Thursday, May 29, 2008
'The stunning change in rhetoric appeared to confirm his critics' argument that the security rationale for the war was at best an error, and at worst a lie. That's a shame, for Mr. Bush had solid grounds for worrying about the dangers of leaving Saddam in power.
The CIA assessments of WMD were wrong, but they originated in the years before he became president and they had been accepted by Democratic and Republican members of Congress, as well as by the U.N. and other officials around the world. And, in any event, the erroneous WMD intelligence was not the entire security rationale for overthrowing Saddam.
Mr. Bush's political opponents were intent on magnifying the administration's mistakes regarding WMD. On television and radio, in print and on the Internet, day after day they repeated the claim that the undiscovered stockpiles were the sum and substance of why the U.S. went to war against Saddam.
But the most damaging effect of this communications strategy was that it changed the definition of success. Before the war, administration officials said that success would mean an Iraq that no longer threatened important U.S. interests – that did not support terrorism, aspire to WMD, threaten its neighbors, or conduct mass murder. But from the fall of 2003 on, the president defined success as stable democracy in Iraq.
In light of 9/11, the "danger that Saddam's regime could provide biological weapons or other WMD to terrorist groups for use against us was too great" to let stand. And other ways of countering the danger – containment, sanctions, inspections, no-fly zones – had proven "unsustainable or inadequate.
Again, I proposed that the president distinguish between achieving our primary goal in Iraq – eliminating a security threat – and aiming for the over-and-above goal of democracy promotion, which may not be readily achievable.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
From The Swamp:
This will probably surprise quite a few people who didn't realize that the way the Democratic Party ensures diversity at its conventions is to use something that looks very much like quotas.
The party's big-tent diversity goals reserve six of Washington's convention seats for blacks, 10 for Hispanics, and others for Asian, American-Indian, young, disabled, and gay, lesbian and transgendered Democrats. Any diversity seats that haven't been filled at the congressional-district meeting will be plugged at the state convention.
Getting back to racial and other "goals," California, for instance, has the following targets for race, ethnic and sexual orientation that can be found on page 21 of its 2008 delegate-selection plan: African Americans are 4.6 percent of the Democratic electorate in California--the goal for their representation in the delegation is 16 percent; Hispanics are 21.1 percent of that electorate and the goal for them in the delegation is 26 percent; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered individuals are 11 percent of the Democratic electorate in California and the goal for them in the delegation is 12 percent.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama is distancing himself from expectations he would meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and taking a more cautious stand on talking to other U.S. adversaries.
With criticism from Republicans turning harsher as Obama moves closer to winning the Democratic nomination battle against rival Hillary Clinton, the Illinois senator has shifted -- but not abandoned -- his position.
Sen. John McCain, the Republicans' presumptive nominee for the November election, has expressed outrage that Obama would talk to Ahmadinejad, whose country does not recognize Israel and who has branded the Jewish state a "stinking corpse."
"There's definitely been an adjustment in what was initially a pretty categorical position," said Ross Baker, a political scientist a Rutgers University. "As (Obama) has gone around the country campaigning, he has realized he's had to fine-tune his position."
Mr. Goolsbee wouldn't comment directly on the Fed's handling of the economic crisis, saying it wasn't the job of a presidential candidate to discuss this. But he didn't hesitate to lambaste the Bush administration over its "failed" economic policies.
Gee Prof Goolsbee, I thought you preached less government economic policy is good! Are you suggesting that the Executive branch can positively influence the economic state of the nation? I thought the New Deal was an exception!
Sounds like you know more that what the economic actors know!
Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and one of Sen. Obama's closest advisers on economic issues, said the senator believed strongly in enhanced regulation of any financial institution that has access to the Fed's discount window.
"If you can borrow money from the U.S. taxpayer at a moment of crisis, that is a very sacred insurance policy underwritten by the U.S. taxpayer," said Mr. Goolsbee in an interview last week with Dow Jones Newswires. "We have the right to oversee anyone who is accessing that insurance policy."
The Fed is an independent body precisely to fend off this type of thinking: Ivory tower types who think they know more than the folks who run the Fed on a day to day basis.
"I had an uncle who was ... part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps," Obama said.
"And the story in our family was is that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn't leave the house for six months," he said.The Republican National Committee quickly pointed out that the Red Army had liberated Auschwitz in 1945, not American forces.
The spin from the Obama camp. He mixed up Auschwitz, an extermination camp in Poland (where 1 million people died) with Buchenwald a forced labor camp in Germany (where 50,000 people died).
Hmm. Clearly the mistake as on purpose considering that it was memorial day. How do you miz up Auschwitz?
All the acrimony in the primary race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has disguised the fact that on most issues they’re not too far apart. That’s especially the case when it comes to free trade, which both Obama and Clinton have lambasted over the past few months. At times, the campaign has looked like a contest over who hates free trade more: Obama has argued that free-trade agreements like NAFTA are bought and paid for by special interests, while Clinton has emphasized the need to “stand up” to countries like China.
Two weeks ago, both senators signed on as sponsors of a new bill that would effectively impose higher tariffs on China if it doesn’t revalue its currency. The candidates are trying to win the favor of unions and blue-collar voters in states like Ohio and West Virginia, of course, but their positions also reflect a widespread belief that free trade with developing countries, and with China in particular, is a kind of scam perpetrated by the wealthy, who reap the benefits while ordinary Americans bear the cost.
Obama and Clinton, in their desire to help working Americans—and gain their votes—are pushing for policies that will also hurt them.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Here is a excerpt from WSJ about his woeful inexperience in foreign policy.
'On Sunday at a stop in Oregon, Sen. Obama was dismissive of the threats posed by Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and Syria. That's the same Iran whose Quds Force is arming and training insurgents and illegal militias in Iraq to kill American soldiers; that is supporting Hezbollah and Hamas in violent attacks on Lebanon and Israel; and that is racing to develop a nuclear weapon while threatening the "annihilation" of Israel.
By Monday in Montana, Mr. Obama recognized his error. He abruptly changed course, admitting that Iran represents a threat to the region and U.S. interests.
Voters need to ask if Sunday's comments, not Monday's correction, aren't the best evidence of his true thinking.'
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The failure of Mr. Bush to fully mobilize the most powerful innovation engine in the world — the U.S. economy — to produce a scalable alternative to oil has helped to fuel the rise of a collection of petro-authoritarian states — from Russia to Venezuela to Iran — that are reshaping global politics in their own image.
Dude, last time I checked we have market based economy that allocates captial to research and development very efficiently! We have billions pouring into all sorts of private alternative energy projects. Why does the government have to do this?
Sounds like you have an alternative agenda.
'Obama has as much trouble with numbers as he has with maps. Last March, on the anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Ala., he claimed his parents united as a direct result of the civil rights movement: “There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Ala., because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born.”Obama was born in 1961.
The Selma march took place in 1965. His spokesman, Bill Burton, later explained that Obama was “speaking metaphorically about the civil-rights movement as a whole.”
Last March, the Chicago Tribune reported this little-noticed nugget about a fake autobiographical detail in Obama’s Dreams from My Father: “Then, there’s the copy of Life magazine that Obama presents as his racial awakening at age 9. In it, he wrote, was an article and two accompanying photographs of an African-American man physically and mentally scarred by his efforts to lighten his skin. In fact, the Life article and the photographs don’t exist, say the magazine’s own historians.”
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
But Obama spent $36.4 million over the course of the month (April) -- about $4 million more than he raised during the same time -- as he tried to sew up the nomination. Despite outspending Clinton in Pennsylvania and Indiana, he lost both contests.
Damn that was expensive! Shows how much resistence Obama has to over come in these types of states.
Yunus is using the same mild-mannered approach in his campaign to transform capitalism. On the one hand, as an economist and, now, a banker, Yunus embraces the discipline of the market. On the other hand, he believes that profit-maximizing companies turn complex human beings into one-dimensional creatures, devoted only to making as much money as possible. Pure-profit maximization is bad for people, for the environment and, ultimately, he argues, for capitalism, since it places unsustainable demands on the system.
But if unfettered capitalism has its shortcomings, so does out-and-out charity. Yunus sees charity as a bad bargain for both those who give it and those who get it. Rather than providing a path to self-improvement, charity relieves recipients of the responsibility for their own betterment. And those who give charity find themselves writing a check every year for the same problem, without any expectation that it will ever be solved.
Finally, Yunus takes a hard look at corporate social responsibility and finds little to love there, either. In fact, it is the worst of both worlds. It gives companies permission to operate as pure-profit maximization enterprises, then allows them to feel a little better about themselves by writing checks for charity. Nothing fundamental happens to improve the lives of billions of people who are doomed to living in poverty.
Which is not to say that there isn't a solution — a brilliant solution as proposed and already tested by Yunus. The answer to the profit maximization vs. charity dilemma is to create a new hybrid option: the social business. A social business must operate in the marketplace and earn the support of real customers who pay real money to buy a real product. At the same time, a social business has a social cause, not just a financial goal.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Obama has raised $240 million and spent $189 million as of 5/20/08 per CNN.
Clinton has raised $195 million and spent $163 million.
Obama has 1941 delegates vs Clinton's 1758
Obama's per delegate spending is $97, 425
Clinton's per delegate spending is $92,760
Obama has outspent Clinton by $26 million .... thus far.
Yes we can!!
Wreaks of bovine scatology!
Obama is no different than his liberal brethren that preceded him.
Barack Obama talks about taking on the special interests. This farm bill would have been a perfect opportunity to do so. But Obama supported the bill, just as he supported the 2005 energy bill that was a Christmas tree for the oil and gas industries.
Obama’s support may help him win Iowa, but it will lead to higher global food prices and more hunger in Africa. Moreover, it raises questions about how exactly he expects to bring about the change that he promises.
If elected, Obama’s main opposition will not come from Republicans. It will come from Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill. Already, the Democratic machine is reborn. Lobbyists are now giving 60 percent of their dollars to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The pharmaceutical industry, the defense industry and the financial sector all give more money to Democrats than Republicans. If Obama is actually going to bring about change, he’s going to have to ruffle these sorts of alliances. If he can’t do it in an easy case like the farm bill, will he ever?
John McCain opposed the farm bill. In an impassioned speech on Monday, he declared: “It would be hard to find any single bill that better sums up why so many Americans in both parties are so disappointed in the conduct of their government, and at times so disgusted by it.”
If you adjust the win for spending, Clinton clearly wins out.
The power of money is fully evident in this primary election cycle and show that Obama is not that different from his predecessors. Money talks and he bends over... backwards to pick it up and runs!
They got the big mo in the 4th quarter of the race but time is running out for them to score enough point to win.
Monday, May 19, 2008
The problem is that supply and demand is not an emotionally satisfying explanation. For that, you need melodrama, heroes and villains.
Senator Barack Obama clearly understands people's emotional needs and how to meet them. He wants to raise taxes on oil companies.
How that will get us more oil or lower the price of gasoline is a problem that can be left for economists to puzzle over. A politician's problem is how to get more votes-- and one of the most effective ways of doing that is to be a hero who will save us from the villains.
'Subsidies for rich farmers: Farmers would be eligible for government subsidy payments if their incomes were as high as $1.5 million if married, and up to $750,000 if single. We had a big fight with Congress last year over whether families with income of 3 times the poverty level should receive taxpayer-subsidized health insurance. This bill would subsidize amarried farming couple with income more than 107 times the poverty level (which is $14,000 for a couple). Put another way, such a couple would be in the top 0.2Publish Post% of the income distribution. You would be subsidizing their business with your income taxes.
The NYTimes, the liberal, Hillary backing, editorial board even thinks that this bill stinks!
WTF? How can Austan Goolsbee and company look in the mirror every morning? Obama is a liberal tax and spend type of guy. His support for the farm bill is an indication to pander to his liberal Senate mates like Harkin from Iowa!!
Where are all the young voters who mindless flocks to him? Why don't they question him on this? This bill is not only bad from a fiscal perspective but from an environmental perspective.
'Speaking to a crowd of farmers in a barn, Barack Obama cited the Japanese not selling American beef as an example of how current trade policies have hurt rural communities.
But Japan lifted its ban on American beef almost a year ago in June. The country had banned imports in 2003 after an outbreak of mad-cow disease.
But the problem is not, as Obama said, that the Japanese refuse to import American beef. Rather, it is that American beef now faces stiffer competition with Australian beef, which has made major inroads in the market in recent years.
Either this guy is not well versed in economics (highly probable) or he just speaks off the cuff and does not listen to his economic advisers (highly possible).
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Obama is no different. The press has done a terrible job of digging beyond Obama's rhetoric and pointing to his dirty political tactics and his diminutive integrity.
Here is an excerpt:
'This kind of language and pugilistic imagery, however, also evokes the baggage that makes Mrs. Clinton such a provocative political figure. For as much as a willingness to “do what it takes” and “die hard” are marketable commodities in politics, they can also yield to less flattering qualities, plenty of which have been ascribed to her over the years. Just as supporters praise her “toughness” and “tenacity,” critics also describe her as “divisive,” “a dirty fighter” or “willing to do anything to win.”
The critics include supporters of Mr. Obama who subscribe to the notion, pushed by their candidate, that Mrs. Clinton, his opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination, represents the fractious politics of the past.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Interesting analysis from the LA Times:
'...late 1980s, she (Oprah Winfrey) was an infrequent attendee at Trinity's services, and by the early 1990s she had stopped going altogether.
According to a revealing article, headlined "Something Wasn't Wright," in the new Newsweek by Allison Samuels, a major reason was Winfrey's concern with Wright's inflammatory sermons, her association with them through church membership and the potential impact on her widespread popularity.''Questions have arisen over why Obama, as an astute budding politician, would have remained in the same church environment for 20 years, and when Wright's shocking sermon snippets initially emerged weeks ago, would deny having heard them.
He clearly was aware of the danger of association with Wright, having disinvited the pastor from giving the public invocation at Obama's campaign announcement in Springfield in February of 2007 because, reportedly, Obama said Wright's sermons could come across as a little "rough."
Yet in his recent speech on race in Philadelphia, Obama said: "As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthens my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother."
Yet five weeks later, after Wright's National Press Club speech and news conference performance, Obama had this to say: "I am outraged by the comments that were made, and saddened over the spectacle that we saw yesterday. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate.
"They offend me, they rightly offend all Americans, and they should be denounced. And that's what I'm doing very clearly and unequivocally here today."
Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" on Sunday asked Obama about defending Wright a full year after he indicated Wright's words could be trouble for his campaign, and what he'd learned in the five weeks between his Philadelphia remarks and last week's denunciation of Wright. The same question has been raised by numerous Ticket commenters in recent weeks.'
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Some 47 million Americans do not have health insurance.
This number from the Census Bureau is often cited as evidence that the health system is failing for many American families. Yet by masking tremendous heterogeneity in personal circumstances, the figure exaggerates the magnitude of the problem.
To start with, the 47 million includes about 10 million residents who are not American citizens. Many are illegal immigrants. Even if we had national health insurance, they would probably not be covered.
The number also fails to take full account of Medicaid, the government’s health program for the poor. For instance, it counts millions of the poor who are eligible for Medicaid but have not yet applied. These individuals, who are healthier, on average, than those who are enrolled, could always apply if they ever needed significant medical care. They are uninsured in name only.
The 47 million also includes many who could buy insurance but haven’t. The Census Bureau reports that 18 million of the uninsured have annual household income of more than $50,000, which puts them in the top half of the income distribution. About a quarter of the uninsured have been offered employer-provided insurance but declined coverage.
Any reform should carefully focus on this group to avoid disrupting the vast majority for whom the system is working. We do not nationalize an industry simply because a small percentage of the work force is unemployed. Similarly, we should be wary of sweeping reforms of our health system if they are motivated by the fact that a small percentage of the population is uninsured.
'Later, The Huffington Post reported that some Clinton insiders believed they have the votes on the Democratic National Committee's bylaws panel to push through a resolution later this month recognizing Clinton's wins in Florida and Michigan -- possibly vaulting her over Obama in overall delegates.
Democratic insiders worry that any outcome that appears to supersede the primary voting to give Clinton the nomination would split the party. A Clinton spokesman didn't return calls for comment.
'While defending Bill Clinton’s role in the passage of NAFTA, Paul Gipson, president of a steelworkers local, said that union members need to look forward, and support a leader who can work to amend and improve provisions in the trade agreement.
“I truly believe that that’s going to take an individual that has testicular fortitude,” he said. “That’s exactly right. That’s what we gotta have.”
Clinton, standing behind Gipson, smiled sheepishly before breaking into a nervous laugh. Gipson continued by slamming unnamed “Gucci-wearing, latte-drinking, self-centered, egotistical people that have damaged our lifestyle,” before endorsing and introducing Clinton.
The New York senator, after some introductory remarks, then had some fun with Gipson’s remarks. “I must say, Paul, I appreciate that endorsement. It means a lot to me,” she said. “I do think I have fortitude. Women can have it as well as men.”
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Here is why that key segment he dissed is important in a general election from the AP:
'While less educated whites tend to vote less frequently than better educated voters, they are important because of their sheer number.
Exit polls show they have comprised three in 10 voters in Democratic contests so far, a group that cannot be ignored in a contest that has seen Obama maintain a slim lead. They made up 43 percent of all voters in the 2004 presidential contest, when they heavily favored President Bush over Democrat John Kerry.
Underlining his need to connect with these voters, Obama has geared some television ads in Indiana toward economic issues. In recent days he has turned to small events, rather than his trademark huge rallies, concentrating on the economy, including lunching with a blue-collar Indiana family while discussing their problems.
He has let cameras record him playing basketball in hopes of connecting with the passionate fans of the sport who populate Indiana and North Carolina.'You only get one shot at this demographic. With today communication technologies and its penetration into these peoples lives, you can't make dumb mistakes!!
From the AP:
'Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., said Obama lost among working-class whites in the state because his message of how this generation's time has come did not address their economic needs.
"While it's incredibly motivating and passionate and compelling, it lacks content," Madonna said. "Hillary would come in and relate to them, talk about the specifics of her policy." '
Thursday, May 01, 2008
The blue line measures the percentage by which Obama beat (or lost to) Clinton. The green dots represent the number of Starbucks stores per million people for each state. The black line is the trend line of Starbucks stores, drawn to make it easier to see the relationship between voting and latte sipping.
'In all, federal taxes now equal about 19 percent of the nation’s economic output, which is in line with the historical average. But the costs of Medicare and Medicaid, on their current path, would require that number to rise to an unmanageable 30 percent, and beyond, in coming decades.
“We as a nation cannot tax our way out of this problem,” Mr. Holtz-Eakin says. “It’s just not an option.” '
Both Obama and Clinton want to tax more!
'In interviews at churches in cities and towns including Charlotte, Greensboro, Lumberton and Goldsboro, ministers expressed the view that Mr. Obama and Mr. Wright had been attacked by a superficial and biased news media. Many said they were teaching Mr. Wright’s sermons in Bible study classes.'
What exactly does 'Many said they were teaching Mr. Wright’s sermons in Bible study classes'.
Is Wright Wrong? Certainly on a bunch of statements! How can you teach this in Bible class?
Here is an excerpt from Ludwig Von Mises Institute:
'While many people claim that the rising costs of health care and problems with employer-funded insurance prove the case for taxpayer-funded health insurance, this is not really the case. The real driving force behind taxpayer-funded health insurance is ignorance. Many people fail to see the role of government in increasing health care costs.'
The author also critizes a paper by two economists that argue for tax payer funded healthcare.