Monday, November 17, 2008

Five Myths About the Election

The Washington Post has another interesting article (this time via Ann Althouse) that looks at the five biggest myths about the election.
  1. The Republican Party suffered a death blow.
  2. A wave of black voters and young people was the key to Obama's victory.
  3. Now that they control the White House and Congress, Democrats will usher in a new progressive era.
  4. A Republican candidate could have won the presidency this year.
  5. McCain made a huge mistake in picking Sarah Palin.
Go to the actual article to read his reasoning. Ann adds a myth of her own to the list.
Cillizza invites us to supply more myths. Here's one: Obama won because Americans were inspired by a new kind of politician with a message of hope and change. (I think that Obama won because: 1. he got out in front of Hillary in the caucus states, and 2. he was the Democratic Party candidate.)
Eventually I, and the country, will move on from the election. But at the moment a lot of the intellectual interest among the political pundit and junkies remains there.

Obama and Hope versus Japan and Work

Instapundit links to this Washington Post article on the reaction to Obama in Japan. The following is a long quote by completely worth the read.
Surfing Japanese news Web sites for commentaries on the Obama victory from a key U.S. ally, I was taken aback by the skeptical, even negative, tone that prevailed. "Obama Likely to Stress Importance of China," read one headline in the mass-circulation daily Yomiuri Shimbun, implying that the new administration will relegate Japan to the foreign policy back seat. The economic daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun fretted about the likelihood that the Democratic president and Congress may concoct a massive rescue package for troubled U.S. automakers and about the potential fallout for the Japanese car industry. Everyone seemed to agree that Obama, who has talked about withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq to concentrate on Afghanistan, may well put pressure on Japan to send ground troops to the latter country -- something the nation's postwar pacifist leaders don't feel prepared to do.

The most astounding article appeared in Sentaku, a monthly magazine with a reputation for objectivity and solid analysis. Writing in anticipation of an Obama victory, the magazine raised most of the same charges the Republicans had leveled against the Democratic candidate, including Obama's associations with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former Weather Underground leader William Ayers and "communist and socialist professors." It called him "the most dubious character in history to occupy the White House." Criticizing Obama's foreign policy statements as "abstract" and "strings of empty words such as 'consultation' and 'cooperation,' " the article concluded that under Obama, the United States would lose its position of global leadership and drag the world into "enormous chaos."
The best summary, however, came from from one of Glenn's readers:
Reader Paul Harper, who's living in Japan and sent the link, adds: "Hope? Over here we have a different four-letter word to solve problems: w-o-r-k."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Media Bias: Obama's Free Pass

Instapundit links to an interesting article about Obama, the Media, and the free pass that he was given.
In the closing weeks of the election, however, I became increasingly disturbed by the mainstream media's avoidance of forthright dealing with several controversies that had been dogging Obama -- even as every flimsy rumor about Sarah Palin was being trumpeted as if it were engraved in stone on Mount Sinai. For example, I had thought for many months that the flap over Obama's birth certificate was a tempest in a teapot. But simple questions about the certificate were never resolved to my satisfaction. Thanks to their own blathering, fanatical overkill, of course, the right-wing challenges to the birth certificate never gained traction.
Personally I'm starting to get annoyed that all these Obama supporters are now suddenly realizing what happened during the election. It was as if their priorities were (1) get Obama elected then and only then worry about fairness and honesty and ethics.
Another issue that I initially dismissed was the flap over William Ayers, the Chicago-based former member of the violent Weather Underground. Conservative radio host Sean Hannity began the drumbeat about Ayers' association with Obama a year ago -- a theme that most of the mainstream media refused to investigate or even report until this summer. I had never heard of Ayers and couldn't have cared less. I was irritated by Hillary Clinton's aggressive flagging of Ayers in a debate, and I accepted Obama's curt dismissal of the issue.

Hence my concern about Ayers has been very slow in developing. The mainstream media should have fully explored the subject early this year and not allowed it to simmer and boil until it flared up ferociously in the last month of the campaign. Obama may not in recent years have been "pallin' around" with Ayers, in Sarah Palin's memorable line, but his past connections with Ayers do seem to have been more frequent and substantive than he has claimed. Blame for the failure of this issue to take hold must also accrue to the conservative talk shows, which use the scare term "radical" with simplistic sensationalism, blanketing everyone under the sun from scraggly ex-hippies to lipstick-chic Nancy Pelosi.
Her concern was very slow in developing. You don't say? I would like to think the experience changed her. But if she is like most, her concerns will fade away and in four years Obama will once again be doing no wrong as he runs for reelection. I suppose blind devotion is comforting, but it has never been a path I have chosen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Google Recognizes Veterans Day

In the past, Google has been criticized for not recognizing military holidays. (For a collection of past holiday logos, see here.) For the second year in a row, however, they chose to recognize Veterans Day.

Thank you, Google.

Obama Unlikely to Radically Change Intelligence Policies

I imagine this is good news for some and horrible news for others. The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama will likely keep the intelligence policies of George Bush intact.
Mr. Obama is being advised largely by a group of intelligence professionals, including some who have supported Republicans, and centrist former officials in the Clinton administration. They say he is likely to fill key intelligence posts with pragmatists.

"He's going to take a very centrist approach to these issues," said Roger Cressey, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "Whenever an administration swings too far on the spectrum left or right, we end up getting ourselves in big trouble."
It is refreshing to hear that but I will note is coming form a former member of the Clinton and Bush administrations. It would be more comforting to hear it from Obama himself or from one of his many multitudes of advisers. It will be interesting to see how the far left of the Democratic Party reacts to such a policy stance.
President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.

Civil-liberties groups were among those outraged that the White House sanctioned the use of harsh intelligence techniques -- which some consider torture -- by the Central Intelligence Agency, and expanded domestic spy powers. These groups are demanding quick action to reverse these policies.
Do they have a right to expect a reversal? One could argue yes:
On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama criticized many of President George W. Bush's counterterrorism policies. He condemned Mr. Bush for promoting "excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and 'enhanced interrogation techniques' like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency."

As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA's interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.
But the indication is that he will not live up to these promises. That is more than a little disconcerting as it brings up questions about what other promises he won't live up to. But for now I will take this speculation from the WSJ as potential good news.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gorelick as Attorney General Draw Criticism

The NY Times is suggesting that Jamie Gorelick is potentially Obama's pick as Attorney General. The choice is causing quite a bit of an outcry and drawing substantial criticism. From the NY Times (via Ann Althouse):
Her work at Fannie Mae, which had to be bailed out by the government in September as part of a $200 billion deal. Ms. Gorelick left the company just as it was coming under attack for huge accounting failures. She has also drawn criticism for her role at the Justice Department, in which she allegedly created an intelligence “wall” that hindered counterterrorism agents in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks. Conservatives called for her removal from the Sept. 11 commission, but her fellow members rallied around her and said critics were distorting her record. The criticism grew so heated that the F.B.I. investigated a death threat against her family, and President Bush had to intervene personally to stop the Justice Department from releasing sealed reports involving her. Some conservative bloggers have already begun trying to derail Ms. Gorelick’s possible nomination as attorney general, pointing to her experiences at both Fannie Mae and the Sept. 11 commission.
Ann notes:
Beldar seethes:
Short of appointing an actual member of al Qaeda, I cannot imagine a more offensive symbolic repudiation of the Global War on Terror — nor a more enthusiastic embrace of the chronic mismanagement, cronyism, and graft which led to this fall's credit crisis — than the appointment of Jamie Gorelick as attorney general.
I voted for Obama, as I'm sure my commenters are about to remind me, and I'm hoping for the best. He told me to hope! Please don't crush my hope so early, Mr. Obama.
How is that "I hope Obama is reasonable" idea working out for you Ann? So many people approach the choice of a new President as an emotional decision. When feelings of hope and change are replaced with realization of "he did what?" how are people going to react?

Obama Should Move To the Right

Or so says a Harvard economics professor, Greg Mankiw. Ann Althouse has the details. Professor Mankiw offers Obama four pieces of advice.
1. "Listen to your economists... They will often give you advice quite different from what you will hear from congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."

2. "Embrace some Republican ideas." That's what Bill Clinton did.

3. "Pay attention to the government’s budget constraint." You can't give people all those things you promised during the campaign when "the laws of arithmetic are ignored."

4. "Recognize your past mistakes." You were a lefty senator. The time for that is over. Listen to your economic experts who will tell you why.
I find both the original post and the fact that Ann linked to it amusing. More people than I realized went in to the election with the "I don't like McCain or Republicans, so I really, really, really hope Obama isn't a leftist like his background would suggest." This strikes me a wishful thinking at best.

Will he govern from the center or the left? My gut tells me he will keep trying to go far left and then retreat to the middle to ensure he stays in power. Time will tell, of course.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Media Bias: The Media Begins to Notice...

One couldn't time this any better if it were scripted. Now that the election is over and Obama is safely elected, the media is starting to notice that--shock!--they were horribly biased during the election.
The [Washington] Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.

My assistant, Jean Hwang, and I have been examining Post coverage since Nov. 11 last year on issues, voters, fundraising, the candidates’ backgrounds and horse-race stories on tactics, strategy and consultants. We also have looked at photos and Page 1 stories since Obama captured the nomination June 4. Numbers don’t tell you everything, but they give you a sense of The Post’s priorities.

The count was lopsided, with 1,295 horse-race stories and 594 issues stories. The Post was deficient in stories that reported more than the two candidates trading jabs; readers needed articles, going back to the primaries, comparing their positions with outside experts’ views. There were no broad stories on energy or science policy, and there were few on religion issues.
Ed Morrissey's analysis, on Hot Air, is key here:
Ombud Deborah Howell’s column goes on to justify or at least rationalize the imbalance:
Stories and photos about Obama in the news pages outnumbered those devoted to McCain. Post reporters, photographers and editors — like most of the national news media — found the candidacy of Obama, the first African American major-party nominee, more newsworthy and historic. Journalists love the new; McCain, 25 years older than Obama, was already well known and had more scars from his longer career in politics.
So that must mean they absolutely adored Sarah Palin and gave her the same benefit of the doubt, right? Er, no:
When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission.
The hell with Joe Biden. Howell never answers the real issue here — why did the Post, and the rest of the national media, go on the attack with Sarah Palin and not with Barack Obama? The two candidates had a similar amount of time in politics, and Palin had more executive experience than Obama. Obama ran for the top job, while Palin ran for VP. And yet the national media parachuted dozens of reporters into Wasilla and Juneau looking for dirt and scandal, coming up with a tanning bed in the governor’s mansion (which Palin bought herself) and the Troopergate story that turned out to be a nothingburger and was already known prior to her nomination.
Sorry to quote so much but Ed is right on here.

The sad thing here is that I think the people at the Washington Post are trying to come clean about the bias. But even when they try they write it off as a minor problem or one justified as excitement. There's a reason I decline to get a free paper every time I go to the grocery store. I don't trust the media anymore. Until they realize that they will continue to see circulation numbers and profits plummet.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama Win Already Motivating Change--Increased Gun Sales

I think this was totally to be expected. From the NYTimes, "On Concerns Over Gun Control, Gun Sales Are Up". Hat tip Instapundit.
Sales of handguns, rifles and ammunition have surged in the last week, according to gun store owners around the nation who describe a wave of buyers concerned that an Obama administration will curtail their right to bear arms.
In Colorado, would-be gun buyers set a one-day record last Saturday with the highest number of background check requests in a 24-hour period, according to figures from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

“We’re not really sure who is promoting the concept that a change in federal administrations might affect firearms possession rights,” said an agency spokesman, Lance Clem, “but we do know that it’s increased business considerably.”
I say it is not surprising because even I considered it. I thoroughly enjoyed a pistol class I took during college and have always thought about pistol marksmanship has a hobby. Guns for self-defense or hunting is not my thing, but as a sport it seemed intriguing. It crossed my mind that I might want to buy the handgun now, before it potentially gets too difficult. If the economic situation were different, I might feel I have the disposable income to spend on a new hobby.

It is not all doom and gloom though for gun owners. I think this comment is accurate as well.
Other people, even some shopping for guns, said they thought that some gun enthusiasts’ fears about Mr. Obama were unjustified. James Sykes, a gun collector who was shopping at the GunRoom in Lakewood, Colo., called the rush to buy guns “a lot of hysteria about very little.”

Mr. Sykes, who said he had voted mostly Republican in the past but supported Mr. Obama this year, said that issues like war and the global economic crisis were more pressing for him right now and that he imagined the same was true for Mr. Obama.

“My Second Amendment rights are unquestionably important to me, but so is feeding my family,” he said. “In reality, you won’t be able to afford to buy a gun if your job goes overseas.”
In Obama's long list of promises he made during the election, I think reversing his comments about "not having the votes" to take guns away from people and going after them is low on his list of priorities.

That said actions have consequences. I'm sure the idea that electing Obama is causing a surge in gun ownership doesn't sit well with anti 2nd amendment folks, but markets are tricky things to predict.