Thursday, October 30, 2008

Life Under Obama

Liberals love to talk about how the Bush presidency has shredded the Constitution and eroded civil liberties. They never admit that none of this directly affects the average American or that most of their complaints are about the treatment of prisoners of an undeclared war who never set foot on American soil.

Obama is supposed to make it all better. Given the actions of his campaign and his supporters as well as the Left in general, we have a lot to worry about.

First, there is the Fairness Doctrine. This requires equal time for opposing viewpoints on public airwaves. It was instituted when radio was the only broadcast medium and later extended to TV. The reasoning was that A) these were public airwaves and should not be used for partisan purposes, and B) there were so few broadcasters that the government needed to ensure multiple viewpoints. The Fairness Doctrine was used by both parties against political enemies until the Reagan administration killed it.

The Left wants to revive this, but only for AM radio. Since AM radio is, at best, a niche market these days, the original reasoning no longer applies. In fact, the Left is quite open about the fact that this is a political move aimed at silencing conservative radio shows such as Rush Limbaugh. This is political abuse at its worst.

Obama has been active in silencing others. After complaints from his campaign, there were threats of arrest and criminal charges for stations airing an anti-Obama ad produced by the NRA. When McCain complained about ACORN and fraudulent voter registration, Obama's campaign requested that McCain be investigated by the special prosecutor looking into the firing of federal attorneys.

Obama is also promising increased enforcement of laws against discrimination. When everything can be twisted into racism (remember when calling Obama "thin" was racist?) this could turn into an easy way of silencing the opposition.

According to statements he made during the campaign, we can expect other intrusions into everyday life. He plans income redistribution but is vague on whose income will be redistributed. Until recently he consistently used the figure $250,000. Biden recently amended this to $150,000 and Obama's half-hour special split the difference at $200,000. Where will he draw the line once he is in office?

Then there is his energy policy. He is sort of for limited off-shore drilling under certain conditions. He will heavily subsidize alternate fuels. Increased ethanol production already led to a world-wide rise in food cost. Last Summer he made a statement about Americans not being able to eat as much as they want, set their thermostats to 72, and drive SUVs. Will this translate into legislation? Any legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions will increase the price of energy. We saw how that affects the economy during the Summer and $4/gallon for gas was no where near enough to meet greenhouse emissions targets. If this is added to an already shaky economy then we will see a second Great Depression. The Green activists who make up a significant portion of Obama's support actually want this.

Then there is the general irritation that government regulation causes. This will be added to the current irritation of dealing with insurance companies as Obama takes over the nation's health care industry.

So, that's what we have to look forward to - an erosion of liberites and living standards that will affect day to day life.

On the bright side, it will not take long to rehabiliate Bush. A couple of years from now he can hit the talk show circuit (on TV since it will be gone on radio) talking about the golden years under his administration. It worked for Clinton.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Corporations, Republicans and Democrats

Newsweek asks why corporations still love Republicans? The author, Daniel Gross, examines some articles from the Wall Street Journal and comes away convinced that corporations don't know what's good for them.

He starts with unions.

Big retailers such as Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Target, the Journal reports, are freaked out that Obama and a Democratic Congress would pass the Employee Free Choice Act, "which would do away with secret balloting and allow unions to form if a majority of employees sign cards favoring unionization.

and goes on to describe all of the problems facing these corporations besides unions. All of his points may be true, but unions seldom help large corporations. Look at the automotive industry. The unionized American companies are failing. The non-unionized foreign companies are still solvent. GM has not been able to compete for years because of the overhead of union pensions. When you buy a car from GM, a greater percentage goes to the union pension than to pay for the steel in the car.

Later Gross tosses out this statement:
Once again, the past 16 years provide a great controlled experiment: eight years of a Democratic regime that was comparatively pro-labor, higher tax, pro-regulation and anti-free trade, followed by eight years of a Republican regime that was comparatively anti-labor, decidedly low tax and anti-regulation, and pro-free trade.

I have serious problems with this assertion, especially the part about trade. Clinton went against his party to pass the pro-trade NAFTA. His main flirtation with higher taxes was during his first two years. Once the Republicans took over after the election of 1994, Clinton practiced "triangulation". He moderated his policies. He also signed a major bank deregulation bill.

This is, in fact, a major problem with Gross's argument. He equates Clinton and Obama as having the same policies because they are Democrats. In fact, Clinton was much closer to Bush on most economic policies.

Obama is running an anti-trade and anti-corporate campaign. He promises to raise taxes on corporations and capitol gains (the rise in the value of your stock). He promises to tax excess profits (decided by him) and "return them to the people". He is against globalism in general.

But that's only Obama. consider the Democrats in general. Big box stores in general and Walmart in particular are hated by a large number of people, all of them on the left. There have been several local initiatives that would outlaw big box stores in specific cities. There have been attempts at putting them at a competitive disadvantage. There have been numerous boycotts.

Why would these corporations ever trust a party that hates them?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Redistribution of Wealth Experiment

Bluey Blog forwards an email on redistribution of wealth.

In a local restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08″ tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference�just imagine the coincidence.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need�the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application.

Actually, this is totally expected. People are usually in favor of redistributing other people's wealth. It's only when its their own wealth being redistributed that they object. That's why Obama continually points out that he will only be taking wealth from the top 5% and distributing it to the rest of us. In other elections this would be called buying votes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

America can't afford Obama

A week ago I suggested that it might be better for Republicans if Obama won. My thinking was that Obama would discredit the left while Republicans recovered their conservative roots. I've changed my mind in the last week. I've decided that Obama will cause so much damage that he should never get near the White House.

During the primaries Obama and Hillary got into a bidding war against NAFTA. At the same time, one of Obama's advisors assured Canada that this was just campaign talk. An article in my local paper indicated that Obama is still talking about changes to NAFTA. This will not only hurt trade which affects the economy, it will hurt America's image abroad.

Gas is selling for less than it cost a year ago. It was about 50% higher just a month ago. Obama has never been explicit about his policies on gas prices but he has dropped hints. He, along with the rest of the Democrats, has been against domestic oil production. He modified his position slightly to say that he might consider off-shore drilling as part of a broader solution. Most telling was a comment that he made last Summer. He said that the problem was that the prices rose so fast that people didn't have time to adjust.

Obama is a supporter of CO2 restrictions. That means higher gas prices. A lot higher. In Italy gas reached $10/gallon and people still kept driving. In order to get the reductions that Obama wants, we will see gas go that high or higher.

The military is stretched in Iraq. Obama reminds of this costantly. The reason for this is that the military was reduced under Clinton. We just don't have the troops we really need to occupy a country. Obama wants to escalate Afghanistan. In addition, Barney Frank let slip that the Democrats plan on cutting the military 25%.

Obama promises health care for everyone at no cost. He says that he will reduce waste and cut overall costs through preventative care. He's dreaming. Niether will work and preventative care is very expensive, partly because of the number of false positives in modern tests. Canada and Britian have tried universal coverage. The quality of their health care has gone down and they are having major problems controlling costs.

The centerpiece of Obama's candidacy is his tax plan. He describes it as raising taxes on the top 5% and giving a cut to the other 95%. Since 1/3 of workers don't pay income tax, he is going beyond regular income tax cuts. In order to cover his entire 95%, Obama is playing with the Social Security tax. The lowest earners will get a cut in Social Security. The highest earners will have an increase in the income tax with the extra going into Social Security. This is a fundamental change in how Social Security works. It breaks FDR's bargain that it be self-supporting (I won't get into the problems with the trust fund here).

In addition to all of this, there is Biden's prediction of the country being tested under Obama.

The bottom line is that much of what Obama proposes to do will never be undone, even if the Republicans retake the White House and Congress in 2012.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The "Real" America

What is the Real America? Governor Palin recently told a crowd that they were the best of America. This angered Keith Olbermann enough to do a special report on divisive politics. He quotes Palin:

"We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington D.C.," you told a fund-raiser in North Carolina last Thursday, to kick off this orgy of condescending elitism.

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

Olbermann goes on:

Governor, your prejudice is overwhelming. It is not just "pockets" of this country that are "pro-America" Governor. America is "pro-America. "And the "Real America" of yours, Governor, is where people at your rallies shout threats of violence, against other Americans, and you say  nothing about them or to them.

He also quotes McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer:

"I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia," she said. "But the rest of the state, 'real Virginia,' if you will, I think will be very responsive to Sen. McCain's message."
Again, a toxic message. The parts of the country that agree with Nancy Pfotenhauer are real; the others, not. Ms. Pfotenhauer, why not go the distance on this one? It was Sen. McCain's own  brother who called that part of Virginia nearest Washington "communist country."

Once again, Olbermann is practicing selective outrage.

First, Olbermann's threats of violence didn't happen. According to the Secret Service, no one shouted "kill Obama" at a Palin rally. Olbermann is repeating a lie, or possibly obfuscating it since he is referring to it in general terms instead of the specifics he used in a previous special report.

But, more to the point, we are becoming a very divided nation and the two halves don't think much of each other. A map of the 2004 election breaking down votes by precinct showed islands of populous blue cities surrounded by a sea of red. The people in those cities, especially the coastal ones look down on the rest of the country. They use derogatory terms like "flyover country". And that's the polite ones.

John Murtha recently called his district in western Pennsylvania racist. Barack Obama referred to them as bitter and clinging. And of course, Olbermann thinks that they are a violent mob. There is no question that the residents of the DC metro area have different political beliefs than the rest of the state.

The terms "inside the beltway" and "outside the beltway" have been part of the political lexicon for years. They refer to how people who live within the beltway surrounding Washington DC seem to be disconnected from everyday reality. Why should it be so offensive for a McCain official to use those terms?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Does Joe Know?

Joe Biden

"And here's the point I want to make. Mark my words. Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. And he's gonna have to make some really tough - I don't know what the decision's gonna be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it's gonna happen. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate. And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you, not financially to help him, we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right. Because all these decisions, all these decisions, once they're made if they work, then they weren't viewed as a crisis. If they don't work, it's viewed as you didn't make the right decision, a little bit like how we hesitated so long dealing with Bosnia and dealing with Kosovo, and consequently 200,000 people lost their lives that maybe didn't have to lose lives. It's how we made a mistake in Iraq. We made a mistake in Somalia. So there's gonna be some tough decisions. They may emanate from the Middle East. They may emanate from the sub-continent. They may emanate from Russia's newly-emboldened position because they're floating in a sea of oil."

After again touting Cantwell's judgment, Biden told the crowd to "gird your loins."

"Only thing I'm asking you is, you know, gird your loins. We're gonna win with your help, God willing, we're gonna win, but this is not gonna be an easy ride. This president, the next president, is gonna be left with the most significant task. It's like cleaning the Aegean stables, man. This is more than just, this is more than - think about it, literally, think about it - this is more than just a capital crisis, this is more than just markets, this is a systemic problem we have with this economy."

So, just what did he mean? Obama dismissed this as a rhetorical flourish.
Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes, but i think his core point was that the next administration is going to be tested, regardless of who it is," he said at the Richmond, Va., event.

I don't think so. Here's what I think Biden was talking about.

First, Biden's strength is international relations. That's why he is on the ticket. Obama said that he will have Biden at his shoulder when he is making hard choices. Obama has other foreign policy advisers, too. Some of them are fairly sharp.

I'm guessing that they had a security briefing and the advisers told Obama that world leaders think that he is a Carter-style dove. They expect something to happen, maybe several somethings. Possibly Russia is going to annex someone. Or an Arab country is planning a strike against Israel. Or both. Maybe some other things, too. Biden talked about four or five scenarios. Maybe they are expecting a cascade.

But that's not all of it. Obama must have told his advisers how he plans to react to these events. It isn't going to be good.

That's what Biden is really warning us of. Something will happen and Obama's response is going to seem really, really bad.

There are two possibilities here. One is that Obama actually is a Carter dove and hopes to solve the world's problems through intensive diplomacy. The other possibility is that Obama is secretly a hawk.

Biden's references to Bosnia, Kosovo, and Somalia almost sound like Obama is planning on invading someone. Maybe he's going to get us into a quagmire (not counting the troop escalation in Afghanistan).

Either way, Biden is warning us that Obama's foreign policy is going to look terrible for at least a couple of years but, if we preserver then everything will turn out alright. This sounds surprisingly like Bush's Iraq policy for the last four years.

I don't like the sound of this either way. Diplomacy only works if each side has something that the other wants. If you take the threat of war off of the table then we might not have enough to bargain with. Somolia and Iraq proved how difficult it is to build a nation out of warring factions. The country is not ready for a new Iraq.

It would be nice to know exactly what Biden was referring to. Obama seems to be worried about this since he pulled Joe from the campaign trail yesterday.

McCain is already exploiting Biden's slip. With Wall Street calming down some, this could tip the election.

What's going on with the polls?

First, who is winning the presidential race? We don't know. Some polls show the race closing to within the margin of error. Others show Obama's lead widening. What's going on?

First, all of these results are within the margin of error, especially if you assume that McCain is slightly behind. But polling gets complicated quickly.

If you just call 500 people then you will get a result but it might be a bad one. A lot of people don't vote so you have to identify the likely voters. Your sample group is likely to be too small to really represent a cross-section of America so you have to do some weighting. This is the toughest part.

Lets assume that Democrats and Republicans make up 30% of the population each with the remaining 40% uncommitted. If your poll of 500 people was a good cross-section then you would have 150 for each party with the rest uncommitted. If your group actually had 200 Democrats and 100 Republicans then you have a problem. Your sample group is going to lean for Obama.

What the pollsters do is to estimate the proportion of voters in each party then weight the sample to match that. With the example I gave above, they would multiple the Republicans' answers by 150% and the Democrats' answers by 75%.

But, party identification has been fluid the last couple of years. In 2004 the parties were closer to parity. Republicans defected to the Democrats in 2006. It appears that this trend increased during the primaries this year but this may not be accurate. McCain clinched the primary early on. Many Republicans switched parties in order to be part of the Obama/Hillary contest. They may come home to McCain. No one knows.

Then there are "undecideds" who always vote for the same party but refuse to register with a party. In the last few elections the number of swing votes has been less than 20% of the electorate. It is hard to identify this group.

On top of that, an increasing number of people no longer have land lines and pollsters do not call cell phones.

Then there are people who say that they will vote for Obama because they worry about being labeled a racists.

Put it all together and the actual margin of error is probably higher than the pollsters are admitting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beating the Drum for Obama

After every election there is always some group on the losing side who complains that their man would have won if the news media had just gotten out their message. I always shake my head at this. The MSM is not there to carry water for either side. It is up to the candidate to get out his own message. This year is different. The MSM seems to be going out of their way to help Obama and hurt McCain. I have examples.

ACORN. The press has covered the massive number of fraudulent registrations that ACORN presented. In a normal election, they would also be going into detail about ACORN's long association with Obama. Not this year. Instead I have seen several articles on ACORN. They always seek to sooth the reader. They point out that ACORN practices voter registration fraud, not vote fraud. The two are separate crimes and the one that ACORN has committed thousands of times in multiple states is only a misdemenor. We are also assured that ACORN is itself a victim of unscrupulous workers and that the odds of actual voter fraud happening are less than of being struck by lightening. The fact that specific phrases like the one about lightening are in multiple articles makes me believe that these are being copied from a talking points memo from ACORN or Obama.

Joe the Plumber. The story here was that a regular working guy confronted Obama about having his taxes raised and Obama said that spreading around the wealth was the "right" thing to do. That got buried in stories about Joe himself. Reporters are falling all over themselves in an effort to discredit Joe and bury the real story which was Obama's response.

Violence at McCain rallies. It was widely reported that someone yelled "Kill Obama" at a Palin rally. The Secret Service later said that they had been monitoring the rally and that no one shouted that. This is one of the under-reported stories of the month. If the MSM picked up the story they buried it so deep that no one will actually see it. Where is the zeal that reporters showed in digging up Joe the Plumber's tax records? Keith Olbermann is still insisting it happened.

This is a troubling double-standard. Stories that hurt Obama are being discredited, even when they are true. Stories that hurt McCain are allowed to stand, even when they are false.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Do we want to win?

Obama continues to hold his lead in the polls. It is possible that McCain could still pull ahead but a little voice in the back of my head asks, "Do we really want this?"

It is not that I think that Obama will be a better president. I think that he will be a disaster. This thing is that I suspect that whoever is president will be presiding over a disaster for the next couple of years, at the least. The party in charge will get the blame. If McCain is the president then the Democrats will almost certainly increase their majority in 2010. The best thing that can happen to the Republicans is for the Democrats to be in charge (and vice-versa).

If Obama had been elected a year or two ago then he would have had no trouble implementing his progressive agenda. Times were good (at least better) and people were willing to support progressive programs like raising the minimum wage. Obama will face significant obstacles in 2009 that were not there before. These are:

The Democratic Congress of 2007-2008 failed to deliver on its promises. They did not bring fiscal reform. They did not end corruption. They did not end the war. They sure didn't lower the price of gasoline. About the only thing they accomplished was raising the minimum wage. Until now the Democrats could blame President Bush. With a democrat in the White House, they will have to deliver.

The economy and the bail-out will put severe limits on new programs. The psychological pressure against piling up more national debt will be strong. There will also be pressure for automotive and airline bail-outs. This will cause pressure to balance the budget instead of piling up massive new debt.

If Obama can push his tax plan through it will probably hurt the economy. Bush's stimulus failed because people banked most of it. The same will probably happen to Obama's proposed second stimulus.

The nation was about as primed for national health care in 1992 as it will ever be but the Clintons' plan didn't even come to vote in Congress. Obama will have a lot of work trying to sell his plan.

Democrats have defined themselves as the party of peace for the last several years but Obama now owns Afghanistan. A major part of his campaign was that Iraq was the wrong war and Afghanistan was the right one (echoing John Kerry and Howard Dean). Add in an unstable Pakistan and Obama faces a quagmire. Obama will be expected to make quick progress. He might get lucky and negotiate a treaty with the Taliban that includes an expulsion of al Qeada. Unless this includes bin Laden's head on a pole, it will not be enough.

The peace movement will have a tough choice. Will they support a Democrat who doesn't not meet their standards or will they turn on him? Cindy Sheehan already turned on Pelosi. Will she start camping out in Chicago?

International relations are going to be tough. Obama has already given our opponents the impression that he is a naive push-over. countries that were wary of Bush will push him to see what they can get away with.

Obama ran on an anti-trade platform. If he lives up to this then he will hurt the American economy and our international image. At worst he could start a new era of protectionism that will have world-wide repercussions. On the other hand, if this was all campaign talk then the unions will be upset.

Getting Kyoto passed was always a problem. Pressure will be on Obama for much stronger measures. These might have wide-spread support as long as Obama is talking about new green jobs but the suport will evaporate when people find out that it means $10/gallon for gas.

The Reagan Revolution could only happen because of 4 years of Democratic misrule under Carter. Two years of Democrat control under Clinton was enough to give Republicans control of Congress for 12 years - longer than they have held it since the 1920s. An Obama presidency will force the Republicans to reinvent themselves. The Republicans have not been the party of smaller government since 1989. George W Bush and Karl Rove decided that there were no votes in cutting government so they had no compunctions about expanding government. Post-Reagan Republicans were happy to follow Bush's lead (or to run ahead). They need the contrast of a big-government Democrat to recover their core principals.

On the other hand, if McCain wins then he will either spend his term fighting with Congress and angering everyone or compromising with them and angering the Republican base.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama and the Plumber

It's unanimous, Joe the Plumber son the 3rd debate. This could be bad news for Obama.

Joe, (full name Joe Wurzelbacher) originally made the news after being filmed asking Obama about his tax plans. Joe has been working for Newell Plumbing and Heating (which only has the two employees). At an Obama rally he stated that he hopes to buy the plumbing company which makes more than $250,000. "Your plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?"

Obama's answer is much longer and more nuanced than what is usually reported. A bit part of it is the supposition that, if Obama's tax plan been enacted ten years ago, Joe would have made more money so he shouldn't object to paying more now.

A couple choice quotes:

It's not that I want to punish your success. It's just that I want to be sure that those folks behind you, that they've got a chance at success, too."

I believe that when you spread the wealth around to everybody, it's good for everybody.

Watch the full exchange here.

Along the way, Obama states that 95% of small businesses make less than $250,000. I'm pretty dubious about that claim since it matches his claim that 95% of wage earners make less than $250,000. The government has standards on what qualifies as a small business. A plumbing contractor can make up to $14,000,000 and still be a small business. That's 56 time bigger than Joe but Obama is going to raise taxes on those businesses in order to spread the wealth around.

McCain jumped on Obama about this, mentioning Joe and small businesses 21 times. This is probably McCain's last chance. Obama was tied or slightly behind before the financial crisis hit. His message that the current problems were caused by the Bush administration are winning him votes (even if they are not true). McCain's only chance is to show that he supports the American worker more than Obama.

Most Americans have a different definition of fairness than Obama. Most people think that it is fair to let someone who works hard for his money keep it. Obama feels that fairness requires the government to spread it around to other people who may or may not be working as hard.

Until now Obama talked about taxing "the rich" and people assumed that he meant guys in costly suits and expensive cars who work for banks or oil companies. Joe put a different face on "the rich" - a middle-aged buy with a shaved head and a gut who works 10-12 hours a day. Joe doesn't look rich. He looks like the rest of us but Obama wants to raise his taxes.

So, will this resound with the voters? Maybe. In between Joe the Plumber references McCain pointed out that Obama wants to raise taxes and trade barriers during a recession. "The last president who did that was Herbert Hoover."

If the economy stops being the lead story then McCain might be able to make his case that Obama would be bad for the long-tern economy. There is a lot of meat to work with - Obama's desire to raise taxes on corporations, his reluctance to embrace off-shore drilling or nuclear energy. These are a lot more relevant than his association with unrepentant terrorists.

On the other hand, if the Dow continues to drop or something else happens then McCain will never get a chance to get his message out.

Update: True to form, the media is out to get Joe. A Google News search comes up with literally hundreds of stories that Joe is not actually a licenses plumber, that he may not be registered to vote, and that he doesn't actually have a plan to buy out his boss. With 15 minutes of fame comes 15 hours of “gotcha” scrutiny. Strangely, none of these stories link to the original clip that brought Joe to the media attention in the first place. I'm guessing that this is because the clip damages Obama.

None of this matters. Joe didn't plan on becoming a symbol and he couldn't have known what Obama's response would be. It was the symbolism of Obama telling a hard-working blue-collar worker that he made too much money and he needs the government to spread some of his money around for him that struck a chord.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Olbermann and the Truth

I got a comment on the last piece I wrote about Olbermann saying that he speaks the truth, unlike Fox and others. Well, there is the truth, there is "truthiness", and there are half-truths. Since Olbermann just posted a new special report calling on John McCain to concede the election, let's see just how close to the truth Olbermann is.

Olbermann begins by recounting how someone at a McCain rally that Sarah Palin was speaking at called out "kill Obamma" during the warm-up. While Olbermann admits that Palin probably didn't hear the cry, he is incensed that she didn't denounce it anyway. Apparantly McCain and Palin are now expected to start each rally by denouncing any negative comments that their supporters may have said.

I am not excusing anyone for advocating violence against Obama. This should be unacceptable behaviour but it has been tolerated by the left for so long that it was inevitable that it would spread to the right. Prominent people have been calling for and fantasizing about the assassination of President Bush for years. They have written movies, TV shows, plays, and songs about it. They have prayed for it. For some reason this never upset Olbermann or the rest of the left. He never did a special report on this. He never even named them the Worst Person in the World. I guess that calls for violence are ok sometimes.

Then there is Congressman Lewis who compared McCain to George Wallace. McCain called on Obama to repudiate these remarks. Olbermann responds,
Obviously, Senator, you haven't heard your own speeches, and Gov. Palin's, and what people shout during them.

I would love for Olbermann to point to a McCain of Palin speech that advocates violence.

Olbermann continues
And you haven't heard your state GOP Chair in Virginia, Jeffrey Frederick, giving talking points to 30 of your field-operatives heading out to canvass voters in Gainesville, Virginia. With a reporter present, telling them to try to forge a connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden to emphasize bombings and terrorism. And you haven't heard those volunteers, your volunteers Sen. McCain, shout back "and he won't salute the flag" and "we don't even know where Sen. Obama was really born."

McCain has already repudiated Jeff Frederick just as he has any of his supporters who crossed the line (real or not) but he doesn't get credit for this. Also, Frederick's statement ("What do Osama and Obama have in common? Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon.") is more firmly rooted in fact than Lewis's rhetoric.

Something else that Olbermann fails to acknowledge, the origin of most of the rumors about Obama. Most of those came from a whisper campaign dating back to when McCain was running 4th in the Republican primary. Hillary Clinton's staff is usually assumed to be the ones who started many of the false Obama stories.

So McCain is supposed to suspend his campaign because his supporters are repeating rumors started by the one-time Democrat front-runner.

Olbermann adds:
Sen. McCain, these people are speaking for you! And how dare you try to claim Congressman Lewis was linking you to Gov. George Wallace's segregation. He was linking you, aptly, to Gov. George Wallace's lynch-mob mentality.

If you read Lewis's remarks, he was doing both.

Sen. McCain, your supporters, at your events, are calling Obama a terrorist and traitor and are calling for him to be killed. And yet you keep bringing back these same rabid Right Wing nuts to deliberately stir these crowds into frenzies. And then you take offense when somebody who remembers the violence in our political past, calls you on it. You, sir, are responsible for a phalanx of individuals who are shouting fire in a crowded theatre. There are some things to respect and honor about you, Sen. McCain.

This is clever. No one has ever suggested that the scattered shouts for violence from the audience were from anyone connected with the campaign but Olbermann lumps them together with the now-repudiated campaign official and makes it seem that the McCain campaign buses people in to shout these things. Where, sir, is your proof?

Several times during the campaign McCain has apologised for things that campaign members said. Olbermann does not give him any credit for this and refuses to allow McCain to demand the same behaviour from the Obama campaign. Nor does Olbermann notice things like the "Sarah Palin is a c***" T-shirts. In support of Obama, the left has suggested that McCain was not really tortured in North Viet Nam but instead was a well-treated collaborator. They insisted that his story of a Christian guard showing him some mercy actually happened to someone else. They made up a preposterous story about Sarah Palin faking her pregnancy. None of this aroused Olbermann's wrath.

So this is Olbermann's version of the truth. He practices selective outrage. He leaves out important details. He picks and chooses. He distorts. And he presents it as news. This isn't a "special commentary" with a disclaimer after that says that the opinions are his alone. He is not a news anchor, he is a cheerleader for the left, repackaging their talking points and giving them respectability.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Community Organizing for Fun and Profit

During the Republican National Convention, McCain's supporters pointed out that while their VP candidate was getting executive experience as the mayor of a (small) city, the guy at the top of the Democrat's ticket was a community organizer. This line of attack left many democrats puzzled. How could Republicans imply that being a community organizer was something less than ennobling? I saw one person equate it with social work. Just today, Jacob Heilbrunn of the Huffington Post seemed to think that Obama's days as a community organizer somehow gives him inside knowledge on economics.*

Others have pointed out that Obama doesn't really want people to look too closely at what it meant to be a community organizer. The concept was created by leftist Saul Alinsky. The idea is for organizers to use self-interest to band the poor together into a movement which can be exploited to further a progressive agenda. The organizers themselves are to use the cause rather than individual charisma to recruit people.

Obama was not at all successful. He spent two years as an organizer. For the first year he tried to use jobs as an inducement to get people to join the movement. the problem was that there weren't any jobs. By the second year he was reduced to orginizing people in order to demand repairs to the housing projects. He wasn't very successful at this either. After two years he gave up and went back to college to become a lawyer with the intention of going into politics. He decided that Alinsky had gotten it wrong. What was needed was charismatic leaders.

Obama never gave up his ties from those days. ACORN engages in the same sort of community organization that Obama did. He has had a close relationship with them for years although he has tried to hide it recently. In the 1990s Obama did legal work and taught classes for them. More recently his campaign employed them. He has also steered a lot of money their way over the years.

All of this puts Obama way to the left of his image.

What saves Obama is that very few people actually understand what a community organizer is. When someone explains that he was working with hard-core unemployed they accept it. They don't realize that getting jobs for the unemployed wasn't a goal, it was just a first step. The McCain campaign has never bothered to explain exactly what Obama did. If they had then Obama's associations with ACORN, Ayers, etc. would be hurting him a lot more.

* The reasoning is that Obama saw poverty first-hand. Obama used the same line of reasoning himself earlier this year when he said that having been raised in a foreign country made him an expert on foreign affairs. In both cases, the argument seems to be that you can substitute empathy for experience. Using this reasoning, then Palin's assertion that you can see Russia from Alaska does count as foreign policy experience.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

More on Olbermann

I got a comment from Matthew Montgomery on my last post which was about Keith Olbermann.

You've lost the plot, evidently. Colbert, an unmistakable satirist, is making a joke about the perceived bias of Olbermann, not about actual bias &mdash grouping him with the New York Times speaks to this.

The same goes for the Get Fuzzy comment.
Yes, Colbert is a satirist but the comment in question was satirizing Seymour Hersh at the time. Hersh was predicting (one of many such predictions) that we already had a timetable for bombing Iran. He referred to this as "Dick Cheney's pipe dream". Colbert said that Hersh got it wrong, that Cheney's pipe dream was to drive a bulldozer into the New York Times while drinking light sweet crude from Keith Olbermann's skull. While Colbert is talented, I don't think that he is so multi-layered that he would try to satirize Olbermann in the middle of a dig at Hersh. Instead, he was referring to Olbermann's well-known bias. The same is true for Get Fuzzy. Olbermann's name was dropped the same way that Rush Limbaugh's is when referring to the right. The difference is that Limbaugh is not anchoring a newscast nor has he been paired with broadcast anchors to cover the election.

Matthew also pointed out that there are people a lot further to the left than Olbermann. I agree. However, none of the regular diarists on Kos anchor a news broadcast. What's more, Olbermann reads these guys and believes at least some of what they say.

I first became aware of Olbermann in 2004 when MSNBC had their anchors post blogs on Olbermann was an infrequent poster until the election. The kids at Kos and the Democratic Underground were onvinced that their candidate couldn't have lost in an honest election. They were sure that Deibold voting machines had been tampered with to throw the election. For the next few weeks they came up with numerous instances where the vote couldn't have been what the machines said. These claims were made without any proof by people who were nowhere near the machines in question. There was no cross-checking to see if the counties in question even used the suspect Diebold machines (they didn't). Olbermann was a true believer. He suddenly started updating his blog regularly, sometimes twice a day. He believed every theory and repeated them without bothering to verify the story.

My point is that Olbermann is not fit to be a news anchor. Newsmen are supposed to relate what happened, not judge it. Olbermann can't do this. MSNBC tried using Olbermann and Chris Matthews to cover the conventions and quickly pulled them.

NBC anchors Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams have complained that Olbermann's and MSNBC's biases hurt NBC's news operation.

Brian Williams recently told David Letterman that the McCain camp is punishing him by not allowing him to interview Sarah Palin because the McCain camp is mad at MSNBC's extreme leftism as evinced by Chris "Thrill up my leg" Matthews and Keith Olbermann.
Olbermann is hurting NBC News so he should go. It's as simple as that.

Matthew also commented
As far as Olbermann's comment last night, the one paragraph you included was the only personal attack of the set of comments, and it wasn't entirely inaccurate.
I only included a bit of Olbermann's remarks. I'll quote a couple more.

McCain is up to his neck in toxic campaign waste of his own creation.

But though McCain's tone seemed to be vaguely reminiscent of his own campaign's weekend of descent into the muck, there was not a mention of any of the subjects or people about whom Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin obsessed.

You would also be hard pressed to find any candidate who said of Social Security, "We are not going to be able to provide the same benefit for present-day workers... that present day retirees have today."
This one wasn't an attack, it just wasn't accurate. Bush raised the same issue in one of his debates with Gore in 2000. Olbermann should remember that but he was too busy trying to find fault with McCain.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Time for Olbermann to go

Keith Olbermann is easily the most polarized pundit masquerading as a news anchor. It's time for him to go. He is giving MSNBC and its parent operation NBC a black eye.

You know things are bad when a news anchor's biases become the subject of jokes. It started last year when Steven Colbert said,
Bombing Iran isn't Dick Cheney's pipe dream. His pipe dream is driving a bulldozer into the New York Times office while drinking light sweet crude from Keith Olbermann's skull.
Now, Colbert pitches his show at the politically aware. If you aren't keeping up with politics then you miss half the jokes. But what does it mean when you make the comics page? In this case, I'm talking about Get Fuzzy and not Dunesbury or Mallard Filmore. The punchline of a recent Get Fuzzy is Bucky Katt saying, "Go watch Olbermann you reality TV-hating elitist."

If you are not familiar with just how over-the-top just compare the pundits here. They were asked who won the October 7th debate. Three pundits, none of them shrinking violets, gate fair assessments. Then there was Olberman who launched into personal attacks.
You would also be hard pressed to find a candidate who thought he would gain benefit from a format that him walk around a room like an ailing man, winding up walking directly in front of the moderator's camera as the moderator is trying to say good night.
By employing Olbermann as a news anchor MSNBC has raised its ratings, attracting the far left who want nightly doses of venom. That is not a foundation to carry a news organization. It could well back-fire, also. If Obama wins then Olbermann will either spend his nights defending the inept stumblings of an inexperienced candidate who is not qualified to be president or he will turn on the Obamesiah and his base will turn on him just as it did on Cindy Sheehan.