Thursday, July 31, 2008
From the NYT:
Although Mr. Obama has been under an intense public spotlight for the last year, he is still relatively new on the national scene, and polls indicate that for all the enthusiasm he has generated among his supporters, many voters still have questions about him, providing Republicans an opening to shape his image in critical groups like white working-class voters between now and Election Day.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
He wants the US Voters to trust him at a highly uncertain econcomic time with higher taxes especially on small business owners who employ the majority of American workers.
He wants to alter trade agreements when exports are add more jobs.
He wants to jepordize the united stand aganist Iran.
He refuses to provide clear plans to shore of social security.
He wants to spend more tax dollars on subzisizing middle class healthcare instead of allowing the market provide healthcare for all.
He wants to implement his pandering plans to pull out the troops from Iraq.
John McCain is justified in letting the star struck public about the real Obama!
Rezko was one of the people Obama consulted when he considered running to replace Palmer, and Rezko eventually raised about ten per cent of Obama’s funds for that first campaign. As a state senator, Obama became an advocate of the tax-credit program. “That’s an example of a smart policy,” he told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in 1997. “The developers were thinking in market terms and operating under the rules of the marketplace; but at the same time, we had government supporting and subsidizing those efforts.” Obama and Rezko’s friendship grew stronger. They dined together regularly and even, on at least one occasion, retreated to Rezko’s vacation home, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
When the prayer that Barack Obama inserted into the Western Wall was made public, I had an unworthy thought: the prayer sounded suspiciously as though it had been written for public consumption. For Obama, embarrassed by his association with Jeremiah Wright and increasingly tagged as arrogant, the prayer seemed to touch all the right bases, including a plea to "help me guard against pride." But any suggestion that Obama had planted the prayer with a view toward having it published seemed churlish.
Now, though, it is being alleged that this was just what happened. Ma'ariv, the paper that published the prayer, says that "Barack Obama's note was approved for publication in the international media even before he put in the Kotel, a short time after he wrote it at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem." Ma'ariv's claim may have been backed up by Israel's most popular daily paper, Yediot Aharonot, which says that it too had a copy of the note but decided not to print it. It isn't clear, though, whether Yediot Aharonot got the note from the Obama campaign or after the fact, from the student who apparently removed it from the Wall.
It isn't yet clear what happened here, but it is fair to say that if anyone would leak a prayer, it is the all-politics-all-the-time Barack Obama.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Republican presidential candidate John McCain moved from being behind by 6 points among "likely" voters a month ago to a 4-point lead over Democrat Barack Obama among that group in the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. McCain still trails slightly among the broader universe of "registered" voters. By both measures, the race is tight.
The Friday-Sunday poll, mostly conducted as Obama was returning from his much-publicized overseas trip and released just this hour, shows McCain now ahead 49%-45% among voters that Gallup believes are most likely to go to the polls in November. In late June, he was behind among likely voters, 50%-44%.
Among registered voters, McCain still trails Obama, but by less. He is behind by 3 percentage points in the new poll (47%-44%) vs. a 6-point disadvantage (48%-42%) in late June.
(2008-07-02) — Democrats in Congress today plan to introduce a bill to halt the recently-announced closing of some 600 Starbucks coffee stores, noting that the displacement of 12,000 Starbucks baristas would overwhelm government aid offices not prepared to handle so many clients for whom English is a second language.
Baristas, those who serve Starbucks beverages, speak a peculiar dialect that combines pseudo-Italian and American slang with inflections borrowed from ancient hemp-smoking cultures.
“These people can’t just walk out of Starbucks and get a job at a grocery store or a factory,” said House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA. “They would need ESL classes and cultural training to learn how to relate to ordinary Americans and function in society.”
Rep. Pelosi’s bill would subsidize the 600 money-losing Starbucks locations by giving away millions of taxpayer dollars in so-called ‘Venti Vouchers’ to residents of these hard-hit neighborhoods. If the effort fails to revive the flagging stores, Rep. Pelosi said Democrats would “seriously consider nationalizing the coffee industry to ensure the free flow of java at fair prices.”
“This is just another one of our heroic Democrat efforts to protect Americans from the impact of the Bush economic policies,” said Rep. Pelosi. “Under this president, America has become a cold and desolate place where corporations cut unprofitable activities to focus on increasing the bottom line, and returning value to shareholders. When Democrats retake the White House next year, we will reverse that trend.”
Friday, July 25, 2008
But now it is more than half a year on, and the post-partisanship of Iowa has given way to the post-nationalism of Berlin, and it turns out that the vague overture is the entire symphony. The golden rhetoric impresses less, the evasion of hard choices strikes one more.
Much of the rest of the speech fed the illusion that we could solve our problems if only people mystically come together.
The great illusion of the 1990s was that we were entering an era of global convergence in which politics and power didn’t matter. What Obama offered in Berlin flowed right out of this mind-set. This was the end of history on acid.
It will take politics and power to address these challenges, the two factors that dare not speak their name in Obama’s lofty peroration.
But he has grown accustomed to putting on this sort of saccharine show for the rock concert masses, and in Berlin his act jumped the shark. His words drift far from reality, and not only when talking about the Senate Banking Committee. His Berlin Victory Column treacle would have made Niebuhr sick to his stomach.
Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney.
From the NYTimes:
In speech after speech, Senator Barack Obama has vowed that he will lower the country’s health care costs enough to “bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family.” Moreover, Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has promised that his health plan will be in place “by the end of my first term as president of the United States.”
Whether Mr. Obama can deliver is a matter of considerable dispute among health analysts and economists. While there is consensus that the American health care system is bloated with waste, eliminating enough to save $2,500 per family would require simultaneous and synergistic solutions to a host of problems that have proved intractable for decades.
The Commonwealth Fund, a health research group in New York, published a study in December projecting that a robust overhaul consisting of 15 broad initiatives would generate savings of only 6 percent after 10 years. “Doing it by the end of a first term is ambitious and would require tough policies,” said Karen Davis, the group’s president.
Jonathan B. Oberlander, who teaches health policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, called it wishful thinking. “Do they have the potential to generate significant savings in the long run?” Dr. Oberlander asked. “Yes. Do I believe they will produce substantial savings in the short run that can be used to finance Obama’s plan? No.”
As subcommittee chairman, Obama could have held hearings pertaining to the role of NATO in the war in Afghanistan, but he has not. At a Democratic debate in February, he said he "became chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign," so the committee hadn't held such hearings. But Obama has presided over subcommittee hearings to consider the nominations of ambassadors to several nations and the U.S. permanent representative to the NATO council. He also has previously spoken out about the role of NATO in Afghanistan, saying that he supports a greater presence of troops in the country
From Washington Post / ABC News Poll
"..the poll also shows that McCain holds substantial advantages on key foreign policy readiness questions, suggesting that the stakes of today's Iraq speech, and Obama's pending trip abroad, are extremely high for his presidential hopes.
For instance, the poll finds that McCain has a huge lead (63%-26%) on the question of who has a better knowledge of world affairs.
And McCain also holds a sizable lead (50%-41%) on who is more trusted to handle a major crisis.
Barack Obama's most committed partisans, beyond African American voters, are young voters, voters under 30. In March, 66 percent of them said they would vote, no matter what -- that is down to 46 percent right now. Their enthusiasm has been dampened a bit over the course of this campaign.
The under 30 crowd seems to be thinking hard about Obama especially after increasingly critical analysis of his past.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
E. J. Dionne, Jr., of the Washington Post, wrote about this transition in a 1999 column after Daley was reëlected. Dionne wrote about a young Barack Obama, who artfully explained how the new pinstripe patronage worked: a politician rewards the law firms, developers, and brokerage houses with contracts, and in return they pay for the new ad campaigns necessary for relection.
“They do well, and you get a $5 million to $10 million war chest,” Obama told Dionne. It was a classic Obamaism: superficially critical of some unseemly aspect of the political process without necessarily forswearing the practice itself. Obama was learning that one of the greatest skills a politician can possess is candor about the dirty work it takes to get and stay elected.
Here is an excerpt:
As Saul Bellow once remarked, “Politics are politics, crime is crime, but in Chicago they occasionally overlap. The line between virtue and vice meanders madly—effective government on one side, connections on the other.”There were further changes under way in Chicago. Obama had won his first campaign by using old-fashioned Chicago machine tactics at a time when the notion of machine politics was increasingly anachronistic.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The passion Obama inspired earlier this year was critical to his victory in the primaries. But it isn't what he needs now. The public is not looking for a political messiah. Indeed, the over-the-top adulation of Obama's most fervent admirers probably strikes some swing voters as creepy and cultish. What people want is a steady leader who looks out for their interests: safety, secure health care, higher wages, cheaper food and gas.
All year, polls have shown that the public would strongly prefer to elect a Democratic President in November. But Obama has been running only slightly ahead of McCain. Being a typical Democratic politician would not be a step down for Obama it would be a step up for him. The public knows that politicians are what they are, and that their rhetoric will not fill their bank accounts. They will see through Obama, and they will see through McCain, and in a Democratic year that will leave Obama ahead.
Senator Obama this morning said that he wants a foreign policy that is “tough, smart, and principled.” This afternoon, I ask: was it tough when Senator Obama voted to order U.S. forces to retreat from Iraq on a fixed timeline—regardless of the recommendations of our military commanders, regardless of conditions on the ground? Was it smart when Senator Obama opposed the surge and predicted that it would fail to improve security? Was it principled when Senator Obama said that he would order U.S. troops to retreat from Iraq, regardless of the humanitarian consequences for millions of innocent Iraqis—even genocide? Was it tough and principled when Senator Obama said he would be open to changing his plan for Iraq after going there and talking to General Petraeus—only to change that position a few hours later after being heatedly criticized by organizations like Moveon.org? I say respectfully, the answer to all of those questions is no.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Seems like the curiosity with Obama is something along that vein.
Here is an excerpt from The Weekly Standard:
I’m convinced much of Obama’s support to date is more a function of the public’s curiosity with his narrative than support for his policies. Americans seem highly interested in this campaign but still uninformed about the candidates’ positions on many issues. The Washington Post’s Jon Cohen underscores this point in his “Behind the Numbers” piece analyzing recent polling data.
Politicians like Barney Frank helped line the pockets of Fannie Mae executives instead of questioning their practices.
Greg Mankiw's Blog: On Fannie and Freddie
Wonder where Obama stands on this? Hmm...
From the Washington Times:
As Mr. Obama repositions himself for the general election after exclusively targeting the Democratic base of committed liberals, it leaves some voters on the left feeling he is abandoning them on their top issue - Iraq - and has independents questioning his veracity.
"If a perception takes hold that a candidate is flip-flopping on core convictions, that will hurt," pollster Scott Rasmussen said, noting that nearly a third of voters are "up for grabs" this fall.A Newsweek poll found similar dissatisfaction among voters over Mr. Obama's shifts in policy positions. In the survey, 53 percent of voters said he recalibrated his stances on key issues such as the war and President Bush's new electronic surveillance law in order to gain political advantage.
But there has been little humor about Mr. Obama: about his age, his speaking ability, his intelligence, his family, his physique. And within a late-night landscape dominated by white hosts, white writers, and overwhelmingly white audiences, there has been almost none about his race.
There is no doubt, several representatives of the late-night shows said, that so far their audiences (and at least some of the shows’ writers) seem to be favorably disposed toward Mr. Obama, to a degree that perhaps leaves them more resistant to jokes about him than those about most previous candidates.
“A lot of people are excited about his candidacy,” Mr. Sweeney said. “It’s almost like: ‘Hey, don’t go after this guy. He’s a fresh face; cut him some slack.’ ”
One issue that clearly has some impact on writing jokes about Mr. Obama is a consistency among the big late-night shows. Not only are all the hosts white, the vast majority of their audiences are white. “I think white audiences get a little self-conscious if race comes up,” Mr. Sweeney of Mr. O’Brien’s show said.
First it was a line of Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton now others like Sen. Joe Liberman.
From the NYT:
It has grown increasingly so for Mr. Lieberman, once his party’s vice-presidential candidate and now a self-styled “independent Democrat.” He has zigzagged the country on behalf of Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and, in recent weeks, amplified his criticism of Senator Barack Obama to a point that has infuriated many of his Democratic colleagues.
Clearly, Mr. Lieberman’s already precarious marriage with the Democrats has reached a new level of discord and could be approaching divorce, if not necessarily a remarriage into the Republican Party.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
From the Kansas City Star:
“Obama was saying he was the most transparent, but it wasn’t even on par with Bush and Cheney.” -- Alexander Cohen, senior researcher at Public Citizen.
Barack Obama has long been among the most outspoken critics of the influence of money in politics.
Yet records show that in his presidential campaign, he has not lived up to his promise to fully disclose the identities of his top money-collectors who bundle millions of dollars in campaign contributions.
Since November, Obama had added just two new names to a list of more than 326 fundraisers who have bundled contributions of $50,000 or more for him, despite the campaign’s taking in more than $180 million during that time.
After receiving an inquiry from The New York Times, the campaign scrambled Thursday evening to update its list of bundlers, adding 185 names to it — a more than 50 percent jump — and increasing the amounts some were credited with raising.
So what jumped out at me was how quickly Obama regretted his decision. And that, in turn, made me wonder how often the senator has regretted other choices. Answer: pretty often. (Googling "Obama" and "regrets" yields more than a million hits.)
But I'm not so sure. After all, a lot of Americans understand that you don't get a bunch of easy do-overs in the Oval Office. You have to make tough calls, even when they may be politically costly.
I can't help wondering what Obama might regret in four years as president. What might he regret doing —- or not doing —- on the world stage? What might he regret saying —- or not saying —- to Putin or Kim Jong-il or Ahmadinejad?
Only time will tell. Depending on what happens in November, we may begin to find out next January. When we do, some voters may well have regrets of their own.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
The Obama advertisement, his first negative one of the general campaign, calls Mr. McCain “part of the problem” of high gasoline prices. It likens the energy policies of Mr. McCain to those of President Bush, noting that both support easing restrictions on offshore oil drilling and linking the two to support for tax breaks for oil companies.
Vote 213: H R 6: Offered tax breaks and incentives in what supporters said was an effort to spur oil and gas companies to provide innovative wasy to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, conserve resources and reduce pollution.
Vote 170: S 1307: Established a free trade zone between the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; a separate agreement with the Dominican Republican was also included in the measure.
The case becomes an easier sale thanks to the crippling of al Qaeda, the defanging of Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, the growing confidence and capabilities of Iraq's central government, and the end to sectarian killing. (The number of "ethno-sectarian" deaths in Iraq, which peaked at over 2,000 in December 2006, were at zero in May 2008.) There is no civil war here to police.
The presumptive Democratic nominee set off media firecrackers last week by hinting at further refinements to his strategy for withdrawal. Previous strategies include his January 2007 call for a complete withdrawal by March 2008, followed by his March 2008 call for a complete withdrawal by July 2010, or 16 months after he takes office.
Now Mr. Obama tells us that the 16-month timeline is contingent on (1) "[making] sure that our troops are safe and that Iraq is stable" (my emphasis), and (2) the opinion of "the commanders on the ground." Also in question is the size of the "residual force" that the Illinois senator envisions for Iraq after the bulk of U.S. forces is withdrawn. Will it be an embassy guard, plus some military advisers and special-ops forces?
Monday, July 07, 2008
From the WSJ:
One new Web site challenging Sen. Obama, Together4us.com, declares on its home page: "We are being asked to embrace Party Unity without the fair representation of Hillary Clinton" and the roughly 18 million people who voted for her during the primaries.
The site was organized by Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a businesswoman and Hillraiser who says: "There are thousands, probably millions, of women and men who aren't happy with the way the Democratic Party conducted the primaries, or with the result." Ms. de Rothschild says some 60 other Democratic activists, many of them Hillraisers, are providing advice or other help to the new Web site. Some 3,000 people have already signed up, she says.Even so, it is threatening his support among liberal Democrats, many of whom make up his small-donor base. The independent activist group Democrats.com has established an escrow fund to encourage Sen. Obama to rethink his position on warrantless-wiretapping legislation, which is supported by the Bush administration but opposed by liberal Democrats.
From the WSJ:
'An analysis of campaign-finance records conducted for The Wall Street Journal by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics shows that in May, when Sen. Obama was widely believed to have clinched the Democratic nomination, only one Hillraiser had switched allegiance to the Obama campaign. And while 115 individuals who had donated at least $1,000 to Sen. Clinton made their first donations to Sen. Obama, another 115 former Clinton backers made their first big donations to Sen. McCain.
A poll released Friday by CNN and Opinion Research Corp. found that nearly a third of those who voted for Sen. Clinton in the primaries said they would stay home in November rather than vote for Sen. Obama. A similar poll taken by the two organizations in early June found only 22% expressing that sentiment. In the latest poll, only 54% of Clinton voters said they were planning to back Sen. Obama.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
His meager achievements in the Senate and lack of any meaningful experience being an executive or legislator is appalling. He has no legitimate claim for change, having no experience in changing anything for this country from a legislative perspective!
Mr. Obama has raised a staggering $295-plus million thus far and after declining public financing for the upcoming general election will probably raise close to half a billion!!!
That is not counting the pledged dollars from labor unions, issue groups like moveon.org, DNC and the monied gentry like George Soros.
There are many paths to victory but taking the path paved with dollars while spouting claims of change is a path that lacks integrity.
That is road well traveled by classic politicians not agents of change.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Shortly after joining the U.S. Senate and while enjoying a surge in income, Barack Obama bought a $1.65 million restored Georgian mansion in an upscale Chicago neighborhood. To finance the purchase, he secured a $1.32 million loan from Northern Trust in Illinois.
Compared with the average terms offered at the time in Chicago, Obama's rate could have saved him more than $300 per month.
"The real question is: Were congressmen getting unique treatment that others weren't getting?" associate law professor Adam J. Levitin, a credit specialist at Georgetown University Law Center, said about the Countrywide loans. "Do they do business like that for people who are not congressmen? If they don't, that's a problem."
But amid a national housing crisis, news of discounts offered to Sens. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the banking committee, and Kent Conrad (D-N.D) by another lender, Countrywide Financial, has brought new scrutiny to the practice and has resulted in a preliminary Senate ethics committee inquiry into the Dodd and Conrad loans.
n Obama's case, he received a lower rate than the average offered at the time in Chicago for similarly structured jumbo loans. He secured his final mortgage commitment on June 8, 2005, and during that week, rates on similar loans for which information is available averaged 5.93 percent, according to HSH Associates, which surveys lenders.
“I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states,” wrote Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
But his campaign said that Mr. Obama’s opposition to the initiative, which will appear on the state’s November ballot, did not signal a change in position. He remains opposed to same-sex marriage, but supports civil unions and domestic partnerships.What the..
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Claude Castonguay's evolving view of Canadian health care, however, should weigh heavily on how the candidates think about the issue in this country.
Back in the 1960s, Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health reform and recommended that his home province of Quebec then the largest and most affluent in the country adopt government-administered health care, covering all citizens through tax levies.
Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in "crisis."
"We thought we could resolve the system's problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it," says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: "We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice."
Years ago, Canadians touted their health care system as the best in the world; today, Canadian health care stands in ruinous shape.
The problem is that government bureaucrats simply can't centrally plan their way to better health care.
"I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care program," Obama said back in the 1990s. Last year, Obama told the New Yorker that "if you're starting from scratch, then a single-payer system probably makes sense."
Now as Obama moves to the center he needs to appease a large number of people who care about different issues that their liberal brethern. But he is going to have to deal with the wrath of the liberals on certain issues.
Here is the first from WSJ:
'The group sprang up last week, amid criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union, MoveOn.org and others on the left that Sen. Obama was sliding to the center after originally opposing immunity for the telecommunications companies.
Membership in the online group grew tenfold over the weekend and boasted more than 9,000 members by Tuesday. The group's sudden popularity suggests the vocalness of the grass-roots Internet community and raises questions about how Sen. Obama will handle dissenting voices from within the online movement he has harnessed to great success.
"It would be a public-relations nightmare for him to shut us down," said Mike Stark, the group's moderator. "It's totally in keeping with his vision. I think he's proud of what we're doing." '
Will Obama shut the group down? Let's see