Sphere: Related Content
Before he was tapped as Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden was known for three things.
2. Long winded speeches during Senate hearings.
3. Hair Plugs.
The conventional wisdom is that Sen. Obama picked Biden in order to help him in the foreign policy arena, where Obama is seen as lacking credibility and experience.
Yes, it's true that Biden has a long history of involvement on issues of foreign policy, but history shows that he has consistently been on the wrong side of almost every major foreign policy debate that has gone down since he arrived in Washington.
So if Obama wanted an elder statesmen with a history of sound judgement on the most important issues of our time, he only got it half right.
Joe Biden was a staunch opponent of the Reagan military buildup, now largely credited with bringing down the Soviet Empire. While Reagan was trying to reverse the devastating policies of the Carter years, Joe Biden was supporting a nuclear freeze.
Fast forward to the early nineties. Joe Biden had absolutely no problem with Saddam Hussein going into Kuwait and grabbing a big chunk of the world's oil supply. He voted against the first gulf war, which even the dovish Al Gore had the good sense to support.
He must have learned from his mistake, because a decade later, he was of the opinion that Saddam had to go and eyeing another White House bid, he voted for the second Iraq excursion.
Now, I believe that this was the right vote, but it puts him completely at odds with the fundamental principle of his running mate's campaign. This being, that Obama has the judgment and foresight to oppose ill-conceived wars. By default everything that Obama says about George Bush and John McCain regarding the Iraq issue, he is also saying about the guy who he picked to be his closest foreign policy advisor. It's all very confusing, I know.
After the Iraq vote Biden decided it was time to go back to being wrong, and voted against the surge strategy in order to try and save his faltering presidential campaign. Of course, we all know how that turned out.
My question is, where in Biden, does Obama see all of this foreign policy expertise? Based on his long voting record it would appear that I have more knowledge and more sound judgement on foreign policy issues than does the senior senator from Delaware.
Perhaps Biden did a bit too much talking and too little listening in all of those Senate hearings.
Gov. Palin should lay this all out on the table on Thursday night. It will likely get Biden flustered and angry and lead him to do another thing that he has long been famous for. Inserting his foot directly into his mouth.
- Dan Joseph
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sphere: Related Content
Posted by Falling Panda at 1:46 PM
Monday, September 29, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Obama's Bounce: Dead Cat or Trend?
Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 9:25 AM
Aided by a MSM willing to say whatever it has to say to help Obama make it to 1600, the democratic nominee has not yet been hurt by his very poor performance on Friday night's debate. Weekend talking heads chanting "ties go to the winner" nonsense and the output of loyalists like E.J. Dionne are trying to make Obama's halting answers on Iraq, Pakistan and especially North Korea seem like C-minuses on a pass-fail test. The cringe-inducing bracelet moment has surfaced in just a few places, and McCain's dominance on the facts concerning Russia and his memorable "You don't do that" dismissal of Obama's threats towards our ally in Pakistan will get their full play this morning on all the talk shows, and of course Bill Bennett's, Rush's, Dennis', Sean's, Michael's, Mark's and my reach will instantly overshadow all the work done by CNN and the nets to spin this into "a draw that helps the rookie."
Obama doesn't know what he's talking about on the perils we face abroad, and he was led around by the hand on the bailout package. He is a figurehead for Democratic party elites from the hard left edge of the party. While the financial panic erased McCain's momentum by taking the real reform message off the front pages, it will be back as markets settle. The focus on the triggers of the crisis --look to Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and the friends of Bill Clinton-- can't be bottled up now that the legislation is in place. The idea of turning all parts of the government over to the gang that engineered the structure that brought it upon us is so absurd that only the MSM can ignore it, not voters.
Obama's nearly 5 point lead in the RCP combined poll average has many nervous e-mailers sending me "it's over" e-mails, but of course it is just beginning, and the deep uncertainty and fear in the country doesn't help an untested Chicago machine pol much if at all or for long. (The Battleground dead-heat numbers should encourage the worriers, as it is a long reliable and respected poll, though so are Gallup and Rasmussen with their 8 and 6 point Obama leads.)
The Palin pile-on from the the Manhattan-Beltway media elite also is working a strange and important reaction in the electorate, driving liberals deeper into their blind hate of the accomplished and popular governor, and rallying the conservative base to her cause. The cultural divide in the country --obscured by the financial mess-- didn't go away, and it will dominate this week and weekend.
Palin faces an enormous challenge, just as she did on the night of her acceptance speech. She will not be graded on the curve by the MSM as Obama was.
But she does believe the right things, and understands the crucial choice facing the country. These are significant advantages. And if the momentum reverses itself again as is likely, Sarah Palin's performance Thursday night will be the third time she has re-energized the McCain campaign.
Posted by Falling Panda at 1:59 PM
Saturday, September 27, 2008
In the post debate analysis, a subject on which everyone seems to have an opinion, I'm not going to focus on points. They both scored some. I thought that McCain's thumping of Obama for his promise to meet unconditionally with dictators was his best moment and Obama's attempt to fool the public by transplanting the word "unconditional" to "preparations" was Obama's worst.
McCain was sick of his sound bites and sometimes only said pieces of them. He was not convincing when he talked about the bailout, but neither was Obama. The advantage went to Obama there because a)he sounds better and b)he doesn't have an (R) next to his name.
But the bottom line is that, as usual, if you support Obama, you thought that he won and if you support McCain, you though he came out on top.
The consensus among nearly every pundit and political prognosticator that I've heard from over the past 15 hours is that the debate was either a draw or a slight victory for McCain.
Very few thought that the debate was a decisive win for Obama.
Of course, it's the independent voters who matter and in the imediate aftermath it appears they were leaning slighly towards Obama as the victor.
Now, I don't think that the first impressions of these debates are ever the best indicator of who wins and who loses. These opinions are fluid as clips are replayed, and the points are discussed.
We all know that voters and pundits alike thought that Gore won the first debate of 2000 handily. In reterospect, his weird behavior is now considered to be one of the reasons for his downfall.
The truth of the matter is that we won't know who really "won" until Monday, when two days of polling has been completed by Gallup and Rassmussen. If McCain makes gains, he won. If Obama is up, he won. If the polls remain as they are with Obama up by about 5%, then neither of them changed many minds.
In my view, McCain appeared more presidential and, for better or worse, more natural and off-the-cuff. Obama, as always, was more eloquent, scripted and didn't have the rough edges that surround his opponent.
Obama is also the beneficiary of the most salient attack in the campaign: his ability to link George W. Bush with John McCain. John McCain simply does not have the time to explain that the current crisis has little, if anything to do with the current administration and that if anyone is to blame it's Rep. Barney Frank and the Clinton Administration, who opened up credit lines to lower income families, without any thought to their ability to pay said loans back.
It doesn't matter though. The incumbent always gets blamed.
My last thought, before drifting off to sleep early this morning was: 'Man. If George Bush had an approval rating of 45% instead of 30%, this thing wouldn't even be close.'
Posted by Falling Panda at 1:55 PM
Thursday, September 25, 2008
This week has truly offered up a fascinating case study in the history of the American political system. At this point it appears that John McCain has yanked the attention away from his rival and is betting his entire candidacy on his effort to bring congressional GOP house members together in crafting a compromise bill to save the economy.
McCain has been saying for days that Paulson's bill was dead, however Obama's campaign refused to believe it and made a crucial error in putting continuing focus on a foreign policy debate in Mississippi, sure that a bill would pass quickly making McCain's departure for DC look like a political stunt.
This didn't happen'
McCain's urgency allows him to claim, perhaps rightfully so, that Obama didn't understand the gravity of the situation upon arrival and that McCain did.
Now Obama is attempting to stay relevant and can only do so by continuing his campaign and claiming that this was all a political ploy. If it is, it's a damn entertaining one and may be one of the most brilliant political maneuvers in the history of such ploys, but the sense of urgency certainly seems authentic enough at this point and one hopes that the voters will sense a real difference between McCain's leadership and Obama's four year presidential campaign.
The difference couldn't be more stark. Now the question is whether the voters will favor party identity over proven results. Obama hopes they do.
Posted by Falling Panda at 4:07 PM
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
If Obama does not follow suit, it could be a game changer. My guess is that he will, but McCain gets credit for doing it first.
MCCAIN: America this week faces an historic crisis in our financial system. We must pass legislation to address this crisis. If we do not, credit will dry up, with devastating consequences for our economy. People will no longer be able to buy homes and their life savings will be at stake. Businesses will not have enough money to pay their employees. If we do not act, ever corner of our country will be impacted. We cannot allow this to happen.
Last Friday, I laid out my proposal and I have since discussed my priorities and concerns with the bill the Administration has put forward. Senator Obama has expressed his priorities and concerns.This morning, I met with a group of economic advisers to talk about the proposal on the table and the steps that we should take going forward.I have also spoken with members of Congress to hear their perspective.
It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration' proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.
Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington after speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative. I have spoken to Senator Obama and informed him of my decision and have asked him to join me.
I am calling on the President to convene a meeting with the leadership from both houses of Congress, including Senator Obama and myself. It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem.
We must meet as Americans, not as Democrats or Republicans, and we must meet until this crisis is resolved.I am directing my campaign to work with the Obama campaign and the commission on presidential debates to delay Friday night's debate until we have taken action to address this crisis.
I am confident that before the markets open on Monday we can achieve consensus on legislation that will stabilize our financial markets, protect taxpayers and homeowners, and earn the confidence of the American people. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside, and I am committed to doing so.
Following September 11th, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now. Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country.
Posted by Falling Panda at 12:30 PM
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Sphere: Related Content
... But One Life to Give the IRS
By David Harsanyi
The Boston Tea Party be damned. This week, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden unleashed the most absurd remark of his illustrious career, claiming that taxes are "patriotic."
Biden claims that wealthier Americans should pay more in taxes because "it's time to be patriotic ... time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut."
Oh, the injustice of American society!
When, exactly, did taxation transform into a form of charity? Biden, it seems, has a difficult time differentiating between coercion and generosity. The distinction is simple: When one fails at altruism, he is a louse; when one fails to pay taxes, he ends up in the slammer.
But anyone can "jump in" at any time. Biden and his wife -- who would be considered wealthy under an Obama-Biden tax plan -- for instance, gave an average of $369 a year to charity during the past decade. So you can see that by "help," Biden means assistance with your money.
Have you ever wondered when exactly taxation became a tool for mass redistribution of wealth?
"We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people," Biden explained in an interview on "Good Morning America." The wealthy, last I heard, do not "take" or steal from the defenseless middle class; they, most often, earn their money. There is nothing to give back.
Moreover, the very premise of Biden's argument is a rickety mess.
The rich already shell out their share. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the top 10 percent of households pay roughly 70 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 5 percent pay more than 60 percent of all taxes. The top 1 percent? They pay nearly 40 percent of all income taxes. Sounds like an unfair share to me.
Biden also errs in advancing the notion that higher rates always translate into a larger percentage of tax revenues. In 1980, when the top income tax rate was at 70 percent, the share of income taxes paid by the top 1 percent was less than 20 percent. Since we've cut top rates for the wealthy, that number has increased steadily.
Setting aside the crass election-time populism of Biden, is there anyone who believes shrinking the tax base and hanging the cost of massive government on a slither of the nation's citizens is a sustainable solution?
How much does Biden expect the rich to "jump in" with, exactly? What is the acceptable percentage? Should the wealthy hand over 80 percent? Or is it 100 percent?
It's difficult to grasp.
Barack Obama, for instance, claims that his tax policy would bring relief to 95 percent of Americans. Yet a report from the Tax Foundation tells us that 32.58 percent of IRS income tax returns for 2005 were "non-paying" and that the bottom 5 percent of earners contributed only 3 percent of all income taxes. That means many households don't pay a penny in income taxes.
Now, even a transcendent candidate of Obama's breathtaking magnitude can't make a whole into something larger than 100 percent.
His plan also fails to account for the pass-through costs. When government raises corporate taxes and energy taxes and capital gains taxes, etc., the consumer, the investor, the middle-class citizenry foots the bill.
As if more government spending is a way to get us out of a "rut."
Punishing those selfish fat cats who dare to succeed, which includes many small-business owners, is a sure way to stifle growth and job creation. Perhaps it can help win an election, but it has nothing to do with patriotism.
Sure, candidates can debate tax policy and quarrel over which tax percentage is optimal. But patriotism is a devoted love, support and defense of one's country.
It's not a love of policy or the politicians who happen to be running the country right now -- or tomorrow.
Posted by Falling Panda at 10:31 AM
Friday, September 19, 2008
September 19, 2008
History Will Judge
By Charles Krauthammer
WASHINGTON -- For the last 150 years, most American war presidents -- most notably Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt -- have entered (or re-entered) office knowing war was looming. Not so George Bush. Not so the war on terror. The 9/11 attacks literally came out of the blue.
Indeed, the three presidential campaigns between the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11 were the most devoid of foreign policy debate of any in the 20th century. The commander-in-chief question that dominates our campaigns today was almost nowhere in evidence during our '90s holiday from history.
When I asked President Bush during an interview Monday to reflect on this oddity, he cast himself back to early 2001, recalling what he expected his presidency would be about: education reform, tax cuts and military transformation from a Cold War structure to a more mobile force adapted to smaller-scale 21st-century conflict.
But a wartime president he became. And that is how history will both remember and judge him.
Getting a jump on history, many books have already judged him. The latest by Bob Woodward describes the commander in chief as unusually aloof and detached. A more favorably inclined biographer might have called it equanimity.
In the hour I spent with the president (devoted mostly to foreign policy), that equanimity was everywhere in evidence -- not the resignation of a man in the twilight of his presidency but a sense of calm and confidence in eventual historical vindication.
It is precisely that quality that allowed him to order the surge in Iraq in the face of intense opposition from the political establishment (of both parties), the foreign policy establishment (led by the feckless Iraq Study Group), the military establishment (as chronicled by Woodward) and public opinion itself. The surge then effected the most dramatic change in the fortunes of an American war since the summer of 1864.
That kind of resolve requires internal fortitude. Some have argued that too much reliance on this internal compass is what got us into Iraq in the first place. But Bush was hardly alone in that decision. He had a majority of public opinion, the commentariat and Congress with him. In addition, history has not yet rendered its verdict on the Iraq War. We can say that it turned out to be longer and more costly than expected, surely. But the question remains as to whether the now-likely outcome -- transforming a virulently aggressive enemy state in the heart of the Middle East into a strategic ally in the war on terror -- was worth it. I suspect the ultimate answer will be far more favorable than it is today.
When I asked the president about his one unambiguous achievement, keeping us safe for seven years -- about 6 1/2 years longer than anybody thought possible at the time of 9/11 -- he was quick to credit both the soldiers keeping the enemy at bay abroad and the posse of law enforcement and intelligence officials hardening our defenses at home.
But he alluded also to some of the measures he had undertaken, including "listening in on the enemy" and "asking hardened killers about their plans." The CIA has already told us that interrogation of high-value terrorists like Khalid Sheik Mohammed yielded more valuable intelligence than any other source. In talking about these measures, the president mentioned neither this testimony as to their efficacy nor the campaign of vilification against him that these measures occasioned. More equanimity still.
What the president did note with some pride, however, is that beyond preventing a second attack, he is bequeathing to his successor the kinds of powers and institutions the next president will need to prevent further attack and successfully prosecute the long war. And indeed, he does leave behind a Department of Homeland Security, reorganized intelligence services with newly developed capacities to share information, and a revised FISA regime that grants broader and modernized wiretapping authority.
In this respect, Bush is much like Truman, who developed the sinews of war for a new era (the Department of Defense, the CIA, the NSA), expanded the powers of the presidency, established a new doctrine for active intervention abroad, and ultimately engaged in a war (Korea) -- also absent an attack on the U.S. -- that proved highly unpopular.
So unpopular that Truman left office disparaged and highly out of favor. History has revised that verdict. I have little doubt that Bush will be the subject of a similar reconsideration.
Posted by Falling Panda at 12:12 PM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
On Sex-Ed Ad, McCain Is Right
What was that Illinois sex-education bill really about?
By Byron York
In recent days, a consensus has developed among the Obama campaign and commentators in the press that John McCain has decided to lie his way to the White House. Exhibit A in this new consensus is McCain’s ad, released last week, claiming that Barack Obama’s “one accomplishment” in the field of education was “legislation to teach ‘comprehensive sex education’ to kindergartners.”
Within moments of the ad’s appearance, the Obama campaign called it “shameful and downright perverse.” The legislation in question, a bill in the Illinois State Senate that was supported but not sponsored by Obama, was, according to Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, “written to protect young children from sexual predators” and had nothing to do with comprehensive sex education for kindergartners. In a stinging final shot, Burton added, “Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why.”
Newspaper, magazine, and television commentators quickly piled on. “The kindergarten Ad flat-out lies,” wrote the New York Times, arguing that “at most, kindergarteners were to be taught the dangers of sexual predators.” The Washington Post wrote that “McCain’s ‘Education’ Spot is Dishonest, Deceptive.” And in a column in The Hill, the influential blogger Josh Marshall called the sex-education spot “a rancid, race-baiting ad based on [a] lie. Willie Horton looks mild by comparison.”
The condemnation has been so widespread that the Obama campaign has begun to sense success in placing the “McCain-is-a-liar” storyline in the press. But before accepting the story at face value, it might first be a good idea to examine the bill in question, look at the statements made by its supporters at the time it was introduced, talk to its sponsors today (at least the ones who will consent to speak), and find answers to a few basic questions. What were the bill’s provisions? Why was it written? Was it really just, or even mostly, about inappropriate advances? And the bottom-line question: Is McCain’s characterization of it unfair?
21st-CENTURY SEX EDUCATION
The bill in question was Senate Bill 99, introduced in the Senate in February 2003. Its broad purpose was to change and update portions of Illinois’s existing laws concerning sex education. (The text of the bill is here, and everyone interested in the issue should take a look at it.)
When the bill was introduced, a coalition of groups including the Illinois Public Health Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Cook County Department of Public Health, the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council and others issued a press release headlined “Coalition of Legislators, Physicians and Organizations Bring Illinois Into the 21st Century with Omnibus Healthcare Package.” It was a three-part campaign; Senate Bill 99, covering “medically accurate sex education,” was the first part, with two other bills addressing “funding for family planning services for women in need” and “contraceptive equity in health insurance.”
According to the press release, Senate Bill 99 required that “if a public school teaches sex education, family life education, and comprehensive health education courses, all materials and instruction must be medically and factually accurate.” The bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Carol Ronen, was quoted saying, “It teaches students about the advantages of abstinence, while also giving them the realistic information they need about the prevention of an unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.” The release contained no mention of sexual predators or inappropriate touching.
What, specifically, was the bill designed to do? It appears to have had three major purposes:
The first, as Ronen indicated, was to mandate that information presented in sex-ed classes be “factual,” “medically accurate,” and “objective.”
The second purpose was to increase the number of children receiving sex education. Illinois’ existing law required the teaching of sex education and AIDS prevention in grades six through twelve. The old law read:
Each class or course in comprehensive sex education offered in any of grades 6 through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention, transmission and spread of AIDS.
Senate Bill 99 struck out grade six, changing it to kindergarten, in addition to making a few other changes in wording. It read:
Each class or course in comprehensive sex education in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.
The bill’s third purpose was to remove value-laden language in the old law. For example, the old law contained passages like this:
Course material and instruction shall teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.
Course material and instruction shall stress that pupils should abstain from sexual intercourse until they are ready for marriage…
[Classes] shall emphasize that abstinence is the expected norm in that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against unwanted teenage pregnancy [and] sexually transmitted diseases…
The proposed bill eliminated all those passages and replaced them with wording like this:
Course material and instruction shall include a discussion of sexual abstinence as a method to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Course material and instruction shall present the latest medically factual information regarding both the possible side effects and health benefits of all forms of contraception, including the success and failure rates for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV…
The bill gave parents and guardians the right to take their children out of sex-ed classes by presenting written objections. The bill also specified that “all sex education courses that discuss sexual activity or behavior…be age and developmentally appropriate.” And, after covering a number of other provisions, the bill addressed the issue of inappropriate advances:
Course material and instruction shall teach pupils to not make unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances and how to say no to unwanted sexual advances and shall include information about verbal, physical, and visual sexual harassment, including without limitation nonconsensual sexual advances, nonconsensual physical sexual contact, and rape by an acquaintance. The course material and instruction shall contain methods of preventing sexual assault by an acquaintance, including exercising good judgment and avoiding behavior that impairs one’s judgment. The course material and instruction shall emphasize personal accountability and respect for others and shall also encourage youth to resist negative peer pressure. The course material and instruction shall inform pupils of the potential legal consequences of sexual assault by an acquaintance. Specifically, pupils shall be advised that it is unlawful to touch an intimate part of another person as specified in the Criminal Code of 1961.
The wording of that provision suggests lawmakers were at least as concerned with protecting children from each other as from adults, and it doesn’t seem directed toward the youngest children, as Obama maintained. But there is no doubt that the bill did address the question of inappropriate touching. On the other hand, there is also no doubt that, looking at the overall bill, the “touching” provision did not have the prominence that Team Obama has suggested it had, and it certainly wasn’t the bill’s main purpose.
Posted by Falling Panda at 3:39 PM
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sphere: Related Content
The Acorn Indictments
A union-backed outfit faces charges of election fraud.
Friday, November 3, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
So, less than a week before the midterm elections, four workers from Acorn, the liberal activist group that has registered millions of voters, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms to the Kansas City, Missouri, election board. But hey, who needs voter ID laws?
We wish this were an aberration, but allegations of fraud have tainted Acorn voter drives across the country. Acorn workers have been convicted in Wisconsin and Colorado, and investigations are still under way in Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.
The good news for anyone who cares about voter integrity is that the Justice Department finally seems poised to connect these dots instead of dismissing such revelations as the work of a few yahoos. After the federal indictments were handed up in Kansas City this week, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a statement that "This national investigation is very much ongoing."
Let's hope so. Acorn officials bill themselves as nonpartisan community organizers merely interested in giving a voice to minorities and the poor. In reality, Acorn is a union-backed, multimillion-dollar outfit that uses intimidation and other tactics to push for higher minimum wage mandates and to trash Wal-Mart and other non-union companies.
Operating in at least 38 states (as well as Canada and Mexico), Acorn pushes a highly partisan agenda, and its organizers are best understood as shock troops for the AFL-CIO and even the Democratic Party. As part of the Fannie Mae reform bill, House Democrats pushed an "affordable housing trust fund" designed to use Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac profits to subsidize Acorn, among other groups. A version of this trust fund actually passed the Republican House and will surely be on the agenda again next year.
Acorn and its affiliates have pulled some real stunts in recent years. In Ohio in 2004, a worker for one affiliate was given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent registrations that included underage voters, dead voters and pillars of the community named Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive Turkey. During a Congressional hearing in Ohio in the aftermath of the 2004 election, officials from several counties in the state explained Acorn's practice of dumping thousands of registration forms in their lap on the submission deadline, even though the forms had been collected months earlier.
"You have to wonder what's the point of that, if not to overwhelm the system and get phony registrations on the voter rolls," says Thor Hearne of the American Center for Voting Rights, who also testified at the hearing. "These were Democratic officials saying that they felt their election system in Ohio was under assault by these kinds of efforts to game the system."
Given this history, it's not surprising that Acorn is so hostile to voter identification laws and other efforts to ensure fairness and accuracy at the polls. In Missouri last month, the state Supreme Court held that a photo ID requirement to vote was overly burdensome and a violation of the state constitution. Acorn was behind the original suit challenging the statute, and it has brought similar challenges in several other states, including Ohio.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that blacks today are almost twice as likely as they were in 2004 to say they have little or no confidence in the voting system. Such a finding would seem like a powerful argument for voter ID laws, which consistently poll well among people of all races and incomes and would increase confidence in the voting process. Of course, voter ID laws would also cut down on fraud, which, judging from the latest indictments, would put a real crimp in Acorn's style.
Posted by Falling Panda at 7:42 AM
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Sphere: Related Content
Pencils And Politics
By George Will
Improbable as it might seem, perhaps the most important fact for a voter or politician to know is: No one can make a pencil. That truth is the essence of a novella that is, remarkably, both didactic and romantic. Even more remarkable, its author is an economist. If you read Russell Roberts's "The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity" you will see the world afresh—unless you already understand Friedrich Hayek's idea of spontaneous order.
Roberts, an economist at George Mason University and Stanford's Hoover Institution, sets his story in the Bay Area, where some Stanford students are indignant because a Big Box store doubled its prices after an earthquake. A student leader plans to protest Stanford's acceptance of a large gift from Big Box. The student's economics professor, Ruth, rather than attempting to dissuade him, begins leading him and his classmates to an understanding of prices, markets and the marvel of social cooperation. Holding up a Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2, she says: "No one can make a pencil."
Nonsense, her students think—someone made that one. Not really, says Ruth. Loggers felled the cedar trees, truckers hauled them, manufacturers built the machines that cut the wood into five-sided portions to hold graphite mined in Sri Lanka, Mexico, China and Brazil. Miners and smelters produced the aluminum that holds the rubber eraser, produced far away, as were the machines that stamp TICONDEROGA in green paint, made somewhere else, on the finished pencil.
Producing this simple, mundane device is, Ruth says, "an achievement on the order of a jazz quartet improvising a tune when the band members are in separate cities." An unimpressed student says, "So a lot of people work on a pencil. What's the big deal?" Ruth responds: Who commands the millions of people involved in making a pencil? Who is in charge? Where is the pencil czar?
Her point is that markets allow order to emerge without anyone imposing it. The "poetry of the possible" is that things are organized without an organizer. "The graphite miner in Sri Lanka doesn't realize he's cooperating with the cedar farmer in California to serve the pencil customer in Maine." The boss of the pencil factory does not boss very much: He does not decide the prices of the elements of his product—or of his product. No one decides. Everyone buying and selling things does so as prices steer resources hither and yon, harmonizing supplies and demands.
Goods and services, like languages, result from innumerable human actions—but not from any human design. "We," says Ruth, "create them with our actions, but not intentionally. They are tapestries we weave unknowingly." They are "emergent phenomena," the results of human action but not of human design.
When a student asks about the exploitation of housecleaners, Ruth responds that if they are exploited making between $10—above the minimum wage—and $20 an hour, why are they not exploited even more? The answer is that the market makes people pay maids more than the law requires because maids have alternatives.
But back to Big Box doubling prices after the earthquake. The indignant student, who had first gone to Home Depot for a flashlight, says it "didn't try to rip us off." It was, however, out of flashlights. Ruth suggests that the reason Big Box had flashlights was that its prices were high. If prices were left at regular levels, the people who would have got the flashlights would have been those who got to the store first. With the higher prices, "someone who had candles at home decided to do without the flashlight and left it there for you on the shelf." Neither Home Depot nor the student who was angry at Big Box had benefited from Home Depot's price restraint.
Capitalism, Ruth reminds him, is a profit and loss system.Corfam—Du Pont's fake leather that made awful shoes in the 1960s—and the Edsel quickly vanished. But, Ruth notes, "the post office and ethanol subsidies and agricultural price supports and mediocre public schools live forever." They are insulated from market forces; they are created, in defiance of those forces, by government, which can disregard prices, which means disregarding the rational allocation of resources. To disrupt markets is to tamper with the unseen source of the harmony that is all around us.
The spontaneous emergence of social cooperation—the emergence of a system vastly more complex, responsive and efficient than any government could organize—is not universally acknowledged or appreciated. It discomforts a certain political sensibility, the one that exaggerates the importance of government and the competence of the political class.
Government is important in establishing the legal framework for markets to function. The most competent political class allows markets to work wonders that government cannot replicate. Hayek, a 1974 Nobel laureate in economics, said, "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." People, and especially political people, are rarely grateful to be taught their limits. That is why economics is called the dismal science.
Posted by Falling Panda at 10:49 AM
Saturday, September 13, 2008
With a touch of Double Standard.
Obama and McCain v. Ivy LeagueSeptember 13, 2008; Page A12
Wall Street Journal
On their 9/11 day of campaign truce, Barack Obama and John McCain went to Columbia University and talked earnestly about public service. The Presidential candidates managed to perform a service as well, by calling out their host to welcome the Reserve Office Training Corps back on the Morningside Heights campus.
The suggestion was met with boos from the audience when offered by the Republican hopeful and retired Naval officer, and silence when crowd favorite Mr. Obama (Columbia '83) called the ban "a mistake." The contempt for military service, alas, runs deep at our so-called elite academic institutions.
Five of the eight Ivy League schools kicked out ROTC in the wake of the Vietnam War.
Today only Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania allow America's future military leaders to get their instruction on campus. In 2005, Columbia's university senate shot down a resolution to re-establish ROTC. Two years before, the student body voted for readmission by 2-1.
Columbia President Lee Bollinger, who led the fight against ROTC in 2005, says the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy constitutes "improper discrimination and humiliation" of homosexuals. Of course, that didn't stop him last year from inviting on campus Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose regime executes homosexuals for being homosexual. The young men and women at Columbia who want to choose service in the armed forces can hardly be faulted for feeling "improper discrimination and humiliation" on their campus. We'll now see if a bipartisan rebuke on ROTC is enough to shame Columbia and the other Ivies into changing their dishonorable act.
Posted by Falling Panda at 10:08 AM
Friday, September 12, 2008
Gibson and the rest of the MSM have turned her actual quote into something completely different.
Here's the exchange from last night:
Here's what Palin actually said:
"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God," she exhorted the congregants. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."
Here's the actual video:
This is journalism at its most shoddy. Can there be any doubt that the MSM is out to get this woman, while at the same time being completely in the tank for Sen. Obama? Meanwhile, I'm struggling to find a job as a reporter. Go figure.
Journalism this bad requires a great deal of...oh...what's the word I'm looking for? How about "hubris?"
Posted by Falling Panda at 1:35 PM
Sphere: Related Content
Barack Obama the speechmaker is being rumbled
By Gerard Baker
Times If London
It's funny how the harder you look at something, the harder it can be to understand it. I can't recall a US presidential election that has attracted more attention. But neither can there have been a time when the world has watched what goes on in America with the nonplussed, horrified incomprehension it has now.
Travelling in Britain this week, I've been asked repeatedly by close followers of US politics if it can really be true that Barack Obama might not win. Thoughtful people cannot get their head around the idea that Mr Obama, exciting new pilot of change, supported by Joseph Biden, experienced navigator of the swamplands of Washington politics, could possibly be defeated.
They look upon John McCain and Sarah Palin and see something out of hag-ridden history: the wizened old warrior, obsessed with finding enemies in every corner of the globe, marching in lockstep with the crackpot, mooseburger-chomping mother from the wilds of Alaska, rifle in one hand, Bible in the other, smiting caribou and conventional science as she goes.
Two patronising explanations are adduced to explain why Americans are going wrong. The first is racism. I've dealt with this before and it has acquired no more merit. White supremacists haven't been big on Democratic candidates, whatever their colour, for a long time, and Mr Obama's race is as likely to generate enthusiasm among blacks and young voters as it is hostility among racists.
In a similarly condescending account, those foolish saps are being conned into voting for Mr McCain because they like his running-mate. Her hockey-mom charm and storybook career appeals to their worst instincts. The race is boiling down to a beauty contest in which a former beauty queen is stealing the show. Believe this if it helps you come to terms with the possibility of a Democratic defeat. But there really are better explanations.
One is a simple political-cultural one. This election is a struggle between the followers of American exceptionalism and the supporters of global universalism. Democrats are more eager than ever to align the US with the rest of the Western world, especially Europe. This is true not just in terms of a commitment to multilateral diplomacy that would restore the United Nations to its rightful place as arbiter of international justice. It is also reflected in the type of place they'd like America to be - a country with higher taxes, more business regulation, a much larger welfare safety net and universal health insurance. The Republicans, who still believe America should follow the beat of its own drum, are pretty much against all of that.
You can argue the merits of each case. But let me try to explain to my fellow non-Americans why Mr Obama's problems go well beyond that. Even if you think that Americans should want to turn their country into a European-style system, there is a perfectly good reason that you might have grave doubts about Mr Obama.
The essential problem coming to light is a profound disconnect between the Barack Obama of the candidate's speeches, and the Barack Obama who has actually been in politics for the past decade or so.
Speechmaker Obama has built his campaign on the promise of reform, the need to change the culture of American political life, to take on the special interests that undermine government's effectiveness and erode trust in the system itself,
Politician Obama rose through a Chicago machine that is notoriously the most corrupt in the country. As David Freddoso writes in a brilliantly cogent and measured book, The Case Against Barack Obama, the angel of deliverance from the old politics functioned like an old-time Democratic pol in Illinois. He refused repeatedly to side with those lonely voices that sought to challenge the old corrupt ways of the ruling party.
Speechmaker Obama talks about an era of bipartisanship, He speaks powerfully about the destructive politics of red and blue states.
Politician Obama has toed his party's line more reliably than almost any other Democrat in US politics. He has a near-perfect record of voting with his side. He has the most solidly left-wing voting history in the Senate. His one act of bipartisanship, a transparency bill co-sponsored with a Republican senator, was backed by everybody on both sides of the aisle. He has never challenged his party's line on any issue of substance.
Speechmaker Obama talks a lot about finding ways to move beyond the bloody battlegrounds of the “culture wars” in America; the urgent need to establish consensus on the emotive issue of abortion.
Politician Obama's support for abortion rights is the most extreme of any Democratic senator. In the Illinois legislature he refused to join Democrats and Republicans in supporting a Bill that would require doctors to provide medical care for babies who survived abortions. No one in the Senate - not the arch feminist Hillary Clinton nor the superliberal Edward Kennedy - opposed this same humane measure.
Here's the real problem with Mr Obama: the jarring gap between his promises of change and his status quo performance. There are just too many contradictions between the eloquent poetry of the man's stirring rhetoric and the dull, familiar prose of his political record.
It's been remarked that the biggest difference between Americans and Europeans is religion: ignorant Americans cling to faith; enlightened Europeans long ago embraced the liberating power of reason. Yet here's an odd thing about this election. Europeans are asking Americans to take a leap of faith, to break the chains of empiricism and embrace the possibility of the imagination.
The fact is that a vote for Mr Obama demands uncritical subservience to the irrational, anti-empirical proposition that the past holds no clues about the future, that promise is wholly detached from experience. The second-greatest story ever told, perhaps.
Posted by Falling Panda at 6:00 AM
Thursday, September 11, 2008
For months we've heard how John McCain out preforms the generic GOP brand while Barack Obama under performs the Democratic brand, in a year where up till now the Democrats have held a huge lead in the generic polling.
Bu in the last few samplings of the generic congressional ballot, the gap has closed significantly, with the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll actually showing a GOP LEAD. Its first in three years. Check it:
So either the McCain/Palin ticket is showing signs of coattails, or Obama is not only turning voters off to the prospect of his presidency but to the Democratic Party all together.
Posted by Falling Panda at 3:17 PM
It would appear that Sarah Palin has driven the entire democratic Party completely insane. I mean literally coo-coo bananas. Here's the latest from some high ranking Democrats who have contracted "Palin Derangement Syndrome."
Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen compared Palin to the guy who killed Jesus.
"If you want change, you want the Democratic Party,” Cohen said. “Barack Obama was a community organizer like Jesus, who our minister prayed about. Pontius Pilate was a governor.”
That sounds like a reasonable comparison. Barack Obama is the second coming and Sarah Palin wants to nail him to a cross.
Not to be upstaged by her fellow southern Democrat, South Carolina Democratic chairwoman Carol Fowler hit the nail on the head when she said that John McCain had chosen a running mate "...whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.”
While it's unclear how many abortions Mitt Romney has had, he must have had at least one, because we all know that being the governor of a state is meaningless if you've ever terminated a pregnancy.
Here are some more dispicable quotes from members of the MSM:
Wendy Doniger, Newsweek: "Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman."
Dan Payne, Boston Globe: "She's got a Taliban-like tolerance for beliefs unlike her own."
Cintra Wilson, Salon: "...she is their hardcore pornographic centerfold spread, revealing the ugliest underside of Republican ambitions...What her Down syndrome baby and pregnant teenage daughter unequivocally prove, however, is that her most beloved child is the antiabortion platform that ensures her own political ambitions with the conservative right."
Sarah Palin has only been on the national stage for two weeks and I have never seen anyone who has been so successful in driving Democrats out of their gourds with such incredible rapidity.
The reason behind it is obvious. The Democrats had the opportunity to make a historic choice for the advancement of American women and they chose not to. Now the GOP, the party whom the Democrats have spent the last 40 years trying to brand as the 'white males only' party, is closer than ever and if elected will be responsible for breaking the glass ceiling that the Dem's thought was theirs to break.
Buyer's remorse anyone.
Posted by Falling Panda at 10:03 AM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Sphere: Related Content
Those are the findings of two new polls, the first finding that large portions of citizens of foreign nations, including Obama's father's home of Kenya support the Democratic nominee over Sen. John McCain.
Yes those citizens of the world who are so much more refined and intellectually enlightened than we slovenly rednecks here in the States, understand that Barack Obama will heal our planet and make America a nation that's not such a meanie-bo-beenie to peace loving nations like Iraq.
Then there's this....
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, there is no consensus outside the United States that Islamist militants from al Qaeda were responsible, according to an international poll published Wednesday.
The survey of 16,063 people in 17 nations found majorities in only nine countries believe Al Qaeda was behind the attacks on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people in 2001.
U.S. officials squarely blame al Qaeda, whose leader Osama bin Laden has boasted of organizing the suicide attacks by his followers using hijacked commercial airliners.
On average, 46 percent of those surveyed said al Qaeda was responsible, 15 percent said the U.S. government, 7 percent said Israel and 7 percent said some other perpetrator. One in four people said they did not know who was behind the attacks.
The poll was conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org, a collaborative project of research centers in various countries managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland in the United States.
In Europe, al Qaeda was cited by 56 percent of Britons and Italians, 63 percent of French and 64 percent of Germans. The U.S. government was to blame, according to 23 percent of Germans and 15 percent of Italians.
Respondents in the Middle East were especially likely to name a perpetrator other than al Qaeda, the poll found.
Israel was behind the attacks, said 43 percent of people in Egypt, 31 percent in Jordan and 19 percent in the Palestinian Territories. The U.S. government was blamed by 36 percent of Turks and 27 percent of Palestinians.
In Mexico, 30 percent cited the U.S. government and 33 percent named al Qaeda.
The only countries with overwhelming majorities blaming al Qaeda were Kenya with 77 percent and Nigeria with 71 percent.
Interviews were conducted in China, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Egypt, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, the Palestinian Territories, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and Ukraine.
The poll, taken between July 15 and Aug. 31, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3to 4 percent.
That's right folks. The world has far more citizens who think like Rosie O'Donnell than you realize.
But hey, we all saw how excited Mr. Obama made those Europeans back in August, so if that's what you think matters then by all means, listen to this guy:
Posted by Falling Panda at 10:46 AM
Sphere: Related Content
When I first heard Barack Obama's latest quip about "lipstick on a pig", I was thinking the same thing that everyone else was thinking, but I dismissed it as media hype.
Obama's not that dumb, I thought. He would never intentionally use a phrase, so similar to Palin's, now famous quip about "Hockey moms" in her convention speech, replacing the ferocious and take no prisoners Pit bull with the filthy barnyard sow, right?
Then I remembered. This is a presidential campaign. Almost everything is scripted. The candidates give these same stump speeches over and over again. They know them by heart. Obama would never speak off the cuff in this manner by accident. He's proven himself to be a disciplined candidate who rarely gets off message. That's why he's done so well in this campaign, despite the fact that he has very little to offer in terms of policy specifics or experience.
If it had been a mistake Obama would have done the intelligent thing and apologized for offending anyone, saying that he simply meant the term as a figure of speech and not as a direct attack on Palin. Instead Obama attacked the news media, called the McCain campaign liars and referred to the story as a "made-up controversy."
Maybe he's right. Maybe we're making way too much of this. His cheering supporters certainly seemed to understand what he was talking about when he made the comment at a rally yesterday, but what do they know? Let's give Sen. Obama the benefit of the doubt here. Perhaps it was just a really bad choice of words. One more thing to add to the long list of bad choices that Obama has already made in his short political career.
Posted by Falling Panda at 8:07 AM
Monday, September 08, 2008
Sphere: Related Content
The left hasn't quite figured out how to attack Sarah Palin just yet, so they are reduced to making stuff up. Here are the best of the left-wing lies up till this point.
- Palin's youngest son is actually her daughter Bristol's.
-Palin called Barack Obama "Sambo" and made a myriad of other racially insensitive statements.
- Palin wanted to have books, such as Harry Potter, banned from the Wasilla library when she was mayor.
Expect more of these as McCain widens his lead and the panic starts to set in.
Posted by Falling Panda at 2:24 PM
Friday, September 05, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Sphere: Related Content
Last night I found myself, in the unique position of being relatively unfamiliar with the person I was watching on stage accepting a major party Vice Presidential nomination. I knew who Jack Kemp was in ’96. Dick Cheney was a household name in 2000. Joe Lieberman was famous for bucking his party on the Clinton impeachment vote in ’98 and John Edwards had just finished a run for the presidency and a six-year senate term when he was nominated. Joe Biden has been well known in political circles for years as both a loquacious senate mainstay, as well as a presidential candidate who had problems with plagiarism in the late 1980’s.
Sarah Palin was different. I knew of her and I was aware of some of her accomplishments in Alaska but unlike the names mentioned above, I had never seen her in action. Last night she was presented to the American public in what may have been the most powerful introduction of any political entity that I have ever witnessed, including Barack Obama’s in 2004. The speech was beautifully structured and perfectly delivered and if the Monday morning quarterbacking is any indication, it has succeeded in making Palin’s first impression an overwhelmingly positive one.
Today, the Obama campaign seems to be in somewhat of a state of disarray for several reasons. First, Obama is no longer the new kid in town. Palin has stolen almost all of his thunder. Watching Palin last night, I understood some of the fascination and curiosity, which has lead many to support Obama. That breath of fresh air that Obama represented in the Democratic primaries, is now serving to wake up the GOP in a similar way. I’m guessing that some of it will trickle down to independent voters as well.
Next, attacks on Palin's family, started by left wing bloggers and picked up by much of the media were largely viewed as unfair, tasteless and deemed sexist by some. These attacks were pinned on the Democrats, by default, even though Obama was the first one out of the gate in condemning the smears and declaring family members off limits. The nature of these attacks will not play well with suburban moms who have long been an all important voting block.
Attacks on what can only be described as Palin's female credentials , by so called feminists, due to the fact that she is pro-life are equally disturbing, but these are almost sure to backfire as well.
Attacks on her experience and those who were attempting to paint her as a political lightweight and the second coming of Dan Quayle disappeared once Palin gave her intelligent, tough, bitingly funny speech last night.
In Palin, the GOP has found the perfect vessel with which to mock Obama’s cult of personality and his celebrity status, while at the same time having "Rockstar" qualities in her own right.
While Obama’s story is fascinating and unusual, Palin’s is equally fascinating, yet far easier for American families to relate to.
It also seems as though Obama has lost his status as the sole proprietor of the mantel of “change”. Obama has come incredibly close to the nation’s highest office simply by repeating the word over and over again. Palin made a case for reform and backed it up with reforms that she has actually implemented. This is something that Obama is yet to do. It appears that the GOP is successfully making the theme of their convention “change” while at the same time, not ceding the experience issue either, insisting, correctly I might add, that Palin, the unknown woman who holds the 2nd spot on the ticket, has more experience than the Democrat’s presidential nominee.
The top Democratic talking point of McCain running for “Bush’s third term” and being “more of the same” was a salient, albeit patently false, attack for months. Now, that people are being introduced to the GOP ticket and hearing the candidate’s stories, they are coming to understand that both of the Republican candidates made their careers by repeatedly bucking the establishment.
I could be wrong, but my finely tuned political instincts are telling me that Democratic attempts to paint McCain as a Bush clone are about to become largely ineffective.
When Joe Biden was announced as Obama’s running mate, there were relatively few attacks from the McCain camp. By contrast the Obama camp has been relentless in their attacks on Palin. Obama needs to be very careful of this tactic. Because the Obama camps sights have been almost soley focused on Palin, the GOP and other pundits have begun comparing Obama with the second spot on the ticket rather than with John McCain. This serves to elevate John McCain, and makes Obama look less presidential and more vice-presidential. It has also, for the time being, made Joe Biden completely irrelevant, since Obama is now being measured up against both McCain and Palin instead of just McCain.
Last night’s speech was one of the best political speeches I have ever heard. Palin didn’t need a stadium full of screaming fans or a Hollywood set to make it memorable. She didn’t need soaring rhetoric or a cadence reminiscent of Dr. Martin Luther King to excite the crowd. All she needed to do was to prove that she was ready to play with the big boys and there are very few at this point who would say that she failed in that regard.
Most importantly, she has helped close the charisma gap with Obama and in doing so has blunted his most important, and some would say his only, attribute. Now it’s up to McCain to present himself as the elder statesman (but not too eld) and lay out the differences he has with both Obama and President Bush. If he succeeds, we may look back at the past week as the seven days that decided the election of 2008.
- Dan Joseph
Posted by Falling Panda at 11:00 AM