Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rack up another to the Clinton opposition research

I am sure the Clinton opposition research group had a hand in digging up the Rev Wright stuff.

Regardless it had its intended effect!!

Here is something from Reuters:

'Democrat Barack Obama's big national lead over Hillary Clinton has all but evaporated in the U.S. presidential race, and both Democrats trail Republican John McCain, according a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

The poll showed Obama had only a statistically insignificant lead of 47 percent to 44 percent over Clinton, down sharply from a 14 point edge he held over her in February when he was riding the tide of 10 straight victories.

Illinois Sen. Obama, who would be America's first black president, has been buffeted by attacks in recent weeks from New York Sen. Clinton over his fitness to serve as commander-in-chief and by a tempest over racially charged sermons given by his Chicago preacher.

The poll showed Arizona Sen. McCain, who has clinched the Republican presidential nomination, is benefiting from the lengthy campaign battle between Obama and Clinton, who are now battling to win Pennsylvania on April 22.

McCain leads 46 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical matchup against Obama in the November presidential election, according to the poll.

That is a sharp turnaround from the Reuters/Zogby poll from last month, which showed in a head-to-head matchup that Obama would beat McCain 47 percent to 40 percent.

"The last couple of weeks have taken a toll on Obama and in a general election match-up, on both Democrats," said pollster John Zogby.'

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Maureen Dowd needs to take Econ 101

Maureen Dowd shows a utter lack of economics in her OpEd Piece.

Ms. Dowd, the dollar trades in a MARKET driven by supply and demand. Foreigners are dumping dollars because they can get a better return else where! The President nor the Federal Reserve controls the daily foreign exchange rates of the dollar!

Oh yea, the price of gasoline is set also by the MARKET. You know supply and demand! The world is demand a resource that is in short supply!

If you had any clue about economics please show that that intelligence in your OpEd pieces!

Race will go on...In more ways than one

Obama acknowledges race is an issue. Duh!

From the NYTimes

After running a campaign that in many ways tried not to be defined by race, Mr. Obama placed himself squarely in the middle of the debate over how to address it, a living bridge between whites and blacks still divided by the legacy of slavery and all that came after it.

His language reached at times for the inspiration and idealism of the civil rights movement, but for the most part addressed the politics of race in straightforward terms that seemed intended to keep the discussion grounded in the realities of the moment.

Verbal Extortion by any other means

There is going to be a lot of sausage making in Denver during the 2008 Democratic convention.

Here is an excerpt from Slate:

Obama supporters are using this threat of an explosion as leverage with the superdelegates, who have the power to avert the nightmare scenario—or give birth to it. "If the superdelegates intervene and get in the way and say, 'Oh no, we are going to determine what's best,' there will be chaos at the convention," said Obama supporter and Richmond, Va., Mayor Douglas Wilder, who raised the specter of the 1968 convention riots. "If you think 1968 was bad, you watch 2008. It will be worse." When fear of chaos hasn't worked, threats of specific retaliation have been issued. On Meet the Press, Obama supporter Bill Bradley said superdelegates who hold public office will face primary challenges the next time around if they don't follow the expressed will of their constituents.

La Dulce De Democrats

You gotta love it if you are a democrat or a liberal.

Only when a female candidate and a African American candidate run for the same office do you get division along gender and racial line. Like the comedian Simrnoff said, 'What a country'!

Here a excerpt from Slate:

'Both Obama and Clinton have developed durable and loyal constituencies. Clinton has secured less-affluent voters and white women, and Obama has built support from liberals, younger voters, and African-Americans. Because the loyalties map along gender and racial lines, the potential for volatility increases, as supporters interpret an attack on the candidate as an attack on themselves. At times, you can sort Obama and Clinton supporters by their grievances—those who were offended when Obama said Clinton was "likable enough" or others who took umbrage when Bill Clinton compared Obama to Jesse Jackson'

Racist Rev Wright

We all heard about Rev Wright's racist comments all over the TV. Obama has condemned Rev Wright's comments.

He still has not distanced himself, making the uncle argument. If that is the only spin the Obama machine can come up with then they must be in trouble!!

Surprising that the press has not picked up on the anti semitic comments of Louis Farrakhan and the association of Rev Wright to Farrakhan.

Here was story from the Washington Post that talked about this.
'In January, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen penned a now-infamous piece entitled “Barack Obama’s Farrakhan Test.” In it, he questioned the Democratic presidential candidate’s relationship with his minister of some 20 years, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

At the time, the worst of Wright’s extremist sentiments were not on the public record. Cohen voiced concern that a magazine produced by Trinity had bestowed Louis Farrakhan with an award and praised the racist and anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader for “truly epitomiz[ing] greatness.” '

Some Kind of Uncle

You gotta be pretty stupid to buy the 'uncle' argument from Obama!

Here is a statement from the Politico:

'Earlier this month, Obama had preemptively assured a Jewish group that Wright is like a cantankerous “old uncle says things I don't always agree with.” This would be an apt analogy were it not for the minor genealogical inconvenience that bars one from choosing his uncles.'

I think this Rev Wright story AND the fact that Obama has not denounced him if going to give the press some room to scrutinize Obama and put a stop to his advance.

If you are a Obama supporter take some time to listen to Rev Wright's comments and ask if your uncle says stuff like that! What a racist Rev Wright!

Obama's oratory doesn't diss Wright

For a candidate who did not run on the issue of race, isn't it ironic that Obama gave 'an unconventional' speech today on race in Philly?

For a candidate who did not run on the issue of race he did not apologize for his association with Rev Right, according to one editorial piece, '..anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-white mentality.'

Another one from the Washington Post:
'It's hard to accept that Mr. Obama was entirely unaware of his pastor's bitter analysis of American society. That he did not distance himself from the Rev. Wright until the statements became public is bound to raise legitimate questions. Mr. Obama has presented himself as someone who can help the country overcome its racial divisions. If that is to happen, rhetoric such as the Rev. Wright's cannot be tolerable.'

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Them Dems will Keep Fighting

Just saw this on Reuters:

'All over the Sunday talk show circuit, journalists tried to get supporters for Clinton and Obama to attack the other side, but time and time again they would not take the bait and tried to stay on the high road.'

It won't last too long. As soon as the press takes the foot of the pedal on the latest Obama news cycle, the Clinton camp will fuel the fire until the Pennsylvania primary. They worked hard to get the press to scrutinize Obama and now they will take a breather until the momentum slows down.

With recorded content floating about on Rev Wright, I sure there is enough fuel to keep this up for couple of weeks. I am sure Obama's campaign is reviewing every piece of DVD, Audio and any transcripts for content that can be used against them, in order to formulate some sort of response.

Not sure how they can do that. For example the only rebuttal from the Obama's camp on the recent round of Rev Wright's comment is to go after Hillary's tax records and other unreleased information from her White House years.

Monkey on Obama's Back - Rev. Jerremiah Wright

So Barak Obama has been with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1988.

Yet he chose to distance himself from him only recently because of scrutiny from the press and no doubt his main rival, Hillary Clinton. He must have known about Rev Wright's incendiary philosophy and comments during the 20 years of attending his sermons and other events.

For 20 years he has absorbed the words and ideas of this pastor and has not rebuked any of the incendiary ideas publicly. He had ample opportunities to do this during his public service life and never chose to do so, until recently.

Obama has repeatedly stated that Rev Wright is one of his sources of inspiration and ideas and is a close adviser. You don't distance yourself from that kind of relationship easily because the foundation of Obama's ideas are based in part on the Rev's.

One can only conclude that this is yet another reason to be skeptical of Obama's rhetoric. Keep chanting 'Yes we can' and make yourself feel better now.

Here is some additional information from the LA Times:

'“There was no doubt that there was controversy surrounding him,” Axelrod said Sunday. “And we didn’t want to expose him … [or] make him the target and a distraction on a day when Sen. Obama was going to announce his candidacy.”

So if the savvy Obama campaign knew Wright was a problem a year ago, why did the Illinois senator, a parish member for two decades, wait until last week to disassociate and denounce the minister's inflammatory statements?

The topic is clearly uncomfortable for Obama and his aides, personally and politically. Axelrod's comments came only after prodding from a reporter and after he had initially suggested that Wright’s absence that day was due merely to the fact that the temperature was in the single digits.

And even as Obama has condemned some of Wright’s rhetoric and distanced himself from his longtime spiritual advisor, doing so has not been easy. Wright remained on an African American religious advisory committee for the campaign until Friday.

“Rev. Wright married him, introduced him, as he said, to the church, brought him into the church, into Christianity, baptized his children,” Axelrod said. “So this is a painful thing for him because he condemns the things Rev. Wright said, but he also knows him as a person.'

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Atleast Ferraro is honest

You can disagree all you want with Geraldine Ferraro's comments about Barak Obama, but give her credit for being honest and on what's on other Democrat's minds. The other democrats are spineless, selfish, sycophants who dare speak their mind, mindful of the scorn that can be unleashed by the Obama herd.

Here is an excerpt from her statement:
'Ferraro told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif.: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." '

'Ferraro also said Obama has it easy because of a "very sexist media."
"I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama's campaign — to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against," she said. "For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign." '

I am sure the country will have a more honest discussion without having a new wave of Politcal Correctness drown out reasoned thought.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Opportunist Obama

Gotta give him credit for seizing the moment to run for the Presidency.

Here is a excerpt from the NYTimes that basically says he was useless in the Senate.

'But inside the Senate, the junior senator from Illinois was 99th in seniority and in the minority party his first two years. In committee hearings, he had to wait his turn until every other senator had asked questions. He once telephoned reporters himself to draw attention to his amendments. And some senior colleagues were cool to the newcomer, whom they considered naïve.

Determined to be viewed as substantive, Mr. Obama kept his head down, declining Sunday talk show invitations for his first year, and consulted Senate elders for advice. He was cautious — even on the Iraq war, which he had opposed as a Senate candidate, he voted against the withdrawal of troops. He proposed a drawdown only after he was running for president and polls showed voters favoring it.

And while he rightly takes credit for steering through an ethics overhaul that reformers called a “gold standard,” like most freshmen he did not play a significant role in passing much other legislation and disappointed some Democrats for not becoming a more prominent voice in other important debates.'

'But for the most part, he stuck to party lines; there were few examples of the kind of bipartisan work he advocates in his current campaign.

He disappointed some Democrats by not taking a more prominent role opposing the war — he voted against a troop withdrawal proposal by Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin in June 2006, arguing that a firm date for withdrawal would hamstring diplomats and military commanders in the field.'

'To others, though, the mismatch between Mr. Obama’s outside profile and his inside accomplishments wore thin. While some senators spent hours in closed-door meetings over immigration reform in early 2007, he dropped in only occasionally, prompting complaints that he was something of a dilettante.'

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Irony of the Democrats

Looks like people power will loose at the Democratic convention.

From an editorial in the WSJ:

'Neither Mr. Obama nor Mrs. Clinton can win with delegates elected in primaries and caucuses. In a real irony, the Democratic Party will settle its nominee battle with the aristocratic device of superdelegates -- party apparatchiks, interest group leaders and elected officials, many of whom gained their post years ago. What happens if a bloc of superdelegates remains uncommitted until the convention? And what will happen to Florida and Michigan, which presently have no delegates? The last convention with only 48 states represented was 1956.'

Cost of Iraq War - The $3 Trillion Fantasy

It is amazing how smart economists take political sides in order to misinform.

Joseph Stiglitz was a economist with the NEC during the Clinton years and won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2001.

He has published a book and testified in front of a congressional committee about the cost of war in Iraq. He asserts that the war costs $3 Trillion dollars.

Here is a critique from a NYTimes story:

'Another study of Iraq war costs, by Linda J. Bilmes of Harvard and Joseph E. Stiglitz of Columbia, comes up with an eye-catching estimate of $2.2 trillion, assuming the United States is no longer in Iraq in 2015. This is arguably too high for several reasons. First, it counts future interest payments on the debt created by military spending as well as the direct expenditures. (This is analogous to counting both the sale price of a house and the cost of future mortgage payments as the cost of buying the house.)

Second, it counts elevated military recruitment costs that incorporate a premium for higher risk of death or injury because of the war as well as the predicted direct cost of the deaths and injuries; this is double counting if the risk premium is adequate. Finally, it ascribes a big increase in the price of oil to the war, and, as a result, a loss to the American economy of almost half a trillion dollars.

A menu of cost estimates is thus available, depending on the counterfactual situation that one chooses.

"The question of whether the war was worth it hinges not on budget costs or economic costs," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who until recently was director of the Congressional Budget Office, "but on what do we gain in the way of genuine security and international standing." The costs, he said, were manageable.'

Here is a NBER research paper from Kevin Murphy of the University of Chicago and his fellow economists:

' We consider three questions related to the choice between war in Iraq and a continuation of the pre-war containment policy. First, in terms of military resources, casualties and expenditures for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, is war more or less costly for the United States than containment? Second, compared to war and forcible regime change, would a continuation of the containment policy have saved Iraqi lives? Third, is war likely to bring about an improvement or deterioration in the economic well-being of Iraqis? We address these questions from an ex ante perspective as of early 2003. According to our analysis, pre-invasion views about the likely course of the Iraq intervention imply present value costs for the United States in the range of $100 to $870 billion. Our estimated present value cost for the containment policy is nearly $300 billion and ranges upward to $700 billion when we account for several risks stressed by national security analysts. Our analysis also indicates that war and forcible regime change will yield large improvements in the economic well-being of most Iraqis relative to their prospects under the containment policy, and that the Iraqi death toll would likely be greater under containment.'

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Does Obama have any bite to his bark?

Obama is supposedly coming out swinging.

From the NYTimes:

'Mr. Obama seems likely to take a tougher stance toward Mrs. Clinton, if only because he saw how well such tactics worked against him. When the Clinton campaign attacked on multiple fronts last week, he sometimes sounded defensive, occasionally talking at his audiences rather than with them.

“There’s no magic bullet that hurt him; it was a series of bullets,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic consultant. “She reduced his charisma and forced voters back to reality.”

For now, Mr. Obama and his advisers are huddled in Chicago, plotting strategy.

Asked on the plane whether he and Mrs. Clinton might make a good ticket, he smiled. “It’s very premature,” he said, “to start talking about a joint ticket.” '

I don't think he does. The Clinton campaign has a monopoly on playing dirty to win. Obama the every so genteel professor may not stoop that his detriment.

Obama the most liberal Senator

From Real Clear Politics:

'Obama's response to the charge of being a liberal, however, is "Don't play that 'okey-doke' on me." At Tuesday's debate, when the charge did come up in relation to the National Journal's ranking of him as the most liberal senator, Obama recoiled. "It turned out," he said, swiftly sidestepping the honor, "that Senator Clinton and I had differences on two votes." That's true, but misleading. The National Journal weighted votes differently, which explains how Obama could be rated first and Clinton sixteenth.'

'What's curious about all this is why Obama, who is very much proposing a liberal platform, doesn't have the audacity to say so. He speaks of change, but asks voters to accept his argument that universal health care, tax increases, adherence to international governing bodies, and more regulation on trade and industry are all mutually exclusive ideas. A far more believable argument would be to say that they are the result of his liberal ideology. But to do so would infect his campaign with a bit too much partisanship.'

Clever Political Rhetoric for the Masses

Good comments from Thomas Sowell:

'Senator Obama says that he is for free trade, provided it is "fair trade." That is election year rhetoric at its cleverest. Since "fair" is one of those words that can mean virtually anything to anybody, what this amounts to is that politicians can pile on whatever restrictions they want, in the name of fairness, and still claim to be for "free trade." Clever. We will all have to pay a cost for political restrictions and political cleverness, since there is no free lunch.'

'Americans who can vote would do well to start spending more time thinking about economic realities, instead of being swept away by political rhetoric.'

There Will be Blood in Pennsylvania

The Tonight Show's 'Blood on the Campaign Trail' is prescient.

If Obama's strategist are pragmatists then expect them to come out shooting and guns blazing and attack ads. Clinton has shown she can weaken Obama with attack ads.

She is going to have some heavy hitters hitting Obama where the sun won't shine.

Here is an excerpt from Politico:

'A new pro-Hillary Clinton group spent $864,000 making and airing ads in Texas and Ohio in the run-up to her victory in the March 4 primaries. And the group has at least $200,000 in the bank toward an expected air war on her behalf in Pennsylvania and the subsequent states.'

That is just the beginning.

Did Goolsbee's Remarks Cost Obama some points

You betcha!!

His denial of what was said in his conversation with the Canadian consulate officials fed the media frenzy. Sign of a newbie wanting some face time in Washington.

IF Obama wins do you think Prof. Austan Goolsbee will be angling for the top job at the National Economic Council?

You betcha!!

Cat fight between Obama and Clinton

Resorting to the lowest common denominator helped Hillary Clinton.
The amazing thing is that the Obama camp did not attack back with greater force.

It most likely cost him Texas.

But the cat fight is not over.

Here is an excerpt from The Politico:

'The up-with-people phase of this contest is over. The clear-the-benches phase has begun — a brawl that now is more likely than not to continue until the Democratic nomination in late August.

Obama’s failure to win Ohio and Texas and lock down the nomination — combined with Clinton’s newly defensible decision to press on despite a deficit in delegates — virtually guarantees Democrats a draining contest that will give Republicans a months-long head-start on the general election.

It will heighten racial, ethnic, gender, and class divisions already on stark display, raise awkward questions about the legitimacy of the nominating process, and inflict potentially lasting wounds on the eventual winner.

And forget about any chance that this looming brawl will be quieted by claims from Obama and commentators that Clinton has no reasonable path to victory.'

Monday, March 03, 2008

Why the gov should stay out of healthcare

The democrats want more government involvement in the healthcare market. Here are some facts as to why that is a terrible idea.

From the NYTimes

'The two programs, for older Americans and low-income people, cost $627 billion last year and accounted for 23 percent of all federal spending. With no change in existing law, the Congressional Budget Office says, that cost will double in 10 years and the programs will account for more than 30 percent of the budget.'

'Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, said, “The bulk of the projected increase in spending on Medicare and Medicaid is due not to demographic changes, such as increases in the number of beneficiaries, but to increases in costs per beneficiary.”

And what is driving those costs?

“Most of the long-term rise in health care spending is associated with the use of new medical technologies,” the budget office said in a recent report. It suggested that more selective use could save substantial amounts — a prospect that alarms manufacturers of some medical devices.'

'To help pay for their coverage plans, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama both say they would roll back the “Bush tax cuts” for the wealthiest Americans. But major provisions of the tax cuts, adopted in 2001 and 2003, are already scheduled to expire at the end of 2010. Democratic lawmakers, moreover, have committed the savings from the elapsed tax cuts several times to other pet programs, like eliminating the alternative minimum tax.

Some experts say the only real way to tame health care costs is by limiting access to expensive treatments or by requiring affluent Americans to pay for more of their health care.'

Where is Goolsbee on Healthcare

As a senior economic adviser to Barak Obama, Austan Goolsbee is silent on where his candidate stands on Medicaid and Medicare.

Here are the facts from the NYTimes

'Economists and health policy experts say the federal health programs are unsustainable in their current form, because they are growing much faster than the economy or the revenues used to finance them. The Medicare program is especially endangered; its hospital insurance trust fund is expected to run out of money in 11 years.

But the need for cutbacks is not a popular theme for political candidates wooing voters who want more care at a lower cost.

The Democrats do not say, in any detail, how they would slow the growth of Medicare and Medicaid or what they think about the main policy options: rationing care, raising taxes, cutting payments to providers or requiring beneficiaries to pay more.

Nor do they say how they would overcome the health care industry lobby, which has blocked proposals for even modest reductions in Medicare payment rates.

Instead, scores of lawyers and lobbyists are continually urging Congress to expand Medicare coverage of specific drugs, medical devices, tests and procedures.'

Come clean Prof Goolsbee.

Obamanomics - It stinks

Very good summary from the Economist of why Obama's current policy statements are bad for the US:

'The sad thing is that one might reasonably have expected better from Mr Obama. He wants to improve America's international reputation yet campaigns against NAFTA. He trumpets “the audacity of hope” yet proposes more government intervention. He might have chosen to use his silver tongue to address America's problems in imaginative ways—for example, by making the case for reforming the distorting tax code. Instead, he wants to throw money at social problems and slap more taxes on the rich, and he is using his oratorical powers to prey on people's fears.

Mr Obama advertises himself as something fresh, hopeful and new. But on economic matters at least he, like Mrs Clinton, has begun to look a rather ordinary old-style Democrat.'

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Goolsbee gets into trouble

Prof Austan Goolsbee, an econ professor at the of UofC seems to be in hot water per the Associated Press:

'Goolsbee disputed a section that read: "Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans."

"This thing about `it's more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans,' that's this guy's language," Goolsbee said of DeMora. "He's not quoting me.

"I certainly did not use that phrase in any way," Goolsbee said.'

I'm sure his stature as a free trader is probably in question now and when he decided to advise Barak Obama and notably his vocal absence of the NAFTA bashing that is going on.

'Burton, who was on the call while Goolsbee described his visit to the AP, said, "It all boils down to a clumsy, inaccurate portrayal of the conversation."'

Shame on you Austan! You should have the same integrity in your advisory role as your role in academia.