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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #150 on: August 04, 2008, 09:03:14 AM »

OTOH what you propose could "force" a non-rich ex-president to peddle his services to have protection money.  In short, its fine by me that an ex-P. gets protected.

Changing subjects:

The Race Issue Isn't Going Away
By JUAN WILLIAMS
August 4, 2008

With polls showing the presidential contest between John McCain and Barack Obama getting closer, a question is now looming larger and larger. Is skin color going to be the deciding factor?

Just last week, Sen. Obama warned voters that Sen. McCain's campaign will exploit the race issue by telling voters that "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills." A few weeks earlier, he said they will attack his lack of experience but also added, "And did I mention he's black?"

 
AP 
The McCain campaign did not counter the first punch, but after last week's jab -- fearing that Mr. Obama was getting away with calling his candidate a racist -- campaign manager Rick Davis responded to the dollar-bill attack by saying, "Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong."

Mr. Obama's campaign concedes it has no clear example of a Republican attack that expressly cites Mr. Obama's name or race. Yet in the last few days some Obama supporters were at it again, suggesting that a McCain ad attacking Mr. Obama as little more than a "celebrity," by featuring young white women such as Britney Spears, is an appeal to white anxiety about black men and white women.

The race issue is clearly not going away. And the key reason -- to be blunt -- is because there is no telling how many white voters are lying to pollsters when they say they plan to vote for a black man to be president. Still, it is possible to look elsewhere in the polling numbers to see where white voters acknowledge their racial feelings and get a truer measure of racism.

In a Wall Street Journal poll last month, 8% of white voters said outright that race is the most important factor when it comes to looking at these two candidates -- a three percentage point increase since Mr. Obama claimed the Democratic nomination. An added 15% of white voters admit the candidates' race is a factor for them. Race is even more important to black voters: 20% say it is the top factor influencing their view of the candidates, and another 14% admit it is among the key factors that will determine their vote. All this contributes to the idea that the presidential contest will boil down to black guy versus white guy.

Consider also a recent Washington Post poll. Thirty percent of all voters admitted to racial prejudice, and more than a half of white voters categorized Mr. Obama as "risky" (two-thirds judged Mr. McCain the "safe" choice). Yet about 90% of whites said they would be "comfortable" with a black president. And about a third of white voters acknowledged they would not be "entirely comfortable" with an African-American president. Why the contradictory responses? My guess is that some whites are not telling the truth about their racial attitudes.

A recent New York Times poll found that only 31% of white voters said they had a favorable opinion of Mr. Obama. That compares to 83% of blacks with a favorable opinion. This is a huge, polarizing differential.

But polling can be tricky. In May, a Pew poll asked voters about Mr. Obama but did not give them the option of saying they are undecided. In that poll, whites split on the candidate, 45% saying they had a favorable opinion, 46% unfavorable. When white voters had the option of being undecided, as they did in the Times poll, 37% of whites said they had an unfavorable opinion of him, but 26% said they were undecided.

To win this campaign, Mr. Obama needs to assure undecided white voters that he shares their values and is worthy of their trust. To do that he has to minimize attention to different racial attitudes toward his candidacy as well as racially polarizing issues, and appeal to the common experiences that bind Americans regardless of color.

Mr. Obama has shown an unprecedented ability to cross the racial divide in American politics. He did particularly well in managing caucus states, such as Iowa, where highly energized supporters, especially idealistic young white supporters, minimized the impact of negative racial attitudes with passionate participation.

But the white Democratic caucus voters in Iowa, where there are relatively few racial issues, are decidedly more liberal than white voters nationally. In primary states from New Hampshire to Texas and California, Mr. Obama lost when one of two things happened. Either working-class white voters did not participate in polls, or some white voters lied and told pollsters they planned to vote for him before casting their votes for another candidate.

There are going to be more of those wobbly white voters in November. The size of the white vote in a general election race dwarfs the white vote in the Democratic primary. Based on the 2004 presidential contest, whites make up about 77% of voters and blacks 11%.

In the Democratic primaries there were states, especially in the South, where blacks made up nearly half of the electorate. But in the general election there are no states where blacks make up so large a percentage. Even in Southern states such as Georgia and North Carolina, where blacks made up about a quarter of the vote in the last presidential election, it will be an upset if Mr. Obama manages to win. Those states have a history of Republican dominance in presidential contests. Even an energized black vote is unlikely to make Mr. Obama a winner anywhere in the South, although some Democrats hold out hope for Virginia.

In 2004, John Kerry had a 46% favorable rating among white voters, barely better than Barack Obama's. But Mr. Kerry lost. Mr. Obama needs to do better with whites. But the white voters' view of him is still clearly unsettled.

Polls show white voters struggling to identify with him as a fellow American who, to quote Bill Clinton, is able to "feel your pain." When the New York Times poll asked whether Mr. Obama cares about "the needs and problems of people like yourself," 70% of whites answered "a lot" or "some." But 28% of whites said Mr. Obama cared about them "not much" or "not at all." Compare that with the 72% of black voters who said Mr. Obama cared about them "a lot." The same Times poll had Mr. Obama leading Mr. McCain by six percentage points, 45-39, but trailing by nine points among white voters, 37-46.

After Jesse Jackson's vicious comments about Mr. Obama, some political strategists suggested that a split with Mr. Jackson and his racially divisive politics could help Mr. Obama with white voters. But polls have yet to reveal this.

Could a Jackson-Obama split cause black voters to lose enthusiasm for him -- dividing their loyalties between the two most prominent black political voices of this era? Opinion surveys do not indicate this is likely. Polling done by Gallup just before Mr. Jackson's outburst indicated that 29% of black Americans chose Mr. Obama as the "individual or leader in the U.S. to speak for you on issues of race." Mr. Jackson came in third with only 4% support (behind Al Sharpton, who had 6%). Last year, a Pew poll focusing on racial attitudes found 76% of blacks judged Mr. Obama a "good influence," a full eight points higher than Mr. Jackson.

Jodie Allen, a senior editor at Pew, wrote recently that a poll Pew conducted last November showed clearly that "the black community is at least as traditional in its views as the larger American public." Blacks in the Pew poll were just as likely as whites to take a hard line opposing crime (as long as black neighborhoods are not unfairly targeted), to condemn the shocking number of children born out of wedlock and express disgust with the violence and misogyny in rap music.

Mr. Obama needs to hammer home these conservative social values to capture undecided white voters. He might lose Mr. Jackson's vote. But he won't lose many black votes, and he will win the undecided white votes he needs to become America's first African-American president.

Mr. Williams is a political analyst for National Public Radio and Fox News.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #151 on: August 07, 2008, 04:51:36 PM »

California Attorney General Jerry Brown is stepping outside his law enforcement role and playing politics with a November ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage in the state.

Backers of the measure collected some one million signatures this spring under a title approved by Mr. Brown's office that made it clear the measure would "provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid." Since the signatures were collected, the state Supreme Court has ruled same-sex marriage constitutional but also allowed the ballot measure to go before voters.

Mr. Brown, a candidate for governor in 2010, has apparently decided to make a play for liberal Democratic primary voters by changing his own office's description of the measure. It now reads that the ballot initiative seeks "to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry," a much more negative way of describing the measure. His office says the meaning is the same.

But both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage "know that to some voters -- perhaps a decisive bloc in a close election -- the new ballot title language could make the measure sound punitive by eliminating a 'right,'" notes Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.

Lawyers question the validity of Mr. Brown's move. If the meaning is the same, why is the change needed? If the meaning is different, the change contradicts the petition that placed the proposition on the ballot. Either way, the change is groundless.

Mr. Brown has pulled this trick before. Back in February he obscured the title language of a ballot measure that would have watered down the state's term limit law. Luckily, voters saw through the subterfuge and voted down the proposal, which had been sponsored by key state legislators who were about to be turned out of office.

The courts will have to decide on the validity of Mr. Brown's latest ploy, but political analysts say it's yet more evidence of the 70-year-old Mr. Brown's ability to further his ambitions in creative ways. "He may not have been governor for over a quarter century, but he is doing everything he can to win the office back," says Jon Fleischman, editor of the political news service FlashReport.org.

-- John Fund
Vetting Tim Kaine

 A week before his election as Virginia governor in 2005, Democrat Tim Kaine won the endorsement of the irascible Doug Wilder, a former governor. Three days later Mr. Kaine's campaign paid Paul Goldman, a top aide to Mr. Wilder, $15,000 in consulting fees, setting off a storm of criticism.

No evidence has surfaced to show the two events are connected, but it points to one set of concerns as the Obama campaign vets Mr. Kaine for a possible nomination to the vice presidency -- his reputation as dutiful attendant to the Virginia machine and its key movers and shakers.

Mr. Kaine is a popular and moderately successful governor of what until recently was considered a reliably conservative state. He has kept the state's GOP on the defensive, brought his party to within striking distance of retaking the state legislature and has run a competent administration. He doesn't have a major overhaul of the state's transportation system to his credit or any other major reform to point to, but instead has quietly built his political persona as someone who can work the levers of government, play hardball when necessary and operate comfortably in the shadow of larger political personalities.

He was happy to cede the spotlight to his predecessor, Democrat Mark Warner, who became a media darling by passing a massive tax increase through a Republican legislature in 2004 when Democrats were floundering nationally. Rather than resent the focus on Mr. Warner, Mr. Kaine embraced it. He campaigned with Mr. Warner and, as the sitting lieutenant governor, promised to carry on his tax and education policies. Once elected, he retained Mr. Warner's chief of staff and demonstrated his willingness to cross swords with the GOP by nominating Daniel LeBlanc, head of the state's AFL-CIO, to be a member of his cabinet as Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Republicans rejected the nomination, drawing a rebuke from Mr. Kaine who promised a budget fight in response. He made good on the threat by forcing the legislature into a special session to debate details of various transportation proposals (finally winning passage of a transportation bill last year). On the stump, Mr. Kaine turned the rejection of Mr. LeBlanc to his advantage, using it to rally union support and raise money for other Democrats, including Jim Webb in his successful bid to unseat Republican Sen. George Allen two years ago.

Bottom line: If Mr. Obama is looking for someone who is non-threatening to the average voter, but who will be a loyal liberal soldier, Mr. Kaine fits the bill. The base will be happy with him; he brings the possibility of carrying Virginia, potentially a crucial battleground state. On the margins he will appeal to swing voters. The one thing he won't deliver is a reputation for major policy accomplishments or conspicuous substantive experience that would offset Mr. Obama's own weakness in these areas.

-- Brendan Miniter
The Show Me (A Good Race) State

 Looking for exciting races to watch outside of the presidential election? You can almost skip right over this year's contests for governor, which feature a severe dearth of competition. One reason is that only 11 of the 50 states hold elections for their top spot in presidential years; another reason is that of this year's 11 contests, only three feature open seats and just two of those will be competitive in November.

However, one race to keep an eye on is Missouri's, where things got a lot more interesting in January when Republican Gov. Matt Blunt announced unexpectedly that he would not seek re-election. Suddenly, Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon, who had been running against Blunt since 2005, was given a huge edge in the race. Mr. Nixon did not face a competitive primary challenge, unlike the GOP, which had a number of people interested in filling Mr. Blunt's shoes. The winner was Rep. Kenny Hulshof, who's held the 9th Congressional District seat since 1996. He will now face Mr. Nixon after squeaking past state Treasurer Sarah Steelman in Tuesday's GOP primary by 49% to 45%.

Interestingly, even the eventual loser of this race could be someone to watch. The last two candidates defeated in Missouri governor races have gone on to win a U.S. Senate seat. Republican Jim Talent lost to Bob Holden in 2000 and two years later defeated Jean Carnahan in the special election to fill the Senate seat won by her late husband. In 2004, Democrat Claire McCaskill lost to Mr. Blunt and two years later knocked Mr. Talent out of his Senate seat. Think Republican Sen. Kit Bond, who's up for re-election in 2010, is watching this one with interest?

-- Kyle Trygstad, RealClearPolitics.com
Quote of the Day

"[Hillary] Clinton has been giving tacit encouragement to suggestions that her name be placed in nomination at the [Democratic] convention, a symbolic move that would be a reminder of the bruising primary battle. 'No decisions have been made,' Clinton said when asked in California -- to whoops and applause -- about that possibility. Still, it was hard to miss what Clinton would like to see in the pointed way she added, 'Delegates can decide to do this on their own. They don't need permission'" -- Time magazine, reporting on the lingering bitterness of the Clinton forces over their defeat by Barack Obama.

Talking Freedom to China

 HONG KONG -- President Bush's remarks in Bangkok today show that he, for one, is going to China with his eyes open. At his stop in Thailand, he delivered a speech that was pitch-perfect on the legitimate interest the outside world takes in China's human rights.

"America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents and human rights advocates and religious activists," he said. "We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labor rights -- not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential."

China invariably takes umbrage at such meddling in its "internal affairs," but is certainly glad to have Mr. Bush's attendance at the Olympics. The Communist Party regime had hoped -- and activists feared -- that the world would see only China's economic growth and ignore its political and religious oppression during the Games. At this point, given concerns about everything from pollution and visas for outspoken athletes to power outages and traffic jams, Beijing perhaps will be satisfied if the show comes off without major embarrassments.

Mr. Bush's critics, for their part, still insist he never should have made the trip. His approach, however, has been consistent with the Freedom Agenda that has been a cornerstone of his foreign policy -- that progress on democracy and human rights is as much in China's interests as our own. That's not a message that would come through by treating China as a pariah or an enemy.

-- Abheek Bhattacharya

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #152 on: August 08, 2008, 02:03:18 PM »

The Race Card Is a Losing Hand

Memphis voters overwhelmingly rejected the tactics of black attorney Nikki Tinker in yesterday's Democratic primary for Congress in Tennessee. Her campaign had run an ad featuring Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, who is white and Jewish, next to a picture of a hooded Klansman while an announcer criticized him for voting against removing a statue of a Confederate general from a local park. A later ad attacked Mr. Cohen for "praying in our churches" while opposing mandatory school prayer.

The raw appeals backfired as Mr. Cohen won a stunning 79% of the vote, to Ms. Tinker's 19%. Indeed, Ms. Tinker pulled off the feat of receiving fewer votes than she got in 2006, when she was part of a nine-candidate slate fighting for the then-vacant Congressional seat. Mr. Cohen narrowly won that primary in the majority-black district as the only white candidate, winning 31% of the vote to Ms. Tinker's 25%.

"It says that we have come a long, long way and that the people who were counting on racial voting to prevail are thinking of a Memphis that doesn't exist anymore," Mr. Cohen told Politico.com last night. "The people of Memphis are more sophisticated voters that deal with issues and someone's record and not simply race."

-- John Fund
Obama's Got a Tiger in His Tank

Democrats think they can gain some extra political mileage -- tires properly inflated, of course -- by linking John McCain to the oil-and-gas industry. This week, the Democratic National Committee debuted an advertising campaign that floats Exxon as the GOP running mate. Har, har.

Barack Obama, meanwhile, is up with television spots that accuse Mr. McCain of being "in the pocket of Big Oil" before touting a plan for a windfall profits tax.

But wait. According to FEC data examined by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics in a new report released yesterday, Exxon executives and employees have broken in favor of Mr. Obama over Mr. McCain this election cycle -- by $41,100 to $35,166. Chevron's and BP's contribution margins also favor the Democrat -- by about $6,600 and $4,500, respectively. Guess those Democratic commercials now could use a footnote or two.

Of course, Mr. McCain has received in total more than three times as much money from the oil sector as Mr. Obama this election cycle. (The larger Republican Party also tops out easily.) That's hardly surprising, given that Mr. McCain is somewhat less likely to yoke the industry with punitive new taxes and regulation. Besides, a lot of this money comes from smaller, more entrepreneurial companies that are even less likely than Exxon to influence the price of gas and aren't usually whipping boys of Democratic rhetoric.

The real question is how the McCain camp handles the CRP revelations, if it does. Mr. McCain's immediate impulse will be to demagogue the "gotcha" angle. But he might take his cue from Republican candidates across the country, most notably Colorado's Bob Schaffer. A growing GOP band has been able to profitably turn supposedly being "in the pocket of Big Oil" into an electoral asset. After all, the oil industry provides a product that America can't do without.

-- Joseph Rago
Terms of Endearment

Chalk up another boilerplate liberal position for Barack Obama on a major congressional reform issue: term limits. Asked about whether he supports term limits last week, the Illinois Senator was unequivocal: "I'm generally not in favor of term limits. Nobody is term-limiting the lobbyists or the slick operators walking around the halls of Congress. I believe in one form of term limits. They're called elections."

Let's translate that answer: You can almost hear the K Street "lobbyists" and "slick operators," who despise term limits, breathing a sigh of relief.

U.S. Term Limits president Philip Blumel mocks Mr. Obama's attitude as "utter nonsense." He notes that lobbyists derive their power and influence from careerist politicians, giving rise to the so-called "iron triangle" of power in Washington: career politicians, federal agency bureaucrats and lobbyists. The idea of term limits is to break up that symbiotic and corruptive pact.

The argument that elections are a form of term limits is the standard reply from the business-as-usual crowd in Washington. "As an incumbent," says Mr. Blumel, "Mr. Obama knows full well that members of Congress have now skewed the laws to give themselves a virtual guarantee of a lifetime job. And as the self-appointed apostle of change, he ought to be taking the lead to change all that inequity."

The statistics back up Mr. Blumel's point. Even in 2006 midterm elections, when Republicans lost control of Congress and voters were angry with incumbents, 94% of incumbents won reelection. Normally, reelection rates in the House are closer to 96% and here's one reason: Incumbents on average raise $2 million per election -- or three times more than challengers.

So, the corrupting power structure in Washington and lifetime politicians can relax. When it comes to cleaning up the swamp of special interests inside the Washington beltway, Mr. Obama may be touting a slogan of "change you can believe in" but he sounds more and more like a defender of the status quo.

-- Stephen Moore
Quote of the Day

"Obama allowed that it was not hard to understand a recent Pew survey's findings that some voters feel they are hearing too much about him, coming off the 'longest primary in history.' He said his upcoming weeklong trip with his family to visit his grandmother in Hawaii should result in less coverage, with the media's help. 'I think that the majority of people have been fed a constant stream of political chatter,' he said. 'And I'm sure that having a couple weeks off and enjoying the Olympics is probably what the doctor ordered for everybody'" -- National Journal's Athena Jones, covering the Barack Obama campaign.

The Prodigal Hugo

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has tried make himself a global powerbroker and the leader of a socialist resurgence, but his methods have been less than statesman-like. Calling the president of the United States an unflattering part of the human anatomy is one example. Hanging with Colombian terrorists is another.

Yet, according to the State Department's Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Tom Shannon, blowback may be starting to force the Venezuelan leader to rethink his antisocial ways. "Countries around the region have seen the political space open to Venezuela shrinking," the Bush Administration's top diplomat for Latin America told a House subcommittee last month. "The re-emergence of countries that have traditionally been regional leaders has constricted Venezuela's diplomatic movements."

This is a polite way of saying Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Mexico, thanks to their economic achievements and the evolution of their institutions, have been elevated to the realm of serious countries -- while Venezuela has sunk to banana-republic status.

Venezuela has been further damaged, Mr. Shannon added, by Mr. Chávez's failed campaign for a U.N. Security Council seat and his country's growing "internal problems" -- of which the most visible are skyrocketing crime, inflation, food shortages and unemployment.

Where Mr. Shannon ventured into questionable territory, however, was a suggestion that the loose cannon in Caracas may be seeing the error of his ways. "For the first time in many years," he said, Venezuela has "expressed a willingness to explore improved relations with the U.S. President Chávez recently told our Ambassador that he wanted to improve our counter-drug cooperation. . . . "

How wonderful. Venezuela under Mr. Chávez has become a key transshipment agent for cocaine destined for the U.S., Europe and -- lately -- West Africa, where (as even Mr. Shannon noted) "the drug trade is exploding and causing instability to the region."

Mr. Chávez may well be softening his tone since he can only conduct so many fights at one time. At home, he's trying to brace up his troubled rule with new decrees seizing control of the economy and setting up a personal militia. But to mistake his tactical maneuvers as a sign of new maturity would be wishful thinking. Let's hope the Bush Administration -- and whoever comes next -- is not so unwise.

-- Mary Anastasia O'Grady
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #153 on: August 11, 2008, 11:50:08 AM »

Some House Democrats are privately fuming at the pickle Speaker Nancy Pelosi put them in when she turned off the lights in the House chamber and breezed out of Washington for the summer recess without addressing voter concerns about high gas prices. By denying Republicans a chance to make floor speeches about the gas crisis on the day Congress was set to adjourn, she set off an ongoing protest on the House floor that has garnered much publicity.

The Republican floor protest was a completely spontaneous reaction against her heavy-handed tactics. Since then, many Democratic Members have been pressed by voters at town hall meetings and radio call-in shows about why they won't allow a vote on the GOP proposal for more domestic oil production.

"It's annoying," one Democratic House Member admitted to me. "We don't go back in session until September 8 and this leaves us hanging out there the whole time."

Even more annoying to some Democrats is that Speaker Pelosi's rush to adjourn and leave town seems to have been motivated in part by her desire to start a book tour promoting her new memoir "Know Your Power."

-- John Fund

Nonperson

To anyone around in the 1970s, the late Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a larger-than-life, even inspirational figure. For those who've come of age in the years since his 1974 expulsion from the Soviet Union and the 1989 collapse of Communism, apparently, he's been airbrushed out of the cultural narrative.

A 20-something clerk in Borders' Lower Manhattan store drew a complete blank last week when I asked her for a copy of "The Gulag Archipelago." She'd never heard of the book, couldn't spell the words in the title to search the store's database, was unfamiliar with the author and, therefore, was unaware that he'd recently died.

Given Solzhenitsyn's sometimes acerbic comments about Western culture and values, I doubt he would have been surprised. On the bright side, when I checked both the Literature and Russian History sections, the noticeable gaps indicated that they'd been cleaned out of Solzhenitsyn's works, so at least the ignorance isn't universal. Generation Y may not be reading him on its Kindles on the subway, but someone apparently recognized his death for the historic passing it was.

-- Eric Gibson

Playing All the Veep Angles

Most speculation about whom Barack Obama and John McCain might pick as their vice-presidential running-mates ignores a key consideration. While presidential nominees are free to ask anyone to join them, they almost never pick someone holding a statewide office whose elevation would allow the opposition party to capture a governorship or Senate seat. After all, especially this year, Democrats are keen on getting as close as possible to the 60 seats in the U.S. Senate they would need to overcome GOP filibusters.

With the exception of Al Gore's choice of Senator Joe Lieberman in 2000 (which would have allowed a Republican governor to appoint his successor), you have to go back many decades to find examples of a presidential nominee putting a Senate seat or governor's mansion at risk in choosing a Veep nominee. Indeed, historian and radio talk-show host John Batchelor reminds me that a key element in Dwight Eisenhower's decision to pick Richard Nixon as his running-mate in 1952 was that Nixon's Senate seat would be turned over to another Republican if the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket were to be elected.

How might this factor influence the current crop of front-runners for each party's VP nomination? Joe Biden would be a safe choice for Barack Obama because his Delaware Senate seat would be filled by a Democratic governor. But Mr. Obama might look askance at picking Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine because a vacancy in that job would be filled by a Republican Lt. Governor. Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed would have to step down as senator in order to become vice president -- and his seat would be filled by a GOP governor. Indiana Senator Evan Bayh is a special case. His state's governor is Republican Mitch Daniels, who is up for re-election this year. Should Democratic candidate Jill Long Thompson defeat Mr. Daniels, she would appoint someone to fill the vacancy. But if Mr. Daniels wins, he would deny the Democrats a key Senate seat they might have a hard time winning back in a GOP-leaning state like Indiana.

On the Republican side, Mr. McCain's choice is made easier because his short list is light on statewide officeholders. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty represents no problem because he would be succeeded by GOP Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau. Similarly, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour would be succeeded by his lieutenant governor, Phil Bryant. If Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas were tapped as vice president, her seat would be filled by a special election but GOP Governor Rick Perry would be allowed to appoint an interim successor.

No one should assume that concerns about losing a Senate seat or gubernatorial office will be an overriding consideration in the political calculus either Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain will make. But it would be foolish to believe it will play no role at all.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"The country's still pretty divided. . . . People may want a divided government. They want change but I'm not sure that the Democratic agenda has the support of a majority of Americans" -- former Nebraska Senator and 1992 Democratic presidential candidate Bob Kerrey, speaking to Politico.com on how John McCain could argue against turning the government entirely over to the Democratic triumvirate of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Electric Al

Al Gore wasn't too happy with a PD update a few weeks ago on his energy consumption habits at his Nashville palace. His environmental adviser, Kalee Kreider, contacted us to clarify a few things about the former vice president's carbon footprint.

For one thing, she says Mr. Gore now buys his power through Nashville Electric's "Green Powerswitch" program, which -- like similar programs offered by other utilities around the country -- allows customers to pay extra and receive assurances that their power nominally comes from a solar or wind facility. (However, for the record, Nashville Electric purchases all its power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which says the "backbone of the system" is its eleven coal-burning plants. They account for 60% of its power; nuclear for 30%.)

Ms. Kreider also says the "Inconvenient Truth" impresario has installed solar panels, feeding electricity back to the local grid. She says this power is metered separately, so wasn't deducted from the embarrassing figures about Mr. Gore's energy consumption reported by the Tennessee Center for Public Policy. Finally, she says the Gores have installed a geothermal system for heat and hot water -- an unspecified "problem" with which even prompted a visit from the fire department last year.

The effect of these improvements and modifications, Ms. Kreider says, has been to reduce the Gore household's net energy use by 40% since the Tennessee Center's Drew Johnson first publicized Mr. Gore's energy bills last year.

Hooray! The Gores still spend more in a month than most households do in a year. Nor have they released the cost of all these retrofits, which only seem to prove that you can spend a fortune on green indulgences and still maintain a sizeable carbon footprint. But it would be nice to have some cost figures -- if only to know what Mr. Gore would have in store for the rest of us. The former vice president has lately become a partner in a Silicon Valley firm positioning itself to profit from "green energy" mandates that would be imposed by law.

-- Brian M. Carney



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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #154 on: August 13, 2008, 11:49:09 AM »

'I Owe My Soul to the Obama Company Store'

Now we may know why Barack Obama's campaign decided to move his acceptance speech to Denver's 75,000-seat Invesco Field -- the better to extort hours of volunteer campaign labor out of thousands of people clamoring for tickets to the big event.

Denver media outlets were full of complaints yesterday from people who had entered a lottery for tickets but were told reservations for the event would come with a catch -- they must contribute six hours of volunteer labor for the campaign no later than this coming Friday in order to secure a coveted seat.

"I got a call that if I want the tickets, I have to volunteer two shifts of three hours apiece -- for one ticket. If I want two tickets, then it's four shifts of two hours apiece," Berenice Christensen told Denver's ABC-TV affiliate. Ms. Christensen says she still wants the tickets, but feels victimized by the bait-and-switch. "I mean, they made it seem like any Coloradoan could go, and now you have to work for your ticket."

The Obama campaign says it's all a big misunderstanding and nobody has to work in order to get a ticket. People who were asked to volunteer were only those who had checked a box on a Web site saying they were willing to work on the campaign thus becoming eligible for "All Star" tickets closer to the stage, says Stephanie Mueller, a campaign spokeswoman.

But several people who've been asked to volunteer insist they made no such pledge.

"Absolutely not," Heather Kreider of Centennial told the Rocky Mountain News, denying she had offered to volunteer when seeking a ticket. Another man, who declined to give his name, said he received a message informing him that he had to perform 12 hours of phone calling or precinct work for two tickets. He called the campaign's tactics "blackmail."

Naturally, the Obama campaign is free to set any conditions it wants for seats to their man's acceptance speech. But the tactics reported by the Denver media yesterday seem to reek of the "old politics" the campaign says it wants to transcend. It reminds me more of the Daley machine in Chicago than the "politics of hope."

-- John Fund

Can McCain Surf a Stronger Dollar?

All sorts of economic models scour the data and seek to forecast who will win the presidential race. But such models are generally poor predictors in close races -- which explains why Al Gore isn't sitting in the White House today.

One of the best economic predictors of election outcomes turns out to be the dollar. A strong dollar is good for the incumbent party. A weak dollar usually means voters are receptive to an Obama-style chant of "change." John Tammy of RealClearMarkets.com looked at the numbers and found a clear pattern of voter behavior. "Weak dollars mean weak presidents," he says.

Using the price of gold as a proxy for dollar strength, he found that Presidents Reagan and Clinton rallied the dollar and were rewarded at the polls -- gold fell 28% during the Gipper's administration and 19% during Mr. Clinton's. In contrast, Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter all pursued weak dollar strategies. During the Nixon/Ford years, the price of gold was up 276% and during the Carter years it was up 316%. The dollar also weakened against gold during George H. W. Bush's presidency, though only by 4%, but his tax hikes and a recession also saddled him with a reputation as a bad economic manager by time Election Day rolled around.

Pundits today blame George W. Bush's lousy poll numbers on the War in Iraq, but the dollar collapse, rising gas prices and loss of economic confidence hit closer to home for most voters. The dollar price of gold is up 236% since Mr. Bush entered office, rising from $300 to nearly $1000 earlier this year.

All of this may mean, however, that the recent dollar rally is good news for John McCain -- if it hasn't come too late. As one McCain adviser recently put it: "Go greenback."

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day I

"The massive leak of inside dope on the [Hillary] Clinton primary campaign is remarkable in the annals of presidential election history. . . . What does it say about Sen. Clinton that so many aides were willing to share private matters publicly? Clearly, many are eager to shift blame to her and away from themselves. That is not particularly new for losing bids. But giving so many campaign documents to the press? That suggests a certain hostility between candidate and underlings that should give pause to those who believed that Clinton was ready 'on day one' to take command of the White House. Beyond this mutiny, the behind-the-scenes paperwork shows how Clinton horribly mismanaged her own people. Postponing critical decisions until the roof caved in, and then forcing her staff to manage the damage control" -- Congressional Quarterly columnist Craig Crawford on a flood of Clinton campaign memos reported in The Atlantic Monthly and elsewhere.

Quote of the Day II

"If we could get a firm commitment to expanded supply of oil on the market three and a half years from now, that would change spot market prices three and half years from now, that would change futures prices today and that would translate into pressure on prices instantaneously. You know, Mr. Krugman's a good economist; he can go back and read his finance text" -- McCain economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, quoted by the National Journal responding to New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's criticism of John McCain's pro-drilling stance.

Obama's Weird Abortion Vote

Barack Obama's carefully sculpted image as a moderate may be showing some cracks.

It turns out that while in the Illinois legislature ,he voted against a bill that would have defined a fully born baby who survived an abortion as a "person." The concept isn't that controversial even among liberal Democrats. Senator Barbara Boxer of California, the Senate's leading pro-choice champion, urged her fellow Democrats to vote for a federal version of the same concept back in 2001, saying such a provision did not impinge on the rights enshrined in the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. The Born Alive Infants bill eventually passed the U.S. Senate by 98 to 0.

But in the Illinois Senate, when Mr. Obama chaired the Health and Human Services Committee, records show a bill consisting of exactly the same language two years later was voted down by six to four. Mr. Obama was one of the legislators opposing it.

Mr. Obama has consistently denied the two bills were identical. During his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, he responded to a question about the Born Alive Infants bill, saying: "At the federal level there was a similar bill that passed because it had an amendment saying this does not encroach on Roe v. Wade. I would have voted for that bill."

But documents recovered from the Illinois Senate archives contradict his statement. "In essence, Obama voted to successfully amend the bill in a way Obama has said would have enabled him to support it, before he voted against it," says columnist Amanda Carpenter of TownHall.com. The National Right to Life Committee's Legislative Counsel Susan Muskett calls the documents a "smoking gun" that finally resolve the Obama abortion vote controversy.

The Obama campaign has strenuously attacked critics who bring up the "Born Alive" bill. Last June 30, Team Obama issued a statement accusing talk show host Bill Bennett of "outright false statements" for contending that Mr. Obama wouldn't support a bill that even leading pro-choice groups declined to oppose. Here's hoping journalists try to pin Mr. Obama down on just why he appears to be to the left of his own party on abortion.

-- John Fund



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« Reply #155 on: August 15, 2008, 12:15:01 PM »

Puma Whipped

The Obama campaign was in full spin mode yesterday touting its decision to allow Hillary Clinton to have a roll call vote at the convention so her delegates can register their support of her.

"It's an olive branch that we think will pay dividends in party unity," one Democratic congressman told me. I'm not so sure. Many Clinton supporters will be appreciative of the symbolic gesture, but others such as those who unofficially call themselves Pumas (Party Unity My Ass) may see it as an opportunity to make more trouble for Mr. Obama both on and off the convention floor.

"The one thing that Obama should never have agreed to is a roll-call vote with Hillary Clinton," says Jeff Birnbaum, a Washington Post columnist. Mr. Birnbaum nonetheless admits to being "so grateful that we are going to have a story, which is Hillary Clinton's attempt tacitly to take over the Obama victory, and that [story] will go through virtually every day of the convention" given how frequently Bill and Hillary Clinton are scheduled to appear before delegates.

Indeed, the Clinton people I spoke with appear emboldened by the Obama concessions. They have already secured language in the Democratic platform denouncing the mainstream media for its "sexist" coverage of the Democratic primaries. You can bet one of the few genuinely newsworthy stories the hordes of reporters in Denver will chew on is just how much Hillary Clinton is supporting Barack Obama -- and how much merely laying groundwork for a comeback effort in 2012 if he loses in the fall.

-- John Fund

Darragh vs. the Obama Bots

If he can't face down the Pumas, how will he ever face down Putin? That question may be in the back of a few Democratic minds today, but Hillary Clinton's fans were all smiles over their success in rolling a possible president-to-be before he ever takes office.

"We're very happy with the news," Darragh Murphy, executive director of PumaPAC, tells us. "This is the first time in six months the DNC has stood up for the Democratic process."

"Puma" in her case stands for People United Means Action," though Ms. Murphy is happy to acknowledge the more common preexisting meaning ballyhooed in the blogosphere. She says the group has gathered 10,000 members and more than a million page views just since its launch in June. An early John Edwards supporter -- "to my everlasting shame at this point," she says -- Ms. Murphy has enjoyed her own meteoric rise to fame. We reached her by phone yesterday just as she was coming from an appearance on "Hardball."

A product of the Dorchester section of Boston, "I've always been a Democrat," she says. "But the most I'd ever do come election time would be to hold a sign at the Rotary." That hasn't stopped some from noticing that she voted for John McCain in the 2000 GOP primary and muttering about suspect motives. "People try to paint me as a Republican," she sighs.

How much Mr. Obama should worry remains to be seen. The New York Observer recently surveyed several wealthy Clinton backers like Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild who claim to be committed to making the case for Hillary in Denver. Ms. Murphy says her own members are "hoppin' mad" and "convinced" that Mr. Obama's nomination is "coming from above," forced down the throats of the Democratic rank-and-file by Howard Dean.

"Fall in line, get on the Obama train, go to the Obama indoctrination session and don't mention Hillary Clinton" is the message Ms. Murphy says the DNC leadership is pushing. "The Obama campaign has become a movement of transcendence that is practically religious, with a wave of money and religious fervor taking over the party."

Ms. Murphy happily acknowledges hosting "secret" strategy sessions in a northern Virginia hotel last weekend, shielded from infiltrators she calls "Obama Bots." But she says any protests in Denver are intended to be peaceful. "Who knows what will happen on the convention floor? Many of our members hope there will be a spark of some kind."

-- Robert Costa

Quote of the Day

"Obama blinked and stands guilty of appeasing Clinton by agreeing to a roll call vote for her nomination. That he might not have had much choice if he wanted peace only proves the point that he's playing defense at his own convention. . . Those who refuse to accept him as the legitimate winner aren't likely to do so just because he caves into her demands. It makes him look weak and ratifies Clinton's sense of entitlement to share party leadership and the convention spotlight. It was supposed to be his party. Now it's theirs. His and hers" -- the New York Daily News' Michael Goodwin.

The GOP's Road Back

Gov. Mark Sanford didn't actually say "dude" when we met recently at the Hyatt in New York City. But the South Carolina Republican did ask, "Have you seen my video on YouTube?"

The governor was waiting at the Hyatt without a politician's usual retinue and we walked over to the hotel's restaurant, only to find it was closed. "Let's make our way inside anyway and sit until someone yells at us," he said. The YouTube video was his speech at the South Carolina GOP convention in May, in which he laid out why the Republican Party has found itself in the minority in Washington. In it, he says: "The crisis of what's happened in Washington, D.C. is born not because of the rank-and-file not knowing what they believe, but because of its political leadership, at times, being completely disconnected from the core beliefs of what the party is all about."

"An optimist would say" the party has productively used these past two years in the political wilderness to learn from its mistakes, he tells me now. "But there's not a lot of room for optimism" in the party's performance so far. One way of looking at the GOP, he adds, is as "nothing more than a brand" -- a brand that was badly eroded in the last few years through reckless spending and undisciplined politics.

But he's also quick to add that the solution is not some charismatic Obama-like newcomer to buff up the party's image. A salesman who knows his product and believes in his product, he says, is always more effective than one who is all flash and no substance. Though Mr. Sanford annoyed some in the McCain camp by standing by a pledge to remain neutral in the South Carolina primary, his name was still touted as a veep possibility. The South Carolina press once again played taps for his hopes after he was widely seen flubbing a question from CNN's Wolf Blitzer about differences between Mr. McCain and President Bush on economics -- though we met him not long before his CNN performance and noticed that he seemed exhausted. (Maybe the lesson is that he should just get more sleep.)

In any case, the popular governor -- a strong supporter of school choice, low taxes, spending restraint and economic growth -- is an attractive up-and-comer who understands what the modern GOP stands for. You can see his video here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chuwp_Dmapo). Mr. McCain would do well to check it out too before making his choice.

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« Reply #156 on: August 19, 2008, 12:03:47 PM »

Barack Obama had made real strides in defusing the abortion issue with pro-life voters as late as last week. The Democratic platform had been modified to include language signaling the party's commitment to reducing the number of abortions and supporting women who decide to have a child. In a significant symbolic move, pro-life Senator Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania has been invited to address the Democratic National Convention on its second night. Back in 1992, Democrats did enormous damage to themselves with pro-life voters when they blocked Mr. Casey's father, the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, from speaking.

But Mr. Obama eroded many of those gains last Saturday when he told Pastor Rick Warren during a nationally televised forum that deciding when the rights of personhood should be extended to the unborn was "above my pay grade." Even Doug Kmiec, a conservative Pepperdine University lawyer who has become one of Mr. Obama's most prominent pro-life backers, was unsettled. He called the candidate's answer "much too glib for something this serious."

Mr. Obama compounded his problems after the forum when in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he accused pro-life groups of "lying" about his record in the Illinois State Senate on legislation that would have protected viable babies born after botched abortions. Mr. Obama acknowledged voting against the bill but said he would have voted "yes" if the bill had contained language similar to a federal bill's language making clear that the intention wasn't to diminish overall abortion rights. But, as recently revealed, the Illinois bill had indeed included such language and Mr. Obama still voted against it.

"Senator Obama got caught in the twisting of the truth," says Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. "His campaign was later forced to put out a clarifying statement that it was the Senator himself who was actually wrong on the facts. He did indeed vote against a bill in the Illinois State Senate that was identical to the federal legislation that sought to protect babies who survive abortions."

Mr. Obama's stand on the issue is significant. The federal "Born Alive Infant Protection Act" sailed through the Senate in 2001 on a vote of 98 to 0. The bill was supported by Senator Barbara Boxer, the body's leading pro-choice spokeswoman, and was not opposed by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. By getting his facts wrong, Mr. Obama is now in the difficult position of trying to explain why he voted against a bill that the legislative record shows addressed infanticide rather than abortion.

The Associated Press reported on Sunday that a group calling itself The Real Truth About Obama is working to establish a Web site and air radio ads to publicize its view of Mr. Obama's voting record. MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan says he's been told other outside groups are planning their own ad campaigns on Mr. Obama's abortion votes.

-- John Fund

Pennsylvania Play

Senator Barack Obama's strong poll showings in Pennsylvania are not being taken for granted by the Democratic National Committee -- and for good reason. He was leading by 12 points as recently as June, but two new polls show him going backward. Quinnipiac's latest has him just seven points ahead of John McCain; Franklin & Marshall shows him leading by eight.

Mr. Obama still runs far ahead in the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia and does well in the suburbs (a battleground in 2004), but hasn't been able close the deal with blue collar, socially conservative and Catholic voters in western and rural Pennsylvania. To help stem the tide, his campaign and the DNC announced last week that pro-life Senator Bob Casey Jr. will speak the second night of the convention, alongside Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Mr. Obama also tapped freshman Democratic Congressman Patrick J. Murphy of the Philadelphia suburbs, the House's only Iraq veteran, to deliver a tribute to veterans the following day.

What should John McCain's countermove be? According to Philadelphia Inquirer columnist and cable-show host Michael Smerconish, the answer is former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. "If you can't stomach [Mitt] Romney, take Tom Ridge [as Veep nominee]. This guy has an amazing story: Raised in public housing, he's a Harvard-educated Vietnam veteran. Ex-governor, secretary of Homeland Security, he's a Pennsylvanian with a Central Casting dynamic. Disregard those who say you need a pro-life running mate. Those who say they'll throw you under the bus on this issue hate Obama, and will never sit home. You'll lose by running to the right -- you can only win by running to the middle."

-- Robert Costa

George 'Offshore' Soros

George Soros, one of the richest individuals in the world, has made a name for himself as a financier of the American left, which has been staunchly, stubbornly opposed to offshore drilling in the U.S. Mr. Soros is a big-time backer of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and his nongovernmental organization Open Society is on a campaign "to spread resource wealth in less developed countries." Mr. Soros himself has personally endorsed Al Gore's crusade on global warming and accuses the Bush Administration of being "in denial" about the threat.

But as one of the world's most successful investors and speculators, Mr. Soros seems to have a different set of standards when it comes to his own wallet. His moral indignation takes a back seat to the profit motive. To wit, the billionaire do-gooder has purchased an $811 million stake in Petrobras, "making the Brazilian state-controlled oil company," according to Bloomberg News on Friday, "his investment fund's largest holding."

It's not only that Petrobras is a fossil fuel company. The more interesting aspect of the Soros investment is that Mr. Soros's Petrobras investment cannot be profitable if the company does not exploit its Tupi oil field, the largest offshore find in the hemisphere. Indeed, Petrobras is rapidly emerging as a world leader in technology to exploit such no-no reserves, while Brazil has thousands of miles of pristine coastline and a large indigenous population. Is Mr. Soros not outraged that he will be funding corporate interests that threaten these? Apparently not as long as there is money to be made that will go into his own pocket.

-- Mary Anastasia O'Grady

Quote of the Day I

"A former Senator and vice-presidential candidate misused campaign contributions and money pledged to fight poverty so he could bring his mistress on the campaign trail with him during the presidential campaign where he was constantly making appearances with his widely admired cancer stricken wife then fathered the mistress's child sometime around the time he was getting a Father Of The Year Award and then asked his loyal aide who already has a wife and kids to falsely claim paternity while the fake dad and the mistress were funneled money so they could move to be near the mistress's psychic healer friend while the former candidate continued to meet the mistress and baby until he was caught by tabloid reporters and hid in the bathroom and then confessed on national TV a couple of weeks later but both he and his wife continued to lie during that interview and in subsequent statements. And the press is supposed to yawn that story off?" -- liberal blogger Lee Stranahan, writing at HuffingtonPost.com on why media interest in the John Edwards scandal isn't going away.

Quote of the Day II

"[Anti-Obama author Jerome] Corsi's approach to politics is both destructive and self-destructive. If Senator Obama loses, he should lose on the merits: his record in public life and his political philosophy. And while it's legitimate to take into account Obama's past associations with people like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright -- especially for someone like Obama, about whom relatively little is known -- it's wrong and reckless to throw out unsubstantiated charges and smears against Senator Obama. Conservatism has been an intellectual home to people like Burke and Buckley. The GOP is the party that gave us Lincoln and Reagan. It seems to me that its leaders ought to make it clear that they find what Dr. Corsi is doing to be both wrong and repellent. To have their movement and their party associated with such a figure would be a terrible thing and it will only help the cause of those who hold both the GOP and the conservative movement in contempt" -- Peter Wehner, a former aide to President Bush, writing at Commentary magazine's blog on Jerome Corsi's controversial new biography of Barack Obama.

A Time for Mouth Action?

The Russian invasion of Georgia benefits John McCain by allowing him to show off his foreign-policy credentials -- that's conventional political wisdom and Barack Obama did his best to confirm it last week with his halting and shifting responses from his vacation spot in Hawaii.

After initially even-handedly blaming both sides for the fighting, Mr. Obama got "tough." But even his toughness had a way of betraying him. "Now is the time for action -- not just words," Mr. Obama finally got around to saying Tuesday. But Mr. Obama couldn't list any actions that America, as a country, should take, or that Mr. Obama, as president, would take.

Instead, his action plan was a list of things for the Russians to do: "It is past time for the Russian government to immediately sign and implement a cease-fire. Russia must halt its violation of Georgian airspace and withdraw its ground forces from Georgia."

Mr. Obama's statement was, well, just words, offering little comfort to those wondering how Mr. Obama would handle himself in a foreign policy crisis.

-- Brian M. Carney

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #157 on: August 20, 2008, 12:27:06 PM »

Coming from Mayor Daley's Chicago, Barack Obama's promise to transcend the "old politics" has always been viewed with skepticism by Democratic Party bosses. During Pennsylvania's hard-fought Democratic primary in March, Mr. Obama said: "We're not going to pay for votes, or pay for turnout." He was referring to the practice of handing out "street money" -- i.e. cash paid to partisan workers to get out the vote. Mr. Obama wound up losing Pennsylvania badly, with many party leaders blaming his failure to provide the traditional lubrication. One ward leader told me he expected Mr. Obama would change his tune in November if he became the party's nominee.

Indeed he has. The Philadelphia Daily News quotes Congressman Bob Brady, chairman of the city's Democratic Party, as saying street money is now back in vogue. "They [the Obama campaign] told me there are going to be resources here. That's what we do in Philadelphia; we pay people to work," Mr. Brady said.

Mr. Brady went on to say that by his calculations, Mr. Obama needs a massive Philadelphia win in order to carry the state's 21 electoral votes because he doesn't have the support in central and western Pennsylvania that Al Gore or John Kerry enjoyed. "I think we're going to need that because of the middle part of the state. McCain plays right in there," he said.

Of course, the massive size of Democratic margins in Philadelphia (often exceeding half a million votes) has regularly been a subject of controversy. A key state legislative victory by Democrats was thrown out by a federal judge a few years back due to massive vote fraud. The rolls of city voters have for years contained more registrations than the city contains people over 18, according to Census data. These excess registrations represent an open invitation to turn "street money" into phantom votes if a sufficient number of the living kind can't be drummed up.

For all the hype about his successful Internet campaign, it appears Mr. Obama has reluctantly decided that the "old politics" has it uses after all and must now be embraced.

-- John Fund

Even Cowgirls Give the Blues

In filling a nomination slot for their state's vacant House seat yesterday, Wyoming Republicans rejected a moderate candidate who had backed John Kerry over George Bush in favor of a female conservative who was born on a local ranch.

Businessman Mark Gordon was a much-touted symbol of a "kinder, gentler" Republican Party, and campaigned as a relative moderate for the seat now held by retiring Rep. Barbara Cubin. He was an early favorite for the GOP nomination based on a huge fundraising advantage over former state Treasurer Cynthia Lummis. But then Mr. Gordon's political record came tumbling out. Ms. Lummis issued a mailer noting that Mr. Gordon had been "a board member of the Sierra Club" in the 1990s and had supported Democratic nominee John Kerry for president in 2004. "Just what kind of a Republican is he?" the mailer asked.

Mr. Gordon fought back, calling the attack "incendiary" and "designed to throw people off." But his high-flying campaign never recovered. Ms. Lummis won a clear 46% to 38% victory yesterday, sweeping the state's "cow counties."

She must now face Democrat Gary Trauner, who won 49% of the vote against Ms. Cubin in 2006. But he may have a tougher time this year because Ms. Lummis lacks the incumbent's political baggage and because Mr. Trauner suffers from his own "authenticity" issues as an MBA graduate from New York University who moved to Wyoming in the 1990s to become an Internet entrepreneur. Bottom line: This fall's contest looks like a classic contest between the Old West and the New West. My money is on the cowgirl.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day I

"I got [Senator Evan Bayh] the keynote speech at the `96 Democratic convention, and for three weeks, I played telephone tag with him to try and put on anti-Dole negatives in the speech, but he wouldn't go negative, he wouldn't attack anybody, he was going to be absolutely virginal. So finally, we ended up scheduling his keynote at midnight because there was nothing in it. . . . If [Barack Obama] wants an attack dog for vice president, this is not the guy" -- former Clinton political consultant Dick Morris, ruminating on Fox News on the prospect of Evan Bayh as a Democratic vice presidential candidate.

Quote of the Day II

"First, various regulators put pressure on lenders to loosen underwriting standards for minorities and low-income borrowers. That provided the kindling for the housing bubble. Next, increasing numbers of borrowers started speculating in homes. These borrowers were attracted by adjustable-rate mortgages, because they expected to sell the homes for a profit before the rates adjusted. The fact that we now have such a large inventory of unoccupied homes is consistent with the view that many of the new owners were speculators, not owner-occupants. . . . Although I think it is important to point out the role that government policy played in forcing regulated institutions to relax underwriting standards, I do not think that the private sector is blameless here. There was some very serious mispricing of risk going on" -- economist and blogger Arnold Kling, on the origins of a subprime meltdown.

Almost Famous

John McCain may not have the media choir behind him anymore, but he's been on a roll lately and it's starting to show. According to a Reuters/Zogby poll released this morning, the Arizona Senator has finally pulled ahead of Democrat Barack Obama by 46% to 41% among likely voters. Just last month, the same poll showed Mr. Obama ahead by seven points.

"There is no doubt the campaign to discredit Obama is paying off for McCain right now," pollster John Zogby said in a statement. "This is a significant ebb for Obama."

In the same poll, Mr. McCain earned a nine-point edge on the question of which candidate would make a better manager of the economy. Policy shifts could be taking a toll on Obama support, Mr. Zogby notes, especially with the far left of the Democratic Party. "That hairline difference between nuance and what appears to be flip-flopping is hurting him with liberal voters."

Though it was widely skewered by media commentators, a McCain ad comparing Mr. Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton appears now to have been a breakthrough moment just as many Americans were tuning in to the fall race. Mr. McCain followed up with a strong performance at Pastor Rick Warren's presidential forum on Saturday. Even if voters didn't watch, they heard about Mr. McCain's performance from Team Obama -- which accused him of cheating.

Still, Tuesday's Gallup and Quinnipiac polls both showed Mr. Obama continuing to lead, but the race is clearly in flux. A separate Gallup tracking poll out today shows the contest narrowing to a tie in the last five days. "The mainstream media spent months ignoring the National Enquirer's scoop about John Edwards' mistress," writes Robert Stacy McCain, assistant national editor for the Washington Times, in a new posting at the American Spectator Web site. "Now they're ignoring a potentially bigger Democratic scandal: The political incompetence of Team Obama."

That may be an overstatement given the number of handwringing stories about Mr. Obama's failure to "close the deal." But Team McCain is starting to deserve come credit too.
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« Reply #158 on: August 23, 2008, 07:17:05 AM »

The risks of BO heading a filibuster proof majority seem to me an strong point that McC should be making.
=======================


2008; Page A13
Here's an intriguing thought: The John McCain-Barack Obama fight isn't this season's biggest political story. That honor should be reserved for the intense Democratic push to win a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Democrats know this is a huge prize, and they are throwing at least as much money and sweat into that effort as they are into electing Mr. Obama. What isn't clear is that voters are as aware of the stakes. An unstoppable Democratic Senate has the potential to alter the balance of power in Washington in ways not yet seen.

 
Martin Kozlowski 
A quick recap of the numbers: Republicans must defend 23 seats, compared to 12 for the Democrats. Of those GOP slots, 10 are at potential risk: Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska, Mississippi, Maine and North Carolina. The Democrats claim only one vulnerable senator this year, Louisiana's Mary Landrieu. Depending on how big a day the party has in November, it is at least conceivable Democrats could get the nine seats they need to hit the magic 60.

The nation has had prior almighty Senates, of course, and it hasn't been pretty. Free of the filibuster check, the world's greatest deliberative body tends to go on benders. It was a filibuster-proof Democratic majority (or near to it, in his first years) that allowed FDR to pass his New Deal. It was a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate that allowed Lyndon Johnson to pass his Great Society.

Note, however, that it could have been worse. These were days with more varied political parties. Rebellious Democrats teamed up with Republicans to tangle with Roosevelt. Johnson ran the risk that the GOP would ally with Southern Democrats. There was some check.

As Karl Rove pointed out to me recently, the real risk of a 2009 filibuster-proof Senate is that the dissidents are gone. According to Congressional Quarterly, in 1994 Senate Democrats voted with their party 84% of the time. By 1998, that number was 86%. CQ's most recent analysis, of votes during the George W. Bush presidency, showed Democratic senators remained united 91% of the time. Should he get his 60 seats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be arguably more influential than the president.

Sure, 60 votes isn't enough to override a presidential veto. But a filibuster-proof majority would put Mr. Reid in almost complete control of the agenda. That holds equally true whether we have a President McCain or a President Obama.

A lot of voters are drawn to Mr. Obama's promises of bipartisanship. But with a filibuster-proof Senate, what Mr. Obama promised will be of secondary concern. Even if the presidential hopeful is sincere about working across the aisle (and that's a big if), Ted Kennedy, Pat Leahy, Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold will prefer to do things their way. They'll be looking for opportunities to let their former rookie Senate colleague know who is in charge.

Mr. Reid won't necessarily need 60 votes to hold Washington's whip hand. With a contingent of blue-state Republicans (think Maine's Olympia Snowe), Mr. Reid could peel off votes and have an "effective" filibuster with just 57 or 58 seats. That may not be enough to accomplish every last item on his wish list, but close.

That wish list? Take a look at what House Democrats (who aren't burdened with a filibuster) unilaterally passed last year: The biggest tax increase in history; card check, which eliminates secret ballots in union organizing elections; an "energy" bill that lacks drilling; vastly expanded government health insurance; new powers to restrict pharmaceutical prices. Add to this a global warming program, new trade restrictions (certainly no new trade deals) and fewer private options in Medicare.

This explains why Congressional Democrats currently aren't moving spending bills, or energy bills, or anything. They are waiting for next year, when they hope to no longer have to deal with pesky Republicans. This also explains the Senate's paltry judicial confirmations this Congress. They want more vacancies. With a filibuster-proof majority, Democrats could reshape the judiciary under a President Obama, or refuse to confirm any Antonin Scalia-type appointments made by a President McCain.

Party leaders feel the Senate GOP can remain an effective opposition if it holds Democrats to 55 seats. If Republicans can continue to ride the energy debate, that just might be possible. As it is, they are feeling more confident about even tough fights in states like Colorado, Oregon or Minnesota.

Then again, it's a long way to November. Anything can happen. And if Congressional Democrats have their way, that "anything" will be undiluted power in Washington.
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« Reply #159 on: August 30, 2008, 10:56:23 AM »


In today's Political Diary:

- Note to Readers
- Who's Higher in the Rocky Mountains?
- The Card Check Party
- A Crumbling Economy? Voters Didn't Get the Memo
- South Side Man of Mystery (Quote of the Day I)
- We're Not Worthy (Quote of the Day II)
- Mark Foley's Successor Faces His Own Waterloo


Note to Readers

PD will be putting down its keyboard on Monday and picking up its weed-wacker. Enjoy
the Labor Day weekend. We'll be back on Tuesday.

-- The Mgmt.


Colorado Ladies Love McCain

DENVER -- Colorado is up for grabs, one of a handful of states that could swing this
year's presidential election. That was partly the Obama campaign's argument for
holding last night's acceptance speech in Invesco Field, making room for tens of
thousands of extra spectators, including many locals. And so Wednesday I pulled up a
chair at a downtown restaurant with Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado State
Republican Party, to hear what factor is mostly likely to determine the winner of
Colorado's nine electoral votes. His answer: Women.

In particular, women aged 30 to 50, located in several suburban counties to the
south of Denver. According to Mr. Wadhams, who's also running Bob Schaffer's Senate
campaign, suburban women have been the must-have constituency of recent elections.
These suburbanite females tend to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative --
but place their voting emphasis on the latter. And they are capable of voting for
either party: They were the swing voters who elected retiring GOP Senator Wayne
Allard and former GOP Governor Bob Owens, but also elected Democratic Senator Ken
Salazar and Democratic Governor Bob Ritter.

This year, Mr. Wadhams is surprisingly bullish on GOP chances because, he says, John
McCain is uniquely situated to capture the suburban female swing vote. Mr. McCain's
emphasis on fiscal responsibility plays especially well with this crowd and, as
"security moms," they value his leadership on foreign policy. Moreover, helping to
shift the needle recently,
"these voters are really moved by the energy issue" and highly supportive of Mr.
McCain's call for more drilling. (Ditto Mr. Wadhams' Senate candidate, Bob Schaffer,
who has used the energy issue to gain on his Democratic opponent, Rep. Mark Udall.)

Predicts Mr. Wadhams: "John McCain will carry Colorado." Sure enough, recent polls
show him tied with or pulling ahead of Barack Obama. What really had Mr. Wadhams
smiling, though, is that these polls are coming out even as Democrats have been
hosting their convention in his home state. And though we spoke before Sarah Palin,
the pro-drilling, pro-fiscal restraint governor of Alaska, emerged as Mr. McCain's
Veep pick, presumably Ms. Palin can only help close the deal with so many
like-minded suburban women of Colorado.

-- Kim Strassel


Democrats and the Non-secret Ballot

DENVER -- Democrats narrowly avoided a major embarrassment before holding their
abbreviated roll call of the states here on Wednesday night.

Politico.com reported that the Obama campaign was seriously considering letting
delegates vote by secret ballot, the better to avoid intimidation and fear of
reprisal from local party bosses. But the plan -- which was pushed on the Obama camp
by supporters of Hillary Clinton -- was suddenly dropped when it was realized that a
key plank of the Democratic Party platform backs a so-called "card check" provision
being added to the nation's labor laws. Card check would effectively strip workers
of the protection of secret ballots in union elections. Business groups and former
Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern oppose the measure on the grounds
that it exposes workers to harassment and intimidation.

That was precisely the concern of Democratic delegates who wanted to cast a secret
ballot vote on the convention floor. The Obama campaign thought seriously about
accommodating them until it realized how such a naked contradiction to the party's
stance union balloting might look to voters and the media.

-- John Fund


Um, And Now a Moment of Realism

Barack Obama last night played a riff on Phil Gramm's impolitic remarks about a
"mental recession" and a "nation of whiners." Like a succession of Democrats at the
podium, he painted the economy in the darkest, most hopeless of colors -- never mind
that the economy is actually growing and unemployment is still lower than it was
during much of the Clinton presidency.

But here's the bad news for the dour Democrats in Denver -- most Americans don't
share their economic pessimism. That's the finding of public opinion expert Karlyn
Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute. "Most Americans are feeling pretty good
about their jobs and their personal lives," she says after investigating the fine
details of recent polls. Her report goes right to Mr. Gramm's concern about the gap
between actual economic performance and the dreary negativity of politicians and the
media.

She finds that 76% of Americans say they are actually optimistic about the direction
of their own lives and their personal economic situations -- even though only 18%
are optimistic about the country. That's the big disconnect. "These numbers haven't
changed much over time," Ms. Bowman tells me.

Job security and job satisfaction are both high in America too. "In Gallup's August
2008 survey, 48% working Americans said they were completely satisfied, and another
42% somewhat satisfied. Only 9% were dissatisfied with their jobs." And, sorry Lou
Dobbs, that war on the middle class and the outsourcing of America that you complain
about every night? Americans aren't buying it. Only 8% worry about their jobs being
outsourced to foreign competition. Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation tells me this
squares with the economic data. "Very few jobs are lost each year to companies
moving jobs offshore," he says.

What's the No. 1 economic worry for Americans? Gas prices. Some three-quarters of
Americans in Gallup's July 2008 survey blame gas prices for financial hardship,
compared to 40% eight years ago. Mr. Obama last night offered a vague but dramatic
promise to "end our dependence" on Middle East oil within a decade. (The AP candidly
led its report by pointing out this "goal likely would be difficult -- perhaps
impossible -- to achieve and flies in the face of how global oil markets work.")
Voters don't seem to buy that either. Repeated polling has shown that, with their
mantra of "drill, drill, drill," Republicans seem to be offering a solution voters
find more credible.

I asked Ms. Bowman what accounts for the gap between people's attitudes about their
own lives and the economy in general. Her answer is no big surprise: "The relentless
negativity of the media."

The Democratic message in Denver was about all that is wrong in America, though any
balanced perspective would notice how remarkably resilient the U.S. economy has been
amid the housing bust and high oil prices. Former Clinton economist Brad DeLong
noted in his blog recently: "If you had asked me a year ago whether this degree of
financial chaos was consistent with a domestic U.S. economy not clearly in
recession, I would have said no."

Given all this, John McCain might want to sound a more Reaganite note next week. As
the Gipper proved in the 1980s, the economic optimist is likely to win in November.

-- Stephen Moore


Quote of the Day I

"The air of unease at the Democratic convention this week was not just a result of
the Clinton psychodrama. The deeper anxiety was that the party was nominating a man
of many gifts but precious few accomplishments -- bearing even fewer witnesses. When
John Kerry was introduced at his convention four years ago, an honor guard of a
dozen mates from his Vietnam days surrounded him on the podium attesting to his
character and readiness to lead. Such personal testimonials are the norm. . . . The
oddity of this convention is that its central figure is the ultimate self-made man,
a dazzling mysterious Gatsby. The palpable apprehension is that the anointed is a
stranger -- a deeply engaging, elegant, brilliant stranger with whom the Democrats
had a torrid affair. Having slowly woken up, they see the ring and wonder who
exactly they married last night" -- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.


Quote of the Day II

"We got to know Barack and Michelle Obama, two tall, thin, rich, beautiful people
who don't perspire, but who nonetheless feel compassion for their squatter and
smellier fellow citizens. We know that Barack could have gone to a prestigious law
firm, like his big donors in the luxury boxes, but he chose to put his ego aside to
become a professional politician, president of the United States and redeemer of the
human race. We heard about his time as a community organizer, the three most
fulfilling months of his life. We were thrilled by his speech in front of the Greek
columns, which were conscientiously recycled from the concert, 'Yanni, Live at the
Acropolis.' We were honored by his pledge, that if elected president, he will serve
at least four months before running for higher office. We were moved by his campaign
slogan, 'Vote Obama: He's better than you'll ever be.' We were inspired by dozens of
Democratic senators who declared their lifelong love of John McCain before
denouncing him as a reactionary opportunist who would destroy the country" -- New
York Times columnist David Brooks.


No Foley This Time

Who's possibly the most vulnerable House Democrat in the country? The prize goes to
the congressman from Florida's 16th Congressional District, freshman Rep. Tim
Mahoney.

After being recruited by Democrats in 2005, Mr. Mahoney, a born-again Christian and
wealthy computer executive, switched parties to run against six-term Rep. Mark
Foley, a firmly entrenched Republican in a GOP-leaning district. Mr. Mahoney was a
long-shot candidate from the day he entered the race until six weeks before the
election, when news broke that Mr. Foley had exchanged inappropriate emails with a
former House page. Two weeks later, Mr. Foley resigned from Congress in disgrace.
Adding to GOP difficulties, his name remained on the ballot and Republican voters
were forced to select Mr. Foley's name if they wanted to vote for his replacement,
Joe Negron.

Despite all these advantages and a national Democratic wave, Mr. Mahoney won by just
2 points. Things didn't get much better in his first few months of Congress, when he
admitted to a reporter: "This isn't the greatest job I've had" -- a line he can
expect Republicans to repeat continuously until the election.

On Tuesday, Attorney Tom Rooney won a close Republican primary and will now seek to
reclaim the seat for the GOP. Mr. Rooney, a former military lawyer and supporter of
Congressional term limits, received early backing from two of the state's most
popular GOPers, Reps. Tom Feeney and Connie Mack. Furthermore, the serpentine
district -- stretching from the Atlantic Ocean through sparsely populated citrus
farms all the way to the Gulf Coast -- is a better cultural fit for Republicans.
Even Mr. Mahoney seems to know the cards are stacked against him, despite the
advantages of incumbency and a four-to-one financial lead -- and is approaching the
election almost as a challenger would. Immediately after Mr. Rooney's victory, the
incumbent challenged him to three televised debates, one in each of the district's
media markets.

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


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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #160 on: September 02, 2008, 11:46:51 AM »



Traveling Violation - Obama Fails to Bounce

It's starting to become clear why Democrats are mounting such a sustained assault on Sarah Palin. So far the polls leading out of last week's Democratic convention show Barack Obama didn't get much of a bounce, if any.

Gallup poll numbers indicate Mr. Obama got a four-point bounce from the convention but quickly gave up half those gains in the wake of John McCain's announcement of Sarah Palin as his running mate. The latest Zogby poll actually shows Mr. McCain with a narrow two-point lead and a CNN poll shows the race dead even.

Mr. Obama's bounce is less than one-third of the boost that Al Gore got after his 2000 convention or the bounce Bill Clinton was able to achieve in 1992. Even hapless GOP nominee Bob Dole got a four-point bounce out of his 1996 convention.

The Obama acceptance speech last Thursday night was a ratings hit, with 40 million people tuning in. But the race remains essentially where it was before the Democratic convention. Republicans now have the rest of this week to attempt to create a favorable impression of their ticket.

-- John Fund

The Claws Are Out

The snarkiness of many of the comments ridiculing and belittling Sarah Palin is stunning.

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift reported on the McLaughlin Group that the reaction in many newsrooms to the announcement the Alaska governor would join the McCain team was "literally laughter." Ms. Clift, who has written admiringly about many women pioneers in politics, said: "This is not a serious choice. It makes it look like a made-for-TV movie."

Sally Quinn of the Washington Post picked up that theme in discussing the pregnancy of Ms. Palin's 17-year-old daughter. She said this would raise concerns if Ms. Palin "had been enough of a hands-on mother." Time magazine went even further by noting that "if elected, Palin will be the first vice-president in memory to take the oath of office with a child and a grandchild in diapers," a reference to Ms. Palin giving birth to her fifth child only last April.

Democrats, who were so anxious to avoid discussing the John Edwards affair even after clear evidence surfaced of his adultery and alleged illicit parenthood, can't stop talking about Ms. Palin's family troubles. "The name on the tongues of gleeful Dems, meanwhile: Eagleton," notes Politico.com. That's a reference to the 1972 Democratic vice presidential nominee Tom Eagleton, who had to withdraw from the ticket after reports he had been hospitalized for depression.

Somehow I think Democrats and their media allies will be laughing a little less after Wednesday night when Sarah Palin gets her own chance to speak to the American people without a media filter. They may find that all the ridicule will strike many Americans as excessive if the Alaska governor delivers a solid good performance.

-- John Fund

Sarah Steals the Show

Democratic bloggers are manically promoting the theme that the McCain campaign is "in crisis." Is it true?

"What did he know and when did he know it...?" asks Huffington Post in block letters. A blogger at DailyKos gazes longingly into the inverted telescope and declares: "This is a Tom Eagleton disaster for the GOP."

Well, maybe if John McCain is suddenly and uncharacteristically prone to panic. But give the media credit for quickly identifying the Democratic script and trying to turn a story about a teenage pregnancy into one about Mr. McCain's fitness for office. Voters, who have their heads screwed on straighter, undoubtedly still think the story is about an unmarried daughter's readiness to bear a child, not about a vetting miscue. Should Mr. McCain have passed out pregnancy test kits to relatives of his short list? Should he have skipped over a woman he obviously likes and admires because her daughter is having a baby? How silly is this going to get?

A psychologist could explain what the hysteria is really about: overcompensation and a desperate passion to change the subject. We don't know how Ms. Palin will perform under the onslaught, but Republicans who complain Mr. McCain threw away the "experience card" are missing the point. The Palin nomination is a poisoned arrow aimed right at Barack Obama's credentials. It sets up the question: Who's more inexperienced? Ms. Palin repeatedly challenged an incumbent machine and prevailed in fiercely contested battles. Mr. Obama was the output of a machine (Chicago's) and advanced because his electoral opponents (Blair Hull in the Democratic Senate primary, Jack Ryan in the general) conveniently dropped out amid scandals. Yes, Mr. Obama managed to be elected to the Senate but whether he actually did the job is a matter of definitions. Ms. Palin was elected governor and actually set about being governor -- not angling for the next job based on some calculation about her charm.

The Clintons have always been right about one thing: Mr. Obama has risen on a mighty puff of air. Democrats are taking a culpable gamble on whether that puff will dissipate before Election Day or after. By any rational standard, it's their "judgment" and their "vetting process" that should be on trial. And may still be -- with help from Sarah Palin.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

Quote of the Day

"Obama began his campaign for the nomination as the outsider candidate, promising fundamental change in Washington and offering a post-partisan approach to politics. With time, he has come to be seen as a much more conventional Democrat who is now half of a ticket based in Congress, the least admired institution in a widely scorned capital. Millions who saw his acceptance speech heard a standard recital of liberal Democratic programs. By picking Palin, McCain has strengthened his reputation not as an ideologue, not as a partisan, but as a reformer -- ready to shake up Washington as his hero, Teddy Roosevelt, once did. My guess is that cleansing Washington of its poisonous partisanship, its wasteful spending and its incompetence will become McCain's major theme" -- Washington Post columnist David Broder.

Palin's Cause

In fall of 2007, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called her legislature into special session to rewrite an oil bill signed a year earlier by her predecessor, Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski. This legislative fight will likely earn more scrutiny and carry more weight with voters than any revelation about her unmarried 17-year-old pregnant daughter.

On the surface, she hiked taxes on the oil industry -- a risky political move for a rookie in her first year in office. But the fight in Juneau last year was about much more than taxes. A federal corruption probe had unveiled credible allegations that the 2006 bill had passed only because oil industry executives had bribed enough legislators to allow it to survive very close votes. This came even as separate federal probes were closing in on the state's two GOP legislative powers, Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young. Ms. Palin ran for office in 2006 not only to push better public policies, but as an avowed change agent within her own party. Not for nothing is she called "Saint Sarah" by some state GOPers. She's not anti-business, but pro-honesty and accountability in government. Her rewritten oil bill forced energy companies to pay more than they otherwise would, but she rebated much of the new revenue back to state residents and has championed a new gas pipeline to bring natural gas to the lower 48 states -- laying the groundwork for a new energy boom in the state.

By putting Ms. Palin on the ticket, Mr. McCain has turned his race into an anti-Washington campaign. That will likely prove a more powerful and enduring storyline than the one preoccupying the media for the past 24 hours
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #161 on: September 03, 2008, 01:30:13 PM »

He's No Ed McMahon, But He'll Do


MINNEAPOLIS -- Who will introduce Sarah Palin tonight? The word in town is that President Bush will do the honors in a surprise appearance before the convention. After canceling his appearance for Monday night because of Hurricane Gustav, he addressed the delegates last night by a video hook-up. The feed was live, but he apparently couldn't hear the crowd and didn't pause long enough for the cheers, which kept on coming. LBJ was the last President to miss being physically present at a convention -- he stayed away in 1968.

A rallying cry at last week's Democratic convention was "Eight Is Enough," and when Mr. Bush's appearance was canceled Monday, some Republicans were talking about it being a "blessing in disguise." The conventional wisdom holds that John McCain needs to keep a polite distance from the unpopular President. But Mr. McCain isn't known for hewing to the conventional wisdom.

The other whisper about town is that Mr. McCain has chosen another Texan to introduce him tomorrow night: Michael Williams, chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas and the first African-American in Texas history to hold a statewide elected post. He's a champion of alternative energy and his "Breathe Easy" campaign urges the transformation of the state's bus fleets, especially school buses, from diesel and gasoline to natural gas and propane, which are cheaper and environmentally cleaner.

-- Melanie Kirkpatrick

Scouting Report on Palin: Natural Talent, Needs Coaching

MINNEAPOLIS -- Speculation about how GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin will fare in her October 2 debate with Joe Biden is rife here in the Twin Cities.

But thanks to the archives of C-SPAN, it's possible to watch a debate she conducted during her 2006 race for governor. Her opponent was popular Democrat and former two-term governor Tony Knowles. Ms. Palin performed well, showing an organized mind and a populist bent (twice referring to "the will of the people"). In an ironic twist given recent news events, she was even asked what she would counsel her daughter to do if she became pregnant. "I would choose life," Ms. Palin said emphatically.

The one strange note came when the feisty former point guard for her high school basketball team (nickname "Sarah Barracuda") went after Mr. Knowles' qualifications to return to the governor's mansion. "Do we need a chef down in [the state capital of] Juneau?" she asked the debate audience. Mr. Knowles, who owns a restaurant in Anchorage, looked pained and the joust was quickly parried. If she's going to go after Joe Biden's vulnerabilities, such as the fact that he's a Washington lifer who ranks No. 17 in seniority among all senators who've ever served in Congress, Ms. Palin will need some better attack lines.

-- John Fund

The Thrill is Gone

The love affair between John McCain and the elite media is over. The cause of the final estrangement was alienation of affection -- namely Mr. McCain's decision to hook up with a pro-life, moose-hunting unknown governor of Alaska named Sarah Palin.

The resulting media attacks on the fitness and experience of Mr. McCain's running mate led to a quick series of "Dear Media" letters putting the relationship on ice. CNN's Wolf Blitzer told viewers yesterday that the McCain campaign had abruptly canceled an interview with Larry King after a contentious exchange between CNN's Campbell Brown and McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. Ms. Brown had sharply questioned Sarah Palin's foreign policy experience.

That was followed by an attack on the New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller for suggesting that the McCain campaign had not vetted the Alaska governor properly. The campaign's blogger Michael Goldfarb wrote: "Ms. Bumiller, if you'd like to try reporting instead of writing fiction, here's a link to our press line," offering up the campaign's telephone number.

Other McCain supporters were even more pointed. At a rally yesterday organized by Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, radio talk show host Laura Ingraham told the audience that the media doesn't understand what the GOP convention is all about: "Life is the first. Big families. Hunting. Patriotism. Gun ownership. Beating back fat, bloated bureaucracy. Holding government accountable. Fighting liberal corruption. Sarah Palin stands for all of these principles that if taken away from the left, it's over for them. It's over."

I don't know about that, but clearly Mr. McCain and his former media chums won't be exchanging chocolates and flowers much over the next two months.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"Never mind the naysayers and inside-the-Beltway snobs who mock John McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. This was a brilliant choice. . . . t offered an alternative to Americans who are ready to shake up Washington but who don't think that Obama is the one to do the shaking. It also showed that neither party is wedded to the old and tired image of four white males vying to lead the country. Besides, those who know Palin best -- her Alaska constituents -- tell reporters they like her, trust her and find her easy to relate to, which happen to be the same personal qualities that many Americans say they find lacking in the Democratic nominee. And anyone who thinks those qualities aren't important in a presidential candidate probably doesn't understand why Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole in 1996 and George W. Bush beat John Kerry in 2004" -- San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Ruben Navarrette.

Open for Business (Kindly Ignore the Russian Troops)

BRUSSELS -- On Georgian Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze's to-do list, somewhere below "get Russian army to leave," is making sure that economic aid comes to his war-ravaged country quickly enough that foreign investors continue to flock its way. The Bush administration is expected to announce today a $1 billion aid package, and Mr. Gurgenidze, while visiting the EU's capital this week, told me he hopes Europe "matches or exceeds that number" when it finally extends its own offer.

Before the Russian troops arrived almost a month ago, Georgia was a budding Caucasian Tiger. As democracy and free-market economics took hold following the Rose Revolution, foreign direct investment quadrupled last year. Those investors should keep coming, Mr. Gurgenidze said, "because fundamentally nothing has changed." The country is still being led by "the same people with the same libertarian leanings"-- the, ahem, visitors from up north notwithstanding.

Mr. Gurgenidze, who has an MBA from Emory University in that other Georgia and formerly played The Donald's role in a local version of TV's "The Apprentice," notes that Georgia's utilities and transportation recovered quickly and there was no meltdown in the country's financial sector. The national currency, the lari, has even appreciated slightly against the dollar during a time when the euro and pound have weakened.

Georgia still has severe problems and will have to lean on its Western allies economically for years to come. Whether or not Mr. Gurgenidze and especially President Mikheil Saakashvili eventually pay a price at the voting booth for taking the Russian bait, the country's future freedom will depend largely on its ability to remain an open and dynamic market.

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« Reply #162 on: September 04, 2008, 12:45:10 PM »



GOP to Media: Please, Please Attack Sarah Palin

MINNEAPOLIS -- Liberal reaction to Sarah Palin's roof-raising speech last night was somewhat subdued. And there was some surprising agreement from Hillary Clinton's camp that Mrs. Palin had been treated unfairly because of her gender.

Barack Obama's campaign issued a terse statement saying: "The speech that Gov. Palin gave was well delivered, but it was written by George Bush's speechwriter and sounds exactly like the same divisive, partisan attacks we've heard from George Bush for the last eight years."

Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's official attack dog, could muster only this as commentary on Mrs. Palin's performance: "People who like this sort of thing will find this . . . the sort of thing they like." His colleague Andrea Mitchell, who had effusively praised Barack Obama's acceptance speech last week, could only say glumly: "The war has begun."

War is exactly what some Hillary Clinton allies think has been waged on Governor Palin. Georgetown University professor Deborah Tannen says some in the media have improperly questioned if Mrs. Palin can adequately take care of her family while she runs for vice president. "There's no way those questions would be asked of a male candidate," agrees Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton's spokesman during her presidential campaign.

Phil Singer, who helped Mr. Wolfson deal with media issues on the Clinton campaign, concurred with his colleague and told Politico.com: "The real indictment that needs to be prosecuted is about her views, not her personal life."

My view is that some liberal commentators have done a good job of enraging not just conservative Republicans but many Hillary supporters with their coverage of Mrs. Palin. I received e-mails last night from two moderate voters who had been leaning towards Barack Obama and are now firmly in the McCain-Palin camp. In the space of less than a week, Sarah Palin has become a part of the culture war and in a way that may catch Barack Obama in the crossfire.

-- John Fund

Advice to Dems: Stop Digging

ST. PAUL -- What did we learn about Gov. Sarah Palin last night? That Democrats aren't the only ones with a budding star political talent in this election. Following a harsh week for the McCain campaign's decision to put up this political newcomer, Mrs. Palin not only eased fears but gave conservative Republicans a reason to be excited this year. Equally important, she has given Democrats a reason to start worrying.

Which leaves the Obama campaign with an interesting choice. Does it continue the Palin discussion which has dominated the news cycle this past week -- and will dominate it going into the weekend -- or should Mr. Obama and his surrogates quickly try to change the subject?

Mrs. Palin still has much to prove on the campaign trail, but it's clear the McCain campaign wants its opponents to continue going after her. Just yesterday, Team McCain released an ad titled "Alaska Maverick," comparing Mrs. Palin's experience not to her counterpart Sen. Joe Biden but to Sen. Barack Obama. If not a first in modern presidential politics, this line of attack is certainly something we haven't seen in a while. And it displays a level of confidence the McCain campaign isn't supposed to be feeling, given the powerful political winds the Democrats have at their backs this year.

In its first attempt at criticizing Mrs. Palin, the Obama campaign sent mixed messages. A statement by spokesman Bill Burton attacking her experience was rejected by the candidate himself only hours later. The lesson? Stop getting into specifics with Mrs. Palin and go back to tying Sen. John McCain to President Bush. There's a reason Mr. Bush -- and his own vice president -- weren't mentioned once in Mrs. Palin's speech last night. Nor in Rudy Giuliani's. Nor in Mike Huckabee's. And just once by Mitt Romney. The strategy for Democrats: Attack what your opponent is trying to hide, not what he's trying to promote. Attack Bush-Cheney, not Mrs. Palin.

-- Blake Dvorak, RealClearPolitics.com

Sarah, Get Thee to Chapel Hill

Sarah Palin thrilled the GOP last night in St. Paul, reminding more than a few GOP veterans of how Elizabeth Dole wowed them at the 1996 Republican convention in San Diego. Too bad Mrs. Dole wasn't there to enjoy it. She skipped this week's festivities to focus on her reelection battle against state Senator Kay Hagan in what has become a must-watch race.

And for good reason: A new poll by a Democratic firm shows Mrs. Hagan with a five-point lead, echoing a host of recent polls that show a tight race getting tighter. Mrs. Dole is the biggest star on the North Carolina stage now that John Edwards is in disgrace. Chapel Hill-based venture capitalist Alston Gardner emailed us to explain why she's in trouble: "Much like John Edwards, she's just another pretty face that hasn't delivered for the citizens and leaders of North Carolina. Her focus has always been on a national audience and not doing the less glamorous, but politically necessary constituent services." Ouch.

On Wednesday Mrs. Dole launched her first attack ad against her opponent. The spot portrays Ms. Hagan as a yapping dog and calls her "Fibber Kay," and defends Mrs. Dole as "one of the 10 most admired women in the world" whose "clout works wonders for North Carolina." The campaign also turned up the heat over a scheduled fundraiser for Ms. Hagan in two weeks hosted by author Wendy Kaminer, whose real estate developer husband is a board member of the Secular Coalition for America. Says a Dole press release: "Kay Hagan does not represent the values of this state; she is a Trojan horse for a long list of wacky left-wing outside groups bent on policies that would horrify most North Carolinians if they knew about it."

Husband Bob Dole, who did make an appearance on the Xcel Center floor before Mrs. Palin's speech yesterday, told the Washington Post that he's been busy on the trail supporting his wife as well. "I'm spending three days a week down there helping out," he said. "I just work the side streets. I don't go down Main Street."

Partly to assist in North Carolina, the cash-strapped National Republican Senatorial Committee on Tuesday pulled its ads from New Mexico, abandoning Republican Rep. Steve Pearce in his own fight with Rep. Tom Udall for the retiring Pete Domenici's seat. Bottom line: The Republican triage has begun and Election Day is still two months away.

-- Robert Costa

Quote of the Day

"He may have pulled off the impossible by finding someone who fires up independents and Reagan Democrats while not turning off social conservatives" -- Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, commenting on John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin.

How to Pick Out the Navy Enthusiasts at the RNC

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twin Cities are providing a hearty welcome to Republicans this week. Store windows carry welcome signs. Red, white and blue decorations abound. And the elephant, well, the elephant is everywhere. At a downtown Minneapolis hotel, a herd of topiary elephants, trunks raised, greet the guests. The leader of the pachyderms is an immense creature, almost life size, and visitors must pass beneath her trunk in order to reach the concierge's desk. I say "she" because the lady elephant sports red roses for toenails and more red roses bedeck her tail. A floral G-O-P is emblazoned on her saddle.

The elephant is everywhere at the convention too: on hats, tote bags, lapel pins and every form of jewelry. A delegate from Maine was spied wearing elephant earrings. But another popular accessory features no elephants -- rather, it's a pale blue tie or scarf sported by some Republicans featuring three of the international marine signal flags used by ships at sea. Strung together, the flags spell out the letters JSM, for John Sidney McCain.

-- Melanie Kirkpatrick

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #163 on: September 08, 2008, 02:28:19 PM »

THE FOUNDATION: RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
“Let us hear of the dignity of man’s nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God.” —John Adams

FAMILY
“This is hardly the first presidential campaign to pit an antiabortion Republican ticket against pro-choice Democrats. Never before, however, has the difference been so stark. Obama advocates abortion rights even more sweeping than those enacted under Roe v. Wade. ‘The first thing I’d do as president,’ he assured the Planned Parenthood Action Fund last year, ‘is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.’ The measure would not only codify Roe, it would eliminate even restrictions on abortion that the Supreme Court has allowed—the federal ban on government funding of abortion, for example, or the law prohibiting partial-birth abortion. During last month’s forum at the Saddleback Church, Obama was asked when ‘a baby gets human rights.’ He fudged: ‘Answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.’ But there is nothing hesitant about Obama’s abortion stance. As an Illinois lawmaker, he opposed a bill making it clear that premature babies born alive after surviving a failed abortion must be protected and cannot be killed or simply left to die. Even after virtually identical legislation—the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002—passed unanimously in the U.S. House and Senate, Obama continued to oppose the state version. On abortion, no presidential candidate has ever been so extreme. And when has a Republican ticket ever been so unabashedly antiabortion?” —Jeff Jacoby

CULTURE
“Let me say of myself and almost everyone I know in the press, all the chattering classes and political strategists and inside dopesters of the Amtrak Acela Line: We live in a bubble and have around us bubble people. We are Bubbleheads... And when you forget you’re a Bubblehead you get in trouble, you misjudge things. For one thing, you assume evangelical Christians will be appalled and left agitated by the circumstances of Mrs. Palin’s daughter. But modern American evangelicals are among the last people who’d judge her harshly. It is the left that is about to go crazy with Puritan judgments; it is the right that is about to show what mellow looks like. Religious conservatives know something’s wrong with us, that man’s a mess. They are not left dazed by the latest applications of this fact. ‘This just in—there’s a lot of sinning going on out there’ is not a headline they’d understand to be news. So the media’s going to wait for the Christian right to rise up and condemn Mrs. Palin, and they’re not going to do it because it’s not their way, and in any case her problems are their problems. Christians lived through the second half of the 20th century, and the first years of the 21st. They weren’t immune from the culture, they just eventually broke from it, or came to hold themselves in some ways apart from it. I think the media will explain the lack of condemnation as ‘Republican loyalty’ and ‘talking points.’ But that’s not what it will be. Another Bubblehead blind spot. I’m bumping into a lot of critics who do not buy the legitimacy of small town mayorship... and executive as opposed to legislative experience. But executives, even of small towns, run something. There are 262 cities in this country with a population of 100,000 or more. But there are close to a hundred thousand small towns with ten thousand people or less. ‘You do the math,’ the conservative pollster Kellyanne Conway told me. ‘We are a nation of Wasillas, not Chicagos’.” —Peggy Noonan

RE: THE LEFT
“[Sarah Palin is]... the object of the cultural disdain of a left that loves the working class in theory, but is mystified or offended by its lifestyle and conservative values in reality. If there’s ever been an exemplar of the rural America that, in Barack Obama’s telling, ‘bitterly’ clings to its guns and religion, it’s Sarah Palin. It’s her misfortune to be a pioneer with the wrong ideology. So much bile was directed at Clarence Thomas because he was the ‘wrong’ kind of black man. Pro-life, pro-gun and a down-the-line, if populist, conservative, Palin is a traitor to her gender and thus encounters the sort of fury always directed at apostates... A lot of Palin-hatred is couched in terms of her lack of experience. Fair enough, but there’s a tone of contemptuous dismissiveness about the experience that she does have—fueled no doubt by her career in ‘fly-over country’ so remote no one really flies over it. The Obama campaign is loath to admit that she’s governor of Alaska, pretending instead she’s still mayor of tiny Wasilla, and the outraged commentary in the press makes it sound like the vice presidency is an office of such import that it would be better if the newcomer were at the top of the ticket and the wizened pro at the bottom—just like the Democrats.” —Rich Lowry

 

FOR THE RECORD
“Unlike Barack Obama, who thought so highly of himself that he wrote two autobiographies before he accomplished anything, Mrs. Palin has raised a family, run a business, managed a city and governed a state. She took on corrupt members of her own party, toppled a sitting Republican governor and said ‘no’ to Alaska’s infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’ She is pro-life, pro-family, pro-Second Amendment and pro-free enterprise. She is the governor of America’s most natural resource-rich state and is an advocate of oil drilling in ANWR. (Perhaps she can talk some sense into McCain on that issue.) Oh, and she has an 80 percent approval rating among Alaskans.” —Doug Patton

THE GIPPER
“In our administration, our mission has been to appoint the best qualified people we could find, to fill substantial jobs with substantial individuals. And the result of this merit-based approach, not surprisingly, is that more women have served in top-level policy positions in our administration than in any previous one. And they’ve served with distinction, earning promotions and reappointments at a very high rate. We can be proud of what you and the other women have accomplished...I’m very happy about everything that American women are doing, yes, because it is good for women, but also because it’s good for America.” —Ronald Reagan

CAMPAIGN WATCH
“Frankly, what the tank ride did for Michael Dukakis, the plywood Parthenon just might do for Obama. Then again, this entire event, seemingly a miscalculation of epic proportions, could have been an example of perfect political acumen. For example, before becoming transfixed by Temple Obama, I was reading up on Obama’s relationship with ex-Weather Underground member and unrepentant Capitol- and Pentagon-bomber William Ayers—news of which the Obama campaign has been eager to downplay if not squelch entirely. I was also trying to unravel the ties between Obama, Obama’s unsavory fundraiser Antoin ‘Tony’ Rezko, and Rezko’s unsavory money source Iraqi-British billionaire Nadhmi Auchi. (This is another story journalists are being pressured not to cover, as Andrew Walden at Accuracy in Media has shockingly and extensively documented, in this case by Auchi’s legal eagles.) And who knew Obama’s veep nominee Joe Biden had Rezko connections through a longtime associate named Joseph Cari Jr., who admitted involvement in a Rezko kickback scheme? And on it goes. But then, suddenly, Temple Obama went up, and with it, like incense in the fire, all patience for hard news.” —Diana West

GOVERNMENT
“Currently, the United States has the second-highest corporate tax rate of all industrial societies, after economically anemic Japan. The U.S. federal rate of taxation is 35 percent, and when the average state and local corporate tax rates are added, American corporations pay, on average, a 39.27 percent tax on their incomes. China is at 25 percent; Mexico is at 28 percent; socialist Sweden is at 28 percent; and prosperous Ireland is at a mere 12.5 percent. If these comparative rates continue for much longer, the United States economy will mortally bleed jobs and prosperity to a world—both nominally socialist and free market—that has learned the low corporate tax lesson from Reagan’s America that current Washington has forgotten. Obama’s solution to the problem of jobs and industry going offshore is to lean toward protectionist policies (renegotiate NAFTA, oppose new free trade treaties, etc.). When one combines Obama’s plans to tighten international trade, create carbon trading regulations that will be the equivalent of a further $100 billion corporate tax, raise taxes generally on business, as well as his mind-numbingly counterproductive ‘windfall’ profit taxes on petroleum product companies (full disclosure: as a rational person, I support and provide professional advice to the petroleum industry), one has a formula for economic catastrophe not seen since Herbert Hoover’s similar Depression-inducing policy in 1929.” —Tony Blankley

POLITICAL FUTURES
“Beginning in the 1950s, conservatives forged a political philosophy and, over the next several decades, built an intellectual infrastructure to popularize their principles and apply them to policy problems. And they found political leaders who could implement those solutions. In short, conservatism advanced because conservatives refused to get in tune with the times. They possessed the moral vision and intellectual courage to compose a better tune. They offered leadership, and they accepted the responsibilities that go with it. But too many Republicans have spent the last several years demonstrating that they can’t be trusted to lead... If they want to regain power, Republicans would be wise to re-embrace conservative principles. Liberalism is a bankrupt philosophy that has been tried and found wanting in one major policy issue after another, from national defense to social welfare, from education to the national economic policy. That’s why candidates run away from liberal ideas when it’s time for a general election. Republicans must run toward conservative policies if they want the tides of history to sweep them back into power.” —Ed Feulner

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #164 on: September 11, 2008, 10:25:42 AM »

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September 10, 2008

In today's Political Diary:

- House of the Living
- See No Rangel, Hear No Rangel
- Reversal of Fortune (Quote of the Day I)
- Paglia in Love (Quote of the Day II)
- Juneau Soap Opera


Back From the Dead

Most political analysts still predict GOP House losses in November and a wider
Democratic majority in 2009, but gone is talk of landslide casualties. House
Republicans returned to Washington this week positively overjoyed that they've not
only caught up with Democrats in generic congressional polls, but pulled into the
lead. The latest USA Today poll has Republicans up by four points on the question:
Who do you support, the Republican or the Democrat for Congress in your district?

This is an amazing turnaround in the polls and even more pronounced turnaround in
the mood of Congressional Republicans. When House GOP members convened on Monday,
there was little talk of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout package, but lots of
celebration of the new poll numbers. "Not too long ago, the feeling in our caucus
was near suicidal," one House Republican tells me. "It was every man for himself.
And there was no campaign money to spread around."

Now, says Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey, "Republicans actually think we can gain
seats in the House."

One reason the polls have shifted is that Democrats have become even more unpopular
than Republicans. Says Mr. Garrett: "Voters are finally aware that it's the
Democrats, not us, who control Congress." The public has begun directing its angst
and anger at Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, rather than the
long-gone Tom DeLay.

Another coup for Republicans was the pro-drilling campaign launched by conservative
House GOPers while Democrats went home for summer vacation. Each day, House
Republicans held a vigil for a pro-exploration energy policy even though Democrats
turned out the House lights and shut off the microphones. Mike Pence of Indiana was
one of the ringleaders who gave the Pelosi Democrats heartburn. In his district, he
says, voters paid attention. Nancy Pelosi's decision to take what he called a
"five-week paid vacation" backfired because it "angered voters when gas prices are
so high."

Finally, Republicans in the House also are celebrating the Sarah Palin effect.
"She's helping big-time with fundraising," says one conservative House member. "We
saw the effect immediately after she was chosen by McCain." Earlier this year, GOP
money woes had given Democrats a multitude of GOP incumbents to shoot at without
fear of retaliation. Not any more.

"I actually think we can win back the majority in the house," says Rep. Garrett,
ever the optimist. "But I'm probably the only one who thinks that." Yes, well, in
1994 Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich were the only ones who foresaw a GOP sweep in
that election.

-- Stephen Moore


Charlie's Angel

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is standing by her chairman.

Charles Rangel, the embattled head of the House Ways and Means Committee, has asked
for three separate House Ethics Committee investigations of himself in recent weeks.
That has led House Republicans to demand he step down as chairman until the issues
are resolved. Speaker Pelosi, who ran her 2006 campaign to take back the House from
"a culture of corruption," is having none of it.

"Charlie Rangel is a very distinguished member of the House of Representatives," Ms.
Pelosi told Politico.com on Monday. "Whatever the leaders on their side say, he is
very well-respected by members on both sides of the aisle."

Still, it is embarrassing that Mr. Rangel has had to announce this week that he must
pay overdue state, local and city taxes on $75,0000 in unreported rental income from
a vacation property in the Dominican Republic. That follows a controversy over how
he was able to obtain several rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, one of which he
used improperly as a campaign office. Then there's the matter of his use of
Congressional stationery and influence to raise money for a public affairs institute
in New York that bears his name. "Since this is the man who writes the tax laws of
the United States, we need new leadership until we get all the facts," Rep. Eric
Cantor, a member of the House Republican leadership, told me.

Of course, Republicans can't afford to parade around on too high a horse. Two of
their Appropriations Committee members, Reps. Jerry Lewis of California and Don
Young of Alaska, have come under federal investigation over earmarks secured for
supporters. Neither Republican has been charged with wrongdoing, but the probes have
tarnished the ability of Republicans to carry on crusades against Mr. Rangel and
other errant Democrats.

-- John Fund


Quote of the Day I

"First [Barack Obama's] startling and lofty rhetoric grew stale from overuse. And
now his once engaging (for some) ideas are being overtaken by events. His call for
quick retreat from Iraq, overtaken by the surge and the smell of victory, has forced
him to reverse field and admit the surge has been an unexpected (by him) success.
Then the declining economy forced him this week to back away from his soak-the-rich
tax increases for fear of further damaging the economy. Of course, the perils of
Pauline still may threaten Gov. Palin, and two months is time enough for many more
strange twists. But one week on from the Republican convention, it is fair to say
that never in modern history has a presidential ticket benefited so much from its
convention. And never have the hopes and energy of a moribund party risen so quickly
or so high" -- Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley, on how Sarah Palin and the
reemergence of John McCain "maverick" persona have lifted the GOP.


Quote of the Day II

"Pow! Wham! The Republicans unleashed a doozy -- one of the most stunning surprises
that I have ever witnessed in my adult life. By lunchtime, Obama's triumph of the
night before had been wiped right off the national radar screen. In a bold move I
would never have thought him capable of, McCain introduced Gov. Sarah Palin of
Alaska as his pick for vice president. I had heard vaguely about Palin but had never
heard her speak. I nearly fell out of my chair. . . . This woman turned out to be a
tough, scrappy fighter with a mischievous sense of humor. . . . In terms of
redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the
biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of
high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats
of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment" -- feminist
critic Camille Paglia, writing at Salon.com.


Trooper Stupor

Half the Washington press corps is now winging its way to Alaska to scour the record
for something embarrassing on Gov. Sarah Palin. Luring them is a seeming scandal
already called Troopergate that broke in July, when Mrs. Palin fired Department of
Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan. In recent weeks the state legislature has
opened an investigation into the dismissal and hired an independent counsel to
determine if laws were broken.

Her critics accuse Mrs. Palin of firing Mr. Monegan because he had refused to fire
State Trooper Michael Wooten, who had gone through a messy divorce with the
governor's sister. If the charge is true, it would certainly hurt Mrs. Palin's
reformist credentials -- although her powers of office entitled her to fire
Commissioner Monegan for any reason or no reason at all.

Still, there is reason to suspect the scandal is little more than a political smear
attempt. The investigation is being run by a Democrat in the state Senate (the
Republican who would have been in charge recently stepped down to fight allegations
of his own corruption). Mr. Monegan is a disgruntled former employee who never told
anyone about the alleged pressure to fire Trooper Wooten before his own firing. And
Mr. Monegan broke his allegations on a blog run by an also-ran gubernatorial
candidate who was crushed by Mrs. Palin in the 2006 elections. What's more, Trooper
Wooten's record would hardly seem to make him ideal state trooper material. He's a
four-time divorcee whom Mrs. Palin says threatened to kill her father. He admitted
to using a Taser on his 11-year-old stepson and to killing a moose out of season.
He's also had to fight allegations of drunk driving and other infractions.

The scandal also seems trumped up in light of legitimate reasons Mrs. Palin had for
firing Commissioner Monegan. The two disagreed over cuts in the public safety
department's budget as well as her insistence that he focus state trooper attention
on rural drug use. Mr. Monegan had been forced out of his previous job running the
police force of Anchorage. The man who fired him then was Mayor Mark Begich, the
Democrat now running for U.S. Senate against embattled Republican Ted Stevens.

In Alaska, politics always seems a little inbred. Mrs. Palin has remained mum since
she was tapped to be John McCain's running mate nearly two weeks ago, but seven
members of her administration have declined requests by investigators to be
interviewed. The state legislature is now weighing whether to hand down subpoenas --
though it's unlikely that the governor herself would be subpoenaed. With so much
fodder, however, any reporter with an eye for detail will be able to come back from
an Alaska trip with attention-getting tidbits. You don't become a change agent by
making friends, so there will be plenty of pols on both sides of the aisle eager to
fill a reporter's notebook with their criticisms of Mrs. Palin. To beat this story,
the McCain/Palin campaign may need to start filling a few of those pages itself.

-- Brendan Miniter


 
 
 
 
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« Reply #165 on: September 11, 2008, 03:22:04 PM »

***The latest USA Today poll has Republicans up by four points on the question:
Who do you support, the Republican or the Democrat for Congress in your district?***

I must be dreaming.  grin

Although I must admit it's not like the cans deserve to win anything in the Houses this year.
To say they were a letdown is an understatement.  I don't go quite as far as Lou Dobbs but I do agree with a lot of his views at least in principal.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #166 on: September 15, 2008, 12:59:23 PM »

Lost amid last week's controversy over whether Barack Obama had insulted Sarah Palin with his "lipstick on a pig" reference was his inspiration for the dig. Once again the issue was whether he was borrowing material without citation.

What landed Mr. Obama in hot water was this statement: "John McCain says he's about change, too -- except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy, and Karl Rove-style politics. That's just calling the same thing something different. You can put lipstick on a pig; it's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change; it's still going to stink after eight years."

The McCain campaign shamelessly claimed that because Ms. Palin had used a lipstick reference in her acceptance speech at the GOP convention, Mr. Obama was issuing a porcine insult of her. That was a stretch. A better riposte might have been to note that Mr. Obama seemed to be channeling a hard-left newspaper cartoonist named Tom Toles. Only four days earlier, Mr. Toles drew a picture of Mr. McCain and his running mate standing outside the White House. The punch line: "Watch out, Mr. Bush! With the exception of economic policy and energy policy and social issues and tax policy and foreign policy and Supreme Court appointments and Rove-style politics, we're coming in there to shake things up!"

Mr. Obama has had previous problems with appropriating the words of others -- such as channeling a speech on civil rights previously delivered by Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. Michael Miner of the Chicago Reader even proposed a McCain TV ad showing Mr. Obama making his "change" argument against the background of the Toles cartoon. An announcer would quizzically ask: "Change? Or the same thing?" Then Mr. McCain would say: "I'm John McCain and I approve this message."

Such an ad, puncturing the media myth of Mr. Obama's vaunted eloquence, might have been devastating.

-- John Fund

I Was Raised in a Small Town Too

I had to chuckle at the charge in the New York Times that Sarah Palin had hired "cronies" from her high school when she was governor -- in a small state, that's hard not to do, and even harder in Alaska where recruiting from out of state is a special challenge.

I had to smile too at the alleged claim from a campaign contributor that he'd used his "influence" with Mrs. Palin to get the head of the town museum fired. Not only does the contributor deny the story, but any veteran of small town politics will tell you it's rife with colorful characters who sometimes think they wield more influence than they actually do.

A lot about the New York Times' front-page dissection of Sarah Palin's Alaska record on Sunday brought back memories of my own experiences growing up in a small town in a rural state. My erstwhile hometown, Rutland, Vt. (pop. 17,000), itself recently went through similar personnel upheaval following the election of a mayor and city treasurer determined to run the city more efficiently. And who knows what the Times would have made of a controversy in the 1990s about whether the town library should shelf "Daddy's Roommate," a children's book about same-sex couples?

The point being, the kind of small-town politics the Times describes would only come as news to, well, the New York Times. There may yet be undiscovered dirt in Mrs. Palin's Wasilla record, but on the evidence so far, her experiences will be pretty recognizable to many Americans. Contrast that with Barack Obama's mysterious record as a "community organizer" -- I don't remember many of those in Rutland.

-- Joseph Sternberg

Quote of the Day

"Until now, the crisis seemed like a confusing Wall Street story. That all ended with the fast-moving events of Sunday. . . . The candidates had hoped to put off their detailed prescriptions until they were in office, unrolling an economic agenda in conjunction with an address to the new Congress. Now, there's no way to duck it. . . . 'This is the financial equivalent of Russia invading Georgia -- an unexpected event that calls for leadership and direction,' said James Rickards, senior managing director for market intelligence at Omnis Inc., a research and analysis firm" -- Politico.com's Mike Allen on the political repercussions of Wall Street's crisis.

Your Wallet Still Isn't Safe

In the Fed's and Treasury's game of whack a mole, the moles are winning. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson didn't bail out Lehman, correctly judging that a bailout would be no real solution. But don't think this marks the end of government attempts to relieve the financial crisis.

If there has been one uninterrupted trend of the past century, it has been the steady socialization of risk -- especially financial risk. Deposit insurance was created and then expanded. In the S&L meltdown, even uninsured depositors were saved. Subsidy after subsidy was piled up to encourage mortgage debt. All the fiscal and monetary powers were mounted to rescue banks from their Third World lending misadventures. The "system" was protected from the failures of Penn Central, Continental Illinois, Long Term Capital, the crashing dotcoms and telecoms, etc.

And when even massive liquidity provided by a government lender of last resort proves insufficient? Today’s confidence hemorrhage probably won't stop until government supplies what the financial markets have failed to supply (except in small instances) -- a buyer of last resort for unwanted mortgage-related assets.

It was careless, of course, to hold a financial crisis in the middle of a presidential election. And neither ticket this year is especially confidence inspiring when it comes to economics -- more likely to one-up each other in denouncing "bailouts" and "greed" than to contribute anything constructive. Note the rich irony of Barack Obama and John McCain's sudden, after-the-fact recriminations over the severance packages of Fannie's and Freddie's departed chiefs -- for, if there ever was a case where two U.S. Senators had a duty to be on the ball before-the-fact, it was in overseeing these two "government sponsored enterprises."

For all that, a taxpayer bailout of the financial system is inevitable. The political calendar only means it likely won't arrive until next year.

What did Merrill get for its mortgage-related holdings, unloaded on a single hedge-fund buyer in late July? 22 cents on the dollar was surely a lowball value. In London, a competitive auction of the remains of Cheyne Finance's structured mortgage portfolio fetched 44 cents.

Let's say a flat price of 25 cents on the dollar, no questions asked. A new Resolution Trust Corporation, instead of taking over failed banks, would stand ready to buy any mortgage-related assets that any financial institution cares to bring it. We already have the makings of such an institution in place, in the form of the quasi-nationalized Fannie and Freddie (who already own about half the nation's foreclosed homes). No, not every down-on-its-luck firm would be saved, but banks would have a pawnshop willing to inject new capital into them by taking soggy assets off their hands at a price fair to the taxpayer. Even if such an offer tempted few takers, a floor on mortgage-debt prices might do a lot more to restore confidence (especially given the role of misguided government accounting rules for financial institutions) than the endless mole-whacking of Washington's first responders so far.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

Red Ink in the Golden State

After a stalemate that lasted two and a half months, California lawmakers reached a tentative deal to end the state's budget impasse.

Last week, Democrats dropped their insistence on new taxes to resolve a $16.3 billion deficit problem. Republicans then promptly signed on to a series of accounting gimmicks and one-time fixes, many involving accelerated tax payments so they count in the current fiscal year rather than the next one.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who angered his fellow Republicans earlier this month by proposing a "temporary" sales tax, is keeping mum on whether he will sign off on the deal. His office professes to be worried about insufficient reform of the budget process. But everyone in Sacramento wants to cut a short-term deal and "get out of town." Elections involving 100 of the state's 120 legislators are only six weeks away and politicians are antsy to hit the campaign trail.

Regardless of any deal, California faces another budget crisis next year. "Both parties are papering over the problems," a longtime state budget analyst told me. "They've agreed not to raise taxes or make real spending reforms this year when the voters can pass judgment on their work in November. Next year, with everyone safely re-elected, they will then mete out the real pain."

This gamesmanship cries out for real budgetary reform. During the 1980s, California operated under the Gann Limit, a voter-approved constitutional restriction that prevented spending from growing faster than population growth and inflation. Unfortunately, Gann was cleverly watered down to the point of meaninglessness as part of a bait-and-switch transportation bond measure narrowly approved by voters in 1990. Ever since, California's legislators have pigged out on spending sprees during good economic times and then muddled through in downturns.

It's time for a new Gann Limit to be placed before voters, because state legislators and Governor Schwarzenegger have shown themselves of steering the state's fiscal vehicle without some budgetary guardrails installed.



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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #167 on: September 17, 2008, 12:35:40 PM »

Return of the Keating Five

For a second day in a row, Barack Obama has added references to the 1980s savings and loan scandal as a way of highlighting why John McCain isn't capable of addressing the crisis in financial markets. That Mr. McCain was embroiled in the S&L meltdown as a player in the "Keating Five" scandal is well known to Obama aides.

"When we loosened restrictions on savings and loans and appointed regulators who ignored even these weaker rules, too many S&Ls took advantage of the lax rules set by Washington to gamble that they could make big money in speculative real estate," Mr. Obama told audiences yesterday. "Confident of their clout in Washington, they made hundreds of billions in bad loans, knowing that if they lost money, the government would bail them out. And they were right. The gambles did not pay off, our economy went into recession, and the taxpayers ended up footing the bill. Does that sound familiar?"

Mr. Obama went on to say Mr. McCain's new support for regulation should be contrasted with his "scornful attitude towards oversight and enforcement. . . . John McCain has shown time and again that he doesn't believe" in regulation.

While he didn't specifically tie Mr. McCain to the Keating Five scandal, you can bet other Democrats and outside groups will. In the late 1980s, Mr. McCain was linked with four other senators who met with federal banking regulators in an effort to aid financier Charles Keating, a major campaign contributor. Mr. Keating's S&L empire later collapsed and he spent time in prison.

The scandal ended the careers of Democratic Senators Alan Cranston, Don Riegle and Dennis DeConcini. Two others, Democrat John Glenn and Mr. McCain, were judged less culpable and won re-election. Mr. McCain was found to have used "poor judgment" by the Senate Ethics Committee, and the experience launched his efforts to reform the campaign finance laws that ultimately became the McCain-Feingold law.

While his allies will no doubt bring up the Keating Five scandal, Mr. Obama is likely to remain above the fray on that issue. He has his own vulnerabilities, having received $9.9 million in contributions from the financial services industry. He is also the third-largest recipient of political contributions from the home mortgage giant Fannie Mae, which was recently taken over by the government.

-- John Fund

What's to Debate?

Barack Obama came under unusually tough questioning from ABC's Chris Cuomo this week. The "Good Morning America" co-host challenged the Democratic candidate on why he ducked an offer from the McCain campaign for a series of town hall meetings with voters in addition to the normal trio of debates.

"You're saying the issues are all that matter here," Mr. Cuomo told Mr. Obama during their interview on a train winding its way through Massachusetts. "Why don't you pick up the phone to him and say, 'What are you doing next week? How about Tuesday? How about Wednesday? How about Thursday? Let's get out there as much as possible, you and me and talk about what matters most?'"

Mr. Obama responded that the idea of town hall meetings "is a little bit of a gimmick" and that he had agreed to do three debates in coming weeks. When asked why there wouldn't be more, Mr. Obama responded with impatience, "Listen, I've gone through 22. . . . Nobody's debated more than I have."

What Mr. Obama didn't note is that the Democratic debates he referred to were almost completely taken up by discussions of which Democratic candidate could best take the fight to Republicans. Issue differences -- save for a dispute between Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton over whether government should mandate that an individual buy health insurance -- were conspicuous for their absence. "We were primarily concerned with explaining to Democratic primary voters why each of us would be the best candidate to represent their values in the fall election," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said last spring.

If Mr. Obama really believes that his political philosophy and proposals were challenged during those debates, he attended a different set of encounters than the other candidates did.

-- John Fund

Congratulations, You're in Private Equity!

Politicians in Washington may have to stop sliming hedge fund and private equity operators -- because now they're one.

The Treasury owns warrants for 80% of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's equity, and the Fed just took a similar position in AIG. These highly leveraged "bailouts" -- Washington has yet to put in any real cash -- may be controversial now but could be huge political winners when they pay off. The profits are potentially enormous and potentially a sure thing -- since Washington influences the competitive and regulatory environment for the businesses its owns.

In fact, Washington hardly has to put up cash at all -- just breathe a hint about whether it wishes the share price well or ill. As Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson explained to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo after the Fannie and Freddie operation: "There are a number of reasonable cases where even the existing shareholders will end up having their stock price come back."

Translation: The now-minority shareholders would be wise to shut up about the force majeure takeover and enjoy the ride if they know what's good for them.

Wall Street must be disgusted at how it's been outdone by Washington. Private buyout operators obviously don't have the privilege of dictating that their quarries are insolvent or at what price they'll be taken over. AIG shareholders in particular must be scratching their heads at all the whacks their fundamentally solvent company has taken from politicians in the past three years -- and now the politicians own it.

Why, it almost sounds like . . . Russia under Vladimir Putin. AIG's Hank Greenberg perhaps should strike up a correspondence with Mikhail Khodorkovsky (if he can find the address of the jail he's in) to compare notes.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

Democratic Breakdown in Upstate New York

The open seat of retiring Republican Congressman Tom Reynolds was supposed to be ripe for a Democratic pickup this year. Mr. Reynolds won by just four points in his last re-election campaign against self-funded millionaire Jack Davis. In a presidential year, the Dems especially liked their chances.

But last week, Mr. Davis lost his bid to take a third run at Mr. Reynolds's seat. In a bruising three-way primary with Iraq war veteran Jon Powers and a little-known lawyer named Alice Kryzan, Ms. Kryzan pulled out a surprise victory after Messrs. Powers and Davis expended all their energy attacking each other. The Democratic Party establishment, which had unified behind Mr. Powers, now finds itself in a bind. Mr. Powers is still on the ballot on the Working Families Party line. A week after his defeat, though, he still won't say whether he'll step aside in favor of Ms. Kryzan, only that he is still "deciding how best to proceed."

That, in turn, puts the diminutive Working Families Party in an awkward position. It has already announced that it will support Ms. Kryzan in November, even though Mr. Powers will remain its candidate on the ballot.

All this is good news for the Republican candidate, business executive Christopher Lee, Mr. Reynolds's anointed successor. Even though President Bush won the upstate district by 12 points in 2004, Mr. Lee was facing an uphill battle thanks to Mr. Reynolds' ties to the scandal-tarred former Republican majority. But serendipity has arrived. He now faces an underfunded Democrat who could see her support siphoned off by Mr. Powers' presence on the ballot. Call it one more way that Election 2008 isn't going according to script for the Democrats.

-- Brian M. Carney

Terminator 4: Arnold Versus the Republicans

"Arnold has lost his mind." That's what one long-time GOP budget aide in California told me in response to news that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto the state budget.

Everyone is confused by this latest action, because just a few weeks ago the governor was running around the state insisting on a tax increase to balance the budget. Now that conservative Republicans have won a major victory in forcing the majority Democrats to pass a no-tax-increase version, Arnold seethes that he wants a budget that puts "our fiscal house in order, and I promise the people of California that I will not stop until the job is done."

The problem is that Arnold doesn't have any allies left in the legislature in either party. Conservatives are still fuming for good reason that Arnold tried to ram a tax increase through by going into Republican districts to attack lawmakers in his own party who wouldn't vote for his tax hike. When Republicans in the state assembly tried to insist on a hard spending cap, Arnold was cutting deals with Democrats. Meanwhile, Democrats are angry they didn't get a tax increase or the big spending increases they wanted.

But the budget that Arnold will veto is a victory of sorts for taxpayers and conservatives know it. That's because the budget, three months overdue, does not include a sales tax or income tax increase to close a $15 billion budget deficit. Heroically, Republicans neither bent nor broke and effectively vetoed the tax increase plan the Democrats and their left wing interest groups coveted.

One hero here was House Minority Leader Mike Villines, who convinced his GOP caucus to rally behind the "no new taxes" position despite a big lobbying campaign by the media and recipients of government spending and the governor. "We're all taxed out in California," Mr. Villines tells me. "We all agreed that taxes would be counterproductive, because we are losing so many businesses and families to low tax states in the West."

But now along comes Arnold trying to recreate himself as a fiscal conservative. Many in the state think he's a budgetary Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Mr. Villines points out that state spending has risen more than 40% in four years on Arnold's watch. Where was the concern then about "putting the fiscal house in order?" Senate Republicans, including the minority leader Dave Cogdill, are vowing to override the governor's veto.

Arnold has betrayed Republicans too often on too many issues -- taxes, environmental regulation, health care, global warming -- to have any credibility left. His budget veto comes years too late and billions of dollars short.

-- Stephen Moore
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ccp
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« Reply #168 on: September 20, 2008, 09:15:12 AM »

Remember the press expressing immediate and united outrage when anyone says anything nasty about blacks. What was that guys name commedian last year, or Imus, etc.

Lets see the outrage from MSNBC, CNN et al over this:

Sandra Bernhard: Palin Would Be Gang-Raped By Blacks in Manhattan
By Tim Graham (Bio | Archive)
September 19, 2008 - 07:59 ET 

The Washington Post isn’t the only daily D.C. newspaper to rave about Sandra Bernhard’s anti-Palin ranting. Wednesday’s Washington Examiner joined in, with the headline "Comedienne delivers enraged optimism." Barbara Mackay claimed "in the end, oddly and subtly, Bernhard’s message is positive."

That’s not the impression you’d get from the blog of Theater J, where Bernhard is appearing. It has video of Bernhard calling Palin "Uncle Women," a "turncoat b—h" and a "whore." One complaint on the blog that Bernhard crosses a line of political incorrectness draws a defense from Ari Roth of Theater J that really drops the curtain on how coarse this show is:

In fact, the play wears its politically VERY correct heart on its sleeve with its indictment of America as "A Man’s World, It’s a White Man’s World, It’s a F–ked Up White Man’s Racist World" and can only be suggested to be racist in its content if one is hell-bent on protecting White Folk for Sandra’s blistering indictment.When Sandra warns Sarah Palin not to come into Manhattan lest she get gang-raped by some of Sandra’s big black brothers, she’s being provocative, combative, humorous, and yes, let’s allow, disgusting.

The fact that the show has a few riffs like this does not — to my mind — make it a "disgusting show." there’s too much beauty, variety, vitality, and intelligence to label the entire show as "disgusting." I’ll agree with you that we produced this show because we did find it to be edgy — because we wanted to give right wing conservative Jews a good run for their money by being on the receiving end of some blistering indictments from Sandra.Does it go over the edge sometimes? On the gang-rape joke, yes. Sure. Not much else. It goes over the edge and then comes right back to the cutting edge. [Profanity editing is mine.]


Forgive me if gang-rape jokes don't greet my ears as oddly and subtly positive, as the Examiner suggests, and forgive me if gang-rape jokes aren't "a rotating sprinkler that a spectator washes in most happily," like the Washington Post insists.

Roth insisted to the complainer that the D.C. Jewish Community Center is loving their Bernhard show, and partied with Bernhard on opening night. They’re in tune with her right-bashing rage:

We’re proud of our producing -- proud of Sandra’s sense of timing -- taking the fight out to the house and to the street beyond, channeling so much of our rage and frustration at the bizarre recent twists of fortune since Karl Rove trotted out Sarah Palin for John McCain to briefly meet and then get in bed with.Sandra’s face is hanging 10 feet tall in a banner over the DCJCC steps and we’re proud that she’s a new emblem and ambassador for our theater and our center. She’s not the only one who represents us. But her large heart, her generous talent, and her big mouth are all a big part of who we are.


"Who we are" at this theater clearly isn't someone who's interesting in presenting anything other than rage. The video itself, presented like a commercial for the show, explains who the show is intended to please. The average person probably wouldn’t find it the least bit funny. But if you really, really hate Sarah Palin or Christian conservatives, this show is for you. Here’s some of what she says in the promo:

Now you got Uncle Women, like Sarah Palin, who jumps on the s--t and points her fingers at other women. Turncoat b---h! Don’t you f--kin’ reference Old Testament, bitch! You stay with your new Goyish crappy shiksa funky bulls--t! Don’t you touch my Old Testament, you b---h! Because we have left it open for interpre-ta-tion! It is no longer taken literally! You whore in your f--kin' cheap New Vision cheap-ass plastic glasses and your [sneering voice] hair up. A Tina Fey-Megan Mullally brokedown bulls--t moment.


Is it too broad an interpretation to suggest that when Bernhard attacks Palin's "new Goyish crappy shiksa funky bulls--t," she means the New Testament? It sounds like she's telling the Christian to stay away from "her" Old Testament, as if Christians don't have an Old Testament in their Bible. It's quite clear that the D.C. Jewish Community Center is not attempting an interfaith dialogue with this rantfest.

Here is the video. Decide for yourself:


—Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center


         
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Rant
September 19, 2008 - 08:06 ET by Texndoc
Is there anyone who supports Obama who could read this and think to themselves :"Wow, this only means good things down the road!" ?   I suggest the "she's a Rove plant" defense.  Her and her pal Madonna.

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sicko
September 19, 2008 - 08:16 ET by Burgher
This says more about her 'brothers' in Manhattan than is does about Gov. Palin.

Berntard is derainged, her hatred of all things consevative ( and possibly good) has blackened her soul. I see no redeaming quilities in someone who would wish violent sexual violation on anyone.

Hide the scissors she may hurt herself.

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This says more about her
September 19, 2008 - 09:26 ET by DontFeedTheTrolls
This says more about her 'brothers' in Manhattan than is does about Gov. Palin.


Actually, I think this says more about Bernhard and what, exactly, she thinks of blacks, i.e., they are violent criminals. Must be her circle of friends.

D

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"Comedy" :  The genre
September 19, 2008 - 08:14 ET by motherbelt
"Comedy" :  The genre  that gives liberals the artistic license to say vicious things about conservatives that, if reversed, would be called "hate speech."

Sandra Bernhard is not, and never has been, funny. But then again, liberal humor never is.

When Don Rickles made fun of everyone, everyone knew he was a good guy underneath, so they laughed with him.

These liberal comedians today do nothing more than spew schoolyard taunts and ridicule at others.

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ARTISTIC LICENCE...
September 19, 2008 - 08:48 ET by danybhoy
mb,

1st things 1st, I lve Don Rickles, he is still 1 of the funniest people I have ever seen, on TV anyway.

As for Sandy Bernhard, she is a liberal trapped by classic racial & gender stereotypes.  Bernhard seems to think that black guys are into gang rape, I would think the NAACP would be axing her for an explanation. They should be, but I won't hold my breath.

I believe we have been given a look into Sandra Bernhard's true views & beliefs. She seems to hate herself for being a white chick, & has a thing about gang rape with a racial component. Quit while you are behind Sandy , YOU ARE PROJECTING. Now go away.

 

"...it's still We The People, Right?"  Megadeth 

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Speaking of racist
September 19, 2008 - 09:16 ET by general company
Good grief this woman insults every Blackman, and will probably recieve praise for it. Maybe she is jealous, Sahra has a great family a good man and all she has is her hate. Never could understand what Dave saw in her, she has always been gross. 

 

"Television is a freak show" Bernie Goldberg

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Bernhard?
September 19, 2008 - 08:27 ET by Kirk Turner
Insulting conservatives is a time-honored method for failing stars to rejuvenate their careers. Nothing could be more definitive of the values of left-wing culture in America. They are mean-spirited, small-minded losers.

Sandra Bernhard is no-talent never-was hack who became famous for a few appearances on Letterman in the 80s. She keeps her name in the news by doing outrageous things every so often because "the talent thing" never worked for her.

Ignore her and she'll go away--it is our outrage that keeps her alive.

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Geez!! I didn't know
September 19, 2008 - 08:38 ET by MrDebater
Sarah was still alive. I thought she fell into a black hole of irrelevancy 25 years ago. I guess it took her all that time to figure out that she could resurrect herself by bashing conservatives...that's always a career booster! I guess being a dopey lesbian pig has lost it's glamour...since being gay is no longer "edgy".

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Sandra Berhardt is yet another atheist low-life
September 19, 2008 - 08:39 ET by c5then
She doesn't practice her supposed religion, she uses it to get into places that otherwise would shun her. The only thing "jewish" about her is her poor humiliated parents. As far as her embracing the Tanak, she's probably a modern day YezahBa'al.

But more to the point, she is laughed at as much or more then she is laughed with. As far as clout and authority, she has none. Whatever she says has to be vile and disgusting just to get any notice at all, because otherwise she is completely irrelevant.

 

You want change? Give me a dollar.

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Hmmm...what about Black Men Raping White Women?
September 19, 2008 - 08:39 ET by Guy Arthur Thomas
Never minding Bernhard's comments that if made by a conservative the Axis Media (comprising the old and new liberal establishment of Print, Television and Internet) would of course found this racist and enter Spike Lee.

But what provokes such thoughts in Bernhard? Even the absurd oft is born in some element of reality. What about BLACK MEN RAPING WHITE WOMEN?

What are the statistics of:

Of All White Women Raped, What Percent Are Raped By Blacks?

Of All Black Women Raped, What Percent Are Raped By Whites?

Maybe it is an unpleasant question but one must be bold enough to discover where Bernhard derived such a concept.

The answer to terrorism IS war. Next Please!

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The "Borking" of Palin
September 19, 2008 - 08:52 ET by ahusser
Aside from the obvious viciousness and offensiveness of what's her name's remarks the "Borking" of Palin continues unabated. Palin really struck a nerve in the dim camp. The drooling hyperbolic hysterical frenzy of spewed filth and hatred towards Palin has reached a fever pitch. Haven't seen such lefty fireworks since the nomination hearings of Clarence Thomas. You can tell when the dims are scared because the spew meter is off the charts. 

"...no civilization, no matter how rich, no matter how refined, can long survive once it loses the power to meet force with equal or superior force." - Bernard Knox

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What a foul mouthed female
September 19, 2008 - 08:58 ET by Clear thinker
What a foul mouthed female cretin, trying desperately to get attention.

Sandra B. is NOT the kind of woman that feminists want representing them. Oooops, my mistake, I think she is the perfect example.

Don't worry Gov. Palin you are miles ahead of this woman in class, intelligence, integrity, and morality, so Sandra should be a ZERO threat to you. 

Hate Rush Limbaugh Week - Again

 

 

Making Fun of AGW http://giovanniworld.wordpress.com/   

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Aye, seems this wench has
September 19, 2008 - 08:59 ET by Hero Squad
Aye, seems this wench has been sippin' a bit too much of the grog, and is speaking out of her hornpipe, just to appeal to the lowest bilge rats in the galley. Arrgh!

*****

"Rapscallions only be insistin' that a scrum be halted when they are afraid of walking the plank if it continues." - Cap'n George Will 

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LOL! 'Tis slipped my mind
September 19, 2008 - 09:30 ET by Mean Gene Dr. Love
LOL!

'Tis slipped my mind that today is international talk like a pirate day! Arrr! I'll be gettin' 50 lashes wit a cat-o-nine tail for that one!

"An armed society be a polite society. Manners be good when one may have t' aft up his acts with his life." --Midshipman Robert A. Heinlein, "Beyond This Horizon", 1942

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Those Jews will be laughing....
September 19, 2008 - 09:00 ET by sjanus11
At the D.C. Jewish Community center even more when Isreal is whiped off map   Woaaa good one, barry nice talking ya did there. Fortunatly, that's just a visit from barry future, When Sen Glenn and Gov Palin Win, The Isreal , Iran problem will already be taken care of, Mark my words, Isreal is gonna act before election to take out Nuke sites on the of chance barry actually wins,. You did see recent sale of ours to Israel of smaller Bunker Busters, which are very acurate, And Isreal has plenty of Big Bunker busters, Or hell once the shell has been cracked , just a couple of well Placed Tactical Nukes would put there enrichment back 10 yrs.,,, Big boom, lot's of smoke, and fire, Old bearded ones say hey candle light not so bad....Please stop bombing us           Steve

 

"If your 20 and not a Liberal, You have no Heart. If you are 40 and not a Conservative, You have no Brain"    Sir Winston Churchhill

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So, the Left is now pro-rape?
September 19, 2008 - 09:03 ET by lotr
So, am I to take it that the Left (including the Democratic Party) is now pro-rape?

I guess it's a good thing that Palin is pro-gun.

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rape issue
September 19, 2008 - 09:06 ET by Agnostic
Don't forget the media just attacked Gov Palin a few days ago for having a weak stand against rape problems in Alaska. A statement like this even if condemned could bring that issue more publicity.

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The marquee outside Theater
September 19, 2008 - 09:07 ET by BuxomAnnieMcGreggor
The marquee outside Theater J must read something like... "Come see BANGIN' DAMN UGLY on display!" ...ask about senior and gang rapist discounts.

 

 

"We retort..... you decide."

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You know what they say ...
September 19, 2008 - 09:08 ET by 10ksnooker
You can't rape a 38.

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NOW is the time to discuss
September 19, 2008 - 09:14 ET by billb
NOW is the time to discuss the pig/lipstick controversy!

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Jewish slapstick!
September 19, 2008 - 09:26 ET by Kansasgirl
Wow, libs really love to hate.

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I think, in keeping with
September 19, 2008 - 09:29 ET by DontFeedTheTrolls
I think, in keeping with the sensationalism evident in the MSM, the headline should read:

Prominent Democrat Says 'Obama Should Rape Palin'

D

Keep the ILLEGALS out, join NumbersUSA to send free faxes to your reps.

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A Mirror Image
September 19, 2008 - 09:36 ET by TakeaRight
Look into her face, Democrats, and there you will see yourselves. Sandra Bernhard is a portrait of the modern American liberal.

Are you proud?

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Sandra who?
September 19, 2008 - 09:32 ET by HockeyKid
Sandra who?

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"in the end, oddly and subtly, Bernhard’s message is positive."
September 19, 2008 - 09:33 ET by JohnMcGrew
Excuse me?  Never before could I imagine that gang rape could be spun as a "positive" message.  If anyone on the right dared utter such a thing, there'd be demonstrations demanding a "hate crime" procecution.

Thank you, and keep it up Sandra and friends in the media. It's stuff like this that's causing the likelyhood of an Obama administration to evaporate more daily.

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PBS's AMERICAN EXPERIENCE returns with THE PRESIDENTS, beginning with part one of REAGAN: a biography of one of the most popular presidents of the 20th century—and one of the most controversial.

Monday, 9/22, at 9pm on PBS (check local listings)

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JDN
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« Reply #169 on: September 20, 2008, 09:41:17 AM »

While I do not approve of Sandra Bernhard's "humor", this is a show being produced by and at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 
The DCJCC is entitled to their opinion and they have a right to produce this show.   Imus made his inappropriate comments on the public airwaves.
There is a big difference.
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ccp
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« Reply #170 on: September 20, 2008, 11:30:55 AM »

My point wansn't about silly legal subtles it was about the idea that its ok by the msm for people to make outragiously offensive remarks about whites, or conservatives or christians etc, but if low and behold someone makes the same type of offensive remarks against their favorite victims of the day be it gays, hispanics, blacks, jews, etc then it is plastered all over the news media and that person's career as a comedian is over.

What was the name of the Seinfeld guy again?  That was not pulbic airways and the msm furor over his disparaging comments about blacks ruined his life like it almost did with Imus who btw made.

BTW I am not, and never was a fan of Imus or Seinfeld or his colleague.  I am also not a fan of Jews who think it ok to have comedians speak like this in a Jewish Community Center and it is ok because it is about a republican or conservative who like I have posted before they despise more than Nazis in their misguided bigotry.

That said you can give me the "I don't aprove of ... humor", *but* we have freedom of speech in the US  all you want.  You won't change my outrage at this crap.  ANd don't think that lets them off the hook.  "Oh but it is their right..."  It doens't let you off the hook either, but I am not going to change your mind. sad
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JDN
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« Reply #171 on: September 20, 2008, 11:53:09 AM »

Actually, it isn't some "silly legal subties" it's in our Constitution.  The D.C. Jewish Community Center is entitled to their viewpoint. 
However, as I said, I don't approve of nor would I attend "humor" of this type whether is was directed at whites, christians, conservatives, blacks, muslims, or jews.
It simply isn't appropriate, yet to deny freedom of speech is also very very wrong.
You don't have to buy a ticket and go to the show, do you? 

Also, while I am not Jewish, "I don't necessarily think Jews despise republicans or conservatives more than Nazis in their misguided bigotry." 
I have some Jewish friends who abhor my democratic politics and are staunch conservative Republicans; really, these Conservative Republicans are everywhere  grin 
Still, we manage to get along just fine.   smiley
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #172 on: September 20, 2008, 12:12:12 PM »

JDN:

Forgive me, but unless I misunderstand here you are missing the point.  The one is not of legal or constitutional rights, it is about whether the responses, or lack thereof, are hypocritical.

CCP: 

For future reference there is a thread on "Politically (in)correct" which is where this would have been a better fit.
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ccp
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« Reply #173 on: September 20, 2008, 12:47:07 PM »

Yes, it was about the hypocrisy of the politically correct media (synomous with "MSM" and to a large degree with the "left wing media").

I thought there was a political correctness thread.  Is there an easier way to find it rather than having to go throught all the thread headings.  Can on search for the thread title?
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« Reply #174 on: September 20, 2008, 01:32:54 PM »

Yes, go to Search or Advanced Search and type in "Correct" and click the box for "thread titles".   In that you might not have remembered whether it was titled "Politically Corrret" or Politically Incorrect" this seach command will find you the thread no mater what.
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« Reply #175 on: September 22, 2008, 12:15:47 PM »

Marriage in the Balance

Opponents of a measure that would cement a definition of marriage as between a man and a woman in the California constitution were cheered by a new Field Poll last week showing the measure losing 55% to 38%. Just a few weeks ago, the measure was trailing by only nine points.

But the battle over Proposition 8, which seeks to reestablish a traditional definition of marriage that was overturned by the state's Supreme Court this summer, isn't over.

A new study of polling in 26 states -- including California -- that have voted on the issue of gay marriage shows that support for such measures is often under-reported in polls. For example, in 2000 when California first voted on gay marriage, polls showed that Proposition 22 -- which would have banned gay marriage -- had 53% support in the final pre-election poll. It wound up winning with 61%.

"I can't say for sure why polls almost always understate support for traditional marriage," says Frank Schubert, a strategist for anti-gay marriage forces. "I believe it is because the media portrays same-sex marriage as being politically correct. Supporters of traditional marriage don't want pollsters to consider them intolerant, so they mask their true feelings on the issue."

In states that have voted on gay marriage, the study found that polls underestimated support for traditional marriage by an average of seven points. In only two states (Texas and South Carolina) did pre-election polls accurately predict the outcome of the vote. In only one state (Arizona), polls overstated the final percentage of voters who backed traditional marriage.

While that history may be of some solace to opponents of gay marriage, their trailing in California is at the outer edges of the survey errors. Buoyed by a favorable rewording of the ballot summary for November's Proposition 8 by California's Attorney General Jerry Brown, supporters of gay marriage may be on their way to an historic reversal of their state's 2000 vote.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"Seven days ago, Democrats were in a state of political panic after Sarah Palin's selection as running mate had helped push John McCain ahead in the polls. Now it may be the Republicans' turn . . . because the GOP is closely identified with big business in the minds of voters [in the current financial crisis]. . . . No poll numbers or headlines between now and Friday are as likely to influence the final outcome of election as much as [this week's first presidential] debate. Obama has avoided debates since his poor showing in April against Clinton in Philadelphia, and also did poorly in a Sept. 16 forum at California's Saddleback Church. If Obama doesn't turn in a solid performance Friday, his recent poll advantage could fade quickly. A week from now, Democrats may find themselves pushing the panic button again" -- Robert Stacy McCain, writing at the American Spectator's web site spectator.org.

Barney Frank Creates a Diversion

Nobody said Barney Frank wasn't smart, but his cynicism is getting the best of him. His House Finance committee quietly voted out a reversal of a recent mortgage reform. The latest bill would again require the Federal Housing Administration to allow seller financed downpayments -- which even the FHA calls an engine of fraud. Yet, meanwhile, in a shadow play of accountability, he noisily demands that Hank Paulson's mortgage bailout package be conditioned with caps on CEO pay for financial firms that participate.

Mr. Frank is being frivolous. If the idea is to get the financial system working again, depriving firms of the means to compete for talent is a strange way to do it. But he doesn't really mean it -- he's flogging his initiative on the hot button of CEO pay merely to create a simulation of debate while he and Mr. Paulson rush through a vast new subsidy machine for the housing lobby.

That's not to say incentives aren't important. Redesigning incentives is a big part of the day-to-day work of capitalism and that's going on now -- think of the near-constant stream of innovations aimed at fine-tuning CEO contracts. But the urgent target for political reform should be government's own contribution -- its massive subsidies and incentives for rich and poor alike to incur housing debt, including egregious things like FHA guarantees for no-downpayment loans. A lot of questions ought to be asked before Congress enacts the Paulson plan. Don't expect Mr. Frank to ask them -- he's too busy carrying water for the housing lobby that got us here in the first place.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.



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« Reply #176 on: September 23, 2008, 11:57:11 AM »

Conservatives Ponder the End of Capitalism

Conservatives on Capitol Hill are starting to push back against the Bush-Paulson $700 billion bank bailout plan. One lead member of the conservative House Republican Study Committee asked me in a panicked phone call this weekend: "Is this the end of free market capitalism?" Republican Mike Pence of Indiana is advising caution and has come out against the rescue. "Congress must not hastily embrace a cure that may do more harm to our economy than the disease of bad debt," he warns.

Outside conservative groups are also divided. We're told an intense debate is going on in the hallowed halls of the Heritage Foundation, where some support the bailout and others are aghast at the idea. "If this were Obama proposing such a massive government expansion of power, we would be calling him a commie," grouses one high level Heritage manager who fears panic may trump free market principles at the think tank.

All this means the plan may not flow through Congress as seamlessly as the White House had hoped. There are two problems: On the one hand are congressional Democrats like Barney Frank of Massachusetts who are demanding their own priorities, such as a $50 billion stimulus spending plan. (Apparently $700 billion is not enough stimulus.) They also want to impose new regulations on bailed-out institutions, including CEO pay limits and curbs on leverage. This leads to the second complication: All these add-ons only have made Republican conservatives more squeamish. In the Senate, Jim DeMint of South Carolina is rounding up opponents with the line that the bailout "is not capitalism. It is the opposite of capitalism."

Conservatives are dividing into two camps: Those who believe the Paulson plan is the only way to prevent a collapse of capitalism and those who see it exposing the markets to massive governmental interference in the future and huge new powers to regulate industry. "We will be hard-pressed to block any government expansions in the future if we support this plan," a Senate leadership aide tells me.

Rep. Pence also complains that all this talk about expanding government debt and spending to bail out Wall Street wrongdoers is getting John McCain and the GOP off message just before the election. He wants Republicans instead talking about "indexing the Capital Gains tax to inflation (which the Treasury Department can do without any help from Congress) . . . passing an energy bill that lessens the price of gasoline at the pump through more domestic drilling . . . and a reform of entitlements." He adds: "We should also find budget savings to pay for what we spend."

Now there's an old-fashioned conservative idea that has fallen by the wayside.

-- Stephen Moore

Pining for Sarah

Last week, Jewish groups were abuzz with news that an annual pro-Israel rally scheduled for yesterday in Manhattan had lost one of its most loyal speakers. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton pulled out after getting pressure from Obama supporters not to attend once it became clear Sarah Palin would also be there. The scene would have drawn enormous attention coming on the heels of the "Saturday Night Live" skit featuring comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as the two women. In the end, rally organizers decided to scrub all political speakers -- including Mrs. Palin -- from the program.

The rally went on as scheduled but in a way that didn't make Team Obama happy. Anti-Obama and pro-Republican signs were common at the event. One read: "We Want Sarah. Shame On The Rally Organizer."

Democratic Congressman Anthony Wiener said the event was still a success because it proved how many people care about Israel and came out to protest a visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New York. But he acknowledged the awkward political theater behind it: "I think it would have been fine for Sarah to speak. We just needed someone of equal stature from the Obama campaign to speak."

In the end, Republicans clearly scored points from the controversy, according to Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. He told WCBS-TV: "Sarah Palin wanted to be there, but it looks like she was purposely told not to and rejected. It gives her standing, particularly among those people who are thinking about voting Republican anyway."

-- John Fund

Rule of Lawyers

As some states begin early voting for president, battalions of lawyers recruited by both presidential candidates are already filing lawsuits before the ballots are even received. "We're waiting for the day that pols can cut out the middleman and settle all elections in court," jokes the political newsletter Hotline.

William Todd, a lawyer advising the John McCain campaign, filed suit in Ohio court yesterday. He claims Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has shown favoritism in rejecting some applications by voters for absentee ballots.

The Associated Press reports that voters Paul Doucher and Deloris Eagle say they wanted to vote by mail, which Ohio allows starting this week. But they did not check a box that indicated they are qualified voters. Ms. Brunner says that without a check mark, she can't process the applications. Look for flyspecking by the courts to see if she has held all applications to the same standard.

In next-door Michigan, it's the Obama campaign that filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming the Michigan Republican Party had a plan to use foreclosure lists to challenge voters' residency at the polls.

The Michigan Messenger, a liberal Web site, reported earlier this month that James Carabelli, chairman of the Macomb County GOP, had said: "We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses." Mr. Carabelli has flatly denied making such a statement and has won a partial retraction from the Web site over its claim that a similar plan was afoot by GOP operatives in Ohio. It sounds like both sides can't wait to subpoena each other's emails and memos to see what they've been up to.

Voters are still used to having the final word in an election. But that could change if the November outcome degenerates into voters being overruled by often unelected judges and trial lawyers practicing scorched-earth tactics. Brad Smith, a law professor and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, says the trend toward "election by litigation" isn't healthy and steps should be taken to minimize its spread. "It's good to have added attention on elections and federal money to run them," he told me. "But people have to relax, be reasonable and have some level of good faith." Right now, there's precious little evidence of any of that on the campaign trail.

-- John Fund

Quote of the Day

"He loved the Senate, he loved Arizona, he loved his wife, and he hated being told what to do. . . . He may have also sensed that his popularity, which was considerable, would change once he became a candidate for president. As many people have discovered, a politician can go a long way in Washington until he becomes a serious presidential candidate. At that precise moment the Washington press corps digs in, and reputations are destroyed in no time" -- from a discussion of Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential race in Alfred Regnery's new book on the conservative movement "Upstream."

Sometimes a Cigar Isn't a Cigar

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has since said he was joshing, but that's almost beside the point. Speaking before an audience in July, the governor detailed how he supposedly used his official position to "turn some dials" on Election Day to ensure the victory of Democrat Jon Tester over incumbent Republican Conrad Burns in the 2006 U.S. Senate race. Those "dials" included harassing GOP poll watchers on Indian reservations, timing the release of vote tallies from key precincts, and pressing the Associated Press to call the race for Mr. Tester while votes were still being counted. Mr. Tester won by fewer than 3500 votes

Mr. Schweitzer now says he was "just joking around and making it colorful" for his audience -- the American Association for Justice, the banner the nation's trial lawyers now operate under. Ho, ho. His spokeswoman later removed a link to a transcript from Mr. Schweitzer's entry on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.

Whatever the satire quotient, one thing the venue and Mr. Schweitzer's choice of applause lines makes clear: The trial lawyers are still the trial lawyers. He had good reason to think a group nominally devoted to "justice" would enjoy hearing about abuse of official power to cement Democratic control of the Senate, which the trial bar uses to block tort reform and protect its livelihood. A previous head of the association, attorney Fred Baron, once complained in a speech about a Wall Street Journal editorial that alleged "the plaintiffs bar is all but running the Senate." He didn't like the words "all but."

Now you know why important debates such as limits on electronic eavesdropping devolve into frivolities over whether phone companies can be sued for cooperating with the government. That's the agenda of the trial lawyers infecting everything the senate does.

Montana Democratic Attorney General Mike McGrath has accepted Mr. Schweitzer's explanation that he was joking and has declined to investigate his claims, over objections from Republicans, including Mr. Schweitzer's Republican challenger this fall, state Sen. Roy Brown.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

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« Reply #177 on: October 08, 2008, 11:43:26 AM »

October 8, 2008

In today's Political Diary

The 'Voter Registration' Racket
McCain Is an Unguided Missile
The Housing Skit Is Back - Minus the Incitement to Homicide
Looking on the Bright Side of President Obama


A Smelly Acorn

Members of the left-wing activist group ACORN had a quick and predictable response to yesterday's raid of their Nevada offices by authorities investigating a possible massive voter registration fraud scheme.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that ACORN volunteer Frank Beaty immediately claimed the raid, which removed computers and files from the group's offices, was a conspiracy designed to prevent the registration of new voters. ACORN's national chief Bertha Lewis called the raid "a stunt that serves no useful purpose other than [to] discredit our work registering Nevadans and distracting us from the important work ahead of getting every eligible vote to the polls."

Reverting to the rhetoric of the 1960s voting rights struggle in the South may be politically useful, but it bears precious little resemblance to the reality of ACORN today. The group has constantly faced charges it mistreats its employees and even broke up their internal efforts to unionize their workplace.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax told the Sun that ACORN has been registering voters in Las Vegas since January and "we started having problems with them almost immediately." His staff met with ACORN and was offered promises that fraudulent registrations would no longer be turned in. "But those controls weren't sufficient," Mr. Lomax said.

Indeed, the more his office and that of Nevada's Secretary of State looked into ACORN's effort, the more worried they became. Jason Anderson rose to the rank of supervisor in ACORN even though he was a convicted felon. Other employees had served time for identity theft. Another former inmate who worked for ACORN told authorities his co-workers were "lazy crack heads."

ACORN's activities are under investigation or suspicion in a dozen states, with one of its workers indicted just last week in Wisconsin. Perhaps the Nevada raid will spur authorities elsewhere to dig down and conclude their investigations by Election Day -- before ACORN can do even more damage to the integrity of the vote.

-- John Fund

Maverick Without a Cause

When she was introduced as John McCain's running mate in Ohio six weeks ago, Gov. Sarah Palin hit on one of the most powerful themes Republicans have going this year when she said, "Join our cause." As a reformer from Alaska who unseated a governor of her own party, she was joining the ticket, she said, not just for a big job, but to help John McCain "reform" the Republican Party and the government in Washington. To many conservatives and independents across the country, she seemed the change agent they've been waiting for since Ronald Reagan.

But Sen. McCain showed little evidence in yesterday's debate of understanding why his Veep candidate is drawing crowds of 20,000 or why she ever had the potential to change the dynamics of this presidential race. In Nashville last night, Mr. McCain repeatedly asked voters to look at his record to see that he has reached across the aisle to work with Sens. Joe Lieberman, Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy -- a litany of the most liberal Democrats. That's fine as far as it goes. It may even swing a few independents who are uncomfortable with Barack Obama and might vote for a Republican if he's willing to outsource large sections of domestic policy to Democratic senators.

But without a guiding set of principles to explain when and why Mr. McCain bucks his own party, "the maverick" gives the impression that he's flying by the seat of his pants. To win back the old Reagan Democrats while also reassembling the Republican coalition that has kept the GOP in power for decades, Mr. McCain needs a coherent set of principles that guide his actions and that voters can rally behind -- such as shrinking government, flattening the tax burden and reforming the federal policies that have contributed to America's health care and housing woes.

Mr. McCain needs a Maverick Manifesto -- and he didn't have one last night. If the last two debates are really his last chance to change the dynamic of the race, it may soon be over.

-- Brendan Miniter

NBC Explains Itself

NBC's "Saturday Night Live" has lampooned everyone over the years. Just two weeks ago it descended into tastelessness by implying that Todd Palin had committed incest. An actor portraying a New York Times reporter was shown ruminating about Palin scandals: "What about the husband? You know he's doing those daughters. I mean, come on. It's Alaska."

As raw as that was, it was passed off as humor and defended by NBC. But the network's reaction was quite different after last Saturday night's sketch dumping responsibility for the housing meltdown on the political fecklessness of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Finance Committee Chairman Barney Frank. Financier George Soros and mortgage investors Herb and Marion Sandler were depicted as benefiting from the subprime boom and its subsequent collapse. The Sandlers were given especially brutal treatment over their $24 billion sale of subprime mortgages to Wachovia Bank, which helped precipitate that institution's collapse. A caption underneath the couple's name indicated they were "people who should be shot."

NBC yanked the video off its Web site sometime early Monday. It appears NBC acted because it feared a lawsuit from the Sandlers, who are prominent funders of such left-wing groups as Air America and MoveOn.org. While no legal threat was received from the couple, Mr. Sandler did tell the Associated Press the skit was "crap."

Apparently, NBC acted preemptively to appease the Sandlers. It explains that the sketch did not meet its "standards." It has now reinstated the missing sketch on its Web site, having removed the "people who should be shot" line as well as a reference to "allegations of corruption" against the couple.

Veteran Hollywood journalist Nikki Finke says "NBC surely could have handled this better." While broadly accepting its explanation, she notes that "today's action may or may not silence critics like conservative commentator Michelle Malkin."

In my view, NBC may have acted appropriately, but its hasty response to liberal outrage over the sketch is likely to have a chilling effect on the network's future satire of leading liberals -- especially if Barack Obama is elected president.

-- John Fund

Candidates and Crisis

Anybody who knows markets probably went to bed last night wondering if today would be the day things really come unglued. By now, the wealth wiped out in the market collapse is already twice as big as the underlying housing losses, and the income losses to workers and investors, if the economy tanks, will be many times the losses in unreceived mortgage payments. We're at the place now where the politics of the housing meltdown could be far worse for the economy than the housing meltdown.

If you assume John McCain and Barack Obama are both idiot squirrels, at least one found the relevant nut last night. John McCain harped on the word "confidence" several times. Now if he could just have weaved the word into a coherent narrative of where we are in the financial crisis and how we get out. But he didn't.

Yet the cool deliberation with which Mr. Obama says whatever will get him where he's going -- last night it was the accusation "deregulation" repeated over and over -- is reassuring in its own way. Where's the evidence that he would be the least bit bound by anything he said during the campaign -- on taxes, regulation, health care or anything else? His dispassion in hitting his talking points is the dispassion of the truly noncommittal.

He wants to win and he wants to be reelected. Plus, he will have been elected without the help of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congress -- or, rather, despite them (Congress has a 9% favorable rating). Presumably he won't feel obligated to deliver their wish list. He wants Bill Clinton's presidency (he's already got Bill Clinton's economic advisers) without the intern baggage or other compulsive aspects.

Now Mr. McCain -- he's the one you might have to worry about. A one-term president, he might actually have some weird agenda that "honor" compels him to pursue. At least, that's the best argument we can think of for President Obama -- admittedly not much to weigh against the Halloween horror of one-party Democratic rule at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

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« Reply #178 on: October 15, 2008, 12:37:51 PM »

Can McCain 'Mondale' Obama?

In tonight's debate look for John McCain to tie Barack Obama to liberal positions that are essential to elements of the Democratic nominee's coalition.

Chief among them is so-called "card check" legislation that passed the House in 2007 only to be bogged down in the Senate. The bill is the No. 1 priority of Mr. Obama's union supporters and would provide a way to bypass the requirement for secret-ballot elections to unionize a company. Instead, employees would be deemed to have selected a union when a majority of workers sign a card stating support for such a move -- often in the presence of union organizers.

Mr. McCain briefly raised card check in a previous debate with Mr. Obama, but he now has an iconic liberal he can cite as a prominent opponent of the idea. Former Sen. George McGovern calls secret ballots in union elections a "basic right." He has even agreed to appear in an ad sponsored by a pro-business group that is running in seven states holding Senate elections.

"It's hard to believe that any politician would agree to a law denying millions of employees the right to a private vote," Mr. McGovern says in the ad. "I have always been a champion of labor unions. But I fear that today's union leaders are turning their backs on democratic workplace elections." In a follow-up interview with The Hill newspaper, Mr. McGovern said a secret ballot is fundamental to American understandings of democracy: "When we elect a president, sheriff or member of Congress, we walk into the voting booth and pull the curtain free of anyone trying to twist our arm."

Mr. Obama has been a staunch supporter of card check and will no doubt have to defend it if pressed in tonight's debate. As for the unions backing card check, they have done little to hide their displeasure with Mr. McGovern. "It is deeply, deeply disappointing that someone like Sen. McGovern, who got so much support from labor unions, has sided . . . against labor's top priority," AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stuart Acuff says. "It's shocking."


-- John Fund

Liddy Opens the Jar

How bad are things for Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina? One of the Senate GOP's headliners and stellar fundraisers has now been forced to reach into her own pocket to counter a Democratic spending onslaught.

Mrs. Dole has been battered by Democratic ads in support of State Senator Kay Hagan, who accuses Mrs. Dole of being a Washington show horse who doesn't deliver for North Carolina. One brutal ad sponsored by Chuck Schumer's Democratic Senate Campaign Committee shows two old-timers arguing about whether Mrs. Dole is "92 or 93." The ad clearly is meant to get voters thinking Mrs. Dole, 72, is older than she is -- though the real subject is a Roll Call ranking that found her the 93rd most effective Senator and another survey showing she voted 92% of the time with the Bush administration.

The DSCC spent $1.5 million against Mrs. Dole just in August, with Mr. Schumer personally defending the controversial ad, saying, "She's not the Elizabeth Dole that was elected when she first ran" in 2002.

Mrs. Dole told the Associated Press: "You get such a lot coming at you and spending a great deal of time raising money -- there just comes a point when you feel like you need to put some skin in the game."

Yet the decisive factor may be out of her control -- turnout in the McCain-Obama race. So far, Barack Obama has been outspending John McCain in the state, pouring money into voter mobilization. Pro-Democratic polling analyst Nate Silver calculates that the percentage of black registered voters has increased from 20.3% to 21.4%, while the number of white voters decreased from 76.7% to 75.2%.

A scheduled rally by Sarah Palin tomorrow near Greensboro may help Mrs. Dole and Senate Republicans more than it does Mr. McCain at this point. An ABC News analysis says the Dole-Hagan battle might determine whether Democrats storm to a filibuster-proof majority after November. Mrs. Palin will be joined by country singer Hank Williams Jr., performing his new song "The McCain-Palin Tradition."


-- Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

Quote of the Day

"Democratic politicians and activists are giddy over visions of a 60-seat majority in the Senate next year, but experts say they don't need quite that many to rewrite a wide range of national policies to reflect the priorities of their presidential nominee, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, if he is elected. Primarily, that's because Senate rules provide for expedited consideration of the budget bills, known as 'reconciliation' measures, that have become the favored legislative vehicles for the most ambitious spending and tax plans of recent presidents... [E]ven outside the reconciliation process, Democrats are likely to be able to attract crossover Republican votes on various domestic and foreign policy measures . . . and there is a strong possibility that a President Obama would be operating with more senators from his own party than any president since Jimmy Carter, even if Democrats do not make it to 60 seats" -- Congressional Quarterly's Jonathan Allen.

The Chaos Strategy

A federal appeals court ruled last night that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner must provide county election boards with state voter registration information so they can check the validity of some 666,000 new voter registrations submitted to Ohio officials in recent months.

The order, which Ms. Brunner vigorously resisted, will mean county boards will be able to stop counting absentee ballots if the registration linked to them doesn't match the name of a real person listed in government databases.

Ms. Brunner's office had argued that the federal Help America Vote Act did not require any such matching, and that delays in processing absentee votes could mean some valid votes wouldn't be counted.

Meanwhile, thousands of additional suspect registrations turned in by activist groups like Acorn have surfaced in Ohio. Local election officials tell me the volume of possibly fraudulent registrations will make it difficult for them to process those that are valid. "It's almost as if groups like Acorn want deliberate chaos in the election system, which they can then exploit on Election Day to demand that suspect votes be given the benefit of the doubt and counted," one county official told me.


-- John Fund


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« Reply #179 on: October 16, 2008, 11:31:25 AM »

Ambushed By History

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, October 15, 2008; A21

For all their talk about respecting the constraints of reality, conservatives generally hold to the "great man" theory of history. It is leftists who embrace economic determinism. Conservatives read biographies of Winston Churchill and wait in constant expectation for the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Charisma and truth, in this view, can always overwhelm material conditions.

And this often leads to the "small man" theory of electoral setbacks. A losing Republican is not merely unfortunate; he must be incompetent, politically blind and betrayed by his bumbling underlings. If he is not a winner, he is a fool.

John McCain has reached this stage of criticism among conservatives. Some attack him for "frenetic improvisation," while others urge him to frenetically improvise. His campaign is in a "defensive crouch" while also being "obnoxious" in its "phony populism." McCain's running mate is a "fatal cancer" who should "read more books."

This kind of cheap shot is, thank goodness, the prerogative of the commentator -- an option I will doubtlessly exercise in the future. But having once been on the political side of the divide, I remember how truly obnoxious such advice can become. If only the candidate would fire his entire campaign staff and travel the country in a used Yugo, speaking in the parking lots of 7-Elevens, the gap would be closed. If only the candidate would buy three hours in prime time and give a bold, historic speech (which has been helpfully sent under separate cover), the entire election would be turned around. If only the candidate would finally highlight his opponent's ties to Colombian drug cartels, the illuminati and the British royal family -- or perhaps abandon all this suicidal negativity -- the election could certainly be won. And yes, above all, the candidate must be himself.

McCain might benefit from shifts in strategy: a retooled stump speech has already been rolled out. But sometimes a candidate who is down in the polls is not an incompetent but a bystander. While America remains a center-right country, this may well be a Marxist election in which economic realities are determining the political superstructure.

The diverging political fortunes of Barack Obama and McCain can be traced to a single moment. In the middle of September, the net favorable rating for each candidate was about the same. By Oct. 7, Obama was ahead on this measure by about 16 points. Did McCain suddenly become a stumbling failure? No, the world suddenly went into an economic slide. Americans blamed the party with executive power, which is also the party most closely tied in the public mind to bankers and Wall Street. None of this was fair to McCain, who has never been the Wall Street type. But party images are vivid, durable and almost impossible to shift on short notice.

Previous to this economic free fall -- and after his transformative vice-presidential choice -- McCain was about tied in a race he should have been losing by a large margin. The public clearly had questions about Obama's leadership qualities. But the McCain campaign also proved itself capable of constructing an effective narrative: Obama as lightweight celebrity, McCain as maverick reformer. Until history intervened.

Following the onset of the crisis, McCain was left with flawed options. He reasonably chose to work for a responsible bailout while hoping the markets would stabilize quickly. Instead, the bailout proved politically unpopular and the markets gyrated like the Pussycat Dolls. Then McCain raised Obama's past association with William Ayers -- a valid attack if properly raised. (Can anyone doubt that the past political association of McCain with a right-wing terrorist would attract some attention?) But this accusation naturally looks small compared to the nation's outsized economic fears.

Obama's task has been easier. He needs only to ride a historical current instead of fighting it. And this plays to his greatest political strength: the easy, laid-back self-assurance of a 1940s crooner. During the financial crisis Obama has contributed nothing of note or consequence. His only recent accomplishment has been to say questionable things in the debates -- attacking Republicans and capitalism for a credit meltdown that congressional Democrats helped to cause, blaming America for Iran's nuclear ambitions, talking piously about genocide prevention when his own early Iraq policies might have resulted in genocide -- all while sounding supremely reassuring and presidential.

Obama's current success is not enjoyable for conservatives. But this does not make McCain an incompetent. Maybe he is a great man running at the most difficult of times.
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« Reply #180 on: October 16, 2008, 11:37:56 AM »

A Voice from the Grassy Knoll

Joe Biden's home town of Scranton, Pa. got a bit of a black eye on Tuesday when the local paper reported someone at a GOP rally featuring Sarah Palin had yelled "Kill him" when Barack Obama's name was mentioned. But it turns out neither the Secret Service or anyone in the crowd can substantiate the story.

The Scranton Times-Tribune reported on Tuesday that when congressional candidate Chris Hackett mentioned Mr. Obama's name, a man in the audience shouted "Kill him." But the Scranton News-Leader reports on its Web site today that Secret Service agent Bill Slavoski said that neither he nor any of 20 law enforcement agents present heard anything like that.

"I was baffled," he said, noting that an investigation by his team couldn't turn up even one person who had heard the threat.

The Times-Tribune reporter who reported the incident stands by his story but referred all media questions to his editor. "The facts reported are true and that's really all there is," said reporter David Singleton. Perhaps the Times-Tribune's motto could be: "We report. You decide if we're making it up."

-- John Fund

Thank Goodness His Name Is Joe

In the 2000 presidential election, "soccer moms" got inordinate media attention as a key voting group. In 2004, the voting bloc du jour was "security Moms" influenced by 9/11. This year hasn't yet seen the emergence of a similar overstudied group. Instead we have "Joe the Plumber," the undisputed winner of last night's presidential debate -- he was mentioned more than a dozen times by the two candidates.

Joe Wurzelbacher is a blue-collar Everyman who confronted Barack Obama about his plans to raise taxes on those earning over $250,000 a year when the Democratic candidate toured his neighborhood near Toledo last Sunday. Mr. Obama famously defended his tax program by saying he believed it was best to "share the wealth." Last night, Joe's resistance to higher taxes became a central dispute between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Mr. Wurzelbacher is taking his new fame in stride. He made the rounds of network talk shows without any stage fright or a major faux pas. He told CBS's Katie Couric that he was suspicious of Mr. Obama's pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. "So he's going to [raise taxes] for people who make $250,000 a year. When's he going to decide that $100,000 is too much, you know? I mean, you're on a slippery slope here."

On ABC's "Nightline," he added that Mr. Obama's tax plan "infuriates me." Indeed, the Ohio plumber is an opponent of progressive taxation in general. "Bill Gates, I don't care who you are. If you worked for it, if it was your idea, and you implemented it, it's not right for someone to decide you made too much."

While he's not talking about whom he's voting for, Mr. Obama seems unlikely to get Joe's vote. The Illinois Senator may regret stepping into his neighborhood last Sunday, because it sounds like he's going to be hounded by Joe the Plumber from now till Election Day.

-- John Fund

Vote Early, Vote Often?

A lot of ink has recently been spilled on the subject of how John McCain can turn his campaign around in the three weeks between now and Election Day. Less noticed is that the election has started already, and Barack Obama, so far, is running away with it.

Survey USA has put out data on early voting in New Mexico, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Iowa -- all important states for Mr. McCain. Even where Mr. McCain still leads among "likely voters," the polling results show Mr. Obama leading by as much as 34% (in Iowa and North Carolina) among "early voters." Even Georgia, where Mr. McCain holds an 11-point overall lead in Survey USA's polling, Mr. Obama is ahead by 6% among early voters.

This reflects, in part, a conscious strategy by the Obama campaign to get supporters to vote early wherever possible. As the election-tracking Web site FiveThirtyEight.com points out, George W. Bush won the early-voting race in 2000 and 2004. If nothing else, Mr. Obama's headstart among early voters suggests that the Democrat-Republican enthusiasm gap is already being felt at the ballot box. Worse, though these probably aren't voters Mr. McCain could have persuaded anyway, the huge gaps may bode ill for the GOP if they testify to a general superiority of Mr. Obama's ability to get out his vote.

-- Brian M. Carney

Bizarre-Oh-Canada

In less time than John McCain has been the Republican nominee, Canada has completed yet another national election campaign, its third in four years. In the short span of 37 days, Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper won his second consecutive minority government with 143 seats, up from 127, inching toward a coveted 155-seat majority. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Party once again is in tatters.

Little short of scathing has been the Canadian press on the failures of Stéphane Dion, leader of the Liberals. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail pronounces Mr. Dion "finished" and blames him for leaving his party "weakened financially, beaten politically, and split intellectually."

Battered by corruption scandals, the Liberals are stuck with just 76 seats in Parliament, down from 95, the party's lowest level of popular support ever. Mr. Dion's own trademark green streak -- he was formerly the Minister of the Environment and has a dog named Kyoto -- suggests his defeat may signal a turning away of Canadian voters from the agenda of the global warming activists. His so-called "Green Shift" carbon-tax platform was clearly rejected for Mr. Harper's pro-business, pro-defense, tax-cutting stance.

What's next for the Liberals? Two potential leaders -- hawkish Michael Ignatieff and socialist former Ontario Premier Bob Rae -- are once again circling each other. Either man would likely march the party even farther away from the center, guaranteeing a protracted period of soul searching. That would likely bolster Mr. Harper's ability to proceed with a conservative agenda, while the rest of the West seems to be careening to the left.

-- Adrian Ho

Have We Seen Our Last Lehman?

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson let slip in an interview with CNBC's Larry Kudlow last night that a "foreign regulator" had blocked a rescue deal for Lehman Brothers, whose bankruptcy now appears to have been the triggering event of a global collapse of confidence in lending markets.

Mr. Paulson was certainly referring to Britain's Financial Services Authority, widely rumored to have shot down a proposed Barclays rescue of Lehman (much as JP Morgan had rescued Bear Stearns). The FSA no doubt had good reason for not wanting a bank under its purview to be stuck with Lehman's questionable balance sheet. Nonetheless, the decision now seems penny-wise, pound-foolish in light of the $64 billion in British taxpayer money that subsequently had to be injected into British banks (assuming, of course, an injection wasn't going to be necessary anyway).

The episode also illustrates why Tuesday's global bailout may not be the magic bullet many hope. Commentators universally overlooked it, but Mr. Paulson acknowledged a practical limit to the safety net when he vowed the government's historic steps would serve to "avoid, where possible, the failure of any systemically important institution."

That "where possible" you could drive a truck through. It means our year-and-a-half of living dangerously, with banks distrusting each other in wholesale transactions, may not be over.

Mr. Paulson and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke, in separate comments yesterday, both waved off Lehman recriminations, saying at the time they lacked legal authority to prevent the firm's bankruptcy. TARP presumably has now given them that authority -- but not necessarily the ammunition. Even $200 billion in government capital injected in banks so far could end up being a drop in the bucket if more big writedowns are coming. Likewise, blanket guarantees to bank creditors could rapidly become non-credible if a couple very large banks go down -- that is, short of the Federal Reserve simply printing money to make good on the guarantees, which may yet be the solution.

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« Reply #181 on: October 16, 2008, 08:25:02 PM »

I love it - the new Republican party's hero

Joe the plumber.

I think this guy would be a instant shoe-in for a Senate seat from a red state. cool
He has my vote.

Lets see...

common sense logic
honesty
here is where I really stand
I support and talk UP my country
My country has done a great humanitarian service in Iraq
I believe in freedom from government tyranny
I don't like socialism

vs

intellectualizing
ivory tower I know what is best for everyone whether they like it or not
dishonesty
deception
pretend I am something I are not
pretend I am a patriot
I think my country stinks
I think my country is shameful
I need to bebuild our country the way I see fit

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #182 on: October 17, 2008, 10:23:04 AM »

On cross-examination
“Reviewing the polls printed in The New York Times and The Washington Post in the last month of every presidential election since 1976, I found the polls were never wrong in a friendly way to Republicans. When the polls were wrong, which was often, they overestimated support for the Democrat, usually by about 6 to 10 points.” —Ann Coulter

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GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Campaign watch: Debate number three
Apparently, John McCain doesn’t think this campaign is over—he came out swinging in Wednesday night’s debate. McCain hit Obama hard on his alliances with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and the voter registration front ACORN (more on that below). Obama did his best to shrug off the charges, but we think they are beginning to stick. Issues of character are indeed important, contrary to Obama’s wish to focus on “the issues.”

On the issues, McCain pounded Obama on taxes, citing “Joe the Plumber” (more on that below, as well) and pointing out that Obama is lying about just how many Americans will see their taxes go up under an Obama administration with a Democrat-controlled Congress. Obama responded with more class warfare. “[W]e both want to cut taxes, the difference is who we want to cut taxes for,” he said. In other words, Barack Obama decides who makes too much.

One of the highlights of the night was McCain’s retort to Obama regarding comparisons to President George W. Bush: “I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

Of course, the topper was an inadvertent slip by McCain. During one exchange, he referred to Obama as “Senator Government.” McCain noted, “This really gets down to the fundamental difference in our philosophies. If you notice that in all of this proposal, Senator government wants—Senator Obama wants government to do the job.” We’d say that pretty much sums it up. Obama’s solutions always seem to grow the size of government.

It remains to be seen where this debate puts the poll numbers, but one thing we have noticed is that when Obama’s poll numbers go up, the market goes down, and vice versa. Maybe there’s something to that.

 

Inside ACORN
The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) is an organization that is tailor-made for Barack Obama. It is community based, it is ultra-liberal, and it will do and say just about anything to achieve its political ends. ACORN has drawn questions regarding its operating practices since its inception in 1970, but now the 350,000-member (their number) organization has been caught up in a nationwide scandal for its illegal voter registration practices.

In recent weeks there have been myriad charges filed against the organization from all around the country. In Las Vegas, ACORN offices were raided after complaints over thousands of fraudulent registration applications were submitted by ACORN workers and volunteers. The Michigan Secretary of State is on record noting that ACORN submitted “a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications.” Other states that are taking action against ACORN include New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana—not coincidentally, these are all battleground states. Furthermore, the FBI has opened an investigation into the group.

The scope of the fraud clearly shows that it is a systematic campaign. And it is no GOP witch-hunt as the knee-jerk leftist reaction fired off by the media suggested in recent days. A look at just who is filing the complaints and pressing the charges readily demonstrates that the outrage is nonpartisan. These crimes are endemic to the organization as a whole and undermine our republic. The ACORN organization must be held accountable from top to bottom.

ACORN often hires urban poor and recently released felons to register voters. In some cases, they don’t even pay minimum wage—yet another example of the grand hypocrisy of the “mother” organization, but that’s another can of worms. Only so many Democrats can be registered in any given area, and when that limit is reached, ACORN’s minions sign up dead people, the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line and Mickey Mouse. Homeless people are next, and since they stay in various places, they can vote once for each non-home. Given the level of recidivism among felons, we can only assume that ACORN’s felonious fellows do not experience a guilty conscience for committing such a “chump” crime.

Millions of us “simple-minded” citizens wonder how an organization that flouts our sacred right to vote and shamelessly works to undermine our institutions can continue executing costly programs and “getting out the vote.” Who pays for it all? Answer: We do. Liberal politicians like Barack Obama and his Demo colleagues benefit directly from ACORN’s antics, so, of course, they’re going to ensure their public funding. And now Obama—who has trained ACORN staffers, served as the organization’s lawyer, and recently contributed an eye-popping $832,000 to its coffers—wants to disavow their ties. As Bob Dole once asked, “Where’s the outrage?”

This week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ award
“There is no question that western Pennsylvania is a racist area.” —Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who, when not slandering our brave Marines, apparently enjoys slandering his own constituents

From the Left: Who wrote Obama’s memoir?
Suspension of disbelief is defined as “the willingness of a person to accept as true the premises of a work of fiction, even if... fantastic or impossible.” When it comes to Barack Obama, the American people have been asked to suspend disbelief regarding a number of things, including: Obama’s desire to bring people together despite his relationship with “Reverend” Jeremiah Wright, who preaches divisiveness and hatred; and Obama’s patriotism, despite his association with Weatherman terrorist William Ayers. According to writer Jack Cashill, Obama’s authorship of his much-celebrated memoir, Dreams From My Father, may be simply another fiction.

Cashill points out Obama’s lack of published works before contracting to write Dreams in 1990 at age 28. He did publish a few items: two poems in a college magazine (which Obama himself admitted were “very bad”), and a piece in the Harvard Law Review, referred to by Politco researchers as a “fairly standard example of the genre.”

Also telling is Obama’s inability to finish the Dreams manuscript on time, despite being given a year and a large advance to do so. Then, suddenly, the finished work appeared, and it demonstrated a level of literary skill that Obama had never before displayed.

Cashill proceeds to explore the possibility that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams. In doing so, he offers several technical comparisons in writing style and viewpoints to Ayers’ own memoir, Fugitive Days, right down to their shared penchants for untruths, changed names and faulty timelines. But Ayers is just a guy in Obama’s neighborhood. Right. Suspension of disbelief works for a movie, for two hours; it won’t work for this country for four years.

What the Palin probe really found
An Alaska state legislative investigator found in its final report of the so-called trooper scandal that Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power in trying to get State Trooper Michael Wooten fired. Democrat state senator and ardent Obama supporter Hollis French oversaw the investigation and insisted it be finished and released before Election Day. Predictably, the Leftmedia and the anti-Palin attack dogs (but we repeat ourselves) jumped on the abuse-of-power finding, but they do not wish to follow the facts of the story to its logical conclusion. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Wooten had a record of violent behavior, drinking alcohol on the job, illegal hunting, using a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson and threatening to kill a member of the Palin family. These were all valid reasons to seek Wooten’s removal from the force, and Palin apparently told Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan to fire him. Monegan refused and was in turn fired by Palin.

The report also recognizes that it was within Palin’s right as governor to fire Monegan, but the supposed problem that was raised by the report was that Monegan’s removal came in part because he would not fire Wooten, who was Palin’s sister’s ex-husband. The related history that Wooten shared with the Palin family is immaterial, or at least it would be in a non-election year. Look at the facts specifically. Wooten was a lousy officer and had no business keeping his job with the kind of behavior he displayed on numerous occasions. Monegan is responsible for the officers under his command; if he cannot, or for some reason will not, discipline them or remove them when necessary, then he is not doing his job and he should be removed. Where exactly does the abuse of power charge come from here? This report contains no recommendations for further action, so it holds little real value except as a campaign weapon for the Democrats.

Another Democrat family man
Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) won Florida’s 16th congressional seat in 2006 after Republican Mark Foley was booted for sending lewd emails to teenage male pages in Congress. Foley became a national scandal and the butt of more than a few jokes on late-night talk shows. His disgraceful behavior, coming to light as it did just weeks before the 2006 mid-term elections, undoubtedly exacerbated Republican losses that year. Mahoney, his successor, was presumably going to restore honor to the seat, but we now learn that Mahoney is embroiled in a sex scandal of his own. He agreed to pay $121,000 to a former mistress who worked on his staff, was fired, and threatened to sue for wrongful termination. Additionally, as an incentive to keep her from spilling the beans to his wife and his constituents, he promised her a $50,000 per year job with Fletcher Rowley Chao Riddle, the agency that handled his campaign advertising. The CEO of the firm, Bill Fletcher, categorically denied any knowledge of the quid pro quo.

Furthermore, Mahoney was apparently engaged in more than one affair. His mistress wanted to end the relationship upon finding this out, but Mahoney threatened and fired her. “You work at my pleasure,” he said in a recorded phone conversation. “If you do the job that I think you should do, you get to keep your job. Whenever I don’t feel like you’re doing your job, then you lose your job.” Just in case the message wasn’t clear, he added, “And guess what? The only person that matters is, guess who? Me.”

The issue for Democrats now is what to do with Mahoney. They are in a quite similar position that Republicans faced with Foley. It is too close to the election to get a replacement on the ballot, so the Demos could run someone else under Mahoney’s name. However, Mahoney plans to stick it out. And Republican candidate Tom Rooney gains daily.

NATIONAL SECURITY
Warfront with Jihadistan: Afghanistan update
After “losing” the Iraq War because American troops are winning, the Left and its MSM handmaidens are now turning their attention to Afghanistan, chanting the all-too-familiar “we’re losing, and it’s time to get out” mantra. With a resurgent Taliban and al-Qa’ida, they claim the Afghan situation is hopeless. Fortunately, facts on the ground speak otherwise. On Sunday in Kabul, just 12 hours after coalition troops killed dozens of Taliban fighters, General David McKiernan, American commander in Afghanistan, told a news conference that there were “too many” recent reports asserting that the Coalition and their Afghan allies were losing the war, and he urged doubters to believe that the war against the Taliban could and would be won.

While there has been an upturn in enemy attacks in Afghanistan, leading to increased allied casualties and some erosion of support among the populace, the reasons for, and results of, the enemy attacks are anything but bad for the Coalition. One reason for the increase in attacks is that jihadis are giving up Iraq and moving to Afghanistan, clearly a sign that Iraq is being won. And although the number of Afghan attacks has increased, so has the death rate for the jihadis, as each attack has, for the most part, been disastrous for them.

The New York Times reports that the insurgents “have shown that they are capable of massing hundreds of fighters,” but those masses are typically cut to pieces by Coalition forces, with thousands being killed in the last year. As Canadian Brigadier General Richard Blanchette said about the recent attacks, “If the insurgents planned a spectacular attack prior to the winter, this was a spectacular failure.” Best to heed the words of Governor Sarah Palin from the VP debate: This is no time to “raise the white flag” of surrender.

Profiles of valor: Civil Affairs Team 745
United States Army Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey, Capt. Stephen Ward and Staff Sgt. Carlo Alcazar, members of Civil Affairs Team 745, were recently recognized for their daring rescue of a Special Forces team leader during an Afghanistan mission last November. CA Team 745 was stationed at Firebase Cobra in Oruzgan, Afghanistan, alongside special operations detachments from the 3rd Special Forces Group, as well as personnel from the Afghan National Army and National Police. The teams left to provide humanitarian aid to a nearby village, only to discover that the village had already been evacuated. Ward noted that “the buildings had locks and barricaded doors, which was a clear indication that the village wasn’t abandoned, but had been turned into a defendable position.” Indeed, 300 Taliban fighters soon engaged the teams in a firefight.

After an hour of fighting, two Army disabled vehicles were pulled to the rear of the fight, leaving the ground forces commander in front of coalition lines, pinned down in a vulnerable building. Ward, Alcazar and Kimmey used their vehicle to get to the commander for a rescue but crashed into an enemy position, rendering their vehicle immobile. Ward and Alcazar were momentarily knocked unconscious in the crash. When they recovered, Alcazar began reloading ammunition belts so that Kimmey, the gunner, could continue pounding enemy fighters. Ward directed the effort to reach the ground commander under Kimmey’s cover fire. The unit remained under “continual, accurate and effective” enemy fire but managed to rescue the commander nonetheless. Once out of the building, team 745 stripped their vehicle to prevent the enemy from obtaining anything and ran beside a Special Forces vehicle for cover, there being no room for them on the truck.

For their bravery and heroic acts that day, Sgt. Kimmey, Capt. Ward and Staff Sgt. Alcazar were each awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor.

Another agreement with North Korea
The Bush administration’s decision to ink an agreement with North Korea over its nuclear program last week has no redeeming value—except that doing nothing might possibly have been worse. In exchange for Pyongyang’s promise, yet again, to allow inspectors into its nuclear facilities, the State Department will remove North Korea from its list of terrorist sponsors. Neither Jimmy Carter nor Charlie Brown could be reached for comment on what seems about the hundredth time North Korea has yanked away the football after giving its solemn word to play by the rules. The agreement also angered Japan, the United States’ most trustworthy and vital ally in the Pacific Rim, as it trampled Tokyo’s demand that Pyongyang account for kidnapped Japanese.

The single upside to the America’s appeasement is that the next president might enjoy an Inauguration Day free from North Korean threats. But the crisis will be delayed only for a time. The “oral agreements” that constitute the latest deal seem tailor made for Pyonyang to go back on—probably the only thing the corrupt regime can ever be trusted to do. Additionally, there is widespread belief that Kim Jong-Il may have suffered a debilitating stroke, or may even be dead, as he has not been seen publicly for months. A succession struggle among his cronies will do nothing to stabilize this already lunatic regime, adding to the possibility of a diplomatic crisis going kinetic. If this deal delays such infighting beyond the transition phase as the new administration settles into office, we are willing to make lemonade out of lemons and accept it as a necessary evil. But it is evil all the same, and no amount of State Department lipstick will change that fact.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #183 on: October 17, 2008, 10:24:22 AM »

Part Two


BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Big Brother turns banker
“The government’s role will be limited and temporary... These measures are not intended to take over the free market but to preserve it.” So promised President Bush, the day after Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson outlined plans to “invest” $250 billion to bail out the U.S. banking system. This measure, part of the recently enacted $700-billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TRAP, er, TARP), is ostensibly designed to encourage banks to resume lending to each other and to customers. In reality, however, the bailout legislation will reward poor banking practices as an unintended consequence of government attempts to supervene natural economic laws. Rather than replaying this tired song, shouldn’t we instead hold accountable those most responsible for creating the subprime bubble by making them bear the economic brunt of its bursting?

At the heart of this debacle is a fundamental disconnect between views of the role of government. One the one hand is the view that government is a guarantor, not a provider, of rights, and that people should have the same opportunity to succeed—or fail. On the other is the view that government is a grantor of “rights” —privileges, really—and that those privileges should be granted to “even out” unfair disparities existing between haves and have-nots. TARP is shaping up to be a tool of the latter view, unfortunately.

Adding a socialist tint to this measure, Paulson explained that participation in this “investment” program is mandatory. That’s right: the nation’s nine largest banks must accept the government’s largess, independent of financial standing. This gives rise to the maxim, “One person soils his pants, and now everyone’s gotta wear diapers.” Given that since before the beginning of the subprime meltdown free market principles have been compassionately, conservatively thrown under the bus, this maneuver should come as no surprise. Still, those charged with torchbearer duties should display a much firmer grasp of principles informing the Party of Reagan than to promulgate such positions. Worse still, the terms “limited” and “temporary” are wholly unrecognizable in the government’s lexicon. If these measures are indeed “not intended to take over the market,” why, then, is the U.S. government establishing a very significant ownership stake in our banking system? According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, the reason is to “restore more normal market functioning.” Well, okay then!

But wait a minute: isn’t government intervention in “normal market functioning” what got us into this mess in the first place? So are we now willing to believe that even more intervention into complex financial markets by individuals and entities with demonstrably bad track records of managing the governmental levers on America’s economic engine will yield better results? Certainly, government’s role in setting the stage for this crisis—from removing the wall between residential mortgage and equity markets, to mandating mark-to-market accounting, to poor oversight and bad practices of government sponsored entities (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—cannot be overstated.

Maybe there’s a lesson here. The Great Depression wasn’t “great” because of evil bankers, stockbrokers or investors. What made the worst economic meltdown in U.S. history so bad was pervasive, prolonged government meddling in economic markets, accompanied by shockingly poor governmental monetary policy. As one of the foremost scholars on the financial aspects of the Great Depression, Bernanke ought to know this well. So rather than championing “help” from one of the most obviously culpable players in the Great Depression, perhaps Bernanke would be better served by taking a page from studies with which—ideally, at least—he’s already familiar.

For a comprehensive look at the current economic crisis, don’t miss Mark Alexander’s essays: Economics 101: Crisis of Confidence (a comprehensive but quick reading analysis of the current financial crisis), Bailout v. Workout—The continuing crisis (an update on the crisis), and Drive-by Observations on the continuing crisis (a supplement of current opinion on the continuing crisis, updated regularly).

Income Redistribution: ‘Spread the wealth’
Joe Wurzelbacher, now simply known as “Joe the Plumber,” has been thrust into the spotlight as “everyman” representing the people who want to live the American Dream—all because he questioned Barack Obama about his tax plan at a rally this week. He didn’t believe that Obama was truthful when he stated in the second presidential debate, “Only a few percent of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year. So the vast majority of small businesses would get a tax cut under my plan.” But Obama reassured him, “It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too. I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” That’s known around our humble shop as “trickle up poverty.”

In fact, most people who taste success the hard way, through entrepreneurship, would indeed be hit with extra expenses by Obama’s government—and not just in higher taxes, but also by being forced to provide health insurance to employees. Further, the definition of “small business” varies by type: according to the Small Business Administration a “small business” can have up to $33 million in receipts, easily exceeding the $250,000 threshold.

One of Barack’s promises, that 95 percent of taxpayers are promised a tax cut, is a grand piece of misinformation that would make Josef Stalin proud. Forty percent of Americans already pay no income tax whatsoever and thus would simply be the beneficiaries of increased income redistribution. It’s yet another chance for Democrats to ensnare people into government dependence. And the $250,000 figure is only for couples. Individuals would have to make only $200,000 to be slapped with higher taxes. Finally, lest we forget, Obama has promised to “roll back the Bush tax cuts.” Translation: higher taxes for everyone, rich and poor alike.

As for Joe, his fame has earned him the scrutiny of the Leftmedia for daring to question their messiah. The New York Times carried a front-page hit piece about him today. So it’s official: The Times has now spent more time investigating the plumber from Toledo than they have the senator from Illinois.

 

From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
The rigors of campaigning are taking their toll on Joe Biden. Talking about the economy this week, the Delaware Democrat said, “Look, John [McCain]’s last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.” At least he didn’t say anything totally ridiculous like claiming to campaign in all 57 states.

As the old saying goes, there are three kinds of people in the world—those who can count, and those who can’t.

Nobel Prize devalued again
Whatever shred of dignity remained attached to the Nobel Prize following Yasser Arafat’s win in 1994, Jimmy Carter’s win in 2002 and Al Gore’s win in 2007 further eroded with Paul Krugman’s receipt of this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. Krugman, a Princeton University Professor, New York Times columnist and former Enron adviser, purportedly won for his trade theories—which advocate subsidizing some industries to maintain international competition. This used to be known as mercantilism. But the timing of the Nobel committee’s decision, just three weeks before the election, and the fact that over the past several years Krugman has become far better known for his scathing criticisms of the Bush administration than for his economic activity, more than suggest political motivations are at play.

In fact, Krugman the pundit is so far removed from Krugman the economist that investment officer and National Review Online contributing editor Donald Luskin noted that this is the first year the Prize has ever been awarded posthumously.

Although it’s remotely possible that Krugman—a self-proclaimed “unabashed defender of the welfare state” who has said that his “economic theories have no doubt been influenced by my relationship with my cats” —deserved the prize, it’s more likely the committee was continuing its pattern of selecting winners based not on merit but on degree of anti-Bush sentiment. Either that, or someone on the committee really likes cats.

Let us know what you think: Click here to comment on this section
 

CULTURE
Judicial Benchmarks: CT court redefines marriage
As California voters prepare to weigh in on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court of Connecticut took a cue from the California Supreme Court and extended the right of marriage to same-sex couples. The 4-3 ruling is little more than typical liberal legislating from the bench.

Like California, Connecticut had already enacted a civil-union statute that bestowed upon same-sex couples all of the same legal rights that marriage provides. Illustrating their keen sense of the obvious, the majority’s opinion stated in part, “It is abundantly clear that preserving the institution of marriage as a union between a man and a woman is the overriding reason why same-sex couples have been barred from marrying in this state.” Unfortunately, however, that bit of sanity had no bearing on their eventual decision. “Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice,” Justice Richard Palmer wrote in the majority opinion. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”

Justice Peter Zarella, in the minority opinion, wrote, “The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry.” He added that if that is to be changed, it should be “a decision for the legislature or the people of the state and not this court.” What a concept.

 

Village Academic Curriculum: Chicago schools
The Chicago Board of Education is set to vote next week on whether to approve a “School of Social Justice Pride Campus” to provide a “safe haven” for homosexual, transgender and bisexual students. “It is not going to be a ‘gay high school,’ but... it is meant to target kids who feel they have been victims of bullying for their sexual orientation or perceived orientation,” said an executive officer with the school system. Officials cite studies showing that students harassed because of sexual orientation do not perform as well in school as their heterosexual peers and have higher dropout rates. Since those studies were conducted by groups that advocate homosexual rights and their allies in the Chicago School district itself, we’re sure they are completely balanced.

In addition to providing counseling, the Pride Campus’s curriculum would include history and literature topics on sexual identity. In other words, the school board is promoting the homosexual agenda by normalizing such behavior through segregation and indoctrination. The students “won’t be told forthrightly about the risks of homosexual behavior... They’ll be confirmed in their confusion, and they won’t get the other side,” said Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

As noted in Mark Alexander’s essay, [“Gender Identity, The Homosexual Agenda and the Christian Response,”] children who are raised in homes without fathers are at a much greater risk for sexually deviant behaviors, and that “currently, only one in three children—and only one in five inner-city children—is in a home with a mother and father.” Could it be that the families of Chicago students would fall into that category? While we view homosexuality as a moral issue, the liberal agenda will continue to whittle it down to a biological destiny, one which special schools will help nurture and taxpayers will fund.

Regulatory Commissars: Car seats
Never mind mortgage and banking regulations. Since the 1970s, government has all but taken over one industry, regulating it to the hilt—and beyond. Whereas merely 38 years ago, the car seat industry enjoyed relative government-free obscurity, in 1971, the feds assumed the role of Super Nanny and issued the first standard for child safety seats. It’s been a bumpy ride ever since.

Today, every state as well as the District of Columbia has some type of law requiring car seat use, and it doesn’t end there. In Maine, children over 40 pounds must travel in a booster seat until they are 80 pounds or eight years old, whichever comes last. In Massachusetts, kids out of boosters must ride seat-belted in the back seat until they are 12, and parents violating these laws may garner fines of up to $500.

Still, there’s more. Deeming parents unqualified to install their own car seats, governments encourage professional installation at an inspection center, such as a police or fire station—and if your seat has reached its expiration date, an inspector may refuse to install it.

There’s no doubt car seats are important safety devices, but this mountain of mandates leads us to wonder, who’s getting a boost from car seat manufacturers?



And last...
At last, God can rest easy. He is no longer the target of a lawsuit in Nebraska where state senator Ernie Chambers filed his case in September of last year. Chambers, a Democrat and self-identified agnostic, was suing God for a permanent injunction preventing the Almighty from wreaking havoc and causing harm through such “acts of God” as tornados and earthquakes. The court’s Judge Marlon Polk tossed out the case, with prejudice, however, declaring the suit could not go forward because Chambers could produce no proof that he had served the Deity with papers informing of the lawsuit. Chambers took issue with the ruling, saying, “The court itself acknowledges the existence of God. A consequence of that acknowledgment is a recognition of God’s omniscience.” Therefore, Chambers said, “Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit.” We won’t argue with that, though Judge Polk was not persuaded. Perhaps he took the command “judge not” a little too literally.

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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SB_Mig
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« Reply #184 on: October 17, 2008, 11:25:57 AM »

Quote
common sense logic
honesty
here is where I really stand
I support and talk UP my country
My country has done a great humanitarian service in Iraq
I believe in freedom from government tyranny
I don't like socialism

You left out:

I owe back taxes and have a lien on my house.
I'm not actually a licensed plumber
I make less than $250,000 a year, so Obama's tax raise won't effect me.

Link courtesy Drudge Report:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/14652.html

The back and forth over Joe the Plumber during the debate was just plain embarrassing. Who are we pandering to next week?
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #185 on: October 17, 2008, 11:36:17 AM »

Poor Joe. That guy can't catch a break:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/17/america/17joe.php

Another example of why I am very hesitant to give interviews, be photographed, or offer my opinion in a public (non-internet) forum.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #186 on: October 17, 2008, 01:04:15 PM »

A point which I have been trying to make with GM on our SCE!  Come join me on the thread!

================

Acorn Crackup

As news that the FBI is launching an investigation of its voter registration activities hit yesterday, the left-wing housing lobby Acorn received another blow. The group's dirty laundry will be aired at a board meeting today in New Orleans as its national board debates the merits of a lawsuit filed against Acorn by two of its own board members.

Karen Inman and Marcel Reid are the Acorn directors demanding that audits and other financial records of Acorn be turned over to them so they can complete an internal management review. They claim the records will show the organization is rife with financial irregularities created during the 38-year leadership of Wade Rathke, its founder.

Mr. Rathke left Acorn earlier this year after it was revealed his brother Dale had embezzled some $1 million from the group and that Mr. Rathke had concealed that scandal from his own board for eight years.

But Ms. Inman says the lawsuit is about far more than gaining access to financial records. She held a news conference yesterday and expressed concern that Wade Rathke continues to run Acorn from behind the scenes even though Acorn's board voted over the summer to sever all ties with him.

The internal divisions inside Acorn have led several organizers to form a dissident group called Speaking Truth To Power. The dissidents called on Barack Obama this week to support their efforts at reforming the organization. Mr. Obama has gone to great lengths to distance himself from the roles he played as a top trainer and attorney for Acorn during the 1990s.

-- John Fund

McCain's Missed Opportunity: Exposing Obama's Welfarism

This week's Washington Post/ABC News poll contains a disturbing finding for Sen. John McCain. As the Post's own report puts it: "[Barack] Obama's pitch to the middle class on taxes is beginning to sink in; nearly as many [voters] said they think their taxes would go up under a McCain administration as under an Obama presidency, and more see their burdens easing with the Democrat in the White House."

When Republicans aren't even winning the tax question, you know it's probably going to be a bad year for the GOP.

At Wednesday night's debate, Mr. McCain went hard after Sen. Obama's plan to raise tax rates on the wealthy and on businesses, and may have done himself some good. A CBS News post-debate poll found 64% of viewers thought Mr. Obama would raise their taxes versus 50% who thought Mr. McCain would. What Mr. McCain failed to do, however, was rebut Mr. Obama's claim he would cut taxes for "95% of working families," the core of his pitch to the middle class.

As the Wall Street Journal and others have pointed out, this claim depends on including "refundable" tax credits -- i.e., tax money taken from some voters and given to others. When Mr. Obama talks about "sharing the wealth," he means it in the old-fashioned redistributionist sense -- but he calls it "tax cuts." Sufficing to burst this pretense would have been a simple question: "Mr. Obama, what rate would you cut working-class families' taxes to?" Mr. Obama would have had to explain he was really talking about sending income-leveling checks to large numbers of households -- something most voters would better understand as "welfare."

Mr. McCain turned in a solid debate performance but missed an opportunity to dismantle Mr. Obama's biggest selling point to voters on taxes.

-- Blake Dvorak, RealClearPolitics.com

Ms. Information

Why are Democrats trying to cover up their sweetheart relationships with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? And why does the media allow it?

This past week I appeared on Bill Maher's HBO show Real Time with Representative Maxine Waters of California. Ms. Waters fibbed on the air about her connections to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It all began when Mr. Maher tried to the lay blame for the credit meltdown on inadequate regulation of Wall Street. I pointed out that among the biggest failures this year were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and that Democrats had protected them against tougher regulation. I said to Ms. Waters: "You said [the system for regulating the mortgage giants] wasn't broke five years ago at a Congressional hearing, and you took $15,000 of campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie."

Responded Ms. Waters: "That is a lie and I challenge you to find $15,000 that I took from Fannie PAC."

Naturally, on hearing such a categorical insistence from Ms. Waters that my facts were wrong, I double-checked the numbers on the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org Web site. CRP had listed all the political contributions from the Fannie Mae Pac after the federal bailout of Fannie and Freddie late in the summer. Sure enough, the report confirms that Maxine Waters was recipient of $15,000 in Fannie Mae Pac dollars since 1989. Altogether, some 354 current members of Congress had received a total of $4.8 million from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

This has become a pattern of congressional Democrats, who deny their incestuous relationship with Fannie and Freddie, even when it means strangling the truth on national TV. Ms. Waters said to me during and after the show that she had wanted to regulate Fannie. But here's what she said in a 2004 congressional hearing: "Through nearly a dozen hearings, we were frankly trying to fix something that wasn't broke. Mr. Chairman, we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and particularly at Fannie Mae, under the outstanding leadership of Franklin Raines."

Imagine the number of times network news would be playing the clip of a Republican congresswoman caught lying on national TV. Ms. Waters no doubt felt her allies in most of the major media outlets would protect her. And the real scandal here is that, regrettably, she was right.

-- Stephen Moore

Quote of the Day

"If you talk to most of the scientists who are ardent about the issue, they have a political or ideological worldview that says mankind needs to stop putting CO2 into the atmosphere. It's a religious belief and it's widespread in the scientific community. . . . This wouldn't be important if it weren't for the policy implications. The direction we're going on policy is going to kill millions of people for no good reason. As it is environmentalists have already killed millions of people for no good reason, with the DDT ban" -- climate scientist Roy Spencer, a team leader on NASA's precipitation-monitoring Aqua satellite, in an interview on the San Francisco Chronicle's Web site.

Will the Real John McCain Please Stand Up?

John McCain often comes across as stodgy and stiff. Well, last night, at the nonpartisan Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner in New York, the senator brought down the house with his hilarious remarks on the election so far. With pitch-perfect delivery and impeccable timing, who knew that a white-tie affair would actually loosen him up?

On his penchant to overhaul his campaign staff, Mr. McCain self-mockingly announced that, once again, he's replaced his entire team of senior advisors, this time by one man: Joe the Plumber. Joe's concerned about getting hit by an Obama tax increase, Mr. McCain continued, because he recently signed "a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle the work on all seven of their houses " -- a shot at the McCains and their controversial housing assets.

On his relationship with Barack Obama, who was seated nearby, Mr. McCain revealed that while he likes to call his "friend and colleague . . . 'That One,'" Mr. Obama "even has a pet name for me: George Bush."

And in recognizing his underdog status, he lamented that "his friend " Chris Matthews of MSNBC was not a McCain supporter. "We've talked about it, and I've told him: 'Maverick I can do, but Messiah is above my paygrade.'"

Still, Mr. McCain said there was much cause for hope: "Even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats, I can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me. I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary!"

Like many other McCain speeches, this one was given from behind a podium and read from notes. Yet the crowd clearly loved him, as you could tell by the extended applause. If only every stop along the campaign trail was an Al Smith memorial dinner.

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« Reply #187 on: October 18, 2008, 08:30:20 PM »

Palin's Failin'
What is it she stands for? After seven weeks, we don't know.
Peggy Noonan

"Sometimes the leak is so bad that even a plumber can't fix it." This was the concise summation of a cable political strategist the other day, after the third and final presidential debate. That sounds about right, and yet the race in its final days retains a feeling of dynamism. I think it is going to burst open or tighten, not just mosey along. I can well imagine hearing, the day after Election Day, a lot of "You won't believe it but I was literally in line at the polling station when I decided."
[Declarations] AP

John McCain won the debate, and he did it by making the case more effectively than he has in the past that Barack Obama will raise taxes, when "now, of all times in America, we need to cut people's taxes." He also scored Mr. Obama on his eloquence, using it against him more effectively than Hillary Clinton ever did. When she said he was "just words," it sounded like a bitter complaint. Mr. McCain made it a charge: Young man, you attempt to obscure truth with the mellifluous power of your words. From Mrs. Clinton it sounded jealous, but when Mr. McCain said it, you looked at Mr. Obama and wondered if you'd just heard something that was true. For the first time, Mr. Obama's unruffled demeanor didn't really work for him. His cool made him seem hidden.

There is now something infantilizing about this election. Mr. Obama continued to claim he will remove wasteful spending by sitting down with the federal budget and going through it "line by line." This is absurd, and he must know it. Mr. McCain continued to vow he will "balance the budget" in the next four years. Who believes that? Does even he?

More than ever on the campaign trail, the candidates are dropping their G's. Hardworkin' families are strainin' and tryin'a get ahead. It's not only Sarah Palin but Mr. McCain, too, occasionally Mr. Obama, and, of course, George W. Bush when he darts out like the bird in a cuckoo clock to tell us we are in crisis. All of the candidates say "mom and dad": "our moms and dads who are struggling." This is Mr. Bush's former communications adviser Karen Hughes's contribution to our democratic life, that you cannot speak like an adult in politics now, that's too austere and detached, snobby. No one can say mothers and fathers, it's all now the faux down-home, patronizing—and infantilizing—moms and dads. Do politicians ever remember that in a nation obsessed with politics, our children—sorry, our kids—look to political figures for a model as to how adults sound?

There has never been a second's debate among liberals, to use an old-fashioned word that may yet return to vogue, over Mrs. Palin: She was a dope and unqualified from the start. Conservatives and Republicans, on the other hand, continue to battle it out: Was her choice a success or a disaster? And if one holds negative views, should one say so? For conservatives in general, but certainly for writers, the answer is a variation on Edmund Burke: You owe your readers not your industry only but your judgment, and you betray instead of serve them if you sacrifice it to what may or may not be their opinion.

Here is a fact of life that is also a fact of politics: You have to hold open the possibility of magic. People can come from nowhere, with modest backgrounds and short résumés, and yet be individuals of real gifts, gifts that had previously been unseen, that had been gleaming quietly under a bushel, and are suddenly revealed. Mrs. Palin came, essentially, from nowhere. But there was a man who came from nowhere, the seeming tool of a political machine, a tidy, narrow, unsophisticated senator appointed to high office and then thrust into power by a careless Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose vanity told him he would live forever. And yet that limited little man was Harry S. Truman. Of the Marshall Plan, of containment. Little Harry was big. He had magic. You have to give people time to show what they have. Because maybe they have magic too.

But we have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for? For seven weeks I've listened to her, trying to understand if she is Bushian or Reaganite—a spender, to speak briefly, whose political decisions seem untethered to a political philosophy, and whose foreign policy is shaped by a certain emotionalism, or a conservative whose principles are rooted in philosophy, and whose foreign policy leans more toward what might be called romantic realism, and that is speak truth, know America, be America, move diplomatically, respect public opinion, and move within an awareness and appreciation of reality.

But it's unclear whether she is Bushian or Reaganite. She doesn't think aloud. She just . . . says things.

Her supporters accuse her critics of snobbery: Maybe she's not a big "egghead" but she has brilliant instincts and inner toughness. But what instincts? "I'm Joe Six-Pack"? She does not speak seriously but attempts to excite sensation—"palling around with terrorists." If the Ayers case is a serious issue, treat it seriously. She is not as thoughtful or persuasive as Joe the Plumber, who in an extended cable interview Thursday made a better case for the Republican ticket than the Republican ticket has made. In the past two weeks she has spent her time throwing out tinny lines to crowds she doesn't, really, understand. This is not a leader, this is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn't seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.

No news conferences? Interviews now only with friendly journalists? You can't be president or vice president and govern in that style, as a sequestered figure. This has been Mr. Bush's style the past few years, and see where it got us. You must address America in its entirety, not as a sliver or a series of slivers but as a full and whole entity, a great nation trying to hold together. When you don't, when you play only to your little piece, you contribute to its fracturing.

In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It's no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism.

I gather this week from conservative publications that those whose thoughts lead them to criticism in this area are to be shunned, and accused of the lowest motives. In one now-famous case, Christopher Buckley was shooed from the great magazine his father invented. In all this, the conservative intelligentsia are doing what they have done for five years. They bitterly attacked those who came to stand against the Bush administration. This was destructive. If they had stood for conservative principle and the full expression of views, instead of attempting to silence those who opposed mere party, their movement, and the party, would be in a better, and healthier, position.

At any rate, come and get me, copper.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #188 on: October 20, 2008, 12:10:25 PM »

Has General Powell Heard of 'The Surge'?

NBC's Tom Brokaw certainly landed the big news that former Secretary of State Colin Powell was supporting Barack Obama. But in nearly half an our of airtime on "Meet the Press," Mr. Brokaw didn't bother to ask Gen. Powell about the success of the surge in Iraq or Mr. Obama's vote against General David Petraeus's winning strategy.

Newsbusters.com, a watchdog site run by the Media Research Center, notes that Mr. Powell, at one point, did suggest Iraqis are "going to make the political decisions, their security forces are going to take over, and they're going to have to create an environment of reconciliation where all the people can come together and make Iraq a much, much better place."

As Newsbusters observes, "This would have been an ideal moment for Brokaw to ask Powell if it was the surge that put America in a position to draw down troops . . . and what it says about Obama's military and foreign policy acumen that he opposed this strategy?" Instead, Mr. Brokaw suddenly changed the subject and veered into a question about William Ayers, the Obama associate and former Weather Underground member whom John McCain has criticized. Oh, how we miss Tim Russert, the late host of "Meet the Press," who would never have let go of a subject until he had drained the last ounce of news value from it.

-- John Fund

Bad Blood

Colin Powell attributed his endorsement of Barack Obama on "Meet the Press" yesterday not just to the unreadiness of Sarah Palin to serve as president but also to John McCain's reaction to the financial crisis, the general rightward tilt of the GOP and comments anonymous senior Republican officials privately made in recent months about Mr. Obama's faith.

In fact, Mr. Powell's estrangement from the GOP predates the McCain campaign and goes back to his speech on Feb. 5, 2003 making the case in the United Nations for war against Iraq.

The best reporting on this turning point was done by Karen DeYoung, an associate editor at the Washington Post. In a lengthy article published two years ago, she recounted how at one point Dick Cheney poked Mr. Powell in the chest and told him: "You've got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points."

The rest is history: In the months after the invasion, when no stockpiled WMD were found in Iraq, Mr. Powell grew disenchanted with the White House and offered at least two dissenting public statements about WMD that drew a rebuke (including calls from Condoleezza Rice asking him how he was going to clean up the mess his comments created). When a special prosecutor was appointed to look into who leaked the name of CIA agent Valeria Plame, Mr. Powell never stepped forward with the leaker's name, even though he knew all along it was his own deputy Richard Armitage. Instead, Mr. Powell allowed the special prosecutor to spend months questioning White House staffers and journalists, eventually leading to the indictment of Cheney aide Lewis Libby for obstruction and perjury.

Shortly after Mr. Bush won re-election in 2004, Mr. Powell resigned and has spent much of the past year making noises about endorsing Mr. Obama, including praising the speech the Democratic presidential candidate gave on race in Philadelphia and defending his intention of holding presidential level talks with Iran. When asked about Mr. Powell's endorsement, John McCain yesterday said it "doesn't come as a surprise." Given the history, what's surprising is that it took Mr. Powell so long to leave the GOP.

-- Brendan Miniter

Quote of the Day

"We have never had a presidential race, since 1944, where the contest was not the most important news in the four weeks before the election. (In 1944, the war overshadowed the election much to the frustration of the Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey). The candidates seem unable to get a word in edgewise as the financial news dominates. People follow the Dow Jones more than the Gallup, Rasmussen or Zogby polls. If the presidential race remains an afterthought, crowded out by the financial news, Obama will waltz into the White House by a comfortable margin. But if the stock market stops its gyrations for a while and no new household name/corporation or bank goes broke, the negatives against Obama will compel attention at last. And then the race may close swiftly and dramatically" -- former Clinton consultant Dick Morris, writing in The Hill newspaper.

Extraordinary Joe

I caught up with the most famous man in America these days, Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, when we appeared together on the new Fox TV show Huckabee. Joe has a shiny bald head and a burly, chiseled body. Though resolute in his beliefs and always polite, he seemed a bit overwhelmed by the attention he's received in the past week. He also gave me a first-hand account of his encounter with Barack Obama and his reaction to the vicious left-wing attack machine that has been turned on him over the past week.

"I just thought his tax plan would really hurt small businesses," he told me, explaining why he spoke up when the Democratic nominee came canvassing down his street outside of Toledo, Ohio. "It seemed contrary to the American dream to me. Why tax success?" Joe said he hoped to build a business as a plumbing contractor, and those taxes "would really hit that kind of small business." "It's not just the taxes," he added. "The health care plan that Obama has will also add to employer costs."

He's right on the mark there. The Obama pay-or-play health care plan imposes new costs on small and medium-sized businesses that don't pay health care for their employees. "A lot of these employers just can't afford it," he says.

I asked him why he had not joined the plumbers union, which seems to have caused heartache among his liberal critics. "I don't have anything against the unions," he says. "I just didn't see the purpose of paying the dues. Never wanted to." No wonder the left is out to get him. He also brushes off the criticism altogether of his unpaid $1200 tax bill. "That's all beside the point. I just raised a question about how the Obama plan would affect people like me. This election is about America and what our country will look like."

As for the attacks mounted in the New York Times and elsewhere on his character, "To be honest, I never saw this coming," he tells me with a pained expression. "It's not fair to my family."

Mr. Wurzelbacher was accompanied by his father, also a blue-collar worker, and his 12-year-old son in his visit to Fox News -- seemingly a tight-knit Midwestern family feeling the same tough times that many Americans from states like Ohio are confronting. On talk radio shows this past week, we have learned there are thousands of people like Joe the Plumber, all raising the same questions. These are voters Democrats say they stand behind and whose economic interests they protect -- as long as they don't question the left's vision of America. If John McCain pulls off an upset, he will have Joe Wurzelbacher and others like him to thank.

-- Stephen Moore

Joe, Take Two

I also crossed paths with Joe the Plumber over the weekend and found him to be a common-sense, down-to-earth guy who knows a lot more than just pipes.

Asked about his exchange with Barack Obama on the candidate's tax plan, he said Mr. Obama was a smooth talker but not a good listener. He seemed mistakenly to think Joe was already making a lot of money, not merely that he hoped someday to own a business that would make over $250,000 a year. "I don't make nearly that much now, but I hope to in the business I buy someday," Mr. Wurzelbacher told me.

Mr. Obama also muffed details of his own tax plan, confusing a small business's revenue and net income, and the tax rate that would apply under his proposals. He also seemed hazy about the Flat Tax, put forward by Steve Forbes and Dick Armey a decade ago, confusing it with proposals for a national sales tax and saying the rate would have to go to 40%. "I was talking about one thing, and he was answering me about something else," Mr. Wurzelbacher recalls.

The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank in Chicago, points out that a flat tax would let Americans see exactly how much government costs in one easy, transparent and accountable tax. Mr. Obama's reforms, in contrast, would only add to the thousands of loopholes, exemptions and complications of the current 67,000 page tax code. "A candidate for president should at least know the difference between a flat tax and a national sales tax," Heartland concludes. "But both a flat tax and a national sales tax are head and shoulders over the convoluted tax system we have now."

-- John Fund





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SB_Mig
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« Reply #189 on: October 20, 2008, 12:54:52 PM »

Quote
NBC's Tom Brokaw certainly landed the big news that former Secretary of State Colin Powell was supporting Barack Obama. But in nearly half an our of airtime on "Meet the Press," Mr. Brokaw didn't bother to ask Gen. Powell about the success of the surge in Iraq or Mr. Obama's vote against General David Petraeus's winning strategy.

Press conference transcript:

Reporter: Mr. Secretary, there were a number of chinks in your own armor, actually, because of the lead-up to the Iraq war and the events. How much did that play into your decision about this? And will it be taken perhaps by some, because of your previous high-profile position, won't it be taken by some as a repudiation of the Iraq war?

Powell: I don't know why. The Iraq war is the Iraq war. We now see that things are a lot better in Iraq. Maybe if we had put a surge in at the beginning, it would have been a lot better years ago, but it's a lot better now, and we can see ahead to where U.S. forces will start to come out. And so, my concern was not my past or what happened in Iraq, but where we're going in the future. My sole concern was where are we going after January 20 of 2009, not what happened in 2003.

I'm well aware of the role I played. My role has been very, very straightforward. I wanted to avoid a war. The president agreed with me. We tried to do that. We couldn't get it through the U.N. and when the president made the decision, I supported that decision. And I've never blinked from that. I've never said I didn't support a decision to go to war.

And the war looked great until the 9th of April, when the statue fell, everybody thought it was terrific. And it was terrific. The troops had done a great job. But then we failed to understand that the war really was not over, that a new phase of the war was beginning. And we weren't ready for it and we didn't respond to it well enough, and things went very, very -- very, very south, very bad.

And now it's starting to turn around through the work of Gen. Petraeus and the troops, through the work of the Iraqi government, through our diplomatic efforts, and I hope now that this war will be brought to an end, at least as far as American involvement is concerned, and the Iraqis are going to have to be responsible for their own security and for their own political future. ...
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #190 on: October 20, 2008, 01:03:02 PM »

I'm not clear here.  Are you saying that transcript is of Brokaw?
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SB_Mig
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« Reply #191 on: October 20, 2008, 01:04:19 PM »

Post "Meet the Press" press conference...

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« Reply #192 on: October 24, 2008, 05:08:32 PM »

Well here is one source of what I am talking about.  I am not a fan or advocate of wealth confiscation and redistribution but there must be a fair way of getting the middle and bottom echelons to do better along with the top.

As Clinton used to say the problems in this world stem from the haves vs. the have nots.

Despite his tax raises he noted how the wealthy got wealthier faster then the others.
 
We may be seeing a "peaceful" revolution in the US

http://www.cbpp.org/4-9-08sfp.htm

*** All Reports by DateAll Reports by Date

A state-by-state examination of trends in income inequality over the past two business cycles finds that inequality has grown in most parts of the country since the late 1980s.  The incomes of the country’s highest-income families have climbed substantially, while middle- and lower-income families have seen only modest increases.

In fact, the long-standing trend of growing income inequality accelerated between the late 1990s and the mid-2000s (the latest period for which state data are available).

On average, incomes have declined by 2.5 percent among the bottom fifth of families since the late 1990s, while increasing by 9.1 percent among the top fifth.

In 19 states, average incomes have grown more quickly among the top fifth of families than among the bottom fifth since the late 1990s.  In no state has the bottom fifth grown significantly faster than the top fifth.

For very high-income families — the richest 5 percent — income growth since the late 1990s has been especially dramatic, and much faster than among the poorest fifth of families.

Similarly, families in the middle of the income distribution have fallen farther behind upper-income families in many states since the late 1990s:

On average, incomes have grown by just 1.3 percent among the middle fifth of families since the late 1990s, well below the 9.1 percent gain among the top fifth.  Income disparities between the top and middle fifths have increased significantly in Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas.  Income disparities did not decline significantly in any state.

The benefits of economic growth were broadly shared for a few years in the late 1990s — the only period in the past two decades for which this was true — but this broad-based growth ended with the 2001 downturn.  Once the effects of the recession were left behind, the trend toward greater inequality quickened, as the incomes of the richest families climbed while those of low- and moderate-income families stagnated or declined.

Methodology

This analysis uses the latest Census Bureau data to measure post-federal-tax changes in real incomes among high-, middle- and low-income families in each of the 50 states between the late 1980s, the late 1990s, and the mid-2000s — similar points in the business cycle (“peaks”).

In order to generate large enough sample sizes for state-level analysis, the study compares combined data from 2004-2006 with data from 1987-1989 and 1998-2000.  The study is based on Census income data that have been adjusted to account for inflation, the impact of federal taxes, and the cash value of food stamps, subsidized school lunches, housing vouchers, and other government transfers, such as Social Security and welfare benefits. 

Realized capital gains and losses are not included, due to data limitations.  As a result, our results show somewhat less inequality than would be the case were we to include realized capital gains.

In this analysis, changes in income inequality are determined by calculating the income gap — i.e., the ratio between the average family income in the top fifth of the income spectrum and the average family income in the bottom fifth (or the middle fifth) — and examining changes in this ratio over time.  These changes are then tested to see if they are statistically significant.

States fall into one of two categories:  (1) those where inequality increased (that is, the ratio increased by a statistically significant amount), or (2) those where there was no change in inequality (the change in the ratio was not statistically significant).  It also would be possible for a state to fall into a third category — states where inequality decreased by a statistically significant amount.  In this analysis, however, no state experienced a decline in income inequality.
 


Specifically, real wages for low- and moderate-income families grew more slowly in 2002 and the first part of 2003 and then began to decline; on average, they are now the same or lower than they were in 2001.  The highest-income families also saw declines in real income during the 2001 downturn (due both to the broad sweep of that recession in the job market and to the loss of realized capital gains), but their incomes grew rapidly once they recovered from these losses.  The federal tax cuts of the early 2000s, which were targeted primarily on wealthy families, helped widen the income gap between the wealthiest families and those with low and moderate incomes.

An examination of income trends over a longer period — from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s — shows that inequality increased across the country.

In 37 states, incomes have grown faster among the top fifth of families than the bottom fifth of families since the late 1980s.  No state has seen a significant decline in inequality during this period.  Nationally, the richest fifth of families have enjoyed larger average income gains each year ($2,060, after adjusting for inflation) than the poorest fifth of families have experienced during the entire two decades ($1,814).

Middle-income families have also lost ground compared to those at the top.  In 36 states, the income gap between the average middle-income family and the average family in the richest fifth has widened significantly since the late 1980s.


Top 5 Percent of Families Pulling Away Even Faster

The widening income gap is even more pronounced when one compares families in the top 5 percent of the income distribution (rather than the top fifth) to the bottom 20 percent.  The higher one goes up the income scale, the greater is the degree of income concentration.

In the 11 large states analyzed, the average income of the top 5 percent of families rose by more than $90,000 on average.  (In three states — New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts — the increase exceeded $100,000.)  By contrast, the largest increase in average income for the bottom fifth of families in these states was only $3,000.  In New York, for example, average incomes grew by $108,000 among the top 5 percent of families but by less than $1,000 among the bottom 20 percent of families.

In the 11 large states for which this comparison is possible, the incomes of the top 5 percent of families have increased by 34 percent to 91 percent since the late 1980s.  By contrast, the percentage increase in incomes of the bottom fifth of families in these states ranged from no change to 20 percent over the same period.[1]


Wide and Growing Gap Separates High-Income Families from Poor and Middle Class

The resulting disparities between the incomes of high- and low-income families are substantial.

In the United States as a whole, the poorest fifth of families have an average income of $18,120, while the top fifth of families have an average income of $132,130 — more than seven times as much.  In 22 states, this top-to-bottom income ratio exceeds 7.0.  (In the late 1980s, in contrast, just one state — Louisiana — had a top-to-bottom ratio exceeding 7.0.)  The states with the biggest increases in income disparities since the late 1980s are Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Alabama, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Kansas, New Jersey and Washington.

The average incomes of the top 5 percent of families are 12 times the average incomes of the bottom fifth.  The states with the largest such gap are New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Jersey, Tennessee, New Mexico, Alabama, California, and Virginia.

Similarly, income gaps between high-income and middle-income families have grown.

In over two-thirds of states, incomes have grown faster over the past two decades among the richest families than among families in the middle of the income spectrum — more than twice as fast, on average.  In the remaining states, incomes have grown at about the same rate for the middle and top fifths of families.

The states with the largest gaps between high-income and middle-income families are Oklahoma, Mississippi, California, New York, Texas, New Mexico, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana, and Virginia.


Causes of Rising Inequality

Several factors have contributed to the large and growing income gaps in most states. 

Growth in wage inequality.  This has been the biggest factor.  Wages at the bottom and middle of the wage scale have been stagnant or have grown only modestly for much of the last two decades.  The wages of the very highest-paid employees, however, have grown significantly.

Wage inequality is growing for several reasons, including long periods of high unemployment, globalization, the shrinkage of manufacturing jobs and the expansion of low-wage service jobs, and immigration, as well as the lower real value of the minimum wage and fewer and weaker unions.  As a result, wages have eroded for workers with less than a college education, who make up approximately the lowest-earning 70 percent of the workforce.  More recently, wages have been relatively stagnant even for college-educated workers (up only 2.5 percent between 2000 and 2007), in part due to the bursting of the tech bubble, but also due to the downward pressure on wages from offshore competition.

Only in the later part of the 1990s did this picture improve modestly, as persistent low unemployment, an increase in the minimum wage, and rapid productivity growth fueled real wage gains at the bottom and middle of the income scale.  Yet those few years of more broadly shared growth were insufficient to counteract the two-decade-long pattern of growing inequality.  Today, inequality between low- and high-income families — and between middle- and high-income families — is greater than it was in the late 1980s or the late 1990s.

Expansion of investment income.   Forms of income such as dividends, rent, interest, and capital gains, which primarily accrue to those at the top of the income structure, increased substantially during the 1990s.  (Our analysis captures only a part of this growth, as we are not able to include capital gains income due to data limitations.)   The large increase in corporate profits during the recent economic recovery has also contributed to growing inequality by boosting investors’ incomes.

Government policies.  Government actions — and, in some cases, inaction — have contributed to the increase in wage and income inequality in most states.  Examples include deregulation and trade liberalization, the weakening of the social safety net, the lack of effective labor laws regulating the right to collective bargaining, and the declining real value of the minimum wage.  In addition, changes in federal, state, and local tax structures and benefit programs have, in many cases, accelerated the trend toward growing inequality emerging from the labor market.


States Can Mitigate the Growth in Inequality

Growing income inequality not only raises basic issues of fairness, but also adversely affects the nation’s economy and political system.  The country has now entered a new economic downturn — quite possibly a recession — and already there are unmistakable signs that low- and middle-income workers will be hard hit.  The uneven distribution of the country’s prosperity over the last two decades has left families at the bottom and middle of the income scale ill-prepared to weather this latest downturn.  While the recent decline in the stock market is affecting the incomes of the wealthiest families, they have more savings to cushion the impact, and, if the 2001 experience is repeated, their incomes will again bounce back strongly.

A significant amount of increasing income inequality results from economic forces that are largely outside state policymakers’ control.  State policies, however, can mitigate the effects of these outside forces.  State options include:

Raise, and index, the minimum wage.  Until Congress acted in 2007, the federal minimum wage had not been adjusted for inflation for almost ten years, and its real value had fallen considerably.  Even with the 2007 increase, however, the minimum wage is not indexed to inflation — that is, it will not automatically keep up with the rising cost of living — so its value will begin to erode again after 2009 unless Congress acts.  In addition, its value still falls well short of the amount necessary to meet a family’s needs, especially in states with a high cost of living.  States can help raise wages for workers at the bottom of the pay scale by enacting a higher state minimum wage and indexing it for inflation.

Improve the unemployment insurance system.  In 2007, the share of unemployed workers receiving benefits was only 37 percent — a sign that the current unemployment insurance system does not reflect the realities of work and family today.   The current economic downturn makes it all the more urgent that federal and state policymakers act to make more jobless workers eligible for unemployment assistance by modernizing the system.

Make state tax systems more progressive.  The federal income tax system is progressive — that is, it narrows income inequalities — but has become less so over the past two decades as a result of changes such as the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.  Nearly all state tax systems, in contrast, are regressive.  This is because states rely more on sales taxes and user fees, which hit low-income families especially hard, than on progressive income taxes.  (The income inequality data in this report reflect the effects of federal taxes but not state taxes.)

Many states made their tax systems more regressive during the 1990s.  Early in the decade, when a recession created budget problems, states were more likely to raise sales and excise taxes than income taxes.  Later in the decade, when many states cut taxes in response to the strong economy, nearly all chose to make the majority of the cuts in their income taxes rather than sales and excise taxes.

States now appear to be on the brink of another fiscal crisis, and a new round of tax increases is both likely and appropriate if the economy remains weak and the fiscal crisis deepens.  Economists recognize that tax increases and other revenue measures, especially if targeted to high-income taxpayers, can be a reasonable alternative to spending cuts, and can actually be less harmful for a state’s economy than big spending cuts.

There are many ways a state can increase taxes in a way that makes its tax system more progressive at the same time.  For example, it can reduce its reliance on sales taxes by increasing its income tax on a temporary or permanent basis.  If states instead turn to increases in sales taxes or fees to balance their budgets, they can offset the impact on those least able to pay by enacting or expanding tax credits targeted to low-income taxpayers.  For example, more states could follow the lead of the 23 states that have adopted state earned income tax credits.

States can also improve the progressivity of their tax systems by not enacting at the state level the corporate tax cuts included in the federal economic stimulus package and by restoring state estate taxes eliminated as a result of the phase-out of the federal estate tax.

Strengthen the social safety net.  Federal and state changes to programs that assist low-income families have contributed to the increase in income inequality in recent years.  While welfare reform efforts in the mid- and late 1990s succeeded in helping more families move to work, they often made it harder for very poor families unable to find jobs or work consistently to get income assistance — and intensive job preparation and training — they need both to make ends meet in the short run and to become employable over the longer period of time.

States can take steps — such as improving assessment procedures and establishing job preparation programs for those with barriers to employment — that will make their assistance programs more responsive to those at the very bottom of the income scale while maintaining the work-focused nature of the program.

States can also strengthen their social safety nets by providing low-wage workers with supportive services such as health coverage, child care, and transportation.  In addition, they can provide intensive case management and other services to help current and former welfare recipients maintain their current jobs, move into better jobs, or obtain the education and training needed for career advancement.

While these are all useful steps, state policies are only one of a range of factors that have contributed to increasing income disparities over the past decade.  If low- and middle-income families are to stop receiving steadily smaller shares of the income pie, federal as well as state policies will have to play an important role.

TABLE A:
TOP TEN STATES FOR SELECTED INCOME INEQUALITY MEASURES
 
Greatest Income Inequality
Between the Top and the Bottom, Mid 2000s   Greatest Income Inequality Between the Top and the Middle, Mid 2000s
  1. New York       1. Oklahoma   
  2. Alabama       2. Mississippi   
  3. Mississippi       3. California   
  4. Massachusetts       4. New York   
  5. Tennessee       5. Texas   
  6. New Mexico       6. New Mexico   
  7. Connecticut       7. Florida   
  8. California       8. Arizona   
  9. Texas       9. Louisiana   
  10.Kentucky       10.Virginia   
Greatest Increases
in Income Inequality Between the Top and the Bottom,
Late 1980s to Mid 2000s   Greatest Increases in Income Inequality Between the Top and the Middle,
Late 1980s to Mid 2000s
  1. Connecticut       1. Connecticut   
  2. Rhode Island       2. Oregon   
  3. Massachusetts       3. Oklahoma   
  4. Alabama       4. Maryland   
  5. New York       5. California   
  6. Kentucky       6. New York   
  7. Maryland       7. New Jersey   
  8. Kansas       8. Rhode Island   
  9. New Jersey       9. Washington   
  10. Washington       10. Mississippi   
Greatest Increases
in Income Inequality
Between the Top and the Bottom, Late 1990s to Mid 2000s   States Where
Income Inequality Increased Between the Top and the Middle,
Late 1990s to Mid 2000s
  1. Mississippi       1. Mississippi   
  2. Alabama       2. New Mexico   
  3. New Mexico       3. Missouri   
  4. Connecticut       4. Illinois   
  5. Indiana       5. Alabama   
  6. Illinois       6. Florida   
  7. South Dakota       7. California   
  8. West Virginia       8. Texas   
  9. South Carolina           
  10.Massachusetts           

Click here for PDF of full report.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

End Notes:

[1] An analysis of the average income of the top 5 percent of families was conducted for 11 large states that have sufficient observations in the Current Population Survey to allow the calculation of reliable estimates of the average income of the top 5 percent of families.  These states are California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
 
  To ask questions, or send comments, write to bazie@cbpp.org
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
820 First Street, NE, Suite 510
Washington, DC  20002
Ph: (202) 408-1080
Fax: (202) 408-1056
 

 
 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #193 on: October 24, 2008, 05:51:36 PM »

I'm on my way out the door so no time to give that a proper read.

I do note though that the Dems screamed concentraiton when the Reagan tax cuts took effect.  Turns out the reason was that the rick were allowing their wealth to be taxed at the lower rates under Reagan.  This proved hard for the Dems to comprehend , , ,  rolleyes
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ccp
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« Reply #194 on: October 25, 2008, 11:59:58 AM »

Crafty,
you keep responding to this with a comment agaisnt taxing the rich as have others on the board.

I am not advocating taxing the rich to give to those who don't contribute.

I am saying that there is a growing welth dipsparity in the US and if the Rebpublicans do not address this in some fashion they will continue to swim against the dmeographic currents and may never recover.

I don't want to punish succesful people.  Hell I would like to be one of them.

There has to be some other answer to this.

Ignoring this has resulted in the Demcocrat tsunami in my opinion.

The Republicans today are in part not those of 1980 because they tried no to alienate the "middle class".  They treid to reach out to Latinos and immigrants.  So they got incredibly careless with spending thinking they won't turn off the majority.

Well that didn't work, that didn't attract more voters.

They must rethink the whole thing out.

There must be another way to raise the living standards of the majority of Americans who are running in place and indeed slowly slipping behind while that has not been true for the rich..

They can ignore it at their own peril.

People I think are tired of REagan's mantra philosopy and ideals.  They want action.  They want results.
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G M
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« Reply #195 on: October 25, 2008, 04:23:01 PM »

Socialism has never worked before, why would it work here and now? I guess since most people can't be bothered to learn history we get to re-learn this lesson the hard way. "Soak the rich" class warfare only hurts the middle class and the poor in the long run and removes opportunity for social mobility. Oh well, brace for "Carter II".  rolleyes
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #196 on: October 26, 2008, 01:46:42 AM »

CCP:

I found that interesting and will think about it.

Thank you,
Marc
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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #197 on: October 26, 2008, 08:45:08 AM »

Perhaps Doug can chime in here as I don't have the economic background to explain this sense if full, but the problem with most redistributionist schemes is that most "wealth" is based on symbols in some account somewhere. Those symbols have value based on their liquidity and ability to trade them for goods and services. If the government comes along and starts taking a greater percentage of each symbol as it is passed around--symbols they ultimately create and arbitrate--then not only are the number of symbols in a given account reduced, but the belief that a given symbol will purchase X amount of goods or service also takes a hit. After all, if the government can take back 10 percent of every one of their symbols when transferred, there's nothing to prevent them from snagging 20, 40, or 60 percent, particularly when "soak the rich" is the shrill cry.

The sad thing here is that the rich are much more versant in the language of symbols, and have many more options when a given government starts redistributing symbols. The rich find precious metals, offshore accounts, different currencies etc. in which to warehouse their symbols, or, more sadly still, say wealth creation is not worth tax hit, and pick their chips off the table and move on. It's the middle and lower classes who don't have the option of moving what symbols they do have elsewhere and hence end up sucking it up when the government dilutes what can be obtained with their symbols by taking a greater percentage off the top.
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G M
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« Reply #198 on: October 26, 2008, 08:51:43 AM »

Correct me if I'm wrong, but with information technology and the global financial grid, isn't it easier today than any time before for capital to flee the US if taxes get worse?
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DougMacG
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« Reply #199 on: October 26, 2008, 03:53:07 PM »

Guiness: "the problem with most redistributionist schemes is that most "wealth" is based on symbols in some account somewhere."

I find that theme more helpful in understanding the mortgage meltdown than for redistribution.  In the mortgage fiasco,  a deed to a property (a piece of paper) or a claim on a deed (a line item on a piece of paper) was packaged with similar and dissimilar items. The new product at each level introduced new risk of uncertainty of product, risk, value and information that worsened the collapse.

Back to redistribution: I think redistribution has 3 main two problems:

1) Redistribution transfers take what would be investment assets away from their most productive use and gives to a consuming class not likely invest at all.  Less invested in capital assets means a lower productivity of labor, lower output and fewer new jobs created.

2) Redistribution  involves raising marginal tax rates on those most able to rearrange their economic activities - incentive to produce and reportnless income; redistribution creates a disincentive to put the resources not yet confiscated to their most productive use  -maybe you will choose to buy a south pacific island instead of investing to build a new plant requiring new jobs.

3) The free lunch mentality injures the recipient.  Look at families with multi-generational welfare and program dependency.  Everything in their lives and neighborhoods can get ripped apart including the moral structure of the family.  The importance of the father and husband - two functional parents - is replaced by (false) security from the state.  Nonproductive activities get encouraged and rewarded, expanded and prolonged for the dependent class.  JMHO.
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