technically disabled. "Tortured for his country -- that is how he acquired his disability," Salter said.

Raise your hands, everybody -- not you, Sen. McCain -- who believes Mark Salter actually said that McCain was only "technically disabled."

Evidently, it's the Times' position that if one is disabled enough to receive a disability pension, then one is utterly incapable of doing anything with one's life. Disabled people should have no lives; they should just sit in a room waiting for relief from the State, or perhaps sit with a bowl in the train station hoping for handouts. God knows they shouldn't be in the Senate, certainly not the White House.

Blind people should be selling pencils from a tin can, for example; certainly not serving as the governor of a state. I'm certain I remember the Times inveighing against just the thought of such a thing. Thank goodness we've never had to face that horrific possibility.

Just to be sure we all realize what, exactly, the Times is saying...

McCain spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi. After he was released in 1973, he returned home on crutches and began a painful physical rehabilitation. He later regained flight status and commanded a Navy squadron before retiring from the service in 1981....

The fact that he is legally designated with a disability pension may raise further questions.

"It is a legitimate question to ask about the commander in chief: Is he fit to serve [despite not being able to play basketball!]," said Robert Schriebman, a senior Pentagon tax advisor and tax attorney who recently retired as a judge advocate for a unit of the California National Guard.

If McCain can hike across the Grand Canyon, then why should he be getting disability payments from the government that are tax-exempt, Schriebman asked.

A friend of McCain's who spent some time with him in that North Vietnamese resort in Hanoi has an answer:

Paul Galanti, another former POW in the group, said that while McCain's injuries were serious enough to qualify him for disability, it would not affect his performance as president.

"I don't know of any physical requirements to be commander in chief," Galanti said. "He would have a nice car to drive around in and a nice airplane to fly in."

But really... how could anybody serve as president if he can't raise his arms above his shoulders? How could he do the Macarana, which I understand to be a job requirement?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 22, 2008, at the time of 11:59 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

April 21, 2008

Gee, He Really Is Conservative - Page 1: Economics 101

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , Tax Attax
Hatched by Dafydd

Some days ago (tax extortion day) John McCain gave a speech at Carnegie Mellon University in the Pitts -- I mean, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The speech focused on his fiscal policy, taxing and spending in particular.

What was refreshingly unexpected was how fiscally conservative McCain is, particularly in comparison to the last few GOP presidential candidates... by some measures, McCain is more fiscally conservative than Ronald Reagan, who never made much of a move to rein in spending (Reagan was more concerned with winning the Cold War and lowering taxes).

Afterwards, that well-known "spending hawk," Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC lashed out at McCain, railing that the presumptive Republican nominee had no plan to "turn the economy around" (does Dean mean from generally improving to generally failing?)

So what is McCain's lousy plan that doesn't pass muster with the Dean Scream Machine? A few highlights are in order.

A taxing problem...

Here is McCain on taxes in general:

In the same way, many in Congress think Americans are under-taxed. They speak as if letting you keep your own earnings were an act of charity, and now they have decided you've had enough. By allowing many of the current low tax rates to expire, they would impose -- overnight -- the single largest tax increase since the Second World War. Among supporters of a tax increase are Senators Obama and Clinton. Both promise big "change." And a trillion dollars in new taxes over the next decade would certainly fit that description.

Of course, they would like you to think that only the very wealthy will pay more in taxes, but the reality is quite different. Under my opponents' various tax plans, Americans of every background would see their taxes rise -- seniors, parents, small business owners, and just about everyone who has even a modest investment in the market. All these tax increases are the fine print under the slogan of "hope": They're going to raise your taxes by thousands of dollars per year -- and they have the audacity to hope you don't mind.

The first salvo. No candidate since 1988 has been so Reganesque on taxes as John McCain. He even has a radical proposal of his own that starts from one of Reagan's own reforms, reducing the number of tax brackets, and carries it to the next step; but more on that anon.

The one time McCain voted against a tax cut was the George W. Bush proposal; I am convinced that he did so out of continuing anger at Bush. While this is pettiness that does not reflect well on McCain, I would sure as heck rather put up with an occasional small-mindedness than suffer endlessly under the passionate Democratic faith in a massive government funded by draconian taxes to solve all our problems.

John McCain will lower your taxes and simplify your tax returns. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will raise your taxes and vastly complexify your returns. If lowering taxes matters to you, if letting Americans keep more of their own money matters, then you can neither vote for a Democrat nor sit out the election in a snit.

We're spent!

On spending in general:

In so many ways, we need to make a clean break from the worst excesses of both political parties. For Republicans, it starts with reclaiming our good name as the party of spending restraint. Somewhere along the way, too many Republicans in Congress became indistinguishable from the big-spending Democrats they used to oppose. The only power of government that could stop them was the power of veto, and it was rarely used.

If that authority is entrusted to me, I will use the veto as needed, and as the Founders intended. I will veto every bill with earmarks, until the Congress stops sending bills with earmarks. I will seek a constitutionally valid line-item veto to end the practice once and for all. I will lead across-the-board reforms in the federal tax code, removing myriad corporate tax loopholes that are costly, unfair, and inconsistent with a free-market economy.

McCain is even stronger on spending than he is on taxes. He has the best "porkbuster" record of almost anyone; he rejects the very concept earmarks, which are the single most corrupt scheme members of Congress have ever invented precisely because it's so hard to prove the manifest bribery in a court of law.

Both Clinton and Obama oppose a ban on earmarks; they side with Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 85%), along with the most liberal spenders in the 110th Congress.

You may argue the Republicans spent like drunken sailors while they held the majority; but during that period, there were many projects that Democrats wanted but never got. Had the party of Pelosi and Reid been in control the first six years of the Bush presidency, our budget deficit would be much larger and we would be close to bankruptcy as a nation, even including the galaxy-sized tax burden they would have maintained.

John McCain will hold down spending and will veto any bill containing earmarks; the Democrats will raise spending out of sight and enshrine earmarks as the normal way to fund everything. If spending matters, you know what you must do.

They're all ears...

McCain on earmarks:

I will veto every bill with earmarks, until the Congress stops sending bills with earmarks....

I have a clear record of not asking for earmarks for my state. For their part, Senators Obama and Clinton have championed a long list of pork-barrel projects for their states -- like that all-important Woodstock museum that Senator Clinton expected Americans to pay for at the cost of a million dollars. That kind of careless spending of tax dollars is not change, my friends: It is business as usual in Washington, and it's all a part of the same wasteful and corrupting system that we need to end.

See above. We're all ears, too.

Particularly taxing...

Think McCain is all meaningless bluster? Has no concrete solutions, as Howard Dean says? Here is McCain on specific tax proposals (other than the big one -- see below):

The goal of reform, however, is not merely to check waste and keep a tidy budget process -- although these are important enough in themselves. The great goal is to get the American economy running at full strength again, creating the opportunities Americans expect and the jobs Americans need. And one very direct way to achieve that is by taking the savings from earmark, program review, and other budget reforms -- on the order of 100 billion dollars annually -- and use those savings to lower the business income tax for every employer that pays it. [Yeah, I know -- ears, ears, ears!]

So I will send to Congress a proposal to cut the taxes these employers pay, from a rate of 35 to 25 percent [Cut in the corporate income-tax rate; how likely is that to come from the jawbone of the asses in the donkey party?]....

I will also send to the Congress a middle-class tax cut -- a complete phase-out of the Alternative Minimum Tax to save more than 25 million middle-class families more than 2,000 dollars every year [Perfect pitch; the AMT, if it ever had a purpose (which I dispute), has certainly outlived it.]....

I will send to Congress a reform to increase the exemption -- with the goal of doubling it from 3,500 dollars to 7,000 dollars for every dependent, in every family in America [Kids -- those damned kids! Seriously, even the United States is skating on the edge of having too low a fertility rate to reproduce our population; incentives for people to have more children not only help directly, they send the message that America welcomes new and larger families.]....

I will propose and sign into law a reform agenda to permit the first-year expensing of new equipment and technology... to ban Internet taxes, permanently... to ban new cell phone taxes... and to make the tax credit for R&D permanent, so that we never lose our competitive edge.

And while we're on the subject of incentives, here are some good ones to encourage more technological development... which just happens to be America's forte.

John McCain will make changes in the tax law to cut the corporate tax rate, benefit parents, kill off the AMT, and support new technology. The Democrats will increase taxes, spending, and regulation of businesses. Which hand do you choose?

The great one (not Jackie Gleason)...

McCain on his big proposal, a voluntary "fair tax" option:

It is not enough, however, to make little fixes here and there in the tax code. What we need is a simpler, a flatter, and a fair tax code. As president, I will propose an alternative tax system. When this reform is enacted, all who wish to file under the current system could still do so. And everyone else could choose a vastly less complicated system with two tax rates and a generous standard deduction.

I like this proposal for several reasons, even though I'm not sure I would elect that option; I would do my taxes the old-fashioned way -- using TurboTax, I mean -- and then also using the new-fangled method... then select whichever one got us a bigger refund; time spent is less valuable to me than money saved. But here is why the "fair tax" is a spectacularly good political bombshell:

  • It's a grand plan, much more transcendent than anything proposed by either Democrat (in this usage, transcendent means leaping out from the run-of-the-millstone policy-wonk proposals that pepper every presidential campaign);
  • It's clearly a reform, making McCain the real reformist in the race;
  • It has a huge base of popularity in all recent polls: People like it because it has the real-world effect of simplifying what is, for most people, one of the most nerve-wracking and traumatic events of an ordinary year;
  • It focuses attention on an area where Republicans still command a big lead over Democrats: tax policy;
  • It's something that George W. Bush never did; his transcendent plan was privatization of Social Security (well, partial privatization) -- which attracts a lot of people (those who know much about the current system and therefore loathe it), but also scares the bejesus out of even more (people who wrongly imagine the SS is a "lockbox" in which their benefits sit, which might be pried open and stolen by unscrupulous stock brokers). It's absurd, but lots of things people believe are similiarly absurd.

The only transcendent scheme proposed by either Democrat is the "Department of Peace" that Hillary Clinton lifted from Dennis Kucinich, leaving plenty of fingerprints. But since nobody knows what the heck a Department of Peace would do, other than pay the salaries of a bunch more bureaucrats, I don't think anybody cared.

McCain will score big on this one... and it has not yet been factored into the polling, as few have heard of it yet. McCain's "fair tax" plan will give Americans a choice to simplify their taxes; Democrats will fubar taxes beyond all recognition. For me, the choice could not be clearer.

You big meanie...

McCain on means-testing the prescription-drug benefit of Medicare, pushed through by George W. Bush:

Those who can afford to buy their own prescription drugs should be expected to do so. This reform alone will save billions of dollars that could be returned to taxpayers or put to better use.

This is actually far more radical an idea than it at first appears.

You all know why some programs (Social Security, Medicare, Veteran's Benefits) are called "entitlement programs," while others that seem superficially similar (WIC, food stamps, federal education grants) are called "discretionary spending"... right? Entitlement programs are those that do not depend upon the economic condition of the recipient; everyone gets the same benefit, no matter how poor or well to do he is: Thus, even Bill Gates will get Social Security and Medicare (including the prescription drug benefit), despite the fact that he is the richest man in America (at one time, richest man in the world).

Never before that I can recall has the nominee for president from one of the two major parties openly called for means testing an entitlement program. It is a huge step forward, every bit as radical a reform, though not as important, of course, as Bush's suggestion that a small part of Social Security be broken off to be privately invested.

If McCain is elected and if he can push this through Congress, we will have broken the wall of separation between entitlement and need; surely other means-testing will follow, and we might finally get a handle on the budget... which is out of control precisely because of "entitlement" spending, which goes up all by itself, rather than by discretionary spending. It might also open the floodgates for more and more complete proposals for privatizing Social Security.

McCain will attempt to means-test a piece of an entitlement program, the Medicare prescription drug benefit. The Democrats would prefer to turn all discretionary social spending into entitlement programs. There's no comparison; McCain is better on every issue than the Dems, even including immigration policy.

Church of the subprime genius...

McCain on the subprime-mortgage crisis and his solution:

These reforms must wait on the next election, but to help our workers and our economy we must also act in the here and now. And we must start with the subprime mortgage crisis, with the hundreds of thousands of citizens who played by the rules, yet now fear losing their houses. Under the HOME plan I have proposed, our government will offer these Americans direct and immediate help that can make all the difference: If you can't make your payments, and you're in danger of foreclosure, you will be able to go to any Post Office and pick up a form for a new HOME loan. In place of your flawed mortgage loan, you'll be eligible for a new, 30-year fixed-rate loan backed by the United States government. Citizens will keep their homes, lenders will cut their losses, and everyone will move on -- following the sounder practices that should have been observed in the first place. [If we must do anything at all for fools working in banks and S&Ls who lent money to people unqualified to receive such a loan -- and politically we must -- then this is the way to go about it, rather than the massive bailout of subprime borrowers and wholesale punishment of financial institutions proposed by the anti-Capitalist Democrats.]

It's important as well to remember that the foolish risk-taking of lenders, investment banks, and others that led to these troubles don't reflect our free market as it should be working. In a free market, there must be transparency, accountability, and personal and corporate responsibility. The housing crisis came about because these standards collapsed -- and, as president, I intend to restore them.

The "penalty," if you want to call it that, applied to the financiers who broke their own rules to lend out money inappropriately should be to tighten our scrutiny of them -- not fine them more of what they clearly ain't got anymore!

McCain won't freak out about the subprime "crisis" and impose some grandiose and ludicrous Keynesian control on the financial markets, as the Democrats propose. Again, unless you enjoy economic collapse as a spectator sport, you should vote for McCain over either of these two Democratic knaves.

It's a gas, gas, gas...

McCain on gas:

I propose that the federal government suspend all taxes on gasoline now paid by the American people -- from Memorial Day to Labor Day of this year. The effect will be an immediate economic stimulus -- taking a few dollars off the price of a tank of gas every time a family, a farmer, or trucker stops to fill up. Over the same period, our government should suspend the purchase of oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which has also contributed to the rising price of oil. This measure, combined with the summer-long "gas-tax holiday," will bring a timely reduction in the price of gasoline. And because the cost of gas affects the price of food, packaging, and just about everything else, these immediate steps will help to spread relief across the American economy.

If states followed suit, then gas prices would drop by a heck of a lot more than 18.4 cents per gallon; here in California, the state takes an additional 18 cents of direct tax on every gallon... but there is also the "tax" of requiring a special gasoline mix for each separate state and other enviro-wacko requirements, each of which also raises the price of gas. Altogether, eliminating federal and state gasoline taxes would save California drivers probably close to 50 cents per gallon -- a drop of $7.50 per tank for a 15-gallon tank. Assuming you get 20 mpg, that saves you a dollar for every 40 miles you drive.

The benefit may be less in some states; but it's still absurd to tax gasoline any differently than any other sale is taxed... unless the goal is to hurt truckers and commuters in particular and raise the price of nearly everything for nearly everybody (since nearly everything is driven somewhere by planes, trains, and eighteen-wheelers).

My only objection to this McCain proposal is -- the federal gas taxes go back up again after Labor Day. Dang.

McCain has already introduced a summer-long moratorium on federal gas taxes; the Democrats call for an increase in gas taxes, to punish people for driving too much. (While the Dems get chauffeured around and fly first class on commercial jets.) Want to continue driving? Vote McCain, not Hillary or Obama.

Five diamonds and a lump of coal...

Here McCain gives us five solid conservative progams -- but one clinker, the inevitable globaloney appeasement:

In the weeks and months ahead, I will detail my plans to reform health care in America... to make our schools more accountable to parents and taxpayers... to keep America's edge in technology... to use the power of free markets to grow our economy... to escape our dependence on foreign oil... and to guard against climate change and to be better stewards of the earth. All of these challenges, and more, will face the next president, and I will not leave them for some unluckier generation of leaders to deal with.
Of course, even on arthritic globaloney, McCain's "cap and trade" program is hugely better than the strict ceiling on CO2 emissions demanded by Democrats.

McCain has a number of other good proposals; and even on the bad policy, hysterical global fear of warming, his plan is better than theirs.

Campaigning, what is it good for?

It's good for demarcating the boundaries within which the candidate would govern. Campaign speeches tell us not only the specifics of what a candidate wants to go, but more important, the principles (or lack) by which he decides those specifics.

If a candidate's speeches are nothing but long "laundry lists" of unrelated ideas, then you can bet he is a pragmatist, a weathercock who will turn any way the wind of opportunity blows, like our previous president: Nobody listening to Bill Clinton in 1992 imagined how liberal he would govern in 1993-1994; and nobody who got used to Bill Clinton ver. 2.0 could be anything but aghast at Bill Clinton ver. 3.0, starting after Democrats lost the 1994 elections. He went from moderate DLCer to ultra-liberal Progressive to triangulating egoist without ever visibly changing his spots -- because he hadn't any in the first place; he had (and has) no discernable principles whatsoever.

Contrariwise, if a candidate's proposals all fit together into a single, coherent narrative, then that tells you he has a firm set of principles. And if that narrative has been fairly consistent throughout his career, that tells you he is steadfast, and you can rely upon him to have the same principles while governing as he does while campaigning -- for good or ill.

Note that this category applies to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as much as to John McCain, though I hope most readers here find that a compelling reason to vote for the last and against the first and second. They are steadfast, all right; steadfast liberal-progressives!

In this case, McCain's fiscal policies all point the same direction: Letting Americans keep more of their hard-earned money and reducing the size and scope of the federal government. If that makes any difference to you, then please don't let your angst about whether he is "pure" enough a conservative cause you to lose sight of the stark, raving differences between McCain and his two rivals.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 21, 2008, at the time of 6:47 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

April 17, 2008

Obama's Own "Hagee" Problem

Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Barack Obama was stunned when numerous sermons of his deeply racist and America-hating "spiritual mentor," Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama's church in Chicago, hit the airwaves. The candidate's surrogates responded by immediately denouncing John McCain for accepting the endorsement of Rev. John Hagee, who some have called "virulently anti-Catholic."

"Well you're another!" appears to be Camp Obama's preferred non-sequitur to almost any charge, however well founded -- in the Wright case, by Wright's and Obama's own words. Just yesterday, George Snuffleupagus asked Obama about the latter's association with hippie revolutionary wannabe Bill Ayers, and whether he would apologize for staying on a board of directors with Ayers even after the latter used an interview (published on September 11th, 2001, emetically enough) to brag about his bombing campaign and sigh that he only regrets not having bombed enough. Obama responded by demanding of Snuffleupagus whether he, Obama, should also apologize for his friendship with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK, 100%) -- a well-known right-to-lifer, which is surely worse than a mere terrorist bomber.

But what about Hagee? Will he be a problem for Catholics who might otherwise support McCain?

Hagee has certainly made a number of accusations against the early Catholic Church, but many of them are actually true: He accuses the mediaeval Church of being deeply antisemitic, which it was (it endorsed a number of Jew exterminations during the crusades, as well as expulsions of Jews, such as the one committed in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain); he blamed the Church for the atrocities committed during the crusades (well, who else would be responsible?); he accused the Church of judicial mass murder for the Inquisition (obviously); and he blamed the Church for the Dark Ages, which is an absurdity: The Roman Empire didn't fall because of Christianity.

Hagee also argues that the Church was too chummy with the Nazis in the 1920s and 30s; here he's on shakier ground: Pope Pius XI (r. 1922-1939) issued the 1937 encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge that explicitly condemned Naziism, racism, and totalitarianism. Many have said his successor, Pius XII (r. 1939-1958), didn't do enough; but Hagee goes too far in implying complicity.

However, I've always been befuddled by this liberal accusation against McCain, linking him with the "anti-Cathlic" John Hagee. What bothers me is that liberals themselves appear to be more virulently anti-Catholic than John Hagee... so why would they care that McCain was endorsed by Hagee? (In my head, I keep hearing the line from Jesus Christ Superstar: "What is this new respect for Caesar? Till now this has been noticeably lacking!") It's as if Obamaniacs denounced John McCain by saying, "how can you vote for him? He's one of those global-warming alarmists!"

But the most amusing element of the hypocrisy, à la "the biter bitten," is that we have someone far more poisonously anti-Catholic than John Hagee could ever be on his worst day, someone who attacks the Church with reckless abandon in the vilest terms, who claims that the Catholic Church actually had a doctrinal policy of molesting children, and who claims that the current Pope, Benedict XVI, "used to be a Nazi."

The bigot is Bill Maher... and on February 1st this year, Maher endorsed Barack H. Obama for president. I'm still waiting for liberals to demand that Obama denounce Bill Maher and his endorsement.

Here, according to Newsbusters, is some of what Maher said about the Church, Catholicism in general, the pope, and Catholics everywhere on April 11th, 2008; it echoes what he has said about them for years, so it cannot have come as a shock to the Obama campaign:

In fact, whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God’s infallible wingman here on Earth, lock away the kids. Which is why I’d like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult. Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats. That’s right, the Pope is coming to America this week and ladies, he’s single!

The pope, Joseph Ratzinger, was born in 1927, three years after Hitler was released from prison for the "Beer Hall Putsch." Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany when Ratzinger was six years old. World War II began with the invasion of Poland when Ratzinger was twelve. And the Nazis were destroyed, Germany lay in ruins, and Hitler was a suicide two weeks after Ratzinger's 18th birthday. I'm not exactly sure when the future pope would have had time to "be a Nazi."

Perhaps Maher meant the fact that at age 14, Ratzinger became a Hitler Youth -- I suppose Maher was unaware that this was mandatory in the Third Reich at the time; pure German children were actually drafted into the Hitlerjugend. Maher is likely also ignorant of the fact that the Ratzinger family was vehemently anti-Nazi. By all accounts, Ratzinger was never an active member of the HJ and only attended meetings when compelled.

Or maybe Maher meant Ratzinger was a "Nazi" because he was drafted into the German army two years later in 1943. After training, he deserted. But mayhap Maher is one of those people who believes that all Germans are Nazis, regardless of their personal beliefs about Naziism.

But it's Maher's remarks about the sex-abuse scandal and the Catholic Church that are particularly vile and unjust:

Now I know what you’re thinking: "Bill, you shouldn’t be saying that the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy Texas cult." For one thing, altar boys can’t even get pregnant. But really, what tripped up the little cult on the prairie was that they only abused hundreds of kids, not thousands, all over the world. Cults get raided, religions get parades. How does the Catholic Church get away with all of their buggery? Volume, volume, volume!

If you have a few hundred followers, and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you 'Pope.' It’s like, if you can’t pay your mortgage, you’re a deadbeat. But if you can’t pay a million mortgages, you’re BearStearns and we bail you out. And that is who the Catholic Church is: the BearStearns of organized pedophilia -- too big, too fat. And that’s the Church’s attitude: 'We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,' which is fine, far be it from me to criticize religion.

In the world according to Maher, the sexual shenganigans of some priests were the actual doctrine of the Church itself: He calls them examples of "organized pedophilia" and refers to the sexual assaults as part of the actual "religion" of Catholicism.

Where to begin? In the first place, there is no question that the Church (under the previous pope) did too little to stop the problem. But let's be more honest about what that problem was: The huge majority of what people often call "pedophilia" (they mean pederasty) actually comprised gay priests having "consensual" sex with teenaged boys, some of the "victimization" continuing long past the age of consent and even into the "victim's" twenties: The Church has been ill-served by its 1960s policy of accepting still-practicing homosexuals into the seminaries, then not disciplining them when they continued having gay sex there and even after being ordained.

(I put consensual in quotation marks above because the law says a 16 year old cannot "consent;" but if the law says that 16 year olds cannot or do not actually make such choices, however ill-advised they may be -- then as Beedle Bumble said, "the law is a ass.")

A lot of the putative "molestation" occurred in Catholic seminaries, some of which were reportedly turned almost into gay brothels. I have read that some heterosexual seminary students were pressured to either put out or shut up -- or get out. Lamentably, this is considered normal sexual behavior among a small (but still too large) subset of the gay male community... call them "bathhouse gays." (I have heard similar stories from acquaintances of mine in the theater, in dance, and other areas that end up being dominated by aggressive gays.)

Every study I have seen indicates that the gay male community in general is significantly more promiscuous, having more sex with more partners and less concern about relationships or consequences than the straight community. Obviously there are monogamous gays and heterosexual swingers; there is always more variation within a group than between groups. But it's equally obvious that the community-wide trends are very different.

The priests in this category were clearly violating canon law and the Commandment against adultery (sixth or seventh, depending on the sect or religion). Some may even have been violating laws against statutory rape or workplace regulations against sexual harassment. But ephebophiles by definition are interested in post-pubescent teenagers -- not children. This sort of sex, while it can be traumatic to the teen, is not in the same league, legally, medically, or morally, as actual child molestation.

A much smaller number of priests were committing actual child molestation or actual forcible rape. For example, child rapers Brendan Smyth, Jim Grennan, John Geoghan, and Sean Fortune.

There is no question that the Church did not act in a timely fashion to stop such molestation and inappropriate sexual contact. There is no question that the Church, afraid of being sued out of existence by victims and their parents, chose to cover up the problem instead of root it out. There is no question that some guilty priests were shunted around in a game of musical molesters, where they preyed upon more children instead of praying upon their knees for forgiveness and the strength to just stop.

But there is also no question that the Church did make a real, concerted effort to stop the sexual madness, particularly when word finally filtered up to Pope John Paul II. The cardinals forced the resignation of some very high-ranking officials, including several bishops and even Cardinals Bernard Francis Law and Hans Hermann Groër. And the Vatican itself was never implicated; John Paul took strong action against a horrific practice that threatened to destroy everything the Church stood for and drive people away from the belief in God.

But Bill Maher (remember him? this post is about him) is not interested in nuances, shades of gray, truth; it's much funner for the arrogant, outspoken atheist to lash out at the Church as a "cult" of "pedophiles." And he's not above out and out slander, either. After saying Pope Benedict "used to be a Nazi," Maher adds this gem to his anti-Catholic rant:

When the current pope was in his previous Vatican job as John Paul’s Dick Cheney, he wrote a letter instructing every Catholic bishop to keep the sex abuse of minors secret until the Statute of Limitations ran out.

Maher lied in his teeth, as Newsbusters so ably demonstrates. The letter spoke only about the ecclesiastical trials of those accused. It said nothing whatsoever about criminal trials by states and other secular jurisdictions and certainly did not tell any priests to conceal evidence until charges could no longer be filed. Maher simply made it all up.

Even under the highly restrictive standards of "actual malice" and "reckless disregard" for the truth that apply to public figures since 1964, Pope Benedict would easily win a slander suit against Maher, were the pope interested in such foolishness -- which of course he is not, a reluctance that Maher relies upon when he pronounces such slanders on his HBO show. (HBO would also be a defendant in any such lawsuit, because they broadcast the slander; I wonder if they've run that past their crack legal team?)

But of course, Barack H. Obama, as a presidential candidate, cannot skate with a standard of "Not sued for slander yet!" He has to deal with the fact that a lot of Democrats are Catholics, and a lot of non-Catholic Democrats nevertheless do not applaud anti-religious hate speech. It's even possible that some Democrats were appalled by Hagee's endorsement of McCain because they literally believed that Church-haters (whether or not Hagee actually is such) should be shunned.

What must they think about Obama cheerfully accepting the endorsement of Bill Maher and saying nothing at all about Maher's despicable hatred of the Catholic Church, every other kind of church (except perhaps the Trinity United Church of Christ, which may get a Maherian dispensation), all other religions except Islam (I suspect he secretly hates Moslems, too, but is too cowardly to say so out loud), and of course God Himself?

If Obama gets to the general election, he must deal with Independents, moderates, libertarians (all eight of them), and even Republicans, many of whom also actually believe in God, who believe in Judeo-Christian religion, and who do not believe in slandering churches.

So when will Obama be forced to give a "Bill Maher" speech, to rack up alongside his "Jeremiah Wright" speech, his "Antoin Rezko" speech, his "Nadhmi Auchi" speech, his "Bittergate" speech, and his "Bill Ayers" speech? At some point, every press event will become an effort to explain away yet another weirdo crony, endorsement, or misstatement.

I fully expect before November that we'll hear speeches from Obama explaining why we shouldn't pay any attention to his salad days in PETA, his missionary work for Brother Theodore, going rabbit-hunting with Jimmy Carter, glad-handing Pee-Wee Herman, and his years as financial advisor to Raul Castro. Golly, I'm looking forward to this campaign!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 17, 2008, at the time of 6:40 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

April 14, 2008

Democrats Try to Sue Their Way Into the White House. Again.

Ludicrous Lawsuits , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Back in 2000, after Al Gore lost the presidential race to George W. Bush, he did something unprecedented: He ordered his crack legal team to file lawsuits to overturn the election and declare himself the winner.

Gore didn't just sue for recounts; he also tried to suppress many overseas votes by servicemen. And in a scheme as stunning in its audacity as it was represensible in its aim, the Gore team sued in Martin and Seminole counties to suppress the entire absentee vote -- thus trying to disenfranchise fully 25,000 voters, Democrat as well as Republican. (Why would they do that? Because those two counties went heavily for Bush, and the absentee ballots alone accounted for a net of nearly eight thousand extra votes for the Republican. Since Bush only won by 537 votes, a loss of 8,000 disenfranchised voters would have meant that Al Gore would have won by 7,500.)

This year, however, the Democrats have gotten craftier: They've decided to avoid the rush by filing their lawsuits early, hoping to sue John McCain out of the race before the first vote is cast. That way, likely Democratic nominee Barack H. Obama could fight the sort of race he is more comfortable (and experienced) fighting: one where his opponent is either fighting in handcuffs or is absent altogether (see our earlier post Chicago Rules for enlightenment).

This is from "the Trail," the Washington Post's campaign blog (I'm sorry, its "daily diary of campaign 2008," not a blog):

The Democratic National Committee announced today it will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Monday to force Sen. John McCain to stay in the public financing system until he formally accepts the Republican presidential nomination in September.

The lawsuit asks the Court to compel the FEC to conduct an investigation into McCain's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the public financing system, and, should the FEC continue to fail to do so, to allow the DNC to sue McCain directly for disobeying campaign finance laws.

"We believe he's breaking the law every day," said DNC Executive Director Tom McMahon on a conference call Sunday.

The WaPo blog -- diary! -- doesn't really explain what this suit is all about in this entry... so I turn to my old Watcher's Council colleague Wolf Howling to explain what's actually happening (which the Wolfman did back in February -- using as his source an earlier, more explanatory entry from "the Trail." Go figure.)

McCain needs to be hammering home the anti-Obama message starting as soon as it becomes clear that Obama will be the nominee -- which will likely be March 4. But it may well be that McCain is hamstrung by FEC rules and unable to spend any more than just a few million dollars between now and the nominating convention in September. That would be catastrophic.

The questions at issue revolve around public campaign financing during the two phases of the campaign, the primaries and then the general election. A candidate can accept public financing in one, both, or neither. If a candidate opts to accept public financing, it comes with very specific spending limits. If McCain is found to have accepted public financing in the primaries, then his spending limit is $50 million during the primaries -- and he is close to that limit already.

The problem began when McCain's campaign was on the ropes last summer. He applied for public financing, since the alternative was to quit the race.

Now that itself would not require him to accept it; he would have to have actually taken the money to incur that obligation. And in the end, he did not use any public funds directly. Thus he argues that he did not legally accept public financing and is not obliged to observe the spending restrictions.

Yet there is what Larry Elderberry would call "a big butt": While McCain did not actually take the money, or even use it as collateral for a loan (which counts as using it), he did offer it as potential collateral; he obtained a $1 million loan, for which the public financing would have been collateral... had he ever used any of that loan money. But he did never did, because his own fundraising picked up.

The Democrats, however, argue that saying you might use the public funds as collateral (even if you don't end up doing so) nevertheless locks you into public financing -- and those killer spending limits. As Wolf Howling put it:

That notwithstanding, McCain has now notified the FCC that he intends to withdraw from the public financing agreement during the primaries. The rules say that if you dip into the public funds – which McCain hasn’t – or you use public funds as collateral for a loan, than you are obligated to follow the public financing rules.

So, the question is, did McCain use those funds as collateral? That is a legal question, and one has to look to the terms of his loan.

McCain's loan from Fidelity involves what experts termed a highly unusual arrangement: He pledged that if he left the public financing system and started to lose the election, he would reenter it and use the federal funds to repay the loan.

"The loan terms were carefully drafted to exclude from the bank's collateral any matching funds," to assure McCain would have the "flexibility to withdraw from the program," said the letter from lawyers Matthew S. Bergman and Scott E. Thomas. Thomas, a Democrat, is a former FEC chairman.

Only "future certifications of matching funds" were pledged as collateral, the letter says -- and that would have occurred only if McCain had started to lose, which he never did.

Amusingly enough, this scheme was not invented by the McCain people; it was lifted whole and intact from the identical scheme used by some feller named Howard Dean, when he pulled the same dodge back in 2004 and got away with it.

McCain is in a bit of a bind; he needs a ruling from the Federal Elections Commission, saying that, like Dean, McCain did not actually "accept" public funding, thus isn't trapped in the spending limits. But the FEC can't vote, because it only has two of its six seats filled, which is two commissioners short of a quorum.

And why are they short handed? Because one Democratic senator is blocking the GOP appointment to the FEC (they must be appointed in pairs, one Democrat and one Republican, so no party has an advantage). Until that senator lifts his hold, the FEC will remain unable to hold a vote or issue the opinion McCain needs.

The senator who put the hold on the Bush nominee is (wait for it) Barack H. Obama... the very candidate poised to benefit most from this quagmire.

And now, the Democrats have actually filed a suit in federal court, demanding that the third branch of government (the Judiciary) cooperate with them in rigging the vote for the second branch of government (the Executive):

Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant called the pending suit "total nonsense."

"It is now clear that the trial-lawyer Democrats' idea of campaigning for President is to hire lawyers and file frivolous lawsuits. It's unfortunate the DNC is now trying to drag the federal courts into their circus as well," he said in a statement. "As for the lawsuit itself, it is clearly without merit and filed only for public relations purposes. The FEC's own regulations provide that the Commission must be given 120 days to review any complaint before they may be sued in court. It has only been 49 days since the DNC's initial meritless complaint to the Commission was filed, and thus we expect this lawsuit to be thrown out at the first opportunity."

I would not be so sanguine, however; Democrats have proved remarkably adept overall at getting the courts to do their dirty work for them: Remember the Supreme Court of Florida -- a.k.a., the aptly abbreviated SCOFLA. So I stand by my earlier recommendation to John McCain from "Chicago Rules":

Tell the FEC to FO. McCain should ignore the FEC and raise and spend as much as he needs, without regard to the primary spending limits for those joining the federal campaign-finance system. If the FEC threatens him, laugh in their faces. What are they going to do, vote to fine him? They can't vote to impose a penalty -- they don't have a quorum! Remember? That's what started this whole nonsense.

If McCain cannot stand up to the Democratic-Party shenanigans, how can he hope to stand up to the Iranians, the Syrians, Red China and North Korea, the U.N., or even al-Qaeda? But I expect he will stand up to the DNC; I expect he'll tell them to go jump in the lake. The people's right to a free and fair election outweighs any pedantic parsing that McCain somehow inadvertently squeezed, without ever intending to, some arcane trigger for the whole campaign-finance monstrosity.

Put aside both schadenfreude and a sense of irony; this issue is bigger than McCain personally: This is an affront to all citizens of the United States, just as it would have been had the Democrats been able to freeze out of the election all those absentee voters in two Florida counties.

So come on, Sen. McCain; forget about your own shameful involvement in unconstitutional (no matter what the Supreme Court said) restrictions on free elections. Just rise up off your duff and loudly proclaim, for all to hear, that no matter what anyone says, you will continue to campaign vigorously, fundraise prodigiously, and spend freely.

And tell the DNC they can fling off their suits and drop their briefs to the floor.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 14, 2008, at the time of 12:37 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 12, 2008

Barack Obama - "Liberal Fascist" on Parade

Congressional Calamities , Constitutional Maunderings , Econ. 101 , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Here's Sen. O:

Obama, in remarks he planned to make to reporters Friday morning, wants Congress to pass legislation he has sponsored that would require corporations to have a nonbinding vote by shareholders on executive compensation packages.

Under Obama's legislation, shareholders could not veto a compensation package offered to an executive and would not place limits on pay. Rather, they would have a means to publicly express their position.

A similar bill passed the House last year.

Oh. Well... I turn to my well-thumbed pocket-sized edition of the United States Constitution (I filched it from Sen. Robert Byrd's jacket while he was gibbering on about his little dog Billy). There's this section in there, see, that lists what powers Congress has... the only powers. You'll find it in Article 1, Section 8; but to save you the trouble of looking it up, I'll quote it here. It's pretty long, but you can just skim, if you're in a hurry:

Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post offices and post roads;

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

And that's pretty much all the powers that Congress has. You may notice that nowhere in there does it say that Congress has any authority to order corporations to hold a vote among all their shareholders -- non-binding or not -- on the compensation packages they offer the CEO or any other corporate officer or employee. If the Senate follows suit on what the House already did, then both chambers will be in egregious breach of the Constitution.

Of course, that possibility holds no terror for members of Congress: They've been passing laws that bore no relation to any enumerated power for many decades now, and usually they're upheld by liberal judges. But that's not the issue here.

Rather, this proposal of Barack Obama's is a wonderfully illustrative window into his totalitarian heart. Like all good "liberal fascists," Obama is not concerned with ancient words written on dead trees. So what if Congress has no authority to do what is necessary... it's necessary! Enough talk; Obama wants action, action, action!

John McCain at least understands constitutionality: He promises only to use the presidency as a "bully pulpit" to try to shame corporate boards of directors into reining in some of the more outrageous salaries, bonuses, and stock options; and fulminating from the presidential pulpit is certainly within the scope of powers of the president. (Now, if he were to issue an executive order forcing corporations to comply, that would be just as unconstitutional as Barack Obama's law.)

Nor do I think the Securities and Exchange Commission has any such authority, nor the Federal Trade Commission, nor OSHA, nor any other regulatory regime. I'm pretty sure executive pay is solely at the discretion of the corporation itself, through its officers and its directors. If they choose to put the CEO's compensation up for a non-binding referendum among the shareholders, that's their own business (literally).

Neither Congress, nor the president, nor the Court has the right to issue such an order, in my non-lawyerly opinion. There is still such a thing as freedom and Capitalism in this country; and we have a Constitution that restrains government from just steamrolling over private parties or publicly held corporations.

But to Obama, the Constitution is just an obstacle that must be got around or simply ignored. What's more important, all those "procedures" that limit what government can do to help people's lives? Or enacting what the masses really want -- making CEOs work for no more than the company would pay a journeyman machinist? Action, action!

"President Obama" will try to force his laws through; and if blocked, he'll issue a whirlwind of royal proclamations (executive orders)... all to "solve problems" using the "third way"... not Communism nor democracy and Capitalism, but just the efficiency of a maximum leader who has his finger on the pulse of America, giving the people what they want without the foot-dragging of democracy or the destructive competition of Capitalism.

Just letting you know what we're in for, if -- out of mistaken support for Mr. Audacity or equally foolish McCain Derangement Syndrome -- we allow Senator B.O. to be elected president.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 12, 2008, at the time of 6:24 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 10, 2008

"Time to Begin to... Focus on the Challenges Posed by Afghanistan"

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The wit and wisdom of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, April 8th, 2008:

Without mentioning Senator McCain by name, Senator Clinton responded that supporters of the Bush administration's policy often talk about the cost of leaving Iraq, yet ignore the greater cost of continuing the same failed policy....

"I think it is time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops, start rebuilding our military and focusing on the challenges posed by Afghanistan, global terrorist groups and other problems that confront America," she said.

I think it safe to say that if Democrats have one unifying theme to their national-security policy, it is that Iraq is nought but a "distraction" from the real war, which is against al-Qaeda... but only against the branch of al-Qaeda found along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. They insist we must immediately withdraw virtually all our forces from Iraq and plant at least a significant portion of them in Afghanistan, to fight the good fight there instead.

Let's not speculate (for this post) about the real motivation behind the call to withdraw from Iraq or even whether Democrats are actually sincere in saying they would vastly increase the forces in Afghanistan. Let's assume complete good faith on their part. (I know it's a stretch, but work with me here.)

My question is -- what more, exactly, do Democrats expect us to do in Afghanistan?

We currently have 31,000 troops in Afghanistan as our component of the NATO mission (the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF); we have already pledged an additional 3,000 Marines for fighting and training purposes (to improve the Afghan National Army). Our ISAF allies have collectively sent an additional 28,000 forces, some of whom fight, while others only participate in nation-building efforts, bringing the total current NATO commitment to 59,000 troops.

The former Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, wants this overall figure to increase by 7,500 soldiers and 3,000 military trainers; outgoing ISAF commander Gen. Dan McNeill wants to increase by two combat brigades (3,000-8,000 soldiers or Marines) and one training brigade (1,500-4000 soldiers or Marines):

[U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates said the number of additional combat troops would depend on several things, including the extent of U.S. and NATO success on the battlefield this year, as well as the impact of a new senior U.S. commander taking over in coming months. Gen. David McKiernan is due to replace Gen. Dan McNeill this spring as the top overall commander in Afghanistan.

McNeill has said he believes he needs three more brigades - two for combat and one for training. That translates to roughly 7,500 to 10,000 additional troops. The Bush administration has no realistic hope of getting the NATO allies to send such large numbers.

McKiernan told Congress on Thursday that while he can't yet say how many more troops he would want there, he believes he needs additional combat and aviation forces, intelligence and surveillance capabilities, and training and mentoring teams.

Marines don't use brigades as a normal organizational force; they prefer the regiment. Gen. McNeill is Army, much of our ISAF committment are Marines... so I'm not sure exactly how many troops he calls for. Let's just split the difference between small brigades and big: 5,500 incoming combat troops and 2,750 incoming trainers.

This would mean that we expect our ISAF partners -- all of whom have pledged more troops (France alone will up their committment by at least 700) -- to pony up an additional 3,500 combat troops and 1,750 trainers... unless the next president plans to increase our own committment by more than President Bush has proposed. As noted above, it's unlikely that we can get the full complement from our allies, whose military budgets are woefully small compared to ours (as ours is woefully small, as percent of GDP, compared even to the average of the last 45 years).

However we reach the goal, that would bring the NATO forces in Afghanistan to a total of more than 67,000 combined combat forces and training forces. That, by the way, is all the force that the top commander of ISAF says he needs; he has not called for additional tens of thousands of men.

So what about the Afghan National Army? We have been training them just as we have trained the Iraqi army. As of December 2007, the Afghan army comprised 57,000 soldiers, or about as large as the current ISAF force level. Presumably they are still recruiting, so we can expect tha tnumber to rise along with the NATO forces. But even as they are now, that makes a total integrated army of 116,000 today, rising to about 125,000 over the next year.

(The Afghans are probably not as close to being a modern army in equipment, strategy, and attitude as are the Iraqis, but that is a very high standard; they're certainly far better than they were just a year ago. Fewer units can take the lead, but they generally fight very well when NATO leads.)

So the real question for the Democrats is this: What could we do with, say, 225,000 troops that we can't do with 125,000? If we funneled even just 100,000 of our current 150,000 Iraqi troops into Afghanistan instead, what exactly would the extra brigades be doing that we're not doing successfully now?

And there's where you nit the snag: Afghanistan is even less a force-on-force war than Iraq. When we shifted from the failed "attrition" strategy of Gen. George Casey to the successful counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) of Gen. David Petraeus, we added only 30,000 extra soldiers, an increase of 23%. In Afghanistan, that would mean an increase of only 13,500 NATO troops -- which is only 3,500 more than we're already increasing them.

Is that all the Democrats envision, an additional 3,500 troops? Or are they thinking of something vastly bigger? I have the bizarre image in my head of a Democratic army of 200,000 extra soldiers, all linking hands and walking the length of the border to "find Osama bin Laden!" When (of course) they fail to find him, they'll declare that he, too, was invented by Bush, just like the WMD; there never was a 9/11 attack; and we can go back to Clintonian somnambulism again.

Back to real life. The main point of the so-called "surge" in Iraq was not the increase in troops but the change in strategy; the strategy -- specifically crafted for the Iraq situation -- happened to require 160,000 soldiers, and we only had 130,000 at the time; thus we increased our force structure by the difference.

There's been no such crafting of a COIN strategy in Afghanistan that I know of, because the situation there is not the same as it was in Iraq. But if we eventually do switch to COIN, we will have to evaluate the military needs from scratch... and we might end up increasing forces, but we might end up leaving them the same or even reducing them. The strategy must drive the troop levels, not the other way round. We won't increase troop levels just to increase troop levels, but only as part of a new strategy that demands more soldiers: The strategy comes first; setting force levels is a byproduct of the strategy.

Needless to say, no Democrat -- and no general advising a Democrat -- has crafted such a strategy or reasonably could, since it could only be done by a COIN specialist like Gen. Petraeus who had spent years in Afghanistan and was intimately familiar with the progress of the war and the nature of the enemy right there. So what the heck do candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and other Democratic elected officials, mean by saying we should be "focusing on the challenges posed by Afghanistan, global terrorist groups and other problems that confront America?" What does "focus" mean in this case?

They advocate pulling troops out of Iraq and putting them into Afghanistan. But doing what? Deployed how? Do they mean for combat or training? What mix of Special Forces, air forces, grunts, and administrative/logistics?

How do they want them organized? What strategy should they follow? What would be their rules of engagement? Can ground forces cross into Pakistan in hot pursuit? How about initiating cross-border contact?

Al-Qaeda's presence is mostly in the tribal areas that span the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan -- Balochistan, which also includes a piece of north-eastern Iran; South and North Waziristan in Pakistan; and several other provinces on both sides of the border; the heaviest fighting is currently in southern Afghanistan, which touches both Iran and Pakistan. According to Bill Roggio, attacks are heavy in Kunar in the eastern region, Khost in the southeast, and Helmand and especially Khandahar in the southern region:

According to NATO statistics, “More than 75% of [Afghanistan] experienced less than 1 security incident per quarter per 10,000 people, supporting the assessment that the insurgency is not expanding across [Afghanistan]. 70% of the events occurred in 10% of the districts. The population of these districts is less than 6% of the population of [Afghanistan].” NATO attributes the increase in violence to increased operations by NATO forces.

The problem is that the tribes there do not recognize the border; and there are many trails that cross the Tora Bora mountains or the Hindu Kush, along which al-Qaeda can retreat into Pakistan when we attack (or into Afghanistan when the Pakistani troops attack).

What we really need is a coordinated operation attacking from both sides simultaneously; but we could never get President Musharraf to go along with it... and I suspect we're even less likely to ally with his successor, who will almost certainly be a member either of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (the "N" is for Nawaz Sharif) or the Pakistan People's Party of the late Benazir Bhutto, both of which are more Islamist and less America-friendly than is Musharraf.

Sad to say, I don't think that a single Democrat has even so much as thought about these questions, let alone come up with any answers. The Democratic slogan "Withdraw troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan!" has every bit as much semantic content as their other slogan -- "Free Tibet!"... none at all.

At some point, we may well change strategy in Afghanistan to COIN... or we may change to some other strategy. We may decide to launch a pre-emptive attack on Balochistan and Waziristan; or we may end up cutting a deal with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani or caliph-maker Nawaz Sharif, after Pervez Musharraf is voted out.

But there is no way to know at this point what we're going to end up doing, because everything is in flux. Thus it's not not irresponsible, it's imbecilic to announce in early 2008 your military plan for Afghanistan in 2009. It's like a financial manager saying, "in 2009, we're going to sell the following stocks and invest in these others here." How can you possibly know today whether that will be a good decision a year from now?

So even giving the Democrats all benefit of the doubt on sincerity and motive, just taking their pronouncements at face value, I can only conclude, in strict social-science terms, that the Democrats are behaving like poorly trained baboons. Their long-war rhetoric is just empty jingoism, whose only purpose is to make them look tough in advance of elections.

They have no specific plan; they have no grand strategy; they're not even aware that such things are required (or exist). They've never read any books that would explain this to them. They don't even know enough to know that they don't know enough; to borrow a wonderful phrase from Donald Rumsfeld, to the Democrats, military strategy is an "unknown unknown."

I recommend we not put one in la Casablanca. I'm not even comfortable with them sitting on the national-security committees; alas, there's nothing we can do about that.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 10, 2008, at the time of 6:16 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 6, 2008

Warmonger! Draft Dodger! Warmonger!

Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Let me see if I have the sequence of Democratic electoral argument straight...

1992: "Don't vote for the World War II combat veteran who was shot down; war is immoral! Vote for the moral, draft dodging peace protester."

1996: "Don't vote for the World War II combat veteran who was shot up; war is immoral! Vote for the moral, draft dodging peace protester who has led us into wars unrelated to American national security."

2000: "Don't vote for the draft-avoiding non-veteran; he's a chickenhawk! Vote for the combat-reporting veteran. Only a military veteran understands how to be Commander in Chief."

2004: "Don't vote for the draft-avoiding non-veteran; he's a chickenhawk! Vote for the combat veteran with a chest full of medals. Only a heavily decorated military veteran understands how to be Commander in Chief."

2008: "Don't vote for the Navy-brat Vietnam combat veteran who was shot down and held as a POW for five and a half years, served with distinction for more years after his return, is heavily decorated, and who has had three children in either the Navy or Marines in combat positions; the Vietnam and Iraq wars were immoral! Vote for either the wife of the moral, draft-dodging peace protester or the cocaine-abusing "community activist" -- you can't be Commander in Chief if you're too close to the military."

Have I got this about right, or did I miss something (as usual)?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 6, 2008, at the time of 1:33 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 2, 2008

The Wit of the Ancient Mariner

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd

Watching the 163 year old Republican nominee one-up David Letterman (scripted or not) in a head-cutting contest: Priceless:

 

 

Listen to that crowd -- they love him! Much as I like Mitt Romney as a policy wonk -- and I do hope he has a senior financial role in the McCain administration, perhaps Treasury Secretary -- I just can't picture Romney being able to connect with a young audience as John McCain does.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 2, 2008, at the time of 3:46 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

April 1, 2008

Name That Personage...

Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance
Hatched by Dafydd