Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Racism Card

Kass has an astute analysis of the Blago-Burris affair.  but he calls it using the race card.  This is incorrect. It is the "racism" card.

What is so interesting about it is not that the election of the Obama was supposed to put all this behind us but that it now seems that the chief victim of it is now the Democratic party.  It was tried by Obama himself on McCain and it backfired.  But it worked quite well on Clinton and now it may propel the non-entity Burris into the Senate by cowling the Democrats. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Incentives for everything but investment

Nice point about Obama's worldview made by Fred Barnes: it seems that everyone responds to incentives but capitalists:

As president-elect, Obama has talked frequently about the economy but
practically never in the language of free markets. Incentives? He's
mentioned "incentives for fuel-efficient cars" and "economic incentives
that would be helpful" to Iran to improve relations, but not for
capital investment. "Across-the-board tax cuts" or "corporate tax cuts"
or "tax cuts to increase investment"?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The new war against fat

Andrew Ferguson on the Left's war against obesity.

The cover of the Standard features an article by Charles Krauthammer arguing for a "net-zero gas tax," one of the most sensible ideas I can think of and one which could potentially bring together those on the left and the right in a true coalition, i.e., one where people work to bring about the same policy change for entirely different and independent reasons.

Some of those civilian facilities the Israelis have been dropping bombs on

Pictures released by the IDF. Odd how the civilians in Gaza seem to like to march around in formation.

Interesting and Honest Post

Joel Stein on Liberals and Patriotism. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kick Me I'm Irish

Richard Harris used to joke that whenever he did something good it was reported in the papers as "Britain does _____" but whenever he did something bad he was identified in the papers as an Irishman. 

We are getting a chance to see the same dynamic at work with Republicans. Once upon a time--about a week or so ago in fact--all of the scandals were evidence of Republican depravity.  A Senator gets caught in the airport mens room making suspicious foot tapping touches and he must be identified as a Republican.  But now all of the problems are evidence of "American" values being out of whack, not Republican.

Left unanswered by this Guardian columnist is why, if it is American values that are the problem, the banks in the great care-castles of Europe such as Britain, Germany and Iceland are doing worse, much worse?

Type II Error

Mark Steyn finds the key anecdote yet again:

"But beyond that is a broader question. In
Afghanistan, the young men tying down First World armies have no
coherent strategic goals, but they’ve figured out the Europeans’ rules
of engagement, and they know they can fire on Nato troops more or less
with impunity. So why not do it? On the high seas off the Horn of
Africa, the Somali pirates have a more rational motivation: They can
extort millions of dollars in ransom from seizing oil tankers. But, as
in the Hindu Kush, it’s a low-risk occupation. They know that the
western navies that patrol the waters are no longer in the business of
killing or even capturing pirates. The Royal Navy that once hanged
pirates in the cause of advancing civilization and order is now advised
not even to take them into custody lest they claim refugee status in
the United Kingdom under the absurd Human Rights Act."

Here are the people we wanted to abandon to Sadaam

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Peace vs. Security "Trade-off"

Here is all you need to know about the liberal mindset and Israel:

"Abbas may instead call for presidential and parliamentary elections
early next year. Right now, polls show his Fatah organization ahead of
Hamas, 42 percent to 28 percent. But the situation is explosive, quite
literally, because Hamas's cease-fire with Israel expired on Friday. If
Hamas votes with rockets, Israelis will become even more pessimistic
about a two-state solution."

Now what is so delicious about this is that it doesn't come in the form of opinion but in the form of neutral analysis.  The prospect of a party bent on the destruction of the state of Israel lobbing rockets into cities would be bad because it might make them more pessimistic about the prospects for peace.  Not that it would kill Jews. Not that it should make them more pessimistic, that it will make it harder for them to believe that there is not a party on the other side of the border bent on their destruction. The fact that there is such a party is beside the point.

Re-read the paragraph just quoted, but instead of imagining a suited reporter imagine a group of Nazis scheming to ease the Israelis into a complacent mindset so as to create the opportunity to destroy them. It makes just as much sense read that way. 

One paragraph later we have this absurdity:

"If hard-liners begin to win [among Palestinians and Israelis], that
means the issue will be security," says Davutoglu. "Security will be
more important than peace."
Now ponder that for a moment.  The peace-security trade off?  Don't those usually go together?  We say, "Peace AND security?" The UN has a security council to ensure peace, yes?  That is what peace is, isn't it? Only Israel is expected to see these things as competing goods. They could possibly be viewed as different if the party threatening peace and the party threatening security were different, but given that it is Hamas that is the threat to peace and security (along with the Palestinians and the Arab world as a whole) in what sense can one have peace without security?  And yet, we have reached the point where such absurdities roll off the tounge without our even noticing.

"Yes, finally we have peace.  Now we can do something about those guys on the other side of the border lobbing rockets at us."

Interestingly, the press in Pakistan can still write about Israel and the Arabs

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just Tell Me to Shut Up

One thing I don't like about the sensitivity approach to tolerance is the way that it tends to condescension. Take Obama's duck of John McCormick's question about his Blago ties.  Obama cuts him off "because I don't want you to waste your question."  He could have just used his excuse and not answered the question but instead tries to frame it in terms of being helpful and concerned for the reporter's well-being. Good manners assumes conflict and tries to blunt it.  "Sensitivity" assumes that conflict is rooted in ignorance and tries to educate it.  I think that it is only a matter of time before reporters get tired of being stiff-armed and told that they are ignorant at the same time.  A polite no comment or even a Bushian non-sequitur might start to look good after a while.

Milbank makes the argument that Obama is doing the same thing that Bush did all the time and brings in the example of Bush begging off a question about a military raid into Syria.  But that is not quite the same.  In addition to it not be a question about a scandal but one where there is a legitimate reason to beg off answering for national security reasons, there is the more important point that Bush doesn't try to make his answer seem like he is trying to help the reporter. 

"I'm not going to comment on the matter," Bush said. "You're welcome to
ask another question, if you'd like to, on a different subject," the
president added

There is a world of difference between just saying you are not going to talk about something and telling a guy you are doing him a favor becasue his original question was one that didn't even need to be asked if he had read the statement and done his homework. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rejoice, Gentlemen! Defeat is Ours!

Among the many payoffs to losing the election is that many necessary policies there were denounced as fascism are now going to be acceptable.  Obama has already re-Christened the FISA act and wire-tappings as prudent during the campaign.  Now David Cole has come out in favor of preventative detention!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Rule of the Mandarins

These guys at the car companies have been wasting tons of money and haven't accomplished very much.  Someone else should run their businesses.  Who should we put in charge there?  Why Congress, of course!  After all, we don't want too much change, do we?  If they suddenly started using money efficiently and actually building cars that people want it could prove very unsettling to the economy. Last thing we want in these uncertain times is an abrupt change, and who else has the experience of wasting money on such a colossal scale?

Of course the actual person running it can't just be a politician.  It has to be someone with the right technical skills.  Engineer?  Businessman?  Silence you crazed ideologue!  We need someone with sympathy and understanding for all the interests and social values at stake.  Yes, that's right: a lawyer.  I am surprised we didn't think of it before.  In fact, that was probably the whole problem in the first place over there at the car companies: not enough lawyers.   

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Neo-Cons and India

Douglas Feith recounts an anecdote that was recounted to him by an Indian official to the effect that even though India has almost as many Muslims as Pakistan it is practically unheard of that an Indian Muslim joins al Qaeda.  Why? Because India is a democracy.

This is an idea that I hope and believe will get more attention now that the Bush administration is leaving and one can be in favor of the spread of democracy without the confounding factor of the unpopular conflict in Iraq.  With time, people may even be willing to consider that spreading democracy is not only good but may even require force.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You would be a fool to work

It turns out that some cities are in pension trouble.  This city in California is facing bankruptcy because it can't meet its pension obligations.  Little wonder: Firemen can retire at 50 and get 90% of their pay as pensions.  What kind of fool would keep working under that deal? 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pooh Bahism

The great head of the multicultural pooh-bahs--Fareed Zakaria--has held forth on the events in Mumbai.  Read it if you must.  He has mastered the art that is the one essential of a keeper of conventional wisdom: saying nothing in a way that sounds important and meaningful.  The art of keeping the conventional wisdom is to make policy proposals and diagnoses that a) involve no value conflicts that threaten the elite, b) call for more resources to flow to the elite and c) blame something (if not the entire problem) on Bush. 

Here is a report from India itself that actually contains information.  Turns out the victims were tortured before being killed, no doubt the result of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.  The special forces that finally won the battle after they had determined that the hostages were all dead did not play nice:

The doctors who
conducted the post mortem said the bodies of the terrorists were beyond
recognition. "Their faces were beyond recognition."

There was no
way of identifying them," he said. Asked how, if this is the case, they
knew the bodies were indeed those of the terrorists, he said: "The
security forces that brought the bodies told us that those were the
bodies of the terrorists," he said, adding there was no other way they
could have identified the bodies.

An intelligence agency source added: "One of the terrorists was shot through either eye."

A senior National Security Guard officer, who had earlier explained the operation in detail to,
said the commandos went all out after they ascertained that there were
no more hostages left. When asked if the commandos attempted to capture
them alive at that stage, he replied: "Unko bachana kaun chahega (Who will want to save them)?"

Good thing for them they don't have the ACLU.

Statistics and Global Warming

Turns out the sky isn't falling.

An Upside of Obama

Now at least we can declare victory in Iraq. Look for a spate of good news stories about Iraq as things that are good are credited to the new president.

Pooh Bahism

The great head of the multicultural pooh-bahs--Fareed Zakaria--has held forth on the events in Mumbai.  Read it if you must.  He has mastered the art that is the one essential of a keeper of conventional wisdom: saying nothing in a way that sounds important and meaningful.  The art of keeping the conventional wisdom is to make policy proposals and diagnoses that a) involve no value conflicts that threaten the elite, b) call for more resources to flow to the elite and c) blame something (if not the entire problem) on Bush. 

Anti-torture argument from a qualified source

This returned soldier makes the case against "enhanced" interrogation techniques. One wonders how widespread his view is in the military. His case for the traditional methods based on building rapport seems strong in the case of the Sunni fighters. His argument that Abu Ghraib has cost as many lives as 9/11seems somewhat overdrawn and, moreover, implies that the real problem was not the abuses, which afterall, were being dealt with and prosecuted before they became generally known, but the publication of the photographs. At the very least it suggests that the military's concern with what information gets out might be motivated by legitimate concerns.  

I blame Gandhi

One of things that stands out about the Mumbai attacks is the reluctance of the police in India to shoot. This is a clear case where our avoidance of one kind of error-using too much force-leads to the opposite error-using too little.  A set of constraints designed to save innocent life ends up costing innocent life.

More Gandhi-ism run amok from a story about Somali pirates hijacking a Liberian oil-tanker: "We
have been informed by coalition military authorities that three of our
unarmed security staff were rescued from the water by a coalition
helicopter and are currently on board a coalition warship in the Gulf
of Aden,"

A) if they don't have guns, what are they guarding against? B) Why isn't this Liberia's problem? All of this international law business seems to create a massive free-rider problem. 

At Citizens for Peace they are calling for Mumbaikars to "chanel [their] collective outrage" into "action not just...attitude." She also wants "an end to platitudes." Good luck with that.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Regressing Progress

It appears that our modern legal system can't deal with pirates.  In the bad old days the law was rationally tailored to deal with this problem.  The reason that the law changed was that the world changed.  The law that is appropriate to deal with this old problem is available but will not be used because of our conceit that we have changed the law because we became better people, morally superior to our ancestors, not that the world has (at least in some parts) become a nicer place.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's good for the Messiah

It is not just that he isn't putting his kids in public school--that would be sacrificing his kids for political favor--it is that he makes it out to be something that has to do with money.  Obama's kids aren't going to a school that is more expensive, it is just more exclusive. Sidwell Friends is $25k a year, but then so are the D.C. public schools if you look at what they spend per pupil.  In the case of D.C. private schools resources really aren't the problem, it is how well or ineffiently they are used.  The press has, as usual, burried the lead: private schools aren't more expensive they are just better managed. If you gave the money spent on public education to the parents to use at a school of thier choice then everyone actually could afford to go to Sidwell Friends.  But do we let the money follow the parents?  No. Just the opposite.  Instead of expanding what works we are contemplating expanding what doesn't into other realms such as health care. 

Obama looking better

Here is the AG elect of the Obama administration taking the Neo-Con line on terrorists and the Geneva Convention.  Suddenly, that pardon thing doesn't look so bad. 

Obama looking better

Here is the AG elect of the Obama administration taking the Neo-Con line on terrorists and the Geneva Convention.  Suddenly, that pardon thing doesn't look so bad. 

Civic Knowledge

Comparison of self-identified public officials and private citizens in knowledge of US government and history. Guess who wins.

Cool: Ray guns

So now we have ray guns in Iraq. War just isn't given the credit it deserves.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Halperin on pro-Obama press bias

Nice comparison by Halperin on the treatment of the two potential first ladies.  My modest prediction is that at some point Michelle will succumb to the temptation to be Michelle and, unlike a VP candidate, it will be impossible to cloister her for the duration of the campaign. Note the circularity of the press's defense:

"The biggest bias in the press is towards effectiveness," said
Heilemann, who is authoring a book on the 2008 race along with

"We love things that are smart."

Because Obama's campaign was generally so well run, he argued, the press tended to applaud even his negative tactics.

So the campaign received positive  evaluations because it was so good?

Happy to be wrong

And so far, Obama has made a lot of centrist appointments, particularly at the top. Most hopeful sign of this is that the netroots crowd is starting to  grumble. If Obama turns out to be a centrist I will turn out to been completely wrong, and darn glad of it.  I am even in a way it led to see Hillary back, if only because it represents a little bit less change. Of course, the real  double may be in the details, or in this case in the lower level appointments.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Reminder of How Truly Rotten it Was

Here is an honest and penetrating piece on the illegality of the seizure of Elian Gonzales back during the Clinton Administration. It is important to note that the police power resides in the hands of the states, that the Federal government has no right to use force to break into a family's home, and that there was no likelihood that a court would have granted such a warrant since Elian was not here illegally.

Friday, November 14, 2008

so we were right which proves we were wrong

William Ayres  has issued a new statement about his relationship with Obama.  the interesting thing about it is not that he admits that all of the charges about the depth of his association with Obama were true, but that he argues that nonetheless we were wrong to talk about them, that the charges amounted to a "smear campaign."

Now, doesn't calling something a smear campaign imply that the charges are true?

more proof of global warming

 here is a scientist arguing that we are due for an Ice Age. I have no idea myself, but if it does happen we can be sure of one thing: it will be taken as one more proof of global warming.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remember Obama's plans, especially the ones they don't want you to remember

Here is a nice post on Obama's disappearing gun ban proposal

Here is a law professor claiming to have inside information that Obama is going to try to undo the right of counties to have "shall issue" policies.  Lets hope he is wrong.  Or, perhaps, that he is right, since doing so would be politically stupid and blatantly at odds with the promises he made in the campaign--though, of course, he will find a way to argue that we misunderstood him, just as the President of Poland appears to have done.

What is to like?

Being an African-American was surely a problem  For Senator Obama, but on the other it worked to his advantage in some ways.

I don’t know what the weight equivalent of a Reverend Wright would be, but if John McCain had chosen a white reverent Wright to be his spiritual divisor and religious instructor for his children, it is difficult to imagine his opponent not using it against him.

American election campaigns are centered on the question of does the candidate’s record matches rhetoric? Obama, having no record to begin with, was never really forced to defend what record  he did have. Thus, he was able to present himself as a moderate. Perhaps he is in his heart of hearts. He was nothing of the sort in Chicago.

 Leave aside the question of whether, on balance, his race was an advantage or disadvantage; it seems clear that his race did constrain what other people would say about him. We can feel in this conversation. Here I am a very conservative Republican asked to talk about the election of a very liberal Democrat to the presidency. Under normal circumstances no one would expect me to be anything but very unhappy. Yet April keep expecting me to celebrate the election of an African-American to the presidency. And if I don’t that I’m some kind of mean person. I am not being allowed to go to the grieving process. And besides, I don’t think if the situation were reversed, if Clarence Thomas had been elected president, the first reaction of all my liberal friends would be oh how wonderful to have an African-American president.

Identity politics matters greatly until  the day the man takes office. After that, it is what can he do for us. It is policy. And I for one can’t wait to start talking about it.

That being said, I hope you don’t mind me plugging an NPR story, but it is just great to see the daughter of a slave live to see an African-American elected president. Any American has got to love that.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Now I am Alone

So Omo-bare decided this morning to give up on Nader and vote for Obama. He has assimilated to the Blorg! He has melted into the Oblama. I am the last man, the Omega-man, no! The Amega-man! The last American standing.

7:29--from the country formerly known as America

Ok, so it is fine. I have lived in foreign countries before. I can get used to it. This time I get the fun of living abroad without the hassles of airports.

They have just called Pennsylvania for Obama. It was a great country while it lasted.

McCain loses Hispanics

In the why bother department McCain loses big among hispanics in New Mexico. Mr. Bipartisanship, Mr. reach out to hispanics and trash our rules of citizenship and has the knifes in his back to show for it, loses Hispanics 64% to 34%. Next time, don't bother. The immigration issue has always seemed to me to be a case of trying to get the best surrender terms we can by suing for peace early. It turns out the terms don't get better. May as well fight to the finish and leave a bullet riddled corpse. Makes for a much more moving funeral.

7:29--from the country formerly known as America

Ok, so it is fine. I have lived in foreign countries before. I can get used to it. This time I get the fun of living abroad without the hassles of airports.

They have just called Pennsylvania for Obama. It was a great country while it lasted.

Now I am Alone

So Omo-bare decided this morning to give up on Nader and vote for Obama. He has assimilated to the Blorg! He has melted into the Oblama. I am the last man, the Omega-man, no! The Amega-man! The last American standing.

Notes from the Country formerly known as America

What is the country going to be called in the new era? surely America--meany land, land of slavery and colonialism--will never do for a country under the beneficent guidance of the Obamasia? Decisions, decisions.

MSM: See no stumble, hear no stumble

"Rob" at Pajamas Media records a few of the rhetorical stumbles of the Obamassiah that the Mass Media have not deemed worthy of mention. The analysis of why the Iraq war is causing a shortage of translators in Afghanistan is priceless and, it must be admitted, inarguable. After all, a translator you send to France can't be sent to China, though why you want to do so is left obscure by the great explainer. Merci, oh citizen of the world.

How Will We Explain it to Our Children?

It will one day be hard to explain to our kids what it was like to live through Obamania.  I think the item linked to here will be helpful. If the man who voted against a bill to outlaw putting babies in laundry closets to die, no, was the only man in the entire legislature to do so, can be thought of as pro-life by voters it gives you some idea of how in the tank the MSM were for the guy. It also gives you an idea of what kind of media environment we lived in, where the small, homogeneous group of people from a small group of schools could swim together like school of fish and present such a solid wall of credulity that no other information could get past them. It has been like a an Obama-land re-education camp.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Prediction

I have a bottle of Maker's Mark whiskey.  I predict that whatever happens tomorrow I will have a compelling reason to drink it.

Depressing News about Depression

Economists calculate that Roosevelt's policies lengthened the depression by years through suppressing competition and inflating wages. Another reason to dread the coming of the O.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Financial Shenanigans

I predict this will be a huge story--after the election!

Teachable Citizens: Do We Get a Cookie from the Teacher?

Kaus links to this quote from Obama describing his great speech on race that was one of the most important of the century for about a week as being prompted by his realization that this was a "teachable moment."  What is remarkable is that this is what he remembers from these events, not the fact that he ended up throwing the Reverend under the bus just two weeks later.  Like Kaus, of course, I also agree that the idea of the electorate as slow students is a bit hard to stomach. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

If Europe is so Great then how come....?

Kimbal's piece on the relative size of the problems in American and European finance.  Turns out that Europe is in much worse shape.  Such bad shape that they are driving up the dollar!  Thanks, euro-screw-ups!  It is also worth noting that the financial crisis did not start here and spread to them as much as it was first detected here.  The fact that it "started here" is really a testimony to the greater openness of our system and strictness of our regulations.

The Real Ayers

What if a person were running for high office and was found to have been on the board of a charity where he worked with a former member of the KKK?  Surely this would not disqualify him, though it would, perhaps, be a cause of concern.  Now what if we find that the association were a bit stronger than simply being on the board together, but that the KKK member had, in fact, recruited the person to be on the chief executive of the board -- the only executive position ever held by this person?  What if the person, once recruited, turned around and voted funds to the former KKK member, even after other members of the board had raised questions about the propriety of such dealings?  What if the funds that he had voted to the former KKK member were to put the former KKK member in charge of the education of some children in public schools?  What if they had gone on to work together on other boards? You would, I expect, be more concerned.

Now what if the former KKK member had not just been in the KKK, but had been a founding member, an ideologist for the group, a designer of bombs for them that were specifically designed to kill people though, through their own incompetence, had only succeeded in killing members of their own group?  And what if the former KKK member were unrepentant?  Unrepentant not only about the violence, publicly stating that his only regret was that he hadn't set more bombs, but about the goals of the group?  In fact, loudly and publicly proclaiming that he is still working for the same goals only by different means?   Surely this would give you pause? 

Now what if this man called himself a moderate? Would you not feel entitled, indeed, obligated to ask how this moderation squares with the Association of described above? Why, if you are indeed a moderate, did a former member of the KKK decided to recruit you to head the foundation he'd created? Was the beneficiary of the funds you disposed of?

And even if, after all this, you decided you would vote for this man after all, would you feel guilty for asking these questions? Would you feel that by investigating these questions you had somehow sullied political discourse in your society? Had somehow violated the rights of the man who was asking for your vote?

Surely not. And yet this is exactly the position of the American electorate in the current campaign. We are told that to even ask about this association is to engage in McCarthyite tactics, is to incite hatred, perhaps even endangering life of the candidate, to be a racist.

It is one of the standard functions of an election campaign to make a systematic comparison between the candidates rhetoric and stated goals, and the candidates prior conduct. To ask whether a candidate stated goals reflect his real goals, whether the candidates will stated goals are reflected in his past conduct, is not cheapening our democracy or degrading our political discourse, it is a requirement of democratic discourse. When have we ever shied away in comparing the candidates "dreams" for the future with his actions and associations in the past?

Never, until now.

Obama promises change; he has already delivered and we have already lost.

Of course, one might argue that the comparison is unfair. The Weather Underground were merely idealistic youths that went too far. Or, that though their methods were "despicable," as Obama said of this "guy who lived in his neighborhood," their goals were mobile or least understandable.

Even if one accepts this argument, their goals were certainly not moderate. No one can seriously argue that the Weather Underground was not a far left organization, nor can they argue that Ayers is anything other than a radical leftist now. indeed, William Ayres is at pains to point out that his  beliefs haven't changed. Far from repentant, he is proud.

Nor is there any reason to put the word terrorists in scare quotes in their case. The Ayers'  designed bomb  in that killed the members of the Weather Underground who were assembling  it was, by Arizona's mission, packed with nails and sharp objects in order to kill more soldiers at Fort Dix dance where they intended to detonate. If they did not kill more people it was thanks not to their compassion but to their incompetence. 

The argument is not that Obama is a terrorist, but that he is a leftist. The argument is not that he will conspire with terrorists, but that he has a similar view of the world.

This is a special election for me. I lived in Mr. Obama's neighborhood when he was State Senator. This will not only be my second chance to vote for Senator McCain, whom I supported in the Republican primary in 2000, being my second chance to vote against Barak Obama.

As a graduate student at the University of Chicago I lived in district of state Senator Barak Obama.  It is no ordinary place. it comprises the two census districts in the United States which represent the largest gap in wealth between any two contiguous census districts in the country. It comprises not only desperately poor areas like the Robert Taylor homes, but extremely wealthy areas, like the Hyde Park neighborhood around the University of Chicago. And thus it is a land of contrasts. But one thing is constant: its politics are of the radical left. Baraka by was seen as a moderate and conciliatory figure who could reach across ideological lines, but it was only the line between the radical black nationalism former Black Panther Bobby Rush (who was our congressional representatives) and the post-nationalist socialists of the U of C faculty, two flavors of far and farther left.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Stealth Candidate

Obama is the Presidential analogue to the David Souter nomination: a candidate that wins because he has nothing to provide the basis of an attack. Souter had written virtually nothing other than narrowly drafted opinions, his scholarly accomplishments being virtually nil. Obama has an equally thin written record, though in his case it is as much because he is allowed to get away with not producing it or talking about it as much as not having it. Rich lowry makes a similar argument.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More Biden: the gift that keeps on talking

A writer with a great name quotes in buying this latest gaffe at length, a practice more columns should take up. You almost couldn't make it up and how Saturday Night Live resists the temptation of going after this guy is beyond me. He even ends with:

"I probably shouldn't have said all this because it dawned on me that the press is here."

No, Joe, don't worry: you're on the side of the angel, the Obamessiah, and in the state of grace reporters can hear no wrong, or at least not those who depend on them for their news.

The Obama and Ayers Saga Chronicled

 A nice cataloging of the competing and ever-changing explanations Obama has given of his relationship with Ayers.

Blow Joe

 Biden's gaffes and the deafening silence of the mass media analyzed here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Intelligence vs. Glibness

 Here's an excellent post from Todd Zywicki at the Volokh Conspiracy on the difference between   intelligence and goodness, with a reference to another piece in the American thinker on the same topic by Randall Hoven

My own thoughts on Sarah Palin's  intelligence are there she meets the first test but having a sound mind:  she agrees with me. Of course some people can just agree with me through luck or habit, but usually takes some sustained thinking to come to the correct conclusion -- mine -- on such a large number  issues. Such broad agreement with me is unlikely to be due to just coincidence and so must surely be attributed to intelligence.

I've been struck by how certain people are that Obama is intelligent because he speaks well. I think we are witnessing the birth of a new Mandarinate  based on certain, highly specialized, education. Instead of the Confucian classics are new mandarins are talked constitutional  law. Instead of having beautiful handwriting and knowing lots of characters, David Vance by being able to argue themselves out of any corner, make a distinction that rescues them from any apparent contradiction, and greatly recommend a course that takes the middle between two extremes, preferably a course that involves taking as little action or risk as possible. In other words, bullshitting. 

I think that both McCain and Palin  our looked on with some contempt by members of this new class, this new Mandarinate, precisely because of their inability to bullshit.   they are too honest. It even has this terrible habit of when she doesn't know something saying that she doesn't know. Even more excusable sometimes before saying she doesn't know, she actually thinks about it. This was her undoing in the Couric interview, for instance. When she was asked if she knew any times the McCain fought for regulation she was supposed to pivot, and say something like, "of course, Katie, but the real question is..." Instead she inexcusably said something along the lines of I don't know and don't get back to you. One of my colleagues in the political science department said that she was shocked at payments in the middle of the two turn the question around to something she wants to talk about, as if this were a desirable ability.

It may certainly be a desirable ability in a trial lawyer, but it seems of limited use, if not positively pernicious, in any walk of life concerned with actually accomplishing things. I remember reading James McPherson's comments on Grant's memoirs and his orders to generals in the field. McPherson said that it was striking how clear grants instructions were.  It was always playing what Grant expected his subordinate to do and when he expected the subordinate do it. What makes this unusual,  as I recall McPherson's argument, was that it left Grant no out if things went wrong. Most of the generals typically wrote their orders with enough  wiggle room so that if things turned out badly they could avoid blame. Grant left himself no such outs. He was not bullshitter.

I think  that Palin  is a bit like Grant in this regard. She is concerned with getting things done and so has not cultivated the ability to hide behind words. It is no use to someone who wants to get someone else to do something to obscure their own meaning. the ability to expand abstractions with one hand and whittle them down with fine distinctions with the other is mainly of use to people concerned with fixing responsibility, either claiming credit or escaping blame. It is the skill that defines lawyers; it is a quality that repels others.

That Palin and McCain not cultivated this skill speaks highly of them. That  are new Mandarinate has equated with ability and wisdom, is a bad sign for us.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Plumbing the Deepsts of Steyn's Wit

Here Steyn never gets around to crunching the numbers of Obama's tax plan, but has so much fun inventing new plays on the Onointed one's name that it hardly seems to matter. 

The Credit Crunch and Congress

A learned discussion of the government's involvement in the current crisis from an historical perspective from John Steele Gordon. 

Service with a Smile

Not-for-Profit doesn't mean poor, anymore.  Especially in San Francisco.

Schulman on Class Anxiety and Palin Hatred

Brilliant article by Sam Schulman.  The greatest trick a ruling class can pull is to hide the fact that it is a class.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

times have changed

 here is a post about Cindy McCain's lawyer complaining to the Times. He argues that if they're going to to a story about Cindy McCain's past drug use why not Barak Obama's? He points out that they haven't even tried to interview Obama's drug dealer, whom he talked about in his autobiography.

you know times have changed when the controversial statement is the claim that a candidate's drug dealer should be interviewed. The fact that he has a drug dealer is not part of the story.

Mr. Dowd, Cindy McCain's attorney, goes on to make this argument:

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

 how in the tank are they?

I have one prediction to make: if Obama does win this election it will end up destroying the press as we know it. Once he is elected all of these stories as they have been ignoring become fair game. The press is restrained itself in order to see their preferred candidates get elected, but once that happens the other, normally more powerful, imperative kicks in: the urge to compete. There are just too many good stories about Obama's past and been ignored. Once  he is safely ensconced in office, there will be nothing to keep the press often. I expect that will along with these stories will appear stories of how they had been earlier spiked or suppressed by the "will of the newsroom."

Obama is the most liberal candidate for president perhaps ever. It is hard to think of a man whose underlying preferences are so far from those of the median voter.  his statements are, on the surface, images of moderation. His actions, particularly those before he got to the Senate, are those of a hard left radical. As president he he will not be  able to help revealing this. He has to make too many appointments, too many executive decisions, for his true preferences to remain secret long.

The great disadvantage  under which  liberal intellectuals operate is their belief that deep inside every American beats the heart of a Swede. They are convinced that the only thing which stops the American people from expressing this preference at the polls is the manipulation of opinion by their enemies and be stirring up of retrograde prejudices among those poor, frightened, economically insecure  lower classes, who out of their economic insecurity, "cling to their guns and to their religion." there is is the, "try it you'll like it,"  theory of public policy: if only we can institute socialism people realize how much better it is for them. Moreover, they are, in their own way, as isolated and insulated from opposing views as the most insular white suburbanite in a gated community, or backwoods Baptist Bible thumper in darkest Alabama. They never hear opposing voices. That is  why William Ayers could become a respectable figure in Hyde Park: most Americans on being introduced to such a man would grow their hands back in disgust. Obama saw and nothing controversial in handing over other people's children to be educated by him. Why should he have? No one else he ever talk to did.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How Do You Feel About Right Wing Hate Groups at McCain Rallies?

I have been asked this by my liberal friends.  I tell them I feel about them the same way I feel about witches--I am very much against them and am glad they don't exist.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Silent Cal Can Tell Us about a President Obama

Calvin Coolidge had the nickname Silent Cal.  Once, at a dinner party, a woman who had been seated next to the President said, “they bet me that mean I couldn’t get you to say three words all evening.” Coolidge answered, “You lose.”

His personality fit with his conception of how to do the job.  “People come into your office to ask you for things. Usually these are things they shouldn’t have, but if you just sit there long enough without saying anything they’ll usually just get up and leave.”

Coolidge’s little story draws our attention to a fact about the presidency: it mostly involves giving people money. And so, in asking whether or not some would be a good president, a reasonable thing to examine would be what kind of people they’ve given money to, especially other people’s money.

This is why it is fortunate that the Annenberg foundation has finally consented to release the records of the time it was run by Senator Obama.  After all, the senator has an unusually short political career for a presidential candidate, and has been unusually reluctant to release records that other politicians make public as a matter of course: his legislative records, college transcripts, etc..

Obama was the founding Chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge Grant, from 1995- 1999.  The Annenberg foundation gave $50 million – an amount which later grew to some $160 million through other contributions – to the Chicago organization to improve elementary education in Chicago.  Obama’s job was to decide who got the Annenberg foundation’s money.  It was his first big job and his first and only executive position.  And yet, Senator Obama has shown little interest in talking about this part of his resume.

Part of the reason may be that according to their own audits the organization’s own internal reports their efforts did not achieve much: students at schools that received the challenge Grant showed no statistically significant improvement.  Fortunately for Mr. Obama he was not the mayor of a small town where going through $160 million without anything to show for it might be something of a problem.

Perhaps part of the reason Mr. Obama’s efforts produced so little in the way of educational achievement was that the people he Obama said yes to were more interested in radical politics than reading and math.  One of the groups that Obama decided to get money was one run by William Ayers, the unrepentant Weather Underground member.  Ayres’ group sought to inspire grade school children to recognize the American system as a repressive tool of capitalism and empower them to resist. 

Obama’s supporters counter that it is ridiculous to think that the Annenberg Foundation, created by a conservative Reagan Administration member, would be supporting radical causes, but that is precisely the point.  Ambassador Annenberg probably did not expect the money he put up to improve reading and math scores be used for radical indoctrination. 

Senator Obama’s supporters are indignant about these questions, claiming it is guilt by association.  But “association” is a rather broad term. It can cover everything from a guy who just happens to live in your neighborhood to a guy you to whom you entrusted the education of other people’s children.  That one happens to be on a board with someone we don’t like tells us nothing; that one decides to give money to him tells us quite a lot.  The amount of money spent on education may not shift wildly with whoever is President, but the way in which that money is spent often does.  Obama has portrayed himself as a moderate, but the list of people and organizations to whom he has directed substantial resources—Reverend Wright, ACORN, Bill Ayers—suggests something else. 

Senator McCain has the same problem in the form of his involvement in the Keating five scandal.  But whatever one thinks of Senator McCain’s answers to these questions he has never suggested that people don’t have a right to ask them.  Senator Obama stands poised to become the first President since Jimmy Carter to have a majority of his own party in the House and a filibuster proof margin in the Senate.  We are, in effect, handing over to him 100,000 Annenberg challenge grants.  If we don’t like the people to whom he has given other people’s money, we may not like how he spends ours. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Even CNN can see it

Here is CNN's Wolf Blitzer reluctantly digesting the news that ACORN and Obama really are on the same team.

Left Wing Hate Round-up

Nice round up of the left-wing hate speech that has been ignored or even, incredibly, favorably received by the media. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bob Krum

An interesting argument for why the increased Democratic registration numbers might not pan out in increased votes from Bob Krum.  He points out that many people are being hounded or enticed into registering multiple times by ACORN activists and their minor blandishments.  If these people vote only once it will mean that they are not going to have the effect on the election that registration numbers would imply.  Moreover, if they only registered to get an extra pack of cigarettes or get them off their backs they might not vote at all, given that voting is a higher "cost" activity than registering.


Glenn Reynolds nails it:

NYT article on Obama and Nuclear power

If this isn't against I would hate to see what is. Here is an article the NYT explaining why Obama isn't against nuclear power, he just doesn't want to build any new ones.  He is willing to let existing plants continue in operation and will consider building new ones on that magical day when all of the concerns about storage of waste have been addressed. 

Oh?  That's helpful. Now can I be considered for free speech if I oppose anyone writing new books but am not advocating burning old ones?  And even in favor of new speech if I am happy to have it once the concerns about "harmful" speech have been addressed to the satisfaction of the interest groups that share my concern and I designate as the true guardians of the welfare of the people?  If he isn't anti-nuclear the words have no meaning.  He is the ultimate Mandarin, playing word games to get what he wants past the people.

Duplicity Obama's Ally

John Dickerson argues in Slate that the cynicism that Obama is running against is what is finally making the questions being raised about his relationship with Ayers ineffective: voters now expect politicians to use whoever is convenient to advance their careers.

An Argument Against Hereditary Aristocracies

Here is Bill Buckley's son explaining why he is voting for Obama.  Intellect and temperament are his arguments, that and Sarah Palin. 

Truely Scary

Here is a nice report from Michael Barone on the Obamites' campaign to suppress free speech.  It is not just in the campaign but in their policy proposals, such as card check, the fairness doctrine and speech codes.  The normally staid Dr. Barone uven used the term "thugocracy." 

Friday, October 10, 2008

I need the Eggs

It is a bit like that joke when the guy tells the doctor his brother is crazy because he thinks he is a chicken.  When asked why he doesn't take him to a doctor he says he can't because he needs the eggs.  Here is the head of Ohio State's elections complaining about a judge's order to purge the rolls of unqualified voters because a) it is unnecessary and b) it would cause chaos.  Now if it would cause chaos wouldn't that imply that there are a lot of unqualified voters and so the purging of the rolls is, you know, necessary?  It is like a thief indignantly refusing to return stolen property because 1) he is not a thief and wouldn't have any stolen property and b) can't afford to give up all this nice stuff he's got there.

Yes, repeat no

Professional journalism in action: fact checking McCain comes to opposite conclusions.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

And His Charming Wife

The ties between the Obama's wife and Ayers wife are much deeper and cannot be denied.  Moreover, she was the real sicko. 

Obama: not just another baby kisser

The Obama campaign admits he "misrepresented" his vote against the Born Alive Act.  If this were about someone else it could almost be a story!

remember Bill?

  And makes an obvious point which has surprise surprise, and mentioned in the mainstream media. The financial deregulation which Mr. Obama blames for the current financial crisis was a creation of the Clinton administration.  is not only illogical to blame a problem that is centered on only a part of the financial system -- the mortgage market -- on the entire financial system, it also implicates the Democrats. Is McCain guilty of causing the current problem because he supported President Clinton, a Democratic president?   if one accepts this argument, the Democrats are convicted by their own words. No wonder the press as "forgotten" to mention who deregulated the financial industry.

Of course McCain does not make this argument. He is at a disadvantage. He is an honest man. He voted for the financial deregulation because he thought it was a good idea. He would've voted for it if it been proposed by Republican or a Democrat. so, they're accused of having voted for the financial deregulation which caused the problem by a Democrat it doesn't occur to him to turn the question around him. He defends his decision. He defends his decision out because he believed it then. A more practiced liar, a politician more focused on expediency, would have no trouble skipping over a principled defense of his actions -- his actions not being based on principle.  he would move immediately to the challenge to logic  a man arguing that we need to put a Democrat in the White House  because of your support for the last Democrat who was in the White House.

Rewarding the culprits in

  It is one thing to see the thieves get away or go unpunished. It is quite another to see them caught red-handed and then instead of being punished being given an award for returning stolen property.  having been caught with chickens under their arms, they are not only being given an award for returning stolen property they are being given keys to the chicken coop. They are reaping the political benefit from the very crisis they  caused.

That is what is happening in this election. The Democrats, who are the cause of this economic meltdown, are perversely benefiting from it.  the press with its ideological certainty that the problem lies in a general lack of regulation has blamed the problem at the door the Republicans. Their questions in their reporting are premised on the cause of the problem being deregulation itself. They are in curious Dennis as to the relationship between the Democrats and Fannie and Freddie, and, more importantly, between the credit market crisis and the mortgage market problem, has left the casual observer with no inference but that the Republicans are the culprits. McCain's "greed on Wall Street" rhetoric does not help matters.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

There is something about Obama

There is something about Obama that I don't think anyone has commented on. He has this tendency to frame problems as being simply a matter of telling someone to do some obvious thing that they are already trying to do as if he is the first person to have noticed a problem.  I can't put my finger on exactly what to call it.  It is a sort of know it all little kid kind of thing. I wrote them a letter and told them they should do something about these sub-prime interest loan thing. Well, well, noticed that was a problem?  How cleaver of you.  Don't suggest a solution, don't take any heat. "I wrote them a letter."? I am reminded of the answer he gave about nuclear power, something to the effect that it would support it if but that he had told them they had to do something about the storage problem. --the storage problem?  How nice of you to think of that.  We were going to put it in tupperware and bury it out back.

Something else he isn't telling us

Good article on Obama's time as a director of the Joyce Foundation.  The article documents the underhanded tactics the foundation financed and apparently even conceived to influence law reviews. 

One thing that is not addressed is how Senator Obama voted when he was on the board.  Neither are the minutes of the meetings discussed.  It would
make a great deal of difference if he was there arguing against these
proposals and voting against them. On the other hand, if he is voting
for these proposals it is all the more damming. As it is his supporters
will surely say that he should not be held responsible for what the
majority voted for. To hold him responsible in that way would have the
effect of penalizing a person for serving on the board of an
organization that did anything they disagreed with.

Still, the questions almost ask themselves.  Do you support the efforts to serruptitiously influence academic publications?  Did you support their efforts to bar opposing voices from speaking on campuses that took your foundation's money?  And why, if you are a supporter of an individual's right to bear arms, vote for a campaign to have it read out of the Constitution in the first place?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Frank Rich

Kass on Obama

Kass points out that Obama was a go along to get along kind of guy, but offers nothing specific that Obama has done that is new.  It seems that there would be more specifics in this attack, though even without a scandal attaching to Obama the contrast with Palin, who actually took on corruption in her own party, is telling.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

More on Obama Ayers

Detailed quotes from Ayers, a "small c" communist. Priceless.

If American Capitalism is such a Failure?

Turns out the Euro-geniuses are in even worse shape.  Funny, I don't recall them having a deregulation?  Only a lot of sophisticated public-private partnerships.

don't pull your punches

  Comments by call Paul Begala  showed the danger of the McCain campaign’s attack on the “ guilt by association,” front.  They got argues that McCain was also associated with some strange people in 1981, through serving on the same board as some of them.

That is precisely why McCain and Palin have to be much more specific about the nature of the association between William Ayers and Obama. It is not that they were merely on the same board, but the air is gave Obama the job as head, chairman of the Annenberg challenge grant.   This was Obama’s only real executive experience, and it was a failure.  By its own estimate, the organization accomplished little with over $100 million. And he didn’t just show up together in meetings. Obama approved billions of dollars going through  Ayers’ organization. This organization at a radical, anti-American agenda, that talk to school children in public schools. Some of the board members thought that this arrangement represent a conflict of interest. Obama dismissed it, voting with those who allowed Ayers to both sit on the board distributing the grant that he’d written and receiving money from that grant.

 Fortunately for Obama he wasn’t the mayor of a small town, where blowing $100 million on radicals indoctrinating children in public schools and showing no results for it, might be considered something of a problem.

The McCain campaign continues to pull its punches. They merely raise an eyebrow. They use the word “associates,” which invites the kind of counter argument that Begala outlines. Obama is an unknown quantity. He has a thin legislative record and a voting record that in spite of  unusually sparse attendance  and an unusually high number of “presents” still puts him at the extreme left of the Senate.  If, as is expected, the Democrats have a  filibuster proof majority in the Senate and control of the House, we will see a specter not seen in decades: complete control of the  elected branches of government by one party. Therefore it is extremely important to examine what he has done in his life to predict how he will use the enormous power of the presidency. On the evidence of his time at the Chicago challenge grant, we are in for some unpleasant surprises. The McCain camp is not only within its rights to bring up these issues, it is its duty.

In the tank? Naaahhh.

 Professional journalist Solodad O’Brien calls a 12- 11 win in a focus group of 32 and “overwhelming victory” for Biden in the debates. Fair and balanced as  always. (here's a link from Megan McArdle)

 You know the thing that really worries me about Sarah Palin,  he said she sometimes cites her degree in journalism as something to be proud of.

Bill Ayres and Obama

 Bill Ayers didn't kill anyone but wasn't for want of trying. Here's a link to an article by one of his intended victims who, like Obama, was only a child when Ayres committed his detestable  acts.  it seems that the Weathermen didn't particularly the boy's father, who was a  New York State judge and who was not ruling for the proletariat. Ayers and his fellow revolutionaries decided to teach him a lesson, Kim and the rest of his sleeping family. They set to gasoline bombs at the front door and one under the gas tank of their car.

 I wonder, is it somehow relevant to the American people’s decision about who should be president, that one of the candidates in the election approved giving millions of dollars for the purpose of educating children in public schools, to a man who has attempted to murder them? Or my just being racist?

Our incurious media

 here is a link to an interesting post about some of the contributors to the about campaign, found via it seems that  Obama has received over $17,000 from a contributor named  "Mr. Goodwill."

 "If Mr. Obama were a Republican, the news media
would be demanding he disclose the names of all of his donors - as er,
the Republican has done - so we can see if there are among them other
Good Wills and Doodad Pros.

CNN recently sent a reporter to Little Diomede Island, the westernmost
part of Alaska (2.4 miles from Russia) to determine whether Sarah Palin
had ever been there to see Russia with her own eyes. But CNN - and the
rest of the media - have been incurious about the Obama campaign's

  Jack Kelley of the Toledo  Blade also makes a good case that much of this money came from overseas. You just can't get more in the tank in our mainstream media.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A good start

McCain is finally starting to call the Democrats on Fannie and Freddie but he is still going very lightly. Pethokoukis nails it:

" markets, and by extension Reaganomics and the last 25 years of
American economic policy, are getting the blame for the housing and
credit crisis."

No Shame in my Game

The Democrats in the House congratulating themselves on propping up their friends at Fannie and Freddie.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

For the Record

Here is a nice collection of what they said about Fannie and Freddie before the fall. Anyone want to guess which side wanted to continue to "roll the dice?"

Environmentalists oppose solar power

The real plan is to get us to live tepees and cook with buffalo chips.

Europe's Banks in Trouble

Well, at least that will spare us some Euro-gloating.  Seems that their banks are in even more trouble.

Blowface strikes again

Here is uberblowhard Bill O'Reilly making us feel sorry for Barney Frank.  Frank is so wrong on this issue there is no reason to yell out him.  Aside from the general fact that being rude is,well, rude, it is also counter productive.  Given that Frank really is responsible for this problem and is so blatently wrong, letting him try to talk his way out of it is the worst thing that you could do to him. 


Can Pakistan's weapons hit Israel?  Seems I would have known that.  I can't really believe that.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Can Pakistan's weapons hit Israel?  Seems I would have known that.  I can't really believe that.

Live blogging the debate

Terrible start and going to be nice to each other.

It wasn’t Wall Street that was running wild friends at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that ran wild and the only man in Washington to try to stop them with John McCain.

Why does she want to tell us times are bad? We know this. I suppose this works but I’ve never understood it. It’s clear she has not adjusted her answer in response to his. I suspect that’s going to be a pattern

John McCain sounded the warning but she doesn’t explain why that’s important.  She doesn’t really know her way around this issue.  But of course, neither does McCain.

She sounds hurried and canned.

Biden explains why he is able to reach across the aisle, but isn’t the issue the top of the ticket?

“The fundamentals of the economy are strong,” and she should defend that remark.

She gives a halfhearted defense of his remark, but she does respond directly, which is a good sign. And she turns the focus to the top of the ticket. Good move.

She is given the choice between greedy lenders and blaming homebuyers (voters). Gee, I wonder which one she will pick? She chooses lenders. Good move. But a better move would be to say Congress, particularly the Democrats in Congress who gave implicit backing to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Bankers have always been greedy. But they don’t loan money to people who can’t pay it back. That only happens when you have the government insulating a private company from risk if it loses but allowing it to keep the money if it wins. That’s what got us into this problem and that is the responsibility of the Democrats.

Biden says McCain is at fault because he is in favor of deregulation. She has to make the distinction. It’s fine if the rich people are playing with their own money. Problem is when you give a guarantee from the government against their losses. That is what led to this problem.

Banks were deregulated for all of their business back in 1991. Investment banks were never regulated because they never had a guarantee from the government. That’s not what went wrong. What went wrong was the mortgage market, and what went wrong in the mortgage market was that government created these entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, staffed by Democratic pols, becoming a retirement home for Democratic lobbyists.

Man, Biden really knows each vote that happened in the Senate.

Biden makes a good point, the 400 times he voted to raise taxes is a bogus standard. Moreover he is correct she did not answer the deregulation question and it’s a terrible mistake because that should be something she should hit out of the park.

What about campaign finance reform? John McCain is the architect of the system. The top of the ticket went around the country saying it was fundamental to his is very being, fundamental to “what I’m about,” the system of campaign finance reform and then after checking his bank account a few days after winning the nomination, he changed his mind became the first politician residential candidates in our history to abandon the system.

Now we are on to whose taxes are going to be raised. He says people who make over $200,000 year are small businesses. That is correct, but doesn’t that admit his premise? That they really won’t raise taxes on anyone unless they’re already making $250,000 a year?

“Are you interested in defending Senator McCain’s health-care program?” I wonder if Senator Biden will be asked if he wants to defend any of Barak Obama’s plans?

Biden says that 95% of small business and make less than $200,000 a year. Sounds plausible, and the fact that he knows a statistic like that is kind of impressive.

Biden argues that you lose the $12,000 plan your employer to issue and all you get in return is $5000. Now isn’t that odd? The fact that the average health care plan through an employer is $12,000, isn’t that a problem? Doesn’t that indicate that there’s something wrong?

Palin has a very good comeback on that $4 billion tax break for Exxon Biden is talking about. “Bless their hearts, they’re doing what they have to do as CEO”s, but they’re not my biggest fans.” Biden is smiling as she said this. I think it’s a smile of admiration.

Obama vote against it before he voted for it. There is a certain disadvantage to knowing too much sometimes.

Biden takes advantage of her policies in Alaska and says he would like to apply them nationally. I guess that’s why he was smiling.

She blames Wall Street greed.  Then she gives us a short lecture on living within our means.

Why doesn’t she talk about Washington corruption?  Why focus on Wall Street corruption?  Doesn’t that play into the hands of those who want to make it all a matter of Wall Street regulation. 

Someone has to point out that if you can buy a house with no money down based on a teaser rate, and then can’t pay when the interest rate goes up, there’s nothing wrong with you defaulting on that mortgage. You don’t have any equity in the house. The rest of the American people don’t owe you anything. It took a risk to reasonable risk and if you just walk away you haven’t done too badly. You’ve been branding. And we can’t leave these nonperforming mortgages houses occupied because the market won’t clear. (This is where it can never be a politician, never think out loud)

Her neck looks really old.

She decides to ignore all that massive detail and swerve toward the issue of energy wins from a celebrity talk about that. Totally unscrupulous and the absolutely right thing to do. Yes, please lay into this were going to vote more money for windmill research Dodge. What are we going to do now?

Shouldn’t the governor of Alaska to take advantage of the fact that she lives in a very cold part of the world and if anyone has an excuse for not being too worked up about global warming it’s them?

She makes an excellent point. When we come out with all this purity, don’t drill here, all that happens is the oil was drilled in some other country where they care much less about the environment. All our precious concern for the environment is just moving the damage somewhere else to people who can much less afford to bear it.

One man’s vital energy research project is another man’s pork. John McCain voted against a lot of these because they happen to be in the district of an influential legislator. Paired

I feel reasonably certain that the oil will get here before the wind power.

“Drill baby drill,” she then corrects him. More jujitsu. Excellent.

Great the way she mentions that Biden called Obama out on voting against funding for our troops.

Biden saying that everyone’s in favor will bomb his plan now. Of course, everyone’s for leaving once you win. That the people that wanted to surrender and leave in the middle of the fight vindicated. It was said we should leave in the middle of flight and let the enemy take the field because the fight was hopeless are not vindicated when after we win we start talking about leaving. If we had done what Obama wanted to do we would have a humiliating defeat and Al Qaeda would have had a famous victory at the very center of the Arab world. At the very center of the world oil supplies. It would have been a disaster. It would’ve been in Vietnam on steroids.

Biden says they don’t have a plan because they don’t have a timetable for leaving. But of course this is a non sequitur. Obviously we want to leave. That’s why we’re welcome in the first place, because people know we want to leave.

Biden accuses McCain of voting to cut off funding for the troops. He explains the McCain voters against a $1.6 billion amendment for M-raps, because it had a timeline in it. Unfortunately, he didn’t oppose it because it included funding for the M-raps, which are stupid. The way you protect yourself from landmines is not hiding behind giant pieces of metal rumbling through the streets it’s by getting out of your vehicles getting to know the people convincing them that you can protect them from the terrorists and finding out from them who the terrorists are. To protect the troops by acting like the good guys, not like you’re afraid, not like you’re criminals who step out of the tanks.

Biden wants to defend Obama and his judgment against McCain’s on the conduct of the war in Iraq. Is that really a winning strategy? Is clearly something that Biden himself does not leave.

It is a pity the Democrats didn’t go after them when they had excellent though it was the first three times.

Again, Eifel helps out her boy, and turns Obama’s promise to meet face-to-face with America’s enemies within the first year of his presidency in two “having some level of engagement with our enemies.” Of course we have some level of engagement with our enemies. That is not and never has been the issue. The question is do we naively think that having face-to-face, heart-to-heart chats with cold-blooded murderers is going to bring them around.

Our friends and allies have been saying sit down talk.  The fact that Bush sent a high-level diplomat after five years is not a defeat, it is the result of five hard years of work through our allies in the six party talks are four party talks with Iran.

A two state solution is the solution, but what is standing in the way of that is not a lack of American diplomacy, is in transients on the side of Hamas and the PLO. And as long as we keep rewarding them for terrorism they will continue to be the obstacle.

Sometimes there are people you just can’t negotiate with. There’s nothing to negotiate about.

Has the administration’s policy towards his robe and an abject failure Western Mark well if you measured by the number of agreements they’ve had signed perhaps yes. If you measured by the number of Jews have been killed, it’s a great improvement. Israel finally faced up to the fact that they didn’t have a negotiating partner, so to protect themselves, they put up a wall. They stop suicide bombers cold. The rest the world turned on Israel attacked her President Bush defended her still buy her.

Now, in answer to his criticism of the Bush administration’s policy on Israel, she goes into this canned speech about too much finger-pointing. That is a shame. I like the way she was actually engaging him directly. More importantly, why is she admitting that the Bush of ministrations policy is going to be McCain administration’s policy?

Biden says “I haven’t heard how his policies will be different.” He is exactly right.

She’s asked about the use of nuclear weapons. She should’ve used this as an opportunity to criticize those who say that an Iranian nuclear weapon is no problem because it would have return address. Are such people saying that our security should be paced on the willingness to commit mass murder? If we must seriously contemplate a thing such a thing in the event of an Iranian nuclear weapon, isn’t that an argument for using military force to prevent having to face the choice?

“Our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle will not work in Afghanistan.” Biden takes that as a reason not to try the surge tactics in Afghanistan. But didn’t all of our generals say the same thing about the surge in Iraq?

“Nuclear weapons require nuclear arms control regime.” But isn’t the point that we already have one? We have a nuclear nonproliferation Treaty that the Iranians themselves signed. The problem is in not a problem is the lack of treaties it’s a lack of partners that will follow them. All of our problems is around and North Korea have evolved from getting them to live up to the obligations they’ve already signed his treaties. Getting him to sign more, having more diplomacy, is not going to move us ahead.

Biden wanted to go into Bosnia, in spite of the experts telling him that these people been fighting each other for thousands of years. He went against the experts and was proved right. Good for him. I’m about to make him an honorary neocon.

She should use these Biden positions to fork him, use them against him. Apply them to the situation in Iraq.

“When a country engages in genocide, when a country engaged in harboring people who are killing our people. Period.” Aren’t these arguments for a new meaning in Iraq?

Biden says “we would be tied down for years, we would not be greeted as liberators, we would have to deal with Sunni she fighting,” then why did he vote for the war? In defense of the neocons, they lease didn’t think these bad things would happen.

When she is nervous she smiles. It shows a lack of gravitas. It is not presidential. She should stop it.

The “heartbeat away” question comes up. Biden uses it as a queue for his stump speech.

The Bush policy of preemption and regime change. I kind of like those.

She, on the other hand, uses it as an occasion to repeat the word  “maverick. ”Then she goes into her, I’m just an everyday working class American,” shtick.

Biden says Bush has been bad and McCain agrees with his policies. That deserves a state answer.

“Let’s look ahead, doggonit.”

“The money was left behind,” is something she should jump on. How much did money go up under no Child left behind? I’ll bet it at least doubled.

She should use this as an opportunity to point out that all the other guys are senators. Then she should go on to talk about what she will do in the office.

She is in such a hurry to get her little bon mots out.

John McCain voted against the violence against women act. It is amazing that has not come up. It was 20 years ago I suppose, still, how often do you vote against apple pie?

I think she has a much more interesting story to tell about what she brings to the table, much better than these mechanical, canned recitations of a resume. She has had to deal with people telling her that this or that issue is over her head and she should just listen to the experts, and do as she is told. And she has stuck to her guns and proven them wrong. It seems a very good story for president. That ability, to not be intimidated by “experts” or “the people with experience” is pretty important. It is perhaps more important than knowledge in any one particular area.

Biden gives a list of places where Kane is not a maverick. She should hit back on every one of these.

If Bork had been on the court, elected officials would be making a lot of decisions that are now made by judges.  He congratulates himself on making the judiciary and object of ideological warfare.

Biden has been able to work across the aisle, it is the top of the ticket that has the problem there. She should say, “I think Senator Biden has set a fine example of bipartisanship. I wish the man of the top of the ticket could make the same boast.”

She never pauses between her sentences. It’s as if she’s afraid she’s going to be cut off if she stops and breathes.

Biden mentions, graciously, that McCain has kids in Iraq.

Biden: My Achilles’ heel - “my excessive passion.”—isn’t that in one of those self-help books?  In a job interview you say your fault is being too committed to your job?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Defining the Culprits as Saviors

Talking the talk often  Depends  on defining situations in a way that is advantageous to you. Obama specializes in this.

Take the first part of the debate in which the economic situation was the topic. The financial crisis in which we find ourselves has been successfully defined by Obama  as a problem of  unregulated capitalism. This framing of the issue has allowed him to make the argument that deregulation is the true culprit, that Republicans like McCain, by reducing government involvement in the economy,  allowed corporate greed to run amok.

What does framing of the issue fails to explain is why, if corporate greed is at the root of the problem, is the problem centered on mortgage backed securities? Are the Wall Street bankers that issue corporate bonds or car loans any less rapacious than those involved in the housing market? What makes the housing market different is the presence, not the absence of government.  it was government backing for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that allow these entities to grow so large and to make risky loans that greedy capitalists playing with their own money would never have made. Rashness on such a scale is never long tolerated by the market unless the government stands behind it.

I was the Democrats who are the prime, and proud, movers. Fannie and Freddie were their babies. The Democrats gave them the implicit governmental guarantee and the mandate to  extend credit to otherwise  on credit worthy borrowers that lie at the heart of this crisis.  The boards of Fannie and Freddie were populated by Democratic pols.  Their campaign contributions directed primarily at Democratic coffers (Obama was that a second greatest beneficiary -- not bad for a freshman senator). Yet the culprits have managed to define themselves as saviors.  John McCain was actually one of the few in Congress who made a serious effort to rein in Fannie and Freddie in. But now, the issue having successfully been defined by Obama as deregulation, McCain is the one  hurt politically the crisis.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sensible Advice

I wish the views of the well-run banks were given more play.

Turns out You Are Entitled to Your Own Facts

Here's an article from Los Angeles Times "exposing" another McCain lie. You will recall that Obama defended his proposal to engage in negotiations without preconditions by bringing in the opinions of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  Obama, in a neat debating trick, turns the question of negotiations without preconditions into the question of having direct contacts. bus twisting the question, Obama is able to call on the support of a recent statement from and Kissinger supporting the idea of having some forms of direct medication with Iran. On this point Obama is of course correct: Kissinger does support having contacts with Iran. Indeed, who doesn't? We have had many contacts with the right-hand, both at the United Nations and, most recently, at conferences in the Middle East. But that is very different from a president sitting down to talk to another head of state. And Obama knows it.

Became confidently said that  Mr. Kissinger was on his side. Mr. Kissinger, for his part, issued a statement saying exactly the same thing. That would seem to settle the matter? Oh, you obviously don't have a degree in journalism. The Los Angeles Times faults Mr. Kissinger for not knowing his own mind. Or, what is perhaps they were servants, not knowing the mind of the anointed one. Mr. Kissinger's statement apparently commits the offense of not recognizing how Senator Obama had redefined the question. Mr. Kissinger had not taken due note of the fact that Senator Obama had redefined the issue to mean contacts in general rather than summit meetings. Thus the fault is Mr. Kissinger's, who, along with everyone else, just can't understand the subtlety of Senator Obama's thoughts.

talkers versus walkers

  Jay Nordlinger makes a point with which I agree: Obama is clearly the better debater.

This point came home to me when Obama used the phrase, "you can't just talk the talk you have to walk the walk." it struck me at the time there was an unfortunate phrase for Obama to use in the context of foreign-policy,  particularly when the discussion is about defending your friends from aggressive enemies. Surely, in that context,  "walking the walk" can only mean willingness to use military force -- a matter which can hardly make Obama comfortable.

But it seems to me that the point is larger than that. In thinking about Obama, his whole life seems to be a case of not living up to  That motto. indeed his whole life can be seen as a mockery of it, a mockery of his own motto. He talks about the sacredness of public financing and then becomes the first candidate to abandon the system, he talks about integrity and openness and rack up $1 million in earmarks for every one of the relatively few days he spent in the Senate. But even more than that, his whole life is based on talk; the question of accomplishment brings embarrassed mumbles even from his most passionate supporters.  he has ridden on words  to the heights of power  with barely in accomplishment to his name.

And most of what little he has done in his life is declared out of bounds for discussion by our political class.  We are not allowed to talk about his time with the Annenberg foundation as its chair since that would associate him with Roger Ayres, the unrepentant terrorist. We cannot talk about how the foundations spent its money under his direction for the same reason. Nor are we allowed to discuss the public-private partnership  (Fannie and Freddie Chicago style) he initiated with his property developing friends Tony Rezko & Co. (with whose help  he also bought his Hyde Park mansion) because that would associate him with a  known felon.  "Obama is not a felon. He disapproves of felonies. You are practicing McCarthyism." Substitute for   "felon," "terrorist," "slumlord," and you have the verbal magic wand which  wipes away the anointed one's past.  he has done little worth talking about and less you are allowed to. When it comes to "walking the walk," Obama  Let's his mouth to the running.

McCain, on the other hand, is uncomfortable in the world words.  He is a stranger there. His life has been almost totally lived in the world of action. As he asks nothing of words but that they reflect his deeds, he has little skill in manipulating them. They do not do his bidding. Confronted with the words of a man who uses them to avoid actions, to hide from making decisions, he is at a loss. He smiles nervously and looks around, as if to say "it just me, or am I really hearing this?"   when McCain makes mistakes it is painful to him. He admits them and apologize for them. He even tries to atone for them period witnessed his -- in my opinion misguided -- crusade for public financing of elections. Some Democrats have tried to make a point of the fact that 25 years earlier at the beginning of his Senate career McCain was caught up in the Keating five scandal.  They say, "McCain paints himself as a crusader for campaign finance reform, but he was in that scandal. This misses the point.  it is precisely because of that mistake 25 years ago that McCain has devoted his career to the cause of public finance. With Obama the order of action is reversed. He spends years talking about how important campaign finance reform is, and in his first major act, strikes a major blow against the system.

Obama has always "traveled on his tongue."  words have got him everywhere, accounted for his every  advance. Words got him his first job in politics. Pledging loyalty to his mentor as she prepared to make a bid for Congress, he was given his first  office. When she, relying on his words asked for the office back, his actions betrayed her. When she ran against him he used words again. Not the soaring rhetoric we are used to hearing, but the cold language  of law. He put his legal training to good use and got her and three other opponents disqualified. That was his first act of service to his constituents, saving them and the possibility of confusion on election Day -- his was the only name on the ballot. Public interest lawyering meets Chicago politics.

 "... Slippery vocables,  they beckon like a path of stepping stones. But lift them up and watch what writhes or scurries."

When Obama makes mistake he takes it not as a chance to apologize, much less atone, but as a challenge to his  verbal virtuosity.  The one occasion where McCain was able to deconstruct one of Obama's verbal smokescreens in real time, was when the Obama tried to pass off his  pledge  to meet  a roster of the world's worst dictators "without preconditions" as merely referring to "preparations." But by and large, most of the contradictions between Obama's words and deeds or, what is even more important, his words and his interests, are passed off as a confusion in the  part of the listener. he didn't just do the exact opposite of what he has been saying for years, you just misunderstood him.  "Just words?" Precisely.

McCain's life is a list of actions. He has said little that is memorable, done much that is. Obama... Does one even need to finish this sentence?