Monday, September 29, 2008
If Senator Obama really wants to transcend partisan politics, as he would sometimes have us believe, he might want to give a slightly more balanced view of the history of how this all started. He also might want to take note that the Bush administration warned about some of these problems five years ago and had its reform efforts stymied by prominent members of Senator Obama's own party.
Article Two and the Treaty Clause of the Constitution gives the POTUS the authority to negotiate treaties and the powers of ware and peace.
Obama's statements on foreign policy is an indication that he is not ready to be the next President.
The general line was encapsulated by the television news star Anderson Cooper last year in a leading question to Barack Obama:
In the spirit of . . . bold leadership would you be willing to meet . . . during the first year of your administration . . . with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
Obama did not hesitate. “I would,” he replied. “And the reason is . . . that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them—which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration—is ridiculous.”
As is his wont, Obama later offered up a number of qualifications and clarifications of this statement. Electoral maneuvering aside, however, he stuck to his main position, which he seemed to treat as so obviously true as to be irrefutable. But is it? How valuable is diplomacy? Can it in fact “bridge the gap” with enemies by disclosing unsuspected common ground and thereby changing the equation between them and us? Has it ever done so?
Should we talk with our enemies? Yes—to tell them what we think of them, and what we ourselves stand for. We should talk to them, that is, on our own terms and not theirs, and with their captive peoples in mind. But to the question that Anderson Cooper put to Senator Obama, the simple and correct answer was “No.” If Obama ever gains the presidency, the world will be safer if he has figured that out before he enters office.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
In sum, Obama comes to us from a background farther to the Left than any presidential nominee since George McGovern, or perhaps ever. This makes him an extremely unlikely leader to bridge the divides of party, ideology, or, for that matter, race. If he loses, it will be for that reason (though many will no doubt adduce different explanations, including of course white racism, to which every GOP victory since Nixon’s election in 1968 has been attributed).
This year, Obama appeared before Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (whose official slogan is “no justice, no peace”) to seek its support. The candidate praised Sharpton as “a voice for the voiceless and . . . dispossessed. What National Action Network has done is so important to change America, and it must be changed from the bottom up.” Given Sharpton’s long career of reckless racial demagogy, it might seem shocking that a mainstream candidate should be seeking his blessing, but in this, at least, Obama was not unique: all of the 2008 Democratic aspirants did so.
The mainstream media ruthlessly and endlessly repeat any McCain gaffes while ignoring Obama gaffes. You have to go to weird little Web sites to see all the stammering and stuttering that Obama needs before getting out a sentence fragment or two. But all you see on the networks is an eventually clear sentence from Obama. You don't see Obama's ludicrous gaffe that Iran is a tiny country and no threat to us. Nor his 57 American states gaffe. Nor his forgetting, if he ever knew, that Russia has a veto in the U.N. Nor his whining and puerile "come on" when he is being challenged. This is the kind of editing one would expect from Goebbels' disciples, not Cronkite's.
The public image of Obama as an idealistic, post-race, post-partisan, well-spoken and honest young man with the wisdom and courage befitting a great national leader is a confection spun by a willing conspiracy of Obama, his publicist (David Axelrod) and most of the senior editors, producers and reporters of the national media.
Perhaps that is why the National Journal's respected correspondent Stuart Taylor wrote, "The media can no longer be trusted to provide accurate and fair campaign reporting and analysis."
If you go by Obama's voting record, one should expect gridlock politics if he becomes President.
From Joshua Muravchik:
Non-partisanship does not just mean Democrats coaching Little League, lovely as that is, but cooperating with members of the other party in developing compromise solutions to national problems. The Senate has a particularly rich tradition of such bipartisanship, but Obama appears never to have participated in it. On the contrary: according to Congressional Quarterly, which measures how often each member votes in accordance with or at variance from the majority of his own party, Obama has compiled one of the most partisan of all voting records.
Friday, September 26, 2008
McCain leads in one of this years crucial voting blocks.
From the WSJ:
Pollsters have emblematized part of the crucial working-class swing vote as "Wal-Mart Women," defined as more socially conservative women who typically don't have a college degree, who are feeling the economic pinch and are shopping at Wal-Mart for its lower prices.
The rise of Wal-Mart's female customers as a sought-after voting bloc has presented the Bentonville, Ark.-based company with an unprecedented opportunity to help choose the next president -- and it's trying to make the most of it.
The political poll, conducted for the company by a bipartisan team of pollsters, isn't the first Wal-Mart has conducted, but it is the first it has made public, said Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar.
Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country's current crisis. He took actions that—in combination with many other factors—helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded "kickbacks" to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Mr. Ayers is the founder of the "small schools" movement (heavily funded by CAC), in which individual schools built around specific political themes push students to "confront issues of inequity, war, and violence." He believes teacher education programs should serve as "sites of resistance" to an oppressive system. (His teacher-training programs were also CAC funded.) The point, says Mr. Ayers in his "Teaching Toward Freedom," is to "teach against oppression," against America's history of evil and racism, thereby forcing social transformation.
The Obama campaign has cried foul when Bill Ayers comes up, claiming "guilt by association." Yet the issue here isn't guilt by association; it's guilt by participation. As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago.
The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was created ostensibly to improve Chicago's public schools.
The CAC's agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers's educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland's ghetto.
In works like "City Kids, City Teachers" and "Teaching the Personal and the Political," Mr. Ayers wrote that teachers should be community organizers dedicated to provoking resistance to American racism and oppression. His preferred alternative? "I'm a radical, Leftist, small 'c' communist," Mr. Ayers said in an interview in Ron Chepesiuk's, "Sixties Radicals," at about the same time Mr. Ayers was forming CAC.
CAC translated Mr. Ayers's radicalism into practice. Instead of funding schools directly, it required schools to affiliate with "external partners," which actually got the money. Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn).
Mr. Obama once conducted "leadership training" seminars with Acorn, and Acorn members also served as volunteers in Mr. Obama's early campaigns. External partners like the South Shore African Village Collaborative and the Dual Language Exchange focused more on political consciousness, Afrocentricity and bilingualism than traditional education. CAC's in-house evaluators comprehensively studied the effects of its grants on the test scores of Chicago public-school students. They found no evidence of educational improvement.
The Women, Parts I & II: The most striking gap isn't between men and women, it's between white women with a college degree and those without.
Those who are married and have a college degree give Obama a very slight lead, 45 percent to 44 percent, while those without a degree overwhelmingly support McCain, 57 percent to 31 percent. Among white men, the difference is negligible. McCain is getting 56 percent among white men with a degree and 58 percent from white men without.
How does this compare with past elections? National Journal political director Ronald Brownstein tells us that in 2004, John Kerry took just 39 percent of married, white college-educated women -- 5 points below Obama's current standing.
But Obama is underperforming among single white women without a degree -- a group that Bush only narrowly carried in 2004, 51 percent to 48 percent. McCain has an 8-point lead among this group, 47 percent to 39 percent. Is this the Sarah Palin factor, or is something else at work?
One reason decentralized markets are preferable to government central planning is that human beings are fallible. Mistakes are inevitable. Some investments will be errors. Mistakes in the market tend to be on a comparatively small scale. If one company invests in plug-in hybrids and it goes bust, only a relatively few people suffer. The assets of the bankrupt firm pass into more capable hands.
But decisions by government, especially the federal government, affect all of us. When government makes a mistake, the bureaucracy can't go bankrupt. Instead, it will use its failure to justify increased appropriations in the next budget.
If "green jobs" make so much sense, the market will create them. They will be created by private entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who are eager to profit from winning investments. The best ideas will rise to the top, and green energy will gradually replace coal and oil.
If politicians were serious about creating jobs and cleaner technologies, they would step aside and let the free market go to work
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
From John Stossel:
"I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy — wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced," he told the Democratic National Convention .
Wow. Five million new jobs. All that work building windmills and creating biofuels are the "green jobs" that will come into existence when wise government creates the industries that will produce the energy and vehicles that will make fossil fuels obsolete.
Politicians always promise that their programs will create jobs. It's used to justify building palatial sports stadiums for wealthy team owners.
Governments create no wealth. They only move it around while taking a cut for their trouble.
Note that word "strategically." It is there to suggest that Obama knows how best to "invest" the $150 billion. (Of course it is not his money, and he'll have none of his own at risk, so from his perspective, it won't really be investment.) But how does he know that the things he names ought to get the money? Will he give it to cronies of his campaign contributors? Will he appoint Al Gore to pick grant recipients? Lobbyists will make a fortune steering "green" inventors and promoters to the $150 billion
I worry that Obama isn't serious enough about terrorism and free markets. I worry about his out-of-touchness with the people who, he says, cling to guns and religion because of frustration and anger. I worry about a worldview that may have been shaped in part by a spiritual mentor who damns America in church and thinks the government invented the AIDS virus to kill blacks.
I worry about Obama's over-intellectualizing — that he will get lost in a maze of deep thoughts and fail to be decisive when necessary.
As the campaign unfolded, Obama imploded in every one of those categories. Without a teleprompter, he was stripped of his eloquence, down to verbal nudity. Under fire, his cheerfulness turned to sniping nastiness. His platform of change was exposed as the same old extreme leftist policy prescription rejected by 60 percent of Americans, which is why he tried to hide it under cover of vagueness.
His commitment to unity was betrayed by close relationships with paragons of divisiveness, racism and anti-Americanism and his elitist denunciation of small-town Americans. His grandiose pledge to bring us all together was obliterated by his failure to unite even his own party and his eager participation in a very strident and contentious campaign. Far from rising above deficiencies in his resume, Obama is not cool under fire and has less, not more maturity than an average person with his level of experience.
Having hung all their hopes on a haloed herald of hallucinatory charisma and having established superficiality over substance as the electoral standard, Obama supporters forfeited all credibility to criticize Sarah Palin for lack of experience or excess of charisma.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Repeal of Glass Steagall
In the background of the go-go economy, the feeling grew among some economists and the financial community that Glass-Steagall hampered America’s financial competitiveness. Among the many voices favoring this was Alan Greenspan along with former Goldman Sachs partner Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary. In a 1995 speech and testimony to Congress Rubin signaled the Clinton Administration was ready to repeal Glass-Steagall:
“The banking industry is fundamentally different from what it was two decades ago, let alone in 1933.” He said the industry has been transformed into a global business of facilitating capital formation through diverse new products, services and markets. “U.S. banks generally engage in a broader range of securities activities abroad than is permitted domestically,” said the Treasury secretary. “Even domestically, the separation of investment banking and commercial banking envisioned by Glass-Steagall has eroded significantly.”
Anyone who thinks the repeal of Glass-Steagall was forced on an unwilling Bill Clinton need only read Rubin’s testimony. A year later Sandy Weill set in motion the forces that would finally end Glass-Steagall.
Weill proposed the most audacious financial merger of in American history: he would merge one of the largest insurance companies (Travelers), one of the largest investment banks (Salomon Smith Barney), and the largest commercial banks (Citibank) in America. The problem was the merger was illegal in terms of Glass-Steagall. Independent Community Bankers of America CEO Kenneth Guenther captured the audacity of the deal in an interview with Frontline:
Here you have the leadership — Sandy Weill of Travelers and John Reed of Citicorp — saying, “Look, the Congress isn’t moving fast enough. Let’s do it on our own. To heck with the Congress. Let us effect this.” And so they move towards effecting it, and they get the blessing of the chairman of the Federal Reserve system in early April, when legislation is pending.
I mean, this is hubris in the worst sense of the word. Who do they think they are? Other people, firms, cannot act like this. … Citicorp and Travelers were so big that they were able to pull this off. They were able to pull off the largest financial conglomeration — the largest financial coming together of banking, insurance, and securities — when legislation was still on the books saying this was illegal. And they pulled this off with the blessings of the president of the United States, President Clinton; the chairman of the Federal Reserve system, Alan Greenspan; and the secretary of the treasury, Robert Rubin.
And then, when it’s all over, what happens? The secretary of the treasury becomes the vice chairman of the emerging Citigroup.
Weill convinced Greenspan, Robert Rubin and Clinton to sign off on a merger that was illegal at the time, with the expectation that Congress would repeal Glass-Steagall. Charles Geisst, a professor of finance at Manhattan College adds in a Frontline Interview:
Part of [Weill's] deal with the Federal Reserve was to get rid of all Glass-Steagall violations in the new Citigroup within two years. Otherwise, he would have been faced with a divestiture of a company which had just been put together, because of an old law which is still on the books. So it clearly behooved him, and many other people in the financial services industry who wanted to accomplish essentially the same sort of thing in the future, to push to get Glass-Steagall repealed.
So they pushed hard?
Pushed very hard. … They pushed so hard that the legislation, HR10, House Resolution 10, which became the Financial Services Modernization Act, was referred to as “the Citi-Travelers Act” on Capitol Hill. ..
Populism rests on two great insights. First, it understands that the people (taken as a whole) are often wiser and more prudent than the elites. Average people are almost always respectful of tradition, while elites tend to act like an angry mob trying to tear down the old idols. Second, populism understands that it's not enough to actually have the right policy ideas, you have to have the will to take on the elites who will try to prevent those ideas from going into place. In order to get anything accomplished, the GOP is going to have to use public opinion to override the objections of liberals, including liberals in the media.
Then there were Obama's once-lofty progressive principles. Yet no Northern Democratic liberal like Obama has won the presidency in a half-century. So everyone knew that Obama sooner or later had to move to the center in the general election to win over independents.
For the hope-and-change candidate, those natural readjustments now appear insincere and opportunistic — especially given that he had to move so far from the left to get to the middle. On campaign-finance reform, FISA, NAFTA, abortion, capital punishment, guns, Iran, Iraq, the surge, and drilling offshore, Obama has fudged on his earlier positions in the normal way of savvy pragmatists — but not in a manner befitting angelic idealists.
Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001.
n early 1995, Mr. Obama was appointed the first chairman of the board, which handled fiscal matters. Mr. Ayers co-chaired the foundation's other key body, the "Collaborative," which shaped education policy.
The CAC's basic functioning has long been known, because its annual reports, evaluations and some board minutes were public. But the Daley archive contains additional board minutes, the Collaborative minutes, and documentation on the groups that CAC funded and rejected. The Daley archives show that Mr. Obama and Mr. Ayers worked as a team to advance the CAC agenda.
One unsettled question is how Mr. Obama, a former community organizer fresh out of law school, could vault to the top of a new foundation? Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit. No one would have been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval.
Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been generous in their contributions to politicians' political campaigns, so it is perhaps not surprising that politicians have been generous to them.
This is certainly part of "the mess in Washington" that Barack Obama talks about. But don't expect him to clean it up. Franklin Raines, who made mega-millions for himself while mismanaging Fannie Mae into a financial disaster, is one of Obama's advisers.
Monday, September 22, 2008
conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure. Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes. (Source)If Biden's below-average charitable giving is typical of those with his political views, why am I surprised by it? Because this man has run for President more than once. He must have known there was a good chance that his tax returns would at some point be made public and undergo close scrutiny. He had a far greater-than-average personal motivation for charitable giving and, nonetheless, chose not to chip in.
Wasn't this the team that presided over the greatest wealth destruction in the form of the dot com bubble during the second half of the 90's?
Change we can believe in? Yes we can!!!
From the WSJ
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois stressed the need for taxpayer and homeowner relief to be a part of any Wall Street rescue at a rally on Sunday. Sen. Obama hasn't said whether he would support a measure that didn't include such provisions.
His top economic adviser, Jason Furman, said Sunday that the Illinois senator insisted on "shared responsibility" for any solution. "As we ask taxpayers to take extraordinary measures to protect the financial system, we have to ask the financial system to do its part, especially in regards to CEO compensation and helping homeowners stay in their homes," he said.
From a opportunity cost perspective it is in the same magnitude as the cost of 9/11. The Bush Administration, with the experience of 9/11 has responded in the right way: moving fast and decisively to contain and provide a workable solution.
He has been preparing and researching the current scenarios since the Bear Sterns collapse and have been preparing solutions using his expertise as the CEO of Goldman Sachs.
He hired and consulted some of the best minds on Wall Street to come up with solutions and more importantly understand the details of the causes of the crisis. For example his team had analyzed over 10 million individual mortgages of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before they moved in and put the two government sponsored entities into a conservancy.
History will show that the opportunity cost of not doing anything or another approach would have been too costly for the American and world economy.
On the eve of the county election, Obama casts his lot with Stroger, giving Stroger a slight edge over Perica, his opponent.
No doubt Obama was paying back in kind to Stroger and the Chicago Machine who helped him win his Seate bid.
Stroger went on to destroy the county hospital professional staff and continue his father's unethical actions.
With the Treasury funding the buy out of toxic credit instruments to the tune of close to ta trillion dollars, Obama is going to have a hard time funding his middle class tax cut and health care plan.
John McCain is going to pound Obama on this topic during the first debate. Obama cannot possibly defend his current version of his economic plans. He only has two options:
1. Scale back his promises, which means he will waffle yet again giving John McCain an advantage
2. Stick with the current plan, which would mean he will rasie the government debt beyond the current 10 trillion and incur higher interest costs and blow the deficit.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
His recent attack politics and money raising is not that of a politician running on a change message.
Take the Hollywood fund-raiser planned for Democratic nominee Sen. Obama on Tuesday night. The event, organized by DreamWorks SKG founders Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, was projected to raise nearly $9 million, which would make it the largest one-night take so far in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Some 700 contributors donating $2,500 each were expected to crowd into a ballroom at the Regent Beverly Wilshire in BeverBlogger: Take The Red Pill - Create Postly Hills to munch on finger food and listen to a brief speech by Sen. Obama and a performance by Barbra Streisand.
The exclusive event was projected to raise $7.1 million for Sen. Obama and the Democratic National Committee, and the larger event, $1.8 million.
Such events are "a blatant demonstration of selling access," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
His campaign can't control the media cycle.
Palin is kicking him right where it counts.
What is an inexperienced, pandering, flip flopping liberal Democratic Nominee to do?
Do what he said he was not going to do of course, bring in dirty politics.
From the Atlantic:
The top two 527s -- the Service Employees International Union and America Votes -- are liberal in orientation. The SEIU fund has contributed to other 527 efforts, and America Votes has earmarked most of its money for what it calls the "largest grassroots voter mobilization" in history. The third largest 527 -- American Solutions Winning the Future -- belongs to Newt Gingrich, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The AFL-CIO has budgeted more than $53 million for messaging and turnout efforts and has run a limited flight of ads featuring veterans criticizing McCain. But they've shied away from larger-scale campaigns in part because they believe -- or believed -- that the Obama campaign did not want them mounted.
After the primaries ended, Brock turned the group into a much-less expensive opposition research concern. Brock bowed to the reality that the Obama campaign wanted to centralize everything -- message, advertising and field operations -- in Chicago.
The campaign cannot coordinate with most outside groups, and they worry that a major 527 effort by Republicans could tilt a balanced electorate toward McCain and erase the resource advantage that Obama and Democrats have accumulated.
That's because, after a year of telling donors not to contribute to 527 groups, of encouraging strategists not to form them and of suggesting that outside messaging efforts would not be welcome in Obama's Democratic Party, Obama's strategists have changed their approach.
An Obama adviser privy to the campaign's internal thinking on the matter says that,with less than two months before the election and with the realization that Republicans have achieved financial parity with Democrats, they hope that Democratic allies -- what another campaign aide termed "the cavalry" -- will come to Obama's aid.
The Obama campaign can't ask donors to form outside groups; it can only communicate, through the public and the media, with body language, tells and hints.
The upshot: Obama's campaign will no longer object to independent efforts that hammer John McCain, just as, in their mind, the McCain campaign has not objected to those efforts targeted at Obama. "I assume with their 527s stirring, some [Democratic] ones will as well," another senior campaign official said.
From The Next Right:
If Obama goes negative, he tears down his carefully cultivated "new kind of politics" facade and reveals the typical politician behind it. And if Obama is perceived as a typical politician, the central story of his campaign is decimated. Voters, particularly independents, would be disillusioned and alienated.
Ruffini is right that the Obama campaign is struggling because they're so worried about playing good defense. However, I'm not sure that Obama can pivot to offense without seriously damaging his own brand.
That would help explain why "Obama's campaign will no longer object to independent efforts that hammer John McCain". If 527's are taking care of the attacks, Barack Obama can remain in character and his storyline holds.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
The Democratic presidential candidate's slump in the polls has sparked pointed private criticism that he is squandering a once-in-a-generation chance to win back the White House...
Party elders are also studying internal polling material which warns the Obama camp that his true standing is worse than it appears in polls because voters lie to polling companies about their reluctance to vote for a black candidate. The phenomenon is known in the US as the Bradley effect, after Tom Bradley, a black candidate for governor of California who lost after leading comfortably in polls...
In strategy literature there is a concept of credible commitment when your competitor makes a claim. In Obama's case, they never followed through on the 50 state strategy. They never committed funds to execute on their strategy.
A simple back of the envelope calculation can reveal the amount of money Obama needs to raise in order to execute the strategy. Obama's FEC filings on his fund raising efforts showed that he was not going to make the numbers, leading one to conclude that his campaign will not go through with the strategy.
Now after the conventions, it is clear that they never intended to execute their 50 state strategy because they are focuing their resources on the traditional swing states.
Other Democrats are openly mocking of Mr Obama's much vaunted "50-state strategy", in which he spends money campaigning throughout the US in the hope that it will force Mr McCain to divert funds to previously safe states. Critics say a utopian belief in bringing the nation together has trumped the cold electoral calculus that is necessary to triumph in November.
Doug Schoen, a former pollster for Bill Clinton, last week declared it insanity not to concentrate resources on the swing states.
I certainly don’t fault Senator McCain for these problems. But I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to. It’s the same philosophy we’ve had for the last eight years — one that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. It’s a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise; one that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crises.
What a lack of understanding of financial markets!! When the markets recover will he say you still need more regulation?
How does regulating the financial marketing going to help with our current economic problems?
Friday, September 19, 2008
David Freddoso, author of The Case Against Barack Obama was being interviewed at WGN radio in Chicago.
Freddoso was actually paired up with an Obama-supporting counterpart. This wasn’t good enough for the Obama thought police, who blasted out marching orders to shut down the discussion. Once again, the phones melted down. The Obama campaign should be proud.
Interestingly, the call-to-action email devotes a great deal of space to trying to discredit Freddoso himself — citing allegedly offensive articles he authored as far back as 2003. Apparently shooting the messenger is a major element of what the email calls “fighting the good fight.”
What, pray tell, are Freddoso’s transgressions? According to the Obama Action Wire email, he peddles “baseless lies,” engages in “dishonest, extreme hate mongering,” and has made a career out of “vicious partisan attacks.” The email urges supporters to call in and “confront” Freddoso before “this goes any further.” They’re also encouraged to report back the details of their phone calls through a special dedicated page on Obama’s website.
Opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
What he said: “We should sell 70 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for less-expensive crude, which in the past has lowered gas prices within two weeks.” —Speech in Lansing, Mich., Aug. 4, 2008
Why it’s a bad idea: Obama was right in July when he said that the strategic oil reserve “has to be reserved for a genuine emergency.” Selling oil from the 700 million barrel reserve would increase domestic supply and could drive down prices in the short term, but encouraging consumers to use more oil isn’t going to fix anything. And depleting the reserve would leave the United States vulnerable to a supply disruption caused by a natural disaster or further unrest in the Middle East. Obama swapped common sense for this dangerous boondoggle in August after McCain started to hammer him on offshore drilling. So much for tough truths.
Eliminating Income Taxes for Seniors Making Under $50,000
What he said: “I’ll make retirement more secure for America’s seniors by eliminating income taxes for any retiree making less than $50,000 per year.” —Speech on Nov. 7, 2007, in Bettendorf, Iowa
Why it’s a bad idea: Most seniors already pay no income taxes. That’s because they already get preferential treatment in the tax code. Plus, why are seniors more deserving of tax relief than struggling young families? The Tax Policy Center—run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute—criticized the idea in a recent report, saying that because government spending on seniors is already set to balloon due to retiring baby boomers, “it seems inappropriate to target special income tax breaks to this group.”
Pushing the Patriot Employer Act
What he said: “When I am president … I’ll pass the Patriot Employer Act that I’ve been fighting for ever since I ran for the Senate—we will end the tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas, and we will give those breaks to companies who create good jobs with decent wages right here in America.” —Speech in Janesville, Wis., Feb. 13, 2008
Why it’s a bad idea: British economists Willem Buiter and Anne Sibert slam the bill as, “reactionary, populist, xenophobic and just plain silly.” That’s a bit much. A little populist pandering is hardly a threat to the global economic order—the bill offers employers a small tax credit if they meet six conditions, including the probably unworkable provision that they keep their headquarters in the United States. It’s never smart economic policy to reward companies for placing limitations on their own profitable activities, but as The Economist put it, “Obama deserves a slap on the wrist” for this one, not a full-throated indictment.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
We rebounded from it and we will rebound from the current crisis in the debt markets.
Sitting Down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
What he said: Asked if he’d be “willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea,” Obama replied: “I would.” —Democratic primary debate, Charleston, S.C., July 23, 2007
Why it’s a bad idea: Engaging rogue states can be a savvy move, and even the Bush administration has negotiated with Pyongyang and sent envoys to meetings with Iran. But sitting down with heads of state without precondition? That’s another thing entirely, especially when it comes to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As Carnegie Endowment expert Karim Sadjadpour told the Wall Street Journal, “Only two things can rehabilitate Ahmadinejad politically: bombing Iran or major efforts to engage.” No wonder Obama’s foreign-policy team has walked back its candidate’s off-the-cuff remarks.
Talking Openly About Bombing Pakistan
What he said: “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.” —Speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, Washington, D.C., Aug. 1, 2007
Why it’s a bad idea: Engaging in military strikes in Pakistan happens to be established policy. But, as none other than Joe Biden pointed out last August, “It’s not something you talk about. … The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are about to violate their sovereignty.”
Renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement
What he said: “I will make sure that we renegotiate. … I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced.” —Democratic primary debate in Cleveland, Feb. 26, 2008
Why it’s a bad idea: Trade agreements take years to negotiate, and Mexico and Canada would almost certainly seek new concessions of their own in a new round. Obama is right to argue that more economic development in Mexico will lower illegal immigration; he’s wrong to think that bashing NAFTA is the right way to address the Rust Belt’s economic woes. Happily, since the Ohio primary, Obama has backed off his harshest criticisms of the agreement.
Only someone like Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson with his experience in investment banking can engineer a deal like this.
The Treasury basically issued debt securities in the pubic market and then loaned the money to AIG. The Treasury secured the loan with assets of AIG and also placed a high interest rate on the loan.
The high interest rates will force AIG to liquidate its assets to pay down the loan in an orderly manner.
This was not a tax payer bail out. The Federal Reserve as the lender of last resort, relied on its rarely used legal authority under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act to lend to “any individual, partnership or corporation” in “unusual and exigent circumstance” provided the borrower “is unable to secure adequate credit accommodations from other banking institutions.”
This is not socialism as some pundits are claiming. The Fed is engineering a slow teardown vs a sudden collapse. In a sudden collapse, price discovery becomes highly inefficient and markets cease to function. That is the main reason the feds moved in
You can read more here.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Gloria Steinem, the grand mufti of feminism, issued a fatwa anathematizing Palin. A National Organization for Women spokeswoman proclaimed Palin more of a man than a woman. Wendy Doniger, a feminist academic at the University of Chicago, writes of Palin in Newsweek: “Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman.”
The academic feminist left has scared the dickens out of mainstream men and women for so long, the liberal establishment is terrified to contradict feminists’ nigh-upon-theological conviction that female authenticity is measured by one’s blind loyalty to left-wing talking points.
Feminists are hooked on their own Kool-Aid; they actually believe the stuff they say. The shrill, angry women you see on MSNBC claiming to speak for all women actually think they do. But they don’t. They speak for a few left-leaning women in faculty lounges, editorial boardrooms and that’s about it.
What the Palin pick has demonstrated, however, is that the Feminist-Industrial Complex is a fraud. Disagreeing with self-described feminists doesn’t mean you’re anti-woman. Usually it just means you’re sensible.
Obama has embraced the "play or pay" concept first offered by Michael Dukakis. In order to solve the problem of the 47 million uninsured, Obama would require all but the smallest businesses to either offer health insurance that meets government guidelines, or pay a tax that would finance government-provided health insurance. The Obama plan doesn't offer many specifics but most analysts agree that the Commonwealth Fund's health proposal is nearly identical. It would impose a 7 percent tax. Since the tax would almost certainly be less onerous to employers than expensive health care plans, more and more businesses would opt for the tax, forcing private insurers to raise rates even more. Once the stampede got going it would be impossible to stop. The private insurance market would collapse.
What the U.S. would have then would be pretty much Medicare for everyone — or single payer.
Around the world, single-payer systems keep costs down by rationing care. A Cato Institute study found that in Norway, health care is funded through general tax revenues (taxes consume 45 percent of GDP). But Norwegians commonly travel abroad to avoid long waits. "Approximately 280,000 Norwegians are estimated to be waiting for care on any given day (out of a population of just 4.6 million)." In Britain, "delays in receiving treatment are often so long that nearly 20 percent of colon cancer patients considered treatable when first diagnosed are incurable by the time treatment is finally offered." Even in France, whose system gets high marks from international raters, bureaucratic rigidity contributed to the deaths of 15,000 elderly people in the heat wave of 2003.
If Obama, Pelosi, and Reid succeed, they may change our health care system for the worse, and permanently. of 2003.
It is hard to think of any issue dear to the hearts of conservatives on which Barack Obama is not planted firmly on the other side — the power of diplomacy vis-a-vis aggressors, the proper care and feeding of teachers unions, the threat of terrorism, affirmative action, the importance of free trade, immigration reform — I could go on. If elected, President Obama, arm in arm with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, would be in a position to do serious damage to the country on a number of fronts. His convention speech removed any doubt that he is an orthodox, big — no, huge — government liberal.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
As if those proposals were not enough to weigh the U.S. economy down, Obama plans to nearly double the top dividends and capital-gains rate from the current 15 percent rate to as high as 28 percent. Indeed, while most tax cuts may result in slight revenue declines even as they spur economic growth, Bush's dividend and capital gains tax cuts actually have increased federal revenue. Obama would be wise to reconsider these particularly destructive tax increases.
On the other hand, Obama pledges to follow President Bush in rapidly increasing the size and scope of the federal government. Bush has allowed the federal budget to grow from 18.4 percent to 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. Former President Bill Clinton, on the other hand, oversaw a reduction of federal spending from 22.1 percent to 18.7 percent of GDP.
Unfortunately for the U.S. economy, the likelihood of massive government expansion under Obama means that the only important "change" will be in the mechanism by which our ever-expanding government is funded.
The registration drive to get more young voters will not make a dent in the sheer number of older working class democrats who will join with the independents to give McCain-Palin the edge they need.
The press is going to paint this as a racial decision. But I think it is going to be more about the lack of credibility with Obama. How can you bring change to a complex system like government when you haven't done anything to change it.
McCain-Palin has the right change message and the credible record to back it up.
From the Politico:
In the wake of Sarah Palin, John McCain has opened up a 15-point lead among independents, according to a new Gallup Poll — and Barack Obama has a real problem.
Since the GOP convention and his selection of the Alaska governor as his running mate, McCain has changed a months-long tie among independents into a 52 to 37 percent advantage. Support for McCain among self-described "conservative Democrats" has jumped 10 points, to 25 percent, signaling the shift among swing voters to McCain.
The Obama campaign’s ability to recognize the shifting ground, understand that it is real, and adjust accordingly will determine the outcome. And the outcome, for the first time, is in doubt.
The brilliance of the McCain strategy and messaging is that it includes a trap for Obama. To push back on the McCain claim of “country first” and “the original mavericks who will shake up Washington” the Obama campaign’s attack of “four more years of George Bush” becomes a problem. In a country that yearns for post-partisan change the Obama campaign risks sounding too partisan and like more of the same.
McCain is the one running against Washington now. Obama can’t just run against Bush.
..women share a different life experience from men, and we bring that difference to the choices we make and the decisions we come to. Having a woman in the White House, and not as The Spouse, is a change whose time has come, despite the fact that some Democratic Party leaders have decided otherwise. But with the Palin nomination, maybe they'll realize it's not up to them any longer.
Clinton voters, in particular, have received a political wake-up call they never expected. Having watched their candidate and their principles betrayed by the very people who are supposed to be the flame-holders for equal rights and fairness, they now look across the aisle and see a woman who represents everything the feminist movement claimed it stood for. Women can have a family and a career.
The rank bullying of the Clinton candidacy during the primary season has the distinction of simply being the first revelation of how misogynistic the party has become. The media led the assault, then the Obama campaign continued it. Trailblazer Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first Democratic vice presidential candidate, was so taken aback by the attacks that she publicly decried nominee Barack Obama as "terribly sexist" and openly criticized party chairman Howard Dean for his remarkable silence on the obvious sexism.
There was a lot of pandering and lip service to women's rights, and evenings filled with anecdotes of how so many have been kept from achieving their dreams, or failed to be promoted, simply because they were women.
In the shadow of the blatant and truly stunning sexism launched against the Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign, and as a pro-choice feminist, I wasn't the only one thrilled to hear Republican John McCain announce Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Virtually moments after the GOP announcement of Palin for vice president, pundits on both sides of the aisle began to wonder if Clinton supporters - pro-choice women and gays to be specific - would be attracted to the McCain-Palin ticket. The answer is, of course. There is a point where all of our issues, including abortion rights, are made safer not only if the people we vote for agree with us - but when those people and our society embrace a respect for women and promote policies that increase our personal wealth, power and political influence.
They are deciding women's rights must be more than a slogan and actually belong to every woman, not just the sort approved of by left-wing special interest groups.
Palin's candidacy brings both figurative and literal feminist change. The simple act of thinking outside the liberal box, which has insisted for generations that only liberals and Democrats can be trusted on issues of import to women, is the political equivalent of a nuclear explosion.
The power of that accusation is interesting, coming from the Democrats - a group that just told the world that if you have ovaries, then you don't count.Yes, both McCain and Palin identify as anti-abortion, but neither has led a political life with that belief, or their other religious principles, as their signature issue. Politicians act on their passions - the passion of McCain and Palin is reform.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Update [Ed. Note by John McCormack]: It appears the Washington Post has tried to (partially) walk back Kornblut's distortion that Palin tied responsibility for 9/11 to Saddam Hussein's regime. The second paragraph of this story, as noted above, originally read:
The idea that Iraq shared responsibility with al-Qaeda for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. On any other day, Palin's statement would almost certainly have drawn a sharp rebuke from Democrats, but both parties had declared a halt to partisan activities to mark Thursday's anniversary."
It now reads:
The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself. But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.
The Post still ascribes an idea to Palin that she evidently wasn't promoting. It's nice that the Post threw in the sentence: "But it is widely agreed that militants allied with al-Qaeda have taken root in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion."
Nobody ever said Barack Obama was unqualified for the No. 2 spot on the ticket.
Had Hillary Clinton won the nomination and selected Obama as her running mate--which, being a savvy politician, she would certainly have done, in order to fire up his 18 million primary supporters--Obama would have been perfectly positioned. Either he would be preparing himself as vice president for his run for the Oval Office eight years hence. Or he would be experienced and tested in a national campaign that he would never be held responsible for losing, with a fundraising base beyond the imagination of Croesus.
For Truman and Reagan the key ingredient to successful statecraft was simplicity. "I say there are simple answers to many of our problems--simple but hard," Reagan liked to say; "It's the complicated answer that's easy, because it avoids facing the hard moral issues." Churchill wrote that he immediately liked Truman when they met for the first time in Berlin in 1945 because he could see that Truman possessed the "obvious power of decision." We can see already from Palin's record--unseating a governor of her own party, delivering a long-blocked pipeline deal--that she shares this trait; another six years in the governor's office isn't likely to tell us anything we can't already discern if we don't let status bias get in the way.
Reagan and Truman forced their way into grudging acceptance and eventual recognition by the establishment through genuine and hard-earned political success, and Palin too will have to prove herself. She shows signs of sharing their humility, power of decision, and simplicity toward self-government.
In her first innings, Palin has offered a unique display of the capacity that John Adams described as the essence of a "natural aristocrat" in America: "By an aristocrat I mean every man who can command two votes--one besides his own." Here Adams was reminding us of the centrality of substantive persuasion in political life, something Republicans haven't been very good at of late. The talking heads of the establishment deprecated Palin's debut. "Sure, she gives a good speech, but . . ." They should be saying to Palin, "Welcome to the aristocracy, governor."
Jefferson expressed more confidence that political virtue and capacity for government were not the special province of a recognized aristocratic class, but that aristoi (natural aristocrats) could be found among citizens of all kinds: "It would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society." Jefferson, moreover, trusted ordinary citizens to recognize political virtue in their fellow citizens: "Leave to the citizens the free election and separation of the aristoi from the pseudo-aristoi, of the wheat from the chaff. In general they will elect the really good and wise."
Today's establishment doubts this. The establishment is affronted by the idea that an ordinary hockey mom--a mere citizen--might be just as capable of running the country as a long-time member of the Council on Foreign Relations. This closed-shop attitude is exactly what both Jefferson and Adams set themselves against; they wanted a republic where talent and public spirit would find easy access to the establishment.
Here is the current litany:
- She doesn't have enough experience on the national scene
- She does not have foreign policy experience
- She hasn't been on the political Sunday morning shows
- She hasn't attended conferences on policy
- Etc, Etc, Etc
Adams's widely misunderstood argument that there should perhaps be an explicit recognition and provision for an aristocratic class finds its reprise in the snobbery that greeted Palin's arrival on the scene. It's not just that she didn't go to Harvard; she's never been on Meet the Press; she hasn't participated in Aspen Institute seminars or attended the World Economic Forum. She hasn't been brought into the slipstream of the establishment by which we unofficially certify our highest leaders.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Watch team McCain execute the counter attacks by using Obama's ads against him.
From the NYTimes:
Senator Barack Obama portrayed Senator John McCain as out of step with America’s concerns as he opened an aggressive front on Friday in television advertisements and campaign appearances that were intended to pacify Democrats who are jittery over the direction of the presidential campaign.
A day after the two men suspended their divisive campaign to commemorate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Mr. Obama amplified his criticism of Mr. McCain through new television advertisements that portrayed his 72-year-old rival as an entrenched Washington politician who is out of touch.
At a town meeting, one man told Mr. Obama that he was concerned the Democratic ticket would suffer the same fate as the party’s last two candidates, Senator John Kerry and Vice President Al Gore, because of “attack ads and the smear campaign.”
Mr. Obama said he preferred the high road, adding, “I’m not going to start making up lies about John McCain.”
Saturday, September 13, 2008
It is odd that no one at the Convention or otherwise has stepped to state categorically that Obama has achieved anything of any great stature.
Here is a view from Charles Krauthammer:
Eerily missing at the Democratic convention this year were people of stature who were seriously involved at some point in Obama's life standing up to say: I know Barack Obama. I've been with Barack Obama. We've toiled/endured together. You can trust him. I do.
When John Kerry was introduced at his convention four years ago, an honor guard of a dozen mates from his Vietnam days surrounded him on the podium attesting to his character and readiness to lead.
The oddity of this convention is that its central figure is the ultimate self-made man, a dazzling mysterious Gatsby. The palpable apprehension is that the anointed is a stranger -- a deeply engaging, elegant, brilliant stranger with whom the Democrats had a torrid affair. Having slowly woken up, they see the ring and wonder who exactly they married last night.
Here is what Krauthammer says:
There is no single meaning of the Bush doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.
If I were in any public foreign policy debate today, and my adversary were to raise the Bush doctrine, both I and the audience would assume -- unless my interlocutor annotated the reference otherwise -- that he was speaking about the grandly proclaimed (and widely attacked) freedom agenda of the Bush administration.
Not the Gibson doctrine of preemption.
Friday, September 12, 2008
They did not waste any time going after Palin but refrained from checking out Obama.
Here are some comments from Mark Penn:
Penn also has a strong warning for the media, which was caught unawares by the Palin selection and is eagerly pursuing virtually anything to do with her.
"I think here the media is on very dangerous ground," Penn tells CBS.com. "I think that when you see them going through every single expense report that Gov. Palin ever filed, if they don't do that for all four of the candidates, they're on very dangerous ground.
"I think the media so far has been the biggest loser in this race. And they continue to have growing credibility problems.
"And I think that that's a real problem growing out of this election. The media now, all of the media — not just Fox News, that was perceived as highly partisan — but all of the media is now being viewed as partisan in one way or another. And that is an unfortunate development."
So does the strategist, who had his own complaints about sexism in media coverage about Sen. Clinton, think the media is being harder on Palin than other candidates?
"I think that the media is doing the kinds of stories on Palin that they're not doing on the other candidates. And that's going to subject them to people concluding that they're giving her a tougher time.
It is yet another piece of evidence that Obama was not prepared for McCain's game changing move. All week Obama tried to attack Palin to no avail.
Looks like they have given up attacking her and moving on to attacking McCain.
Here are some comments from Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's strategist.
Penn says if there's one thing the Obama campaign has been good at for 19 months it's scheduling major speeches on topical issues to focus attention on its agenda and it ought to do that on the....
...economy. And avoid lipstick fights with McCain-Palin, especially between the Democrat's top candidate and the GOP's No. 2 candidate, Palin.
"The fact that the Republican convention was as successful as it was was basically out of the hands of the Obama campaign," Penn admits.
"I think these polls will settle down close to even. And I think the real important thing (for Obama) is not to overreact, not to be caught in a back-and-forth with Palin, but to get your candidate rising above it."
Thursday, September 11, 2008
The Bush administration warned about them again in 2001 and proposed legislation to reign them them in. Both Dodd and Frank had oversight over the two GSEs but continuously defended them and protected them from being dismantled.
They still defend them even after the markets have voted against their survival.
From the NYT:
A second camp consists of Democratic lawmakers who have long defended the companies against efforts to rein them in, and see them as a way to achieve the goal of providing more affordable housing.
This camp includes prominent lawmakers who lead committees with jurisdiction over Fannie and Freddie, including Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, and Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts.
“We accepted him at his word that all he needed was the authority and that he wasn’t going to exercise it. Then he used his authority very aggressively,” an angry-sounding Mr. Dodd said in a telephone conference call with reporters. He indicated that he would approach any future commitments by the outgoing administration more skeptically.
Mr. Frank seemed confident that he could stop the effort by the administration to ultimately shrink the companies through its rescue plan over the long term.
Mr. Frank has been a strong supporter of giving agencies like Fannie and Freddie new opportunities to earn profit while forcing them to divert some of that profit to public policy goals aimed at low-income families.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
For one of the few times in his presidential candidacy, Mr. Obama is suddenly not the freshest and most telegenic figure on the ballot. While he seems to have settled on a line of attack against Mr. McCain, his campaign appearances in the past 12 days make clear that he is still grappling with his approach to Ms. Palin.
But Mr. Obama’s remarks are curiously reminiscent — right down to that mocking tone — to words he spoke nearly a year ago when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton suddenly tried to swipe the mantle of change and Mr. Obama demonstrated a fight that many Democrats had doubted he could muster.
His advisers said that combative edge was essential to blunt any progress Mr. McCain was making as he sought to encroach on Mr. Obama’s trademark message of change. Or perhaps it is in response to cries of alarm from Democrats who believe he is being too mild-mannered.
However, Sen. Biden and Sen. Obama voted for funding the Bridge, even when given a second chance by Sen. Tom Coburn, who proposed shifting earmark funds to Katrina relief.
Sen. McCain did not vote on the Coburn Amendment, though he is on record as opposing the Ketchikan bridge earmark.
Click a party to list individual members.
Last year, he asked for $311 million worth, about $25 for every Illinois resident. Alaska asked this year for earmarks totaling $198 million, about $295 for every Alaska citizen.
McCain said the Illinois senator's earmark total over the years amounts to "almost a million dollars for every single day he was in the United States Senate."
McCain doesn't seek pork projects and vows to do away with them as president.
Here a a excerpt from The New Republic:
Any wrongheaded declaration by Biden "would not be deliberate; it would not be that he stopped being a team player and decided to go out and conduct foreign policy on his own. It would be just that he was out there and talking."
At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: "I'm groping here." Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we're not bent on its destruction. "Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran," Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.The staffers sit in silence. Finally somebody ventures a response: "I think they'd send it back." Then another aide speaks up delicately: "The thing I would worry about is that it would almost look like a publicity stunt." Still another reminds Biden that an Iranian delegation is in Moscow that very day to discuss a $300 million arms deal with Vladimir Putin that the United States has strongly condemned. But Joe
Biden is tough and he's an internationalist. Unfortunately he's also legendary for speaking impulsively and leaving others to clean up the mess. "He lacks the filter," says one Democratic strategist. Or as a senior Senate foreign policy aide put it: "Biden is an unguided missile." Not exactly the persona you want out front when the country is at war.
In fact, the only thing Biden likes better than reminding people about his anti-terrorism bill is reminding them that he predicted the September 11 attacks. On September 10 Biden delivered a foreign policy speech to the National Press Club complaining about the administration's fixation on missile defense. "The real threat comes to this country in the hold of a ship, the belly of a plane, or smuggled into a city in the middle of the night in a vial in a backpack," Biden said. So give the man credit. Just not as much as he's been claiming. "Literally as recently as yesterday, I spoke to the National Press Club and talked about the fact it is just as easy to fly from National Airport into the White House as it is to, you know, do the same thing in New York," Biden told ABC News. Unfortunately Biden said no such thing. His speech didn't mention National Airport or the White House--or any kamikaze scenario at all.
From the NYT:
For all the discussion about polls this week, perhaps the best barometer of the state of the campaign can be found by simply taking a listen to Mr. Obama as Election Day rushes up on him.
With just 57 days remaining in this long presidential race, Mr. Obama is going after Mr. McCain more aggressively than at any other point in the campaign, with a professorial tone giving way to one of prosecution. These days, he sounds more like those sharp-tongued commercials seen on television.
“Do you really believe John McCain is going to make a difference now?” Mr. Obama said, mentioning his rival’s name twice in the same breath, a pattern he repeated again and again. “John McCain doesn’t get it.”
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Sen. Joseph Biden made a series of stunning arguments in defense of his plan for segregation of Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines. When Mr. Biden first announced his partition plan in May 2006, Iraqi leaders and U.S. officials understood it to mean the establishment of strong Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regional administrations. The Biden plan would have also begun a phased redeployment of U.S. troops in 2006 and withdrawn most of them by the end of 2007.
Despite deep resistance from the Iraqi government, Mr. Biden tried to turn his plan into U.S. policy, introducing a nonbinding Senate resolution that called for its implementation. But his effort completely backfired in Baghdad. The proposal ended up unifying all the disparate Iraqi factions in opposition.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who called on the Iraqi parliament to meet and formally reject the Biden plan, immediately went on Iraqi television with a blistering statement: "[Biden] should stand by Iraq to solidify its unity and its sovereignty . . . [He] shouldn't be proposing its division. That could be a disaster not just for Iraq but for the region."
From the WSJ:
Even individuals staring down the barrel of Mr. Obama's tax increases should not wish for an economic recession to give them a reprieve. The relevant point is that it was early last year, when the "Bush economy" was still humming, that Senator Obama first proposed pushing taxes sharply upward on "the wealthy," while giving what he calls "tax cuts" (actually they are credits, not rate reductions) to "the middle class."
At the time, Mr. Obama was the long shot in the Democratic Presidential sweepstakes, and it made some political sense to reassure the party's intensely liberal primary voters with class-war boilerplate on taxes.
Under ObamaTax 1.0, he would have repealed all the Bush tax cuts, lifted the cap on wages subject to the payroll tax, put the top marginal rate up to 39.8% and raised the rate on capital gains and dividends to at least 25% from 15% now. The official campaign line was that tax rates really don't matter to economic growth.
Summer arrived, the Clinton challenge was history and with the general election ahead came ObamaTax 2.0. It posited that the top rate on capital gains now would be 20%, described on this page August 14 by economic advisers Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee as "almost a third lower than the rate President Reagan set in 1986." This was progress.
Now with the big vote less than 60 days off and John McCain pounding him as a tax-raiser and pulling ahead in some polls, the Democratic nominee has decided to release ObamaTax 3.0, the most interesting upgrade so far. If the economy is still weak in January, a President Obama might defer all of the planned increases.
From the AP:
Obama's campaign seemed to be caught off guard by McCain's surprise pick of Palin on Aug. 29. Obama's spokesman initially blasted her as a former small-town mayor with zero foreign policy experience who wants to continue Bush's policies. But Obama quickly walked the statement back with more congratulatory words about Palin as a compelling addition to the ticket.
Voters, particularly women, seem to agree, according to new polls. An ABC News-Washington Post survey showed white women have moved from backing Obama by 8 points to supporting McCain by 12 points, with majorities viewing Palin favorably and saying she boosts their faith in McCain's decisions.
WomenCount, a group co-founded by top Hillary fundraiser Susie Tompkins Buell, posted a lengthy item on their blog decrying questions over whether Palin can, as a mother of five, juggle her family responsibilities and still be vice president.
"The very notion that Sarah Palin should not have accepted this nomination because she is a mother with demanding challenges underscores just how far we have to go," wrote Rosemary Camposano, the group's communications director.
She added: "It will be good for America to watch Sarah Palin on the campaign trail – bouncing from parenting to politics. That’s how most women function – multi-tasking, leaning on friends and family, and waking up each morning and doing it all again."
When it came to buying influence in Washington, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were among Corporate America's biggest spenders.
Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) spent over $94.8-million on lobbyists since 1998, making it the nation's 12th-largest lobbying client, while Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) bought $79.5-million of influence, the 20th biggest spender, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
"They wanted to fend off regulation of their enterprises," said Massie Ritsch of the Center.
Campaign contributions bought influence as well, including donations to the presidential candidates.
Sen. Barack Obama is the No. 3 recipient of Fannie and Freddie campaign dollars, having collected $123,000 from the companies since he first ran for the Senate in 2004, according to the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics.
The former chief executive of Fannie Mae, James Johnson, was the original head of Obama's vice presidential search team. Johnson resigned from Obama's campaign amid controversy over discounted home loans he had received.
Sen. John McCain has received $19,000 from the two companies in the past ten years.