Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Moderator for Palin-Biden Debate (Gwen Ifill) a Huge Obama Supporter

Are you surprised? You shouldn't be. Michele Malkin writes about Gwem Ifill and her relationship with Senator Obama.
In an imaginary world where liberal journalists are held to the same standards as everyone else, Ifill would be required to make a full disclosure at the start of the debate. She would be required to turn to the cameras and tell the national audience that she has a book coming out on January 20, 2009 – a date that just happens to coincide with the inauguration of the next president of the United States.

The title of Ifill’s book? “Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”
Ifill also covered Sarah Palin's speech at the RNC. Here attitude drew numerous complaints to PBS, including this one:
I was appalled by Gwen Ifill’s commentary directly following Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech. Her attitude was dismissive and the look on her face was one of disgust. Clearly, she was agitated by what most critics view as a well-delivered speech. It is quite obvious that Ms. Ifill supports Obama as she struggled to say anything redemptive about Gov. Palin’s performance. I am disappointed in Ms. Ifill’s complete disregard for journalistic objectivity.
Why do I live in a world where such obvious unfair behavior goes unpunished and virtually unnoticed? I'm going to be on the road during the Palin-Biden debate, so unfortunately I'll miss Ifill announcing her bias before the debate starts. I'm sure I'll hear about it later on the news coverage, though, right?

A Gateway Pundit commenter has some advice for Sarah Palin that is exactly along the lines of what I was thinking.
Palin should come out and in the opening niceties ask her how her book is coming along... What was the title of it again?
Of course if she were to do that, she would be both catty and racist. She can't win, either way, I guess. Which is exactly how the media likes it.

Palin Interview With Couric, Part II

I've been taking a break, for the most part, from Palin stories. Even Palinmania wasn't big enough to push the current economic issues off the front page. I missed the first Palin-Couric interview; by most accounts it was a poor performance by Palin. The general consensus was that McCain handlers try to cram as many soundbites into her head as possible and in the end she came off sounding confused.

The second part of the interview aired and it is interesting to see what people focus on. Hot Air notes this:
Remember, the rap on Palin is that she’s supposedly a “Christianist” nut ready to impose theocracy at the first opportunity. Here we learn that she supports contraception; doesn’t want to punish abortion with jail time; supports teaching evolution as “an accepted principle” and may very well oppose teaching creationism (it’s ambiguous); and reaffirms that she doesn’t judge gays, partly because she’s had a close friend who’s gay for decades.
With a summary like that, one might wonder what the media will pick up on to damage her before the debate. Have no fear, the Corner found it:
Couric: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

Palin: I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

Couric: What, specifically?

Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.

Couric: Can you name a few?

Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, "wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?" Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.
Did Couric actually ask her to name some newspapers? I'm sure the spin will be "Oh my God, Palin can't read," but her answer is spot on. It's pretty typical for executives, even of large corporations let alone government positions, to get summaries of media collected and presented to them. You hardly have the time as President to say, I think I am going to thumb through the New York Times from front page to the last want-ad this morning. Of course, I wish Palin has said she got all her information online, but nobody has the guts to say that to a member of the media (yet).

The Cult of Obama -- Be Very Afraid

When I first saw the following video posted at Wizbang I thought it had to be a sick joke. My next thought was that it was actually produced to fool conservatives into mock outrage. They would get up in arms about it only to be shown to be duped. It appears it is not a joke and that fact frightens me:
Kim Priestap notes:
These kids are already being taught to worship Obama as if he were some kind of god. That's what kids in North Korea, Cuba, Saddam Hussein's old Iraq, and other totalitarian regimes were taught to do as well. The purpose is if they grow up seeing their leaders as god-like they're less likely to rise up against them.
I had a friend (Japanese as it turns out) whose father was living in Iraq on business so he spent the first five years of his live living under Saddam Hussein. When he was in kindergarten, the teachers had the students marching around in circles praising Saddam. As soon as his father heard what was happening, he moved his family out of Iraq.

This video is not some spontaneous thing that happened in a California home. It was produced and released in a viral manner on YouTube. The Confederate Yankee blog has tracked down the individuals involved.
  • Jeff Zucker — American television executive, and President & CEO of NBC Universal.
  • Post-producer (former choreographer?) Holly Shiffer.
  • Motion picture camera operator/steadicam specialist Peter Rosenfeld (appropriately enough, worked in "Yes Man," a movie about " a guy challenges himself to say 'yes' to everything for an entire year."
  • Darin Moran, another motion picture industry professional, who just finished filming — how appropriate — Land of the Lost.
  • Andy Blumenthal, Hollywood film editor
If you are not afraid, you should be. This video is a sign. This attitude of service from Obama's own campaign website is a sign.
Obama and Biden will set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year. They will develop national guidelines for service- learning and will give schools better tools both to develop programs and to document student experience.
I see an glimpse of what Obama dreams America would look like. And what I see disgusts and frightens me.

Obama and the Jewish Vote

Gateway Pundit has an interesting post about Obama and the Jewish vote. Make no mistake, Jews in the U.S. are heavily Democratic.
According to the survey, 56 percent of American Jews define themselves as Democrats, 17 percent as Republicans and 25 percent as Independent.
One would expect then for them to favor Obama and they do. But his support is far lower than that of other previous Democratic candidates.
While Obama leads McCain by 27 percentage points in the survey, his numbers pale in comparison to those received by Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry. Some claim that fraudulent rumors and e-mails suggesting Obama is Muslim have affected his standing. However, Republicans prefer the theory that since the September 11, 2001 attacks, American Jews have begun to rethink which policies are safer for them and for Israel.
Gateway Pundit links the relative lack of support to Obama's church activities. Certainly images of his church magazine cover with Obama sharing the spotlight with the likes of Fararkhan don't help.


But I think the post misses one of the key events that could have lead to his relatively low numbers among Jewish voters--the idiocy with the U.N. and the protest of the Iranian President Ahmadinejad. The Democrats played hardball with the organizers and had Sarah Palin uninvited. The results was a poor turn out (less than 2000 people) and many of those that did show up came to support Palin. While the media did its best to paint the picture of mock-outrage at the Republicans for this, the savvy Jewish voter likely saw things differently.

Palin came to support the Iran protest. After it was politicized by the Democratic Party, the protest was a bust. Ahmadinejad appeared at the U.N. where he gave an antisemitic speech to applause from the assembly and hug from the General Assembly President Brockmann. That cannot sit well with Jewish voters that are paying attention.

Will these relatively low numbers affect Obama in any meaningful way in the light of the current economic crisis? That remains to be seen. But it does probably push Florida towards McCain which under normal circumstances would be a significant factor.

Monday, September 29, 2008

No Bailout Bill Is Game-Changing Event in the Presidential Race

I think some people have their blinders on. While there are some good reasons that the bailout plan should not have (and should not be) passed, there is one consequence that can't be avoided. No bailout bill means a huge economic collapse and a severe recession. For reasons that are unjust but inargurably there a huge economic disaster changes the landscape of the presidential election in Obama's favor in a huge, huge manner.

The public will not care the Pelosi has apparently encouraged Democrats not to vote for the bailout plan. She's shrewd enough to know that economic collapse equals President Obama and she's already shown she's willing to let the market take a 1.1 trillion dollar hit to reach that goal. She isn't going to stop there.

I read this post by Paul at Powerline. He looks at the race down the backstretch and concludes:
But there is one forseeable event that will benefit McCain. In every modern presidential race where a relatively inexperienced candidate entered the final weeks as a front-runner, there came a time late in the campaign when the electorate took a last, long, skeptical look at that front-runner. It happened most dramatically to Jimmy Carter in 1976, but also to Bill Clinton in 1992 and George Bush in 2000. Each of these front-runners suffered a noticeable downturn in the polls shortly before the election. Clinton was able to regain some of his lost lead; Carter and Bush had to hold on by the skin of their teeth.

Even Ronald Reagan's standing took a major turn for the worse late in the 1980 campaign. Shortly before the election, his double digit lead nearly vanished, as voters asked whether they really wanted to turn the government over to a "right-wing ideologue." In vew of the alternative, Reagan's lead was restored as quickly as he had lost it. But clearly there was a moment of doubt.

I expect such a moment this year with Obama. And that's why, before too long, McCain should go relentlessly negative. When the electorate takes that last, long, skeptical look at Obama, it should have as many facts available as possible.

Voters understand that to elect Obama is to take a flyer. But the candidate, aided immeasurably by the MSM, has obscured the extent of that flyer. It's not too late to lift the veil, but time is running out.
While he mentions the "economy" as a small point in the middle of his article, his conclusion doesn't weight economic matters as being that important.

I normally respect Paul's writings very much, but he isn't thinking clearly on this one. The news this last week is the opposite equivalent of a huge military strike against the U.S. occurring during a presidential campaign where a sitting president was running for a second term. People would rally around the President. It would be a time for stability. It would change the game.

This economic crisis has changed the game in an equally profound manner. I had a number of posts half-written, looking at individual battleground states. You could see evidence of biased polling and campaign decisions by the candidates that pointed to McCain having an advantage in many key states. I had essays on several scenarios in which McCain could upset Obama, even with the biased media coverage in Obama's favor.

Not any more. If the Congress passes something to stem the bleeding there is a (small) chance McCain could recover. But Pelosi knows there is no reason to hurry. Discussions don't even resume for 48-hours because of Jewish holidays. Glenn thinks that is a "sure loser". But for Obama, I think it is a sure winner. At the cost of trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy, but that is a small price to pay for power, is it not?

Biden on the Economy: Things Are Going Well

Ahhh Joe. Even in times of stress, he can provide a little humor. A reporter asked him about the House bailout bill not passing. His answer?
As he exited the hotel for his dinner break, Biden was asked “Senator, can we get your reaction to the House bill not passing?”

Biden interrupted the question with a “Hey folks,” to reporters and then said “Oh, things are going well.”
Apparently Biden misheard:
Biden’s press secretary, David Wade, sent an e-mail minutes later, saying “the senator thought you asked how prep was going” for this week’s debate with Gov. Sarah Palin.
Mr. Wade must send a lot of emails.

Just imagine if Palin has said what he said.

Media Bias: Confirmed?

Instapundit posts:
A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS: "Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working." I asked permission to reprint without attribution and it was granted.
If only there was real proof of this.

Update: Anchoress adds:
I have a couple friends who work in newsrooms, too, and one of them tells me the newsroom is “unbelievably cavalier” about any “complaints” viewers register about their reports, what they ignore, their bias or the way the edit Republicans vs. the way the treat Dems. “Cavalier” as in the fix is in, they don’t even have to pretend to care what half the country thinks or wants.

Stock Market Crash in Perspective

I'll admit I'm pretty shaken by the most recent economic developments. But this Corner post entitled "The Sky Has Not Fallen" by Peter Robinson is noteworthy:
We'll see what happens tomorrow, of course, but in the meantime it's worth noting that today the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell only about seven percent.

Only?

Yes, only.

On October 19, 1987, it fell by more than 22 percent.
And a much more detailed post along the same line at Volokh conspiracy.
Past history shows that stock market drops, even big ones, don't necessarily cause longterm damage to the economy. Today's drop in stock values, while the largest in absolute terms, is not even in the top 10 relative to total shareholder value. The 1987 stock market crash was much more severe - a 22.6% loss in share value on the Dow Jones in one day - three times today's 7% drop. Yet the economy recovered swiftly, in part because policymakers were wise enough to let failing firms go bankrupt and free up their resources for use by more efficient industries.
Tomorrow will be very interesting, indeed.

Bailout Bill Fails -- What Next?

Given today's big news story is of course the fact that the bailout bill failed to pass in the House and that the stock market took a huge hit, I feel compelled to make a post on the subject. The only problem is that macro economics is not my strong suit so it is difficult for me to add insight.

What I can say is this. The country is in the situation it is in by ignoring the problem for many years. Here is a 2004 video of committee hearings on Fannie May and Freddie Mac.
Note that the discussion centers around racism (Franklin Raines is black). The Democrats argue strongly there are no problems and that the committee hearings are a "political lynching". Clearly this was wrong. Even with the caveat of hindsight being 50/50 it is obvious Congress ignored the warning signs for many years.

Normally I would be opposed to heavy-handed government intervention in the economy. But I view this as a case of an aberration--failure to act in the past necessitates acting now.

It should be noted that the current vote failed because Pelosi couldn't get a democratic majority together. From Instapundit:
The Democratic leadership couldn't hold its majority together: "As Jim Geraghty points out, a third of Republicans voted against the bill. But Dems are in control of Congress. The power of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama couldn't convince loyal Democrats to vote for this bill? Seems shocking." Well, Obama's not really part of the Senate leadership.
There have been some suggestions that Pelosi wanted the bill to fail. The worse the economy is, the better polls seem to get for Obama. If that is true, she is allowing the economy to tank for political gain. One would hope that she wouldn't get away with that. But then I hope for a lot of things.

As for what is next, I can only wait and see with the rest of the country.

Breaking News: Global Warming is .... Global

I've had a few thoughts on global warming on the back burner only to wake up this morning and find Instapundit having a post about the very subject. I guess that is why he gets millions of hits--so timely he is in your head. Spooky.

Glenn links to this article at the NY Times which notes that CO2 emissions are up and increasing worldwide and that "poor countries" are now in the lead.
Overnight the Global Carbon Project, a network of scientists tracking emissions of carbon dioxide, released its latest update, and it shows that emissions are accelerating and are close to the highest scenarios considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year.

Seth Borenstein of The Associated Press has written a summary of the carbon dioxide findings, with some input from experts who express surprise that a slowing of economic growth in some places hasn’t blunted the growth in CO2 output.
(As a quick aside, the Times blog, above, has the tag line: Nine Billion People, One Earth. Did I miss something? The current world population is about 6.8 billion. Where did this nine billion number come from?)

Back on subject, this report exemplifies the reason I've always agreed with the U.S. government's (under Clinton and Bush) refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty. Regulating the behavior of developed nations while giving poorer countries a free pass on a issue that is clearly global was never logical approach.

Note that in the Times quote above, "experts" are surprised that emissions are increasing from developing nations even as economic growth there slows. I don't think that is to surprising at all. As much as global warming has been framed as a crisis that must be addressed in the next few minutes or we will experience the Day After Tomorrow, by populations as a whole fighting it is still considered a luxury. When times are good, people are excited to be an early adopter of hybrid technology, even at a cost premium. When times are tough, the hybrid had better be all-around cheaper, more reliable, and built to last for a long time. As economic conditions change, people's priorities change. To emphasize this, Glenn also points to this article which notes that Europe is starting to backtrack on CO2 emission reduction goals as economies there worsen.
Poland has joined Germany in calling for industry exemptions to EU climate rules as a recession in Europe’s major economies is casting doubts on whether Brussels will be able to push through its ambitious CO2 reduction programme.

...

Member states are getting nervous about asking their industries to pay more for CO2 pollution, says Christian Egenhofer, a senior researcher at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels. The “assumptions have gone”, Egenhofer said in reference to likely declining investments and growing constraints on governments’ abilities to use macro-economic instruments towards ‘green’ aims.
This is the reality of a world filled with billions of people--getting consensus on a single issue is impractical if not impossible. This is why I question quotes by people like Joe Biden, who said if China builds coal plants, they have to be clean coal. And how is he going to make them do that?

Jopek Family Disagrees on the Use of the Braclet

Yesterday I posted on how Obama mentioned the braclet given to him the Jopek family against the wishes of the family--who didn't want to make their son into an "big deal". There's a correction to that story that needs to be mentioned.

It would appear that the family isn't in agreement on incident. The father clearly stated his opinions in the interview text quoted in the previous post. In the NewsBuster story it was noted that the mother did not want to come forward as she was an Obama supporter and didn't want to negatively affect his campaign.

She has now stepped forward and issued this statement:
His response in the debate was exactly that, a response, after John McCain put it out there first,” she said. “I think it was an appropriate response — he was just saying there’s another side to the story, there’s two different viewpoints.
Ed Morrissey adds:
Ms. Jopek also said her ex-husband mischaracterized her viewpoint during his interview on a Wisconsin public radio talk show. She asked Obama to stop talking about the bracelet out of respect for the feelings of other Gold Star families who still support the war. She was afraid the issue would get exploited by anti-war groups, and apparently she doesn’t want to become the next Cindy Sheehan. Ryan’s father Brian may feel differently about his son’s sacrifice (Brian is currently stationed in Guantanamo Bay), but Brian Jopek didn’t give Obama the bracelet.

We can criticize Obama for his delivery and for forgetting Jopek’s name in that moment of the debate, but Obama didn’t disrespect Tracy Jopek’s wishes.
I still think it is sort of odd for Obama to pick this family as the cornerstone of his example. But on the other hand we've already talked about the Jopek family more than they both wanted, so it is best to let the issue drop, at this point.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tenative Bailout Plan Reached -- What Changed?

Instapundit links to an editorial in the DC Examiner that details the ways in which the various bailout plans differed. While obviously biased--it is an editorial--it has a lot of interesting information. There are two major observations about the differences that I think are noteworthy.

One, the allotment of 20% of any profits to the sketchy, voter-fraud enabling organization ACORN has been removed. This of course is an excellent change. It should be clear to anyone analysis the facts with a eye towards fairness and ethics (and legality) that ACORN deserves indictments, not funding.

Two, arbitrary limits on executive pay have been removed. The restrictions added in the Democratic-modified version were ridiculously far-reaching.
Far reaching executive compensation standards that would affect companies not even involved in this financial crisis. Additionally, the bill lowered the deduction on executive pay to $400,000 for ALL companies.
How typical for members of Congress to use a crisis to add bloat to bill that has nothing to do with the matter under consideration. While golden parachutes can be outrageous, changes to them should come from demands from investors--not heavy-handed dictates from the federal government. The new stipulation seem much more focused and reasonable:
Workable prohibitions on executive compensation to ensure bad actors are not rewarded. In a total takeover (like what happened with AIG), there will be no golden parachutes or severance pay. For equity participation, over $300M total ban for top 5 executives on golden parachutes and tax deduction limit on compensation above $500,000.
Analysis of the new plan from John at Powerline. John concludes:
If voters understood the events of the last week, they would probably return control of the House, and perhaps the Senate, to the Republicans. The mainstream media will make sure that doesn't happen.
Additional thoughts from Ed Morrissey.

Obama's 'I Have a Bracelet Too'--A Bracelet the Family Asked Him to Stop Wearing

In the first debate, McCain made reference to a bracelet he wears, given to him by the mother of fallen soldier. In a clearly rehearsed retort, Obama said, "I have a bracelet, too," and the went on to tell the story of a mother who gave him the bracelet so other mothers wouldn't have to go through what she went through.

At first this story made news because (A) the "I have a bracelet, too" soundbite came off as childish and (B) Obama forgot the name of the soldier--Ryan Jopek--who died and had to look at the bracelet as a reminder. Obama's comment is at the end of the following clip:

It is certainly true that if you are going to practice a zinger for a presidential debate, you should commit it to memory. If Reagan had said, "There you, um, uh, there...*looks down at cue card*...you go again," it would never have been remembered as a historic moment. But on the other hand, it wasn't such a flub that it seemed it would affect Obama much, if at all. Certainly conservative blogs were pushing it, but for the most part everyone else had already moved on.

Things changed with the release of this NewsBuster story. Jopek's father has come forward to say that they've asked Obama not to wear the bracelet anymore but he has ignored their request.

Brian Jopek: Because of some of the negative feedback she's gotten on the Internet, you know Internet blogs, you know people accusing her of... or accusing Obama of trying to get votes doing it... and that sort of thing.

Radio Host Moberg: Yeah

Jopek: She has turned down any subsequent interviews with the media because she just didn't want it to get turned into something that it wasn't. She had told me in an email that she had asked, actually asked Mr. Obama to not wear the bracelet any more at any of his public appearances. Which I don't think he's...

Moberg: It has been a while since he's brought it up.

Jopek: Right. But, the other night I was watching the news and he was on, uh, speaking somewhere and he was still wearing it on his right wrist. I could see it on his right wrist. So, that's his own choice. I mean that's something Barack Obama, that's a choice that he continues to wear it despite Tracy asking him not to... Because she is a Barack Obama supporter and she didn't want to do anything to sabotage his campaign, so, if he's still wearing the bracelet then, uh, that of course is entirely up to him.

Moberg: Maybe there's a difference between wearing it and making a point to bring it up in your speeches?

Disgraceful. The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier has made a request to not make huge issue out of her son's death and Obama uses her son's name as part of a political maneuver on national television? And he forgets her son's name while doing it? Newsbuster notes:
Even the snow job that the radio host tried to pull off to cover for Barack's refusing the wishes of the family of the KIA soldier who's bracelet he wears doesn't pass the smell test. After all, now that Obama has made it a big point in the debates, I guess the silent observance of Sgt. Jopek is no longer so silent and Obama is back to exploiting the death of a soldier even when he was asked NOT to do so by that soldier's parents.

To pile insult onto injury here, the Mother doesn't even want to force the issue of telling Obama to stop exploiting her son because she wants to see him win the election. Obama is not only taking advantage of this brave soldier's death, he is taking advantage of the good wishes of the man's Mother who doesn't want to hurt the campaign.
and
And, why is the media not playing this story? The radio show on which this interview is heard happened all the way back in March. How is it the media missed this? Is it because they are also don't want to hurt Obama's campaign?

I can only say that if the parents of the soldier whose bracelet John McCain is wearing had said in public that they want him to stop wearing their son's bracelet the news would have been coast to coast, and wall to wall, not just ignored in Madison, Wisconsin.
Indeed. If you have any doubt about just how biased the mainstream media is against McCain, look no further than this story. Why isn't FoxNews, at least, carrying it?

I hope that even if ignored by national media the story has some impact in Wisconsin, where the Jopek's reside. Polling shows Wisconsin close. If Obama loses the state because of negative local press over this sleazy tactic, it would be a small bit of justice in politics--a rare thing indeed.

(More commentary on this from Gateway Pundit and Wizbangblog.)

New Twist on Biased Polls: Polling Foreigners

If this analysis checks out it is truly remarkable. So have you ever wondered about those non-scientific polls conducted by CNN, MSNBC, etc? You know the ones you just click on the frontpage to see the results? The results for almost every one of those polls are very liberal and I always wondered about that. I mean, the coverage of CNN/MSNBC is biased, but what about the viewers? Do they have only liberal viewers?

The answer may be yes, but in a way that surprised me. The site Deaf Republicans has performed an interesting analysis (Hat tip: Gateway Pundit.) Follow the link to read the full analysis but the short summary is this. At the same moment the night after the debates, an online poll at Drudge showed McCain winning 68% to 30% on the question of "Who won the debate?" Over at MSNBC, Obama was winning 52% to 34%. So why the huge difference? Because MSNBC's voters are more liberal. Yes. Liberal and as it turns out, not U.S. citizens. Deaf Republicans dug a little deeper and came up with this data for MSNBC users:


Now the caveat here is this is just MSNBC traffic during the time period the poll data was being collected. The only people that could say which of these users voted in the online poll would be MSNBC. But putting that aside for the moment, you see roughly 80% of MSNBC's traffic comes from foreign countries. That bears repeating.

80% of MSNBC's traffic comes from foreign countries.

Astounding. So astounding I want to check that data myself. If true it gives me a whole new perspective on those front-page polls. If only 1 in 5 users is an American, then it really represents a world view. And for issues pertaining to the presidential race, the world view is meaningless.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Missouri Governor Blunt Condemns Intimidation Tactics by Obama Supporters

Recently, top prosecutors in Missouri announced they would sue anyone who criticized Obama using lies or misleading statements. In reaction, Governor blunt has condemned the approach.
St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights.
There are so many things disturbing about this story it is difficult to know where to begin.
  1. Why are only misleading ads about Obama to be prosecuted? What about misleading ads about McCain? Of course the answer is obvious. But the abuse of power in this situation is frightening.

  2. They don't want to sue for outright slanderous statements--they want to sue for misleading ones. While not ethical, misleading statements are sort of a basis for all political campaigns. Both side use them and they use them all the time. Recently I posted about Obama threatening to sue TV stations that ran NRA ads that painted Obama in a negative light. Sarah commented on that post:

    What I think is MORE dangerous about this, is Obama threatening to sue the TV stations. Does he really want to go down that slippery slope with the media? Suing entities protected under Constitutional freedoms? That is a can of worms I would not particularly wish to open...

    What is scary here is that Obama seems to have no problem opening this can of worms. Suing TV stations. Suing people for, seemingly, "not approving of Obama". Outright slander is one thing. Misleading statements is another entirely.

  3. What part of the Bill of Rights is actually meaningful to Obama and his most rabid supporters? Not freedom of the press, as TV stations are targets. Not freedom of religion, that is just something bitter people cling to. Not the right to bear arms, he's been pro gun control his entire career. This has gone from a one time incident or viewpoint to a scary precedent.
If candidate Obama feels he deserves this much protection from criticism, how would President Obama act? The liberatrian side of me hopes that we never have to find out.

A New Twist: CNN Tries Unbiased Reporting.

Well they try, anyway. I'm not sure they totally succeeded. On the front page last night were two articles. I was amazed the first one saw the light of day. The title was "Fact Check: Is Obama the most liberal U.S. senator?"
The ACU [American Conservative Union], which customarily places conservative Republicans on the top of its list and liberal Democrats at the bottom, has given Obama a lifetime ranking of just 7.67, according to the figures on the group's Web site.

It says Obama scored 8 percent in 2005, 8 percent in 2006 and 7 percent in 2007. Other Democratic senators in the ACU rankings have had lower yearly and lifetime scores, the site shows.

"He's one of the most liberal," said Larry Hart, the ACU director of government relations.
There is also data in the article from the Americans for Democratic Action, which agrees in general with the conclusion. So the article concludes:
Verdict: True, according to National Journal, but liberal and conservative rating groups reached a slightly different conclusion.
So on one hand I'm impressed the article made it past the CNN editors. On the other hand it didn't make it past unaltered. The end verdict is "true" but they have to add a qualifier. The original title, above, had a clause added to it: "as McCain claims?" They just couldn't help themselves from added their bias to the story.

Of course there was no way that that article could appear on its own, so right below it was the companion article entitled "Fact Check: Does McCain almost always agree with Bush?"

In thee article they look at how McCain voted on "articles favored by Bush". This is somewhat of a slight of hand, as Bush isn't in the Senate and doesn't announce his favor on every bill.
Obama surrogates also frequently say McCain voted with Bush 95 percent of the time. This is a reference to the Republican senator's record in 2007. That was the highest percentage in the seven years studied. In 2005, McCain voted with Bush 77 percent of the time — his lowest percentage in those years.
The article concludes:
Verdict: True
Notice there is no qualifier, even though the conclusion is just a subjective as that of the first article. Also notice they haven't added a qualifier to the title such as "as Obama suggests?"

Finally, this really isn't an apples and oranges comparison. Why not compare their records on rankings by the same organization? In the end I give CNN a "B" for effort in trying to at least be somewhat objective in their reporting and "C" on execution. Though, to be fair, they aren't use to objective reporting so it probably unreasonable to expect them to get it right on their first try.

Newsweek and Chris Matthews: McCain Won the First Debate

I'm continuing to make good on my promise to post interesting reactions to the debate in Mississippi last night. These two reactions certainly qualify as interesting. Both Newsweek (via Andrew Romano) and Chris Matthews--two sources that are very left of center--thought that McCain won.

Romano offers a pretty fair analysis in his Newsweek editorial.
If tonight's presidential face-off between Barack Obama and John McCain were held before, say, the Princeton University Debating Society, it might have been scored a tie. On points, the two contenders were evenly matched. Both spoke clearly, crisply and confidently about the major issues facing the country, rebutting his rival's attacks and launching his own assaults when necessary.
I mostly agree with this analysis. Obama did actually hesitate and stutter a little--forgetting the name of the soldier when delivering the questionable 'I have a bracelet, too' retort made a bad comeback far worse. But in general he was much better than normal off the teleprompter. But Romano continues:
McCain pulled the same trick on foreign policy, focusing the conversation on Obama's opposition to the surge and willingness to meet with unfriendly foreign leaders. Much of what the Illinois senator said on these subjects was smart. It's just that he was reduced to an essentially reactive posture, either defending himself or agreeing with McCain's more assertive remarks over and over again. (Obama muttered the phrases "John's right" or "I agree" about a dozen times tonight; the GOP quickly cut an Web ad.) Simply put, McCain was in control.
On that last point, Romano and I completely agree. While Obama made no huge stumbles, I definitely felt like McCain controlled the tempo. Romano's editorial is entitled "McCain Won. But Will It Be Enough." The second part is an entirely different question and the subject of a future post.

Matthews, true to his abrasive personality, went ballistic on anyone that would listen to him rant. To Linda Douglas, a chief Obama advisor:
Linda, my friend, why did your candidate agree so much, openly and relentlessly, with his opponent tonight?
This theme keeps coming up in post-debate analysis. Obama did keep agreeing with McCain; once or twice can be a debate tactic, making oneself look reasonable. A dozen times and you are begging for a "not a leader" ad--which has already been released.

Matthews also observed:
By the way, you go back to the Kennedy-Nixon debate of 1960, the first televised debate. Seven or eight times Richard Nixon said "I agree completely in the spirit in which Senator Kennedy addressed that issue." Over and over again. For some reason Barack Obama repeated those words as if he were channeling Richard Nixon tonight!
That is a pretty harsh assessment, especially coming from Matthews.

Opposing Conservative Analysis of the Mississippi Debate

As I mentioned previously, finding legitimate analysis of political debates is difficult--so much of what is written is spin. I could easily post 10 examples of people on the left saying Obama won and 10 examples of people on the right saying McCain won. I'm not sure what insight you would gain from reading through all of that.

Instead, I'm taking a different approach. Here are two reactions to the debate, both from the conservative standpoint. One is highly favorable to McCain, the other is not. While it is too early to tell how the debate affected the race, the differing opinions from the same side of the fence is at least interesting.

First up is John at Powerline, who thought it was a draw, at best.
As the evening went on McCain warmed up a bit, but he was still mostly in "bad McCain" mode. More than most politicians of his stature, McCain's performance in such events is variable. Sometimes he is very effective--focused, clear, persuasive. Other times he seems distracted; he speaks in shorthand and can come across as almost incoherent. Often, tonight, he was in that lower range of performance.

Obama, meanwhile, was at his best. Generally he is below average when forced to speak extemporaneously, without a teleprompter. But tonight I thought he came across as plausible. He stammered much less than usual and didn't commit any obvious blunders. The bar probably wasn't set very high for him, and I think he got over it. Most viewers probably thought that he seemed a plausible President.
So that is one take. For a completely different reaction, we have Roger Simon at Politico.
John McCain was very lucky that he decided to show up for the first presidential debate in Oxford, Miss., Friday night. Because he gave one of his strongest debate performances ever.

While Barack Obama repeatedly tried to link McCain to the very unpopular George W. Bush, Bush’s name will not be on the ballot in November and McCain’s will.

And McCain not only found a central theme but hit on it repeatedly. Obama is inexperienced, na├»ve, and just doesn’t understand things, McCain said.
I do think it is noteworthy that, in truth, I exaggerated a little at the beginning of this post. Most people on the left are not claiming Obama won. They are claiming that it was a tie and that a tie was "good enough" for Obama because he has a commanding lead. I think to accept that view requires one to buy into biased poll results a little too much. If it is indeed competitive in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, then Obama does not have a commanding lead.

Democratic Additions to Bailout Plan Includes Funding to ACORN

The presumptuousness of the Democrats in Congress is astounding. What once was a three page document on the bailout has now ballooned to over 100 pages. One of the more frustrating additions is discussed here. A quote for Senator Lindsey Graham
And this deal that’s on the table now is not a very good deal. Twenty percent of the money that should go to retire debt that will be created to solve this problem winds up in a housing organization called ACORN that is an absolute ill-run enterprise, and I can’t believe we would take money away from debt retirement to put it in a housing program that doesn’t work.
In case you aren't familiar with ACORN--Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now--here is a quick refresher.
And now 20% of the profits from the bailout plan will go to ACORN?

Why are there profits from the bailout plan? Why are these profits going to a radical group of community organizers that heavily support the Democratic Party? Why is it that Democrats in Congress are making this decision to funnel money to ACORN?

Those last two questions are rhetorical of course. But if Democratic Senators and Representatives funneling money into a Democratic voter fraud machine during an economic crisis doesn't upset you, nothing will.

Jay Tea notes:
This notion, of funneling any potential profits from the bailout into even more funding for helping people who can't afford a house of their own get into one anyway, is a horrifically bad idea. Naturally, it's being pushed -- hard -- by the Democrats, who have even said that it is non-negotiable.

Fine with me. If it's a deal-breaker, let the deal be broken.
Ed Morrissey concludes:
Once again, the Democrats want to set up a self-funding mechanism, this time by exploiting a severe financial crisis. Despicable.
And typical. You want change? Start with this attitude in Congress. They haven't changed and they won't so long as people turned a blind eye to corruption like this.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Obama Can't Hide That He Isn't Proud of America

I posted similar thoughts in response to a editorial by David Deming but Obama's closing comments in the Oxford, Mississippi debate compel me to revisit the topic again.

From the official debate transcript:
And in the '60s, he wrote letter after letter to come to college here in the United States because the notion was that there was no other country on Earth where you could make it if you tried. The ideals and the values of the United States inspired the entire world.

I don't think any of us can say that our standing in the world now, the way children around the world look at the United States, is the same.
This is the attitude that makes me comfortable in my decision to vote for John McCain.

I'm sure that such statements play really well in coffee shops in Berkeley. American sucks now, apparently, and only Barack Obama can change things so the U.S. is once again respected. How arrogant. And how wrong.

Sure, when the BBC travels Europe and asks opinions of America, the response they get is poor. Of course, if you travel San Francisco, Massachussets, and NYC, you'd get similar answers. But what answers would you get if you visited Pennsylvania or Ohio or Michigan?

People all around the world are still flocking to this country. If Obama is correct, I guess children in Mexico no longer dream of coming to America and making a life for themselves. All this talk of illegal immigration is apparently a waste of time; in fact, Mexico should be bracing for horde of disillusioned American children heading south in the hopes of making their dreams come true in Mexico.

What is more telling is that this was the final comment by Obama--not some off-the-teleprompter remark during the debate. Which means he and his staff crafted this message and wanted to end with it. Do they really think it will play well in those states in the middle? Are they really so deafened by the echo chamber on the left that they assume everyone is embarrassed to be an American, like they are?

There is no doubt America has issues that need to be addressed. But I am much more comfortable having them be addressed by someone who is actually proud to be an American.

Who Won the First Debate? Roundup of Reactions

Now the that the first debate is in the books, the natural question to ask is "Who won?" The answer is complex because it depends on who you ask--so make sure you are asking the people that matter.

Overall, if you read some of the more conservative sites, they of course are calling it for McCain as a slam-dunk. Sites in the middle are less convinced. I'm sure the folks over at Kos and the like have already called the election for Obama--but they did that months ago, anyway.

So as you read through the reactions below, try to remember the following. There is really only one group of people whose reactions to this debate matter--undecided voters. Obamacrats are going to declare Obama won and they aren't changing their vote. Republicans (then need a funky name like Obama followers do) will give a dozens reasons why McCain won and will of course still be voting for him. All that matters is what truly undecided people felt after watching the performances. That's a hard thing to judge with biased polls, biased media, and spin by both parties. But it is the only really important consequence of tonight's debate.

That said, he's a roundup of results from around the web:
Ann Althouse continues to try to be neutral.

From the comments at Hedgehog, you'd have thought Obama ran from the stage and hid in the corner. They are phenomenal at looking at poll internals over there but the echo chamber can get a little deafening.

Ed Morrissey thought both did better than expected but in the end declares it a clear win for McCain.

The conclusion by Hugh Hewitt is expected (McCain won easily), but his live scorecard of the questions is more interesting.

The Corner literally has dozens of posts...there's no way I can link them all. Notable reactions are from Ramesh Ponnuru, who thought McCain won--and he is usually pretty pessimistic about Republican performances this year. On the other hand Michael Graham thought that while McCain won on a few points he was suppose to--so by not utterly collapsing or making any huge gaffes, Obama did all he needed to do and more.

During the debate, McCain corrected Obama on what Kissenger said--and after the debate Kissenger hit Obama hard (emphasis mine):
Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.
Glenn Reynolds wasn't impressed with either of them for the most part. He was impressed, however, how fast the McCain camp came out with this ad.



It was released before the debate was over. And many people have noted how many times Obama said McCain was correct. That can be an approach when debating, but it does open yourself up for ads like the above.
There are many more reactions, of course, and I'll be posting about the more interesting ones over the next couple of days.

As far as polling go, nothing scientific yet so the results are all trash. A poll at the Drudge Report has McCain 70%, Obama 28% in terms of who won. But over at CNN, the results are almost exactly the opposite. It will be a while--remember, most polls are 3-day tracking polls, before any real polls can show movement. And as always be wary of polls that claim 14% of the population switched party affiliation after the debate or that the party split is now 50%D/30%R/20%I. Everyone will be trying to spin the results from tonight and remember that most media is biased towards Obama.

Links to Live Blogs of the Friday Debate

For those looking for people live blogging the debate, check out:

Ann Althouse

and comment discussions on:

Hedgehog Report

and

Hot Air.

I'd like to a way-left blog but you want that kind of coverage, just watch ABC, CNN, MSNBC, after the debate is over.

Unless Obama's head rotates 360 and his eyes glow a demonic red at some point during tonight's debate, rest assured all snap-poll and media analysis will declare him the winner. The real impact of the debate will take much longer to be measured.

McCain to Attend Debate Tonight

John McCain released a statement stating that enough progress had been made on the bailout negotiations to allow him attend the debate tonight. Reactions around the blogosphere are mixed--but if they were anything but I would have been shocked. The text of his announcement is quoted below.

How will this be spun, on both sides? What you you think? Did McCain do what he said or did he blink?
Statement By McCain Campaign On Negotiations

John McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign was made in the hopes that politics could be set aside to address our economic crisis.

In response, Americans saw a familiar spectacle in Washington. At a moment of crisis that threatened the economic security of American families, Washington played the blame game rather than work together to find a solution that would avert a collapse of financial markets without squandering hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ money to bailout bankers and brokers who bet their fortunes on unsafe lending practices.

Both parties in both houses of Congress and the administration needed to come together to find a solution that would deserve the trust of the American people. And while there were attempts to do that, much of yesterday was spent fighting over who would get the credit for a deal and who would get the blame for failure. There was no deal or offer yesterday that had a majority of support in Congress. There was no deal yesterday that included adequate protections for the taxpayers. It is not enough to cut deals behind closed doors and then try to force it on the rest of Congress -- especially when it amounts to thousands of dollars for every American family.

The difference between Barack Obama and John McCain was apparent during the White House meeting yesterday where Barack Obama’s priority was political posturing in his opening monologue defending the package as it stands. John McCain listened to all sides so he could help focus the debate on finding a bipartisan resolution that is in the interest of taxpayers and homeowners. The Democratic interests stood together in opposition to an agreement that would accommodate additional taxpayer protections.

Senator McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the Administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House. He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Representative Blunt as a designated negotiator for House Republicans. The McCain campaign is resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon. Following the debate, he will return to Washington to ensure that all voices and interests are represented in the final agreement, especially those of taxpayers and homeowners.
One interesting thought is that the move by McCain got Obama out of his 3-days sequestering of himself to prepare for the debate. A polished Obama is eloquent; an off-the-cuff Obama can be painful to watch. I don't too much stock in that analysis, but it is an interesting thought.

Obama Threatens to Sue TV Stations That Play NRA Ads

One of the important characteristics of good political candidate is knowing that your are on one side of a push-button topic and being able to hold to your views without infuriating the other side to work feverishly against you. Whether is abortion, military spending, ideal tax burden, etc. you should try to avoid making the other side go nuclear on you.

Obama is dangerously close to doing just that with his latest announcement that he will sue TV stations that play any of the ads from the NRA's new ad campaign.

NewsBusters has suggested that the NRA ads are full of misinformation, in which case it would seem stopping them would be an acceptable course of action. But not everyone agrees with NewsBusters analysis.
Although Factcheck.org faults the NRA for distorting Obama's record, every falsifiable claim in its TV spots has a factual basis. In one ad, a Virginia hunter complains that Obama supports "a huge new tax on my guns and ammo," referring to a position Obama took in 1999. He adds that the Illinois senator voted to "ban virtually all deer-hunting ammunition," a reference to his 2005 vote for a federal ban on rifle ammunition "designed or marketed as having armor piercing capability," phrasing that arguably covered deer-hunting ammunition.
The point is not whether or not the NRA is exaggerating claims--they most likely are, but there is also much truth behind their statements. The point is not how you feel about the gun control issue--I know that it is hard for people to separate their feelings and thing analytically on this issue.

The point is: why is Obama picking to use this tactic with the NRA? Certainly other campaign ads have painted Obama in a negative light. In those cases, the Obama campaign has issued its own ads or held press conferences or given speeches that refute the negative claims. To attempt to use the "power of government", that is lawsuits and federal regulations, to squash any debate on gun control is exactly the kind of actions those people that cling to their guns are worried about. Some people worry about government overreaching their rightful authority. Coming after them on the basis of federal regulations is going to fire them up. This is not a wise political maneuver.

It should be stressed that the group I describe above isn't just a bunch of "gun-lovin' red necks". A huge number of libertarians (or people who sympathize with that stance) share this view. Glenn Reynolds normally makes one-line blog posts linking to some article and making a quick observation. Look how many links he collected on this issue. Do you really want to motivate people like Glenn, who's writing is read by millions, to work against you?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

David Deming: Why Obama Will Lose

Normally I'm not inclined to link to pure editorials. I'm more interested in topics such as media bias, inaccurate polls, and the like. But today Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit linked to an editorial that caught my attention. The author is David Deming and the title of the piece is "Why Obama will lose". Here's the part that thought was noteworthy.
What a contrast there is between [Benjamin] Franklin and Barack Obama. Obama is a Harvard lawyer who is a mile wide and an inch deep. He is only the latest in a long line of shallow elites that consider it stylish and intellectual to despise their own culture and heritage.

Nothing exemplifies Obama’s antipathy for American culture better than his statement that Americans “cling to” religion and guns out of frustration or bitterness. We only can suppose that Obama regards religion or firearms as aberrations that need to be eradicated.

Of course, both guns and religion are essential aspects of American culture. The United States was founded by people seeking religious freedom. Does the word “Pilgrim” ring a bell with anyone? Our freedom and the right to self-government were won by farmers with guns.
Now I'm not as confident as Deming is--I don't know if Obama will lose; this race has been too unpredictable to me to make such statements with confidence. I can say, however, that if Obama does lose I think one of the fundamental reasons is described in the quoted text, above.

I've had many discussions with friends (and others) that are honestly and passionately liberal people. Just like me they have thought about various issues and come to have a worldview. I don't agree with it in many cases, but I do respect that they haven't come to their viewpoints by happenstance.

There is one trend, though, in their thinking that I find troubling--the really don't think much of the United State of America. The see the stars and stripes as a symbol of tyranny and interference around the world. I don't. They see your average American as dumb and uncultured. I don't. They look to Europe and see a shining example of how American should be. I can't see it. And, most of all, they look down at people in the center of the country--from those infamous states in the middle--as uneducated rednecks worthy only of scorn and being the butt of jokes. That attitude disgusts me.

I certainly don't think that America is perfect. There are lots of things that I would change if I had the opportunity. But I do think America has done pretty well, in terms of history. I love the system of government that was set down by the founding fathers and have great faith in its adaptability and that it will serve us for many years to come. I've had many friends that the media would immediately classify as "red necks". They are good people leading good lives.

When I look at Obama and hear his quote about "clinging to guns" and hear his wife talk about how, only for the first time, she's proud of her country and I can't help but be reminded of this attitude. Yes, he genuinely wants to change America and he wants to make it better--not worse as the partisan shrill on the right would have you believe. But I believe he wants to change it because he thinks that at the moment it is quite horrible. He wants to make it better because, in his honest opinion, where it is now is contemptible.

I don't know how much that attitude will affect the election, but I couldn't disagree with him more. I want to change America too; I want to see it grow and become a stronger and better nation. I just think the country and its people are pretty admirable as it stands. I can't say that the reasons Deming gives are enough to say that Obama will lose (read the whole thing). I can say with conviction that they should be.

Bill Clinton: McCain Acting on Good Faith

During an interview on Good Morning America this morning, Bill Clinton said he thought McCain was acting on good faith when he asked to postpone the debates. I'm having trouble getting this video to load but here is the direct link to the video on YouTube and here is the embedded version:
A couple of points stand out to me. One:
We know he didn't do it because he was afraid because Senator McCain wanted more debates.
There has been very little acknowledgment in the media of McCain's request to have multiple town hall meeting throughout the summer and of Obama's refusal to accept that invitation. The "McCain is scared to debate Obama" meme is one of the dumber ones to come out this election season and that is saying something. Hopefully Bill Clinton making mention of the fact that McCain wanted more debates will help squash that silly talking point.

The other notable quote is:
I presume he did that in good faith, since I know he wanted - I remember he asked for more debates to go all around the country. And so, I don't think we ought to overly parse that. Let's deal with this issue.
Note that he hits the 'he asked for more debates' topic again. I also love the political speak. He doesn't want people to "overly parse". That's Washington speak for "what you are claiming is a huge issue is totally false and you are going to look bad pushing it, so stop".

Bill Clinton has certainly been making some interesting comments lately:
  • McCain is a 'great man'
  • At a meeting in NYC: I am personally, profoundly honored that Senator [McCain] came here today
  • On Sarah Palin:

    Bill Clinton said he understands why Sarah Palin is popular in the heartland: because people relate to her.

    "I come from Arkansas, I get why she's hot out there," Clinton said. "Why she's doing well."

    ...

    "I get this," Clinton said. "My view is ... why say, ever, anything bad about a person? Why don't we like them and celebrate them and be happy for her elevation to the ticket? And just say that she was a good choice for him and we disagree with them?"

  • On campaigning for the Jewish vote in Florida:

    You know, they think that because of who I am and where my politic[al] base has traditionally been, they may want me to go sort of hustle up what Lawton Chiles used to call the 'cracker vote' there.
Barack Obama may want to reconsider having Bill Clinton out on the trail campaigning for him.

Paulson Asked McCain to Return to Washington

One of the open questions in the story of McCain returning suspending his campaign and returning to Washington is whether or not it is a political stunt.

NewsBusters has a story that sheds some interesting light on that question. According to reports, Treasury Secretary Paulson asked for McCain to come help in Washington.
John McCain got involved in the bailout negotiations after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Sen. Lindsey Graham yesterday that the bailout plan would fail unless McCain came in and brought balky Republicans aboard.
And more specifically:
Paulson then called, according to my sources, Senator Lindsey Graham, who is very close to John McCain, and told him: you've got to get the people in the McCain campaign, you've got to convince John McCain to give these Republicans some political cover. If you don't do that, this whole bailout plan is going to fail. So that's how, McCain, apparently, became involved.
Two ways to look at this.

If you want to be negative, it is a sign that the bailout plan is seriously flawed since so many Republicans are hesitant to vote for it. McCain might be able to rally them to vote yes, but is he pushing bad legistlation?

If you want to be positive, then it is strong evidence that other people consider McCain to be a leader. Paulson wants the bailout plan passed and he needs McCain because people will listen to McCain.

In any event, it seems it wasn't a stunt but an actual request. That in and of itself is newsworthy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Harry Reid: Still No Ideas About the Economic Crisis

Harry Reid continues to show a level of ineptitude that is just shocking for a Senate majority leader. Just over a week ago, Harry Reid said that Congress might go home for a scheduled vacation and not come back until after the new president was sworn in because he had no ideas on what to do.
Lawmakers say they are unlikely to take action before, or to delay, their planned adjournments -- Sept. 26 for the House of Representatives, a week later for the Senate. While they haven't ruled out returning after the Nov. 4 elections, they would rather wait until next year unless Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who are leading efforts to contain the crisis, call for help.

One reason, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday, is that "no one knows what to do at the moment."
Now that's leadership. But of course Paulson and Bernanke did ask for help and poor Harry had to stick around in Washington and actually try to get something done. One of his first orders of business was to cover his ass--or more specifically that of his party--by insisting that McCain come to Washington and take the blame for the bailout if it proved unpopular.
We need, now, the Republicans to start producing some votes for us. We need the Republican nominee for president to let us know where he stands and what we should do.
Note of course he doesn't call for the Democratic nominee for president to come to Washington and tell Congress what to do. Of course, you know what happens next. McCain makes the unprecedented move of suspending his presidential campaign and heading to D.C. to do exactly what Reid suggested was needed. Now that he is on the way, Reid is ecstatic, right? Or maybe he is taking credit for McCain's actions? Neither of the above. Instead we get this statement.
"This is a critical time for our country," says the Reid statement. "While I appreciate that both candidates have signaled their willingness to help, Congress and the administration have a process in place to reach a solution to this unprecedented financial crisis. I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Sen. Obama’s suggestion. But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op. If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now.”
Make up your mind Harry. Of course, this statement makes little sense. The Friday debate topic was foreign policy, not the economy. So there would be little debate about this "serious challenge". (Though I've read one suggestion that, if the debate happens, McCain should request the topic be changed to the economy. As Obama has spent the last two days sequestered seemingly cramming for foreign policy questions, this would be a interesting maneuver.)

It is still very unclear who will benefit the from McCain's decision to suspend his campaign--McCain or Obama. As foggy as that consequence is, it equally clear that regardless of who wins, Harry Reid loses.

Joint Statement by McCain and Obama on Economic Crisis

Via Instapundit:
JOINT STATEMENT OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN AND SENATOR BARACK OBAMA

For Immediate Release

Contact: Press Office

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ARLINGTON, VA -- Today, U.S. Senators John McCain and Barack Obama issued the following statement:

"The American people are facing a moment of economic crisis. No matter how this began, we all have a responsibility to work through it and restore confidence in our economy. The jobs, savings, and prosperity of the American people are at stake.

"Now is a time to come together -- Democrats and Republicans -- in a spirit of cooperation for the sake of the American people. The plan that has been submitted to Congress by the Bush Administration is flawed, but the effort to protect the American economy must not fail.

"This is a time to rise above politics for the good of the country. We cannot risk an economic catastrophe. Now is our chance to come together to prove that Washington is once again capable of leading this country."
This election campaign is once again proving to be historic. Joint statements by both candidates are rare occurrences.

I'm still sort of at a loss on how to analyze McCain's decision to suspend his campaign. He's is holding true to his word--he will not show up for the debate on Friday unless some measure has been passed by Congress.

Reactions seemed mixed, which is not surprising. Democrats are declaring the wheels have fallen off the bus, McCain is finished, the election is now decided. Republicans are deriding Obama for saying the current economic crisis is "not a big deal" and that Obama is showing he is no leader. How pathetically typical of both sides.

Alcee Hastings on Sarah Palin: Horrific Attacks Continue

In the wake of a looming economic crisis it is comforting to know that loony people will continue to ignore the important issues and take the time to make ludicrous and offensive statements.

The strong-arm tactics of the Democrats that prevented Sarah Palin from attending the anti-Iran rally annoyed a number of the Jewish organizers. They were upset, and rightly so, that partisan politics took a front seat to opposing a dictator who has vowed to wipe Israel off the map.

In an effort to keep the Jewish vote heavily Democratic, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) had the following to say about Palin:
Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks.
Classy.

Sadly there is nothing more to say, really. The comments concerning Palin have gone beyond even what SNL would do during a parody. I continue to hope for a backlash, but economic matters may overshadow that. If Obama ends up winning, then in some ways these horrific statements will be justified. How sad for society as a whole.

McCain Suspends Campaign to Deal With Economy

As I'm sure you heard by now, McCain has decided to suspend his campaign to deal with the economic crisis in Washington. He asked Obama to do the same and to postpone Friday's debate but so far Obama has declined.

I don't actually have too much to say. This seems unprecedented to me. I can't recall when (if?) a candidate has ever chosen to do something likes this.

Normally I can take an action such as "this ad was released" or "a person like 'this' was picked for VP" and have some thought on how it will play with the media, with the party, with the opposing party, and with independents. With this decision I have absolutely idea how it will play out. With anybody.

The media reaction hasn't been negative--they seem in as much a state of shock as the populace in general.

As someone who would much rather see McCain than Obama in the White House, the next few days will be anxious ones to see the fallout from this decision. But as a student of politics, I can't help to be anything but fascinated.

Biased Polls: Party Affiliation

In a continuing series of posts about biased polls, I wanted to take a little time to talk about party affiliation. There are some subtleties involved in looking at poll internals and it is difficult to understand the bias in some cases.

Quite simply, many pollsters are playing games with party affiliation and it is destroying the accuracy of the results and the credibility of the pollsters.

For each voter, there are two characteristics that are separate and distinct: (1) who you are voting for and (2) what your party affiliation is. The probability for a person to vote for someone "on the other side" in terms of party in one particular election is much higher than the chance that they change party affiliations.

Consider the term "Reagan Democrats". Who were these people? They were people that were lifelong Democrats that chose to vote for a Republican candidate--Ronald Reagan. More important is who they were not. They were not people who, after Reagan, became affiliated with the Republican party. They were still Democrats.

People change party affiliations very very rarely. From my readings, it is estimated that changing once in a lifetime is rare; twice is very rare. In someways political affiliation is like religion. Some suggest that the best indicator of your party affiliation is your parents party affiliation.

If you look at the current pollsters, they are changing their party affiliation numbers day by day. That's ludicrous. It is certainly possible, after a major event like a stock market crash, that support will shift from one candidate to another. Pollsters should try to capture that change of public opinion. But is absurdly unlikely that one week there the electorate is 35% Republican and the next it is 29% Republican and the next 37%. People don't change parties like that. Support for a candidate can waver--party affiliation does not.

A majority of the biases being seen in current polling can be attributed to this mistake by the pollsters. Obama releases a new ad, a poll is conducted, and his support has jumped by 10%. That in alone is suspect. But then you look at the internals and they suggest that 7% of the population changed political parties because of that ad. That wouldn't be a simple ad--it would be a form of mind control. It just doesn't happen.

So try to remember this when you are panicking or cheering some poll results. If the internals suggest that everyone is abandoning one party for another on whim, the best thing to do it ignore the results and move on.

Biased Polls and Who Is Fooled

The internet is in a tizzy over the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll released last night that shows Obama up by 9 points. The poll is horribly biased and not worth a second thought. I could delve into the details and explain why but that's not what I want to focus on.

Just to get it out of the way, the poll internals show a party affiliation advantage to Democrats of +10. If leaners are forced to make a choice, the Democrats have a +16 advantage. That is quite simply hogwash. The average advantage of Democrats vs. Republicans in the last 6 or so national elections is around 3% and variations in either direction have been minimal. If there really were +16% more Democrats than Republicans the election would be over and almost every state would be blue. That clearly isn't the case.

What has been shocking to me is who has been fooled by such an obvious bad sample. At the Corner, Kathyrn Lopez had a panicked post 1:30am with the word 'boom' in the title. I'm sure her email box was flooded with people pointing out the flaws of the poll (I sent her one) and at 6:30am she posted a 'relax' followup. Drudge has picked up the post and says Obama has a "clear lead". This in turn has made the normally calm (OK, they are often jittery) conservative poll junkie at Hedgehog go into a tizzy (read the comments).

This is exactly what biased pollsters want. Even people in the know are getting fooled by these obvious bad samples. They are panicking. The media has taken a hit in credibility this election and as a result is less able to influence the election. Repeated attacks on Sarah Palin have bounced off because people are getting wise to just how biased the media is. Most pollsters are just as biased but because there is math involved, people are more hesitant to question.

You can say anything with statistics. I have years of work experience playing around with doing just that. Right now many of the pollsters are in that "damn lies" range of statistics and few people are noticing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Democrats Allow Offshore Oil Drilling Ban to Expire--Includes Ban on Shale Oil Development

Today Demorcrats in the House allowed the ban on offshore drilling to expire.
Democrats have decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week, conceding defeat in a months-long battle with the White House and Republicans set off by $4 a gallon gasoline prices this summer.
This definitely is a victory for House Republicans, who campaigned hard and had to endure some wacky political stunts to pressure this decision.
The congressional battle over offshore drilling is far from over. Democrats are expected to press for broader energy legislation, probably next year, that would put limits on any drilling off most of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Republicans, meanwhile, are likely to fight any resumption of the drilling bans that have been in place since 1981.
For voters this signifies a clear difference between the candidates. If Obama is elected, the offshore bans will be back in place quickly. If McCain is elected, offshore bans will only return if the House and Senate get veto-proof majorities, which is very unlikely.

One important aspect of this story which I am excited about is that the ban lifted also includes shale oil development. There is more shale oil in the western United States than there is under Saudi Arabia.
While oil shale is found in many places worldwide, by far the largest deposits in the world are found in the United States in the Green River Formation, which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Estimates of the oil resource in place within the Green River Formation range from 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels. Not all resources in place are recoverable; however, even a moderate estimate of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Present U.S. demand for petroleum products is about 20 million barrels per day. If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, the estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from the Green River Formation would last for more than 400 years
Developments in extracting shale oil are proceeding slowly, but they are proceeding. Combine the shale oil resource in the U.S. with the Alberta oil sands in Canada, and you have a key to independence from (hostile) foreign oil sources. As Glenn Reynolds would say: faster please.

Media Bias: Palin and Gibson vs. Biden and Couric

This post will be quick but hopefully get you thinking. Consider the differences between the following two similar scenarios.

In scenario 1, Sarah Palin, a vice-presidential candidate, is being interviewed by Charlie Gibson, a member of the mainstream media. In that interview, Gibson asked Palin if she agreed with the Bush Doctrine and she asked for clarification. Gibson stared down at her over the top of his glasses with a look of contempt. The immediate reaction by the media was to say she was unqualified to be president. Of course, there are four separate definitions of the Bush Doctrine and the one Gibson picked was number three. So asking for clarification wasn't exactly out of line.

In scenario 2, Joe Biden, a vice-presidential candidate is being interviewed by Katie Couric, a member of the mainstream media. In that interview, Biden made reference to a TV speech by FDR at the start of the Great Depression and held it up as an example as how a real leader would act. Of course, there's the small problem that FDR wasn't President when the stock market crashed in 1929 and nobody really had televisions at the time. The reaction by the media? Sort of point it out but don't make a big deal about it.

Fair and balanced? You decide.

Biden Confused About the Franklin Roosevelt and Great Depression

Joe Biden is just on a tear. When he isn't contradicting his own party platform on clean coal or criticizing his own campaign for its own ad content, he's just plain confused on the great depression:
"When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed," Biden told Couric. "He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'"
Jesse Walker from the Reason comments:
And if you owned an experimental TV set in 1929, you would have seen him. And you would have said to yourself, 'Who is that guy? What happened to President Hoover?
(Hat tip: the Corner.)

So this is just a simple slip-up right? In a long campaign you are asked so many questions you are bound to confuse matters a little, aren't you? But think about this reaction from Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit:
And if Sarah Palin had said something like this, it would be getting much more attention.
That is embarrassingly true for the media. The CNN headline would read: "Palin doesn't know basic history." There would be SNL skits covering the gaffe. Biden would have a line about "Are you familiar with presidential history?" prepared for the debate. But since it is Biden and not Palin who said it is just a minor footnote in a long campaign and not a front-page scandal.

Update: Video available on YouTube:

Stanley Kurtz on the Obama-Ayers Connection

Today in the Wall Street Journal, Stanley Kurtz has an article discussing the relationship between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers.
Despite having authored two autobiographies, Barack Obama has never written about his most important executive experience. From 1995 to 1999, he led an education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), and remained on the board until 2001. The group poured more than $100 million into the hands of community organizers and radical education activists.

The CAC was the brainchild of Bill Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground in the 1960s. Among other feats, Mr. Ayers and his cohorts bombed the Pentagon, and he has never expressed regret for his actions. Barack Obama's first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at a 1995 gathering at Mr. Ayers's home.
But you already know this, right? If you don't, you should. Of course Obama and the media have been trying to cover it up with such vigor, the odds are you might not know about it. Kurtz continues:
The Obama campaign has struggled to downplay that association. Last April, Sen. Obama dismissed Mr. Ayers as just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood," and "not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis." Yet documents in the CAC archives make clear that Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama were partners in the CAC. Those archives are housed in the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago and I've recently spent days looking through them.
and ends with:
The Obama campaign has cried foul when Bill Ayers comes up, claiming "guilt by association." Yet the issue here isn't guilt by association; it's guilt by participation. As CAC chairman, Mr. Obama was lending moral and financial support to Mr. Ayers and his radical circle. That is a story even if Mr. Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago.
I still have my doubts on whether this story will stick. I think that is due to the fact of just how damaging it is. You have to pick your battles. The media can cover some other story that paints Obama in a poor light but isn't that serious and claim they are being objective. But in the Ayers case, it is one of the few examples of what Obama has actually done--not talked about doing. And his description of Ayers as mainstream would be shocking to most Americans if they actually were presented with the details of this story. So that means they can't be and they won't be. Obama can't let it happen and neither can the media.

Just look at who is writing about the Kurtz article. Instapundit, Althouse, Hot Air, Gateway Pundit, the Corner, Hugh Hewitt, and Powerlineblog. All conservative, or conservative leaning, blogs. A Google search on "cnn Ayers Obama" returns no results on the first few pages that show CNN has recently reported on the matter. Don't expect that to change.