Saturday, August 30, 2008

Women and the Presidency

With today's selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, I thought it would be interesting to look back at previous women running for president.

Wikipedia has a list of women who were nominated for president or vice-president by 3rd parties.

Although it was never official, Elinor Roosevelt must be mentioned. FDR's health was worse than they let on and she assumed some of his duties near the end of his life.

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm made a splash when 152 delegates voted for her in the Democratic National Convention. This made her the first black candidate and the first woman to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.

In 1984, Walter Mondale was way behind Reagan. He decided that his only chance was to gamble on a woman. He chose an obscure congresswoman named Geraldine Ferraro. This didn't help him. He went down in a historic drubbing. Ferraro made the news earlier this year when she observed that Barack Obama's skin color was helping him in the primary just as her gender got her on the ballot in 1984. This led to Obama's famous race speech.

In 1988, there was a lot of pressure for George H. W. Bush to name a woman as his running mate. The Republicans had two women who were well-qualified - Elizabeth Dole who had held cabinet positions and Jeane Kirkpatrick, the Ambassador to the UN. The rumor is that Bush didn't like either of these women and wanted to prove that he could win on his own.

In 1992, the Clintons presented Hillary as a co-president. There was also talk of appointing her to the Supreme Court.

In 2000, Elizabeth Dole ran for president. Her candidacy didn't go anywhere.

And of course, in 2008, Hillary Clinton ran and lost by a fraction of a percent of the delegates. Hillary supporters have noted that the final choice was made by the super-delegates who decided to neuter themselves by ratifying the candidate with the most elected delegates, no matter how close the result.

Friday, August 29, 2008


McCain finally announced his pick for Vice-President, Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska. This is an interesting pick, full of pluses and minuses.

One big plus, she was such an unexpected choice that she knocked talk of Obama's big speech out of the news cycle. With a holiday weekend coming up, his speech will be old news by Tuesday. This will minimize any bump Obama got from the convention. (Rasmussen shows a bump that is so small it is within the margin of error*).

A second big plus, she's not any of the other Republican candidates. I'm sick of those guys and I suspect that the rest of the country is, also. None of them had any wide support of McCain couldn't have wrapped up the nomination so fast.

A minus, she only has two years experience as governor and that is in a small state. On the other hand, she is still the only person on the ticket with any experience as an elected executive. If Obama is qualified to be president with four years in the Senate then she is qualified to be Vice-President with two years in the state-house. Hopefully the Republicans will use this argument against Obama.

She won the governor's race after a high-profile stint on an ethics board. The public is convinced that both parties are corrupt so this helps, especially against Obama's attempts to link McCain and lobbyists.

Her husband is a Yup'ik Eskimo. That means that her family is as exotic as Obama's (although she isn't as exotic personally). Between this and McCain's adopted daughter and Howard Dean should be forced to eat his words about the "white party".

She's in the NRA. Her husband hunts. Obama has already lost the gun-owner vote but this clinches it.

She is against declaring polar bears endangered. That puts her on the right side of the global warming debate.

She adds a lot of vitality to the ticket, just as Biden drains some of the vitality away from the Obama ticket.

Among Republicans there is a strong feeling that McCain should be a one-term president because of his age. This introduces a new face who could potentially be the candidate in 2012 (probably against Hillary!).

* Speaking of Rasmussen, the latest set of state polls show terrible news for Obama. While he is still slightly ahead in the Electoral College, all ten of the states polls showed a shift for McCain. In some cases this was a shift from "solidly Democrat" to "leaning Democrat". If this trend continues then McCain will win in a landslide. We will not really know until next week when the race starts in earnest. Traditionally people are more willing to go for a new face in early Summer but they get serious about their choices in September.

Obama Annotated

My comments in red.

To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation;

With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest - a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours — Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next First Lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia - I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story - of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart - that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women - students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors — found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach. More than when, exactly? More than last year, certainly but the highest unemployment rate under Clinton was a full point higher than the highest under Bush

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news. Democrats love to blame everything on outsourcing but outsourcing creates more American jobs than it cost us.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes. The National Guard was dispatched to New Orleans as soon as the Democratic Governor of Louisiana allowed.

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land - enough! This moment - this election - is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough." This is the Democrats' big message - Bush=McCain

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives - on health care and education and the economy - Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors - the man who wrote his economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners." Obama must be too busy campaigning to read the financial news. We are not in a recession and the last quarter's growth was fairly strong. The reference to a mental recession was referring to this. We think (or are told) that the economy is much worse than it really is.

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it. This is the second line of attack if Bush=McCain doesn't work.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own. Europe has tried it the other way. The result? America is much better off. It is the Democrats philosophy that has been discredited.

Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush. Again, he needs to look at the latest financial news. Income is up under Bush. And Clinton didn't have to cope with the devistation of 9/11.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman. She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well. Middle-management? Obama's grandmother was vice-president of a bank.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States. A man surrounded by 84,000 cheering fans tries to deny that he is a celebrity?

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology. If he stopped there he would be in agreement with everyone except the most hard-core Libertarians. I suspect that he wants government to do a bit more than this list.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work. No fair taking lines from Reagan if you don't mean them.

That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.

Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America. This is somewhere between a distortion and an outright lie abotu McCain's positions.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. And Joe Biden was there for all 30. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close. He's beginning to sound like McCain here. It takes time to develop new technologies. Stop-gap measures can fill the gap. Peviously Obama hasn't admitted that there was any place for drilling in future plans.

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves He means the Strategic Petroleum Reserves which are meant for emergencies, not high prices, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. Nuclear power is already safer than other forms. Just how safe do you want it? I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. Subsidies I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. more subsidies And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced. Except that most jobs from wind and solar power come from making the windmills and solar cells. A lot of these are already being imported from other countries. There is no reason that biofuels can't be outsourced, either, except for trade barriers.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education. Studies have show that pre-school does not improve a student's later performance. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability. No Child Left Behind II And we will keep our promise to every young American - if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education. even more subsidies

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American. If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most. Under England's socialized medicine they would have quietly stopped treating her earlier.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations. By privatizing it. Oh, wait, he already said that this is bad. More taxes, then.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons. If you look at people occupying the same job with the same experience then women already have parity. Women are paid less in general because they choose lower-paying jobs that give more flexibility.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime - by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy. Every president since Clinton has made this promise. If it could be done it would have already happened. We can't even get rid of the Strategic Helium Reserve which was used for observation balloons in WWI.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility - that's the essence of America's promise.

And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war. We have to surrender now while we still can.

That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past. Those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice - but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. The party of LBJ. The party of Carter. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly by surrendering as fast as possible, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan by invading Pakistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts Draft?. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. Talking tough is only bad when Bush does it. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future. Like Iraq under Saddam?

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.

But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism. McCain never challenged Obama's patriotism, just his judgement.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain but not Sean Penn, Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, and several others attached to the Democrats. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first. This from someone who introduced himself in Germany as "Barack Obama, citizen of the world".

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose. And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. Which fell under Bush The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals Automatic weapons have been outlawed since the 1930s. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort. Is it just me or did he come down on both sides of this issue?

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what - it's worked before. Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. Most candidates have some sort of experience and track record. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you. And your adulation for me.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments. Which is why I want a return to the New Deal

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. "We" means the people who actually did it. I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

Everything from here down cold as easily have been said by Reagan.

And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours - a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead - people of every creed and color, from every walk of life - is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you, God Bless you, and and God Bless the United States of America.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Numbers Games

A couple of weeks ago I complained about Barack Obama's definition of rich. He counts anyone who is making $250,000/year or more as rich. Now Dan Gross from Newsweek is trying to justify this reasoning.

Gross's case is the same one that Democrats have been using for years - if you make more than most Americans then you must be rich.
I have two pieces of bad news for the over-$250,000 crowd. First, the reversal of some of the temporary Bush tax cuts is probably inevitable, given the Republican fiscal clown show of the past eight years. Second, I regret to inform you that you are indeed rich.
To a large degree, feeling rich or poor is a state of mind, as John McCainrecently noted. "Some people are wealthy and rich in their lives and their children and their ability to educate them. Others are poor if they're billionaires." But income data can surely tell us something. And they tell us that $250,000 puts you in pretty fancy company. The Census Bureau earlier this week reported that the median household income was $50,223 in 2007—up slightly from the last year but still below the 1999 peak. So a household that earned $250,000 made five times the median. In fact, as this chart shows, only 2.245 million U.S. households, the top 1.9 percent, had income greater than $250,000 in 2007. (About 20 percent of households make more than $100,000.)
Ok, so making more than $250,000 puts you in the same group as Larry Ellison who is paid $72 million/year. That does not give you Ellison's purchasing power.

The thing is that making somewhat more than the average joe doesn't make you rich. The only thing that can make you rich is being rich.

Here's an example. Sean Combs (aka Diddy, aka Puffy, aka P Diddy, aka Puff Daddy, aka Sean John) is complaining because he can't afford the gas to fly his private jet.

As you know, I do own my own jet and I have been having flying back and forth to L.A. pursuing my acting career. Now, if I'm flying back and forth like twice in a month, that's like $200,000 or $250,000 round trip. I'm back on American Airlines right now. OK? Your boy Diddy right now is on American Airlines.

Did you get that? It costs Combs $250,000 to fly his private plane round trip across the country. I guarantee that someone making that much per year doesn't own a private jet to say nothing of spending a year's income on making one cross-country flight in it. Who can afford a private jet? Someone who is rich.

But Gross insists that people making $250,000 are rich, they just don't know it. Why not? Because they are comparing themselves to the wrong people.

But people in Georgetown mansions don't necessarily compare themselves to fellow Washingtonians in Anacostia. Relative income really works at the neighborhood level.

Again, I have news for Gross. People who make $250,000 are not living in Georgetown mansions. They probably paid $1,000,000 for a four bedroom, two bathroom house inside the Beltway and are struggling with the mortgage. I've seen what a half-million will buy in the DC market and it is no mansion.

But Obama has to be inclusive in his definition of who is rich. There just isn't enough money to confiscate from the truly rich (plus, they will shelter it before he cane take it) so he has to go after a larger group.

And Gross is an attempt to help Obama by a left-leaning financial journalist.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The DNC So Far

We are two nights into the Democratic National Convention. How are things going?

The first night was dominated by a tribute to Ted Kennedy and a speech by Michelle Obama. Kennedy was a distraction. Michelle's speech was meant to assure the electorate that she and her husband are regular people.

The second night was dominated by Hillary. She was supposed to talk between 10:00 and 11:00 EDT. She was late and the networks (or at least NBC which I had on) filled in by focusing on Bill as he gave hugs all around. Hillary eventually gave her speech. She said that Obama needed to be elected, mainly because he was a Democrat and McCain isn't. She assured the country that Obama would give them a laundry list of big-ticket items then she went on to talk about herself. I found the Harriet Tubman reference a bit over the top. Tubman risked her life repeatedly to help slaves escape to Canada. If caught, Tubman faced death or re-enslavement and mutilation. On the other hand, if Hillary lost then she faced what? A return to the Senate and a chance to give a keynote speech at the convention.

What is missing from all of this is a reason to vote for Obama. Obama has already won over the true believers but a lot of the country remains skeptical. He has made a lot of promises, some of them conflicting, and he has not spelled out how he will accomplish anything. He is a first-term senator with no history of reaching out to the other side or of breaking with the party ranks but he claims that he will end partisanship and reshape our economy.

With the war in Iraq off the table and the candidates in agreement on the war in Afghanistan, Obama has to convince voters that he can handle a domestic agenda better than McCain. So far he has criticized McCain a lot, often mis-characterizing McCain's positions. Obama has promised to reshuffle taxes and to spend a lot of money. In 2006 Democrats won partly on a platform of fiscal restraint. Obama threw that out the window.

Bill Clinton hit the nail on the head when he said this:

He said: "Suppose you're a voter, and you've got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything, but you don't think that candidate can deliver on anything at all. Candidate Y you agree with on about half the issues, but he can deliver. Which candidate are you going to vote for?"

 Then, perhaps mindful of how his off-the-cuff remarks might be taken, Clinton added after a pause: "This has nothing to do with what's going on now."

Bill is tonight's speaker. I doubt that he will spend much time convincing us that Obama can deliver on his promises. That means that it is up to Obama to sell himself during his acceptance speech. Even for a gifted speaker, this will be difficult. Moving his speech to a stadium instead of the convention plays up McCain's charges that Obama is a celebrity who is not ready to lead.

Even if Obama gives the speech of his life, the Republicans still have four nights to undercut him. Their candidate has a long history of achievement. The danger there is that he will fall into the same trap that Kerry did in 2004. Kerry spent too much time talking about his service in Viet Nam and not enough time talking about what he would do if elected. McCain needs to sell his vision of the future.

If the election comes down to Obama's talk of hope and change vs McCain's service to his country then Obama will win. If it is about Obama's ability to effect change vs McCain's then McCain will win.


Barack Obama is supposed to be the first post-baby boomer candidate. So who does he choose to carry on his work if he dies or is incapacitated? Someone who was first elected to Congress during the Nixon presidency! While Biden is younger than McCain, both are pre-boomer.

Biden is also completely entrenched in the partisan Washington culture that Obama insists he will change. Biden's big draw is supposed to be his foreign policy experience. Yes, he has been on the Foreign Relations Committee but he also has a long history of being wrong on international affairs. Most recently he tried to divide Iraq into three pieces. This was one thing that the Iraqis united on - the thought it was a stupid idea.

Granted Biden is more experienced than Obama but that isn't a difficult accomplisment. The entire Senate is more experienced as are all state governors and former governors.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Are You a Liberal?

I was looking at a far-left site that had a test to see if you are a liberal. I didn't bookmark the site so this is from memory:

Half of a town's residents live well. They eat meat daily and throw away a lot of food. The other half is too poor to even buy meat and is usually hungry. What would you do?
The idea is to convince you that you are a liberal but didn't realize it. The situation is contrived to evoke an emotional response. You are supposed to either feel pity for the hungry poor or outrage at the callous rich.

I'm going to point out two immediate flaws. One is that, in the US, the obesity is a bigger problem among the poor than hunger. The other is that this exercise divides the town into "halves". In the real world you get either a pyramid with lots of poor on the bottom and a few rich at the top or a bell curve with very few poor or rich and most in between. For the sake of argument, I will ignore these problems.

As a Libertarian/Conservative (the think-man's conservative), I have a different take on this. I want to know more about the background. Why is there such a disparity? Let's consider a few alternatives:

1) The rich half exploits the poorer half. The rich must be the owners and the poor the workers. This is classic Marxist theory and the version that you are supposed to assume.

2) The "rich" half is hard-working. The "poor" half is made up of hard-core unemployables who can't hold a job even when they get one. They lack skills and motivation. They also call in sick regularly. Most of them are already living on public assistance (taxed from the wealthier half) but squander much of the money they receive on alcohol and drugs. By shifting the circumstances around I arraigned it so that the poor deserve to be poor.

3) This is a college town. The "rich" half is made up of college professors and staff. The poor half is made up of students. In the first two examples we have the hidden assumption that the two halves are static. If you were born in one class you will always be there. That is not true in America where there is a lot of shuffling over time. Most people have low wages in their early 20s but this increases with time as they have more to offer. The student living on Ramen noodles today might be a CEO in a couple of decades.

4) We are looking at China. The rich are the people in the cities who have good jobs. The poor are the traditional farmers, many of whom still live in the same conditions as their ancestors. Many have been displaced by the government in order to make way for more factories and larger cities. If communism is the ultimate expression of liberal politics then liberals have to recognize that China is where their policies lead. The government has nearly unlimited power and often abuses it. Just before the Olympics began NBC ran a story on a village of rice farmers who were facing starvation. The government had diverted the water supply that they needed for their crops to supply the Olympics. Where there had been rice paddies there was now dessert.

This is a valid test for liberals. They tend to approach the world as problems that government waiting for government intervention. They overlook realities - the people they want to help may not respond as expected, or they may not need help, or the problem may have been caused by previous government meddling.

So, if you react to a problem by deciding that increased government action is needed without knowing all of the facts then you are a liberal. If you want to know more about the root causes then you are conservative.

The 3am Text Message

The McCain campaign has been hitting hard at Obama as being a celebrity. Obama is playing into this.

Consider the way that the vice-presidential pick was handled. Supporters could register to be sent a text message to their phones so that they would know first who the pick would be. This was probably more of a way to get millions of supporters' phone numbers than anything else. It also failed more than one way. It was sent at 3am EDT when most people were asleep. If they set their clock alarm they would hear the choice on the radio before checking their phone. Not everyone got the message. Worst, the news media had the choice two hours before the text message went out. And then there is the fact that Biden was the front-runner since June so there was no actual drama to the announcement.

But let's put this aside for a minute and concentrate on the idea of signing up to be the first to know the pick. Is this something that presidential candidates actually do? I know that it is a brave new world and technology has improved since the last election so some options didn't even exist in 2004.

Still, the idea of signing up to get special texts from your candidate seems like something that Oprah would do.

People who care about getting the news first can normally sign up for news alerts to be texted to them anyway. You might get the message a few minutes later but the election is still months away. So what's the point of signing up?

It is to feel like the candidate has personally touched you. It's part of a cult of personality.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama and Guns

Back when he was in the Illinois Senate, Obama filled out a survey indicating that he was anti-gun. He has since tried to backtrack on that. With his selection of Joe Biden as his running mate, Obama has probably given up on gun-owners. Biden was the author of the assault-weapons bill passed under Clinton and of legislation that would have re-authorized it in 2007.

Obama's message to gun-owners, "Screw you, you bitter SOBs."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Drinking Age

A few days ago a long list of university presidents recommended lowering the drinking age back to 18. I've seen several conservatives reject this out of hand but before passing judgment it is important to know why it is 21 in the first place.

First, the age of 21 is so deeply ingrained in our culture that few people even think about it. It is actually a magic number (7 + 7 + 7) and reflects prehistoric fascination with seven. You find seven occurring constantly in our culture, especially the older parts. Think about the days of the week, the wonders of the ancient world, deadly sins, etc.

Three was also important (think of the Trinity) which is why three sevens was so important. Six was less important but three sizes is where the importance of the age of eighteen came from.

In ancient times the ages of seven, fourteen, and twenty one were all important. Among medieval nobility boys became a page at seven, a squire at fourteen, and a knight at twenty one.

In modern times it was established that you became an adult at 21. When laws were passed to keep children from drinking (this is fairly recent), many of them set 21 as the lower limit. This was not universal. Some states allowed drinking at 18. When I was growing up, Ohio was split. You could buy beer with 3.2% or less alcohol at 18 but you had to be 21 to buy wine or spirits.

Then came Viet Nam and Nixon. In 1969 Nixon changed the draft. You registered at 18 and your number was drawn when you were 19. Because of this there was a push to give greater rights to youths. If you could die for your country you should be able to vote (the voting age was 21) and drink. Most states lowered their drinking age.

By the 1980s a new organization was founded - Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). They are the modern equivalent to the temperance movement. They reasoned that people in the 18-25 range caused most drinking-related accidents. If they couldn't drink then the acident rate would plummet. It was politically impossible to raise the drinking age to 26 so they went for 21. Congress passed legislation mandating that states raise their drinking age or lose highway funds.

MADD also convinced Congress to lower the allowed blood alcohol level even though that was not a factor in most drinking-related deaths.

The lower drinking age has been a disaster for universities. When the drinking age was 18 then nearly all college students could drink legally. That meant going to bars where they would be cut off before they got "too" drunk. It also kept them in smaller groups and the sheer cost of drinking in a bar limited binges.

Now most college students are too young to drink but a significant number are allowed to buy alcohol. They pool their money and buy kegs then throw huge parties. There is no supervision so students (and non-students who show up) get roaring drunk. Since they are in large numbers, things get out of control quickly.

This has become a major problem across the country. At times partying at Ohio State (which is only a few miles from my house) has gotten bad enough to make Jay Leno's opening monologue.

At the same time, alcohol-related deaths in Ohio caused by underaged drinking has gone up. Raising the drinking age has had the opposite effect than intended.

There comes a time when you have to look at the consequences of actions like this and reevaluate them. Drinking in general and binge drinking has gone up because the drinking age was changed. The experiment failed. Lower it back to 18.

Those Awful Republicans

It's probably the influence of What the Matter With Kansas, but Democrats have convinced themselves that they are fine upstanding campaigners and Republicans are full of dirty tricks. This was a common theme during the primary. Hillary would run an ad like the 3:00 am one and Obama would say that only a Republican would do something so despicable. Obama's justification for not taking public financing was that he needed a big warchest to counter all of the coming Republican dirty tricks.

This post is typical:
Defensive plays like "FightTheSmears" are all well and good, but where's the offense? The GOP keeps throwing roundhouse blows. When they start to lose they make like Mike Tyson and bite somebody's ear off. Meanwhile Democrats fight by Marquis of Queensbury rules -- that is, if they deign to fight at all.
Kerry and Gore were such wooden candidates that the Democrats could as easily have nominated a wooden fencepost but they have convinced themselves that Kerry lost because he didn't fight back hard enough.

So, how clean are the Democrats' hands? doesn't think much of Obama's newest anti-McCain ad.
By using months-old quotes and selective editing, the Obama ad distorts McCain's assessment of the economy.
Then there is the way that the Democrats cut McCain's comments on the rich from the weekend His original answer and the way that the DNC cut it are both here. McCain gave a good answer, refusing to divide the country into class warfare. The Democrats totally changed what he said. After this, how can they ever claim that their hands are clean?

Where they ever as pure as they say? In 2000 they obsessed that Bush would pull an October surprise but they pulled a November surprise instead, releasing documentation that Bush had been arrested but not convicted of drunken driving during the days that he drank.

2004 had the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth who meticulously documented every assertion they made about Kerry. The other side ran ads saying that if Bush was reelected he would reinstitute the draft.

Then there was the 60 Minutes story about Bush being AWOL from the TANG. This was totally based on forged memos produced by a Democratic operative who insists that a woman he didn't know passed them to him at a rodeo and that, for his own protection, he copied the then destroyed the originals. The National Enquirer wouldn't run a story that fishy but CBS did and the Kerry campaign had a series of ads already prepared to run when the story fell apart.

The truth is that the Democrats fight dirty and always have. It's just that they don't recognize it because they feel that their cause is pure so anything they do is justified. On the other hand, they see the Republicans as evil so anything that the Republicans do must be a dirty trick.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Echos of 2004

On its surface, it is hard to imagine a bigger contrast between the 2004 and 2008 elections. In 2004 the Democrats ran a stiff white guy with a military background against a Republican incumbent with questionable military credentials. This time the Democrats have a dynamic black candidate with little experience in anything and the Republicans have an aging military hero. So why does the left sound so much like it did four years ago?

In 2004 the expectation was that John Kerry would beat President Bush decisively in the debates. After all, Kerry had been on the Harvard debate team and Bush was reputed (unfairly) to have the lowest IQ of any president. When Bush held his own the left cried foul. Bush must have had some sort of receiver and Karl Rove must have been telling him what to say. They spent a lot of effort looking at pictures of Bush's back, convinced that they saw the outline of a receiver.

There was nothing to this. Disinterested observers noted that the "lump" changed locations and shapes. Bush was sweating in the hot lights and the lining of his coat stuck to his shirt causing unusual folds. Further, an examination of their military records showed that Bush had a slightly higher IQ than Kerry.

In 2008, at the presidential forum in Saddleback, John McCain did better than silver-tongued Barack Obama. The format was that one candidate would go first while the other waited in a "cone of silence". Obama went first. McCain did so well that Obama supporters immediately announced that McCain must not have been in the cone of silence. As it turned out, McCain was actually in a motorcade during the first 20 minutes. His campaign insists that he was not listening to Obama's answers and his staff was not feeding him answers. Obama supporters are calling McCain a lier.

The Obama campaign should hush these complaints. They make Obama seem petty.

In 2004, the first claim by the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth was that John Kerry lied about spending Christmas in Cambodia. More than once Kerry had claimed moral authority because he heard President Nixon say that no US troops were in Cambodia while Kerry himself was delivering a CIA agent to Cambodia.

Kerry's Christmas story fell apart in several places. Kerry claimed that Nixon made this speech on Christmas but the only Christmas that Kerry spent in Viet Nam was 1968 and Nixon was inaugurated in 1969. A biograghy based on Kerry's own diary placed him elsewhere on Christmas. While the US did move into Cambodia, it was not until after Kerry's three month tour was over.

During the forum, McCain told a story about a guard who showed him some kindness and drew a cross in the dirt with his foot as explaination. Within hours the left was insisting that this never happened and that McCain stole the anecdote from Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The only proof that they could offer was that McCain didn't tell this story until years after it happened.

This is probably revenge for Christmas in Cambodia. The left woul love to tarnish McCain's record as Kerry's was tarnished. This is a poor place to start. They have no proof. The simple act of a guard scratching a cross in the dirt is universal enough that it could easily have happened to both men. This isn't even the only cross-related story to come from Viet Nam.

The most worrysome echo of 2004 for the left must be Obama's performance in the polls. When Obama took the nomination, pundits on the left announced that his poll numbers would only rise from there. Later, when they refused to go up, the pundits showed how a slight lead in the popular vote could translate to an electoral landslide.

In fact, Obama never got higher that 49% and his numbers have been dropping consistently in every poll. He is still ahead in the Electoral College but his numbers are behind Kerry's at this date. As an example, Kerry was ahead in both Ohio and Florida in mid-August but Obama is behind in both states. In 2004, Bush took both states.

Add in the Bradley Effect (the tendency of black candidates to generate higher poll numbers than they get on election day) and Obama might already be behind.

This might be the biggest resemblance to 2004 when the Democrats nominated a candidate who couldn't lose and lost anyway.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Rich and Poor

Back in the 19th century, Marx defined society as a struggle between the classes. To him, the working-class and the unemployed were the legitimate classes while the upper classes were guilty of exploiting them.

America never had a rigid class system like Europe so this had to be interpreted differently when Marxist sentiments influenced the American Progressive movement. The Progressives used wealth as a surrogate for class. If you were rich then it must be because you exploited those below you. It was up to the government to confiscate the funds that the rich had no claim to and give it back to the poor through social programs. This is the basis of the progressive income tax and the welfare state.

The Progressive movement subsided for decades. The progressives became liberals and the term Progressive was forgotten except for those on the far left.

Over the last few years the progressives have returned. Part of this is a re-branding. Liberals have taken so much blame for society's ills over the last few decades that no one wants to be a Liberal any longer so they have reverted to being Progressives. At the same time, the Democratic Party has moved to the left and is reviving some of their old Progressive ideals. One of these is that wealth is bad.

You can see this as the centerpiece of Barack Obama's economic program. He insists that the Bush administration favored the rich. He proposes multiple taxes on the wealthy including a repeal of Bush's tax cuts (but only on the rich), additional capitol gains taxes, and new social security taxes on those earning more than $250,000. At the same time he proposes additional tax cuts for the middle class and new government programs.

Obama has made one important change to the traditional Progressive platform. Instead of worrying about the poor and ignoring the middle-class, he now ignores the poor and treats the middle class as the New Poor.

All of this sounds like a great bargain for the middle class - elect Obama and get more money and benefits courtesy of the rich. The question is, who is rich.

Over the weekend, Barack Obama was asked who was rich. He defined families making $150,000 as middle-class. I would agree with that but I would also argue that someone making $160,000 is not rich. Even someone making $250,000 is not living the lifestyle of Paris Hilton. Then there is the implication that couples with no children living at home who make less than $150,000 are rich.

Obama's problem is that there aren't all that many people who are truly rich. This is a trait he shares with most Democrats. Often they pick an arbitrary percentage and define the truly wealthy as anyone above that percentage. This varies but is usually defined as the top 10%-20% of wage earners. (Anyone who earns more than 80% of Americans must be rich.) Often their definition of rich is so inclusive that a pair of married teachers qualifies.

This is a strange definition of rich. Wealth is usually defined in terms of assets instead of earnings. A family that makes $250,001 a year probably has a nice house and nice cars but also has a big mortgage. These people still worry about the cost of health case and gas.

(Personal note - my father was a doctor. The girl I dated in high school was puzzled the first time she saw our house. She assumed that a doctor living in a nice neighborhood must be living in a mansion. Instead our house was slightly smaller than hers. It was newer and a bit fancier but nothing like she expected. I suspect that this attitude is predominate among Progressives.)

Think about your earnings and your assets. Chances are pretty good that your assets are less than your annual earnings.

There are people who are really rich by anyone's standard. The top 1% by assets is going to be rich by anyone's standards. In a country of 300,000,000 there are going to be a lot of people in that top 1%. But, and this is a capital letter BUT, they don't have enough money to finance Obama's plans. That's why the Democrats have always included the upper middle class in their definition.

Obama is trying to fine-tune his definition of rich. He is trying to include enough people to pay for his expensive proposals. At the same time, his biggest support comes from the low-end of the "rich". He is counting on raising huge sums of money from people who earn between $100,000 and $250,000 but they may desert him if he plans on taxing them.

All of this is a throw-back to earlier times. Confiscatory taxes have been tried and they fail. They discourage wealth creation r they drive wealth to other countries. Most of Europe which has always been more progressive than the US has given up on such high taxes.

Obama is not willing to learn from history. Back when he only hung out with feminists and Marxists in college he decided that wealth is wrong and he never reevaluated this. If he is elected and carries out his agenda then he will hurt American productivity. This affects all Americans, not just the ones at the top.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finding more racism

The latest example of finding something that isn't there is Marty Kaplan's scrutiny of Joe Lieberman's endorsement of McCain. Lieberman said:
In my opinion, the choice could not be more clear: between one candidate, John McCain, who's had experience, been tested in war and tried in peace, another candidate who has not. Between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.

What did Joe mean by this? To me we was contrasting the candidate who served (and sacrificed) in the US armed forces with the candidate who introduced himself to Germany as a "citizen of the World".

Not Kaplan. To him, this is code for "Obama is a muslim".

Monday, August 11, 2008


Cenk Uygur at Huffington asks how Edwards affair is different from John McCain's. He points out that Clinton and JFK had affairs. McCain had one 30 years ago with the current Mrs. McCain.
Does John Edwards care less about poor people today than he did yesterday? Would his affair lead him to change his position on NAFTA? How would it alter his policy on Iran?

... So, why are McCain's actions any more excusable than Edwards'? Because it was thirty years ago? Does that wash it away? Will we be fine with Edwards running for office again in a couple of years because then it will all be in the past? What is the statute of limitations on an affair?
First, McCain's affair did hurt him in the past but there are some significant differences. The biggest one is that McCain didn't have a tawdry fling with someone then continue as if nothing ever happened. He divorced his wife and married the subject of the affair. Edwards claims that he had a brief fling and is back with his wife.

The fact that McCain is still married to Cindy, decades after leaving his first wife implies that there were problems with the marriage but not with his character. The same can be said about Ronald Reagan, the first divorced president. Most observers think of his second wife as the love of his life.

In contrast, Edwards had a fling with a woman on the side with no intention of leaving his wife. This implies that he views some women as sexual playthings who can be used and discarded.

Bill Clinton treated women this way. He promised that he had reformed when he first ran for President. He was sued by a woman who claimed that he harassed her and lied about his post-election trysts which led to his impeachment.

Kennedy was shameless prior to the sexual revolution. If any word of his multiple affairs had leaked out during his lifetime he would have been driven from office.

So, does Edwards' affair change his stand on issues? No. But it gives us more insight into his character. He lied repeatedly about having an affair. It implies that he only stayed with his (dying) wife for political reasons. There is a lot more to being president than holding the right positions prior to the election. None of todays' issues were major factors in the 2000 election. The unforseen happens. Character matters. Between his background as a trial lawyer and his affair, Edwards has proved that he has no character.

McCain has shown that he does have character in several ways including being faithful to one woman for 30 years.

Now, if it turned out that McCain had an affair in 2006 then his political career would be wrecked. The same can be said of Barack Obama.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Reverse Socialism

The Green movement is unique among social movements from the last 100+ years in that its goals will make things much more difficult for the working man. This puts them at odds with their far-left brethren.

Most social movements have come from the progressive tradition. This includes communism, socialism, and national socialism (fascism). All of these center around the idea of redistributing wealth from the undeserving wealthy to the needy poor. You can see echoes of this in Barack Obama's proposals to tax the wealthy and to confiscate oil company's earning. Most of the health care debate springs from this background, also.

Traditionally, the Greens incorporate many of these values in their platform. This led conservatives to refer to them as "watermelons" - green on the outside and red on the inside.

But the new cult of global warming, while recruiting from a progressive base, is diametrically opposed to making life easier for the poor. For example, Marburg, Germany is debating a requirement that all houses should have solar panels. This would affect any buildings that have renovations or install new heating systems. The law can be counter-productive. The article gives tha example of a man who already has a solar panel and wants to add insulation. This would require him to upgrade his solar panel at a cost of $8,000. Germany's Green party is paying close attention to Merburg in hopes of imitating its law elsewhere.

Then there is Duff Badgely, the Green candidate for governor of Washington. He wrote a recent editorial on the changes that the governor (that would be him if he was elected) should institute. Among his proposals is nationalizing (can a governor do this?) Boeing and divert them from making airplanes and war machinery to solar, wind and wave power equipment. He calls for carbon taxes on both corporations and individuals rising to $500/ton by 2020 (this would cost the average family $10,000/year for individual taxes plus the corporate taxed that would be added on).

He also recomends: adopting new land-use law. Require affordable density. Stop sprawl. Protect all trees as "common good" that critically benefit climate. Require a permit before killing trees. Outlaw single-occupancy vehicles, except where no public transport exists.

And, possibly the most important: Keep Seattle NBA-free.

He does throw a few sops to the poor. The poor could ride public transport for free and he wants to build 1,000 new housing units for the poor to shelter 1,700 homeless. This does not allow for the huge increase in poor and homeless that Washington would see as a result of his recomondations.

While Barack Obama does not go anywhere near this far, he also supports policies that would hurt the poor. His reaction to recent gas price increases wasn't that they are too high, but that they went up too fast. He makes fun of drilling for more oil but is also against new nuclear power plants. He proposes to transform American society through expanded use of flex-fuel and plugin hybrids without telling where the extra food to be converted to fuel and the extra electricity to power the cars will come from.

Then there is Al Gore who just bought a big boat (complete with a jet ski on the back). The changes that Gore has been urging on society will hurt the poor the while he can simply buy carbon credits and continue his profligate lifestyle.

Where the progressives of old used to worry about the poor, the new breed is so busy worrying about the planet that they overlook the poor. The global price of food has gone up due to ethanol mandates but Gore and company want to increase the amount of food burned. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to allow a floor vote on off-shore drilling because she is trying to save the planet.

Even non-carbon alternatives have to pass a green test before they can be considered. Since the 1960s the greens have had an unreasoning fear of radiation so nuclear power is off the table. Many greens dislike dams and would like to reduce the amount of hydroelectric power currently being produced.

In the Middle Ages, Europeans were bound to the land. They needed special permission to leave and most never traveled more than a dozen miles from home. Given half a chance the greens would love to see a return to this state. Then we will need a new progressive movement to save us from the greens.

Hyper Sensitive

Obama's supporters are sure that McCain and his supporters must be engaging in racism. They are so convinced of this that they find racism everywhere.

Take columnist Bob Herbert and the Paris Hilton ad. This ad uses footage of Obama's rally in Germany in front of the Victory Column. This is obvious to anyone who paid attention to Obama's campaign. But that's not what Herbert sees. He sees pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Washington Monument and he is sure that these phallic symbols were used in conjunction with pictures of two blonds to subconsciously remind us that we should be afraid of black men.

So, how could Herbert make this mistake? Anyone who saw footage of Obama's German speech, or even someone who had only heard of it, would know what column was pictured and why (because that's where Obama gave his speech). Herbert must have seen pictures of it. So how could he get it wrong?

I can think of two possibilities. The charitable one is that he is so fixated on McCain's alleged racism that it caused him to see things that weren't there. The darker possibility is that he knew better but figured that his audience would not. In other words, he may have been willing to lie in order to perpetuate the illusion that McCain is running a racist campaign.

That is nothing compared to Slate's Timothy Noah. Noah was responding to a humorous column by Amy Chozick in the Wall Street Journal. Chozick wrote that someone as skinny as Obama cannot relate to a country of overweight voters. Noah found this a racist comment using some of the most strained logic I can remember.

Let's review the basics. Barack Obama is the first African-American to win a major-party nomination for president of the United States. African-Americans are distinguishable from other Americans by their skin color. This physical attribute looms large in our nation's history as a source of prejudice.

The promise of Obama's presidency, in many people's minds, is partly that America will move toward becoming a post-racial society. It's pretty clear, though, that we aren't there yet. When white people are invited to think about Obama's physical appearance, the principal attribute they're likely to dwell on is his dark skin. Consequently, any reference to Obama's other physical attributes can't help coming off as a coy walk around the barn.
To simplify, since Obama is black, any reference to his appearance that doesn't mention his skin color reminds us of his skin color through omission. So, not reminding people that Obama is as bad or worse than calling him the "N word". Using Noah's reasoning there is no way to refer to Obama in an unfavorable light without being racist.

That's what this is really about. Obama's supporters are trying to insulate Obama through cries of racism. This isn't working and invites a backlash. Obama is weakest among white voters and unjustified claims of racism will only hurt him with this group.

For 25 ways that you might be racist, see here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


The most repeated phrase of the last couple of months is probably, "We can't drill our way out of this." Nancy Pelosi has said as has Barack Obama, and even T. Boone Pickens uses it when urging us to remake our energy infrastructure. What does this mean, anyway?

According to Democrat orthodoxy, there is no reason to allow drilling offshore or in Alaska because it will take years before we see any results. The amount of time is estimated at 7-20 years, depending on who is pontificating.

The answer to this is so obvious that Jay Leno has used it as a punchline - they've been using this excuse for over a decade. If the Democrats had allowed drilling in the mid-1990s then we would be seeing some of that oil right now. Also, unless the Democrats think that world-demand will decline in the next decade instead of going up then we will need that oil.

A different point is that there isn't enough oil to make a difference when compared to world demand. This is irrelevant. Additional oil will help prices. Increase supply and prices go down. That's how markets work. If you decrease supply by putting some oil fields off-limits then prices will go up.

Democrats are actually ok with this. They want oil prices to go up. In defending her refusal to allow a vote on drilling, Pelosi said that she is trying to save the planet. A few weeks ago Obama said that the problem was that gas prices rose "too fast". Not too high, too fast.

Democrats probably saw the rise in oil prices as a great opportunity. Their attempt at passing a carbon cap and trade bill failed but then oil prices started going up and people started driving less. If you are a believer in global warming (or the climate crisis as they now call it) then this is a good thing. Even better, Democrats didn't have to take the blame for it. They could blame speculators and oil companies.

Then Republicans started talking about drilling. Then public opinion started shifting. It turns out that environmentalism is a luxury. If you hit people's pocketbook hard enough then they reevaluate their priorities. Currently the country overwhelmingly supports off-shore drilling.

So, what will happen when the electorate realized Obama's plans for them? Last Spring he said that Americans cannot eat and drive as much as they want and set their thermometers to 72. Today he said that "It will take nothing less than a complete transformation of our economy."

It's hurting Obama in the polls, also. McCain is ahead (by an insignificant amount) for the first time since Obama clinched the nomination.

Republicans are pushing all options. Wind and solar power will not be enough and we cannot keep converting food into fuel (or replacing food crops with fuel crops). We have to build more nuclear power plants. We need to keep using coal and keep our options open on oil sand and oil shale.

Democrats are captives of the environmental lobby. They are under a lot of pressure to limit future options to insufficient "renewable" sources. The higher energy prices go the more voters are going to resent the Democrats. This could very well be the turning point in the election.