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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #100 on: April 28, 2008, 11:48:27 AM »

This past weekend, official Washington gathered for its fancy prom night, otherwise known as the White House Correspondents dinner. At a garden party preceding the event, Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton's finance chair, was nonplussed when asked at the registration table to fill out a ballot asking whom he thought would win this fall's presidential election.

"You gotta be kidding me, you know who I am? You still want me to vote?" he said. He was told the party's organizers still wanted him to vote. Mr. McAuliffe then attempted to use a pen to fill out his ballot. But no matter how hard he put pen to paper, it wouldn't write, frustrating the top Clinton honcho. The lady at the registration table told him just to rip a hole in the ballot paper. A guest standing behind him yelled out, "Dude, just hang a chad."

Mr. McAuliffe wasn't amused, especially when another guest shouted out that the pen incident was a clear sign from the heavens that the Clinton fund-raising machine was running dry too.

-- John Fund

The Wright Target

Senator John McCain has had some trouble making up his mind whether or not the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is a valid campaign issue against Barack Obama. He told NBC last week that the North Carolina Republican Party was "out of touch with reality" for airing an ad criticizing Mr. Obama for sitting in Mr. Wright's pew for 20 years. Mr. McCain said "this kind of campaigning is unacceptable."

But Mr. McCain was singing a different tune yesterday, saying that while he didn't plan to raise the Wright issue against Mr. Obama, "it will be in the arena" and raised by others. Mr. McCain said he still disagrees with the ad but that he no longer thinks the North Carolina Party should face any repercussions and that he no longer wants "to be the referee" in the dispute. He noted that the Illinois Democrat himself had told Fox News Sunday yesterday "the fact that [Mr. Wright] is my former pastor I think makes it a legitimate political issue."

Senator McCain clearly has trouble resolving just how tough he will be against Mr. Obama. Many Republicans were appalled that he repudiated the North Carolina GOP ad, thus making it appear it was somehow racist to bring up Rev. Wright's controversial comments. "McCain made a tactical mistake weeks ago when he announced that who Obama's pastor had been was somehow illegitimate," Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, tells me.

Indeed, with the Rev. Wright speaking yesterday at the Detroit NAACP and today at Washington's National Press Club, it's clear that he will continue to feature prominently in the discussion about this year's election. Just last week more controversial statements by the Rev. Wright surfaced, including one that compared the U.S. Marines with Roman Legionnaires and another that said that al Qaeda's flag and the U.S. flag were the same flag.

With material like this surfacing, any qualms Mr. McCain has about raising the Wright issue appear quaint and foolish -- especially after Mr. Obama himself has said he expects questions to be raised about his judgment.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"The whole idea that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been attacked over 'soundbites,' and if Americans saw his entire sermons, in context, they'd feel differently, now seems ludicrous.... He used his hour with [PBS's Bill] Moyers to argue that his thoroughgoing critique of American evil is, well, true. And I'm on the left. I know huge chunks of it are true. But Wright casts his critique in such an extreme way that the possibility of redemption, the evidence that America can and has and will change for the better, is never considered.... Watching Wright and Moyers I also couldn't help thinking: Is Wright trying to ruin Obama?" -- Joan Walsh, editor of the liberal website Salon.com.

Quote of the Day II

"Obama is the internationalist opposed to free trade.... He is the proponent of courage in the face of powerful interests who lacked the courage to break with Reverend Wright. He is the man who would lead our efforts against terrorism yet was friendly with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant 1960s terrorist. He is the post-racialist supporter of affirmative action. He is the enemy of Big Oil who takes money from executives at Exxon-Mobil, Shell, and British Petroleum. Obama has, in a sense, represented a new version of the Invisible Man, a candidate whose color obscures his failings. Perhaps his remarks about bitter Pennsylvanians' clinging to their guns have finally made visible the real man and his Harvard hauteur" -- Fred Siegel, a political scientist at New York's Cooper Union, writing in National Review.

Spiking Tibet

HONG KONG -- Every signatory to the United Nations Charter has agreed to respect the right of self-determination. China is a signatory to the UN Charter. Must China therefore respect Tibet's right to self-determination?

That's the kind of debating point you might expect to find in a soon-to-be dusty law journal, but don't look for the question of autonomy for Tibet to receive an airing in the "Hong Kong Lawyer," a magazine of the Law Society of Hong Kong. Prominent local barrister Paul Harris had been commissioned to write a just such an article not long after his shorter op-ed on the same subject appeared in the local South China Morning Post. In his op-ed, Mr. Harris argued that the Dalai Lama was a reasonable man and Tibet was entitled to semi-autonomy on terms similar to those granted Hong Kong when it returned to China in 1997.

Mr. Harris was told on April 9 that the Law Society had accepted his article, only to learn this weekend that the magazine had changed its mind after an "extraordinary" meeting of its editorial board Friday. A spokesperson for the editorial board did not respond to multiple phone calls.

The Law Society may suspect Beijing of being in a sensitive mood with the Olympic torch landing in Hong Kong this week. Still, Hong Kong was once a bastion of free expression and it's troubling to see the Law Society preemptively self-censoring on such an important issue. Happily, such efforts usually backfire and that's the case here, with Hong Kong politicians and even the local press now criticizing the Law Society for its political timidity.

-- Leslie Hook

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #101 on: May 01, 2008, 09:41:49 PM »

The Wright Stuff

A new Fox News poll may provide some evidence that the Rev. Wright affair is
damaging the campaign of Barack Obama.

The poll shows that Mr. Obama's favorable ratings have declined among Democrats to a
point where Hillary Clinton now has higher net positive ratings. Mr. Obama is viewed
favorably by 63% of Democrats and negatively by 27%. Mrs. Clinton has a 73%
favorable rating and is viewed negatively by 22% of Democrats. Specifically on Rev.
Wright, 36% of Democrats say they would be disinclined to vote for Mr. Obama because
of his ties to his former pastor.

Perhaps this explains why Travis Childers, the Democratic frontrunner in a special
House election this month in Mississippi, has now gone out of his way to combat GOP
attempts to associate him with the Illinois Senator. In a new TV ad, Mr. Childers
appears to be running away from Mr. Obama's endorsement of him, protesting "the lies
and attacks linking me to politicians I don't know, and have never even met."

He is only one candidate, and in a deeply conservative district. But should Mr.
Childers, who came within an eyelash of winning the seat outright in the first round
of voting for the special election, lose in the May 13 runoff, you can bet the
Wright fracas will be blamed.

-- John Fund


Gas Tax Burlesque: Two Down, One to Go

INDIANAPOLIS -- Hillary Clinton won Pennsylvania by feeling the pain of blue-collar
voters. Now she's trying for a repeat here in Indiana, playing on voter frustration
over high gas prices.

Mrs. Clinton spent part of Tuesday addressing factory workers at this city's Miller
Veneers plant, which produces hardwood veneers. She railed against high pump prices
and the "record" profits of oil companies, then introduced her latest five-point
plan, which consists of equal parts fulminating at Big Oil and OPEC and waiving the
federal gas tax for the summer while possibly releasing oil from the strategic
reserve.

Somehow, the New York Senator kept mum on her separate plans for a cap-and-trade
climate program that would raise energy costs further.

Yet her gas-tax proposal did have the immediate effect of making Barack Obama the
odd-man-out in a presidential race now focused on "doing something" about gasoline
prices. John McCain was the first to float the tax-holiday gimmick, and received
backing from President Bush this week. Mr. Obama has refused to go along, correctly
noting a gas-tax holiday won't do much. His stand has prompted pats on the head from
pundits but misses the point, which is to identify with Middle America's gas pains.
He may yet have to find a way to join the gas-tax holiday party.

-- Kim Strassel


Clyde Lives!

In what could be coined the "Basketball Primaries," Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
will face off Tuesday in two states rich in basketball tradition. North Carolina and
Indiana have produced such all-time greats as Michael Jordan and Larry Bird,
respectively, and include powerhouse college basketball programs at Indiana
University, Duke and the University of North Carolina. Mr. Obama is well aware of
this.

He starred on the basketball court during his high school days in Hawaii, and his
skills don't appear to have eroded much over the past 30 years. Last week, he played
a three-on-three game with high school students in Kokomo, Ind., and this week took
on members of the U.N.C. team in Chapel Hill, including national collegiate player
of the year Tyler Hansbrough. Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams was quoted telling
his players: "You guys are leaving the next president of the United States wide
open."

If Mr. Obama wins both states on Tuesday, his basketball skills probably won't be
the deciding factor. However, presidential candidates look for every opportunity to
connect with voters on a personal level and prove they are down to earth (see the
two Democrats' exploits in several Pennsylvania bars). In North Carolina and
Indiana, the ability to play basketball -- and play it well -- is as a good a way to
do so as any. It's also a great way to appear genuine, since an effective jump shot
is hard to fake.

-- Kyle Trygstad, RealClearPolitics.com
(http://oj1.opinionjournal.com/redir3/eKG.ObBAB!http//www.realclearpolitics.com/)


Big Shoulders Revisionism

His father was a stern, law-and-order man whose 21-year tenure as Chicago mayor will
forever be associated with the 1968 Democratic convention protests over the Vietnam
War.

But his son, current Mayor Richard M. Daley, has a much more conciliatory view about
that history than you might expect. In an interview with the Financial Times, he
declared off-limits attempts to make political capital out of links between two of
his constituents -- Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, a former leader of the Weather
Underground radical group that bombed the U.S. Capitol and other targets in the
1970s. Mr. Obama has declared that he and Mr. Ayers have a "friendly" relationship
and served together on a foundation board. Mr. Ayers has become controversial again
because, in a newspaper interview that happened to be published on 9/11, he declared
not only that he didn't regret setting bombs but that he and his colleagues "didn't
do enough."

Today's Mayor Daley says that both Mr. Ayers and the Vietnam War era have to be seen
in context: "Vietnam tore up families. It was a very difficult, challenging time for
the country. But this is 2008. Over the years I've got to know Bill Ayers. He's been
very active in school reform and education and a very active person in the
community."

Indeed, in a case of turning the other cheek, Mr. Daley says he rejects the notion
that the Weathermen who rampaged through the city's streets in the infamous protests
known as the "Days of Rage" had much against his father. "They were more targeted at
[President Lyndon] Johnson and the federal government. The 'Days of Rage' was more
against the Vietnam War. And the Weathermen, they were all over the country -- in
San Francisco, New York, other places. So it wasn't against my father. There were
never any threats."

But that's not how John Murtagh, now a city council member in Yonkers, N.Y.,
remembers the Weathermen. Writing in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal
yesterday, he recalled that the Weathermen did more than threaten his own father, a
New York State Supreme Court justice presiding over a Black Panther trial. "They
tried to kill us," Mr. Murtagh writes, noting that the Weathermen exploded three
gasoline-filled firebombs at his home in 1970, when he was nine years old. "For the
next 18 months, I went to school in an unmarked police car," he writes. The bombs
were later linked to Mr. Ayers' New York-based contingent of the Weather
Underground.

Part of the job of mayor is to be a conciliator, but Mr. Daley has taken that notion
to an extreme. Perhaps his attitude has something to do with the fact that Mr. Obama
has been a strong supporter of his own political career and, in turn, Mr. Daley has
lent his own top strategist, David Axelrod, to serve in the same role in the Obama
campaign. After all, it's been a long time since the Daley machine has had a taste
of real influence at the presidential level. If that end requires making sure that
the political fires swirling around the Obama-Ayers relationship are tamped down, so
be it.

-- John Fund

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ccp
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« Reply #102 on: May 02, 2008, 10:31:41 AM »

I harpooned the idea of another "contract with America" awhile back on this board.  Hannity is now proposing that the Cans need to do this now to grab front and center stage.  Maybe he is right and I was wrong.   Maybe that would work.  Are there any other Republican leaders on the horizon?  Newt points out that the Republicans need to reach out to the independent voters. 

***"I probably would have created a very intensive training program [on] how to be a majoritarian Republican solving problems. That was a huge mistake, and it led to the collapse of 2006 because you had the party over the past six years reverting to a Republican Party which is incapable of being in the majority."***

Touche.  They blew it.  Absolutely blew it.  Tom Daschle left in disgrace and it became every man for himself.  Increase spending.  Greed.  Pitiful.  The crats are going to sweep in and we will have massive increased government spending, government expansion in breadth and reach and scope, and wealth redistribution.

I asked my sister, a teacher, why so many teachers are such ardent Crats and her response, "it's the union mentality".  Increasing government increased the dole mentality.  I recently read thatthe number of local and county government jobs is expanding.  Just no end in sight.   I hope McCain can do something to halt this endless cancerour trend.  I just don't know about him though.  I don't see any big thinker other than Newt out there.  But I doubt very much he could ever be popular enough with independents to win.  And I suspect that is why he didn't run.  He knows he could not win - at least for now.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1734839,00.html


Friday, May 02, 2008
Time Issue

****He's been Speaker of the House, a professor and a best-selling author. His World War II novel, Days of Infamy, hits bookstores on April 29. Newt Gingrich will now take your questions
Upcoming: DNC Chair Howard Dean

His 2004 presidential bid ended after his infamous yell but he'd harnessed the web's fundraising power far before most. Now as Democratic National Committee chair he plays a crucial role in the party's choice for nominee. Submit questions for Howard Dean
10 Questions for Rachael Ray

The perky Food Network host's empire includes a magazine, a talk show and a nonprofit group. Her latest book, Yum-O! The Family Cookbook, comes out April 29. Rachael Ray will now take your questions
More 10 Questions

Is there anything you feel you could have done while you were in Congress but didn't? —Abe Weiss, Monsey, N.Y.
In retrospect, I probably would have created a very intensive training program [on] how to be a majoritarian Republican solving problems. That was a huge mistake, and it led to the collapse of 2006 because you had the party over the past six years reverting to a Republican Party which is incapable of being in the majority.

Are the Republicans headed for another decades-long stretch as the minority party? —J. De May, Kew Gardens, N.Y.
Until there is a resurgence of a Republicanism that meets the demand of independent voters to be a reform party, to care about the environment, to deal with a national energy strategy and to deal with education, I think that there is a real danger that the Republicans will be at a disadvantage.

How do you feel about Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's proposal to expand the powers of the Fed? —Josh Lyman, Seattle
I'm very cautious because it represents the former head of a very large Wall Street firm, acting as Secretary of the Treasury, explaining how we could regulate the economy further to the advantage of Wall Street and the disadvantage of the rest of the country.

What will the next six months bring for the American dollar? —Diana West, Memphis, Tenn.
My guess is, the dollar will stabilize, to the huge disadvantage of the euro. The only zone where the dollar's value matters to us is the purchase of oil. If we weren' buying foreign oil, we wouldn't care about the value of the dollar.

You have criticized the partisanship of Washington, but your time as Speaker of the House was known for extreme division. How do you explain this? —Dan Kane, Durham, N.H.
I helped pass NAFTA on behalf of President Bill Clinton. And in 1996 [when] we passed welfare reform, about half the Democrats in the House voted with us. I don't think either party can force a narrowly partisan set of solutions.

When do you think elected leaders will gain the political will to tackle climate change? —Kurt Wilms, San Francisco
If you really care about the environment, you want to develop green technologies that are so inexpensive that it is profitable to be environmentally sensitive. It's not a question of political will. Can you develop solutions with broad enough support so that it is relatively easy for politicians to do them?

In light of Bill Buckley's passing, who are the remaining intellectual giants in modern American conservatism? —Orlando Gutierrez, Boston
There are a lot of very, very smart conservative intellectuals like Thomas Sowell, Michael Novak [and] George Weigal. There are a lot of very thoughtful advocates of what I would call a serious conservatism, by which I mean the preservation of the traditions of freedom and the understanding of the realities within which you have to make decisions.

As a military historian, do you see a clear path for a resolution to the Iraq occupation? —Halston Howard Torrance, Calif.
Well, I said in December 2003, "We've gone off a cliff." I think [special envoy to Iraq L. Paul] Bremer's decisions in June of 2003 were an absolute, total strategic fiasco. When political leaders decide they can violate all the rules of war, they get beat.

Give me your breakdown of general-election matchups. Who is John McCain stronger against? —Danny Collins, Chantilly, VA.
I think Senator Hillary Clinton has a lower ceiling and a higher floor. She probably can't get much above 53% or 54% [of the vote], and she probably can't drop much below 47%. Senator Barack Obama is a bigger gamble for the Democrats. He could be a unifying national leader. He could collapse as well.

Why did you decide not to run for President? —Brian Lemieux, Los Angeles
The scale of solutions we need for the next 20 years is so enormous that I could not both do what I'm doing and run for President. I may someday run, but I think my primary contribution is to go to the root of problems, to try to understand the scale of change we need.

Copyright © 2008 Time Inc. All rights reserved.****
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #103 on: May 06, 2008, 01:12:27 PM »

Queenfish

If Hillary Clinton loses in North Carolina tonight, it will not have been for lack of effort to pander to her audiences.

First, came the accent. Often ridiculed for adopting a Southern twang when south of the Mason-Dixon line, Mrs. Clinton hauled out her best local pronunciation in her campaign stops. "It's time to quit wringin' our hands and start rollin' up our sleeves," she told a crowd at High Point this past weekend. The town's name rolled off her tongue sounding like "Hah Point."

China-bashing, always popular in a state that has lost many textile jobs, was a staple of her stump speech. She claimed China was no longer a trading partner and had become "our trading master." She said Beijing had cheated Americans out of jobs and "sends us back lead-based toys, contaminated pet food and polluted pharmaceuticals. This is going to end when I am president of the United States," she shouted.

Mr. Obama was implausibly portrayed as both out of touch and a tool of the oil companies. "Senator Obama wants you to pay the gas tax this summer instead of trying to get the oil companies to pay it out of their record profits," she told her listeners. She also criticized him for refusing to back her call for a freeze on home foreclosures, a step many economists say would be ruinous to the housing market. His failure, she said, just proved Mr. Obama's unwillingness to "take on the Wall Street bankers and mortgage companies that misled so many people into these sub-prime mortgages."

Team Obama is aghast at the audacity of the Clinton machine's tactics in the Tar Heel State. Buoyed by 92% support from African-American voters, they still expect to win. But if Mr. Obama loses, it will once again prove the potency of good, ol' fashioned demagoguery.

-- John Fund

Hillary and the Bush Voter

Can Hillary Clinton win the Democratic presidential nomination on the back of Bush voters? Today in North Carolina, she may find out.

The Tar Heel State has become a key state for the former First Lady. With a large black population and sandwiched between two southern states Barack Obama has already won handily, her rival was once expected to win by a wide margin. If Mrs. Clinton can pull off an upset, it would transform the dynamics of the Democratic nomination race and immeasurably strengthen her appeal to the superdelegates. Though behind in overall fundraising, Mrs. Clinton has pulled out the stops and is outspending Mr. Obama in North Carolina. She also made the strategic decision to focus her time exclusively there in the campaign’s final days, rather than in Indiana, where Democrats also are voting today.

Any upset, however, would likely depend on mobilizing voters who pulled the lever for George W. Bush four years ago. Under Democratic Party rules, the bulk of the state's delegates will be handed out proportionally based on how the two candidates perform in 13 districts. Congressional Quarterly did a close analysis and found that the former First Lady is running strongest in districts that have a lot of Bush voters, such as the districts that include the Army's Fort Bragg and the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune. Based on polling, the magazine still expects Mr. Obama to walk away with a slight lead in delegates (40 to 37) -- partly because Democratic Party rules assign fewer delegates to districts that voted heavily for Republican presidential candidates.

But Mr. Obama tends to perform slightly better in polls than he does on Election Day. Another wild card is North Carolina's "open primary," in which the state's 21% of "unaffiliated" voters can vote in either party's primary. Today's outcome may well come down to whether Mrs. Clinton can convince enough conservative Southerners -- who have tended to vote Republican for national office, but who have also voted for Gov. Mike Easley (a Clinton endorser) and other Democrats at the state level -- to turn out for Hillary.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"[W]hen I hear people say let's bring the troops home and end the war, good God, it's not going to end the war. I think it's going to give you a war of significantly increased proportions. I remember how we reacted to Rwanda. How could we have let that happen? Why didn't we step in? Why didn't we get the international community engaged? Well, you know, what if you have a humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq and it's not a question of why didn't we step in, it's we stepped out. How is that going to affect people?" -- Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Next Stop, Hamas

Fresh from his presidential campaign and his splashy endorsement of Barack Obama, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has now been to Venezuela to meet with President Hugo Chávez and seek the release of three Americans held hostage by Colombian guerrillas.

Mr. Chávez clearly enjoyed the role he was asked to play as the magnanimous host, empathetic listener and potentially heroic intermediary. For his part, Mr. Richardson undoubtedly relished the chance to continue playing on a global stage, compared to which administering the state of New Mexico must seem unglamorous. Unfortunately, the only thing his trip accomplished was to clarify why the governor's bid for the U.S. presidency flopped.

For starters, Mr. Richardson came off looking ignorant about the realities of Venezuela. Intelligence agencies have long known that the FARC, which is holding the American hostages, makes a good part of its income by running illegal drugs through Venezuela. If Mr. Chávez wants to force the FARC to hand over the hostages, he needs only to threaten to cut off its transit routes.

He won't do that, of course, because he is ideologically, tactically and strategically wedded to the FARC. On his return to the U.S., Mr. Richardson only further advertised his ignorance by explaining to the media that negotiation was "difficult" because "you're dealing with a rebel group that's out in the jungle. You don't know where they are. You don't know what they want."

Huh? As the world knows, a captured laptop belonging to slain rebel leader Raul Reyes has already exposed not only the extent of Mr. Chávez's complicity with the Colombian rebels -- he obviously knows how to communicate with them -- but also what FARC is seeking in exchange for the hostages, namely a safe haven inside Venezuela where they can build bombs, store weapons and otherwise plan for attacks on civilians.

Mr. Richardson may want to position himself in U.S. politics as a cool Hispanic statesman with a sophisticated understanding of the region. But after this trip, he's looking like just one more naïve gringo.

-- Mary Anastasia O'Grady



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ccp
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« Reply #104 on: May 06, 2008, 08:49:37 PM »

Newt is the Paul Revere of the republican party.  Problem who in Republican leadership is ready able and willing to take up the call to arms?   It seems that besides him and McCain there is a total vacuum out there.

I have signed up for his emails and I got this one today:

   
 ****  Subject:   My Plea to Republicans
Newt Gingrich    

May 6, 2008
Vol. 3, No. 19
My Plea to Republicans: It's Time for Real Change to Avoid Real Disaster
By Newt Gingrich


The Republican loss in the special election for Louisiana's Sixth Congressional District last Saturday should be a sharp wake up call for Republicans: Either Congressional Republicans are going to chart a bold course of real change or they are going to suffer decisive losses this November.

The facts are clear and compelling.

Saturday's loss was in a district that President Bush carried by 19 percentage points in 2004 and that the Republicans have held since 1975.

This defeat follows on the loss of Speaker Hastert's seat in Illinois. That seat had been held by a Republican for 76 years with the single exception of the 1974 Watergate election when the Democrats held it for one term. That same seat had been carried by President Bush 55-44% in 2004.
Two GOP Losses That Validate a National Pattern

These two special elections validate a national polling pattern that is bad news for Republicans. According to a New York Times/CBS Poll, Americans disapprove of the President's job performance by 63 to 28 (and he has been below 40% job approval since December 2006, the longest such period for any president in the history of polling).

A separate New York Times/CBS Poll shows that a full 81 percent of Americans believe the economy is on the wrong track.

The current generic ballot for Congress according to the NY Times/CBS poll is 50 to 32 in favor of the Democrats. That is an 18-point margin, reminiscent of the depths of the Watergate disaster.
Congressional Republicans Can't Take Comfort in McCain's Poll Numbers

Senator McCain is currently running ahead of the Republican congressional ballot by about 16 percentage points. But there are two reasons that this extraordinary personal achievement should not comfort congressional Republicans.

First, McCain's lead is a sign of the gap between the McCain brand of independence and the GOP brand. No regular Republican would be tying or slightly beating the Democratic candidates in this atmosphere. It is a sign of how much McCain is a non-traditional Republican that he is sustaining his personal popularity despite his party's collapse.

Second, there is a grave danger for the McCain campaign that if the generic ballot stays at only 32 % for the GOP it will ultimately outweigh McCain's personal appeal and drag his candidacy into defeat.
The Anti-Obama, Anti-Wright, and Anti-Clinton GOP Model Has Been Tested -- And It Failed

The Republican brand has been so badly damaged that if Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti- Reverend Wright, or (if Senator Clinton wins), anti-Clinton campaign, they are simply going to fail.

This model has already been tested with disastrous results.

In 2006, there were six incumbent Republican Senators who had plenty of money, the advantage of incumbency, and traditionally successful consultants.

But the voters in all six states had adopted a simple position: "Not you." No matter what the GOP Senators attacked their opponents with, the voters shrugged off the attacks and returned to, "Not you."

The danger for House and Senate Republicans in 2008 is that the voters will say, "Not the Republicans."
Republicans Have Lost the Advantage on Every Single-Issue Poll

A February Washington Post poll shows that Republicans have lost the advantage to the Democrats on which party can handle an issue better -- on every single topic.

Americans now believe that Democrats can handle the deficit better (52 to 31), taxes better (48 to 40) and even terrorism better (44 to 37).

This is a catastrophic collapse of trust in Republicans built up over three generations on the deficit, two generations on taxes, and two generations on national security.
House Republicans Should Call an Emergency, Members-Only Conference

Faced with these election results, the House Republicans should hold an emergency members-only meeting. At the meeting, they should pose this stark choice: Real change or certain defeat.

If a majority of the House Republicans vote for real change, they should instruct Republican Leader John Boehner and his team to come back with a new plan by the Wednesday before the Memorial Day recess. This plan should involve real change in legislative, communications, and campaign strategy and involve immediate, real action, including a complete overhaul of the Congressional Campaign Committee. The House Republican Conference would then vote for the plan or insist on its revision.

If a majority of the House Republicans are opposed to acting then the minority who are activists should establish a parallel organization dedicated to real change. This group should focus its energies on creating the changes necessary to survive despite a conference with a minority mindset that accepts defeat rather than fights for real change (which is what we had when I entered Congress in 1978).
Nine Acts of Real Change That Could Restore the GOP Brand

Here are nine acts of real change that would begin to rebuild the American people's confidence that Republicans share their values, understand their worries, and are prepared to act instead of just talk. The Republicans in Congress could get a start on all nine this week if they had the will to do so.

   1. Repeal the gas tax for the summer, and pay for the repeal by cutting domestic discretionary spending so that the transportation infrastructure trust fund would not be hurt. At a time when, according to The Hill newspaper, Senator Clinton is asking for $2.3billion in earmarks, it should be possible for Republicans to establish a "government spending versus your pocketbook" fight over cutting the gas tax that would resonate with most Americans. Lower taxes and less government spending should be a battle cry most taxpayers and all conservatives could rally behind.

   2. Redirect the oil being put into the national petroleum reserve onto the open market. That oil would lower the price of gasoline an extra 5 to 6 cents per gallon, and its sale would lower the deficit.

   3. Introduce a "more energy at lower cost with less environmental damage and greater national security bill" as a replacement for the Warner-Lieberman "tax and trade" bill which is coming to the floor of the Senate in the next few weeks (see my newsletter next week for an outline of a solid pro-economy, pro-national security, pro-environment energy bill). When the American people realize how much the current energy prices are actually a "politicians' energy crisis" they will demand real change in our policies.

   4. Establish an earmark moratorium for one year and pledge to uphold the presidential veto of bills with earmarks through the end of 2009. The American people are fed up with politicians spending their money. They currently believe both parties are equally bad. This is a real opportunity to show the difference.

   5. Overhaul the census and cut its budget radically. The recent announcement that the Census Bureau could not build an effective hand-held computer for $1.3 billion and is turning instead to 600,000 temporary workers to do a paper and pencil census in 2010 is an opportunity to slash its budget, shrink its bureaucracy, and turn to entrepreneurial internet-based companies to build an information-age census. This is an absurdity that cries out for bold, decisive reform (see my YouTube video "FedEx versus federal bureaucracy" for an example of what I mean).

   6. Implement a space-based, GPS-style air traffic control system. The problems of the Federal Aviation Administration are symptoms of a union-dominated bureaucracy resisting change. If we implemented a space-based GPS-style air traffic system we would get 40% more air travel with one-half the bureaucrats. The union has stopped 200,000,000 passengers from enjoying more reliable air travel to protect 7,000 obsolete jobs. This real change would allow the millions of frustrated travelers to have champions in congress trying to help them get places better, safer, faster.

   7. Declare English the official language of government. This real change is supported by 87% of the American people including a majority of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Latinos. It is an issue of national unity that brings Americans together in a red, white, and blue majority.

   8. Protect the workers' right to a secret ballot. The vast majority (around 81%) of Americans believe that American workers have a right to have a secret ballot election before they are forced to join a union. Last year the House Democrats passed a bill that would strip American workers of the secret ballot. A new bill should be introduced reaffirming that right, and it should be brought up again and again until marginal Democrats are forced to vote with the American people against the union power structure.

   9. Remind Americans that judges matter. Senate Republicans should mount an ongoing fight (including a filibuster of other activities if necessary) to get the American people to realize that liberals want to block all current judicial appointments in order to maximize the number of left wing radical judges they can appoint if they win the White House. This issue has three advantages. It reminds people that judges matter and that a leftwing radical Supreme Court would be bad for the values of most (70 to 90 percent, depending on the issue) Americans. It shows the Democrats are not engaged in fair play. It arouses the activism of those who have been disappointed by Republicans and have forgotten how bad a liberal Democratic Presidency would be.

What Is at Stake

No Republicans should kid themselves. It's time to face up to a stark choice. Without change we could face a catastrophic election this fall. 
Without change the Republican Party in the House could revert to the permanent minority status it had from 1930 to 1994.  Without change, the majorities of Americans who support the Republican principle of smaller, more efficient, smarter and fairer government will be in for a rude awakening.

It's time for real change to avoid a real disaster.

The "May Day Massacre": Can Liberals Govern in a Global Economy?

Despite the poor outlook for conservatives in our elections this November, there is encouraging news from across the Atlantic. The conservative wave sweeping Europe hit England last week when the liberal Labor Party suffered its worst local election results in 40 years.

Boris Johnson became the first Conservative Party member elected mayor of London when he defeated Labour candidate "Red" Ken Livingstone. In contests for more than 4,000 local seats across England, Conservatives captured 44 percent of the vote, compared to 25 percent for the Liberal Democrats and just 24 percent for Labour.

This Conservative victory in England comes on the heels of a history-making rout of the Communists and the Greens in parliamentary elections Italy two weeks ago. And the Italian results follow center-right victories in France (Sarkozy) and Germany (Merkel). The countries of so-called "old" Europe are turning away from the liberal high tax, big government policies that have crippled their economies and are turning toward pro-growth, pro-competitive center-right solutions.

All of which raises the question: Can the Left successfully govern in a modern, global economy? The voters of Europe seem to be saying no.

Your friend,

Newt Gingrich *****
« Last Edit: May 07, 2008, 05:47:06 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #105 on: May 07, 2008, 11:14:15 AM »

I so wish Newt were the candidate for the Republicans , , , , anyway, here's this:

Guns for Oil
May 7, 2008; Page A18
Speaking of energy (see here), we can't help but give more attention to a recent press release from some of the Senate's leading liberals. Charles Schumer, Byron Dorgan, Bernie Sanders, Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu are demanding that President Bush tell OPEC nations to increase their oil supplies or risk losing arms deals with the United States. The Senators say U.S. consumers need the price relief that only increased oil production can bring.

Yes, that Senator Schumer and that Senator Dorgan, both of whom voted against increasing U.S. oil production because they couldn't abide drilling across 1% of Alaska's wilderness. Yes, that Senator Casey, who has called for mandatory reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide. At least Senator Landrieu of Louisiana has fought to allow more offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

All of these Senate Democrats are willing to accept greater carbon emissions, as long as we can also outsource jobs in the petroleum industry to Middle Eastern dictatorships. The Senators do aver that "some of us have concerns in general about arming this region to the teeth," but apparently cheap fossil fuel buys a lot of peace of mind.

A special word of concern about Mr. Sanders: He is the only avowed socialist in Congress, but the Vermonter appears to be losing his religion over $122-a-barrel oil. By signing this letter, not only is he officially recognizing the law of supply and demand; he's also proposing a more crassly commercial trade of guns for oil than anything we've ever heard from the most candid realpolitician.

To top it off, the Senator whose Web site proudly proclaims that the first bill he introduced was to combat global warming now wants more fossil fuels ready for burning. We hope his friends are closely watching Mr. Sanders, in case he blows a gasket over all of this cognitive ideological dissonance.
============
Both Democratic candidates have to face some hard realities in the aftermath of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries.

For Hillary Clinton, it's that Mr. Obama's overwhelming victory in North Carolina now makes it almost impossible for her to take the popular vote lead when the primaries finish on June 3. That, combined with her certain deficit in elected delegates, will make her case to undecided superdelegates a hard sell.

She will also have to confront the fact that a major reason she lost is that, according to yesterday's exit polls, half of the Democratic primary electorate does not think she is honest or trustworthy. It has been 15 years since the Clintons burst onto the national stage and it now appears that all of the scandals involving the First Lady -- Travelgate, Filegate, Whitewater, various presidential pardons and countless others -- have sapped her credibility. No matter how pointed her case about Mr. Obama's electability in the fall, she is too flawed a messenger to fully capitalize on those concerns.

Mr. Obama is going to have to address his continued weakness with white, working-class voters. He won North Carolina on the strength of getting 93% of the black vote, and since blacks made up a third of the electorate in the Tar Heel State, the African-American vote was able to carry him to victory. But he won only 38% of white Democrats and only 42% of independent voters.

In Indiana it was no better. He won half of the vote on the strength of his showing in urban Gary and Indianapolis, but was trounced 65% to 35% among white Democrats and also lost independent voters. The Rev. Wright and Mr. Obama's remarks in San Francisco about rural voters have taken a toll -- two-thirds of Democrats in both states who voted for Mrs. Clinton told exit pollsters they would be dissatisfied with Mr. Obama as the nominee.

In the end, most of those voters will come home to Mr. Obama. But with national polls showing John McCain essentially tied with him, that may not be good enough. Democrats are closer than ever to having a nominee after Mr. Obama's showing last night. But once again they appear to have handed Republicans ammunition to paint that nominee as an out-of-touch liberal.

-- John Fund

In Your Dreams...

That didn't take long.

Within hours of the polls closing in North Carolina and Indiana, a group called VoteBoth.com began emailing reporters and others to announce the launching of an effort to unite Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the same ticket -- a so called Democratic "Dream Team."

The Web site is catchy. There is a banner that alternates between "Clinton-Obama" and "Obama-Clinton" and features a hybrid of their campaign logos. Readers are urged to contact superdelegates and press them to insist on a unity ticket.

However, Barack Obama supporters would be forgiven if they viewed the effort with some suspicion. As columnist Salena Zito points out, the VoteBoth.com site was originally known as Clinton-Obama 08. Founder Adam Parkhomenko admits Hillary was his original preference but now he wants to be more ecumenical.

Anything is possible but one Democratic superdelegate I spoke with is highly skeptical that Mr. Obama could be talked into sharing the ticket with his current rival. "We have seen the Clinton machine in action and it is not pretty," he told me. "If Hillary were the vice president you would have Bill rattling around the West Wing and Obama would need a food taster for four years. No way."

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"A top Democratic source with insight into Bill's and Hillary's states of mind says the Clintons are convinced that a Democratic presidency is all but certain no matter how messy the fight for the nomination. In that scenario -- which the Obama side and some Democratic elders worry is wishful thinking at best, delusional at worst -- there's no downside for Hillary doing whatever it takes for as long as it takes. 'At the end of the day,' a Hillary loyalist who talks regularly to campaign headquarters sighs, 'I think he still wins the nomination.' But not without a bigger -- and longer -- fight than Obama, and many in the party, had hoped for" -- New York Daily News Washington Bureau Chief Thomas DeFrank.

Quote of the Day II

"The view that nature was in some sort of preferred, yet fragile, state of balance before humans came along is arbitrary and philosophical -- even religious. It is entirely possible that there are other, more preferable states of balance in nature which are more robust and less fragile than whatever the state of nature was before we came along. You would think that science is the last place you would find such religious opinions, yet they dominate the worldview of scientists. Natural scientists tend to worship nature, and they then teach others to worship nature, too . . . all under the guise of 'science'" -- University of Alabama climate scientist Roy Spencer, writing in National Review.

Kryptonite for Superdelegates?

Last night, Hillary Clinton eked out a victory in Indiana, which she will likely use to justify continuing on. But her big loss in North Carolina undoubtedly finished off any real hope of swinging the superdelegates behind her campaign. Had she won even a decent sliver of the black vote, demonstrating that her appeal isn't merely the situational one of appealing to white, blue-collar voters who won't vote for Barack Obama, she could have made a case that nominating her wouldn't necessarily split the party in the fall. But that story went out the window when she won a pitiful 9% of the black vote.

The next stop is West Virginia, which holds its presidential contest next week. Mrs. Clinton is expected to win handily there, because white, blue-collar voters dominate the state's electorate. But it won't matter. This is a fight the party's nearly 800 superdelegates will now have to settle -- a denouement party leaders had wanted to avoid, since it smacks of the backroom deals of old.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has floated the idea of holding a mini-superdelegate convention in June, getting the dirty work out of the way before the August convention. But there's another option for the party to avoid the awkwardness of having superdelegates decide on the nominee -- simply strip the superdelegates of their right to vote and allow Mr. Obama to claim the nomination based on his lead in pledged delegates. Connecticut stripped Sen. Joe Lieberman of his superdelegate status earlier this year, as punishment for endorsing John McCain's bid for the White House. There's no reason the other superdelegates couldn't be stripped of their votes as well. Doing so would get a lot of attention and likely win the Democratic National Committee plaudits for its willingness to trust the judgment of voters over party poobahs.

-- Brendan Miniter



« Last Edit: May 07, 2008, 12:33:56 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ccp
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« Reply #106 on: May 08, 2008, 11:25:38 AM »

Well it is no surprise.  "People do it all the time".

How can anyone not be disgusted with our politicians (including corrupt Republicans) when the American people can all be sold down the river?  I guess it was always this way.  Perhaps it is just more obvious now with the dissemination of news and the gross pandering, polls, say anything to anybody that we see on a national scale but it really makes me question why I should think this country is so "great".  I watch a cable program on John Adams, and than, I look at most of the policticians of today and all I can do is get disgusted. 

I don't always agree with his policies but I would step up and say I feel McCain is a hero and more admirable than most.  So he is a "loose cannon" and sometimes speaks in anger.  I do admire him far more than most policticians I can think of.  I guess as the campaign progresses we will learn more about the candidates and if my impression will still hold.  BO ain't no ABe Lincoln that's for sure.  And we all know about the Clintons.  She is no Abigail Adams.  What a laugh - she says her "dream date" would be with Abe Lincoln!  One of the world's most honest human beings to have ever lived with one of the world's biggest damn liars to have ever lived.  Talk about contrast (not likeness) as she would like to have us think.

I get disgusted when she tries to manipulate public opinion with her wardrobe that reminisces of the clothes we see the distinguished fathers/mopthers of our country are wearing as we see it in the old oil paintings.  Like she has one one hundreth the character of any of them.  Am I the only one who is disgusted by this?


***DNC Superdelegate Puts His Vote Up For Sale
Steven Ybarra Wants $20 Million For His Vote
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS13) ― In this tight battle for the democratic nomination we've heard a lot about the candidates courting super-delegates.

But, one superdelegate is courting the candidates. He says he'll sell his vote for a price. A very high price: $20 million.

Sacramento superdelegate Steven Ybarra says that eight-figure price is peanuts for the presidency.

When asked whether it was right to offer what is clearly a quid pro quo?

"Yeah, absolutely. People do it all the time," answered Ybarra.

But, not like this. Not in public, and not for such big bucks.

It begs the question. Is he crazy?

"Nobody's said I'm crazy," said Ybarra.

Ybarra wants every cent of the $20 million to go toward registering and educating eligible Mexican-American voters, who he calls the key to the white house.

"And I keep asking the question of the DNC, 'why won't you earmark money for these voters?' And their answer is, 'oh, we can't do that' which is a lie," said Ybarra.

With the Democratic National Committee saying 'no,' Ybarra waits for a 'yes' from already cash-strapped Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Would he accept less? How about $5 million?

"No, $5 million is nothing," said Ybarra.

It might be a moot point as neither campaign has come calling.

"No, I think most people right now are looking at this as some crazy guy in California because after all I'm from California," said Ybarra.

He thinks his own party is crazy for not aggressively pursuing the Mexican-American vote especially with such a large Mexican-American population in the southwest.

"We should kick John McCain's a** in his own hometown," said Ybarra.

This superdelegate thinks his vote would be the best 20 million a candidate could ever spend. After all he says, in 2004 John Kerry spent a billion dollars to lose.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.***
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #107 on: May 08, 2008, 01:02:09 PM »



How Obama Won the Cable TV Primary

Broadcasters on cable TV shows used to pride themselves on their efforts to be objective or at least not overt in their biases. But much has changed as the cable TV news universe has been morphed into a fierce competition with the emergence of ratings leader Fox News, which clearly appeals to a conservative-leaning audience. CNN, the old ratings favorite, still leans left but has made efforts at balance. MSNBC, on the other hand, seems to be seeking out more and more liberal-minded viewers.

But not all liberals are created equal, which has resulted in frequent complaints from Hillary Clinton supporters that the network is biased against her in the current primary fights. Last night, Hardball host Chris Matthews added fuel to that fire when he appeared for a speech at Harvard's Institute of Politics.

According to attendees, Mr. Matthews heaped praise upon Mr. Obama during his talk. So much so that during the Q&A, he was asked by an audience member if MSNBC officially backed the Illinois Senator. "Well, it's not official," Mr. Matthews replied in a burst of candor. He then launched into a rambling answer that appeared aimed at partially retracting his admission and ended with the assertion that all of his bosses at MSNBC had backed the Iraq war.

But MSNBC does not have much of a defense. During Tuesday night's primary coverage, the pro-Obama spin was so obvious that the political tipsheet Hotline joked that MSNBC's enthusiasm level for the Obama campaign registered somewhere between Richard Simmons and the "American Idol" girl who cried over Sanjaya.

The storyline of the 2008 election has been dramatically influenced by the favoritism shown Mr. Obama in certain media circles. John Harris, editor of Politico.com, has said he was forced to put certain reporters sent to cover Mr. Obama through a rehab program after they returned to the office. Back in January, NBC News anchor Brian Williams noted that Lee Cowan, the reporter NBC had sent to cover Mr. Obama, had told him that "it is hard to stay objective covering this guy."

Some media reevaluations of Mr. Obama are now taking place, fueled in part by revelations such as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright that are hard to ignore. But the simple truth is that Mr. Obama has had a free media ride for so long that he effectively wrapped up the Democratic nomination before any of his political weaknesses were generally known.

As Hillary Clinton wrestles with a way to continue her underdog fight against Mr. Obama, she is said to be seething about the kid-glove coverage he was accorded for so long. What she forgets is that back in 1992, when Bill Clinton and she were the new kids on the political block, they too benefited from glowing coverage that pushed off close analysis of their many problems until after 1992 election was over.

-- John Fund

Continuing the Jones Act

The Jones family has represented a Congressional district in North Carolina for 40 out of the last 42 years, with Democrat Walter Jones Sr. leaving office in 1992 and his son Walter Jr. taking over two years later -- though, in a twist, this younger Jones was elected as a Republican.

And a rare kind of Republican too. In recent years, he has aligned himself with the Ron Paul school of Republicanism, and voted against many Bush administration foreign policy priorities. An original supporter of the Iraq war, the younger Mr. Jones started voting against the war in 2005 and had warm words for Mr. Paul during the latter's presidential bid.

That brought him a vigorous challenge in Tuesday's GOP primary from Joe McLaughlin, a conservative local official who said Mr. Jones was consorting with the far left and undermining U.S. troops who are stationed in the strongly pro-military district. The race "is not even about Walter Jones. It's about the future of the Republican Party in the 3rd District. And if he wins, it's virtually the end of the party," Mr. McLaughlin claimed.

But beating an incumbent is always an uphill struggle, and Rep. Jones was able to outspend his challenger some five to one. In the end, Mr. McLaughlin's apocalyptic warnings did not resonate with district voters who had known the Jones family for decades. The congressman won 60% of the vote on Tuesday.

No doubt his victory does not mean his constituents share his anti-war views. But it does mean that if a congressman has built up enough credibility on other issues, voters will often forgive him for going against them so long as it appears to them to be a principled stand.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"There are various exit strategies right now. Number one would be, go out on a win. So, stay in until West Virginia, where Sen. Clinton is likely the winner, and Kentucky on May 20, and after that, bow out.... But the big one, Charlie -- and this is what some people close to the Clintons are talking about: Is there a way to negotiate a settlement with Barack Obama to have Sen. Clinton on the ticket...? Can he get over the bitterness of this campaign? Can he be convinced that it's the strongest ticket? Third, of course, would Sen. Clinton take it? I think if it was offered in the right way, yes" -- ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, last night reporting that Hillary Clinton is angling for the No. 2 spot on an Obama ticket.

Quote of the Day II

"Most of all, [Hillary Clinton] was too late in understanding how much the Democratic Party's mania for 'fairness,' as mandated by liberals like her, has, by forbidding winner-take-all primaries, made it nearly impossible for her to overcome Obama's early lead in delegates.... If even, say, Texas, California and Ohio were permitted to have winner-take-all primaries (as 48 states have winner-take-all allocation of their electoral votes), Clinton would have been more than 400 delegates ahead of Obama before Tuesday and today would be at her ancestral home in New York planning to return some of its furniture to the White House next January" -- syndicated columnist George F. Will.

Healing the Breach with Hispanics

The fast-growing Hispanic population in America has also proved a growing political problem for the Republican Party. The GOP's share of the Hispanic vote plummeted after the last Republican Congress's angry debate on immigration reform. That episode, which quickly focused on fence-building and deportations, created a portion of the electorate that now holds the Republican Party in increasing contempt.

Exit polls from the 2004 election show Hispanic voters favored Democratic candidates in Congressional elections by 55%-44% margin. Two years later, that margin more than doubled, with Hispanics favoring Democratic candidates by 62%-37%. In some states, several enforcement-only hardliners lost what had been Republican districts to more moderate Democratic challengers. In Arizona alone, Rep. J.D. Hayworth lost his seat to Democrat Harry Mitchell, while State Senator Gabrielle Giffords, also a Democrat, won an open seat previously held by a senior Republican when she beat an anti-illegal immigration activist.

This year, GOP strategists have warned that their party is in danger of categorically ruling out competing among Hispanic voters for perhaps a generation to come.

At least one state Republican Party is trying to engage Hispanic voters before it's too late. This weekend, the Florida GOP will host a Hispanic Leadership Council Conference featuring keynote addresses from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Rep. Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico, and home-state Senator Mel Martinez -- three of the leading Hispanic voices in the party today.

"The Hispanic vote and the African American vote is the future of the Republican Party," Florida party chair Jim Greer says (Mr. Greer held a similar event aimed at African American voters late last year). To get the groups involved, he adds: "We ensure that they have a seat at the table, and wherever [the Republican Party has] failed in the past, we correct that."

It is a help to the GOP that John McCain is the party's standard-bearer in this year's presidential contest. Mr. McCain is far more moderate on immigration issues than most of his primary rivals were, several of whom proposed steps just short of outright deportation of undocumented aliens. And while Mr. McCain has recently backed off his support for a comprehensive approach that would include a guest-worker program, telling conservative voters in his own base that he understands their concerns about rewarding illegal behavior, his legislative and political record could prove more appealing to Hispanic voters, or at least less damaging to the party's chances with those voters, than anything his erstwhile rivals could have offered.

If Mr. Greer's efforts to woo Hispanic voters works (and he says the Hispanic constituency is "critically important" to a successful GOP presidential campaign in Florida), the idea could be exported to other states in time for Congressional elections in 2010. But if others choose the route of ex-Rep. Hayworth and the immigration hardliners, the damage to party's reputation with Hispanic voters could be severe and long lasting.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #108 on: May 09, 2008, 12:28:55 PM »



Pay Me to Go

Why is she still running? That's what Democrats are asking about Hillary Clinton in the wake of her disappointing performance in Tuesday's primaries.

One explanation is that something could always turn up once again to knock Mr. Obama off-stride, just as happened with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Mr. Obama's infamous "bitter" comments. Another possible reason is that she can't afford to leave the race. So far, Mrs. Clinton has loaned over $11 million of her own money into the campaign and still has substantial debts, including $4.5 million to her former chief strategist Mark Penn.

A little-known provision of the McCain-Feingold election law makes her exit a difficult question. If she hopes to get paid back for the money she lent her campaign, she can only accept repayment until the date of the Democratic convention in August. After that she can only accept a maximum of $250,000 from contributors.

"If she wants to be repaid, she'd have to move on that between now and the national convention," former Federal Election Commission chairman Michael Toner told U.S. News & World Report. The longer Mrs. Clinton stays in the race, the greater the chance she can still find some donors who have not already given her the maximum contribution allowed by law. Should she drop out, her chances of raising money from anyone effectively become zero.

There's also the chance of negotiating her exit from the race with Barack Obama, whose campaign is so flush with cash he doesn't know how to spend it all. Mr. Obama could offer to appear at fundraisers on her behalf to retire her campaign debt as well as suggest to his donors that they write a check to her campaign.

Perhaps the resolution of the endless Democratic primary struggle is close at hand. It may take only a few phone calls between the two camps for Mrs. Clinton to suddenly discover her long-suppressed desire for party unity.

-- John Fund

She Don't Need No Stinkin' Economists

Why didn't we think of that?

Campaigning in Indiana on Monday, Hillary Clinton proposed to fix the problem of high oil prices once and for all -- by breaking up OPEC. "We're going to go right at OPEC," she promised a crowd. "They can no longer be a cartel . . ."

Maybe she'll stop the tide from coming in next. Mrs. Clinton ignores a salient fact: OPEC isn't nearly as powerful as it sometimes pretends to be -- and as its critics like to declaim. We would never have seen $15 oil a decade ago. Five years ago, OPEC established a policy of maintaining the world price of oil in a $10 band around $25 a barrel. See how well that worked out.

But Mrs. Clinton's real innovation lies elsewhere -- in breaking with the tradition of politicians seeking validation for their economic nostrums from economic experts. Indeed, she dismissed the very idea of needing approval from the pointy-headed, saying, "I'm not going to put my lot in with economists." Mrs. Clinton was defending specifically her gas-tax holiday proposal, which virtually all economists judge to be worthless. But her handy "just say no" strategy when it comes to carping experts is something budding demagogues everywhere will want to note.

-- Brian M. Carney

Quote of the Day I

"There's only one remaining chapter in this fascinating spectacle. Negotiating the terms of Hillary's surrender. After which we will have six months of watching her enthusiastically stumping the country for Obama, denying with utter conviction Republican charges that he is the out of touch, latte-sipping elitist she warned Democrats against so urgently in the last, late leg of her doomed campaign" -- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Quote of the Day II

"We cannot win with eggheads and African Americans. That's the Dukakis coalition which carried ten states" -- former Bill Clinton campaign adviser Paul Begala, on CNN arguing that Barack Obama needs to win back the white working-class voters who rejected him for Hillary Clinton.

It's Morning in London

The most satisfying part of the news that London ousted Labour Party Mayor Ken Livingstone in favor of Conservative Boris Johnson is that the list of notables honored by the city will now change dramatically. Mayor Livingstone, known as "Red Ken" for his avowedly socialist beliefs, had announced plans to honor the 50th anniversary of Communist Cuba's revolution on January 1, 2009 with a week-long series of street parties and a celebration of Fidel Castro's life in Trafalgar Square. With the election of Mr. Johnson, a staunch anti-Communist, you can bet that party is heading for the dustbin of history.

The political earthquake that swept Mr. Johnson into office with 53% of the vote can be compared to the voter revolts of the 1990s that led New York and Los Angeles to elect Republican mayors. Mr. Johnson ran on a campaign of getting tougher on crime, withdrawing free transit rights from people who abuse them, and giving better value for the high taxes Londoners pay. He also called for peeling away the excesses of multiculturalism that had Mr. Livingstone simultaneously passing out grants to lesbian dance collectives while he defended a local Muslim cleric, Yusuf al-Quaradawi, who supported wife-beating and the execution of gays.

Mr. Johnson will now share with Tory leader David Cameron the spotlight as the two most prominent Conservative politicians in Britain. Should he govern London successfully, it will be a further blow to the Labour government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which backed Mr. Livingstone to no avail and on the same night as Mr. Johnson won was badly beaten in local elections across Britain.

While it will be Mr. Cameron who will lead the Tories into battle in the next general election in 2010, observers have already noted that at age 44 the new mayor of London could have a prominent role in British politics for years to come -- perhaps even on the national stage someday.

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DougMacG
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« Reply #109 on: May 09, 2008, 03:32:06 PM »

Newt is one of my favorites too. He identifies the problem and the need for a solution beautifully, but I don't think he or anyone else has honed in on the right answer yet.  I challenge anyone out there to make a top ten list of what you believe in and what policies get us there. I take my stab at it below. 

Newt's contract with America in 1994 included some fluff (term limits) but also included at least a couple of grand slam home runs: welfare reform and capital gains tax rate cuts that, along with New's help passing NAFTA, formed the only pro-growth policies of the allegedly successful Clinton years.  The Contract also included failures such as budget process reform and zero based budgeting which are in just as bad shape today as they were then.

My comments on Newt's new list:

1) Temporary repeal of the gas tax paid for with spending restraint - a gimick
2) Use National Petroleum Reserve to alleviate current gas prices - a gimick
3) Energy Bill - This should be front and center!
4) One year Earmark Moratorium - gimick, but maybe useful making it hard to ever start again.
5) Overhaul Census - good policy, but not top ten for marketing
6) Space-based Air Traffic - ditto, not a top ten problem.  I thought he was going to say traffic control to get stoplights, lanes and cars moving where YOU drive, then I would be with him.
7) Make English the language of government - An obvious good policy, but not a brand maker for the party.
8. Secret Ballots for Labor votes - Again, good policy but only relevant to some 13% anymore.
9) Judges Matter - This also should be front and center!
----

Rough draft of my top ten:

1) Energy - Bigger and better energy supplies for a growing economy: use the cleanest and best known sources and methods and start producing real energy in America, oil, gas, nuclear, clean coal, solar and wind - all of it! Our government should regulate safety and require best methods but NOT prohibit or stop production.  On the demand side we should encourage conservation and smarter use.  Big government is the number one user of energy in this country and should lead by example, cutting non-essential uses immediately and aggressively.
2) Health Care - Mandate catastrophic coverage for accidents and illnesses like we do car insurance.  Pay regular costs individually out of health savings accounts.  Require transparency in health care costs.  Use market discipline to control cost.
3) National Security - Take the job of protecting Americans seriously, from terrorist surveillance and preventing new attacks to shutting down terror pipelines to killing and capturing those who would destroy us.
4) Balance the Budget using spending restraint.  Two and a half trillion in today's dollars ought to be enough!
5) Protect our Environment - zero tolerance for polluters. Pass and enforce real protection based on known science.
6) Appoint and confirm judges who will uphold the constitution.
7) Immigration - More fences, more surveillance but also more legal entry points.  Significantly expand legal immigration combined with zero tolerance for new trespassers.  No tolerance for current illegals who break a second law. One strike and you're out.  Plea bargain and settle with otherwise law-abiding illegals in America AFTER evidence proves the borders are now sealed.
8. Education aimed at global competitiveness - Local control, state guidance and increased parental choices. Limited federal involvement.
9) Taxes(McCain Plan): New alternative 2 step 'flat' tax with generous standard deduction. Eliminate the AMT.  Make the corporate tax competitive.
10) Break down trade barriers across the globe to keep spreading economic freedom and prosperity.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2008, 03:39:39 PM by DougMacG » Logged
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« Reply #110 on: May 12, 2008, 12:03:11 PM »

John McCain's campaign is strongly considering presenting Barack Obama with a proposal for a completely new kind of presidential debates -- a series of town hall meetings in which the two men would debate without a moderator.

"The town hall meeting is John's best format," writes Mark McKinnon, a former media strategist for President Bush who is now supporting the Arizona senator. "He's a natural campaigner up close with the public. That would test Obama's claims that he wants a clean fight on the issues."

The idea for Lincoln-Douglas style debates isn't new on the presidential level. The late Barry Goldwater once said that he and President John Kennedy discussed barnstorming across the country together and debating in joint appearances. But no candidate has ever taken the tremendous risks such a series of appearances would involve.

For all that Mr. Obama says he wants a "New Politics," don't place large bets on him accepting a McCain offer on free-wheeling debates. Over the weekend, Mr. Obama told reporters he would be open to appearing in "town hall" style events, but indicated such appearances would have to be negotiated. His campaign adviser David Axelrod said only that any invitation from the McCain camp would be considered "very seriously."

Most analysts don't expect Mr. Obama to take the plunge. Mr. McCain is an uneven debater, but the memory of Mr. Obama's last debate in mid-April on ABC is still fresh on the minds of his advisers. Mr. Obama was generally viewed as turning in a peevish and tentative performance and since then has avoided other invitations.

Mr. Obama might view more favorably the traditional tightly-controlled debates such as the ones normally hosted in the fall by PBS anchor Jim Lehrer, who would be unlikely to bring up any of the divisive character issues that Mr. Obama had to confront in the mid-April ABC debate.

-- John Fund

Pitching Pawlenty

Not entirely oblivious to the talk of his possible future as John McCain's running mate, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently launched in his state what he calls a "21st Century Tax Reform Commission." The idea is to rewrite the state's tax code to reflect changes in its more diversified and modern economy -- though one reporter jokingly asked if it should have been called the "Pawlenty No New Taxes Commission."

No wonder the Minnesota governor is on almost everyone's shortlist of potential GOP VP candidates. Karl Rove floated his name on Fox News recently. Mr. Pawlenty has managed to win election twice in a swing state that Republicans would love to win in November. President Bush ran well in the Twin Cities suburbs in 2004. The GOP hopes to build on the momentum by holding the party's national convention in Minneapolis late this summer. Picking Mr. Pawlenty, the thinking goes, would give Mr. McCain a solid foundation in the upper Midwest.

But vice presidential contenders need to bring more to the table than possibly winning a state. Not since John F. Kennedy tapped Lyndon Johnson has a running mate tipped a state to a presidential ticket (though some credit Al Gore with helping Bill Clinton in Tennessee in 1992). For a more complete case for Pawlenty, we spoke recently with former Rep. Mark Kennedy, who's close to the governor and knows the ins and outs of Minnesota politics (he lost a hard fought Senate campaign two years ago). His case for his Minnesota colleague goes as follows: In a liberal state with a profligate legislature, Mr. Pawlenty has amassed a respectable record as a fiscal conservative. He's fought against spending hikes and closed a multi-billion-dollar hole in the budget (15% of state spending) without raising taxes. He's now looking to reform the state's tax code. Gov. Pawlenty has presided over "the smallest government growth in 40 years," Mr. Kennedy says, and been a champion of performance pay for teachers, eminent domain reform and tort reform.

That impressive record hasn't stopped certain GOP conservatives from criticizing Mr. Pawlenty for months, hoping to quash a potential McCain/Pawlenty ticket. One red flag is Mr. Pawlenty's statement in 2006 that "the era of small government is over. . . Government has to be more proactive, more aggressive." But Mr. Kennedy brushes the conservative worries aside. Looking at the totality of the governor's record, he says, "Pawlenty would be a great vice presidential candidate."

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day I

"The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate's politics were born in Chicago. Yet [Barack Obama] is presented to the nation as not truly being of this place, as if he floats just above the political corruption here, uninfected, untouched by the stain of it or by any sin of commission or omission.... My argument is not with him -- but with the national political media pack that refuses to look closely at what Chicago is.... Why is Obama allowed to campaign as a reformer, virtually unchallenged by the media, though he's a product of Chicago politics and has never condemned the wholesale political corruption in his home town the way he condemns those darn Washington lobbyists" -- Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.

Quote of the Day II

"Obama has run a brilliant campaign. He has won over many white voters by making them proud to vote for a supremely educated and capable man who, at his best, makes race a secondary concern. It is not inconsistent, unfair or unsavory to point out, at the same time, that Obama has been growing weaker over the months in his ability to win all but black voters. Nor am I necessarily suggesting that white voters are drifting from him because of his race -- as opposed to judgments about the content of his character or candidacy. This is about facing facts. And history will reflect poorly on Democrats if they believe it is virtuous to ignore race in the name of nominating the first black candidate for the White House - even if it means giving the Republicans a better chance to once again walk away with the big prize of the presidency" -- Juan Williams, a political analyst with NPR and Fox News, writing in the New York Daily News.

Greens Going for the Green

Even with the human tragedy of Cyclone Nargis still unfolding in Burma, environmentalists aren't wasting any time linking the disaster to global warming. Or at least one isn't: Al Gore. Citing the deadly Burmese storm and recent storms in China and Bangladesh, he declared on National Public Radio: "We're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."

There's just one problem -- it's not clear there's any link between climate change and hurricane numbers or intensity. The number of big storms has been falling, not rising. As for intensity, researchers led by Christopher Landsea of the National Hurricane Center have found that earlier generations of hurricane-watchers using inferior satellite imagery incorrectly classified many storms as weaker than they actually were. After correcting for this mismeasurement, the "increase" in storm intensity since the 1970s nearly disappears.

But Mr. Gore is perhaps too busy these days to follow the science closely. In April, a London-based company he chairs began selling shares in its so-called Global Sustainability Fund to small investors in New Zealand, following a similar offer to investors in Australia (interestingly, out of sight of the U.S. press). He was also a conspicuously invoked presence when the Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins this month announced a new $500 million "green growth" fund in partnership with Mr. Gore's London firm. Asked by the San Jose Mercury News if Mr. Gore had been helpful in raising money, co-manager John Denniston replied: "That's not been his primary responsibility."

Uh huh. Mr. Gore's primary responsibility, from the looks of it, is to spread alarm about global warming and create the political conditions (subsidies, mandates) without which Kleiner's "green" energy ventures are unlikely to flourish. Expect the payoff to come next year as a new Congress and President debate global warming policy.

-- Joseph Sternberg



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« Reply #111 on: May 13, 2008, 11:37:13 AM »

Political analysts in both Washington and New York's Staten Island now expect GOP Rep. Vito Fossella not to seek re-election. His media adviser says only he plans to continue working on behalf of his constituents "in the weeks" and months to come. But Mr. Fossella's political future probably became untenable after he revealed he fathered a secret daughter three years ago with Laura Fay, a retired Air Force officer.

It was Ms. Fay who picked him up from jail in Alexandria, Virginia when Mr. Fossella was arrested for drunk driving on May 1, after which the story came out.

Mr. Fossella has been urged to resign by the largest paper in his district, the Staten Island Advance, as well as by the New York Post, the tabloid that is a staple of the island's conservative and largely Catholic voters. The district, which includes a portion of Brooklyn, gave President Bush 58% of its vote in 2004.

But don't look for Mr. Fossella to resign immediately. If he left office before July 1, New York's Democratic Gov. David Paterson would call a special election, which would probably force cash-strapped Republicans to spend $2 million in a potentially losing battle. Even should the GOP win the election, it would likely have to spend a like amount to hold the seat again in November.

Candidates are already lining up for the expected vacancy. On the Republican side. State Senator Andrew Lanza would be a strong candidate but his departure from the State Senate could imperil the slim GOP majority in that body. A more likely candidate is Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donavan, who has close ties to both New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He won re-election last year with 68% of the vote.

Democrats have several potential candidates, including State Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick, a former aide to Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. But Ms. Savino would also be under pressure from party officials not to run because her departure from the Senate could allow Republicans to capture her seat.

-- John Fund

The Manchin Candidate

Inside the confines of a voting booth today, popular West Virginia Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin will cast a ballot for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Manchin finds himself in the midst of his party’s most contentious nomination fight in 40 years, and the first nomination fight to reach his state since JFK campaigned there in 1960. But Mr. Manchin has steadfastly refused publicly to endorse either candidate. He's offered to appear at campaign rallies for both. His wife delivered opening remarks at one event that featured a keynote address from Mrs. Clinton. But Mr. Manchin has mainly used the election coverage to boost his state in national media outlets.

More than a few analysts wonder where Mr. Manchin comes down. West Virginia has a hefty proportion of unionized blue-collar workers. It has more senior citizens per capita than nearly any other state. These demographics give Hillary Clinton a near a lock on winning the state's primary. Yet Mr. Manchin is also uniquely suited to be a strong vice presidential candidate under Barack Obama. Mr. Obama would need to move quickly to the political center. He also needs to find a way to win voters he hasn't won in the primaries -- rural, poor and middle class whites. Mr. Manchin's political base of support are West Virginians who own guns, head to church on Sundays and carry union cards in their wallets.

Yet he’s also shown himself to be an effective, practical, moderate reformer. Over his four years in office, he's cut taxes, reformed the state's worker's compensation program and pushed fiscally responsible policies that have left the state in surplus. He brags about the Japanese companies he's attracted to the state. And he has publicly criticized his own party for being in love with "renewable" energy at the expense of coal -- something that could make him appealing to voters given the backlash against ethanol and high food and gas prices.

Going by voter registration alone, West Virginia is a heavily Democratic State. Democrats outnumber Republicans by two-to-one and control the governor's mansion, the state legislature and both U.S. Senate seats. But George W. Bush carried the Mountain State twice in presidential years and Democrats certainly noticed that had Al Gore won there in 2000, he would have won the presidency regardless of the outcome of Florida. Maybe that explains Mr. Manchin’s caginess. Helping to carry West Virginia might earn him a close look as veep by either nominee -- after all, the last Democrat to win the White House without carrying West Virginia was Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day I

"In last Tuesday's North Carolina primary, [Hillary] Clinton got only 7% of the black vote -- a lower percentage than Nixon or Reagan had won in general elections.... No constituency has swung as much over the past few months. The Clintons are used to loving and supporting minorities -- as long as the minorities know their place and see the Clintons as the instrument of their salvation. Obama broke that dependency and that relationship. And that was why the Clintons had to do all they could to destroy and belittle and besmirch him. But in that venture the Clintons are destroying themselves and their legacy and their capacity to bridge the very gaps they now must widen to stay in the race. It is a Clinton tragedy -- and one that most Americans seem slowly, cautiously but palpably determined not to make their own" -- columnist Andrew Sullivan writing in the London Times.

Quote of the Day II

"The Clintons find themselves victimized and under siege. The presidency is being stolen from them. The press is out to get them. They deride elites and champion the masses. They live in a constant state of emergency. But they will endure any humiliation, ride out any crisis, fight on even when fighting seems hopeless. That might sound like a fair summary of how Bill and Hillary Clinton have viewed the past five months. But it also happens to describe what, until now, was the greatest ordeal of the Clintons' almost comically turbulent political careers: impeachment. That baroque saga hardened the Clintonian worldview about politics and helps to explain their approach to this brutal campaign season. The Clintons have been here before, you see. They're being impeached all over again" -- columnist Michael Crowley, writing in the New Republic.

Re-Airing Ronald Reagan

It's been two decades since Ronald Reagan left office and so many young people under 30 have little or no understanding of him or what he represented.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation hopes to remedy that by producing a series of two-minute radio retrospectives featuring excerpts from the over 1,000 commentaries Reagan did in the 1970s between his years as governor and president. Those radio commentaries, published in annotated form recently, have played no small role in forcing even liberals to have a second look and give the Gipper his due as a thinker and writer. Additional broadcasts will use portions of Reagan's Saturday radio addresses as president.

Harry O'Connor, the original producer of what was called "Reagan Radio," is working with the Foundation to produce the commentaries. Peter Hannaford, who wrote some of the commentaries that Reagan himself did not pen, will provide an introduction to each segment. Each one, while non-partisan in nature, will address an issue such as taxes, terrorism, abortion and the economy and in Mr. O'Connor's words "establish the connection between the classic radio addresses and contemporary issues."

-- John Fund



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« Reply #112 on: May 15, 2008, 04:54:14 PM »

Could Bob Barr become this year's Ralph Nader, helping to "spoil" the White House ambitions of John McCain.

The former Georgia Republican congressman announced he was seeking the Libertarian nomination for president this week, and immediately disputed that he is spoiling things for anyone. "The American voters deserve better than simply the lesser of two evils," he said as he outlined his platform to freeze discretionary spending and withdraw from Iraq.

Mr. Barr first has to win the nomination of the fractious Libertarians in Denver later this month. He faces opposition from 13 candidates, including former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel, an amusing oddity in this year's Democratic presidential contest.

If Mr. Barr wins the LP nomination, he would likely appear on some 45 state ballots and could tip some close races to the Democrats. "Barr obviously is dangerous. At least he negates any possible Nader benefit," says David Norcross, chairman of the Rules Committee at the GOP convention. Mr. Nader, widely credited with hurting Al Gore in the 2000 election, is running again as a liberal independent.

Still, Republicans claim they aren't concerned by Mr. Barr's possible appearance on all those state ballots. But they should be. You can bet cable TV producers who are backing Barack Obama will book the quotable Mr. Barr dozens of times. Don't be surprised if he even teams up with Mr. Nader for tag-team appearances, with the consumer advocate primarily blasting Democrats and Mr. Barr eviscerating Republicans.

So how should Republicans limit the potential damage Mr. Barr could cause them? For starters, John McCain should avoid giving unfortunate speeches such as the one he gave Monday endorsing the discredited cap-and-trade approach to limiting global warming -- a system that has flopped in Europe. Mr. McCain went so far as to say: "If the efforts to negotiate an international solution that includes China and India do not succeed, we still have an obligation to act" against global warming. Given the growth in carbon emissions of those two countries, that is a preposterous statement.

Mr. McCain may believe he can attract the votes of young people with his green street cred, but he would be advised not to go too far in alienating his conservative base. Mr. Barr will likely be there every step of the way exploiting conservative discontent with the GOP nominee.

-- John Fund

Tom Cole In the GOP's Stocking

Following the 2006 elections, Republicans faced a 30-seat deficit in the House of Representatives. With that number now grown to 37 seats, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole finds himself in possibly the most unenviable position in Washington. The Democrats' majority is almost sure to increase even more come November, leaving Mr. Cole, whose basic role is to help elect as many Republicans to the House as possible, facing what appears to be inevitable failure.

Since Tuesday's loss in Mississippi's 1st District, Mr. Cole has spoken in rather blunt terms about the state of affairs of the GOP. It was the third recent special election defeat in districts the GOP once dominated.

"When you lose three of these in a row, you have to get beyond campaign tactics and take a long hard look, 'Is there something wrong with your product?'" Mr. Cole said yesterday in a conference call with reporters. "What we've got right now is a deficiency in our message and a loss of confidence by the American people that we are going to do what we say we're going to do. We're not winning in places that Republicans probably ought to win on the basis of just being Republican."

Still, Mr. Cole didn't sound totally defeated, noting that two Democratic special election winners in Mississippi and Louisiana ran on platforms so conservative that they would have been welcomed "to the Republican caucus with open arms." He conceded that the Democratic strategy of running more conservative candidates in Republican districts was proving successful in winning seats now, but he also maintained that it would not be sustainable over the long term. Unfortunately for Mr. Cole, he may not have his NRCC chairmanship long enough to see if that statement proves true.

-- Kyle Trygstad, RealClearPolitics.com

Quote of the Day I

"Edwards stood next to Obama Wednesday night, basking in the applause of thousands of Michigan Democrats who were, for all practical purposes, cheering the end of the Clinton campaign.... No one missed the fact that Barack Obama and John Edwards looked right together. 'They looked fantastic together,' gushed Jill Zuckman, the Chicago Tribune's able political writer. 'They looked like a ticket'" -- The Nation magazine's John Nichols, covering yesterday's endorsement, in the future battleground state of Michigan, of Barack Obama by former rival John Edwards.

Quote of the Day II

"It is unusual for a single individual to hold the fate of an entire industry in his hand -- but that will be the case for the next president of the United States. He or she will have the power to enact unbearably strict fuel economy standards on the cars and trucks sold in half the country. By so doing, he could render vast swaths of the current car and truck lineup obsolete and doom their manufacturers to the scrapyard" -- Fortune Magazine's Alex Taylor III, on whether the next president will allow California and several other states to impose their own stringent CO2 emissions standards on automakers.

Steak Source

South Korea has been swept by mad cow fever in recent weeks, ever since President Lee Myung-bak agreed to re-open the country to imports of U.S. beef. Korea's protectionist farm lobby quickly mobilized in force, aided by a bizarre scaremongering campaign in the South Korean media. One TV documentary claimed Americans themselves don't eat American beef, preferring to import beef from Australia instead (not true: more than 90% of U.S. beef is consumed at home).

The same TV show also purported to prove that Koreans are genetically predisposed to contract the human form of mad cow, an odd assertion since no ethnic Korean has ever fallen victim to the disease.

But now an unexpected ally has leapt to the defense of American ranchers. From their U.S. homes, various Korean-American groups have entered the fight, with noticeable results. "We trust the American public health system," Lee Chang-yup of the Korean-American Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles was quoted as saying in South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper. Other groups have held their own press conferences and issued statements saying their members eat U.S. beef safely all the time and South Koreans should too.

Word from Seoul suggests the campaign is working. Passions have begun to cool as the scientific realities are given their due. Though the Seoul government just announced a 10-delay, President Lee insists the beef imports will eventually resume. If so, U.S. ranchers will have reason to thank Americans of Korean descent who defended American beef in its hour of need.

-- Joseph Sternberg



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« Reply #113 on: May 16, 2008, 12:17:30 PM »

One More Time, Liberals Overplay Their Hand on Gay Marriage

Activist judges and how far they go to position themselves above the legislature or electorate has suddenly become an issue in the presidential race with the narrow 4 to 3 decision by California's Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage.

Barack Obama is unlikely to be pleased by the court's decision. He will recall how the issue of judicial interference with the political process bedeviled John Kerry's 2004 campaign after the high court in Mr. Kerry's home state of Massachusetts legalized gay marriage. Anti-gay marriage initiatives eventually passed that year in nearly a dozen states.

In California, the issue is guaranteed to be a hot political topic this fall. More than 1.1 million signatures have already been collected to put a measure on the November ballot that would change California's ban on gay marriage from a statutory provision to a Constitutional clause. Putting their preferences into the state Constitution is the last recourse of the state's citizens against being dictated to by the state's Supreme Court.

Public opinion seems fairly clear. In 2000, 61% of California voters approved a statutory ban on gay marriage while also leaving open a chance for other legal protections to be extended to gays. The measure, Proposition 22, passed in all but four Bay Area counties and even won a third of the vote in San Francisco.

Supporters of gay marriage assert that public attitudes have shifted since 2000, but they seem unwilling to test that belief through the democratic process. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a very friendly governor to gays, has twice vetoed bills to legalize gay marriage. All gay marriage supporters have to do is elect an even more gay-friendly governor, but instead they insist on court action. Once again, an overreliance on the courts to achieve social change may prompt a public reaction that rebounds to the benefit of conservative candidates.

-- John Fund

Winning the Votes of the Smarter Half

House Republicans started rolling out their election-year agenda this week. The initial object of their attention: Women.

The brainchild of Rep. Kay Granger, the new "American Families Agenda" is an attempt to pitch the GOP's free-market ideals at modern working moms (and dads). Ms. Granger says she tried to zero in on the biggest day-to-day needs for families: more "flex time," fewer burdens on small businesses (a huge number of which are owned by women), portable health care, school choice and college savings. Under her plan, military families would receive extra help and sexual predators would be cracked down on.

"This is an agenda that recognizes that while American families have changed, the laws that affect families, and in particular women, have not," Ms. Granger, a six term congresswomen from Texas, tells me. She should know --- having taught school, run a small business and served as mayor and legislator, all while raising three kids on her own.

House Republicans suffered a devastating loss in a special election in Mississippi this week, and the big goal of the "families" agenda is to show disillusioned voters that the party has a forward-looking agenda. Selling it will be a tough job given recent GOP scandals and spending frenzies, but women are a smart place to start. For decades now "women's issues" have been defined by the left, usually around the hot-button questions of abortion or "equal pay." Yet while many women care about such subjects, polls show the vast majority (including 60% of those women who hold down jobs while caring for a child at home under six) are most concerned with health care, the cost of living and the struggle to balance work and family obligations. And women make up the majority of the electorate now, so it's about time Republicans started listening.

By the way, Ms. Granger makes a point of giving a shout-out to two colleagues in particular for help in drafting the new agenda. One of them, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, last year became the first Member in more than a decade to give birth while serving in Congress. The other, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, just became a grandmother.

-- Kim Strassel

Quote of the Day I

"When Michael Dukakis ran for President in 1988, crime was perhaps the biggest issue in the campaign. It splintered his coalition, pitting blacks who saw the death penalty as racially unfair against blue-collar whites who demanded a hard line against crime and too often associated that crime with blacks. Today, by contrast, roughly 1% of Americans say crime is their top issue, and no one even knows what Obama's position on the death penalty is. For Obama, that's an enormous boon, and Bill Clinton deserves a lot of the credit. His policies -- especially his bold proposal for 100,000 new cops -- helped bring down the crime rate. And by embracing the death penalty, he eliminated one of the GOP's best wedge issues. That embrace was ugly at times, as when Clinton flew back to Arkansas during the 1992 campaign to oversee the execution of a mentally retarded man. But it was politically shrewd. And because Clinton did it then, Obama doesn't have to now" -- former New Republic editor Peter Beinart, writing at Time.com.

Quote of the Day II

"Should Obama even care about making tactical mistakes [such as writing off West Virginia and the working-class white electorate] when McCain's conservative base is disappearing before his eyes? While Obama was going down Tuesday, Democrat Travis Childers helped his party complete its trend-setting trifecta of upset wins in special elections in ruby-red, GOP-held House districts. So, despite boatloads of polling that shows McCain is competitive this fall, the fact remains that when Republicans vote these days, they're often voting for Democrats. In Childers' case, it wasn't even close. A last-minute visit from Vice President Dick Cheney couldn't even rescue Republican Greg Davis.... Indeed, while Democrats publicly worry that the drawn-out primary has drawn down their chances this fall, Childers' victory is yet another reason that party leaders' private confidence continues to soar" -- National Journal's "Politiscope" columnist, John Mercurio.

Bearish on McCain

BRUSSELS -- If Westerners don't like what they hear about Vladimir Putin's successor in the Kremlin, Dmitry Medvedev, maybe they're tuned in to the wrong news sources. And if Americans want better relations, maybe they should elect someone other than John McCain.

Those were the messages Thursday from the chairman of the Duma's foreign affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachev, who chalks up the West's criticism of Russia to "misinformation and bias." "Very often when I read" what the West has to report about Russia, "I don't even recognize my country," he says.

But that's not all. He blamed the West for the more aggressive bear it's facing today. Messrs. Putin and Medvedev -- he named them in that order -- are "ready for a different form of dialogue and cooperation with the West. But... the current position of Russia toward the West is very much provoked by a too-harsh approach by the West."

So which U.S. presidential candidate would be best able to improve relations? Mr. Kosachev left little doubt about his druthers. John McCain "is a person who has all his life fought against communism and yet [he] doesn't seem to distinguish between the Soviet Union and Russia," he says. "That may be a problem. We may need a broader approach, and that may come from one of the other hypothetical winners of the election."

This reassertive Russia might not have much use for democrats, but Democrats are another story.

-- Kyle Wingfield



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« Reply #114 on: May 16, 2008, 07:03:46 PM »

I am not sure really.  But I sense BO has run with the "Hymietown" crowd.  That is enough for me to be suspicious yet nothing here is ironclad:


May 10, 2008
Jews can’t vote for Obama and be pro-Israel at the same time

By Ted Belman

ted-4.jpgIn the poll of Jewish voters (conducted April 1-30), it showed Obama getting 61% of the Jewish vote against John McCain (32%). Yet in the same poll Hillary Clinton beat Obama among Jewish voters 62% - 38%. So obviously Jews are lifelong democrats who will vote for Obama, whom they rejected in the primaries, rather than vote for McCain. Thus, for them, party loyalty is preferable to Israel loyalty.

Recently I posted two articles by Yarom Ettinger, former Israeli Ambassador to the US, The Prospects of a Palestinian State and National Interests of the United States and It’s American interests, stupid, both of which clearly demonstrate that keeping Israel strong is to keep America strong. Thus to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America.

Now some would argue that most Jewish Americans are not one issue voters but they must realize that to favour a basket of issues or the Democratic Party above favouring Israel, makes them less pro-Israel and thus less pro-American. This I am sure will get howls of protest from the J-Street Lobby which represents progressive Jewry, who would have you believe that by forcing Israel to capitulate, they are acting in the best interests of Israel and the US. I hope you don’t buy their thinking. These articles fly in the face of such thinking. Consider them carefully it is important.

While most Jews favour Obama in a run off with McCain because he is a Democrat, they ignore how pro-Palestinian and anti-American he is.

Let me list the ways.

      - Obama said “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people,”

      - Obama said “If there is an Arab American family [in the US] being rounded up without benefit of an attorney, those are my civil liberties!”

      - Everyone on Obama’s foreign policy team, McPeak, Hamilton, Kurtzer, Brezezinski, are anti- Israel and The Israel Lobby. Their policies are closely aligned with Carter’s and Baker’s.

      - Obama has been in bed with Jew haters and Islamic jihad for years. Farrakhan and his dear friend Reverend Wright, Obama’s spiritual guru, is a vile Jew hater.

      - Obama is the first Presidential candidate endorsed by Hamas. He is the toast of the Islamic world. Obama’s church posted a Hamas manifesto.

      - Obama has been endorsed by William Ayers (Weatherman Underground bomber, unrepentant domestic terrorist) (Member Communist Party USA, Early mentor to Obama) Jeremiah Wright (Black Liberation militant, racist, and Pastor) Tony Rezko (Corrupt Financier, ties to Terror Financing) Louis Farrakhan (Nation of Islam Leader, racist, anti-American) Hamas Terrorist Organization (Islamic Terrorist Organization) Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (Islamic Terror Irganization) Raila Odinga (Fundamental Islamic Candidate, Kenya, Obama’s Cousin) Daniel Ortega (Marxist Sandinista Leader. Nicaragua Raul Castro (Hard-line Communist Leader, Communist Party Illinois (US Communist Political Party) Socialist Party USA (Marxist Socialist Political Party) The New Black Panther Party (Black Militant Organization, anti-American and racist Mosques are preaching for Obama (muslims vote inshallah!)

      - We know from this blog entry by the pro-Palestinian blogger Ali Abunimah at The Electronic Intifadah, that Obama has moved to a move pro-Israel position as his national aspirations developed. “The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood,” Abunimah writes. “He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing. “As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.’ He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, ‘Keep up the good work!”

      - Ralph Nader agrees.“(Obama) has run a brilliant tactical campaign. But his better instincts and his knowledge have been censored by himself….He was pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state Senate, during he ran–during the state Senate.”

      - Obama served as a paid director on the board of a nonprofit organization that granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns the establishment of Israel as a “catastrophe.” (Obama has also reportedly spoken at fundraisers for Palestinians living in what the United Nations terms refugee camps.). The co-founder of that Arab group, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, is a harsh critic of Israel who reportedly worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization when it was labeled a terror group by the State Department. Khalidi held a fundraiser in 2000 for Obama’s failed bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

      - Ten years ago Obama went to a pro-Palestinian dinner at which Edward Said was the guest speaker and they sat at the same table.

      - Obama employed and continues to employ several Farrakhan acolytes in high positions on his Illinois and U.S. Senate campaign and office staffs.

      - Obama very recently and previously referred to the “cycle of violence” in the Middle East. He thereby equates Arab criminal violence with legitimate Israeli self-defence.

      - Obama’s Church reprinted the outrageous claim that Israel planned an “ethnic bomb” to kill blacks and Arabs.

All items listed above cannot be characterized as a smear as they are all true.

How can Jews ignore all this or dismiss it as inconsequential? I don’t get it.

ADDENDUM ( found this article after writing mine.)

A Curious Kind of Friendship; Barack Obama’s dubious record on Israel

MARK HEMINGWAY, NRO

On April 21, Barack Obama found himself at a diner in Scranton, Pa. The Illinois senator hadn’t been available to the press in ten days, so a reporter approached him.

Perhaps Obama was in a bad mood because he foresaw a drubbing — the next day, Pennsylvanian primary voters went for Hillary. Or maybe he just didn’t like the reporter’s question: “Senator, did you hear about Jimmy Carter’s trip? He said he could get Hamas to negotiate.”

Looking down at his breakfast, the senator snapped back, “Why can’t I just eat my waffle?”

The week before, two important things had happened. One, Obama had declined to condemn Carter’s meeting with Hamas, though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had opposed the trip. Two, the Palestinian terrorist group took the unusual step of endorsing him. When asked about the endorsement, Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, was flattered that Hamas compared his candidate to JFK: “We all agree that John Kennedy was a great president, and it’s flattering when anybody says that Barack Obama would follow in his footsteps.”

Republican nominee John McCain quickly took note. “We need change in America, but not the kind of change that wins kind words from Hamas,” he said.

The day following Wafflegate, Obama told the press it was a “bad idea” for Carter to meet with Hamas, as it gave the group “a legitimacy that was unnecessary.”

It’s understandable that Obama would rather do just about anything than talk about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Questions about Obama’s support for Israel have percolated in Jewish publications and elsewhere for more than a year, and now they threaten to spill over into the mainstream media. In March, speaking to reporters in Texas, Obama defended his record: “Nobody has ever been able to point to statements that I made or positions that I’ve taken that are contrary to the long-term security interests in Israel and in any way diminish the special relationship we have with that country.” Trouble is, this claim is simply not true.

Obama has been battling the perception that he is insufficiently supportive of Israel since last year, when he told the Des Moines Register, “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.” An Iowa Democrat and member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), David Adelman, called Obama’s comments “deeply troubling.” Obama claimed the remark was taken out of context, but the Politico noted that talk of Obama’s comment was one of many reasons that a “real, if kind of inchoate, skepticism” dominated discussions of Obama at AIPAC’s annual policy conference in March of last year.

Whatever the context of that specific remark, many subsequent revelations have given ample reason for skepticism: Obama has repeatedly claimed to support Israel, but his record doesn’t jibe with his rhetoric. Last year, he announced he would vote against an amendment in the Senate declaring Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — which has long supported Hezbollah terrorists and otherwise abetted the murder of Israelis — a terrorist group. The resolution passed 76–22, with the support of Hillary Clinton, Illinois senator Dick Durbin, and a host of other reliable liberals. Obama missed the vote while campaigning in New Hampshire, but he attacked Clinton on the issue, saying the non-binding amendment might exacerbate tensions with Iran.

What’s more, his life is marked by ties to anti-Israeli causes. A recent report in the Los Angeles Times detailed Obama’s close relationship with Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia University. In the late 1970s Khalidi worked with WAFA, the official news agency of the Palestinian Liberation Organization; during this period, the PLO and its factions
engaged in acts of terrorism. In 2005 Khalidi gained national attention when he argued that, under international law, Palestinians have a right to violently resist Israeli occupation.

While teaching at the University of Chicago, Khalidi co-founded the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), an organization with a history of churning out anti-Israeli propaganda. AAAN’s current projects include “The Arab American Oral History Project.” The group’s website asks, “Do you have photos, letters or other memories you could share about Al-Nakba-1948?” “Al Nakba” translates as “the catastrophe,” and 1948 is the year in which Israel became a
state.

Khalidi held a fundraiser for Obama’s failed congressional bid in 2000, while Obama was a state senator representing the liberal Hyde Park area of Chicago. In 2003, Obama attended a tribute dinner for Khalidi where, according to the Los Angeles Times, a speaker likened “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden.

The largess flowed in both directions. From 1999 to 2002 Obama served on the board of directors of the Woods Fund, a grant-making foundation with assets of $68 million whose nominal goal is “to increase opportunities for less advantaged people and communities in the [Chicago] metropolitan area.” According to tax forms and annual reports, in 2001 and 2002 the Woods Fund gave AAAN a total of $75,000 in grants. Bill Ayers, a former (and unrepentant) member of the left-wing terrorist group the Weather Underground, sat on the board with
Obama.

The aforementioned Politico article also noted “[anti-Israeli] sentiment . .. circulating largely on private email lists and in chatter about a posting on the pro-Palestinian blog Electronic Intifada, which claimed (with little evidence) that Obama was once on the Palestinian side.” For some time Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah has been saying that, in private
conversations, Obama expressed unequivocal pro-Palestinian views. Abunimah is an activist in Chicago’s Palestinian community, and is on the board of AAAN, with which he has a long history of involvement. Given Obama’s own involvement with Khalidi and AAAN, Abunimah’s claim to have had such conversations with Obama seems plausible.

There have also been flaps over campaign advisers. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, has recently endorsed and campaigned with Obama. Brzezinski was singled out recently for defending The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, a book arguing that “the United States has been willing to set aside its own security in order to advance the interests of another state [Israel].” After a campaign press release described Robert Malley, an adviser to the Clinton administration on the Arab-Israeli conflict, as an Obama adviser, the campaign sought to distance itself from Malley — whom New Republic editor-in-chief Marty Peretz has called “a rabid hater of Israel.”

When it comes to Israel, perhaps the most controversial member of Obama’s campaign is his chief military adviser and national-campaign co-chairman, Gen. Merrill McPeak. In 1976, McPeak wrote an article for Foreign Affairs criticizing Israel for not returning to its 1967 borders and handing the Golan Heights back to Syria. McPeak accused Jewish and evangelical voters of placing their interest in Israel above U.S. interests in a 2003 interview with the
Oregonian. When asked what was holding back world peace, McPeak responded, “New York City. Miami. We have a large vote . . . here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it.” Obama disavowed McPeak’s stance on Israel, but stands behind the campaign’s relationship with the general.

Then there’s Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright: “The Israelis have illegally occupied Palestinian territories for over 40 years now. . . . [We need to] wake Americans up concerning the injustice and the racism under which the Palestinians have lived because of Zionism.” Last year, the bulletin at Wright ’s church reprinted an article by a Hamas official.

Given Obama’s past and current relationships, the Jewish community is taking his rhetoric with hefty portions of sodium chloride. One well-known Jewish Democratic strategist says that with Obama running, McCain could equal or even surpass the 39 percent of the Jewish vote that Ronald Reagan captured against Jimmy Carter in 1980. This could be a major factor in swing states with significant Jewish populations, notably Florida and Pennsylvania. According to Pennsylvania-primary exit polls, Jews went for Hillary, 62 to 38 percent.

There are two ways of looking at all this. Perhaps Obama is privately hostile to Israel. Or perhaps he comes from a Hyde Park milieu so leftist that he saw these relationships as normal political connections. In a sense it doesn’t matter: Regardless of why Obama tolerates terrorist sympathizers, the fact that he has a history of doing so could destroy his candidacy. On the national stage, and particularly in the Democratic party, Jews play a prominent role.

“A normal liberal politician wouldn’t get near this — the political instinct would be, ‘I don’t want to touch this’ — but none of it offended his sensibilities,” the Jewish Democratic strategist said. “He sat there in rooms where Israel was likened to Osama bin Laden. He didn’t walk out.”
Posted by Ted Belman @ 12:07 pm |

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« Reply #115 on: May 17, 2008, 12:55:54 PM »

Top Ten Skeletons in the Left's Closet   
By Daniel J. Flynn
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 16, 2008

When the Left writes its own history, the past gets rewritten to suit the needs of the present. This is why I wrote A Conservative History of the American Left, to conserve not only fascinating figures now forgotten but to retrieve from the memory hole all that the Left has tossed down it. What is the history of the American Left that leftists want you to forget?

10. Ayatollah Khomeini, Leftist Hero

Reflexive anti-Americanism initially moved the Left to embrace the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Mother Jones, for instance, in 1979 predicted that “if Khomeini or his followers take power” then “democratic reforms, freedom for political prisoners, an end to the astronomical waste of huge arms purchases, and a constitutional government” would follow. The Nation, Michel Foucault, and other pillars of the Left similarly projected their ideals upon Khomeini and company.

9. Manson Family Values

“I fell in love with Charlie Manson the first time I saw his cherub face and sparkling eyes on TV,” hippie guru Jerry Rubin professed. “His words and courage inspired us.” Weatherman hoisted “Charles Manson Power” banners, adopted a spread-fingered greeting to symbolize the fork with which the Manson murderers impaled a victim’s stomach, and even boasted a cell nicknamed “The Fork.” Weatherman matriarch Bernardine Dohrn infamously proclaimed: “Dig it: first they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them, then they even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach. Wild!”

8. Gay Activists Sue to Block AIDS Test

Today, homosexual activists blame Ronald Reagan and the clergy for the spread of AIDS. But in the mid-1980s, the National Gay Task Force and the Lambda Legal Defense, citing civil-liberties concerns, actually sued the federal government to stop the AIDS test. Thankfully, they lost and scores of lives have been saved as a result.

7. Murder Chic

The easiest way to become a hero on the Left is to kill another human being. John Brown, the Molly Maguires, the Haymarket Square Bombers, Joe Hill, Huey Newton, and Mumia Abu-Jamal—murderers all—have been venerated by the Left in song and on screen. The people they murdered are not even an afterthought.

6. Jonestown Kool-Aid

Before orchestrating the murder/suicides 900+ people in Guyana, Jim Jones was the darling of the San Francisco Left. Huey Newton, Angela Davis, and Willie Brown embraced a man who killed more blacks than the KKK. Democrats Rosalynn Carter, Walter Mondale, and Gerry Brown made campaign visits to the Peoples Temple’s “comrade leader.” The mayor of San Francisco even rewarded Jones for his activism by appointing him chairman of the city’s housing commission. “The temple was as much a left-wing political crusade as a church,” The Nation reported in 1978. Unfortunately, as the years progressed, more Americans gulped down the Left’s Kool-Aid that Jones was of the religious Right and not an atheist leftist. 

5. Concentration Camps, American Style

A year before Hitler came to power in Germany, Margaret Sanger called for a vast system of concentration camps for the United States. The Planned Parenthood founder demanded “a stern and rigid policy of segregation or sterilization” for “dysgenic” Americans who “would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.” The 1932 speech concluded that “fifteen or twenty millions of our population would then be organized into soldiers of defense—defending the unborn against their own disabilities.”

4. Heaven on Earth

American intellectuals looked upon the hell on earth that was post-revolutionary Russia and saw a heaven on earth. The New Republic credited the Russian Revolution with providing “the most democratic franchise yet devised in our world,” while The Nation found that “the franchise is more democratic in Russia than in England or in the United States.” Lincoln Steffens marveled after a visit to the Soviet Union, “The revolution in Russia is to establish the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.”

3. Eugenics

Even before the progressive era when most states instituted eugenics laws, the American Left had agitated for state controls over procreation. John Humphrey Noyes’ Bible Communists lamented that freedom of marital choice “leaves mating to be determined by a general scramble, without attempt at scientific direction” and devised the first eugenic experiment in the U.S.—“stirpiculture”—that produced dozens of children and prevented hundreds more. In Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy dreamed of “race purification” to “preserve and transmit the better types of the race, and let the inferior types drop out.” Other proponents included Margaret Sanger, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, who famously decreed in Buck v. Bell, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” State governments ultimately sterilized upwards of 60,000.

2. Assassinating Presidents

Three of the four presidential assassins have been left-wing radicals. Bible Communist Charles Guiteau murdered President Garfield, anarcho-communist Leon Czolgosz murdered President McKinley, and Soviet Communist Lee Harvey Oswald murdered John F. Kennedy. Rather than own that history, the Left has invented conspiracy theories that absolve leftists from responsibility.

1. Nazi-Soviet Pact

The Left switched from pacifists to warmongers overnight once the Nazi attack upon the Communists dissolved the Hitler-Stalin Pact. Communist Party USA chief Earl Browder, who had dubbed WWII “the second imperialist war” during the pact, so thoroughly switched course when the Nazis attacked the Communists that he embraced conscription (after his opposition to it led to jail in WWI), endorsed a ‘no-strike’ pledge for labor unions (after encouraging strikes to impede the war effort), and kicked out Japanese Americans from the CP (after ostensibly championing civil rights). The Hollywood Anti-Nazi League ceased operations during the pact. The Communists’ New Masses panned the anti-Nazi Watch on the Rhine when it appeared as a play during the pact only to praise it when it appeared as a movie when Hitler and Stalin were again enemies.

Daniel J. Flynn is the author of Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas and A Conservative History of the American Left. He is also the editor of www.flynnfiles.com.
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« Reply #116 on: May 18, 2008, 09:08:06 AM »

Doug,

I like your list better than Newt's!  I have changed my mind and agree with those who are calling for a new contract with America if the Republicans could even have *any* hope of convincing voters to vote for them again.  This seems at this time to be the best hope to stave off a complete election disaster in November.

The Republicans led by that crook Tom Delay who as far as I am concerned should be in jail have really let me down.

Problem is is what good is a Republican contract if they will no longer have any power to get any of it done.  Or worse Democrats will pass some of it and claim it was their idea like Clinton does with Welfare reform.   Some Blacks love him for welfare reform yet he was the biggest obstacle to it early on until he saw the national polls favored reform.  Then and only then did the poll driven President jump on the bandwagon.
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« Reply #117 on: May 19, 2008, 01:02:48 PM »

Six-Gun Salute

Proving that time heals some wounds, John McCain spoke Friday at the National Rifle Association, where he made nice with some of his tougher critics over the years. CEO Wayne LaPierre acknowledged that the group has had differences with the candidate, but emphasized the positive. "We're not foolish enough to ignore the vast areas of agreement in which John McCain has been a friend to gun owners," he told the Associated Press.

That may be news to NRA-ers who have not yet forgiven Mr. McCain for his campaign-finance reform. As the architect of McCain-Feingold, the Senator ticked off many NRA members who see the campaign-finance law as an infringement on their freedom to engage in the political process and defend Second Amendment rights. At the group's national convention in 2001, Mr. LaPierre noted that McCain-Feingold would all but kick the NRA out of politics by prohibiting the group's ability to run ads within 60 days of an election season. "Is it possible that John McCain thinks you have too much freedom?" the NRA chief asked at the time.

Mr. McCain has also ticked off gun owners for his support of mandatory background checks at gun shows, which he refers to "closing the gun show loophole"—a position he still takes. On other issues however, the Arizona Senator is seen as a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. He voted against bans on assault rifles and against limitations on types of ammunition. According to his campaign's Web site, he has also opposed attempts to hold gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed with guns.

Mr. McCain is walking a delicate balance into the general election, letting traditional GOP groups know he cares about their issues while avoiding the kind of flip-flops that did in John Kerry. By declining to sugarcoat things for the NRA audience, Mr. McCain could also gain points with some swing voters, who may only need a few issues to be won over.

-- Collin Levy

The Sweetie Vote

As Hillary Clinton's campaign enters its final days or weeks, it's exposing new rifts within the feminist big tent. The head of Emily's List, Ellen Malcolm, recently attacked NARAL Pro-Choice America for its endorsement of Barack Obama. Though that endorsement came only when Mr. Obama's nomination was all but a fait accompli, Ms. Malcolm still saw betrayal. "I think it is tremendously disrespectful to Senator Clinton," she said, "and it certainly must be disconcerting for elected leaders who stand up for reproductive rights and expect the choice community will stand with them."

But that's not what it's really about, is it? Mr. Obama is also a pro-choice candidate. The real sting is that feminist groups are now abandoning a candidate who has been caught in the ultimate switchback — a woman with decades of career experience losing out to a charming male newcomer who can't equal her credentials but may beat her anyway.

During the campaign, NARAL acted as a frequent fact-checker on the abortion politics of both candidates. It showed some preference for Mr. Obama earlier on when it asked Mrs. Clinton not to go after Mr. Obama's "present" votes on abortion issues while in the Illinois State Senate-positions many of his critics see as an effort to fence sit on controversial issues.

The argument among feminists has been present throughout the primary as many of the most liberal women preferred the antiwar politics of Mr. Obama, even over the unity of the sisterhood. But the Clinton campaign has survived as long as it has largely because of the 60% of white women she has consistently drawn in the primaries. The feminists may give Mr. Obama their vote, but he won't get a free pass: They were out in force to critique him last week when he called a news reporter "sweetie." He apologized.

-- Collin Levy

Michiganders and Floridians Unite!

Hillary Clinton's campaign fired its latest salvo in the fight over Michigan's and Florida's delegates Friday. In an email blast, the former First Lady called on supporters to pressure the Rules Committee of the Democratic Convention to "count every vote."

"Count every vote" has been the mantra of the Democratic Party since Florida in 2000. But it's never made much sense. The goal should be to make every properly cast vote count. If someone shows up a day early or a day late to the polls, his vote doesn't—and shouldn't—count. Likewise, if a Democrat or Republican tries to cast a vote in the wrong party's primary (when that primary is not "open"), it doesn't—and shouldn't—count. (This happened to your correspondent in the New York state primary this year. He hadn't filed his party registration in a timely fashion, so his provisional ballot was rejected.)

In the case of Florida and Michigan, every ballot was cast in violation of party rules that were well known to everyone involved at the time. We'll never know how many Floridians and Michiganders chose not to vote because they understood what was going on. Changing the rules after the votes have been cast isn't democracy.

Knowing the rules before an election is run is essential to a fair ballot. If it were anyone else's delegates in jeopardy, you'd better believe that's the argument that Candidate Clinton would be making.

-- Brian M. Carney

Quote of the Day

Conservatism is alive and well in America; don't let anyone tell you differently. And by conservatism, I don't mean the warmed-over "raise your hand if you believe ..." kind of conservatism we see blooming every election cycle. No, I'm speaking of the conservatism grounded in principles based upon enduring truths: an understanding of the importance of human nature in the affairs of individuals and nations. Respect for the lessons of history, the importance of faith and tradition. The understanding that while man is prone to err, he is capable of great things when not subjugated by a too-powerful government -- Fred Thompson, writing at Townhall.com.

Lobbyists Overboard

John McCain spent much of last week suffering self-inflicted wounds over his ties with Washington lobbyists.

Over the weekend, former Texas Congressman Tom Loeffler stepped down as a key McCain adviser after the campaign issued a stringent new hiring policy stipulating that no staffer could work for the campaign if he was also a registered lobbyist or did business on behalf of foreign interests. Mr. Loeffler was the fifth McCain aide to step aside over lobbying connections.

In February, the Arizona Senator easily weathered a New York Times story attempting to tie his official actions to his friendship with a female lobbyist.

Now the list of departing McCain lobbyists has unnecessarily revived the issue and allowed Barack Obama to piously claim that "John McCain is very much a creature of Washington." Mr. Obama can do this and get a media pass for it because he hasn't made a major issue of his lack of ties to lobbyists. While he will boast that he declines to take money from political action committees run by interest groups, he cheerfully has many lobbyists as part of his team and allows them to bundle contributions they've collected from other political players.

It was inevitable that Mr. McCain's occasional sanctimony on matters relating to money in politics would trip him up if he failed to meet an impossible standard for a practicing politician. He would have been better off to state simply that his career demonstrates his independence from special interest groups and disclose which of his advisers were working for outside interests. That would have been better than the parade of McCain officials who have left in the past week, creating the image of a campaign in disarray.

-- John Fund



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« Reply #118 on: May 23, 2008, 11:58:12 AM »

Reid's Reversal

Virginia Supreme Court Judge Steven Agee was confirmed unanimously this week to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, fulfilling one-third of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's pledge to put through three Bush appeals-court picks by Memorial Day.

With the deadline bearing down, Mr. Reid has skittered away from his earlier promises. He reminded Senators this week that he "explicitly" said he "couldn't guarantee" the trio of confirmations. Mr. Reid blames Republicans for holding up two Michigan nominees - Raymond Kethledge and Helene White -- whose nominations for the Sixth Circuit were worked out as a compromise package between Michigan's senators and the White House. Mr. Kethledge is the Administration's pick; Judge White is the Democrats' choice.

Democrats are eager to take credit for the White-Kethledge confirmations, hurrying them through a process that has left other highly qualified nominees beached for years. Judge White is being pushed through even without her ABA rating, a qualification Democrats have insisted on in the past.

But these are hardly the only two nominees available for confirmation in order for Mr. Reid to fulfill his end of the bargain. Also waiting in the wings are strong appeals-court nominees like Peter Keisler for the D.C. Circuit as well as Robert Conrad and Steve Matthew for the Fourth Circuit. Yet Democrats refuse to give them an up-or-down vote.

Sen. Arlen Specter has said before that he would not hesitate to shut down the Senate over Democrats' obstruction of judicial nominees. Republicans have declined to take such steps in recent weeks out of good faith, taking Sen. Reid at his word on the Memorial Day deal. If the deal falls through, it's a good bet that won't happen twice.

-- Collin Levy

How High Can Tax Rates Go?

Tax rates under a Barack Obama presidency are expected to rise to as high as 52.2% when combining the income-tax increase the candidate supports and his proposed elimination of the payroll tax cap. These would be the highest rates since the late 1970s, when the economy went haywire. "That's a frightening proposition, especially when the rest of the world is cutting tax rates," says Jim Carter, chief economist on the Senate Budget Committee's minority staff.

Now a new study by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that rates would have to go even higher if entitlement spending isn't reined in. The report, which was requested by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, finds that the top rate of personal income tax would have to rise to 88% from 35% to pay all the nation's bills. Even the lowest tax rate would have to more than double. This is the price we pay for running up unfunded liabilities in Medicare and Social Security.

Faster economic growth would help ease the burden of these long-term costs, but if tax rates are raised, economic growth will slow. That's the point of Mr. Ryan's inquiry. If we don't get serious about reforming health care programs and Social Security, Democrats will argue that only super-sized tax hikes will solve the problem.

Ryan Ellis of the American Shareholders Association states the obvious when he says that income-tax rates of 88% are a surefire way to create a massive outflow of capital away from the U.S.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

Today, according to the most recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, "71 percent of the American public disapproves of how Bush is handling his job as President, an all-time high in polling." His position can be compared with that of Harry Truman who left Washington unpopular and alone in 1953. Today, with the passage of time, most historians and certainly the American people, see Truman in a different light, primarily for his willingness to stand firm against Soviet aggression, whether against Greece or South Korea, and proclaim the Truman Doctrine, effectively defending the free world from Soviet efforts to expand their hegemony. Like Truman, George W. Bush, in my view, will be seen as one of the few world leaders who recognized the danger of Islamic terrorism and was willing with Tony Blair to stand up to it and not capitulate. - columnist and former New York Mayor Ed Koch

Obama's China Policy

Barack Obama wrote yesterday to Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou. "A sound U.S.-Taiwan relationship will certainly be the goal of my Administration," he said, while confirming his support of America's "One China" policy. " And, "I will do all that I can to support Taiwan's democracy in the years ahead." The Kuomintang News Network reports that Richard Bush, former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, hand-delivered the missive.

Mr. Obama is smart to reach out to Mr. Ma, an eager U.S. ally who's working hard to mend Taiwan's ties with Beijing, which was on bad terms with Mr. Ma's pro-independence predecessor. In his inaugural address Tuesday, Mr. Ma called for "cross-strait peace and regional stability" and pledged not to pursue unification, independence or use of force. Mr. Ma also emphasized Taiwan's role as the "sole ethnic Chinese society to complete a second democratic turnover of power" and called the island a "beacon of democracy to Asia and the world."

U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan is a tricky balancing act. Ever since Nixon recognized the mainland as the "one China," U.S. administrations of both parties have given Taiwan presidents the cold shoulder while taking pains to maintain good relations with the island. Mr. Obama indicates he's willing to talk to dictators. Someone should ask him whether he is also willing to talk to the elected leader of the world's only Chinese democracy.

-- Mary Kissel

A British Omen for Nov. 4?

The U.S. isn't the only country with an electorate that appears to be fed up with the party in power. Yesterday, British voters in the Labour stronghold of Crewe and Nantwich swung sharply away from the governing party to elect a Conservative to Parliament.

It had been three decades since the Tories last won a special election. Yesterday's was held to replace Gwyneth Dunwoody, who died last month after 34 years in the House of Commons. Ms. Dunwoody had been the only person to hold the seat since the Crewe and Nantwich constituencies were merged in 1983; Crewe had gone for Labour since 1945. Conservative candidate Edward Timpson ended those streaks, winning 49.5% of a large turnout to defeat Ms. Dunwoody's daughter, Tamsin, and eight other candidates.

Like their American cousins, though, British voters have been unclear as to whether they're shifting party allegiances out of enthusiasm for an ascendant opposition or mere frustration with the party in power. Tory leader David Cameron last night boasted that the election marked "the end of New Labour." The result is certainly a bad sign for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose desperate party had resorted to using class as a wedge issue: During the latter stages of the campaign, Labour supporters dressed in tail-coats and top hats trailed Mr. Timpson, trying to paint him as an out-of-touch "toff."

The more common refrain about Cameron's Tories is that it's a party with no ideas. But with the Brown government stumbling into a new crisis seemingly every day, simply being different is enough for now.

-- Kyle Wingfield



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« Reply #119 on: May 27, 2008, 11:54:21 AM »

Senator Vicki?

It took only hours after news of Senator Ted Kennedy's cancerous brain tumor before family retainers began maneuvering to keep the seat in the family.

The New York Daily News reports that Mr. Kennedy has told confidants he would like his wife Vicki to take his Senate seat. The 54-year-old Victoria Reggie Kennedy is the daughter of a politically active judge from Louisiana and has worked as a Washington lawyer.

But she isn't the only Kennedy with possible designs on the seat. Ted's nephew Joseph is sitting on $2 million in campaign funds left over from his time in Congress. On the downside, the younger Kennedy has baggage from a messy divorce and close ties to Venezuelan dictator Hugh Chavez, a benefactor of his Boston-based fuel company.

Some cynics speculate that the family is so eager to keep the seat that it might push one of the senator's sons, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, into running. There is the small matter that Mr. Kennedy currently represents neighboring Rhode Island in the House, but Boston wags note that Robert F. Kennedy had little connection with New York before he sought that state's Senate seat in 1964.

Given that this year's presidential election once was shaping up as the sixth consecutive race in which a Bush or Clinton was the presidential candidate of a major party, it's safe to say nepotism is making a comeback in America's public life. There remains a deep-seated American belief that those who gain public office through artificial privilege should be viewed with suspicion. But voters nevertheless seem to be resigned to the art form that nepotism has become. If another Kennedy should now take over the Senate seat that has been in the family for 54 of the last 56 years, it will only be one of the most brazen examples of a troubling trend in U.S. politics.

-- John Fund

Thanks for the Memories, Tom

Virginia Rep. Tom Davis stirred the pot with his widely-distributed memo last week on the failings of the Republican Party as it heads into the fall elections. In media interviews, Mr. Davis went further and predicted that John McCain would be a "20-point loser" if Democrats succeed in tagging him as "Bush III."

On paper, Mr. Davis's critique of Republican prospects offers some useful insights as he prepares to take himself out of the fray by retiring in the fall. In real life, his own career offers a vivid example of why the GOP is in big trouble.

Mr. Davis roiled the party with his 20-page assertion that this year's political atmosphere is the worst for Republicans "since Watergate and is far more toxic than the fall of 2006." He plunged into the unfavorable polling data, surveyed the Democratic money advantage and concluded that the "Republican brand is in the trash can." Mr. Davis offered advice on policies the GOP might put forward to address voter concern about high energy prices and housing woes and the war in Iraq.

Yet this is the same Mr. Davis who last year requested a $1.5 billion earmark for the Washington D.C. Metro -- one of the largest requests in Congressional history. This is the same Mr. Davis who has made a career out of bragging about the federal money he's secured for Fairfax County, the wealthy Washington suburb he's represented for the last decade and half. In fact, take a look back through his 20-page memo and the one word you won't see is "earmark."

What's the old saying about actions speaking louder than words? Voters aren't going to believe Republicans have changed so long as they continue feeding at the trough. Mr. Davis suggested the GOP get a new "wardrobe." Voters might be looking for a GOP whose reforms go just a little deeper.

-- Kim Strassel

Quote of the Day I

"The Obama advocates declare that we have entered an entirely new political era. It is not only possible but also desirable, they say, for Democrats to win by turning away from those whom 'progressive' pundits and bloggers disdain variously as 'Nascar man,' whites, 'rubes, fools, and hate-mongers'.... In fact, all of the evidence demonstrates that white racism has not been a principal or even secondary motivation in any of this year's Democratic primaries. Every poll shows that economics, health care, and national security are the leading issues for white working class voters -- and for Latino working class voters as well. These constituencies have cast positive ballots for Hillary Clinton not because she is white, but because they regard her as better on these issues. Obama's campaign and its passionate supporters refuse to acknowledge that these voters consider him weaker.... Instead they impute racism to working class Democrats who, the polls also show, happen to be liberal on every leading issue. The effort to taint anyone who does not support Obama as motivated by racism has now become a major factor in alienating core Democrats from Obama's campaign" -- Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, writing at HuffingtonPost.com.

Quote of the Day II

"t seems increasingly clear that what we have avoided with fire-arms is now being delivered through another weapon and, terrifyingly, one which is tougher to control. There have been 100 stabbings in London in the first five months of this year -- including, in the past six days, the Oxford Street murder of Steven Bigby, 22, and the baker's shop killing of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen, who now joins Stephen Lawrence and Damilola Taylor among the symbolic martyrs of a despairing era of street-life. Our biggest mistake was to assume guns are the greatest threat to life. Knives are easier to find -- they are present in every kitchen -- and simpler to use. It is impossible to improvise a gun from stuff found in the gutter or on a supermarket shelf, but a bottle can become a dagger with one smash. Gun control is difficult; knife control is all but impossible" -- Mark Lawson, a columnist for the Guardian, on the failure of Britain's sweeping ban on private gun ownership to halt violent crime.

Spoiler vs. Spoiler

Former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr had to sweat to become the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee over the weekend. The former Republican won 54% of the delegates on the sixth ballot, beating out Mary Ruwart, a scientist and educator whose individualistic purity is such that she believes child pornography shouldn't be outlawed.

To win, Mr. Barr had to renounce many of his votes in Congress, including those in favor of the Patriot Act and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Such concessions along with a strong debate performance apparently satisfied enough delegates that his less-than-pure record was outweighed by the media attention a Barr candidacy would gather for the Libertarian cause.

But will that attention translate into enough votes to cost John McCain the presidential election, much as Ralph Nader is said to have "spoiled" Florida for Al Gore in 2000? Libertarians say that's the wrong question, because while journalists routinely assume the party's supporters are disgruntled conservatives, many are actually liberals who oppose drug laws, foreign policy interventions and federal surveillance measures.

Indeed, a new Rasmussen Reports poll finds that in a four-way race, Barack Obama wins 42% of the vote, McCain 38%, Bob Barr 6% and Ralph Nader 4%. Significantly, Mr. Barr picks up 7% of the Republican vote, only slightly more than the 5% vote he draws from Democrats. He also wins 5% of those unaffiliated with any party. If anything, Mr. Nader's backers skew more in the direction of Mr. Nader's own leftish views. The consumer advocate collects only 1% of the Republican vote, but 3% of the Democratic vote and 8% support from the unaffiliated.

Of course, third-party candidates always poll better in the summer before the fall campaign, which usually ends up driving voters into one major party camp or the other. Ralph Nader wound up with only 2.7% of the vote in 2000, and well under 1% four years later. The best Libertarian showing came in 1980, when Ed Clark won 1.1% of the national vote.

Only if this fall's election is as close as the Bush-Gore race of 2000, Mr. Barr or Mr. Nader could indeed play a determining role in who ultimately wins. But caution is advised in drawing conclusions about which major party either man will draw the most votes from.

-- John Fund



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« Reply #120 on: May 28, 2008, 11:41:34 AM »

Tsunami

If elections for the U.S. Senate were held today, they would be a disaster for the Republican Party approaching the scale of its 2006 defeat when the GOP lost six seats in the upper chamber. That's the conclusion as analysts examine the latest polling on the 35 seats in contention this November.

The Hill newspaper reports that Democratic candidates now have a lead or are within the margin of error in races for a stunning 11 Senate seats held by the GOP -- meaning almost half of the 23 Republican-held seats are in serious jeopardy. In contrast, only one of the 12 Democratic seats in play this year (Mary Landrieu's in Louisiana) is currently at serious risk.

Admittedly, polls at this stage in a race often prove poor forecasting tools, especially if one of the candidates is not well known. In addition, incumbents often are able eventually to recover by bringing their superior fund-raising firepower to bear and resetting the campaign agenda to their advantage.

Still, Republicans admit to being worried that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is trailing his Democratic challenger by five points in a new Rasmussen Reports poll. A rattled McConnell campaign promptly released its own poll showing their man with an 11-point lead.

Similar worry is being expressed about Senator Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina. A new poll from the Civitas Institute has her holding only a two-point lead over her Democratic opponent.

Other seats held by GOP Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Roger Wicker of Mississippi are also in jeopardy. No one expects Republicans to lose all of the seats now threatened, but Democrats in theory could achieve their goal of a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the Senate, allowing them potentially to ram through a far-reaching agenda with the help of a Democratic House and a new Democratic president.

-- John Fund

Mugged by Reality

John McCain is discovering just how tricky it can be to comply with our nation's Byzantine campaign-finance laws. At least it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, since he wrote many of those laws and defends them so vigorously.

Last week he cashiered Craig Shirley, a consultant to the campaign, after Politico.com asked how Mr. Shirley could be working for the McCain campaign at the same time that he was being paid by a 527 group called "Stop Her Now." Mr. Shirley describes "Stop Her Now" as a "lighthearted" 527, not a swift-boating operation, but that wasn't enough to save his McCain account.

Mr. Shirley downplayed the connection, and the McCain campaign pleaded ignorance. But it's just the latest sign that even a careful campaign can run afoul of McCain-Feingold's intrusive restrictions on political speech. Such 527 groups were created to evade the law's restrictions on fund-raising and spending by candidates, so to pass legal muster they have to evince "independence" and a lack of "coordination" with any candidate's campaign. That's harder to do when the same personnel are working for both.

You can expect more such stories between now and November about campaign consultants and staffers with fingers in multiple pies -- the hapless Rube Goldbergism of the campaign finance laws virtually guarantees it. And the Senator from Arizona has himself to thank.

-- Brian M. Carney

The Obama Doctrine

HONG KONG -- Look no further than this week's meeting between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese leader Hu Jintao. The international trading order is reshaping itself in ways that seem to anticipate a Democratic victory in November's U.S. presidential election.

As difficult as the China-Korea relationship has been, China is already Korea's largest trading partner, and now both have placed a possible free-trade agreement on their to-do lists. South Korea is considering moving forward with such a deal (and, for that matter, a similar pact with the European Union) even as its free-trade deal with the U.S. languishes unratified in Washington. The message to the Democratic Congress is clear: The world will move on while American politicians stall.

Barack Obama, who has been all over the map on trade, should take note. He recently pledged to "maintain strong ties" with South Korea, yet has adopted the Democratic litmus stance of opposing free-trade deals. The Europeans and China's Mr. Hu understand why this won't fly in today's world even if Mr. Obama apparently doesn't.

-- Joseph Sternberg

Quote of the Day

"Imagine that John McCain named a young running mate to campaign with him, and this national rookie suggested America had 58 states, repeatedly used the wrong names for the cities he was visiting, and honored a Memorial Day crowd by acknowledging the 'fallen heroes' who were present, somehow alive and standing in the audience. How long would it take for the national media to see another Dan Quayle caricature? Let's raise the stakes. What if it was the GOP presidential candidate making these thoroughly ridiculous comments? This scenario is very real, except it isn't McCain. It's the other fellow. ABC reporter Jake Tapper follows politicians around for a living. On his blog, he suggested Barack Obama has a problem: 'The man has been a one-man gaffe machine'" -- Brent Bozell, head of the conservative Media Research Center.

He's Seen Their Kind Before

The Senate is poised to debate a controversial "cap and trade" system that would put an overall limit on U.S. carbon emissions in an effort to combat global warming. Czech President Vaclav Klaus, an economist who has studied Europe's experience with cap-and-trade, flew into Washington yesterday to tell the National Press Club just how bad an idea it really is.

Mr. Klaus is the author of a new book, "Blue Planet in Green Shackles -- What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?" He argues that the regulatory ambitions of today's global warming crowd "resemble very much the dreams of communist central planners" who ruled his country from 1948 to 1989.

"The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century is no longer socialism,'' he told the National Press Club. "It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism. Like their [communist] predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality. In the past, it was in the name of the Marxists or of the proletariat -- this time, in the name of the planet."

After his talk, Mr. Klaus was asked why so many scientists seem to have climbed onto the global warming bandwagon. He replied that the careers and funding sources of many scientists now are dependent on "climate alarmism" and climate alarmists have become an interest group with the power to intimidate into silence skeptical colleagues and public figures. The climate issue, he added, "is in the hands of climatologists and other related scientists who are highly motivated to look in one direction only."

Yesterday, Mr. Klaus demonstrated that he remains one influential figure more than happy to challenge the conventional wisdom in public. He noted that he had several times challenged Al Gore to debate but had been refused. Mr. Gore has said that such debates would only elevate the skeptics, but he may have another motivation for avoiding Mr. Klaus. As the late William F. Buckley once put it, "Why does bologna reject the grinder?"

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« Reply #121 on: May 29, 2008, 12:13:28 PM »

Clinton Time

Hillary Clinton continues to feverishly campaign, convinced she can pull out a symbolic nationwide popular-vote lead when the final states finish their primaries on June 3.

Right now, she actually leads Barack Obama by a hair if the Florida and Michigan primary votes are counted, but the Democratic National Committee has ruled those votes invalid. If Mrs. Clinton does well in Puerto Rico this coming weekend, she could overtake Mr. Obama in the popular vote even excluding Michigan, where he removed himself from the ballot and she didn't.

Of course, Mr. Obama's simple reply is that it's only delegates that count and right now he has 190 more delegates than she does. But that won't stop Mrs. Clinton from using every argument on the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee's special meeting that will be held this Saturday. She has already compared the need to seat the delegations of the two states to the abolition of slavery and the likely stolen election in Zimbabwe. She scored a half victory when party lawyers conceded at least the principle this week, issuing a brief recommending that half the Florida and Michigan delegates be seated.

In the end, the result will likely be determined more by raw political power than rhetoric, logical or strained. The 30-member committee has 13 Hillary backers serving on it, eight Obama supporters and the rest haven't declared a preference. The most likely outcome? Don Fowler, a former chair of the DNC who supports Mrs. Clinton, thinks the committee is likely to relent and seat some delegates, but he says "even I would assert that there has to be some kind of retribution, some kind of sanction" for the two states jumping the DNC's primary calendar.

But that may not end the matter. If Mrs. Clinton doesn't like the result and is still contesting the nomination, she is free to appeal any decision to the party's Credentials Committee. That committee could hold its first meeting on the matter as early as June 29.

Mr. Obama and the media have more or less declared the Democratic nomination fight over. But Mrs. Clinton knows that as soon as the primaries end, the contest moves into the backrooms where legal maneuvering and strong-arm tactics are in play. For those looking for a reason why Mrs. Clinton is continuing to fight on, everyone knows those are skills the Clintons excel in.

-- John Fund

Democrats, Be Careful What You Wish For

On Tuesday, Sen. Hillary Clinton sent a letter to all Democratic superdelegates in which she makes what may be her final plea for the nomination. Brush away the gobbledygook and we are left with this key paragraph:

"I am ahead in states that have been critical to victory in the past two elections. From Ohio, to Pennsylvania, to West Virginia and beyond, the results of recent primaries in battleground states show that I have strong support from the regions and demographics Democrats need to take back the White House. I am also currently ahead of Senator McCain in Gallup national tracking polls, while Senator Obama is behind him. And nearly all independent analyses show that I am in a stronger position to win the Electoral College, primarily because I lead Senator McCain in Florida and Ohio."

Unfortunately for Mrs. Clinton, it is also almost certainly too late. Whether it's the superdelegates or the Democratic National Committee, everyone wants the race to end soon after the final primaries are held next week. And the only way for it to end quickly is to give the nomination to Sen. Barack Obama.

That may turn out to be a mistake for Democrats, because Mrs. Clinton's case -- that she is the strongest general election candidate -- continues to be supported by the polls. Gallup recently looked at the 20 states where Mrs. Clinton has prevailed in the popular vote this primary season and found that she "is currently running ahead of McCain... while Obama is tied with McCain in those same states." Those states include Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Arkansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Michigan -- all swing states come the general election. In Gallup's analysis of these swing states, Mrs. Clinton leads Mr. McCain by six points, while Mr. Obama is losing to Mr. McCain by three points.

Gallup further notes that "Clinton's 20 states represent more than 300 Electoral College votes while Obama's 28 states and the District of Columbia represent only 224 Electoral College votes." In the general election, Mrs. Clinton would not win every state she has won in the primaries, nor would Mr. Obama lose every state in the general he has lost in the primaries. But things get trickier for Mr. Obama. As Gallup found, in the 28 states Mr. Obama has won this primary season, "he is performing no better than Clinton is in general-election trial heats versus McCain." With little else to go on at this stage in the general election, Gallup's analysis should be a powerful tool in Mrs. Clinton's campaign for superdelegates.

And yet at this point there is not much the superdelegates can do if they wish to avoid a contested convention. But remember these numbers (and Mrs. Clinton's letter), because if nominating Mr. Obama turns out to be the blunder this data suggests it could be, then all the finger-pointing and recriminations that will come after the first Tuesday in November will wind its way back to where we are right now.

-- Blake Dvorak, RealClearPolitics.com

Quote of the Day I

"If Scott McClellan's allegations about President Bush sound as if he copied them from the editorial page of any liberal newspaper, there is a reason for it: As White House press secretary, McClellan was not privy to sensitive policy decisions and therefore has no specifics to back up his charges.... [H]e alleges that the administration repeatedly shaded the truth [in making the case for the Iraq war] and that Bush 'managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option.' McClellan cites no details, and for good reason. McClellan was not invited to attend classified meetings where the decisions about going to war were discussed" -- Ronald Kessler, Washington bureau chief for Newsmax.com, on former White House media adviser Scott McClellan's new book criticizing the selling of the Iraq war.

Quote of the Day II

"If he revs up the Republican convention and speaks for John McCain... I will feel a disappointment and a hurt. But I hope Democrats will give him a pass for the same reason that I would give him a pass and forgive him, because he's a progressive Democrat who gave us [control of] the U.S. Senate. To do otherwise smacks of cynicism, revenge, and lack of gratitude" -- former Clinton adviser and Lieberman friend Lanny Davis, quoted in the National Journal on the growing mood among Senate Democrats and staffers to punish Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman for supporting Republican John McCain for president.

Local Hero

Mitt Romney may be adding another state to the long list for which he can claim a personal connection should he choose to run for president again. Later this month, the former venture capitalist and governor is closing on a home in La Jolla, just north of San Diego. Mr. Romney's office says he has no intention of running for statewide office in California, noting that one of his five sons lives near San Diego and his wife Ann often visits the area to ride horses.

But owning a house in the state that sends the largest single delegation to Republican conventions certainly could help Mr. Romney, as it would facilitate building relationships with donors, officeholders and volunteers. Last week, Mr. Romney announced he was forming the Free and Strong America political action committee to facilitate his funneling support to fellow Republicans.

With California added, Mr. Romney now has an impressive list of places he can sort of call "home." He was born in Michigan, where his late father's record as governor helped him carry that state's primary this year. He successfully ran the 2000 Winter Olympics in Utah, where he also maintains a home. Then there is his summer home in New Hampshire, a useful staging area for meeting voters in the nation's first primary state. Oh, and then finally there is Massachusetts, where Mr. Romney spent much of his business career and where he served as governor from 2003 to 2007.

All in all, an impressive haul. The five states where Mr. Romney either has homes or family ties represent a fifth of the country's population. That puts to shame even Hillary Clinton's multiple state connections which involved Illinois where she was born, Arkansas where she was First Lady, and New York where she was elected to the Senate.

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« Reply #122 on: June 04, 2008, 09:26:15 PM »

June 4, 2008

In today's Political Diary:

- Obama By a Nose (Uplifted)
- Hillary for Veep?
- Osama School of Journalism (Quote of the Day I)
- Bad Man (Quote of the Day II)
- Voters vs. the Climate Gang


A Less Than Convincing Victory

Barack Obama effectively won the Democratic nomination last night, and he must be
relieved the long primary season is over. Every primary since early March has
demonstrated a worrying inability on his part to expand his coalition within the
Democratic Party. The Montana and South Dakota primaries last night showed him once
again winning upper-class Democrats who frequent Starbucks, while salt-of-the-earth
Democrats who like Dunkin Donuts coffee are still with Hillary Clinton.

In Montana, Mr. Obama won 75% of the vote in trendy Bozeman, where Ted Turner and
other celebrities have ranches. He won only 50% in Billings, the state's largest
city. He won college-educated voters but not those without college educations.
Meanwhile, in winning South Dakota yesterday, Mrs. Clinton won six out of ten female
voters and split men with Mr. Obama.

There are other troubling signs for Mr. Obama in yesterday's primary numbers. Once
again, Mrs. Clinton carried the one-fifth of voters who made up their minds in the
last week of campaigning -- winning that group by six points in Montana and a
stunning 26 points in South Dakota.

Worse for Mr. Obama, about one-fourth of Clinton voters in Montana told exit
pollsters they would plump for John McCain in November if his opponent is Barack
Obama. Another 10% said they planned to stay home. In South Dakota, about 15% of
Clinton supporters indicated a preference for Mr. McCain and an equal number said
they didn't plan to vote in the fall.

Mr. Obama has pulled off a remarkable feat in snatching the nomination from someone
who once appeared to be an invincible frontrunner. But he did so without ever
cracking into Mrs. Clinton's support among working-class, female, and older white
voters. Mr. Obama's hopes of winning the White House will hinge on whether he can
reach those voters in the fall election.

-- John Fund.


Inside the Tent or Out?

Can Hillary Clinton cajole or bully Barack Obama into putting her on his ticket as
the vice presidential candidate? It won't be for lack of trying. Yesterday, Mrs.
Clinton said she "was open" to the idea. In reality, her allies behind the scenes
are pushing the idea hard, with the emphasis on bullying.

"Last night, when Obama went over the top in delegates and could claim the
nomination as his, Hillary organized a rally of all of her supporters, directly
competing for airtime with the newly minted nominee," notes Dick Morris, the former
Clinton political consultant who is now a strong critic of the couple.

On another front, a group called HillaryGrassrootsCampaign.com sent out an email
last night claiming to represent a half-million Hillary backers "who are ready to be
'former' Democrats because of the contempt and disregard that has been shown to the
many party faithful who support Sen. Clinton's presidential candidacy." The implied
message is that Hillary backers might be coaxed back into the fold if she were made
the vice presidential nominee.

On the surface, Mrs. Clinton has a good argument that she could combine her
lower-income supporters with the upscale liberals that form the heart of Mr. Obama's
coalition. But in reality, the bitterness that Obama advisers, especially his wife
Michelle, harbor against Mrs. Clinton may override any matchmaking efforts.

Then there is the issue of governing. Should Mr. Obama become president, no doubt
Mrs. Clinton will demand a relevant role shaping public policy -- and one that could
conflict with Obama priorities. There's also the issue of Bill Clinton, who would
soak up Washington media attention as the spouse of a vice president. Given the
former president's recent penchant for seemingly uncontrollable outbursts, not all
the attention would necessarily be good.

Mrs. Clinton may desperately want the visibility of the vice presidential nomination
as a way to extend her political shelf life for a future presidential run. But right
now, she is far from having convinced Team Obama that she can transform herself into
a trusted and loyal member of their team.

-- John Fund


Quote of the Day I

"The New York Times won the Pulitzer for revealing the fact of the Terrorist
Surveillance Program. Now, with all due respect to being here in the National Press
Club with a lot of my friends in the press, I thought the idea that The New York
Times would win the Pulitzer Prize, one of the highest awards in journalism, for
revealing one of the nation's most important secrets and telling the enemy how it
was we were intercepting their communications, frankly was less than honorable. It
bothered me, greatly" -- Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking Monday at the Gerald
R. Ford Journalism Prize Luncheon:


Quote of the Day II

"Why do we love to believe that mankind is a plague upon the Earth? We view anything
and everything that happens in nature, no matter how barbaric, bloody, or
destructive, as good. Indeed, the word 'natural' has no negative connotation at all.
If a volcano like Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines dumps millions of tons of sulfur
into the stratosphere, cooling the Earth for two or three years, this is simply
Mother Nature at work. If humans did it, we would call it an environmental
catastrophe" -- University of Alabama climate scientist Roy Spencer, writing in
National Review.


Voters on Cap and Trade: Just Say No

Today the Senate will take its first major vote on the cap-and-trade
Lieberman-Warner bill to reduce global warming. It's expected to fail to get the 60
votes needed for passage, but what's more important is that the U.S. voting public
is almost universally against paying the costs.

A just-released Wilson Research Poll commissioned by the National Center for Public
Policy Research finds that 91% of respondents do not want to pay even the
conservative cost estimates associated with cap and trade. The poll also found that
71% are not willing to pay more for electricity and 65% don't want to pay even a
penny more at the pump for gasoline.

"If you ask the public do they want to do something to fight global warming, they
say 'sure,'" says David Ridenour, the director of NCPPR. "But when you ask them if
they want to pay more for cap and trade, they almost universally say 'no.'" In other
words, only if it's a free lunch are voters willing to go along. And given the high
costs and uncertainty of any benefits from policies to prevent climate change, it's
far from clear that voters are being irrational here.

A spokesman from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change objects that such polls and
studies don't take account of the "offsetting benefits to the economy from cap and
trade." But those benefits are speculative at best. A study by climate expert
Patrick J. Michaels of the University of Virginia estimates that cap and trade would
only lower temperatures by 0.01 degrees by 2050, which is hardly going to yield
major economic windfalls.

The Lieberman-Warner plan would increase petroleum prices by 5.9% by 2015, according
to Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. The
National Association of Manufacturers estimates that the Lieberman-Warner proposal
would increase electricity prices by about 13%. With oil prices exceeding $120 a
barrel, Americans want the Senate to find ways to lower, not raise, their energy
bills.

-- Stephen Moore


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ccp
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« Reply #123 on: June 05, 2008, 11:18:30 AM »

BO picks Holder who helped get Marc Rich pardoned in Clinton's final days.  The Clintons are down but we all know they will *not* go away.  There people will still be trying to control behind the scenes.  Hillary will probably be made a health care czar which for me as a primary care physician is not something I would want to see.  She will spend every second positioning for her next run.  I really don't wish anything bad on anyone.  But it just seems the only way our country will be rid of them is when they die.  And then we will have Chelsea....

McCain can beat BO.  The Republicans have to wake up and rally behind him.  As usual the religious right holds the center of the Republican party hostage.

BO's first mistake:

***By Dick Morris And Eileen McGann
06.4.2008

Published in The New York Post on June 5, 2008.

On his first day as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama made his first clear, serious mistake: He named Eric Holder as one of three people charged with vice-presidential vetting.

As deputy attorney general, Holder was the key person who made the pardon of Marc Rich possible in the final hours of the Clinton presidency. Now, Obama will be stuck in the Marc Rich mess.

If ever there was a person who did not deserve a presidential pardon, it’s Marc Rich, the fugitive billionaire who renounced his US citizenship and moved to Switzerland to avoid prosecution for racketeering, wire fraud, 51 counts of tax fraud, evading $48 million in taxes, and engaging in illegal trades with Iran in violation of the US embargo following the 1979-80 hostage crisis.

Seventeen years later, Rich wanted a pardon, and he retained Jack Quinn, former counsel to the president, to lobby his old boss.

It was Holder who had originally recommended Quinn to one of Rich’s advisers, although he claims that he did not know the identity of the client.

And he gave substantive advice to Quinn along the way. According to Quinn’s notes that were produced to Congress, Holder told Quinn to take the pardon application “straight to the White House” because “the timing is good.”

And once the pardon was granted, Holder sent his congratulations to Quinn.

In 2002, a congressional committee reported that Holder was a “willing participant in the plan to keep the Justice Department from knowing about and opposing” the Rich pardon.

It is one thing to reach back to Obama’s pastor to raise doubts about his values. But it is quite another to scrutinize the record of his first appointee.

It couldn’t be a bigger mistake.***
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DougMacG
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« Reply #124 on: June 05, 2008, 07:30:39 PM »

Disagreeing strongly with one of my favorite posters, CCP:

"The Republicans have to wake up and rally behind him (McCain).  As usual the religious right holds the center of the Republican party hostage."

McCain has made a career out of opposing his party and especially the right wing.  I wrote previously about loving his tax plan.  His support for Cap and Trade IMO wipes out my enthusiasm entirely.  Same goes for opposition to producing oil in America, ANWR etc.  My intensity is doubled by having a clone of his on our ballot for re-election, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN).

The 'religious right' made a mistake going for Huckabee who wasn't a conservative, could never win the nomination, could NEVER win the election, and tipped the balance to McCain.

McCain's problems with conservatives are his own choice and strategy.  He thinks there is more future for him courting independents and he assumes they have nowhere else to go.  So far that has worked fine for him.

I've already argued hard with conservative friends and relatives that it is worth it just for judicial appointments and prosecuting the war on terror, for examples, to have McCain and not a liberal  Democrat in White House.  Yet it makes arguing political differences nearly impossible when we see prominent Republican fingerprints on failed liberal programs and policies.  Those who say they will sit out also have a point.  Fiscal conservatism was not advanced by having Bush rather than Gore in the White House.  Out of control spending would likely have been the same either way but now there isn't a party left to turn to for spending restraint.

I plan to vote for McCain and Sen. Coleman, but I wouldn't travel far or wait in line to do it. I didn't show up as a delegate for our state convention last week.  It didn't make sense for me to drive to Rochester, MN to endorse 2 candidates who don't support my right to buy and consume modest amounts of gasoline to get there while they jet across the country and around the world without conscience or apology.

Our other Senator is an Obama liberal, Amy Klobuchar.  Against a conservative, she must have invoked the name John McCain on her side on issues at least twelve times in her debates to validate that her posistion was not that of a fringe liberal extremist.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #125 on: June 05, 2008, 09:04:33 PM »

Doug:

You make your points well.

For me not throwing away our sacrifices in Iraq especially now that things are looking up, carries A LOT of weight with me.  BO opposed the Surge, and now wants to undo the proof that he was profoundly wrong.

McCain's record on gun rights is not perfect, but BO's intentions are absolutley terrible.

BO would open the borders, give driver licenses to illegals and make dariver licenses sufficient proof to vote.

BO would socialize health care.  You think it is expensive now-- wait until BO makes it free!  McCain at least seeks steps towards freer markets.

The matter of judicial appointments also carries heavy weight with me-- BO would be affirmative action for liberals in action-- the juidges he would appoint would put us under the UN, castrate the second amendment, and much more and worse.

===========

June 5, 2008

In today's Political Diary:

- From Green to Blue
- Haunted by Rezko
- Yes, Virginia, Virginia Will Matter in 2008
- Not Ready for Prime Time


Climate Change Collapse

Environmentalists are stunned that their global warming agenda is in collapse.
Senator Harry Reid has all but conceded he lacks the vote for passage in the Senate
and that it's time to move on. Backers of the Warner-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill
always knew they would face a veto from President Bush, but they wanted to flex
their political muscle and build momentum for 2009. That strategy backfired. The
green groups now look as politically intimidating as the skinny kid on the beach who
gets sand kicked in his face.

Those  groups spent millions advertising and lobbying to push the cap-and-trade bill
through the Senate. But it would appear the political consensus on global warming
was as exaggerated as the alleged scientific consensus. "With gasoline selling at $4
a gallon, the Democrats picked the worst possible time to bring up cap and trade,"
says Dan Clifton, a political analyst for Strategas Research Partners. "This issue
is starting to feel like the Hillary health care plan."

It's a good analogy. Originally, Hillary health care had towering levels of support,
but once people looked at the cost and complexity they cringed. Jobs were on the
mind yesterday of Senator Arlen Specter, who has endorsed a tamer version of
cap-and-trade. "Workers in Pennsylvania worry that this will send jobs to China," he
tells me. They're smart to worry. Look no further than the failure of the Kyoto
countries to live up to their promised emissions cuts. Bjorn Lomborg, the author of
the Skeptical Environmentalist, tells me: "The Europeans are so far behind schedule,
it is almost inconceivable that they will meet their targets."

Even John McCain, a cap-and-trade original co-sponsor, now says that this scheme
won't fly until China and India sign on -- which could be never.

Senators also criticized Warner-Lieberman's failure to clearly specify what would
happen with the vast revenues the climate bill would generate -- some $1 trillion
over the first decade, which environmental groups wanted as a slush fund to finance
"green technologies." Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire insisted the proceeds be
used for other tax cuts, like the elimination of the corporate income tax. The
Natural Resources Defense Council desperately tried to persuade Congress in the 11th
hour that the expensive price tag is a bargain because "the cost of inaction" would
reach $1.8 trillion by 2100 due to increased hurricanes and rising oceans -- an
argument without a shred of scientific or fiscal credibility.

Republicans in the Senate this week did such a masterful job of picking the cap and
trade bill apart with objections, yesterday Barbara Boxer of California was pulling
her hair out with frustration, as one Republican leadership staffer put it.

Environmentalists have always eyed 2009 as the real target year for enactment. But
there was no show of strength this week and cap-and-trade may have reached its
political high water mark. Conservatives at least are in a far stronger position now
to demand major pro-growth tax cuts in exchange for new global warming taxes.

-- Stephen Moore


And Then There's Rezko

Barack Obama released a statement last night saying he was "saddened" that Tony
Rezko, his old friend and top fundraiser, had been convicted on 16 out of 24 counts
of fraud and political corruption by a Chicago jury. Previously, Mr. Obama felt
compelled to donate over $150,000 in Rezko-linked campaign contributions to charity.

But that probably won't be enough to erase Tony Rezko from the 2008 fall campaign as
an issue. Mr. Rezko offered Mr. Obama a job back in 1990 just as he was leaving
Harvard Law School. Mr. Obama didn't take it, but nonetheless became close to the
Syrian-born political fixer. In 2005, Mr. Rezko was helpful in Mr. Obama's purchase
of a large Hyde Park house by having his wife, Rita, buy the adjoining garden on the
same day Mr. Obama closed his transaction. Mr. Obama has since said the move was a
"bone-headed" mistake, especially since newspapers were already full of reports that
Mr. Rezko was being investigated on charges he had corruptly influenced appointments
made by  Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama has yet to answer a lot of questions about his relationship with Mr. Rezko
or his business partner, Iraqi-British billionaire Nadhmi Auchi. He claims the Rezko
case simply highlights the need for more campaign finance reform laws. Yesterday, he
issued a statement adding that the man convicted in a Chicago courtroom "isn't the
Tony Rezko I knew." Hmmm... But Mr. Obama knew him as a close friend and ally for
over 20 years as Mr. Rezko rose to become Illinois' top political fixer. Exactly
which Tony Rezko did Mr. Obama know?

As for Gov. Blagojevich, Chicago political observers believe the Rezko verdict will
tighten the net around him. Federal prosecutors have already subpoenaed his campaign
records, scrutinized his donors, and looked into his wife's real estate dealings.

-- John Fund


Obama in Wilder Country

Like Barack Obama, Doug Wilder was serving only his second year in state-wide office
when, in September 1991, he launched a run for president. Elected in 1989 as
governor of Virginia and the first black governor of any state, his achievement had
been all the more impressive for coming in a state where just three decades earlier
much of the Democratic Party leadership had declared "Massive Resistance" to
desegregation.

However, his presidential star never burned as brightly as Mr. Obama's and Mr.
Wilder is now finishing up a stint as the reformist mayor of troubled Richmond. But
his home state could still play a pivotal role in sending the first African-American
to the White House. Tonight Mr. Obama will speak in Virginia in his first campaign
event since wrapping up the nomination.

Despite the fact that Virginia has voted Republican in 10 straight presidential
elections, the Old Dominion appears up for grabs in Mr. Obama's fall race against
John McCain. The Illinois Senator will need to score big gains in the overwhelmingly
Democratic suburbs in Northern Virginia if he's to carry the state. He'll also
likely need to win some Appalachian counties in western Virginia, which Hillary
Clinton won in the February 12 primary and where Mr. Wilder won a surprising amount
of support in his 1989 gubernatorial victory.

According to his Richmond mayoral office, Mr. Wilder will not be attending Mr.
Obama's event tonight, but he's sure to campaign for him over the next five months.
"As I watched last night the certification of the nomination of Barack Obama, I was
filled with many emotions," Mr. Wilder said yesterday. "I was proud and appreciative
of how far we had come in this country.... He has done this without making any
claims to be running to 'make history' but instead, to be the best possible
candidate for the position."

-- Kyle Trygstad, RealClearPolitics.com
(http://oj1.opinionjournal.com/redir3/9RG.ObBAB!http//www.realclearpolitics.com/)


The Gang That Couldn't Primary Straight

Republicans have had terrible problems recruiting top-notch Senate candidates this
year, but in Massachusetts and Montana they appear to have recruited Keystone Kops.

In Massachusetts, former Air Force officer Jim Ogonowski was at least a credible
candidate, having nearly won a special election for the House last year. He promptly
built on that showing by announcing he would challenge Sen. John Kerry. But there
was the small matter of making the ballot.

This week it was revealed that Mr. Ogonowski had only turned in 9,970 legal
signatures on his petitions, falling 30 short of the required number. This means the
lone GOP candidate on the primary ballot will be security business owner Jeff Beatty
-- by no means the party's first choice.

But at least Mr. Beatty is serious. In Montana, Republicans this week had to witness
the humiliating spectacle of seeing their Senate nomination go to an 85-year-old
eccentric who was the Green Party's candidate in the last statewide election and
only ran as a Republican this time because he wanted a bigger stage for his platform
to turn the U.S. into a parliamentary democracy.

Butte attorney Bob Kelleher has lost 14 previous races for office, having started
out as a Democrat who finally switched to the Greens after 30 years of losses. The
Green Party repudiated him, saying he didn't represent its views either. Now he's
the Republican Party's headache. At least the debates between Mr. Kelleher and
Senate incumbent Max Baucus will be entertaining.

-- John Fund


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« Reply #126 on: June 06, 2008, 08:57:49 AM »

Doug,
I'm glad you posted your thoughts.  McCain is certainly not ideal to me either.   But appeasing the religious right is simply not going to win an election on a national scale IMO anymore.  Reagan is history.   His second term was not so great.  Remember the stupid Iran - Contra, savings and loan mess that he did absolutely nothing about.  Thanks to him we have the illegal immigrant mess we have to today. the entire face and nature of the country is changing today because of that. And the vast majority of immigrants who come here vote Democrat.  *There were no entitlements* when my grandparents came off the boat.  So people who say the comparison is legit are lying - it ain't.

That all said Reagan was still the only president who I loved in my life time.  But he's over.  So are the 1980's.  The party needs new ideas and leaders.

My thoughts are exactly with Marc's.  BO will be a *disaster* for this country.  He is a flaming liberal who as one blogger noted is a wolf in sheep's clothing.  If the religious right wants to keep promoting ideals while the crats are promising free everything to everyone then the election is over.   We need concrete answers.  The repubs need to compromise.  I see no compromise from the religious right.  And without winning over the Independents or "Reagan Democrats" forget about holding on to the White House.  It is a nightmare to me if the crats get all 3 branches of government (including the Supreme Court).

As you know, if the right stays home they will get the worse of two evils - far worse.  Please keep encouraging your conservative friends the same as you are doing.
 
I would personally have preferred Romney.  But I doubt he had any chance to win a general election.  By the way his universal health care in Massachusetts is I have read a disaster.  Wait till BO and the crats do it on a national scale as Marc suggests.

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« Reply #127 on: June 06, 2008, 03:59:30 PM »

A headline from the future with President Obama: "The Sunni-Shia Nuclear Arms Race Escalates".

I wonder how much gas will be then....
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« Reply #128 on: June 09, 2008, 07:03:58 PM »

June 9, 2008

In today's Political Diary:

- Talk About Talk
- That Judge Thang
- Old and In the Way (Quote of the Day I)
- Warming Cooling (Quote of the Day II)
- Republic of the Media


Who's Lincoln? Who's Douglas?

For two candidates who have both benefited greatly from favorable media coverage,
Barack Obama and John McCain are now keeping the press at arms-length as they
negotiate a possible series of town hall meetings.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ABC News had jointly proposed a 90-minute
network special from Federal Hall in Manhattan as the kickoff event. ABC proposed
that its Diane Sawyer moderate the event.

But emissaries for the two candidates quickly decided they didn't want media
sponsors for any events they might agree to do. "Both campaigns have indicated that
any additional appearances will be open to all networks for broadcast on TV or
Internet... rather than sponsored by a single network or news organization," said a
statement from Team Obama. Sounds like both candidates have had quite enough of the
media picking the questions during this past campaign season's interminable series
of debates. Some of the debate questions turned out to be either downright silly or
demeaning.

But the candidates seem intrigued by the Lincoln-Douglas style debates where
candidates themselves control the agenda and the flow of the exchanges. The idea
isn't new on the presidential level. The late Barry Goldwater once said that he and
President John Kennedy discussed barnstorming across the country together and
debating in joint appearances. But no candidate has ever taken the tremendous risks
such a series of appearances would involve. Should the two candidates come to an
agreement this year, it would truly represent a whiff of the "new politics" that
both men proclaim they want to encourage.

-- John Fund


Judges Readathon

Last week's Senate reading of a 492-page climate bill amendment, demanded by
Republicans who blocked the customary vote to waive the reading, was more than a
parliamentary trick to slow consideration of the massive energy tax-and-spend
legislation. It was payback for Harry Reid's treatment of Bush administration
judicial nominations.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the reading, which slowed Senate work to a halt
for much of last Wednesday, would "give the majority time to contemplate and
consider the importance of keeping your word."

Here's the background: In the days before the Memorial Day recess, Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid abandoned a spring pledge to Republicans to do his "utmost" to
confirm three of the President's circuit court nominees. So far, only Steven Agee,
appointed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, has been confirmed under Mr.
Reid's promised timeline. Two others for the same court, Bob Conrad and Steve
Matthews, have seen their nominations languish for nearly a year. As of today, only
eight circuit judges have been confirmed since the mid-term elections -- well off
the historical averages of 17 for President Reagan's last two years and 15 for
President Bill Clinton's. Mr. Reid had originally promised at least to equal the
pace of previous administrations, but his overriding goal now is to keep as many
judicial seats open as possible for the next Democratic president -- his party being
committed to the idea of rule through judges to enact a "progressive" agenda that
voters may not favor at the ballot box.

Which brings us to the irony of the climate bill. The GOP reading gambit ended up
saving Barack Obama from having to cast an unpopular vote for higher energy prices.
Having made a legislative gesture, Democrats can now return to Plan A -- relying on
the courts to deliver greenhouse regulation via the EPA and California's contested
auto mileage mandates.

-- Collin Levy


Quote of the Day I

"Expect open season in the coming campaign for implicitly bashing the elderly as
McCain's political foes and some media personalities stereotype him in ways that are
justifiably considered off limits regarding Barack Obama's race. Still, there is a
silver lining for McCain if Clinton's experience is any guide. Women voters rallied
to Clinton in response to the rampant sexism.... Democrats and media commentators
who relentlessly mock his age could end up rallying elder votes to his side" --
Congressional Quarterly political analyst Craig Crawford.


Quote of the Day II

"If tomorrow the theory of manmade global warming were proved to be a false alarm,
one might reasonably expect a collective sigh of relief from everyone. But instead
there would be cries of anguish from vested interests. About the only thing that
might cause global warming hysteria to end will be a prolonged period of cooling...
or at least, very little warming. We have now had at least six years without
warming, and no one really knows what the future will bring. And if warming does
indeed end, I predict that there will be no announcement from the scientific
community that they were wrong. There will simply be silence" -- University of
Alabama climate scientist Roy Spencer, writing at EnergyTribune.com.


The Media Primary

The presidential primaries are finally over. We know how the candidates fared with
voters but what did voters think of the news media that covered the race? If
objectivity and balance are the goals, not well at all. A new Rasmussen Reports
survey finds that 68% of Americans "believe most reporters try to help the candidate
that they want to win." Not surprisingly, a majority of voters also thought that
Barack Obama received the most favorable coverage during the primary season.

The belief that news reporters are often news twisters isn't confined to cranky
ideologues. It cuts across all racial, gender and income groups. A full 82% of
Republicans, 56% of Democrats and 69% of independents believe reporters try to give
an assist to the candidate they prefer. Only 17% of all voters believe most
reporters actually attempt to deliver unbiased coverage.

Barack Obama is likely to be the beneficiary of this favoritism come the fall
campaign. During the primaries 54% of those surveyed by Rasmussen thought he
received the most favorable coverage vs. 22% for John McCain and only 14% for
Hillary Clinton.

This fall, a full 44% of voters think the media will try to make Senator Obama look
good while only 13% think most reporters will tilt in Senator McCain's direction.
Even Democrats believe that the news media will be part of the Obama cheering
section -- 27% believe reporters will shape coverage in Mr. Obama's favor, 16% think
they will want Mr. McCain to win, while 34% think reporters will be largely
unbiased.

No real surprises in any of this. Nonetheless, I am still struck by how many
reporters insist to me that they "just report the facts" and firmly believe the
public overwhelmingly views them as impartial. Poll results like Rasmussen's show
most readers and viewers continue to be a lot more savvy than the people delivering
the news give them credit for being. Shouldn't that also be news? Somehow I doubt
the Rasmussen survey will get much coverage -- thereby proving its central message.

-- John Fund
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« Reply #129 on: June 10, 2008, 05:43:56 PM »

June 10, 2008

In today's Political Diary:

- If You Work, You're Rich
- Revolt of the Conservatives
- Shilly-Shallying on Shale (Quote of the Day)
- Beware the Food Police


Obama and the 'Rich'

Barack Obama has been on a class warfare tirade since he locked up the nomination,
accusing John McCain of defending Bush tax cuts for "the rich." "For eight long
years," he said yesterday in a speech laying out his economic agenda, "our president
sacrificed investments in health care, and education, and energy, and infrastructure
on the altar of tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy CEOs."

Hmmm. Anybody even dimly acquainted with the record, especially President Bush's
vast expansion of Medicare, might doubt the factual basis of such a statement. Never
mind. Mr. Obama and the Congressional Democrats promise to sock it to "rich"
taxpayers next year to pay for "middle class tax cuts" as well as some $300 billion
in new spending. But there's a problem: They won't tell us exactly who the rich are.

In various tax proposals Mr. Obama has set the definition of rich at levels of
$100,000, $200,000 and $250,000 in annual income. He has vowed, for example, to
erase the Bush tax cuts not only for those who make more than $250,000, but to end
the cap on Social Security taxes, which amounts to a tax hike on anyone who makes
more than $100,000 in income. More recently, Austan Goolsbee, an Obama economic
adviser, told me the new cap might be set at $200,000.

All of this has caused some heartburn among certain Democrats in high cost-of-living
states. New York Rep. Joseph Crowley says a couple with earnings of $100,000 could
be "a police officer and nurse." "In New York City," he adds, "they'd be
struggling."

A similar argument came to the fore as Democrats debated the recent farm bill. Under
the new law, farmers will be able to retain full subsidies even if they have incomes
of $750,000. Because of various gimmicks, the USDA says that farmers could even have
incomes up to $2 million and still be eligible for a farm welfare check. When it
comes to farmers, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama apparently believe
that "soaking the rich" means soaking them with handouts.

This is not just a rhetorical exercise. It could tell us a lot about whether
Democrats can come anywhere close to paying for all their spending promises and
still meet their vow to balance the budget. One problem for Senator Obama and his
class-warfare crowd is that repealing the Bush tax cuts for those with earnings of
more than $250,000 would raise only about $40 billion a year, according to Cato
Institute economist Alan Reynolds. That would leave President Obama with a $360
billion shortfall to meet his other proposals. Either those nurses and policemen are
going to have to be defined as "rich" by Team Obama, or the Democrats' pledge of
balancing the budget in five years is a fantasy. Add the fact that his various
spending proposals will certainly prove more costly than projected. It sounds like
not just the top 2% but most of the bottom 98% had better get ready for higher taxes
under an Obama administration.

-- Stephen Moore


The Road Back

When told recently that Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell is running to unseat him in an
August Republican primary, Rep. Don Young had this to say to his challenger:
"Congratulations. I beat your dad and I'm going to beat you."

Mr. Young is the kind of politician journalists love to cover. He's quotable, feisty
and now he's in a real jam. Federal investigators have already searched his house
and are looking into his fundraising practices. One issue is an earmark the
congressman stuck into a spending bill for a Florida highway project that benefited
a campaign contributor. There's open speculation in Alaska that Mr. Young could be
indicted before the November election. His approval ratings are in the low 30s and
one recent poll found him dead even with Mr. Parnell.

This is where Mr. Parnell steps in. He hopes to become part of a growing trend of
conservatives rising up and defeating moderate and free-spending Republicans in GOP
primaries. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, previously mayor of the town of Wasilla, started
the trend two years ago when she picked off Gov. Frank Murkowski. The imperious Mr.
Murkowski had drawn flak for appointing his daughter to a senate seat he vacated and
for insisting taxpayers pay for a new plane to ferry him about the state. And the
stable-cleaning movement has accelerated since then. Consider three congressional
races. In March, State Sen. Andy Harris defeated Capitol Hill veteran Rep. Wayne
Gilchrist in Maryland. In April, Pennsylvania entrepreneur Chris Hackett won an open
primary against wheelchair-manufacturer Dan Meuser, who had a record of campaign
donations to Democrats. And last week conservative State Sen. Tom McClintock
defeated former Congressman Doug Ose in California. On the Senate side, Steve Pearce
beat Heather Wilson in a New Mexico GOP primary despite her last-minute endorsement
by retiring Sen. Pete Domenici. In all these races, the winning candidate ran an
anti-pork campaign and promised conspicuously to remain true to his conservative
principles once in Washington.

Mr. Parnell say he isn't seeking revenge for his father Pat Parnell, who ran as a
Democrat and lost to Mr. Young in a blowout in 1980. But he is seeking to be a
leader in a campaign by conservatives to regain control of the Republican Party.
When the GOP lost control of Congress two years ago, optimists on the right said
that a detour into the political wilderness would be good for Republicans. The GOP,
they hoped, would rediscover its principles of fiscal conservatism, low taxes and
limited government. Mr. Young survived two years ago despite being the author the
infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" earmark. There may be no better way to bring the GOP
back to its principles than to send him to the showers.

-- Brendan Miniter


Quote of the Day

"I'm generally the last guy to lambaste the media, but generally you do not hear
these facts. We're sending $600 billion annually to enemies of our country. If one
acre of oil shale produces 1 million barrels of oil, that's 1 million barrels that
we would not be importing from Russia and the Middle East. People are going to go
berserk when they find out that all along we had the capacity, within our own
borders, to alleviate our dependency in an environmentally friendly way. Ironically,
the local governments in Colorado's oil shale areas do support oil shale
development, but it's being stopped by the ski-resort elites.... Now if those nice,
rich people in Aspen really cared about the environment, they might save an acre or
two of those beautiful forests they're building on and support some oil-shale
development in the not-so-nearby and not-so-beautiful oil shale areas of Colorado"
-- Sen. Orrin Hatch, in an interview with Fortune magazine, about political
obstacles to tapping the humongous 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil shale in
Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.


Gustapo

Democrats have laid down the environmental law for their Denver presidential
convention this August.

The convention organizing committee is going green to such an extent that any liquid
served in an individual plastic container will be banned at all 22 events hosted by
the convention. Also banned will be fried foods. Any plates must be reusable or
compostable. Catered meals will be expected to follow a strict color code. Such
meals must not only be locally or organically grown, but consist of at least three
of the following five colors -- red, green, yellow, blue/purple and white. (Oranges
and carrots would appear to be have lost out.)

"Blue could be a challenge," Ed Janos, owner of the local Cook's Fresh Market, told
the Denver Post. "All I can think of are blueberries." Nick Agro, owner of Whirled
Peas Catering, is worried. "I question the feasibility," he says, noting that the
growing season in Colorado is short and that using "organic stuff pretty much
doubles your price."

Then there are ethical dilemmas. Compostable products, such as forks and knives made
from cornstarch, usually are imported from Asia on massive, fuel-consuming
freighters. Are they a better environmental choice than recyclable plates?

Back in 2003, Democrats snickered at the intolerance of a Republican House chairman
who expressed his disdain for France's refusal to back the Iraq War by insisting
that "Freedom Fries" be served in the House cafeteria. Now, Democrats are going much
further with their political correctness. French fries -- and all other fried foods
-- will be banned from their convention's parties. Food critics are already
wondering what else liberals may have in store for us if they have control of both
the White House and Congress next January.

-- John Fund
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« Reply #130 on: June 17, 2008, 11:36:36 AM »



McCain Tiptoes Back to Reality on Energy

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" is a famous riposte attributed to the economist John Maynard Keynes.

John McCain could employ a political version of that line tonight when he delivers a major speech on energy in the Oil Patch capital of Houston, Texas. Faced with $4 gasoline and evidence that China is about to drill for oil off U.S. shores with Cuban help, Mr. McCain will call for ending the federal moratorium on offshore drilling. I'm further told he may be given air cover by an executive order from the Bush administration that will address that very issue on Wednesday.

"I don't want to dictate to the states what they should do," Mr. McCain told reporters in explaining why he was dropping his objection to offshore drilling. At the same time, he reiterated his view that areas such as the Alaska coastal plain are "pristine" and should continue to be off limits.

The Barack Obama campaign quickly set up a confrontation with Mr. McCain over his new stance. "John McCain's plan to simply drill our way out of our energy crisis is the same misguided approach backed by President Bush that has failed our families for too long and only serves to benefit the big oil companies," Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan told reporters.

Shaping up here is a debate worth having, one that will present suffering motorists with a clear contrast between the candidates.

-- John Fund

Obama Says 'Hi' with One Finger

Barack Obama has sent a clear but unmistakable response to the pressure he's been getting to put Hillary Clinton on his ticket as the vice presidential nominee. Yesterday, his campaign named Patti Solis Doyle, the former Clinton campaign manager who was fired in February and has not spoken to Mrs. Clinton since, as the chief of staff who will help guide whomever he picks as his running mate.

A major Clinton fundraiser told the New York Observer he considered the move "the biggest f--- you I have ever seen in politics." According to the unnamed Clinton donor, "Clinton loyalists view [Ms. Doyle] with deep suspicion and believe that she is shopping around a book deal and acted as a background source for an extremely harsh Vanity Fair piece about Bill Clinton."

"Either one of two things happen," predicted the fundraiser. "Hillary is selected as vice president and they fire Patti, or Hillary is not going to be the vice president."

Team Obama insists no message is being sent in the hiring of Ms. Doyle, who was one of several campaign staffers whose appointment was announced on Monday. But Clinton insiders say the former First Couple is livid over the appointment and it will not make repairing relations between the two camps any easier.

Syndicated columnist Selena Zito couldn't resist speculation about other possible Obama hiring decisions. "What's next?" she joked. "I wonder if Obama plans on hiring [estranged Clinton strategist] Mark Penn as chief of staff for the future First Lady?"

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"Rather than issuing statements, Sen. [Chris] Dodd needs to answer any and all questions about the circumstances of his attaining the Countrywide loans. We join the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in calling for the Senate and House ethics committees to investigate whether the acceptance of bargain rate loans violated the prohibition against accepting gifts. The committees need to determine if any other congressmen received favorable loans in possible violation of the ethics rules.... The public needs confidence that those proposing ways to solve the subprime mortgage crisis did not take advantage of their positions to get deals from the very folks largely responsible for causing the crisis" -- editorial in The Day newspaper in New London, Ct., on Connecticut Senator and Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd's acceptance of sweetheart loans from subprime lender Countrywide Financial.

Quote of the Day II

"If Barack Obama really wants to sell his message of hope to American voters this November, he needs to stop treating us like pathetic victims unable to compete economically with people in Mexico or China.... Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, Obama pandered in the Democratic Party primaries to labor unions and others in the party base who blame low-wage foreign countries for stealing American jobs. He vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and he whined about China's currency" -- columnist Tom Walsh, writing in the Detroit Free Press.

No Message, But Please Accept this Toy

My sources at the Republican National Committee say they are stunned by the dropoff in contributions this election cycle, but a big part of the problem is an absence of an agenda. It's getting harder and harder to finish this sentence: "Vote for Republicans in November because..." The Republican campaign committees are getting more angry mail than checks as a result of failing to stop earmarked spending and the GOP's recent failure to support President Bush's veto of the inexcusable $300 billion farm bill.

So instead of a message this fall, the GOP is trying to promote donations with a new stuffed animal elephant with the RNC logo on its belly. For $35 donations, donors can get the toy elephant, which party fundraising letters declare will be the "hit of your July Fourth Party." The fundraising letter continues: "The RNC elephants are wonderful plush toys and make a perfect gift for your favorite Republicans."

Several big Republican donors have told me they're infuriated by the juvenile fundraising pitch. "What has the RNC turned into, Sesame Street?" one donor fumed. Others complain that the letters are just further evidence that the party has no message right now -- especially on the core issue of cutting government spending.

No word yet as to whether "Sam" the GOP elephant is jumping off the shelves, but if this is the best pitch Republicans have to wrench money out of donors, perhaps another couple of years in the wilderness is what the party needs -- and deserves.

-- Stephen Moore





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« Reply #131 on: June 30, 2008, 02:06:38 PM »

Tom Brokaw and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are old friends, having met 30 years ago when Mr. Brokaw was NBC's correspondent in Los Angeles. But that didn't spare Arnold from tough questioning in the mold of the late Tim Russert when Mr. Brokaw interviewed him for "Meet the Press" yesterday.

Mr. Brokaw began by asking just how much had really changed in California. "When you ran for governor in 2003, you ran as a fiscal conservative who would change the system, who would bring business-like techniques," the host said. "Now, you are facing a $15-billion deficit here in California. Unemployment is running at about 6.8%; you've got the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression. If you were the CEO of a public company, the board would probably say, 'It is time to go.'"

Mr. Schwarzenegger joked: "Are you always this positive?" He then launched into a defense of some of his spending -- especially on infrastructure -- and said economic conditions were sour everywhere: "People are struggling, and I think we see that all over the world."

But Mr. Brokaw wasn't done. "Before you came in, governor, you said the spending was out of control. Your rate of increase in spending is about the same as your predecessor, Gov. Gray Davis. It has grown at about 34% since you took office."

A startled governor, who rode into office during the 2003 recall campaign excoriating the spending record of Democrat Davis, insisted: "The numbers are misleading. We have paid off a lot of debt. . . . I am very proud that we paid off a lot of debt and that we got the economy going again."

In truth, California's state government has taken on billions in new debt to pay for infrastructure projects. It also faces massive new obligations. Just last month, a federal court-appointed prison medical czar ordered the state to pay an additional $7 billion to build new facilities for inmates.

California's tough times have led to a slide in Mr. Schwarzenegger's approval ratings to about 40%, a fact the NBC host dryly noted by saying: "It is tough to govern under those circumstances."

But the governor was unfazed. "Not at all. I'm having a great time."

No one doubts that. Arnold has the role of a lifetime. But Californians aren't having a great time. The millions of Californians who voted for the Terminator five years ago in part because of his pledge to "blow up the boxes" of state government are wondering why their state is once again in the same fiscal fix as in 2003.

-- John Fund

A Sun Rises in the West

Governor Bill Ritter, who grew up on a Colorado farm, aced his first appearance on "Meet the Press" yesterday, appearing unpretentious and focused -- and hardly put off by host Tom Brokaw's questions about how a Western, pro-life Democratic Governor fits with the national party's "progressive" platform.

"I think the Democratic Party in the West has been able to say that [a pro-choice position on abortion] is not going to be a litmus test," Mr. Ritter answered. The national Democratic Party may have a pro-choice platform in Denver, but such planks hardly mean Democrats "don't very much embrace people who might have different views. I'm a great example of that."

Wow. How the party must have changed since popular Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey was denied a speaking turn at the 1992 Democratic convention because he adhered to Catholic teaching on abortion. Mr. Ritter, 51, is a former Catholic missionary in Africa who endorsed Mr. Obama on June 3. Numerous liberal blogs, from DailyKos to Democratic Underground, have buzzed ever since about Mr. Ritter's chances to be Mr. Obama's vice presidential nominee.

A recent Quinnipiac/Wall Street Journal/Washington Post poll shows Mr. Obama leading Senator John McCain by 49%-44% in Colorado, where the Democratic Convention will be held this summer. Colorado is one of several states potentially in position to swing a close election and Mr. Ritter could presumably help Mr. Obama with westerners, men and Catholics. Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas is another Catholic Democrat considered a viable Obama veep choice, though Ms. Sebelius, unlike Mr. Ritter, is pro-choice.

That said, history has not beamed on Catholic Democrats seeking the vice presidency. Edmund Muskie, who grew up in a large Polish Roman Catholic family, lost alongside Hubert Humphrey in 1968. George McGovern failed with two Catholic vice presidential nominees in 1972, Thomas Eagleton and Sargent Shriver. In 1984, Walter Mondale selected pro-choice Catholic Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who struggled throughout the campaign with the abortion issue.

Of course, the problem in all these cases wasn't the veep candidate but the headliner. So the real question may not be whether Mr. Obama wants Mr. Ritter, but the other way around.

-- Robert Costa

His Best Work Was on Super-8

Bob Barr, now running for president on the Libertarian ticket, couldn't be more excited about having former movie actor Sonny Landham running on the same party line in Kentucky, where Mr. Landham announced last week he will challenge the powerful four-term GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell.

"I think that throughout the South there are a lot of disenchanted Republican voters and blue-collar Democrats who are looking for a new choice," Mr. Barr, a former Republican Congressman from Georgia, tells PD. "We both want an open political system, lower taxes and a rational defense policy. I think those issues will resonate among those groups."

Mr. Barr says his favorite Landham film was "Predator," the 1987 Oscar-nominated blockbuster directed by John McTiernan. And no wonder -- the same film also features Arnold Schwarzenegger (a future governor of California) and Jesse Ventura (a future governor of Minnesota). How could Mr. Landham be anything but a shoo-in now that he has turned to electoral politics?

"One of the best movies of all time," adds Mr. Barr.

For his part, Mr. Landham says the Kentucky race is his "to lose" (though the polls may beg to differ). He seems to enjoy calling Mr. McConnell "Boss Hogg" after the corrupt politician from "The Dukes of Hazzard." He also calls the Democratic challenger in the race, millionaire businessman Bruce Lunsford, an "elitist." "This whole campaign is about the economy," says Mr. Landham. "We have to start to drill everywhere -- onshore, offshore, build more refineries, start using coal and burn it cleanly and efficiently. We have to reindustrialize America," he adds. "I am for unionizing the whole globe."

On presidential politics, Mr. Landham has warmer feelings for the Democrat than the Republican. "Senator Obama is like Ronald Reagan, in that he thinks America's best days are ahead," he says, though Mr. Landham still intends to support the Libertarian candidate Mr. Barr. "This country is ready for revolution," says Mr. Landham. "John McCain is the same, old ancient Washington politics. . . . John McCain has not figured out who he is. One minute he's for something, the next minute he's against."

Mr. Landham, who says Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon influenced him politically, will bring a whole Pullman coach of baggage into the race. He spent 31 months in jail on assault charges, though the conviction was reportedly overturned on appeal. And he began his acting career in adult films in the 1970s. "The only thing I can say is that if you've seen my movies, you've seen my shortcomings," he says.

"I did it for the money. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Anybody who enjoys sex, yes, they'll enjoy it," says Mr. Landham, adding that "Andrea True and Georgina Spellman were two of the best actresses I worked with in adult films."

Now if only Ms. True and Ms. Spellman are registered to vote in Kentucky. . . .

-- Robert Costa

Quote of the Day

"The New Deal exists principally on an emotional plane for Barack Obama. To him the New Deal is something you play like a song, to make you or your constituents feel better. Let me be clear: It's too early to judge Obama on economics. But he does seem unaware of the economic consequences of government expansion that happens under the New Deal name. Politicians generally act as if there is no cost to reconnecting with voters by building new New Deals. But the whole exercise of writing law out of New Deal nostalgia is a form of national narcissism. Call it New Deal narcissism" -- Amity Shlaes, author of the New Deal history "The Forgotten Man," writing in National Review.

The Spirit of 13

It was 30 years ago this month that the Reagan revolution was launched. To be exact, on June 6th, 1978 California voters by a two-to-one margin approved the property tax cut called Proposition 13. Arthur Laffer, one of the few economists in the state to endorse the measure, called it "the greatest tax revolt since the Boston Tea Party."

Despite dire claims that Prop. 13 would cause the prisons to open, the police to lay down their guns and the schools to board up, a strong majority of voters approved the measure. Howard Jarvis, the proposition's author, was decried as a "rabble rouser" by the Los Angeles Times. Prop. 13 slashed property taxes by 30% and capped annual increases to 1%. The Jarvis Foundation points out that even a majority of firefighters voted for it, though their union was fiercely against it.

For the next 20 years, California's economy grew at a record pace. Population and income growth surged almost 30% faster than the rest of the nation. Mr. Laffer projected that the measure would cause the greatest housing boom in California history, and he was right. As a consequence, the static revenue losses from the tax cuts were minimal. Ronald Reagan witnessed the policy and political success of Prop. 13 and -- having originally opposed the measure -- latched on to supply-side economics as a consequence.

The left has tried to condemn Proposition 13 every time the state runs into financial trouble -- like right now. But a new Field Poll finds that 30 years after its passage, 57% of Californians say they would still vote for it and only 23% say they would be against it -- i.e., the same two-to-one margin.

According to Field Research: "Voters in this state remain highly supportive of [Prop 13] and its main provisions." Arnold Schwarzenegger should be paying close attention.

California has enormous budget problems today with housing values down by more than 30% over the past 18 months. The only thing that can save the state and return its economy to high growth might be another Proposition 13-type tax rebellion.

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« Reply #132 on: July 01, 2008, 01:00:28 PM »

In the category of "better late than never" (and also "barely above a whisper"), Barack Obama offered an overdue critique of his own side of the Iraq war debate in his speech on patriotism yesterday. Mr. Obama, surrounded by flags (and wearing -- 'tis true! -- a flag pin on his lapel) in Independence, Missouri, bemoaned the fact that "a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal." That would be General David Petraeus, who last year was the focus of a MoveOn.org smear ad in major newspapers under the headline: "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?"

Recall that an uproar ensued at the time and Democratic politicians across the country disavowed the slur. Some 72 Senators even voted for a "sense of the Senate" resolution that condemned the attack and offered support for Gen. Petraeus. Yet one who didn't was none other than Sen. Obama. He managed to miss the Senate resolution vote, despite the fact he was in Washington and voted on two other measures that day. Indeed, when given an opportunity to criticize the ad, Mr. Obama instead criticized the Senate's decision to hold a vote denouncing it. "The focus of the United States Senate should be on ending this war, not on criticizing newspaper advertisements," Mr. Obama said. "This amendment was a stunt designed only to score cheap political points while what we should be doing is focusing on the deadly serious challenge we face in Iraq."

That was then -- back when Mr. Obama was apparently eager not to ruffle the Netroots activists. This is now -- with the MoveOn.org endorsement firmly in hand, Mr. Obama evidently feels free to pander in the opposite direction. Mr. Obama is certainly serving up the audacity of something, but I wouldn't call it hope.

-- Kim Strassel

The Madness of King George

He was governor of New York for twelve years and only left office on the last day of 2006. But George Pataki can't get any respect from his own Republican Party, which unceremoniously dumped him from its list of delegates invited to the GOP national convention in Minneapolis.

Everyone thinks it all has something to do with a feud between Mr. Pataki and GOP State Chairman Joe Mondello, who became angry in 2004 when the then-governor stripped him of a national party post.

But there are broader reasons for the snub. The state Republican Party disintegrated under Gov. Pataki's leadership, with party building and candidate recruitment largely ignored as deals were increasingly cut with Democratic teacher and health worker unions to preserve the shrinking GOP majority in the state senate. In 2006, the house of cards came crashing down when Republicans failed to win a single statewide office for the first time since the 1940s. Republicans now hold the state senate by a single seat.

Democrats were chortling yesterday over Mr. Pataki's discomfiture. "He should have tried to go to the Democratic convention," joked consultant Basil Smikle. "He'd have been named a super-delegate for all the help he gave Democrats in taking over control of the state."

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"Barack Obama is under hostile fire for changing his position on the D.C. gun ban. Oh, I'm sorry. He didn't change his position, apparently. He reworded a clumsy statement. That, at least, is what his campaign is saying. The same campaign that tried to spin his flip-flop in rejecting public financing as embracing the spirit of reform, if not the actual position he had once promised to embrace. Is this becoming a pattern? Wouldn't it be better for Obama to say he had thought more about such-and-such an issue and simply changed his mind? Is that verboten in American politics? Is it better to engage in linguistic pretzel-twisting in an effort to prove that you didn't change your mind?" -- Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media columnist.

Too Little, Too Late Is Africa's Response to Mugabe

Robert Mugabe didn't exactly receive an enthusiastic welcome when he arrived yesterday for a meeting of the 53-member African Union in Egypt. While he was seated as Zimbabwe's president despite the obviously fraudulent nature of his re-election last Friday, he was nonetheless roundly condemned by many of the leaders present.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga urged the Union to "not accept or entertain Mr. Mugabe." He told an audience in Kenya on Sunday that the Union should "take its soldiers to Zimbabwe to free the people in that country."

Most surprising to conference attendees was the publication yesterday in a South African paper of a document that South African President Thabo Mbeki is said to have written in 2001, just as Mr. Mugabe took his own country down the path towards nationalization of agriculture and a totalitarian police state. Mr. Mbeki has been severely criticized for his public stance towards Zimbabwe, including his decision earlier this year to hold hands with the dictator and proclaim that Zimbabwe was not in crisis.

But in a 37-page "discussion document" he drafted for Mr. Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in 2001, Mr. Mbeki expressed private frustration and concern with the direction of the country. He warned of the need "to ensure that Zimbabwe does not end up in a situation of isolation, confronted by an array of international forces she cannot defeat, condemned to sink into an ever-deepening social and economic crisis."

Mr. Mbeki deplored the direction of Mr. Mugabe's policies, urging him to "encourage free, open and critical discussion" and "ensure the freedom of the press." He warned that the recruitment of unofficial militias made up of war veterans from the days of the party's struggle against white rule would undermine public support. He urged a U-turn in economic policy and predicted that resorting "to anti-imperialist rhetoric will not solve the problems of Zimbabwe, but may compound them."

Mr. Mbeki will leave office next year, having utterly failed to use any significant leverage to force changes in Mr. Mugabe's murderous and destructive policies. The leaked document is obviously an attempt to repair his battered public image. Mr. Mbeki clearly foresaw the disaster his old colleague in the liberation struggle was inflicting on his country. Too bad Mr. Mbeki, whose country is the economic powerhouse and moral leader of the region, did so little to prevent what Mr. Odinga, Kenya's prime minister, says has become an embarrassing stain on all of Africa.

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« Reply #133 on: July 08, 2008, 09:14:51 AM »

$600 Million Baby
July 8, 2008; Page A20
As the Senate prepares to vote on its mortgage bailout this week, one part of Banking Chairman Chris Dodd's bill deserves more scrutiny. It's a section called "affordable housing allocations," and while it sounds innocuous, in practice it amounts to a new tax to create a permanent subsidy for state governments and political activists.

 
Like the bailout that has already passed the House, the Senate bill features a special new tax on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We have long urged reform of the two mortgage giants, which operate with an implicit government guarantee and therefore a license to endanger the taxpayer if they take on too much risk. The shares of both plunged yesterday to new lows based on their credit risks. But as a price for allowing more oversight of the two companies, Mr. Dodd and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank want to cut their allies in on even more of the action.

Mr. Dodd creates an annual tax of 4.2 basis points on the mortgages that Fan and Fred purchase each year. Initially this money will go to finance losses resulting from the bill's bailout of refinanced mortgages. But by 2012 most of the cash from this tax will be directed to the new "affordable housing" funds. Mr. Frank applies a 1.2 basis-point tax on the value of all the loans Fan and Fred hold or have guaranteed, to collect roughly the same amount of money. The annual windfall here could amount to more than $600 million at the start, growing to perhaps $1 billion or more, depending on how fast the companies grow.

 
Even better for the pols, this money won't end up in the Treasury's general fund. Instead, they've written the bill to steer the cash toward some of their favorite political allies. In the Senate bill, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development gets the largest pot to distribute, a full 65% of the "affordable housing" funds. Within guidelines established by the bill, the HUD chief has discretion to favor particular states while punishing others in creating a formula for doling out block grants.

Much of the political clout will be enjoyed by state politicians once they receive the checks from HUD. The state pols will be free to share the wealth with favored organizations, which will include both nonprofit and for-profit groups with an agenda.

Back at the federal level, the Treasury Secretary receives 35% of the affordable housing funds to distribute, but he doesn't have to ship it off to the states in the form of block grants. Treasury can make grants directly to nonprofits, and the one certainty is that most of this cash will be directed to the most powerful allies of the politicians in power. While Mr. Frank's version only authorizes this river of cash until 2012, the Senate would make it permanent and don't expect the House to object in conference.

Democrats claim the bill has ample protection against money going for electioneering and lobbying, but it will surely go to activists who promote ever-more taxes and spending. We see nothing in either the House or Senate bills to prevent money from flowing to Acorn, the left-wing activist outfit that was infamous for its bare-knuckle politics even before eight of its employees pleaded guilty in April to election fraud in St. Louis.

Acorn operates an "affordable housing" arm, so it is structured to immediately board the new federal gravy train. The Center for Responsible Lending, which lobbies and litigates against market rates in consumer banking, also should be able to tap these funds via its affiliated Center for Community Self-Help. If later investigations prove that taxpayer funds were misused, the bills provide that recipients can simply return the amount of the grant, with no further financial penalty.

The affordable housing funds also give Members of Congress an even larger stake in the growth of Fannie and Freddie. Heretofore, the companies have had to influence Congress through lobbying and campaign donations. But now Congress will get a direct percentage in how much new business the companies do.

This, in turn, will give the companies more incentive to take even greater financial risks. While the bill gives Fan and Fred's regulator more power to limit their business, good luck to the human regulator who tries to do so. The companies will go to Messrs. Dodd and Frank, who will quickly let the regulator know he's not supposed to cut into their share of the loot. A bill that allegedly reins in the companies after their multibillion-dollar accounting frauds will thus make Fannie and Freddie even more politically invulnerable.

With rare exceptions, Republicans seem happy to go along with all this in the name of "doing something" about housing before the election. We doubt it will stem their electoral losses this year, and in return they'll be funding their political opponents for decades to come. Genius.
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« Reply #134 on: July 08, 2008, 07:13:18 PM »

Anti-Sharia for Congress   
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Vijay Kumar, an émigré from India who is seeking the Republican nomination in a Tennessee primary Congressional race set for August. He is running on an anti-Sharia platform. Visit his website at kumarforcongress.com.
 
 

FP: Vijay Kumar, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Kumar: Thank you. It is a pleasure to speak with you.

FP: I would like to speak to you today about the anti-Sharia program you are running on. But first let’s begin with your background. Tell us about your life in India, your emigration to the United States, and how you came to your anti-Sharia views.

Kumar: I was born in Hyderabad, India, in 1954. I grew up there in India, in a conservative, middle-class family. I studied classics, political science, and philosophy. During the late 1970s, I was working in human resources for a European construction company, and that work took me to Iran. From 1977 to 1979 I witnessed, firsthand, the radical transformation of Iran from a modern nation to a repressed, fundamentalist state and it left a lasting impression on me. I suppose you could say that my anti-Sharia views began there.
 
The American way of life and its values resonated strongly with me. I emigrated here in 1979 and have been living in the Bellevue area of Nashville for twenty years. I’ve been raising a family and managing my own insurance business, and during it all I’ve been interested in politics.

Right now, our country is dealing with issues – issues like illegal immigration, healthcare reform, the War on Terror – that will shape our politics for the rest of this century. Like many Americans, I’ve grown to feel that the politicians of this country are simply not accomplishing anything on these fronts. As low as the President’s approval rating has gotten, the approval rating for Congress is even lower. So, as a concerned and informed citizen, I’ve decided to run for Congress and help put things on the right track. That’s what living in a democracy is all about.

FP: What has made you make an anti-Sharia platform the central tenet of your campaign?

Kumar: The main focus of my campaign is the War on Terror. What so many politicians do not seem to realize is that our struggle is against more than just “terror.” Terrorism is simply a method, not an end itself. Terrorism is just one tactic being used by Islamic extremists in their effort to force their way of life on the rest of the world. Ultimately, then, this is a struggle over whether the nations of this world will be ruled under Sharia law or not. As Omar Ahmad, founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant.”
 
FP: What are your thoughts about CAIR?
 
Kumar: CAIR is a direct manifestation of Mohammed’s Sunna and jihad. CAIR is actually just one part of Islam’s strategy to annihilate the Western culture. It is far more dangerous than any Mohammed Atta or any other jihadists.
 
Lies and deceit are CAIR’s stock-in-trade.  They claim to be akin to a “Muslim NAACP,” but everyone from the Department of Homeland Security, to FBI counterterrorism chiefs, to moderate American Muslims recognizes the extreme rhetoric that CAIR endorses. At least five of CAIR’s board members and employees have been linked to terrorism-related activities. They are fifth columnists, preying upon our values of tolerance and multiculturalism.
 
But CAIR is just one of an untold number of Islamic organizations in our government and university centers. People forget that Mohammed’s last words were to keep giving the money to kafir ambassadors and that is what Islam is doing in Washington, DC. Capitol Hill is awash in Saudi money and our dhimmi political types cannot get enough of it.

FP: What do you think it says about Islam that non-Muslims cannot enjoy the same freedoms in Muslim nations as Muslims enjoy in America and the West – and many countries around the world?

Kumar: This is proof of the legal inequalities that are built into Sharia law. Sharia is a set of laws designed to apply not just to Mulsims, but to non-Muslims as well. Everyone, believer and kafir alike, is supposed to live a life based upon Mohammed. However, kafirs – those who do not believe – are given distinctly different treatment than believers.

In America, we believe that all human beings are created equal, and that all human beings possess certain natural rights; our entire Constitution is just a logical extension of that one idea. To us, Muslims are humans just like everyone else, and therefore they should have the same legal rights as everyone else. Sharia law, on the other hand, is not based on logic or a belief in natural equality. It is based on religious customs, and part of its design is to elevate believers over non-believers.

Yet, we never bring up this inequality and lack of freedom under Muslim rule. We never point out Islam’s long history of destroying or oppressing other cultures. We never remember the suffering of non-Muslims in Muslim nations. We never teach that Turkey was once Christian, or that Islamic jihad has reduced Hindustani culture to half of what it once was. Muslim groups often like to point to Christians as aggressors, citing the Crusades of the Dark Ages, but the West remains silent about people being oppressed in the Middle East today, right now.
 
FP: Why do you think there is such a silence in the West about Muslim tyranny? Why do you think the Left refuses to stand up for those who suffer under Islamic despotism?
 
Kumar: The Left and Islam share many of the same values. Both deny that individuals have a personal ethic. A central authority should control all things. Both insult and denigrate their opponents and see themselves as victors in the movement of history. Both hate the native cultures and individual efforts.
 
The mindset of the Leftist is one of deliberate ignorance.  I was a Leftist, a bleeding heart liberal until a few years ago.  I came from a Marxist family in India.  The Left, by its silence on the issue of radical Islam, has betrayed its own professed ideals, if it has any.
 
The fight against Political Islam should have been led by the liberal intellectuals in our universities, but instead they deliberately and systematically support a seventh century totalitarian ideology that negates all forms of rational thinking, intellectual pursuit, and pluralism - the very ideals which are supposed to be central to the philosophy of the Left.
 
The Liberals have become the lackeys of Islamic imperialism in their words and deeds. They fail to mention the 1,400 years of Jihadists' terror in this world.  How can we cry for the genocide in Darfur and ignore the cause?
 
The media only has a concern for white oppression and white evil. If the source of evil is non-white and non-Christian, they don’t care. Our Leftist media is forcing us to fight this ideological struggle with both hands tied behind our backs. To them, saying anything negative about other countries or cultures is not telling the truth, it is racism. To them, portraying America’s values and accomplishments in a positive light is propaganda – and God forbid they indulge in anything so base as pro-American propaganda.
 
Another aspect of Leftist thought is that there is no absolute morality. Everything is relative, every kind of behavior and belief should be tolerated, and therefore the American system isn’t better than any other. How can we engage in a battle of ideologies when you see all ways of life – even those that preach an end to tolerance and an end to intellectual freedom – as acceptable? And as we can see in the Obama campaign, you can talk about change as long as you serve the same menu of old ideas with a new smile.
 
We cannot see what we do not understand. Our education system is bankrupt at all levels. Our universities do not prepare our young minds to see anything bad about Islam. Here in Nashville at Vanderbilt University you can get a degree in Islamic Studies and never read the life of Mohammed—and never read the entire Koran. You study Sufi poetry, Islamic art and Islamic history viewed as a glorious triumph. No kafirs suffer in this program and there is no history of Jew, Christian, Hindu or Buddhist suffering under Islamic rule for the past 1,400 years. A graduate from this program then goes out into the world professionally trained to be an apologist for Islam, a dhimmi. And this program is standard at all schools, not just Vanderbilt.
 
All of our textbooks teach a CAIR approved history and doctrine of Islam. All of the young minds are trained to never see any wrong in Islam and to blame all the faults of Islam on us.

FP: What should be done about Sharia law in America?

Kumar: First we have to understand that Sharia denies the values of our Constitutional government and that it has been the constant goal of radical Islam to make all peoples submit to Sharia. We must educate ourselves as to the actual nature of Sharia law and its history. Any American who is reasonably informed about Sharia law should recognize that it is incompatible with freedom and our way of life.

Sharia is the legal condensation of the Koran and the Sunna – the words and actions of Mohammed. Because it is based upon the political submission of everyone – Muslim and non-Muslim – to Islamic law, the Koran is a political document. Sharia dictates what literature and art must be. It dictates public behavior. It asserts that kafirs are legally inferior to Muslims. Sharia can’t be reformed, since it is based on religion and ideology. It is unchangeable and its laws can only be interpreted by select Islamic scholars. The heart of political Islam is that Sharia law must rule over everyone, not just those who choose to be Muslim. Sharia denies the Bill of Rights – it allows slavery; it asserts that women are legally inferior; it dictates cruel and unusual punishment, such as stoning or cutting off the offender’s hands and feet; it denies freedom of religion, freedom of the press, or freedom of expression. The goal of Islamic extremists is to see Sharia annihilate all other forms of law, including our Constitution.

Second, we must demand from any Muslim running for public office where they stand on the application of Sharia law in America. In fact, we should demand that all our politicians make their position on Sharia law clear. We must pass laws that ensure the brutality of Sharia law can never be applied to an American woman. Ultimately, it is vital that all of us understand that we are in a struggle of ideologies, with the ways of freedom, democracy, and human rights on one hand, and the ways of oppression, intolerance, and ignorance on the other.
 
FP: Are you optimistic that the West can prevail against Islamo-Fascism and that we will be able to defend ourselves against Sharia?
 
Kumar: No. Too many of our intellectuals do not recognize the threat of Islamo-Fascism. Our public is not being educated about the goals and beliefs of our enemies. Our government is trying to fight organizations, not the beliefs that give rise to them.
 
Terrorists are products of militant ideologies, not vice-versa. Unless we confront the ideology logically and persistently our efforts are futile. However, in the land of the brave and the home of the free we choke on the truth. Our culture is drowning in the growing cesspool of political correctness. The liberal left in the United States and Europe have become apologists for militant Islamic radicalism. They say that the terrorist attacks are the consequence of America's foreign policy in the Middle East and its unconditional support for Israel rather than the continuation of 1,400 years of jihad. How does this explain Al-Qaeda’s attacks in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia? The Left fails to understand the fact that there are few Americans or Jews in India, Thailand, The Philippines, Bali, Nigeria, Sudan, Russia and host of other countries where Islamic radicalism has been waging a relentless campaign of terror.
 
It is a moral imperative to oppose the nations that practice Sharia Law. We must start scrutinizing way more carefully immigration from Sharia practicing nations. Why should we let on our shores those who want to install and live by Sharia? The progenitors of Sharia Law and Universal Jihad are Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia – the true Axis of Evil. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are not our allies; they are our enemies. These outlaw nations must be demilitarized, secularized, and democratized. That should be the goal of our "War on Terror.” Make no mistake: unless these nations forego their fundamentalist and militarist theology and join the secular humanity there will not be a lasting peace in the world.
 
FP: Well, the idea of demilitarizing, secularizing and democratizing these regions all sounds good – to an extent. For instance, it has to be ascertained who exactly we are demilitarizing and the problems this may cause, as there are forces in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, for instance, that are confronting Islamist terrorists. This doesn’t mean, of course, that those we think are our friends truly are our friends – many are our enemies and we have to become wiser about this. I am just saying there is a certain balancing act we have to shrewdly play. And how one goes about secularizing and democratizing the Muslim world with Muslim populations is a whole other story – and though it would be a providential godsend if this really did occur, it would be an “objective” on our part with huge complications and obstacles, and we’ll have to leave the discussion of this issue for another time and place.
 
Vijay Kumar, thank you for joining us.
 
Kumar: You’re welcome; it’s been a pleasure.
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« Reply #135 on: July 09, 2008, 12:11:59 PM »

Barack Obama is a slight favorite to win the presidential election, but John McCain can win if he gets his campaign focused and mounts a targeted attack on his opponent. That was the conclusion of Democratic pollster Doug Schoen, who has worked for both President Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when he presented the findings of a new survey he conducted for the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival.

His overall survey put Mr. Obama ahead by 47% to 42%, but the head-to-head margin shrinks to dead even after voters are given both positive and negative information about the two men. Overall, both candidates have nearly identical favorability ratings (54% and 53%, respectively). That explains why Mr. McCain is making the race competitive, even though voters clearly show a general desire for change in control of the White House: 51% of voters want a Democrat to win the general election, while only 35% want a Republican.

"What's most surprising is how much potential there is for John McCain, but that potential has not yet been realized," Mr. Schoen told the Aspen attendees. "The Obama campaign has done a better job getting its message out." Thus, if Mr. Schoen had to bet on the result, he would plump for Mr. Obama, unless Mr. McCain's recent staff shakeup signals a new campaign approach. He says the old strategy wasn't working: "You can't have an attack du jour. You need to have an attack you stick to."

If he were designing campaign slogans for both candidates, Mr. Schoen says he would advise the Obama campaign to use: "Don't Vote For a Third Bush Term. Reject the Politics of the Past." For Mr. McCain he suggests: "Inexperience America Can't Afford."

"I think there is a desire for change, but there is some doubt about Barack Obama," Mr. Schoen concluded. "I think what swing voters are saying [is that] he's an attractive guy, a good guy, but we don't really know what he's about."

-- John Fund

Harry Reid's Position Paper on Drilling

Congressional Democrats are eager to turn the gas-price debate away from calls for more oil drilling, since the very idea sends its environmental lobby around the bend. Senate Democrats have tried everything from excoriating oil companies for allegedly sitting on federal leases to attacking "speculators" as the real reason for high gas prices. But none of these imaginative decoys has ranked anywhere near Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's convincing explanation for Democratic inaction on the energy crisis, now playing on endless loop on YouTube.


In an interview with Fox News Business Channel last week, Mr. Reid, who was evidently fed up with questions about drilling, suddenly exclaimed: "Coal makes us sick, oil makes us sick; it's global warming. It's ruining our country, it's ruining the world. We've got to stop using fossil fuel."

Mr. Reid's rant quickly became the No. 1 video on the Internet, approaching a half-million views. The pollster Rasmussen even took the unusual step of conducting a survey to see how many Americans agreed with the Nevadan's view. Let's just say he didn't win a majority.

But give Mr. Reid marks for honesty. To many liberal Democrats, cheap fossil fuels are the root cause of excessive materialism, suburban sprawl, a despoiled environment -- and they've been demanding for decades that government raise the price of energy to discourage Americans from driving big cars and living in large, well-heated homes. Democrats may never have had the political courage to impose such towering European-style gasoline taxes directly, but Mr. Reid's policy diatribe at least explains why Democrats have found it so easy to sit on their hands rather than take steps to increase domestic supply and bring down $4 gasoline.


-- Kim Strassel

Profiles in Name Recognition

John Kennedy for Senate? No, it's not Massachusetts in 1952, but Louisiana in 2008, where the state treasurer with a famous name -- middle name "Neely" -- is running against incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. Mr. Kennedy, a Democrat himself until he switched parties last year, is no relation to the famous political Kennedys but he represents the GOP's best shot to pick up a Senate seat in a year when the GOP is looking down the barrel of major setbacks on Congress.

Recent polls show Ms. Landrieu, despite considerable support from the national party, leading by a mere four points. Financially, Mr. Kennedy's fund-raising is beginning to catch fire. Yesterday, he announced he raised nearly $1.5 million in the second quarter and now has $2.7 million in cash on hand. Asked by PD about the Republican troubles nationally, Mr. Kennedy laments, "I don't know what's going on," but says his own strong bid just proves that "politics really is local." "We're experiencing a wave of reform in Louisiana," he adds, noting the success of reformist GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal, who's now being touted as a John McCain veep possibility.

"Reform" could be Mr. Kennedy's middle name, since how he has reformed himself is unavoidably an issue in the campaign. In 2004, Mr. Kennedy was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Senate, coming in a distant third to Republican David Vitter. He ran on a distinctly liberal platform and endorsed John Kerry, who promptly lost the state by 15 points.

Apparently having gotten the message, Mr. Kennedy last August left the Democratic Party, ostensibly to run as a Republican for his third term as State Treasurer -- but mainly, it was rumored, so he could challenge Ms. Landrieu this fall. So how does he expect to beat her now? "By speaking bluntly about the out-of-control spending in Washington," says Mr. Kennedy. "The spending is outrageous. . . we need tax cuts."

And he expects to be on the right side of this year's presidential split: "Senator McCain will do very well in Louisiana because he is a fiscal conservative." Mr. McCain currently holds a 52%-36% percent lead over the Democratic nominee Barack Obama, whom Mr. Kennedy has described as "the embodiment of old Europe liberalism." Perhaps speaking from experience, he even tells this morning's New Orleans Times-Picayune that Ms. Landrieu made a "huge mistake" embracing Mr. Obama.

-- Robert Costa

The Prisoner Returns

No TV series -- not even "Star Trek" -- has quite achieved the quirky cult status of "The Prisoner," which first ran 40 years ago. Now the show is being revived by a joint partnership between Britain's ITV and America's AMC networks.

Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in "Passion of the Christ," will play Prisoner No. 6, a former secret agent who is kidnapped and dumped in a strange seaside village where everyone is known only by a number. He is told that "by hook or by crook" the reasons for his mysterious resignation as an agent will be extracted from him. Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf in "Lord of the Rings," will play the sinister Number Two, who runs the Village on behalf of unseen parties.

In the original 1960's Cold War version, series creator and star Patrick McGoohan explored issues of privacy, individualism and mind control. I always viewed the original series as Mr. McGoohan's take on George Orwell's novel "1984," but with a sense of humor. An AMC executive says the new series will pay homage in "winks and nods" to the original but will be "reinterpreted" to reflect "21st century concerns and anxieties, such as liberty, security and surveillance."

Sadly, the new "Prisoner" will be shot in Namibia, where the seaside resort of Swakopmund has preserved a quirky collection of colonial German buildings. The original was shot in the Welsh village of Portmeirion, a strange, planned community with eclectic Mediterranean architecture. Known simply as "The Village" in the original series, Portmeirion still attracts thousands of "Prisoner" fans a year who tour the grounds with the help of a guidebook. But in a clear sign of today's times, visitors are under constant surveillance. The resort recently installed CCTV security cameras throughout the complex. As the original Number Two in the "The Prisoner" used to say: "Be Seeing You."

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« Reply #136 on: July 10, 2008, 01:19:37 PM »

Jesse Ventura, who parlayed his fame as a professional wrestler into a single term as governor of Minnesota, looks as if he's stepping back into the political arena. The man known as "The Body," who left office almost six years ago, is apparently spoiling to return and represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Ventura's motivation seems to be antipathy towards the two major-party candidates: GOP incumbent Senator Norm Coleman and former satirist Al Franken, a Democrat. Mr. Ventura told National Public Radio: "I run because it angers me. All you Minnesotans take a good hard look at all three of us. And you decide: If you were in a dark alley which one of the three of us would you want with you?"

Mr. Ventura starts the race with almost universal name ID in the state and the support of some 24% of voters if he runs as an independent. "The press doesn't love him, but the people do," says campaign media strategist Bill Hillsman, who handled Mr. Ventura's 1998 ads.

While most experts don't think Mr. Ventura can win, he certainly would shake up the race. Jennifer Duffy, Senate analyst for the Cook Political Report in Washington, believes the contest was already slipping away from Mr. Franken following revelations that he had not paid taxes in several states where he had performed. Ms. Duffy told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that she's close to moving the Minnesota Senate contest into the "leans Republican" category. A Ventura bid, she added, "would seal the deal" for Mr. Coleman because Mr. Ventura would likely capture those voters most eager for dramatic change in Washington. Absent his entry into the race, many of those same voters would likely opt for the upstart Mr. Franken.

-- John Fund

Webb Is Gone - And Virginia Too?

Losing Jim Webb as a VP option means Barack Obama might have lost his best, and perhaps only, chance of turning Virginia blue this November.

Of all the possible running mates, Sen. Webb was the most intriguing. Here was a Vietnam combat veteran and former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan who had unseated a Republican incumbent in a state Democrats hope to win this year. An economic populist, Mr. Webb has proven appeal with the blue-collar voters in Virginia whom Mr. Obama failed to win in his contest against Sen. Hillary Clinton. Impeccable national-security credentials and working-class appeal -- the two very qualities Mr. Obama lacks.

In June, a SurveyUSA poll of Virginia voters found that when various tickets were matched against each other, an Obama/Webb ticket performed the best. So when Mr. Webb removed his name from the shortlist earlier this week, Mr. Obama lost one of his strongest potential running mates.

Naturally, lots of names are being thrown around as alternatives, but none would balance the Democratic ticket as nicely as Mr. Webb. In Virginia, two remaining possible selections are former Gov. Mark Warner and current Gov. Tim Kaine. Mr. Warner, however, has signaled that he's focused on his Senate campaign to fill the seat left by the retiring John Warner. Mr. Kaine, although a highly popular governor with a moderate record, is relatively unknown outside the Old Dominion. Perhaps more importantly, neither Mr. Warner nor Mr. Kaine has any national-security experience. Either ticket would be vulnerable to Republicans attacks as a duo dangerously naïve in foreign affairs.

-- Blake Dvorak, RealClearPolitics.com

Live Free (to Drill) Or Die

New Hampshire is famous for spawning Comeback Kids, which perhaps is one of the few sprigs of hope for GOP Sen. John Sununu. He faces an uphill re-election battle against former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, who lost the same seat six years ago by fewer than 20,000 votes. This year, National Journal calls the New Hampshire race the No. 1 Senate pick-up opportunity for Democrats. Ms. Shaheen enjoys a double-digit lead in the polls and has been outraising Mr. Sununu in the money battle by two-to-one.

But all may not be totally lost for Mr. Sununu. John Kerry barely won the state in 2004 and President Bush won it in 2000, even after Al Gore pulled out those natty flannel shirts. Polls show Barack Obama leading John McCain by 11 points, but Mr. McCain's historic popularity in the state could still come through and provide Mr. Sununu with coattails.

More importantly, God's gift to hapless GOPers this year has been high gas prices and Mr. Sununu's race is one more test of whether Republicans can exploit this lifesaver. New Hampshire voters tend in a green direction and Mr. Sununu loudly touts his conservation votes. Nonetheless, he took a chance by voting two months ago to allow oil drilling offshore and in a small corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Ms. Shaheen promptly attacked, saying taxes should be raised on oil companies instead and the money used to subsidize windmills. She even tried to change the subject to stem cells this week, suggesting Mr. Sununu's presumed backwardness on medical science disqualified him to talk about energy technology. Mr. Sununu retorted: "With oil at $140 a barrel, Jeanne Shaheen continues to toe the extreme liberal line, ignoring technological improvements that allow us to produce new energy deep offshore while providing better protection of the environment than ever before."

On Wednesday, Ms. Shaheen snagged the endorsement of the largest firefighters union in the state, the same union that stacked all of its chips with Chris Dodd before the state's presidential primary. Mr. Sununu probably was never going to win over the union bosses, but he may yet win the rank-and-file on the issue of fighting high gas prices.

-- Robert Costa

Quote of the Day

"Of course, McCain himself could take control of the [chaotic state of his campaign] by calling all of his competing advisors together and ordering them to work together. But that would be a dramatic break with past practice. As the former McCain advisor puts it, 'McCain's style is, call everyone into a room, say you guys work it out, and then turn off the lights. And then throw in a knife'" -- New Republic senior editor Jason Zengerle.

Detroit Pol: Aliens Abducted My Blackberry

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has come up with a unique legal defense against charges that he committed perjury when he denied in a legal proceeding a romantic affair with Christine Beatty, his then chief-of-staff.

It turns out, according to Mayor Kilpatrick's lawyers, that the government prosecutors have no way of proving that the hundreds of text messages sent on city Blackberrys between the mayor and his aide are legitimate. Kilpatrick attorneys argue that the "allegedly incriminating messages could be the work of a hacker" accessing the system through the Internet. "Any number of persons would know his style of correspondence and might effectively imitate it," a document filed by Kilpatrick lawyers stated.

Ms. Beatty, who has also been indicted, is on the same page as her former boss. "There's nothing to prevent some people just sitting there sending messages and responding to themselves," her attorney argued.

A jury will have to sort all this out, but mark me down as skeptical that the "somebody else did it" defense will fly very far in court.

-- John Fund

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« Reply #137 on: July 12, 2008, 09:07:53 PM »

Obama's Liberal Shock Troops
By JOHN FUND
July 12, 2008; Page A11

Denver

While he is a skilled candidate, Barack Obama's ability to surprise, stun and sweep over the vaunted Clinton Machine to capture the Democratic nomination was rooted in his background as a community organizer. He's now turning those skills to the general election.

But liberals aren't just on the march on the presidential level. This year, liberal activists are spending parts of the fortunes of their wealthy donors to transform politics at the state and local level.

 
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato 
Marchers organized by Acorn rally for a higher minimum wage in Columbus, Ohio, July 10, 2006.
In 2005, billionaire investor George Soros convened a group of 70 super-rich liberal donors in Phoenix to evaluate why their efforts to defeat President Bush had failed. One conclusion was that they needed to step up their long-term efforts to dominate key battleground states. The donors formed a group called Democracy Alliance to make grants in four areas: media, ideas, leadership and civic engagement. Since then, Democracy Alliance partners have donated over $100 million to key progressive organizations.

Take Colorado, which has voted Republican for president in nine of the last 10 presidential elections. But in 2006, Colorado elected a Democratic governor and legislature for the first time in over 30 years. Denver will be the site for the party's 2008 presidential convention. Polls show Barack Obama would carry the state today. This hasn't happened by chance. The Democracy Alliance poured money into Colorado to make it a proving ground for how progressives can take over a state.

Offshoots of leading liberal national groups were set up including Colorado Media Matters in 2006, to correct "conservative misinformation" in the media. Ethics Watch, a group modeled after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, was started and proceeded to file a flurry of complaints over alleged campaign finance violations -- while refusing to name its own donors.

Western Progress, a think tank to advance "progressive solutions," opened its doors as did the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, one of 29 such groups around the country. Then there's Colorado Confidential, a project of The Center for Independent Media, which subsidized liberal bloggers. CIM has set up similar ventures in Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan, with funding from groups such as the Service Employees International Union, and George Soros's Open Society Institute.

On the electoral front, Progressive Majority Colorado has set up seven offices with the goal of "recruiting progressive leaders" as candidates. America Votes-Colorado promises to coordinate the largest voter mobilization effort in the state's history. "All of this activity has flown under the radar," says Ed Morrissey of the conservative blog Captain's Quarters. "But efforts to change the political ground game may have real long-term consequences."

More audaciously, in Michigan, signatures have been filed to put a sweeping reorganization of state government on this November's ballot. The measure, pushed by a group called "Reform Michigan Government Now," contains at least 36 distinct provisions that take up a dozen pages of fine type. "It's a Trojan Horse dressed up as My Friend Flicka," says Lawrence Reed, president of the conservative Mackinac Center.

In a recession-wracked state seething with public anger at elected officials, the measure hits populist notes by cutting the size of the legislature and reducing the salaries of top officeholders. But on voting, it would mandate no-excuse-needed absentee voting -- despite a long history of vote-fraud scandals involving absentee votes in Detroit and other cities. A redistricting commission would be set up to reshape political boundaries, but state courts would be barred from reviewing any plans it draws up. (Only federal courts could review the boundaries.) Voters would also be barred from rejecting or amending the commission's work by initiative.

There is also a direct attack on the judiciary. The initiative reduces the state's Supreme Court to five members, down from seven, and the state's Court of Appeals to 20 judges, down from 28. Saving money appears not to be the motive: Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm could appoint 10 newly created circuit court judges. The net result would be that conservatives would lose control of the state Supreme Court, because the two justices who would be removed would be the last two appointed by GOP Gov. John Engler. Of the eight appeals court judgeships that would be eliminated, six are now held by people with GOP backgrounds.

"It's a strange reform that benefits one political party exclusively at all three levels of the judiciary," observes Mr. Reed. "Is the intent that the judiciary become just another arm of one of the political parties?"

The financing for the initiative is mysterious and will not be publicly revealed until campaign finance reports are due in late September or early October. But the measure appears to be a Democratic effort. The campaign is being quarterbacked by a former Democratic state legislative leader, and Mark Brewer, the state's Democratic Party chair, says his party supports the measure.

Should Mr. Obama be elected, he would become not just the head of the Democratic Party but also the inspiration for a large number of liberal groups. Some of them would no doubt lobby him to hand out taxpayer grants and contracts for their nonpolitical "community" efforts.

Indeed, Mr. Obama has extensive connections with the granddaddy of activist groups, Acorn (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which has gotten millions in government grants for its low-income housing programs. In 1992, Acorn hired Mr. Obama to run a voter registration effort. He later became a trainer for the group, as well as its lawyer in election law cases.

Acorn's political arm has endorsed Mr. Obama while its "voter education" arm has pledged to spend $35 million to register people this fall -- despite a history of vote fraud scandals that have led to guilty pleas by many Acorn employees.

The housing bill now before Congress would set up a slush fund for community organizations such as Acorn. But Acorn has gone quiet in its lobbying for the bill this week with the news that one of its employees -- the brother of Acorn founder Wade Rathke -- had stolen nearly $1 million from the group. Mr. Rathke decided not to alert law enforcement or the organization's board, and kept his brother employed at Acorn until last month. "Is this the kind of group we want getting taxpayer money?" asks Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.)

But Acorn may play, along with other liberal groups, a leading role in electing Mr. Obama. Such groups deserve a closer look now, before their influence and possibly their clout grow dramatically after the November election.

Mr. Fund is a columnist for WSJ.com.
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« Reply #138 on: July 17, 2008, 09:29:38 AM »

Ron Paul Won't Be Home Alone

Last July, Paul Broun shocked Georgia pundits when the poorly funded physician narrowly defeated a longtime legislative leader in a GOP primary for a special election in an overwhelmingly Republican U.S. House seat. Party grandees were convinced Dr. Broun's victory was a fluke and this year backed a challenge from state Rep. Barry Fleming, who hails from the district's population center of Augusta. Mr. Fleming promptly raised nearly $1 million and proceeded to throw the kitchen sink at Dr. Broun, including mailers claiming he was soft on Internet perverts and chiding him for failing to bring home earmarks for the district.

Well, Dr. Broun will be going back to Washington next year, having won 71% in last night's primary to defeat the GOP establishment's consensus choice in his district for the second time in a year. Mr. Broun says his victory demonstrates that a Member of Congress can prosper politically even when he votes against any federal program that isn't explicitly authorized by the Constitution.

Dr. Broun was outspent again this time, but raised about $760,000 to put out his message that he was a different kind of Congressman. He touted endorsements from the free-market Club for Growth and social conservative leader Paul Weyrich. But the centerpiece of his campaign was a pledge to continue applying a four-way test before voting on any bill: Is it constitutional and a proper function of government? Is it morally correct? Is it something we really need? Is it something we can afford? Like libertarian congressman and fellow physician Ron Paul of Texas, he always carries a copy of the Constitution in his pocket and consults it before voting. "Today's federal government is too big, too powerful, and too expensive because it is doing things beyond the scope of what our Founders envisioned the national government should be doing," he told constituents. "This is foolish and it is dangerous."

Dr. Broun will once again do battle with more liberal Members of Congress, many of whom no doubt view him as foolish or dangerous. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that someone in Congress who votes against federal spending that isn't in accord with the original conception of the Constitution will have trouble getting re-elected. Dr. Broun has just won an overwhelming endorsement from his constituents, despite being outspent and shunned by his party's establishment. Maybe there's a lesson there for other Members.

-- John Fund

Gone in 60 Seconds

A symbol of California's car culture is now picking up and moving a big chunk of its operations out-of-state. Yesterday, the California State Automobile Association, an affiliate of the national AAA, announced it is closing all three of its call centers in the state at a loss of 900 jobs. Spokeswoman Cynthia Harris was quite blunt about the reason: "It costs more to do business in California than other states." Her group will now will be answering calls from California motorists from new centers in lower-cost Arizona and Oklahoma.

Few entities in California are better known than the California State Automobile Association, which for decades has provided the car-happy state with auto insurance, towing services and travel planning. Its departure is one more sign that California's current tax and regulatory climate is driving jobs away. California's liberals seem oblivious to such developments. One seventh of California's pending $101 billion state budget is red ink, the result of the state's leadership once again failing to rein in spending and develop a less volatile tax base. The Democratic legislature has proposed over $8 billion in higher taxes to plug part of the gap, but for the last month there has been a budget stalemate as the GOP minority refuses to consider higher taxes and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dances between the two sides.

The state's Democrats not only insist on higher taxes, but are blocking a proposal from Governor Schwarzenegger to limit future spending increases to the growth of the state's population and inflation in an attempt to cushion the impact of future economic downturns. "I think that we have to be very, very careful about tying the hands of future governors and future legislatures," says Democratic Assemblyman Dave Jones. Apparently, he and his colleagues prefer tying the hands of California businesses so they feel compelled to flee the state.

-- John Fund

Freak Show II

New York City always gets interesting in September, when world leaders gather for the United Nations General Assembly. Two years ago, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez brandished a Noam Chomsky tome from the rostrum and told the Assembly that George Bush is "the devil" and reeks of sulfur. Last year Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stopped by Columbia University to explain to students that "in Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country."

Now it turns out Mr. Ahmadinejad will be returning to New York for this fall’s UN meetings, though no word was given on whether he will repeat his attempt to lay a wreath at Ground Zero, which he explained last time by saying, "We obviously are very much against any terrorist action and any killing." In proof that all politics really is ultra local, however, New York Magazine's Daily Intel blog seized on the news to propose that downtown's New York University steal a little notoriety from its uptown rival. "Now's your chance NYU: Invite him onstage and get him to pretend there are no women in Iran, and you'll be able to totally rub it in Columbia's face."

The possibilities are rich. Columbia hosted Mr. Ahmadinejad at a student center named for Alfred Lerner, a Jewish banking magnate and veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. NYU is located near Washington Square Park, marked by grand marble arches honoring George Washington. In Iran, of course, such public squares are used for stoning adulterers and other undesirables . . . on second thought, let's not give Mr. Ahmadinejad's event planners any ideas.

-- David Feith

Sofia Goes Flat

Last week I interviewed the instigator of the world's lowest flat tax, Svetla Kostidinova, director of the Institute for Market Economics located in Sofia, Bulgaria. Ms. Kostidinova insists that the most amazing part of her story is that the Bulgarian government is still overtly socialist. Nonetheless, she and her colleagues managed to persuade politicians that replacing the existing tax system with a 10% flat tax would increase revenues and give the government extra money to finance social programs and unfunded pensions. If only Nancy Pelosi were as amenable to economic logic and the lessons of the real world.

Ms. Kostidinova, who speaks English with a thick Eastern European accent, tells me: "The situation was getting desperate in Bulgaria. We were losing our population and our best workers. They were leaving for Western Europe to find jobs and the No.1 form of foreign capital came from remittances." All that began to change when the corporate tax was cut to 10% in 2007 and the personal income tax to 10% in January of this year. "We told the politicians that it was symbolically important for Bulgaria to have the lowest flat tax. We were surrounded by flat tax countries, we wanted to be the nation most friendly to capital and business."

Result: A country that ten years ago had a 12% unemployment rate now has a 6% jobless rate. Instead of people leaving Bulgaria to find jobs, "now it is the reverse. Western Europeans now come to Bulgaria for jobs. We're gaining population now," she says.

Bulgaria is one of 24 nations, most of them in Eastern Europe, that have adopted the flat tax. A unique feature of the Bulgarian system is an absence of exemptions -- everyone pays the 10% tax regardless of income. Because the rate is so low, Ms. Kostidinova says, the plan's promoters figured that everyone could afford to pay. But don't lefties insist that the rich should pay more? "Of course, many do, and they want to raise the rates, but most understand that the flat tax gives us more jobs and more revenues."

If avowed socialist politicians in East Europe are open to new ideas about how to make their tax systems more growth-oriented, why aren't Republicans or Democrats in Washington? Says Richard Rahn, former chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and now an economic consultant in Eastern Europe: "These countries understand that the flat tax is the key to their prosperity -- even the former communists." Only stultified political tactics -- certainly not clear thinking -- explains why somebody like Barack Obama could be running on a platform of making America's tax rates among the highest in the world when other nations are proving the competitive advantages of flatter tax systems.

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« Reply #139 on: July 24, 2008, 12:43:24 PM »

Hosted by Dieter and His Monkey

Barack Obama's rally in Berlin today will be different in many ways from the ones he's held in America.

Unlike his U.S. rallies, which normally require attendees to get tickets, Obama in Berlin will be open to everyone who wishes to come -- providing exactly the kind of chaotic cheering crowd scenes suitable for TV commercials. The campaign acknowledges it may hire a film crew to shoot footage, providing potential raw material for a commercial highlighting a campaign theme that America's standing in the world would improve under a President Obama.

Nonetheless, Team Obama insists the speech will not be a campaign rally. "It is not going to be a political speech," a senior Obama foreign policy adviser told reporters in Jordan this week. "When the president of the United States goes and gives a speech, it is not a political speech or a political rally."

"But [Mr. Obama] is not president of the United States," a reporter gently reminded the adviser. After all, this is the campaign that sometimes has to be told the inconvenient truth that the election remains to be held.

-- John Fund

Republicans in Love

The Obamacans -- past or present Republicans who are backing Barack Obama for president -- are about to go public.

The Hill newspaper reports that Team Obama has held a conference call with a small group of GOP apostates to plot strategy and see how they can be utilized in the fall.

The most prominent Obamacan is former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who served with Mr. Obama from 2005 to 2007 until the Rhode Islander was defeated by a Democrat. Since then, Mr. Chafee has become an independent. He said he "hadn't thought about" whether he would address the Democratic convention, providing a counterpoint to Senator Joe Lieberman from next-door Connecticut, who is expected to address the GOP convention. Mr. Lieberman has broken ranks with Democrats by endorsing John McCain.

Douglas Kmiec, a professor at the Pepperdine University School of Law, says the Obamacan effort is just getting started, but he expects there will eventually be a Web site, print ads and a surrogate speakers program.

Another prominent Obama supporter is Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Eisenhower and a lifelong Republican. She told me at a recent Aspen Institute meeting that she hasn't decided what role she might play in campaigning for Mr. Obama. I asked her what she would do if Mr. Obama were to lose. "I'd probably become an independent," she told me. "I'm certainly not a Democrat, but the Republican Party has lost me the last few years."

-- John Fund

The GOP Needs Governors

In 2006, Colorado Democrat Bill Ritter captured his state's governorship with a hard-fought, pricey campaign. Two years earlier, New Hampshire Democrat John Lynch unseated incumbent Republican Craig Benson in a very tight race. Now, according to Congressional Quarterly, both states feature Senate races that "lean Democratic." That's a change from just a few weeks ago, when both Senate races seemed to be toss-ups.

As Democrats seek to build on their congressional gains from two years ago, one overlooked ingredient has been their success in gradually shaking off the "liberal" label thanks to strong governors or gubernatorial candidates who've helped redefine their state parties as more conservative than the party's national Democratic leadership. This is true in Colorado, where Rep. Mark Udall, is running strong in his bid for the Senate despite his opposition to increased drilling for oil and natural gas. And it's true in New Hampshire where former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen is putting the screws to incumbent Sen. John Sununu.

But it's also paying off in Pennsylvania, where Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell probably did more than any state official across the country to nail down congressional majorities for his party. Democrats picked up House seats in the suburbs of Philadelphia and a Senate seat in 2006 by picking off Republican Sen. Rick Santorum. That seat now represents the balance of power in the Senate. A similar dynamic is also paying off in Montana. Democrat Gov. Brian Schweitzer has helped redefine his party's image in the state, setting the stage for Jon Tester to knock off incumbent Republican Sen. Conrad Burns two years ago. It's also working in Ohio. Democrats didn't control much there in 2006. But they were able to win both the governor's mansion and a Senate seat thanks to Republican scandals and strong campaigns by Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown.

In presidential politics, governors can't always deliver their states for their party's candidate. Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina are three states where Democrats have held governorships in recent years while Republicans won solid presidential victories. Another state that comes to mind is West Virginia, where George W. Bush prevailed in 2004 even as Democrats held onto the governor's mansion in electing Joe Manchin. But if Republicans want to find their way out of the congressional wilderness and start picking up seats in the House and Senate, they might want try winning a few governor's races in competitive states.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"[Barack] Obama will visit Germany, France and England this week. It just happens that those Western European nations have turned to right-of-center coalitions to remedy corrosive welfare systems, never-ending entitlements, unchecked union power and overregulation of industry. In England mere months ago, the left-of-center Labor Party lost more than 400 seats in local elections, including finishing off the reign of London Mayor Ken 'The Red' Livingstone. In France, Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy swept into power in 2007, promising to cut back welfare rolls and revitalize the floundering French economy. In Germany, Angela Merkel vowed free-market reforms to undo theoretical social 'safety nets' that have led to 'terrifyingly high unemployment.' Then, Silvio Berlusconi unexpectedly won Italy's election this year, in part on the pledge to unknot the tangle of economic regulations hampering that nation. Those are the top four economic powers in Europe. That's officially a trend" -- Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi.

The Buck Stops . . . Where?

In the better-late-than-never department, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson finally came out on Tuesday with a statement in favor of a strong U.S. dollar. If he decides to spend the last five months of his tenure working on bailing out the currency rather than bailing out more financial institutions, his legacy may not turn out a complete disaster for GOP election prospects after all.

Without a doubt, John McCain's campaign has been harmed by the public's shrinking purchasing power, an impoverishment blamed on George W. Bush because it happened on his watch. Gasoline prices are through the roof. Food prices are up. Costco, where millions of Americans shop, warned yesterday that inflationary forces are getting the upper hand. History shows over and over that a rising cost of living equals a voting public that believes the country is "on the wrong track" and needs "change" at the top.

Speaking at the New York Public Library Mr. Paulson said that a strong dollar is "really very important." Coming from an administration that has otherwise been largely agnostic about the value of the U.S. currency, this seemingly pro-forma statement was greeted by the market as an unqualified endorsement. Stocks rallied, oil sank further and the dollar moved up against the yen and euro.

Admittedly, Mr. Paulson had some help when Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Plosser raised his already hawkish profile on Tuesday by saying the Fed will need to begin raising rates soon rather than later. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been the chief proponent of the easy money policy that has fueled the dollar's decline. With Congress passing a housing bill and bank stocks rallying, he may now have more political room to begin raising rates. If so, the move is overdue and may help take the wind out of energy and grain prices.
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« Reply #140 on: July 25, 2008, 07:52:29 AM »

The Fan/Fred Bailout Is a Scandal
By DICK ARMEY
July 25, 2008; Page A15

Americans who work hard, pay taxes and play by the rules can't seem to get fair representation in Washington, D.C., these days. In the current debate over a government bailout of speculators, irresponsible banks, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the responsible majority has once again been pushed aside in a legislative rush to "do something."

This should have been a perfect opportunity for Republicans, struggling to regain some standing with the American people, to rise united and demand real accountability and reform.

Remember how Democrats put the collapse of Enron and the subsequent losses to shareholders at the feet of the Bush White House? Freddie and Fannie are like Enron on steroids. There's a well-documented history of accounting corruption to benefit senior management; hundreds of millions of dollars spent lobbying against oversight and reform; and myriad connections to both Democratic committee chairmen and subprime lender Countrywide Financial.

Actions by Fannie and Freddie management and their regulators this year precipitated the current crisis. Under pressure from the Democrat-controlled Congress, the Bush administration lifted Fannie and Freddie's portfolio caps in February and reduced their capital reserve requirements in March. In this year's stimulus bill, Congress went further and nearly doubled the size of the loans that Fannie and Freddie can purchase or guarantee.

As a result of this reckless expansion, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) now touch nearly 70% of all new mortgages. At the same time, they are insolvent by most measures. The ostensible purpose of Fannie and Freddie is to provide liquidity to America's housing markets. In practice, they are the source of systemic risk and instability in a time of need.

What is needed now is an orderly restructuring that protects taxpayers from such financial exposure in the future, such as the plan proposed by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas). Mr. Hensarling's legislation would phase out the charter of either GSE over a five-year period if they access credit lines from the Federal Reserve or Treasury. It also provides a receivership option if the GSEs continue to stumble. Instead, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson offered the beleaguered GSEs and their patrons in Congress a blank check signed by the taxpayers, promising potentially unlimited funds to backstop the lenders. Not surprisingly, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd accepted.

Just as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted last week, President Bush withdrew his previous veto threats against the overall legislative package on Wednesday, having gotten virtually nothing in return. The emboldened Democrats have simply attached the Paulson proposal to their housing bailout legislation. Having repeatedly called for Fannie and Freddie restructuring in the past, Mr. Paulson now fights to defend them in their current form.

An explicit government guarantee for Fannie and Freddie could ultimately end up costing taxpayers more than $1 trillion, according to an analysis by Standard & Poor's in April.

The entire spectacle reinforces a persistent public prejudice that the GOP routinely defends the interests of their big business and Wall Street cronies at the expense of the little guy. Messrs. Dodd and Frank won't likely wear this political albatross. Republicans who go along with this GSE bailout certainly will.

So what will congressional Republicans do? Ironically, a veto-sustaining majority of House Republicans -- led by House Minority Leader John Boehner, Financial Services ranking minority member Spencer Bachus, and Republican Study Committee Chairman Hensarling -- voted against the bill on the very same day that the Bush administration caved. "I'm deeply disappointed the White House will sign this bill in its current form," said Mr. Boehner in a statement. "We must take responsible steps to ensure our financial and housing markets are sound, but the Democrats' bill represents a multibillion dollar bailout for scam artists and speculative lenders at the expense of American taxpayers."

The final Senate floor battle on the proposed housing bailout could prove to be a definitive one for Republicans. Will they be the party defending taxpayers that play by the rules, or will they continue to indulge the Beltway crony capitalism advanced by this bill? Will they be a compliant minority browbeaten into "doing something," or will they stand for accountability and fiscal responsibility?

When Mr. Paulson appeared before the Senate Banking Committee, only Jim Bunning (R., Ky.) directly challenged his proposed blank check. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) is still fighting to offer an amendment that would prohibit Fan and Fred from lobbying while on the federal dole. That's a great first step. Expect these two brave senators to force a full and rigorous debate.

The American public is way ahead of the Beltway intelligentsia on this issue. Multiple polls show that majorities oppose a federal mortgage bailout by a two-to-one margin. For Republican senators, a "nay" vote on the mortgage bailout is both good policy and good politics.

Mr. Armey, House majority leader from 1995 to 2002, is chairman of FreedomWorks.
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« Reply #141 on: July 25, 2008, 08:28:43 AM »

I couldn't agree more with Dick Armey.
Another example of politics trumping leadership and long term interests of Americans in Washington.

We are all being sold down the river.

Hopefully the messiah will save us.  Obama the messiah. angry sad rolleyes wink
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« Reply #142 on: July 25, 2008, 08:30:36 AM »

Where did the phrase "American *people*" come from?  What ever happened to simply "Americans"?

I think Clinton was the first to use this from what I recall.  I don't recall anything like this before.
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« Reply #143 on: July 25, 2008, 01:22:48 PM »

The Real Revelation: Not All Pressies Are Skinflints

John McCain used to be famous for his fawning coverage by Big Media and his friendships with Bigfoot reporters. No longer. Media types have fallen hard for Barack Obama and their donation records show just how much. Writing at the blog American Thinker, former journalist William Tate has documented that employees of big media companies are donating to Democrats over Republicans by more than 10 to 1.

Federal Election Commission records show, for instance, that Democrats collected 15 times as much money from those who described themselves as journalists as Republicans did. A total of 235 "journalists" donated some $225,563 to Democrats, while 20 gave $16,298 Republicans. A database search of other newsroom categories (reporter, correspondent, news editor, anchor, newspaper editor and publisher) found a total of 311 donors to Democrats and only 30 to Republicans.

When one adds up all contributions listed by the FEC as coming from employees of major media organizations, the totals are $315,533 to Democrats and a mere $22,656 for Republicans. And most of the money donated to Republicans went to Rep. Ron Paul, a maverick libertarian who supports an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and decriminalization of drugs, not exactly traditional conservative positions.

Most large media organizations have policies against news employees donating to political campaigns, so the numbers unearthed from the FEC certainly aren't definitive. But the overwhelming tilt of non-newsroom employees combined with those reporters who violated such bans or described themselves as "self-employed" certainly provide a clear signpost as to where the media's political leanings are. Is it at all surprising that Barack Obama is receiving such laudatory coverage?

-- John Fund

Great Lakes of Indecision

"Just as we thought, it's going to be a close race in Michigan."

That was the verdict of Dave Dulio, a political science professor at Oakland University in the Detroit suburbs, after the Detroit News produced a new poll showing Barack Obama with the narrowest of leads in the battleground state. Mr. Obama is ahead of John McCain by 43% to 41%, with 12% of voters undecided and 5% supporting either Libertarian Bob Barr or consumer activist Ralph Nader.

In a memo to Michigan Republicans, Mr. McCain's regional campaign manager Jennifer Hallowell said seven regional campaign offices are now open in the state and several more will be up and running in coming weeks. They will be staffed by "paid staff and several thousand volunteer leaders," said Ms. Hallowell. Commenting on the new poll, she added: "For Senator Obama to be polling in the low 40's in this Democrat-leaning state despite his 100% name identification is almost unprecedented."

In 2005, John Kerry beat out George W. Bush for Michigan's 13 Electoral College votes after a close race, propelled by strong support from women voters and independents. Michigan has gone blue in the last four presidential elections, but usually by narrow margins. This year, however, the double whammy of high gas prices and the subprime meltdown has hit Michigan and its autoworkers hard -- and when voters are hurting, they are more susceptible to rethinking their allegiances. Team McCain is airing a new television ad blaming Mr. Obama for high gas prices and Mitt Romney, whose father was once governor of Michigan, has risen again to the top of Mr. McCain's murmured Veep list. Would Mr. Romney really be much help in Michigan? We may soon find out. Today's Washington Post revives the idea that Mr. McCain may speed up announcement of his vice presidential choice in hopes of reclaiming media attention from Mr. Obama and the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

-- Robert Costa

A Stonewall Crumbles

Eliot Spitzer got a pass yesterday when New York's Public Integrity Commission charged four of his aides with ethics violations in the infamous Troopergate scandal. Three members of the governor's former staff plus his former state police commissioner will be taking the rap -- at least for now.

A year ago Troopergate seemed that rarest of beasts -- a successful coverup. At its heart was a plot allegedly hatched in Mr. Spitzer's office to use the State Police to smear a political rival, GOP Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, suggesting he used state aircraft to attend political fundraisers. Unearthed by investigators was a complete set of talking points from Mr. Spitzer's office that closely mirrored the original story attacking Mr. Bruno in the Albany Times-Union. Once the plot unraveled, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo issued an "investigation" clearing Mr. Spitzer. Indeed, it's depressing to consider that Mr. Spitzer's stonewalling likely would have worked if he hadn't gotten caught with his, um, pants down in a different context.

He may not have been charged yesterday, but the investigation isn't over and the commission leaves open the possibility of additional developments. Mr. Spitzer, meanwhile, has rendered himself invisible since his resignation from office over his dalliance with a prostitute. A period of invisibility is the standard prescription before launching a rehabilitation campaign. Of course, such a campaign would be much harder if, in addition to a personal failing, he now had to answer in court for abuse of power and ethics violations during his short stint as governor.

-- Brian M. Carney

Quote of the Day

"Barack Obama always was a larger-than-life candidate with a healthy ego. Now he's turning into the A-Rod of politics. It's all about him. He's giving his opponent something other than issues to attack him on: narcissism. A convention hall isn't good enough for the presumptive Democratic nominee. He plans to deliver his acceptance speech in the 75,000-seat stadium where the Denver Broncos play. Before a vote is cast, he's embarking on a foreign-policy tour that will use cheering Europeans -- and America's top news anchors -- as extras in his campaign. . . . There's no such thing as a humble politician. But when Obama looks into the mirror, he doesn't just see a president; he sees JFK" -- Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi.

A Perk Too Far

Barack Obama may have ridiculed John McCain's call for a gasoline tax holiday this summer, but the committee hosting the Democratic National Convention -- until this week -- was enjoying its own vacation from state and federal fuel taxes. The Rocky Mountain News blew the scheme sky-high by reporting that the host committee, responsible for raising money to put on the convention, was using the City of Denver's municipal gas pumps to fill up vehicles driven by its members, avoiding some 40 cents per gallon in state and federal fuel taxes.

Chris Lopez, a spokesman for the committee, claimed the practice was adopted "for safety and security reasons." He explained that by using city pumps "we know the gas is not tainted."

After first defending the practice by incorrectly claiming that Minneapolis, host city for the Republican convention, was doing the same thing, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper slammed on the brakes this week after suggestions from the state attorney general that the practice might be illegal. He ordered that convention committee members pay full retail for gas.

-- John Fund



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« Reply #144 on: July 28, 2008, 01:53:30 PM »

The paragraph below about the fund raising advantage for Dems in the Congressional races scares the bejeezus out of me.  It looks like the Dems will have a veto/filibuster proof majority  shocked cry cry
=================



Despite Barack Obama's moves to the center, the Democratic presidential nominee has planted his flag firmly with liberals when it comes to one issue: race and gender preferences in public education, employment and contracting.

Over the weekend, Mr. Obama accused his Republican rival of flip-flopping after John McCain endorsed an initiative to ban preferential treatment pushed by former University of California regent Ward Connerly. Such proposals will be on ballots this fall in Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska.

"I do not believe in quotas," Mr. McCain said yesterday on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos. "I have not seen the details of some of these proposals. But I've always opposed quotas." Mr. Obama was quick to point out that a decade ago Mr. McCain had told a Hispanic group that "rather than engage in divisive ballot initiatives, we must have a dialogue and cooperation and mutual efforts together to provide for every child in America to fulfill their expectations."

Mr. McCain has certainly been guilty of flip-flops during this campaign, but this is one case where the charge rings hollow. Mr. McCain also told the same group he opposed race-based hiring quotas. Like Jeb Bush when he was governor of Florida, Mr. McCain is leery of ballot initiatives that would arouse strong passions and divide communities. Governor Bush worked with the Florida legislature to pass a ban on racial preferences rather than submit the idea directly to voters, something Mr. Connerly was unable to do in California, Michigan and Washington -- the three states where his initiative has passed to date. Yet Gov. Bush, like Mr. McCain, also always made clear that he opposed quotas.

But then Mr. Obama also claims to oppose quotas, saying he supports "affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historic and potentially current discrimination." Any such programs can't be "simply applied without looking at the whole person." In other words, he wants it both ways: He favors race preferences but they need to be packaged "individually."

Should the issue of racial preferences come up in the debates this fall, you can expect both candidates to try to engage in "nuance." But Mr. Obama will have the harder time. Even in Michigan, which hasn't voted Republican for president in 20 years, the initiative Mr. Obama campaigned against won easily with 58% of the vote.

-- John Fund

Men Bite Dogs, Challengers Outraise Incumbents

As Federal Election Commission reports streamed into Washington last week, political watchers in both parties focused on a number of promising challengers who are actually managing to raise more money than presumably entrenched incumbents. As each party narrows its target list before November, watch for well-funded challengers to be among their top priorities.

At least 16 Democrats running against incumbent Republicans outraised their rivals, while six Republicans outpaced Democratic incumbents (thanks to August primaries and tardy filings, not every report has been filed). To be sure, some challengers have managed to raise substantial sums and yet aren't deemed serious competitors. Democratic businesswoman Linda Ketner outraised South Carolina Rep. Henry Brown, but Mr. Brown is expected to win easily in a district that gave President Bush 61% in 2004. Likewise, Deborah Honeycutt, a physician from suburban Atlanta, probably won't beat Democratic Rep. David Scott, to whom she lost by a 69%-31% margin in 2006.

Among the rest, several promising recruits stand out as result of recent fund-raising success. For Democrats, bright spots include Nevada State Senator Dina Titus, former Alaska State Representative Ethan Berkowitz and businesswoman Darcy Burner, who is running for Congress in Washington State. For Republicans, Anne Northup, a former member of Congress who lost her Kentucky seat in 2006, has made an impressive financial start against Democrat John Yarmuth; and former Congressional aide Pete Olson in Texas and one-time Assembly Speaker John Gard in Wisconsin have both outraised Democratic incumbents in their districts.

Perhaps most indicative of long-term trends, Democrats have managed to field two high-profile recruits in what has been solid Republican territory. Raul Martinez and Joe Garcia, both Cuban American Democrats in Florida, are going up against GOP Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, brothers who represent districts near Miami that are each more than 60% Hispanic (mostly Cuban). Cubans have been a reliable voting bloc for the GOP for the past four decades, but a new generation could indicate a power shift towards Democrats. The incumbent Diaz-Balarts still have more cash on hand than their challengers, but Messrs. Martinez and Garcia outraised the incumbents last quarter and a recent poll for the Miami Herald showed them within striking distance.

Democrats, with an approximately six-to-one cash advantage over their House Republican opponents, have begun laying the foundation for an aggressive advertising campaign in 51 districts around the country, including seven where the Democratic candidate outraised the Republican incumbent. Of the $53 million earmarked for House races, Democrats are aiming $1.4 million at the Diaz-Balarts in Florida and a neighboring Republican-held district.

-- Reid Wilson, RealClearPolitics.com

Brownout

A year ago, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was enjoying a honeymoon as a new prime minister, building on a decade of Labour Party dominance under Tony Blair. How things have changed. A poll yesterday for the Independent newspaper found nearly a quarter of Labour voters believe Conservative Party leader David Cameron would make a better prime minister than their own Mr. Brown. Among all voters, Mr. Cameron held an 18-point lead on that question.

That's why the Scotsman, the leading newspaper in Mr. Brown's native Scotland, is rattling political china with its report that Labour ministers are considering a "suicide election" to give the party a fresh start under a new leader. Under this scenario, Mr. Brown would be dumped either this fall or next spring, and the party would call an immediate election in which defeat would be the most likely outcome.

Labour ministers "believe such a move would be better than Brown clinging on to office until 2010 when, they fear, the party would face a wipe-out on the scale of that inflicted on the Tories by Labour in 1997," the Scotsman reported. To Labour's future advantage, Mr. Cameron's Conservatives as a result would be propelled into power "without having prepared enough for the tough economic times ahead."

Normally, such gloomy talk would be discounted as exaggerated, but panic has been the norm in Labour Party circles since it lost a special election for a vacant seat in Parliament last week. The defeat came in Glasgow East, deemed one of the safest Labour seats in the entire country. "If we aren't safe in Glasgow, we could lose everywhere," is how one Labour Party political analyst put it to me over the weekend.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"In Germany, it was all wunderbar. Addressing the throng [in Berlin] as a 'proud citizen of the United States,' but also 'a fellow citizen of the world,' Obama seemed to be giving Europeans a role and a voice in an election in which they have no vote. . . . Who can forget Operation Clark County? That was the campaign waged by British paper the Guardian that encouraged Brits to write to voters in a swing county in the swing state of Ohio to urge them to vote for 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry -- because 'the result of the U.S. election will affect the lives of millions around the world, but those of us outside the 50 states have had no say in it.' Well, they had their say, and Clark was the only county in Ohio to switch from supporting Gore in 2000 to Bush GOP in 2004"-- San Francisco Chronicle columnist Deborah Saunders, on the potential political impact of Barack Obama's overseas trip.

Jesus's Walkman

For a certain part of the electorate, the contents of Barack Obama's iPod are the most vital political issue of the day. That Mr. Obama also won a Grammy (albeit for the audio version of his memoir) doesn't hurt either.

Now the music blogosphere is abuzz with chatter of its own dream ticket -- Mr. Obama and Kanye West. Reports suggest that Mr. West indeed will lead an all-star rap music lineup at the Democratic Convention (or at least the surrounding parties), including Wyclef Jean and N.E.R.D. All three are known Obama favorites, especially Mr. West who was raised in Chicago and gained a taste of political notoriety when he told a live national audience at a benefit concert for victims of Hurricane Katrina that "George Bush doesn't like black people." Recently, he's been in a more ecumenical spotlight for rapping about religion with his hit single "Jesus Walks."

Mr. Obama, who has never failed to utter the appropriate sentiment on any subject, has said he is "troubled sometimes by the misogyny and materialism of rap lyrics." And Mr. Obama's iPod wouldn't be Mr. Obama's iPod if it didn't contain something for everybody, including Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. In the end, however, careful polling will likely decide exactly which rainbow of musicians will be seen fawning over the candidate at the convention.

-- Collin Levy



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« Reply #145 on: July 29, 2008, 12:45:27 PM »

Lip Reading John McCain

John McCain has fallen into an age-old trap of GOP presidential candidates: Sending mixed messages on tax increases.

One of Mr. McCain's problems with the conservative base in the GOP primaries was his past opposition to President Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. He won in part by taking care to acknowledge that the tax cuts had worked to grow the economy and vowing to preserve them when they expire in 2010. On the campaign trail, he's fond of saying: "Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I won't."

But on Sunday, Mr. McCain was asked by ABC News how he planned to address Social Security without raising taxes. "There is nothing that's off the table. I have my positions, and I'll articulate them. But nothing's off the table," he told host George Stephanopoulos. "I don't want tax increases. But that doesn't mean that anything is off the table."

The Club For Growth, a leading free-market group, reacted quickly, issuing a letter telling Mr. McCain that his comments were "shocking because you have been adamant in your opposition to raising taxes under any circumstances." The letter cited the McCain campaign's criticism back in June of Mr. Obama's support for a Social Security payroll tax hike for workers earning above $250,000 a year. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Mr. McCain's top economic adviser, told reporters at the time a President McCain would not consider a payroll tax increase "under any imaginable circumstance."

Mr. McCain has enough problems with his base without causing Republican voters further agita by blurring his position on tax increases. He should recall just how much political damage President George H.W. Bush suffered in 1992 when he had to face voters after going back on his 1988 pledge, "Read my lips, no new taxes." Make no mistake, the Democratic National Committee is already issuing press releases pointing out the latest wrinkle in Mr. McCain's tax position. He needs to clarify his approach before press releases are followed by TV commercials attacking him.

-- John Fund

The Irrepressible Novak

Robert Novak is widely regarded as the dean of Washington journalists, having covered and commented on national politics for more than half a century. That's why so many were shocked and saddened to learn that the 77-year-old columnist has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and has taken a temporary leave from his column.

It will be the first time in anyone's memory that he has missed a deadline. When he broke his hip in a hotel bathroom a few years ago shortly before his column was due, Mr. Novak crawled to a phone, summoned help and later dictated the rest of his column by phone from his hospital bed. He has written more than 7,000 columns since his start as a syndicated columnist in 1963.

In his recent best-selling memoir "The Prince of Darkness," Mr. Novak said some of his goals as a journalist were "to tell the world things people do not want me to reveal, to advocate limited government, economic freedom, and a strong, prudent America -- and to have fun doing it."

Fun is exactly what Mr. Novak has always had. He along with his late partner Rowland Evans gave me my first job in journalism. Much of what I know today about writing comes from the two years I spent as a reporter for Evans & Novak.

I had dinner with Bob just ten days ago after we both spoke at an Americans for Prosperity conference of conservative bloggers in Austin, Texas. It was hard to drag him away from his admiring fans and their requests for photos. He expressed satisfaction that so many people still wanted to hear from him, and spoke about how proud he was that another former reporter, David Freddoso, was about to publish a new book called "The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media's Favorite Candidate."

Bob Novak has beaten cancer three times. He has an iron will, and I hope he can beat this latest health challenge. Don't be surprised if you see him back in the column-writing saddle before the November election. A fall presidential campaign just wouldn't be the same without Bob Novak's pungent reporting.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"The ANWR ban is the work of environmental restriction groups that depend on direct-mail fundraising to pay their bills and keep their jobs. That means they must always claim the sky is falling. They can't get people to send a check or mouse-click a donation because they did a good job, the restrictions they imposed on the Alaska pipeline in the 1970s have done a good job in preserving the environment or because clean air acts of the past have vastly reduced air pollution. ANWR is a precious cause for them because it can be portrayed (dishonestly) as a national treasure and because the pressure for drilling there has been unrelenting. . . . Democrats have enlisted solidly in their army, and they have also been able to recruit Republicans who wanted to get good environmental scorecards to impress enviro-conscious voters in states like Florida, New Jersey and Minnesota. Now all that is in danger, because [of] the pain of paying $60 for a tank of gas . . ." -- US New & World Report's Michael Barone, on the unraveling of an environmental fund-raising racket.

Why Doesn't China Get a Haircut?

Now that Congress has approved the bailout of housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, those who voted "yes" are soon going to be asked an uncomfortable question: Why are you taking money from U.S. taxpayers to bail out the Bank of China and other nations' central banks?

It turns out the biggest supporter of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailouts has been the Chinese government. The Chinese own about half a trillion dollars in Fannie and Freddie securities and they've put the warning out to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson they expect to be repaid in full. The fear among Mr. Paulson and other Treasury officials is that if Fannie and Freddie debt isn't repaid at 100% par, the Chinese may start dumping their hundreds of billions of dollars of Treasury securities, possibly causing a run on U.S. government debt and sharply raising Uncle Sam's borrowing costs.

China isn't the only foreign nation with a big stake in the bailout legislation. Many foreign governments have loaded up on Fannie and Freddie securities, according to data gathered by the Council on Foreign Relations. No. 2 on the list is the central bank in Russia, which holds about $200 billion in these twin housing giants' securities. The oil nations in the Gulf region also own large holdings of the debt as well.

The Chinese, Russians and Saudis evidently can't tell the difference between the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, which is what stands behind U.S. Treasury securities, and the once officially-denied "implicit guarantee" that some in the market chose to see behind Fannie and Freddie paper. The federal bailout that President Bush agreed reluctantly to sign has effectively conferred upon Fannie and Freddie securities equal status to Treasury securities. This means going forward, the housing GSEs now effectively have unlimited use of every taxpayer's credit card.

Naturally, this has conservative fiscal watchdog groups like Dick Armey's Freedom Works and the National Taxpayers Union up in arms. There's a reason that Fannie and Freddie paper has paid out interest rates roughly half a point higher than Treasury securities over the years: higher risk of nonpayment. Former House Majority Leader Mr. Armey asks why Congress now feels compelled to pay back Fannie and Freddie's lenders 100%? Why not pay back, say, 90 cents on the dollar? Their lenders already have been compensated for higher risk of default, and this would not only save taxpayers money but also help delineate Treasury bills from GSE debt going forward.

So far, just about everyone has been made whole in this financial fiasco except taxpayers. Why Democrats and Republicans think it's good economics, let alone good politics, to put the interests of the Chinese and Russian governments ahead of their own constituents is a question members should be asked over and over between now and the election.

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« Reply #146 on: July 30, 2008, 09:55:59 AM »

DEZINFORMATSIA
Obama buster: “Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney.” —New York Times columnist David Brooks

Drooling over Obama: “What, what do you make of this? Let’s take another bite here because it was quite a speech. You have to judge for yourself but the speech had its thrill factor, certainly once again. Here he was.” —MSNBC’s Chris Matthews  “Barack Obama’s overseas trip—it was almost flawless.” —CNN’s Jack Cafferty

The Big Con: “And I think what [Barack Obama is] trying to say, one of the messages that I heard was, ‘look, I’m not some wooly-headed liberal lefty that thinks we should all sing Kumbaya together. I’m here to tell them that we need international cooperation to beat the terrorists, to beat the extremists, to win the war in Afghanistan.’... But I think for the American voter he was saying, ‘look, I’m here speaking for our national security interests... My metaphor is the wall that Reagan used, not John Kennedy’s metaphor.” —CBS’s Jeff Greenfield  “[Obama] doesn’t have to equal McCain in [foreign policy and national security issues], he just has to make voters seem like he’s okay, he knows what he’s talking about.” —CBS’s Jeff Greenfield

Right from the left: “Why can’t Obama bring himself to acknowledge the surge worked better than he and other skeptics, including this page, thought it would? What does that stubbornness say about the kind of president he’d be?” —USA Today

Tinfoil hat: “The price of oil has been high. The people who can affect the price of oil would prefer a Republican presidential candidate. Watch the price of oil. If it goes down, which it may very well, it could help John McCain quite a bit.” —fake-but-accurate Dan Rather **Talk about voodoo economics!

Newspulper Headlines: Be Careful What You Wish For: “Texas Oilman: Clear Path for Wind Power” —Associated Press  “Hurricane Dolly Slams South Texas Before Weakening” —Associated Press

We Blame Global Warming: “While Sun Shines on Obama, Storm Trips Up McCain” —Boston Globe  “Maine Governor Fears Cold Winter” —Boston Globe

Help Wanted: “Authorities Seek Indicted Polygamist Sect Members” —Associated Press

Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control: “Dwarf Pops Out of Suitcase at Airport Counter” —Atlanta Journal-Constitution  “Flesh-Eating Slug Invades Wales” —ScienceBlogs.com  “Global Warming Could Be Causing a Kitten Boom, Experts Say” —InfoZine.com  “Angry Man Shoots Lawn Mower for Not Starting” —Associated Press  “New Jersey Man Killed by Flying Cocktail Glass” —Associated Press

News You Can Use: “A Place to Take That Lamborghini for a Spin” —Reuters

Bottom Stories of the Day: “Star Explodes and No One Notices” —FoxNews.com (Thanks to The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto)

THE DEMO-GOGUES
Talk about arrogance: “I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.” —Barack Obama to House members

Unreal: “Let us... answer our destiny and remake the world once again.” —Barack Obama in Berlin

Always the articulate orator: “You know, it’s always a bad practice to say ‘always’ or ‘never’.” —Barack Obama  “Many of the crisises [sic] that we face are the, uh, a direct result of putting off tough decisions for too many years.” —Barack Obama **“Crisises”?

History for dummies: “Throughout our history, America’s confronted constantly evolving danger, from the oppression of an empire, to the lawlessness of the frontier, from the bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor, to the threat of nuclear annihilation. Americans have adapted to the threats posed by an ever-changing world.” —Barack Obama **“The bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor”?

Supporting the troops?: “So the point that I was making at the time was that the political dynamic [in Iraq] was the driving force between that sectarian violence. And we could try to keep a lid on it, but if these underlining dynamic continued to bubble up and explode the way they were, then we would be in a difficult situation. I am glad that in fact those political dynamic shifted at the same time that our troops did outstanding work.” —Barack Obama on the surge

Bad energy policy: “I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet. I will not have this [energy] debate trivialized by their excuse for their failed policy. I respect the office that I hold. And when you win the election, you win the majority, and what is the power of the speaker? To set the agenda, the power of recognition, and I am not giving the gavel away to anyone.” —Nancy Pelosi, who refuses to allow offshore drilling

World’s smallest violin: “I go on the floor of the House every day and deal with people who don’t want to give health care to poor little children in America.” —Nancy Pelosi

INSIGHT
“People who make careers out of helping others—sometimes at great sacrifice, often not—usually don’t like to hear that those others might get along fine, might even get along better, without their help.” —John Holt

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” —Winston Churchill

“A fool and his money are soon elected.” —Will Rogers

“It is essential to the triumph of reform that it should never succeed.” —William Hazlitt

 

UPRIGHT
“What is amazing this year is how many people have bought the fundamentally childish notion that, if you don’t like the way things are going, the answer is to write a blank check for generic ‘change,’ empowering someone chosen not on the basis of any track record but on the basis of his skill with words.” —Thomas Sowell

“Barack Obama concedes that America’s troops have contributed to improvements on the ground in Iraq, but he still stands by his vote against the surge. Why not just admit that he was wrong?... Obama has fallen to pride in part because he has bought his own myth. By staking his future on a past of supernatural vision, he has made it difficult to admit human fault. The magic isn’t working anymore. And Obama, the visionary one, can’t even see what everyone else sees: He was wrong.” —Kathleen Parker

“So Senator Obama and his campaign decided that it would be inappropriate to visit wounded soldiers in Germany while touring Europe as a candidate for the presidency. Senator McCain hit this one right on the head: it is never inappropriate to visit our wounded men and women in uniform.” —Bobby Eberle

“Barack Obama represents an obnoxiously elitist attitude that reeks of paternalistic government...” —Kathryn Lopez

“Sen. Obama owes it to the public to let us know how much of our hard-earned money he, in his wisdom, believes we have a moral obligation to give away to poor people around the world—and how much of our money that he has a moral obligation to extract from our wages forcefully, through federal taxation.” —Tony Blankley

“The time may be coming when our lunatic environmental policies are swept away by a rising tide of common sense.” —Michael Barone

EDITORIAL EXEGESIS
“Reneging on his no-new-taxes pledge cost President George H.W. Bush a second term. Will John McCain play into Barack Obama’s hands by making the same mistake on Social Security taxes?... Asked Sunday by George Stephanopoulos on ABC about Social Security payroll-tax increases, McCain replied: ‘Nothing is off the table. I don’t want tax increases. Of course, I’d like to have young Americans have some of their money put into an account with their name on it, but that doesn’t mean that anything is off the table.’... The repercussions of McCain backpedaling on his commitment are serious... Fortunately, it’s not too late for McCain to regain his footing from this misstep. No one has more credibility as a spending hawk. Instead of talking about payroll tax hikes, he should use this presidential campaign to talk up the country’s impending entitlement crisis and embrace the fundamental reforms necessary to prevent fiscal disaster. The solutions to the catastrophes that lie ahead for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are not new taxes that only delay the day of reckoning by a few more years. The answers are innovations like personal retirement accounts controlled by the individual and the expansion of tax-free health savings accounts to help pay private insurance costs. Voters appreciate being told the facts. They will elect a straight talker with the guts to fix our biggest fiscal challenge. Right now John McCain is missing an opportunity that seems tailor-made for him—which could mean the election of a president whose socialistic intentions will only shorten the fuse on America’s entitlement time bomb.” —Investor’s Business Daily

VILLAGE IDIOTS
Delusional: “I think in general [Barack Obama has] shown people he’s not a left-wing ideologue. If anything, he’s center, even center-right, on foreign policy issues in the way he was talking on this trip.” —Fred Kempe, President of the Atlantic Council of the United States

Audacity of hope: “If [Obama] picks Hillary he gets her 18 million supporters and we would win in a cakewalk and control the White House for 16 years.” —former DNC chief and permanent Clintonista Terry McAuliffe

From the Moonbat files: “You’ve ruled against impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney, and now Kucinich is trying to pass that. Why do you, why do you insist on not impeaching these people so that the world and America can really see the crimes that they’ve committed?” —Joy Behar of “The View” to Nancy Pelosi

Trouble on the home front?: “The story is false. It’s completely untrue, ridiculous. Anyone who knows me knows that I have been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years.” —John Edwards on his “extracurricular activities”

It ain’t easy being green: “It has become increasingly clear that damage is occurring daily to our Earth and its creatures. Among the gravest concerns is the peril imposed by global warming and vanishing sea ice. The polar bear has become the iconic image of this threat, but all of us know that the polar bear is literally the tip of the iceberg. Climate change is threatening flora and fauna of all types—and that includes we humans. The heat is on. The time is now.” —Robert Buchanan, Polar Bears International President

SHORT CUTS
“Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted ‘present’ nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.” —Charles Krauthammer

“Barack Obama wrote a prayer to God which he placed in Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall last week. The prayer note was retrieved by a seminary student and published in an Israeli newspaper. Everybody in Israel wanted to know if it was addressed, ‘Dear Dad’.” —Argus Hamilton

“Barack Obama finally played the Palace, or at least the Tiergarten, and he left a lot of promises in his wake. He’ll get Christians, Muslims and Jews to hit the sawdust trail together, to repent their sins and suspicions and remake the world. He’ll tear down walls between nations, between races, tribes and immigrants; between East and West, between the haves and the have-nots. And with his spare change he’ll buy the world a Coke.” —Wesley Pruden

“Obama was in Germany [last week], and 200,000 people showed up. There was so many Germans shouting and screaming that France surrendered just in case.” —Craig Ferguson



David Letterman: From the “Top Ten Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident”: Proposed bill to change Oklahoma to “Oklobama”; Offered Bush 20 bucks for the “Mission Accomplished” banner; Asked guy at Staples, “Which chair will work best in an oval-shaped office?”; The affair with Barbara Walters; Having head measured for Mount Rushmore; He’s voting for Nader; Offered McCain a job in gift shop at Obama Presidential Library; Been cruising for chicks with John Edwards.

Jay Leno: Barack Obama is back from his big European tour. Did you see him in Europe? People were cheering him, holding up signs, blowing him kisses. And that was just the American media covering the story. ... Barack Obama was on “Meet the Press” Sunday. John McCain was on a new show called, “I Wish I Could Meet the Press.” ... Polls show Obama more popular than McCain in Germany, France, and Great Britain. However, McCain leads in Mesopotamia, Gaul and the Holy Roman Empire. So, it’s pretty balanced. ... In world news, I guess you’ve heard Barack Obama [was] elected Chancellor of Germany. ... You can tell the French are still a little gun shy. After speaking in front of 200,000 Germans, when Obama arrived in France, they said, “You came alone, right?” ... You know, they said on the news earlier [this week] that this political campaign has only 100 days left. Only! Anybody complaining that this thing was dragging out? ... I don’t know what’s less likely, Barack Obama getting enough experience in 100 days, or John McCain living another 100 days. ... The National Enquirer caught former presidential candidate John Edwards sneaking out of his girlfriend’s hotel room at the 2:40 in the morning. See, Edwards got caught ‘cause the reporters were there waiting for him...f Edwards didn’t want to get caught, he should have met this woman at the hotel where John McCain was staying. There are no reporters. ... If this story turns out to be true, there go his chances at becoming vice president. He could still be governor of New York. ... And in Puerto Rico, it [was] Constitution Day [Friday]. So, that’s where the Constitution went. I knew we weren’t using it anymore.

Veritas vos Liberabit—Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis! Mark Alexander, Publisher, for The Patriot’s editors and staff. (Please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families—especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #147 on: July 30, 2008, 11:51:53 AM »

Secoond post of the day

Welfare State

It looks as if the senator who brought us the "Bridge to Nowhere" may be heading in the same direction politically. Alaska Senator Ted Stevens' indictment yesterday on seven counts of lying on his financial disclosure forms has certainly ended his political career. He's accused of covering up a total of $250,000 in gifts

The indictment appears to be about as airtight as a prosecutor could wish for. The FBI recorded two phone calls between Sen. Stevens and Bill Allen, a Stevens patron who dominated state politics as the head of the oil-services firm VECO until he pleaded guilty to bribing state legislators this year. Mr. Allen has already testified in open court that he paid some of the bills incurred in the expensive remodeling of Mr. Stevens's Alaska home. A year ago today, FBI agents raided the senator's home to secure evidence about the remodeling work.

Political experts in Alaska tell me that Mr. Stevens, who has served since 1968 and rose to become chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, will almost certainly lose his August 26 Republican primary. His major opponent is David Cuddy, a banker who held Mr. Stevens to 58% of the vote in a 1996 primary by attacking his spendthrift ways. An era is ending in Alaska politics. Rep. Don Young, Alaska's lone House member, is himself under investigation by the Feds for his ties to VECO. Polls show him trailing his primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell.

For decades Alaska justified its raids on the federal Treasury because Washington owned so much of the state and had locked up so many of its natural resources from development (the oil underneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge being the most famous example). In what some called "compensation," the state made sure it became No. 1 in the nation for pork per person -- $984.85 for each Alaskan in 2005. With the abrupt loss of seniority the state is about to experience in Congress, it may now have to come up with a new model of economic development. Here's hoping Congress contributes by opening more of the state's resources to development. Producing real wealth would be a healthier strategy for most Alaskans than the continuing pillage of the U.S. taxpayer the state's raiding parties in Congress have been conducting for decades.

-- John Fund

McCain on Taxes: The Picture Gets Fuzzy

The McCain campaign is starting to wrap itself around just how much of a potential problem it created for itself with the candidate's claim on ABC News last Sunday that "nothing's off the table" -- including raising taxes -- when a President John McCain tackles Social Security reform.

The Democratic National Committee quickly pounced, issuing a press release headlined, "McCain Tax Pledge? Not so much." It listed the many times Mr. McCain has pledged not to raise taxes and contrasted these statements with his "nothing's off the table" line. Some Republicans predict this is only the opening barrage in a Democratic attack theme -- regardless of Mr. Obama's own publicly stated plans to raise Social Security taxes on upper-income earners. "Raising Social Security taxes is a pretty easy issue to scare folks about -- and kills small business," is how one GOP consultant put it to me.

Sensing that Democrats were already cueing up their tape machines to prepare commercials for the fall campaign, McCain aides are now pressing their boss to return to his often-stated anti-tax message. Yesterday, at a town hall meeting in Sparks, Nevada, Mr. McCain was asked by a young girl if he planned to raise taxes as president. "No," was his stern one-word answer.

Now if he can elaborate on that a bit he may be able to portray his ABC News answer as a one-day blunder rather than a self-launched torpedo aimed directly at one of his most effective arguments against Barack Obama. The Democratic candidate has extensive plans to raise taxes at a time of economic weakness -- something that no school of economics, Keynesian or supply-side, would advocate.

-- John Fund

This Bud's for Belgium

Politicians and Wall Streeters are starting to ask why the Belgian beer company InBev purchased Anheuser-Busch and not the other way around. Anheuser-Busch is an iconic American firm and some find it almost unpatriotic that Anheuser CEO August Busch IV allowed the "King of Beers" to relocate across the Atlantic -- though shareholders were the big winners here with a $50 billion-plus takeaway.

But here's the real question: Was the takeover basically financed by the savings Anheuser expected from escaping America's increasingly uncompetitive corporate tax system? According to the Tax Foundation, Belgium's corporate tax rate is 33%, but the effective tax rate can be half the nominal rate thanks to adjustments for something the OECD calls a "notional allowance for corporate equity." Bottom line: InBev was paying around 20% of its profits in corporate taxes, compared to Anheuser-Busch's rate of 38.4%.

Things have gotten pretty bad when U.S. companies relocate to Europe to cut their tax payments. But a research analysis by Morgan Stanley finds the combined company's corporate tax bill will be lower than in the U.S. and that the tax differential indeed figured into the economics of the sale.

So while John McCain may have benefited from his wife's ownership of Anheuser stock (estimated at between 40,000 and 80,000 shares), the country will continue to see its competitive edge wither away without a corporate tax rate cut. Mr. McCain to his credit wants to cut the corporate tax rate to 25%, close to the global average. Senator Obama is more interested in raising tax rates than cutting them.

Wall Street dealmakers tell us to expect more sales of U.S. companies to European rivals thanks to the combination of America's higher corporate taxes and the weak dollar. They're right. New data from the OECD for 2008 indicate that the international average for corporate tax rates fell by another percentage point last year, meaning the U.S. is pricing itself out of the market as a corporate headquarters. "America's 35% corporate tax rate is not just bad economics, it's downright unpatriotic," says tax expert Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute.

-- Stephen Moore and Tyler Grimm

Quote of the Day

"Barack Obama has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee. . . . In the latest issue of the New Republic, Gabriel Sherman found reporters complaining that Obama's campaign was 'acting like the Prom Queen' and being more secretive than Bush. The magazine quoted the New York Times' Adam Nagourney's reaction to the Obama campaign's memo attacking one of his stories: 'I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others.' Then came Obama's overseas trip and the campaign's selection of which news organizations could come aboard. Among those excluded: the New Yorker magazine, which had just published a satirical cover about Obama that offended the campaign. Even Bush hasn't tried that" -- Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.

In the China Shop

China watchers got a glimpse of the Obama staff's leanings today, courtesy of a widely distributed op-ed entitled "Obama, McCain Must Tread Lightly On China" by two of the senator's advisers on China policy.

The authors, Jeffrey Bader and Richard Bush III, both affiliated with the Brookings Institution and both advisers to Barack Obama, suggest that presidential candidates should "avoid condemning China" as a campaign stunt to win votes. Fair enough: Candidates from both parties have pulled that trick in the past, and it was a special curse for Bill Clinton's later China policy. But the authors go further, insisting that China policy should remain "tethered firmly to reality," noting that "China's human rights record is poor, but its people are much freer than were their parents under Mao."

That's a pretty low bar, indicating little enthusiasm for challenging China's treatment of political prisoners or Tibet. "Personal relationships of trust are highly valued," they write. "The Chinese will react negatively if a new president throws difficult issues on the table before establishing such trust." That sounds like China, not the U.S., setting the agenda.

But perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. As the latest issue of Harper's Magazine points out, Mr. Bader isn't merely a Brookings scholar or necessarily an independent voice on China -- he's also listed as a senior director at lobbying group Stonebridge International's China office.

-- Mary Kissel

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ccp
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« Reply #148 on: August 01, 2008, 09:19:49 AM »

I don't know why I haven't heard anyone clarify ***why*** McCain was popular with the newsmedia, or as this article claims (which I doubt) with Hollywood types.  The reason was as far as I know:  his support for campaign finance reform.

When McCain was strong in support of this (I am too BTW since politics is just too corrupt the way it is) it was clearly seen as something that would support the Democrats because Republicans always out raised the crats.  So supporting reform would have hurt Republicans.  So cans were against it and the liberal media, and some in Holier-than-thou-wood loved him.  Now it is not his big issue and he is the Republican candidate and as could easily have been predicted the liberals who loved him have left him in the dust and turn around and claim he has flip flopped.  As usual the self serving in the media and the rich and famous LA and NYC liberal hypocrits try to BS their way out of liking him.  But they only liked him from the start because McCain's views often differed from the Republican "cause".

Bottom line, Hollywood and the liberal media are full of it as usual.

I have no problem with the ad. 

CAUSE CÉLÈBRE / TINA DAUNT
John McCain ad irritates many in Hollywood
Rick Hilton, Kathy Hilton

Dan Steinberg / Associated Press

MCCAIN BACKERS: Socialite Kathy Hilton, left, and husband Rick Hilton.
E-mail Picture
The celebrity backers of Barack Obama say they are not like Paris and Britney.
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
7:04 PM PDT, July 31, 2008

TO HOLLYWOOD it smacked of desperation.

That's why the reaction to a new John McCain ad attempting to portray Barack Obama as a kind of mindless celebrity -- likening him to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears -- drew collective yawns and shrugs of irritation from politically active members of the entertainment industry.

"I didn't think McCain could look silly," mused Norman Lear. "But that ad diminishes him and makes him look silly."

Related

    * And the stars support .... whom?
      Photos:
      And the stars support .... whom?

Just for a start, industry types say the ad is wrong: In the Hollywood lexicon, Obama is not a celebrity. He's a rock star. (Note to McCain strategists: That's the difference between Jessica Simpson and Bono.)

Then there's the small inconvenience that Paris' parents, Rick and Kathleen Hilton, are supporters of McCain's Republican presidential bid. According to federal campaign records, they gave the maximum $4,600.

No word on their plans for the general election, but this much is certain: Their daughter has never paid to attend an Obama campaign fundraiser. (It's unclear whether she's even met the senator, or whether she's even registered to vote. The same goes for Spears.)

McCain's latest attempt at discrediting his handsome, photogenic young rival particularly galls stars and executives with a memory, because only eight years ago, McCain was a fixture in Hollywood fundraising circles when he tried to raise money from the very people his ad now ridicules.

At the time, dozens of people in Hollywood -- including Lear, Harrison Ford, Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy and Michael Douglas -- gave to McCain because they thought he was a Republican celebrity ď with a great personal story. And, dare we say, some celebrities, namely Warren Beatty, even became friends with the Arizona senator.

But the truth is most of Hollywood won't return McCain's calls nowadays because many of the stars and executives he initially impressed now believe the maverick stance they found so attractive was just a pose. Hollywood doesn't object to a good pose -- unless, of course, it doesn't work.

(For his part, McCain said at a recent appearance that he stands by the ad and is proud of the way his campaign has been conducted).

Meanwhile, Hollywood is gearing up for pro-Obama events -- concerts, parties and galas -- between now and November.

A soundtrack CD with songs dedicated to Obama is in the works (think of all that musical hope available for download to your iPod.) A black and white ball is planned for Aug. 21 in Beverly Hills where celebrities are being invited to celebrate Obama's candidacy.

(The candidate, however, will not actually be there. He will be busy working on his acceptance speech, which he'll deliver four days later at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.)

Some of the celebrities who've already signed up to attend the ball, which is being organized independently of Obama's campaign, include: Lucy Liu, Ashley Judd, Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Khaled Hosseini, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Dennis Haysbert, Kathy Griffin, Zach Braff, Regina King, Hill Harper, Ben McKenzie, Melanie Brown and "many executives and industry professionals," according event chairwoman Asal Masomi.

"The theme of the gala will focus on celebrating diversity and promoting cultural awareness," Masomi said, adding that Obama's campaign is expected to send a representative.

Some of Obama's strongest celebrity backers, like George Clooney, have been careful to keep their distance because they don't want to compromise the candidate's image as a serious politician. Moreover, as many in the industry have noted, the Obama campaign has been especially careful about vetting stars before they're allowed to work the campaign trail on the senator's behalf.

"Surrogates and high-profile supporters have their place in the campaign," said Democratic strategist Michael Feldman, a former advisor to Al Gore. "They can help draw crowds, raise money and communicate enthusiasm for the campaign. Like every other asset, they need to be leveraged carefully."

The fact of the matter is that for all his popularity in the entertainment industry, Obama has kept Hollywood at a friendly but slight distance. He's hardly waded into the scene with the sort of relish that Bill Clinton did in the 1990s.

"Celebrities are coming onboard because they're excited about Obama, like the rest of America," said Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman. "It's not because he's pandering to them." Bragman called the McCain ad "inauthentic."

"Anyone who knows and listens to Barack Obama doesn't think he's empty-headed," said Bragman, who has known more than his share of vacant skulls. "All this feels very Roveian to me."

Like many in Hollywood, Bragman thinks this is the bottom line: "McCain is trying to use Obama's popularity against him, but guess what? Obama is popular."


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ccp
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« Reply #149 on: August 04, 2008, 08:36:04 AM »

I always thought it was good to have the Secret Service protect ex Presidents for the rest of their lives but shouldn't we be questioning if tax payers should foot the bill in this day and age where ex pols go out and earn big dollars exploiting their former "public service"?

Why should tax dollars go into paying for a security detail for wealthy exes?

I remember when some in the leftist media made a big stink out of Reagan going to Japan to make a speech for $2milliion but that is tip money now for these guys.

If wealthier citizens should be paying higher taxes than wealthier Presidents like the Clintons should not get all these tax payer perks.
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