31 October 2008

Reason 2 of 7 to Vote McCain: The "S" Word

If one reads the website for the World Socialist Movement, one is left with a Utopian view. Everyone will voluntarily work at what they most want to and share goods in common that are produced only for use, according the website. Karl Marx was a little more blunt, and called for a proletarian revolution, while Socialist Action states that socialism can not be enacted through normal democratic processes, and calls for mass protest and revolution. Don't panic! Obama isn't going to start a world-revolution , and I doubt anyone cares whether or not he shared toys or a peanut butter sandwich. Because despite the Utopian language of some, and revolutionary language of others, the heart of socialism is the sacrifice of individual liberty for the sake of collective thinking and control of production. That is the heart of socialism. I've heard plenty of people state that they wouldn't mind a little sacrifice of liberty in exchange for care and justice for the poor, state health care, and yes, some wealth redistribution - that is as long as they were on the receiving end. But that's one of the main problems with socialism. It tells us that we all need to help each other, and then whips right around and tells us that some of us are too successful and others deserve a share of that success. This concept reminds me of Barry Goldwater's 1964 Republican Convention acceptance speech where he famously said, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also, that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." There is no vice, in the mind of the socialist, in extreme redistribution, and their is no virtue in moderating that stance.

Now I am a Christian, and the Bible has more verses about the poor and destitute than just about any other subject. It is my Christian duty to provide true charity (love) to any who need and want it. That is my Christian duty. But is it the responsibility of the state? Most of us could agree that the state should bear a collective responsibility to help those who truly need help, particularly those who, for whatever reason, can not physically work or better themselves. But what about those who can. If I out-compete my neighbor, and earn $10K more a year, is he entitled to some of my earnings, simply because I did better? I don't believe that. Further, every state that has tried this system long-term has failed, been forced to change, or exists in a perpetual twilight (ala Cuba). It's very true that Capitalism unchecked descends into chaotic greed, and that all Capitalism rests in part on some measure of competition. But, socialism is a disincentivizing system. It reward mediocrity.

Competition is what motivates individuals to push hard, to succeed beyond the expectations of their social setting. That is the very heart of the Middle Class in the US - a desire to better oneself, rather than to be assigned a place in society, and have nothing to work for. Competition increases a society's wealth and productivity. Socialism makes society dependent on the government . That is why McCain and Palin have been labeling Obama a socialist. Not because he shared something, but because he wants to share other people's somethings, and then convince them it was all their idea in the first place. And even if Obama is only moderately socialist in his leanings, even if Biden was really just making another 'gaffe' when he declared that the tax increases would begin at $150K, there is Congress to contend to. The current Congressional leadership (note to the constituencies of these clowns - vote them out!) has made it very clear that they will push for redistribution, and that the burden will start at incomes far lower than $250K.

Tomorrow (well, later today) - taxes. For now, go to the name link below for a hilarious take on the election. The video is on Slashdot.org. It was posted by samzepus, and I bow to his creativity.

29 October 2008

Reason 1 of 7 to Vote McCain for President

The first reason for a positive vote for Sen. McCain for President (or if you prefer, a negative vote against Sen. Obama), is their vastly different outlook on the power and uses of the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court. During the next Presidential term, there are likely to be two to three Supreme Court nominations. Sen. McCain, as he has notably said, is a Federalist. While not a strict Constructionist, he believes in a balance of power between the three federal branches, and that the federal power must be balanced against that of the states (and in many ways subjected to the power of the states). While he has said that he would not impose ideological litmus tests on judges, for which I applaud him while perhaps ruing the outcome for the pro-life movement, he would appoint judges that looked on their power as more restricted. That is, they are not there to make law but to adjudicate the merits of a case UNDER the law.

Sen. Obama tends to believe that the court's power is more fluid and encompassing. The recent release on the internet (see the download below) of a radio interview he gave while a State Senator in IL demonstrates his view that the Supreme Court is more the supreme decider of justice, rather than arbiter of it. Hence the Supreme Court could become the agent of redistribution of power and wealth to right historic wrongs and injustices, particularly if they have lingering effects.

Don't mistake me - justice is important. But the legislative branch is the means by which we change standards and law. And redistribution is the wrong way to right a wrong that stretches back in history. We can not afford to repay every debt, no matter how egregious. What we can do, is ensure economic growth and power are accessible to all who are willing to work for them and contribute to society. And that is not a job for the Supreme Court. Do you want to avoid and 'activist' court intent on imposing the will of the President for justice and redistribution? Vote for McCain.

25 October 2008

Fuzzy Math

Sen. Obama's tax and spending proposals have been dissected in this blog and elsewhere ad nauseum, so I will not dwell on all of them here. My concern in this article is to specifically address the blatant attempts on the part of the Obama campaign do deceive through fuzzy math. The deception specifically relates that most basic of household activities, balancing a checkbook. A caveat: I do not always succeed at this activity myself (mostly from failure to take time), so I can relate to someone who might struggle to do so. I can not however, excuse a planned, deliberate national policy that is not only designed to end in imbalance, but is designed to deceive the public.

Our national debt currently stands at over $1 trillion. Obama's proposed plans for tax rebates and increased spending, amount to around $1.6 trillion. Additionally, he proposes an additional $1.4 trillion according to the National Taxpayers Union. Multiple reports have stated that Obama's proposals would dramatically increase the deficit, would eventually increase taxes on the very middle class he purports to protect, and would slow growth just as we're entering a global recession. Would people get money from from the government under Obama's plans? Yes they would. Would these policies be the best way to grow the economy and spread opportunity (rather than 'the wealth')? No they would not. It is physically impossible for 5% of the populace to take care of a $4 trillion + deficit, and the demands that the Obama policies place on business and individuals in exchange for the benefits they supposedly will receive are onerous at best. The government should be in the business of creating a favorable climate for growth, and then allowing that to succeed or fail, not ensuring that everyone is the same. Freedom and equality depend on limits on government action as much as they do on government action.

How are we going to pay for this massive deficit under the Obama plan? We don't know for certain since Obama has been particularly vague (even more than normally) in stating if he would cut any spending, and what his intentions toward the deficit are. We might have some clues however. In an interview on CNBC the other day, Rep. Barney Franks alternately said we should forget the deficit for awhile and find the 'plenty of other rich people' out there to increase taxes on. There have been several reports examining a possible market reaction to the anti-growth nature of the Obama proposals recently, and of course, we Obama's promise to spread the wealth and Biden's statement that paying taxes is our religious and patriotic duty.

I would agree that paying taxes are necessary and important for government functions. I would even agree that there's a case to be made for increasing the tax rate somewhat on higher income levels. But I find it ludicrous that liberals are constantly referring to all increased taxes as 'progressive' and all decreased taxes as 'regressive' (particularly as concerns higher income tax brackets). The higher the burden a small or middle-sized business has to bear, the less they'll be able to pay for additional work-force. If a small business is pulling in a million a year, after paying the additional taxes under the Obama plan (which the owner is charged at an individual rate as if the business income is a personal take for the owner), the additional health care, the additional Medicare, overhead costs, and reinvestment in the business, there would be precious little left to make the business worthwhile. If the owner then invested what little he or she took home, Obama would then increase the rate of the capitol gains tax paid upon those investments, and increase the tax rate upon the inheritance built over the years.

The Obama policies are quite simply, anti-growth. They are socialist in nature, but worse, they will hand a tremendous deficit down at least several generations. What really bothers me the most, is the consistent attempt by Obama and Biden to sell these policies, in the vaguest of terms, as helpful to the middle-class. These proposals simply don't add up, and are deceptive. This is not change we can believe in. In fact, it's our patriotic duty to vote against it.

23 October 2008

Other People's Money

We are in the midst of an election, spread out over several weeks (counting early voting), where the debate about the nature and morality of taxation, wealth-creation, jobs-creation, and individual rights have become very stark. On the left, we have Sen. Obama, who proposes that spreading wealth from higher income brackets to lower is a patriotic duty. In addition to proposed tax giveaways (since 40% of recipients do not pay taxes to begin with), he proposes massive spending increases, all of which is to be balanced on higher taxes among the top 5% of earners in the country. I would argue that such a system would not only dramatically increase the deficit, pushing off payment by two generations, but would move us into a genuine welfare state, and prolong the recession (if not push us into a recession as Steve Forbes argues). In the center, we have Sen. McCain, who while (in my opinion) making too many concessions to populist impulses, resists tax increases, emphasizing instead spending cuts.

I'm a happy fiscal conservative - I strongly oppose what Pres. Bush and the former Republican Congress did to balloon the deficit, and expand government. But the trillion-plus dollar deficit facing us today is nothing compared to what will occur if Sen. Obama is elected and the Democrats have a super-majority in Congress. Rep. Franks made that abundantly clear in his interview on CNBC the other day (see my posting of two days ago for the video). He wants to take actions that will immediately increase deficit spending pushing us into the multi-trillion dollar range. He also strongly implied that this spending will be only partially offset by, you guessed it, higher taxes at increasingly lower brackets. We have had a relatively long period of growth in this country precisely by ridding ourselves of regressive taxation and spending schemes. Now we face the spending proposals of Sen. Obama and Congressional leaders, and it's clear that these increases can not be accomplished without dramatically increasing taxes within the middle-class brackets as well as the 5% proposed. Additionally, why should we be punishing those 5%. Shouldn't we make it easier for them to create jobs and wealth?

Neal Boortz made an excellent case in his article on RCP today for avoiding such 'tax-and-spend' policies, particularly when we're in a nasty recession. They destroy wealth, rather than create it, and they create a culture of dependency. Policies such as these are a disincentive to work, expansion, and investment. Sadly, the well-noted biases of the wider media make it difficult to get this message out. People are hurting. I have friends and family facing job and housing losses. These are painful times for many. But, pain is not a reason to shoot ourselves in the national head. Rather, we should be looking for national policies that allow for greater opportunity, wealth and job creation. The government should have the fiscal policies and discipline to create the environment, not manage the process. Finally, the government should not be burdening my future grandchildren with debt from welfare passed out today in the interest of buying an election and sewing up power. That's just not the hope we need.

22 October 2008

Mr. Smooth Goes to Washington

I know a group of well-educated, generally likable, middle-aged women who are voting for Obama based on his 'smooth-appeal.' These are women I care about, so I won't mention any names, but suffice it to say that I've known them all of my life, know what their voting records are like, and have heard their opinions over the course of many elections. Twenty or thirty years ago these women leaned to the middle of American political thinking, but upon reaching middle age, all of them dumped their husbands, discovered their inner liberals, and took a hard turn to the left. The funny thing is, they can never articulate why (they took the turn that is, not why they divorced). One of them, having been an ardent supporter of Oliver North just a few years previously, told me that she had always really been a radical. When I asked her when she discovered that, she told me she didn't know. When I asked her why, she said 'because it feels right.' OK, then. So, this country is about to elect a man about whom we know nothing, who feels justified in covering up anything, who won't answer questions, who suppresses dissent, and whose policies are a joke, 'because it just feels right.' Dennis Byrne's excellent article (click the title link to see the entire article on RCP), sums up the political thinking of these ladies. He makes them feel good. Heck, he probably makes them feel just a little in love. There have been times when one of them says things that make me think they look on him as a sex object. I don't want to go there, it'll give me nightmares, but this really seems to be the sum total of their decision-making. When I press the subject, I often hear a defense that sounds like, 'Obama cares more for the poor and middle-class, and the Republicans just want to help the wealthy.' If I ask for data to back that up, they'll say 'everyone knows this.' Like Mr. Byrne, I'm not sure if there's any argument that can overcome willful ignorance, but I think we have to at least try to counter Mr. Smooth.

21 October 2008

The Weekly Standard and Hot Air Get the Scoop

The Weekly Standard has put together an excellent and fairly comprehensive look at the case against Obama. Hot Air is hosting the final product. I recommend a look at the videos and information, which are straight from the 'horse's mouth,' and consist of debate video clips, interviews, etc. Pass these links on to everyone you know who is on the fence.

Barney Frank Tells the .... Truth?

Thanks to Uppity Woman for this gem.

Socialists, Racists and Fraud, Oh My!

Richard Epstein published an insightful Oped in Forbes today, addressing the cloudiness of Obama's true views on economic policy and how he would use the power of the Presidency. Epstein, who knows Obama through his neighborhood and law school, is a well-known libertarian (I've read other pieces by him while working and living in the Chicago area), and as such, is not too likely to be a fan of Obama. Nonetheless, his letter is spot-on. Obama is known for presenting a calm, accessible demeanor without revealing his left-ward leanings. I've written before that I think he associates with radicals because it brings him power, while speaking to his own preferences. If Obama is elected President with a super-majority in Congress, there will be no fetters on those preferences, and a willing Congress to support out-of-control spending, a welfare state, and muzzling of the right. I'm going to have to sharpen my teeth if that happens. Click on the title for the Epstein letter.

After calling his constituents racists last week, Congressman Murtha is now calling them rednecks. He apparently doesn't know that that's the native color of anyone who works hard, and is bitterly clinging to guns and religion waiting for the coming socialist state.

And we return to fraud - this time real voter fraud (not just registration fraud, which apparently, Democrats think is just dandy as long as people vote for Obama). Reports from OH (what a shocker), and multiple other states with early voting are showing, gasp, false registrants are fraudulently voting! Holy cow, who could have foreseen that one? County Prosecutor Joseph Deters (Cincinnati) has subpoenaed records from early voting, and found that a whopping 40% of early votes in his county were from fraudulent registrants, including those recently-discovered Ohio River mermaids (it's a pretty muddy river - I wouldn't want to live in it myself, but I guess some of the local inhabitants like the muck). He's recused himself from the investigation, and turned it over to a special prosecutor who is finding the same thing. Since OH's Sec-State, Jennifer Brunner, and Governor, Ted Strickland, see no problem (maybe they've got river mud in their eyes) other than pesky Republicans trying to strike fear into voters' hearts, there may be no way to get an accurate assessment of what's really happening until six months from now.

19 October 2008

Spin Wars

The Christian Science Monitor published a little piece poo-pooing voter fraud today (click the title link to see the original). It occurred to me while reading it that one of the problems Republicans are facing in fighting for an election win (being vastly overspent), is our tendency to talk just 'amongst ourselves.' It's certainly comforting to speak with like-minded folk, and is one of the reasons I come back from phone-banking every week feeling charged up. But, self-congratulatory back-slapping won't help get John McCain elected President, and I very badly want him win this election. In fact, I've wanted him to be President ever since watching the way he handled the Keating five scandal with dignity, honesty, humility and leadership.

So, what should we do? Take the fight to them. We should all be reading opinion pieces and articles we don't agree with, and commenting on each and every one of them with well-written, well-reasoned arguments (poor grammar and irrationality don't help anyone's case). I've included the comment I've posted to the Christian Science Monitor article at the bottom of this blog posting. I noticed that their posting policy says the following:

"We do not publish all comments, and we do not publish comments immediately. The comments feature is a forum to discuss the ideas in our stories. Constructive debate - even pointed disagreement - is welcome, but personal attacks on other commenters are not, and will not be published."

Depending on how this policy is implemented, my comment may never show up on their website. I also couldn't help noticing that all of the comments so far were from Obama supporters calling Republicans racist and other friendly comments, so I think using 'idiot' shouldn't be too out of line (but all my friends and family could tell you that it's my favorite epitaph). Whatever the result of this election, I want to know that I did everything I possibly could to get John McCain elected. Don't you?

My comment:

Voter fraud, perhaps not (although there were reports today on ABC and CNN of some of the fraudulent registrants casting ballots in early voting in OH), but registration fraud is a felony and should be rigorously prosecuted. Members of ACORN have admitted to offering bribes, and registering the dead, pets, children and cartoon characters. While this may be limited to a small sector of their workforce, it's remarkable that so many of the demonstrable false registrations are occurring in 'battleground' states. Further, fraudulent registration detracts from ACORN's stated mission of ensuring registration of people who typically don't participate in the election process. If registrations are taken up by fraudulent filings, how does that assist anyone who truly needs and wants to register? The sentence, "In Indiana, Lake County officials stopped processing about 5,000 applications after the first 2,100 looked bogus," says it all. They found NO legitimate applications among the first 1/3 they examined, indicating that the majority of filings were likely to be fraudulent. And by the way, messdeupfacemccain, plumbers are not required to be licensed when working as sub-contractors, which was 'Joe's' job, and McCain's face is 'messed up' because he spent much of his life defending your right to be a flaming idiot.

18 October 2008

Obama Defends ACORN

The Obama campaign is no longer just acknowledging that ACORN is under investigation, and 'apparently' engaged in filing illegal registrations (for which some of its members bribed the registrants). Now, the Obama campaign is calling for a special prosecutor, the AG no longer being good enough for these complaints, alleging partisan politics, false accusations of voter fraud, and the specter of fired state attorneys. Hmmm, seems to me when the same individual can register multiple times, when the dead are registered, and when ACORN is under investigation for false filings in nine states, that we can fairly claim fraud has occurred. Except for those states where early voting has already occurred, voter fraud can't be alleged yet, but fraud there was. When registrants report bribery and coercion to register in a certain direction (or at all), that's fraud folks. To quote the estimable Sen. Biden, "if it walks like a duck ... it is a duck."

Freep.com reports that:

'Bauer said there appears to be an “unholy alliance” between law enforcement officials and Republican officials, including presidential nominee John McCain’s campaign. In his letter, Bauer said in a footnote that several of the nominee’s supporters in Congress have written to the Justice Department “pressuring them to investigate ACORN.”'

Well, yes, they probably have written to the Justice Dept., and I'm sure they have their own partisan leanings, but since we have wide-spread allegation of fraudulent registrations in multiple states (all of which are conveniently must-have states) demanding an investigation is the Congress' job.

'Obama does have ties to the group, though he has repeatedly said they are straightforward. He was one of a group of lawyers – including Justice Department representatives – who represented ACORN, the League of Women Voters and other groups in a voter registration case against the state of Illinois in the 1990s, and he also sat on a foundation board which gave money to the community organizing group. Obama – a former community organizer – also attended training sessions for the group in the past but never worked for it.'

Hey, Sen. Obama, why not take a stand for shedding light on the situation rather than trying to suppress information. Oh, that's right, suppression is only something Republicans do, right?

Click the title for a link to the full story, and let me know what you think.

17 October 2008

Stupid voters (mean but true)

So, are all votes equal?

Many thanks to No Quarter for putting this out.

And the winner is ... fraud

The Supreme Court has ruled that Ms. Brunner, the OH Sec. State, need not turn over discrepancy information in voter roles to local officials for action on their part. The court apparently was relying on precedence in the application of HAVA that does not permit private parties to have access to voter information. That's well and good - I certainly don't want the Democratic Party have access to my voter registration info. But ... Ms. Brunner has said she has no way of knowing which registrants are fraudulent and which are not, and that she has no intention of sorting through that information. So how is HAVA to be fairly applied? If the local officials have no way of comparing discrepancies in voter roles, and picture IDs can't be used, how are they to know how many times one individual has voted much less who is a valid registered voter? Maybe the county officials should engage in a major suit against the Sec. State since the GOP has been turned down. Click the title to link to the NY Times article on the decision, and on this article, and let me know what you think.

16 October 2008

Obama as Nixon?

The Denver-based "Democrats for Principle Before Party," is raising funds to air ads in 2-4 battleground states in the next couple of weeks. Their orientation seems to related to PUMA and Another Democrat for McCain. The ads are less smooth and professional then some, almost raw in their production values, but all the more gripping for it. You can find the second version video at their site and on You Tube, but I've loaded in here the first version which was better in some ways. Might be worth a donation, Hillary friends of mine.

Cleanse your palate and have a laugh

Wet nurses for Ben and Jerry's! Yum. This one reminds me of China sending wet nurses to NW China in the 80s after a big earthquake to 'strengthen' the soldiers working to clear the area.

15 October 2008

Debate # 3 - The Final Presidential Debate

Here we go!

Bob Scheifer is moderating at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.

Nice summary by Mr. S. of the basic tax plans that both candidates have proposed, with a followup up to each of 'Why is your plan better than his?" A decent lead-off question.

Sen. McCain is FINALLY addressing Fannie and Freddie head-on. I really wanted him to do this on the very first debate, and it might be too late to drive this point home. Hmmm, $300 B of the $700 B bailout to renegotiate. A much clearer explanation this time of why he proposes this - declining home values across the board when foreclosures occur in a neighborhood.

Sen. Obama persists in calling most of his tax credits, tax cuts. Still not explaining how his expenditures are offset by a tax increase in 10% of the economy, although he sounds much crisper and clearer about his plan tonight.

Sen. McCain brings up the Joe the Plumber who would pay more taxes - spread the wealth! Sen. Obama dismisses Joe the Plumber as paying too much attention to McCain's ads, and then reiterates that he will cut 95% of taxes, despite the fact that half those people don't pay taxes. Also iterates that 98% of small businesses pay less than $200K - not true according to the tax codes, but even if true, I really buy McCain's call for no new taxes while we're in a deep recession.

I do like that both men are speaking to each other rather than at or across each other.

Obama pulls out the Adlai Stevenson line of no one likes taxes, but we have to.

The deficit! Thank you Mr. S! And the great point that both Senators proposals will add horribly to the debt, and a return to the question all the moderators have asked and no one has answered: what will you have to cut.
Sen. Obama's response: We will have to make adjustments - now that's vague. Net spending cut? What net spending cut? There's not net spending cut in this plan! What a crock. Line by line my patootie! Now he claims that a net spending cut exists by long-term savings through current expenditures. Fuzzy math!
Sen. McCain's response: Increasing home values is off the topic. Energy independence is ON the topic and is one of my favorite parts of the Republican plan. Across the board spending freeze may be a hatchet, but as a deficit-hawk, one I thoroughly appreciate. Please, please stop saying you 'know how.' Say what you will do. Tarrif on imported sugar-based ethanol is interesting. We need a long list of these kind of proposals. And people may be tired of earmarks, but I am happy to hear it over and over since I HATE corruption in politics, and that's what earmarks are.

Sen. Obama brings up the loss of the surplus and the accumulation of the deficit, but fails to explain what he would do about that. Sen. McCain reject the Pres. Bush comparison directly - finally! Sen. Obama comes back making the same claim and compares his own support of tort reform. No, it's not eight more years of the same thing, and no you haven't rejected your own party on KEY issues, Sen. Obama.

Leadership and nasty campaign:
Sen. McCain, I love you, but don't blame the campaign tone on lack of Townhall meetings. Now, rejecting accusations of racism is fair, and asking for a repudiation of Congressman Lewis' remarks is also fair. Hmm, Sen. Obama has spent more money on neg. ads - not sure that's relevant (# of ads vs. $ on ads - probably a wash). Glad he bought up the reneging on the public financing. He didn't exactly offer an apology, but did say he 'regretted some things.'
Sen. Obama: 2/3 think he running a neg. campaign, maybe, but 100% of McCain's ads are not negative. That's just ludicrous. I just watched 3 positive McCain ads today alone, only one of which was internet based. No apology or anything from the Obama side, just accusing McCain of being afraid of the issues. Good sharp comeback from McCain. Obama admits Lewis' comments were inappropriate, but basically said it was Palin's fault. I do agree Palin was over the line, but 'she said it first' is for four-year olds. Excellent last point by Sen. McCain that he does openly repudiate comments by supporters.

Wow. I didn't really think McCain was going to pull up Ayers and Acorn. Both made good points, but McCain did get a little of the track on his final comment.

Running mates: Interesting topic and question set.
Sen. Obama: Joe Biden has 'always been on the right side ... and will make an outstanding President.' Can't agree with it, but it's a normal and expected statement.
Sen. McCain: Also a pure vanilla response. Palin is a 'reformer through and through ... and ... a breath of fresh air.' Interesting side comment on the rise of autism. Wonder what he means by that?
Sen. Obama carefully side-steps the qualification question for Palin. Probably better off than attacking her. Ahh, he finds a way to work in hatchet vs. scalpel analogies regarding spending on autism. Had to work that one in.
Sen. McCain finds a graceful way to criticize Biden without being cruel, and comes back to the 'why do we always have to spend more and raise taxes' arguement.

Energy and climate change:
Sen. McCain: All options on the table, and get rid of Mid-East and Venezeulan oil. Nuc, clean coil, drilling, wind, tide, solar are all up.
Sen. Obama: 10 oils to reducing dependence. Acknowledging expansion of domestic expansion especially by offshore drilling. Back to disparity between use and reserves of oil - a legitimate point, but I disagree with the emphasis on electric cars only. Vehicles are not the primary users of oil in this country - energy production is. Cars are great, but that won't stop our dependence on foreign (or any oil).
This migrated into a discussion on trade, NAFTA, etc. I really like McCain's emphasis that we must retrain and retool workers in industries that are just never going to come back, and on the Columbia Free Trade and NAFTA agreements.
Not sure how Obama is going to both help the auto industry, and spank them for not moving fast enough. Either let them fail or help them, but you can't do both.
Sen. McCain brings up the Herbert Hoover comparison again. A good one, but I doubt 1 in 20 Americans even know who he was.

Health care:
Obama: Expand access AND control costs. He really believes you can have your cake and eat it to. We can't have both easily. Access will be at least to some degree limited if costs are limited and vs/vs. Fuzzy math again 2.0. Negotiate with the drug companies is going to have to be dictate to them if you really want to control drug costs. No 2 ways about it. Money on the front end doesn't work well with increasing costs in other areas and an deep recession and deficit. You're going to have to make choices Obama, and you're still not willing to say which ones.
McCain: Taking the preventive health road, and school programs. Hmm, some conservatives aren't going to like that, but I actually agree. If gov't. is going to foot some of the bill, they can say how that part is spent, and control costs. Fines if you don't obey (an accusation thrown at Obama), and join the single-payer system. Obama says, "it is not" and the fine is 0 (he says he exempts small businesses). McCain says yes it is. They go back and forth like that.

Abortion and Supreme Court nominations:
I didn't think this would come up.
McCain: I wouldn't propose a litmus test, but think Roe was a bad decision. Nominations should be based on qualifications, not ideology. I didn't know he voted for Ginsburg and Breyer.
Obama: Agrees on no strict litmus tests. He thinks that any judge should 'apply fairness and justice on the American people.' I don't like that phrasing. It sounds like legislating from the bench. He confirms that feeling by saying that a judge should stand up for someone when no one else will. This means that regardless of the what the law says, the judge should impose what they feel justice is. That's no the role of judges. It's the role of the legislature. The Congress should have and could have provided direct relief to Ledbetter since the court could not under current law, and then could have changed the law, rather than slamming the court.
Now Obama is lying. He did vote against the born-alive amendment, and was almost alone in that. I took the trouble the other week of looking up the amendment (the prior law he referenced did NOT prohibit babies born despite abortion from being left to die, which was the practice in IL) and the votes (he was almost alone in opposing it).

Education and America's trailing the rest of the developed world:
Obama: Yet another tax credit. I'm all for tuition credits in exchange for service BUT how on earth are we going to afford all of these things. Yes, parents need to take responsibility, but what are you going to do about it. Legislate against video games and t.v.?
McCain: School choice and competition as a proven key. I agree with these, but would like to see more state (not fed.) oversight over charter school performance and offerings. Rewards to teachers are a great idea, and of course, I like the 'Troops to Teachers' program (a number of my troops moved into this upon completion of their contracts).
Sheiffer: Should the fed. gov't. play a larger role?
Obama: Slams the unfunded mandates aspect of No Child Left Behind. I have to agree with that, but wonder what he thinks of the basic concept of it. What? They agree on something? Both like teacher rewards and charter schools. Obama doesn't like vouchers or McCain's programs on college-accessibility and affordability. Obama says "someone has to pay for it," and you have to provide more detail. Right back atcha Obama!
McCain: vouchers so the D.C. kids can have the same education you bought for your daughters, Obama. No Child Left Behind is a great first beginning, but flawed. I think everyone agrees. "Again, spending more money isn't always the right answer." He calls for reforming Head Start, and mentions that he proposed this in a bill that was shot down by Dems.

Closing remarks:
McCain: "I have a record of reform, and taking on my party and the other party." He then cited some careful examples, and gave the money lines: "I have been a careful steward of your tax dollars." "All the promises and commitments that Sen. Obama and I have made you tonight will be based on how you trust us ..." Indeed I do.
Obama: I think he pretty much gave the same close he gave last week. I'd have to check the video again (it's on the blog site under links if you missed it), but I think it's pretty much the same.

My final thoughts: I think McCain did his best yet, but didn't knock anything out of the park. I'm hoping the American people are going to actually wake up in the next three weeks, rather than just blindly voting for change.

14 October 2008

Dreams of my father and tribe

Let me state at the outset something I emailed the other day to a regular reader. I do not believe Obama is a Muslim. I came to this conclusion, not so much because of his denials and membership in a church, but because he seems too corrupt; a practitioner of the politics of convenience; to be ideologically committed to any one belief. He is leftist, because those ideals got him elected and bring him money. He associates with believers in black-liberation theology (a slight variation of the liberation theology as practiced in South America) because its leaders in Chicago hold a great deal of power. He argues for attacking Pakistan because it makes him look tough. He has business and personal dealings with people most of us would refuse to break bread with (because they are unrepentantly violent, not because they thought something ridiculous in their twenties), because it garners him support and power and jobs.

All of that said, I think it's clear that Obama's 2006 odyssey to Africa was not so much a Congressional fact-finding mission (despite being billed and paid for that way, and despite the fact that no other Congressional members were part of it), but a personal one. An odyssey to 'find' his father, connect with his roots and tribe, and (cousin or not) campaign for Odinga. He was hot-to-trot when it came to slamming the political corruption endemic in Kenya and Kibaki administration (despite the improvements it made over prior administrations), but made nary a mention (despite being joined at the hip for two weeks) of Odinga's corruption, ties to communism and agreements with Islamists to implement Sharia law if their support garnered him the Presidency. This despite highly publicized reports in various Kenyan papers, the BBC and CBS. In fact, there are not a few similarities between the Presidential campaigns of Obama and Odinga. Both are the young 'agents of change.' Both have strong ties to current and former communist parties and leaders. Both have received help from Islamist organizations. Both seem to use these various associations, not so much because of personal belief, but out of convenience and for power.

Obama has repeatedly ridiculed John McCain for focusing on corruption in campaign finance and through the earmark system (Obama's personal requests amount to $1M/daily). His own corruption is the probable motivator. Of course, the sad end to all of this is the horrible violence, murder and mayhem that Odinga's supporters enacted when he lost the election. No one (except perhaps Kibaki himself) claims that the election was truly fair. But it wasn't worth the slaughter that Odinga wrought on the country in vengeance. Or perhaps to him it was, since it garnered him a power-sharing deal and the Prime Minister's post. Let me know what you think of the videos below.

13 October 2008

Obama and Odinga

My last post may have seemed a little off the wall. After all, only the conservative bloggers and some disgruntled Kenyans are reporting that Obama campaigned for, donated money to, and took money from Odinga, right? Apparently, not anymore. The Washington Times (click on blog title for link) reported on Sunday on the relationship between Obama and Odinga. After watching the slaughter in Kenya this past spring, and looking at other reports on the lack watch on foreign donors to the Obama campaign, it seems reasonable to conclude that Sen. Obama is captured by the corrupt politics of Chicago and Washington. No wonder he keeps dismissing Sen. McCain's calls for an end to earmarking and 'taking' in the beltway. Why would he want to dry up his sources of funding? So much for change, and you're right, Sen. Obama, the ACORN sure doesn't fall far from the tree.

10 October 2008

Character part 2

Interesting and disturbing videos. Socialism is one thing, despicable, but not necessarily evil. Violent hatred and revolution, however, are evil. Many thanks to Christmas Ghost for making them available.

09 October 2008

Character matters

You know, the whole Ayers matter would probably be put to rest (ditto Rezko, etc.), because the Obama campaign is right when it claims that people have very large issue concerns right now, if he would just answer some basic questions. If Obama would simply come out and say, yes, it's OK to associate with these people because their current lives having nothing to do with their former lives (or words to that effect), the majority of Americans would accept it. Obama himself is letting this become a much bigger issue than it might otherwise be by setting a tone of prevarication and avoidance. People hear thinks he's lying or hiding something after awhile, and eventually they began to wonder what else he might be hiding (like his former membership in the socialist party in Chicago - documents demonstrating this were posted on the web today). Sooner or later, these little lies add up. Now, I want McCain to win. I think he's absolutely the best candidate. But over the last few weeks, all of these little lies have also started making me want Obama to lose. If enough moderates like me began to think this way, Obama might find himself the victim of protest votes - not necessarily for McCain, but against him. He might find that his character really does count.

Here's another take: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/wehner/36922

08 October 2008

And a little more humor

Leaders and managers are often told to deliver criticism in a 'sandwich' (good-bad-good), so as not to damage the ego of the recipient or incur belligerence. In that spirit, here's another funny video.


Another great video

Frankly, I think this and others like it should be running as ads everywhere.

Bailout redux

07 October 2008

Presidential Debate #2 - A ramble through the debate

Why are either of these gentlemen discussing the Treasury Sec. 'helping' anyone? That's not the job of Sec. Treas. Maybe of Commerce, Housing, etc. Treasury's job is to set monetary policy, deal with overall economic performance, etc. Not to 'help' people, no matter how nice that might be.

Glad to see McCain is bringing up Obama's history of taking from Freddie and Fannie, and his own record of working to get them regulated, but I'm not sure what I think of buying up bad mortgages. Perhaps those who are truly at the bottom since there's much less chance that they truly understood what they were agreeing to.

Sen. Obama claims that the real problem is de-regulation of Wall Street, while Sen. McCain claims that de-regulation of lending was the problem. The heart of the issue is bad loans that were made worse by bad decisions to securitize, bundle and trade those loans. I have to agree with McCain. If we hadn't insisted on lending to unqualified buyers, we wouldn't have problems. That doesn't mean that we don't need to hold CEOs accountable (particularly as shareholders) for bad decision-making, but it does mean we have to acknowledge that our strange obsession as a country with everyone owning a nice house, a nice job, a nice whatever is part of the problem.

Blaming Bush for deficit spending is ludicrous. Congress holds the purse strings. Congress enacts budgets. Congress is responsible for the deficit!

McCain embodies bipartisanship! Thanks for bringing up McCain-Feingold, McCain-Leiberman, etc. These are some of the reasons I support you so strongly.

They're both dodging some of the specific questions (e.g., prioritizing health care vs. entitlement spending, etc.). McCain said we can work on all at once. Obama said we'd have to prioritize and then proceeded to address several different issues as 'right away' issues (while calling them #1, #2, etc., and never addressing earmarks and entitlement spending until the end). That's not prioritizing, that's prevaricating. Both of these gentlemen need to get real - spending needs to be slashed! And who believes that any President is going to go line-by-line through a budget on the first day in office, and unilaterally cut things that don't work. He has no authority to do so. Again, Congress holds the purse strings.

Yeah! McCain is addressing spending cuts now, and over things the President has authority over (like Defense budget proposals). He's also stating that we will, as a nation, have to sacrifice some important programs. Spending freezes - excellent!

No, Sen. Obama, it doesn't start with Washington. It starts with us. Gov't. derives its powers from the governed. And irresponsible gov't. doesn't mean that we should be irresponsible or excused. We should be responsible for ourselves, our own reactions and our own decisions, AND WE should hold gov't. responsible.

How are we going to give tax cuts and refunds to the majority of people who don't even pay taxes. The majority of those in the 95% cited by Obama pay little to no taxes to begin with. This is a straight giveaway!

I'm glad to see the environment and climate change brought up. It was also an excellent question. How does the President get Congress to move on an issue. It also allows him to bring up the McCain Lieberman Act. Nuclear power is an excellent way to address some of this (it also allows McCain to showcase his vast experience - like having served on nuc-powered ships).

What is Obama talking about? Give China the energy they need? Huh?

Brokaw asks an appropriate question - should we invest in energy? Yes!

Neither of them has a very specific plan for health care. I do like the idea of cherry picking which plan features to buy regardless of who offers them. Obama ignores all of the fact-checking organizations that have clearly stated that McCain's plan does not have a net-negative through taxation.

I don't understand how Obama's math works. He keeps saying he's going to give tax credits, refunds, breaks for so many things, but that an increase in taxes on 10% of the population will pay for it all. There's just no way that adds up.

Arrggh. There he goes again. Obama claims that ending the war in Iraq will magically transfer those funds back to home, but he also wants to beef up military numbers and shift those troops to Afghanistan. How will that bring those dollars home?

Sooo, Obama's military policy is to end our attempts in Iraq, increase them in Afghanistan, invade Pakistan if necessary, and help to stop any instance of genocide around the world at little cost? He apparently doesn't understand logistical costs. McCain at least mentions restraint on actions based on capability to act. "You have to temper your decisions with the ability to affect situations ..., and know you're spending America's most precious asset." Thank you!

What do you mean, Sen. Obama, that you didn't call for the invasion of Pakistan? You did so twice during debates with Sen. Clinton. And by the way, the Bomb Iran song was a joke. Possibly you're too green behind the ears to notice a joke.

Support for Israel - great question here. Would we commit troops if Iran attacks, or would we wait for UN approval? McCain immediately has the right answer. We will defend Israel, and we will not accept a nuclear Iran (and we will give tacit permission to Israel to preemptively attack if needed). Sen. Obama starts first discussing a nuclear Iran by saying "I will do everything that's required to prevent it ... and we will never take military options off the table." Good, but why does he think that more sanctions will work when they haven't worked to date?

Sen. McCain ends up with country first - a fine ending.

Presidential Debate #2 - Initial thoughts

Here we go, again.

Will Tom Brokaw be neutral? Will the townhall format favor McCain? Will Obama's character be an issue? Will either of them address specifics on economic policy and plans.

Sen. Obama looks like he's holding prunes in. I don't think he much likes the questions swirling around his character and his 'associations.'

Thank you Sen. McCain for addressing energy independence and spending as part of your economic plan!


Many blogs (including this one) linked to a video this past week that showed children, with a deer-in-the-headlights stare, singing an ode to Barack Obama. This week we hear (see link to title or enclosure link) that the VA teachers' union is encouraging its teachers to wear their support for Obama on 'Obama blue day (who came up with that nonsense I'd like to know), to wear buttons supporting the Obama campaign and to encourage students to vote for Obama (a tactic truly aimed at the parents since the majority of students would be below voting age). In other news, a teacher was suspended in Kansas City for teaching underage students to chant for Barack Obama while wearing BDU pants and black shirts.

I teach part-time both as an adjunct and as a TA while I work on a Ph.D. Aside from one time where I forgot I had a button on, I've learned not to discuss my politics with my students, wear campaign material, etc. I work with adults, who are more than able to make up their own minds, but since I hold a position that has some power over those students, it would be inappropriate of me to try to influence them in any way. A teacher's union, by definition, is for teachers of children who are not college-age yet. The very age group they're involved with, gives these teachers far more power and influence over their students. A truly excellent teacher in these age groups can change a student's life. A poor one can ruin at least that year if not more. Public attempts to indoctrinate young children and students into blind political support crosses the line in ways these students won't know about or think about for years.

I must admit to a personal bias. I have some lovely nieces and nephews living in VA, who could be subjected to this nonsense were their teachers to participate. I would no more want their teachers to indoctrinate them into supporting McCain. It's a wholly inappropriate role for a teacher to indoctrinate children into ANY thinking. Teaching of doctrine is for parents and those whom parents designate (e.g., a pastor or rabbi). If my own child were to come home singing political songs, I would be moving to sue the teacher. I certainly hope parents in VA do.

03 October 2008

Serbs, Croats and Bosniacs, O My!

Tonight's VP debate was spirited, serious and hard-hitting. I have to draw the same conclusion I did with last week's debate; stylistically, it was a tie. Both candidates hit their talking points well, and didn't disgrace themselves.

I think Gov. Palin clearly made the point, through her very person and mannerisms, that she doesn't just talk about the middle class, she is the middle class. Sen. Biden was dignified and didn't fall into some of his usual speaking problems.

One thing I wish that Gov. Palin had hammered home more concretely pertains to the tax cuts/tax increases debate. The Obama campaign says that it will cut taxes for 90% of the working public, raise taxes on the remaining 10%, and increase spending programs almost across the board. It also says that in addition to raising taxes on the 10% of the public, it will offset tax cuts and spending increases by withdrawing troops from Iraq. There are some basic problems with these policies. First, the President does not levy or cut taxes - Congress does. More importantly, the math is 'funny.' How 10% of the populace, no matter how wealthy they may individually be, will support the remainder of the country, I don't know. Warren Buffet has managed to bail out two companies. Do you really think he can take care of all of them? Additionally, about 50% of those 90% pay little to no taxes to begin with. That means that a tax 'refund' is simply put, a redistribution of wealth. I would certainly benefit from a tax cut, but I don't want tax monies going into a cash handout. I would rather build business, increase the job market and get more people moved into higher tax brackets. Finally, cutting funding in Iraq, while also trying to dramatically increase the size of the military (particularly the Army) and shift effort to Afghanistan will in no way free up funding. It will simply shift the funding into a new category. These facts combined with the Obama and Biden histories of voting for tax increases bely their claims to enact major tax reductions. While Gov. Palin touched on all of these, I have yet to hear the campaign attack this in a cogent, efficient fashion.

I also wish that the McCain campaign would stop pussy-footing around hitting the Dems on Fannie and Freddie. The well-circulated video of Barney Frank spewing over any attempts to cut or regulate Fannie and Freddie, combined with the multiple attempts on the part of Sen. McCain to get any kind of reasonable regulation of the mortgage industry would make a perfect ad spot (if you haven't seen it, it's in my blog from several days ago) - I don't know why they haven't used it effectively.

All-in-all, it was a good debate. We await the polls!

Finally (and off topic), if you link to this site (http://blip.tv/file/1310113) you can see the brainwashing of the youngest Obama-fans. It's right in line with his campaign's attempt to sue stations for broadcasting any advertisement deemed offensive or 'untruthful' to the campaign.

01 October 2008

The VP Debate

Much has been made recently, by right-leaning writers, on the treatment of Gov. Palin by the media. I for one, didn't find it absolutely out of bounds that Charlie Gibson looked at her over the top of his glasses (I just thought he looked at little ridiculous). And the demands by the Atlantic that she submit amniotic fluid for testing to prove that Trig is her baby just helped the McCain campaign by being so obviously in the tank for Obama. But the National Review article linked here addresses a far more serious and subtle type of potential partisanship in media coverage of the campaign. When I was in ROTC and OBC, training to be a military officer, one of the principles of conduct hammered into my head was to 'avoid the semblance of misconduct.' We were taught that appearance does matter. It matters that an officer present him/herself in such a way that it would not be likely that an outside observer would assume that one's behavior is dishonorable. Ms. Ifill may very well be able to conduct herself as a neutral moderator, despite her personal preferences. But, her open promotion over the previous months of Sen. Obama and his campaign, present the appearance of partisanship. Is is any wonder that many observers assume that she will engage in misconduct?

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