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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Excitement Factor

The worst nightmare for Barack Obama is that his campaign is no longer seen as the exciting one. The crowds he draws will no longer dwarf those of his opponent. His campaign will no longer be seen as historic, exciting or special. The media will no longer see his campaign as the one that is fresh and fascinating. If the next 64 days are the same as the last two, his worst nightmare will have come true, and this is due to one person, Sarah Palin.

Since the announcement that she would be the Vice Presidential candidate, there has been non stop buzz and excitement over her pick. For the last two days, the Obama campaign has faded into the background to the point of being irrelevant. Now, some of this is natural right after a pick and right before a convention, but the reality is that there is a new found fascination with Palin. Does anyone really think that Tim Pawlenty, with all due respect of course, would have receded Obama into the background the way Palin has? In fact, the fascination with Obama is so August 28th. The fascination with his message of hope and change has receded into the background, and a new fascination has taken hold. It is a fascination with a "hockey mom" that hunts, eats moose, and grew from sportscaster, to small town mayor. to whistleblower, to Governor, and now Vice Presidential nominee. The folks and the media simply can't get enough. Heck, it's my third piece about her today.

The debate over the last two days has been whether or not her experience is enough to make her viable. Not surprisingly, the Conservative pundits overwhelmingly think it is, and the liberal pundits think it isn't. That should surprise no one. Frankly, what an individual pundit says is utterly irrelevant in changing the dynamic of the race. What will chang the dynamic is if the next two months are spent treating Sarah Palin as the rock star and not Barack Obama. So far, that is exactly what has happened.

The best example of the changing dynamic is how quickly his speech, hyped beyond belief, became an after thought as soon as Sarah Palin took to the stage in Dayton. Since then, it has been all Palin all the time, with quick cutaways to a natural disaster. What hasn't been talked discussed over the last two days at all is Barack Obama. Sure, he can still pack them in at a rally, but now, so can Sarah Palin...I mean the McCain campaign. At a rally today in Missouri, there was seventeen thousand folks. McCain used to pack one tenth that on his own.

In fact, the only time that Barack Obama is mentioned is in relation to Palin. First, the media hyperanalyzed Bill Burton's (his campaign manager) initial statement playing down her experience. Was it fair? Was it sexist? Then, the media hyperanalyzed his experience compared to hers. Who had more? Who accomplished more?

Let's face it the campaign has a new rock star and that rockstar's name is Sarah Palin. The conservative base loves her. What's not to love? She is social conservative. She has a track record of fiscal responsibility, fighting corruption, and she's even a lifelong member of the NRA. Mooderates love her. What's not to love. She's a former basketball star, beauty pageant star, mother of five, loves to eat moose, who also happens to be a wildly successful politician. Women love her for obvious reasons. Liberals hate her for obvious reasons. What no one can stop doing is talking about her.

They say that the Vice Presidential pick is ultimately fairly irrelevant in deciding Presidential campaigns. They say we vote ultimately for the top of the ticket. They have never met Sarah Palin. Most folks couldn't tell you when any of the Presidential debates are set to occur. Yet, since Friday morning, the date October 2nd is now seared in our collective subconscious, the day of the Vice Presidential debate. Will Biden control the debate? Will Palin be able to stay up with him on national security and foreign policy? Will he look like a bully? The questions are endless and we are all asking them. Never since I have been following politics has a Vice Presidential pick so dramatically changed the dynamic of a race. Politics has a new rock star and that rock star's name is Sarah Palin.

There is still plenty of time between now and the election. If she begins to stumble, begins to gaffe, shows herself to be a lightweight, that glow will fade fast. If she doesn't though, she will become Barack Obama's worst nightmare, a bigger rockstar. If she shows the reality to be anything like the hype she will do one more thing, make John McCain our next President.

Analyzing the Clinton Voters

Everywhere on television, radio, the internet, and in print someone has an opinion on what the Clinton voters are going to do in the general election. One recent poll had as many as 25% of her voters voting for either John McCain, a third party, or not at all for President. Most liberal pundits dismiss such numbers, and proclaim that since Obama and Clinton agree on nearly every issue, that all her voters will come home to Obama. This sort of analysis is a mixture of naivite and wishful thinking. There are two very important ideas in play. First, McCain doesn't need to pick off that many Hillary voters to win, and second, Hillary voters aren't monolithic. There is no doubt that many Hillary voters are true believers, and they agree with her on nearly every issue. Those voters aren't likely to vote for McCain. They aren't the only voters though, and McCain has plenty left to choose from to make a serious move in the election. I see Hillary voters into three categories.

1) True believers

This aforementioned group agrees with Hillary on nearly every single issue if not every issue entirely. For these voters, the issue of abortion would be a deal killer and that would be just the beginning. These voters are likely lifelong Democrats. They will no doubt vote in overwhelming numbers for Barack Obama. John McCain would be lucky to get one percent of these voters. They make up at least half of all Hillary voters.

2) The PUMA group.

I have hesitated to say anything about PUMA (Party Unity My A$$) because while they are fascinating, compelling, and of course hopeful if you are Republican, it is still unclear just how many there are. This group isn't voting for Barack Obama no matter what. Some may vote for John McCain. Others may vote for a third party, and the rest will merely not vote for President at all, if they even vote. Geraldine Ferraro talks about these folks a lot. She proclaims often to receiving lots of emotional correspondence from them, usually through email. They make a lot of noise. They maintain a web presence. They felt that Hillary was treated really, really bad, and they felt that Obama stood by and said nothing. They felt the coverage was sexist, and yet the media made an awfully big deal out of anything that was perceived as a racist attack on Obama.

The problem with this group is that they are entirely an emotional group. Their argument is NOT rooted in logic but rather emotion. You can never predict which way they will go. They may take something in the general election as racist against Obama and suddenly immediately vote for him. They may wake up one day and let by gones be by gones, though according to Ferraro, that doesn't appear likely. Furthermore, while they make a lot of noise, I am still not confused that they make up a lot of numbers. Now, McCain doesn't need much more than 10-20% of all Hillary voters. This group may or may not hold that many on its own.

3) the pragmatists

I am very familiar with two pragmatists and that's because they are my parents. Both my mom and dad supported Hillary in the primary. Both will be voting for McCain in the general election. Both have been consistent Democratic voters since the early 1990's. My dad was as excited about Hillary as he has been for any candidate that I can remember even her husband. This group supported Hillary for a number of reasons and many of them had nothing to do with ideology. They may have liked her lifetime of experience. They might have been totally turned off to the Republicans over the last eight years, and saw Hillary as the one to bring the country back. They also may have liked Bill a lot and saw Hillary as an extension.

It was after Obama proclaimed that he would attack Pakistan if he had to in order to get UBL, that my dad came to the conclusion that he isn't up to the job. He feels it would irresponsible to vote for someone who isn't ready.

This group agrees with Hillary on somethings or even many things. The difference between them and the true believers is that they don't make ideology a litmus test. Some aren't pro choice and those that are won't make that a litmus test. My dad, for instance, is fiercely pro choice and fairly anti gun, and yet he has no problem supporting McCain. He told me that looking at voting with such strict restriction and intranisgent ideological tints is foolish and illogical.

This is the group that McCain needs to make the biggest play for. Here is where his own experience is most important. Painting Obama as naive and inexperienced will give the most dividends. He need not pander to them on issues, and picking such a traditional conservative, like Palin, will likely not cost him all that much.

Many of these voters would be termed "Reagan Democrats" and many so called older women that Obama has struggled with. Many of them are social conservatives. Others are concerned by Obama's foreign policy experience. Still others were totally turned off to Obama when news of his pastor's virulent anti American diatrobes broke. In other words, in the famous words of Maverick from Top Gun, this is "target rich environment" for McCain. I believe this group makes up as much as 25% of all Hillary voters.

What my analysis shows is that Hillary voters can definitely swing the election. This election will likely come down to a difference of less than 5 million votes, and much less in many battleground states. Twenty five percent of Hillary voters is that five million and if McCain gets that much he will almost certainly win the election. Even if he gets as little as 10%, almost 2 million votes, that will likely be enough. Just how well McCain does with the second and third group in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan will likely determine who our next President is.

Sarah Palin Vs. the D.C. Beltway Establishment Mindset

If you are a typical D.C. beltway pundit, you are likely to see the selection of Sarah Palin as V.P. as some sort of ludicrous pseudo affirmative action move of a candidate that is wholly unqualified. For the most part, you come to this conclusion because Palin's experience comes from being mayor of a small town and governor of a small state (at least in terms of population) and thus you aren't up to the job of being part of a national ticket. In other words, politics in small towns and states just aren't sophisticated like they are in big states and on a national level. I could find dozens of examples but I will merely mention two. Here is one.

Palin is the epitome of tokenism, exactly what conservative Republicans have always claimed to scorn, until today, as the politics of quotas and political correctness. Even Rush Limbaugh is a feminazi now (at least until Election Day).

But if Palin's résumé is limited, to put it politely, she possesses the only two qualities that McCain now seems to consider essential: She is a right-wing religious ideologue with female gender characteristics. Suddenly that is all anyone needs to qualify as a potential commander in chief of the world's most powerful military. We probably won't hear so much from now on about "experience" and "judgment," McCain's vaunted standard for the presidency until ... today. We certainly won't hear again about the "person most prepared to take my place," the phrase he has used more than once to describe his main criterion for a running mate.

When CNN political correspondent Dana Bash interviewed McCain last April, she mentioned his joke that one of the two main tasks of the vice president is to check on the president's health every day, a job of particular importance in his case. What did he mean by that? It was just a humorous remark, he said. But when she pressed him further, McCain said: "I think about whether that person who I select would be most prepared to take my place. And that would be the key criteria [sic]."

Sometime between then and now, a focus group must have told McCain and his handlers that the experience argument wasn't cutting against Barack Obama, that the nomination of Joe Biden as Obama's running mate had eviscerated it completely -- and that instead he and his consultants had better find a way to corral disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters, or forget about winning come November.

Now, what you will notice is that in this rather lengthy trashing of Palin's record there is not one bit of examination of her record. Here is yet another example.

Newsweek's Eleanor Clift disclosed on the McLaughlin Group -- seemingly without any compunction for how she was outing her fellow journalists as behaving the same way as Barack Obama's campaign staff, but I suppose we already knew that intuitively -- that John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for VP was greeted by “literally laughter” in “very many newsrooms.”

From the show taped on Friday at Washington, DC's CBS affiliate and airing at various times over the weekend around the nation, mostly on PBS stations:

ELEANOR CLIFT: This is not a serious choice. It makes it look like a made for TV movie. If the media reaction is anything, it's been literally laughter in many places across news- JOHN

McLAUGHLIN, TALKING OVER CLIFT: Where is that? See that? CLIFT: In very, very many newsrooms.

Why were they laughing? It's because Palin had never been interviewed by any of them. Now, I myself am troubled by her lack of foreign policy experience, but I have also examined her record and she has a remarkable record of accomplishment. While Joe Biden is seen as ready simply because he has spent an awful lot of time on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, no one ever asks exactly what he did while on the committee. The truth is that while he has been in the Senate quite a while, his record of accomplishment is entire marginal and mediocre. The beltway establishment philosophy says that being part of the D.C. establishment is what matters even if that time is marginal and unaccomplished.

Beltway establishment believes that it is easier to have record of cutting taxes in a small town, than it is to have no record of significance in D.C. After all, what do you think anyone in the D.C. beltway believes about Palin's record of cutting property taxes in Wasilla, Alaska by 40% while she was mayor. To them, Joe Biden merely being head of the Foreign Relations Committee is more important and makes him more qualified than her record of accomplishment in a small town. Th reality is that the few thousand people that saved money on their taxes are a few thousand more than EVER saved money on their taxes by any policies that either Biden or Obama every made any significant contribution to.

I for one think she has plenty of gravitas as this interview on energy clearly points out.

I listened to this interview and I am convinced that on the issue of energy, is that going to be important, she is a lot more qualified and ready than anyone else on either ticket. Her point that both Biden and Obama have a "naive" vision that we can simply move immediately from oil to renewables without finding a stop gap while that technology grows and flourishes is dead on. Exactly what did all of Biden's experience bring him when his entire energy policy based on the naive notion that we'll just invest in nebulous alternative energy sources, wave a magic wand, and suddenly become energy independent.

That of course is the fallacy of the inside the beltway mentality. They want change but think you can only learn something by being around themselves and others like them. Furthermore, the beltway mentality has an antiquated and outdated view of experience. It isn't important what positions you held. Joe Biden has been around for a long time and frankly he's accomplished little if anything. That isn't experience but simply a lifetime politician. This is what we are trying to get away from. Experience should be measured in accomplishments. Sarah Palin has a long history of cutting taxes, decreasing the size of government, and taking on her own corrupt party on corruption. Those are tangible accomplishments, and in my opinion, it is much more difficult to have tangible accomplishments in the small state of Alaska, than have a long list of committee assignments in D.C.

The reality is that her foreign policy resume is small, and she is likely not ready to be Commander in Chief, YET. That's fine because she isn't running for Commander in Chief. John McCain is and he is ready. It won't take much time in the White House for Palin to gain the necessary foreign policy knowledge and sophistication so that she will be ready if called upon. The reality is that in D.C. folks don't believe you can be qualified if everything you accomplished came from some far off place that doesn't attract the "status" of D.C. and that is why folks around the country have grown so cynical of D.C. and the beltway mindset.

A Heartbeat Away from the Presidency

Since Sarah Palin was picked to be Vice President, the Democrats have asked American are we comfortable with her a heartbeat away from the Presidency. The Democrats question and mock her lack of experience. The pundits question and mock her lack of experience and knowledge on foreign policy issues. Democrats proclaim that they are hungry for the VP debate on October 2nd.

The way I see it is that it isn't merely a matter of experience but accomplishments. I look at all political qualifications the way I see any resume. Over the last ten years plus, employers have looked for potential employees to fill resumes with a list of prior accomplishments not prior duties. Since Governor Palin is running for VP, we, the American people, are the employer. So, let's look at her accomplishments.

After serving two terms on the Wasilla city council, she ran for mayor of Wasilla under the platform of cutting property taxes by cutting wasteful government. In her first term, she accomplished that and property taxes were cut roughly 40%.

After successfully being a mayor of Wasilla for two terms, she ran for Lt. Governor. While she lost that race in 2002, she gained enough recognition to be selected to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. While on that commission, she discovered corruption and conflict by her colleague on the commission and fellow Republican Randy Ruedrich. Palin discovered that Ruedrich was using the people's time for campaigning. The rest of the commission as well as the entire Republican party apparatus wanted this corruption swept under the rug. Palin refused. She quit the commission and went public with her findings and joined the distinguished list of heroic fraternity of whistleblowers. Her crusade beared fruit and eventually Ruedrich resigned the Commission and paid a record fine of $12,000. Her crusade was not without sacrifice since the Alaska Republican Party, which Ruedrich still chairs, refused to provide funds for any of her future campaigns, including her run for Governor. It also goes without saying that Palin and Ruedrich are NOT on speaking terms to this day. Furthermore, after going after REPUBLICAN Ruedrich, she went after REPUBLICAN Attorney General Greg Renkes, who pushed through a business deal that he had ties to.

In 2006, she ran for Governor first in the primaries against incumbent Frank Murkowski, and then in the general election against former Governor Tony Knowles. She immediately passed sweeping ethics reform in May of 2007. She came out and publicly challenged long standing U.S. Senator Ted Stevens to come clean on his own corruption.

She took on the oil companies. She raised taxes on the oil companies and then helped pass a major oil pipeline. This pipeline runs from the North Slope through Canada. She currently has unheard of approval ratings that by some estimates reach 80% of Alaskans.

So, how is that for accomplishments? I think if you were looking at that resume you would feel you were examining a very qualified individual. More than that, let's compare her list of accomplishments, running for VP, to the list of accomplishments of the Presidential candidate on the other side.

In 1997, Barack Obama was elected to the State Senate in Illinois. Prior to that he had an obscure and unclear career as a community organizer. In that role, he lobbied government for money for local public works. Its unclear what he did with any of that money and what that money accomplished in the community. The role of State Senator is actually a part time job. He was a rather unaccomplished State Senator. His biggest claim to fame is his plethora of so called present votes. He did it 130 times while in the State Senate. Voting present means you don't take a position on said issue, and so Obama did this 130 times in his eight years in the State Senate. He has no signature bills with his name on it. He never mentions any specific bills that he is proud of. Instead, he speaks of vague generalities about helping folks get stuff. In fact, the only bill that he is associated with is the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which would have provided protection to infants born after a botched abortion. Barack Obama aggressively countered this bill and it never passed the Illinois legislature while he was there. It only passed the very year he left. Furthermore, while in the State Senate, Barack Obama became a protege of Emil Jones who's name became synonymous with corruption. Jones is currently in the process of retiring and attempting to install his son in his State Senate seat.

Since being a state senator is a part time job, most folks maintain other employment while a state senator. Often times, their other work holds great accomplishment. For Barack Obama, he had two employment opportunities of significance, the Annenberg Challenge and the Woods Foundation. Obama rarely speaks about his time at either foundation and never mentions one accomplishment. The Annenber Challenge was supposed to deal with education issues. Had the foundation helped schools perform more efficiently, raise test scores, or attract better teachers, you'd bet Obama would be touting his time there. In fact, his time at both is shrouded in mystery and that's because both organizations are associated with former terrorist and lifelong radical Bill Ayers.

Since 2005, Obama has been in the U.S. Senate. Here again he has no signature piece of legislation. He chaired the committee on NATO and held exactly ZERO committee hearings. He has attempted to take ownership of the issue of Afghanistan, and yet despite NATO's leadership there, held no hearings on that matter. In fact, Obama's greatest accomplishment as a U.S. Senator is running for President.

There you go there is a comprehensive comparison of the prior accomplishments of both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. Given the glaring difference in both their resumes, the real question is not whether we are comfortable with Palin a heart beat away from the Presidency, but whether we are comfortable with Barack Obama as the President. Based on his resume, that answer is a resounding no.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cheerleaders and Cheers at My High School's Football Game

Last night, I went to see my alma mater high school play its sister school in the first game of the football season. I happened to catch the second half of the sophomore game as well. The cheerleaders were performing right in front of us. Among their cheers included a difficult to perform pyramid. Furthermore, the sophomore cheerleaders also performed the patented flip where one cheerleader is hurled in the air and then is caught by the group. If you ever watch a college basketball game, this is usually done by several male cheerleaders throwing a female and then catching her. This time, it was females throwing other females and catching them. Watching these sophomores perform this maneuver was truly frightening. These girls were neither comfortable doing it, and they weren't performing it with ease. Each time they did, I felt as though it was only a matter of time before they dropped the girl they flipped. They performed this trick on the track. This is a track I have run on, and had they dropped the girl, it would have lead to serious bodily harm. When these tricks go bad, it is life threatening...

In fact, cheerleading leads the way in juries of all high school activities.

Cheerleaders may make spunky school spirit from the sidelines seem simple, but cheerleading these days is far more than just a carefree sideshow to get the crowd going. It is its very own competitive sport filled with its own serious skill sets and dangers. In fact, a new report shows that cheerleading is the No. 1 sport for severe injuries in high-school and college female athletes.

In the past 25 years, cheerleading accounted for 65% of all "catastrophic" sports injuries (major trauma, permanent disabilities, or death) in high-school girls and about 67% of those in college, according to a report by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research.

Citing "gymnastics-type stunts" as one of the main reasons for so many serious injuries, the report points out the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) estimates showing nearly six times more cheerleading injuries in 2004 (more than 28,000) than in 1980 (almost 5,000).

Then, at the beginning of the varsity game, the PA announcer announced that new rules dictated that fans could only root for their own team, not against the other. The fans were no longer alloowed to boo. They couldn't say anything disparaging about the other team.

Now, my buddy who was with me at the game told me a story that made this rule sensible. He was watching his step son in wrestling a few years ago. The opponent's father was filming the match and yelling disparaging remarks at his step son throughout the match. His step son was getting crushed something like 11-1 when right at the end of the match he reversed the other guy and pinned him and gained a stunning victory. Then, my friend walked up to the opponent's father and began talking trash into th camera. Of course, this eventually lead to a near confrontation between the two. So, these sorts of incidents would be avoided by this rule.

Still, at the football game, each side's fans sit on opposite end of the stadium. As such, there is no risk of confrontation. There is, however, a great risk of injury during highly acrobatic cheerleading maneuvers. It seemed to me that my high school was obsessing with a silly rule while overlooking a legitimate risk. I am not sure if varsity cheerleaders should be doing the high flying flips, however there is no way that sophomores should.

Now, some may say that if I want to ban some acrobatic maneuvers where will it stop. Why not ban football altogether? After all, that is even more dangerous. First, football players wear plenty of padding to protect against injuries. Second, when football players sign, they sign up for a violent sport. I doubt any cheerleader is signing up recognizing that her head could get bashed in during a highly acrobatic maneuver. As for the rule against booing, well, maybe if the school board spent less time with silly rules, they might even find time to create a sensible one or two.

Sarah Palin Whistleblower

A lot will be made of Ms. Palin's experience, or in some cases, lack thereof. She has had a fascinating and remarkable record considering her relatively thin time in politics. For istance, here is how Wikipedia described her some of her tenure as mayor of Wasilla. (You know that town that the Obama campaign mocked as only of 9000)

In January 1997, Palin fired the Wasilla police chief and library director. In response, a group of 60 residents calling themselves Concerned Citizens for Wasilla discussed attempting a recall campaign against Palin, but then decided against it.[10] The fired
police chief later sued Palin on the grounds that he was fired because he supported the campaign of Palin's opponent, but his suit was eventually dismissed when the judge ruled that Palin had the right under state law to fire city employees, even for political reasons.[11] Palin followed through on her campaign promises to reduce her own salary, and to reduce property taxes by 40%.[

So, while the politics may have been on a relatively small scale, it certainly didn't lack in excitement and intrigue. Yet, within all of her experience, the thing that most impresses me is when she turned into a whistleblower.

The term whistle blower has taken on a simplistic and rather tangential tone, and it doesn't do any justice to explain just exactly what someone needs to do and what they have to endure in order follow through in exposing corruption.

For instance, we recently learned that Mark Felt was the infamous "deep throat" during the Watergate scandal. Why did Felt make all of his accusations anonymously? It's because had he gone public it would have meant the end of his career. No one within the political system he exposed would have dared to hire him. He was the FBI's number two and even he didn't have the courage to blow the whistle publicly.

I have, in my time exposing corruption in health care,academina, and roofing, have come across many whistleblowers. Many of them have been targeted and had their lives ruined. Kevin Kuritzky attempted to expose the corruption at Grady Hospital, and his medical school, Emory University, expelled him from medical school 41 days prior to graduation. Dennis Lennox attempted to expose Central Michigan University's corrupt hiring of Gary Peters, who simultaneously held a lucrative chairmanship while he ran for U.S. Congress 400 miles away. He was nearly expelled and reprimanded, while the administration pursued Lennox punitively for the better part of a full school year. Dr. Blake Moore exposed a serial killer nurse at his hospital and the administration along with much of the state's, South Carolina, pursued him viciously. He was ultimately accused of child abuse and had his three foster children taken from him. Gerard Beloin attempted to expose a corrupt deal between a roofing company and a school board, and his life was threatened and for the last four years he has battled criminal charges against him. Diana Vice attempted to expose another corrupt deal between a school board and a roofing company and for the last year she has received threatening phone calls, and one has been traced back to the company in question.

This is the sort of fate that awaits any whistleblower. Corruptors rarely go down without a fight. Anyone that attempts to expose the corruption is often met with vicious retribution. The courage that it takes to expose corruption is beyond measure. It puts the individual outside the establishment. The establishment then pushes back and often the whistle blower finds themself on their own.

That's exactly what Sarah Palin did several years ago when she served on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Palin gained much of her prominence as a whistle-blower. After she was appointed by Governor Murkowski to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, she started bucking the Republican Party leadership over ethics lapses. She blew the whistle on state GOP Chairman Randy Ruedrich when he was a fellow oil and gas commissioner. In 2003, he was forced to resign his regulatory post and pay a record $12,000 fine. She and a Democratic state lawmaker filed an ethics complaint against the state attorney general, Gregg Renkes, who resigned under fire.

"The Randy Ruedrich thing was a huge deal. I think that's when her popularity really started to increase," says Ivan Moore, an Anchorage-based pollster who generally works for Democrats.

Although she campaigned for Murkowski in 2002, she became his consistent critic after he was elected. She was outspoken about the financial deal he negotiated with the three major oil producers for a $20 billion natural-gas pipeline. She and others derided the deal - never ratified by the legislature - as a giveaway to the oil industry.

Palin has paid a price for her outspokenness. Mr. Ruedrich, still party chairman, seldom talks to her, and the state party gave her no money during the general election.

Her whistleblowing was condensed to a few simple paragraphs and unfortunately, I don't believe that most of the stories that talk about give the kind of context it deserves. By taking on Ruedrich and then Attorney General Greg Renkes, she not only took on the political establishment of her state but her party. When she took on this task, she put her entire relatively new political career on the line. The political class has the ability to crush any politican's career. Furthermore, the corruptors often do much more than that. Corruptors often go after whistleblowers personally and attempt to make their entire lives a living hell. That was the risk that Palin took when she dared to take on party power players in a state where corruption is simply the way to do business.

Yet, she did and she exposed the sort of corruption that became simply the way to do business in Alaska. By doing so, she shook up the entire power structure in Alaska and put an end to business as usual. The kind of courage she displayed in doing so can only be understood if ever you are in the position of whistle blower, or if like me, you have the privilege of having a whistle blower tell their story to you.

Obama, Ayers, and Annenberg

In today's Sun Times, there is a terribly dishonest editorial making Obama's time on the Annenberg board with Bill Ayers nothing out of the ordinary. The first bit of dishonest and misleading is done as such.

The issue of Obama’s role arose when a blogger for National Review raised questions about his relationship with Ayers, a favorite election-year target of conservatives. The blogger felt quite sure that the pair were much closer than Obama intimated when he said he knew Ayers "from the neighborhood" where both live. The blogger hinted darkly that the pair were really ideological soul mates and that Obama was aligned "with Ayers’s radical views on education issues."

You'll notice the term "blogger" is used twice. Now, this so called blogger is of course Stanley Kurtz. Here is a brief bio of Kurtz.

Stanley Kurtz is an adjunct fellow of Hudson Institute and a fellow at the Hoover Institution with a special interest in America's "culture war." In addition to his regular contributions to National Review Online, Kurtz's writings on the family, feminism, homosexuality, affirmative action, and campus "political correctness" have appeared in Policy Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Commentary.

Before turning his attention to America's cultural battles, Kurtz was a social scientist specializing in family life and religion. He received his Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University and later taught at Harvard, winning several teaching awards for his work in a "Great Books" program. Kurtz was also Dewey Prize Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Chicago.

So, of course, Kurtz is a lot more than merely a blogger. Yet, not only is he never mentioned by name, itself totally condescending, but his extensive writing, intellectual, and policy career is dismissed and never mentioned. This is of course no accident. Had Kurtz been presented as a syndicated columnist and member of a think tank as well as an editor with the National Review, he would have had much more credibility than simply being referred to as a "blogger". Now, when you attack the messenger in such a misleading way, I am weary of your own attack. Here is the substance of Lenz, herself a member of the education community in Chicago, defense of the Obama, Ayers and their time at Annenberg.

When the appointed hour arrived for release of the documents, reporters, camera operators and bloggers descended on the hapless university library staff to pore over hundreds of files of grant proposals, meeting minutes and reports — a "media frenzy," the Tribune called it.

And what did the muckrakers find? Horrors, Obama had attended meetings and retreats with the author of The Good Preschool Teacher and To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher. He had actually rubbed shoulders — can you believe it? — with a distinguished professor of education who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. He had probably even shared a cup of coffee, as only a co-conspirator would, with this professor, whose writings describe good schools as places that are "organized around and powered by a set of core values" and "effectively meet students where they are and find ways to nurture and challenge them to


Whatever one thinks of Ayers’ actions 40 years ago, there is nothing to condemn, and much to admire, about his leadership and commitment over the past 20 years in making schools better places to teach and learn. And there is nothing to condemn, and much to applaud, in Obama’s close association with those efforts.

So, the defense comes down to three points. First, Ayers and Obama participated in normal meetings and idea exchanges. I don't think anyone doubts this. The problem of folks like me is that it is perverse to interact in normal academic, business, political, or any settings with a former domestic terrorist. Our problem is that it was business as usual for Senator Obama when he interacted with a former terrorist, an unrepentent one at that.

Second, Ayers is a fine and mainstream member of Chicago's policy class. Again, this is true, and that just points out what a cesspool my hometown's political class is. This is no defense of Obama's relationship with Ayers. This should be a wake up call to all Chicagoans that something is really wrong here. Other pols are mentioned as interacting with Ayers, and Lenz says their relationship isn't scrutinized. Of course, it isn't. They aren't running for President. Unfortunately, in the Chicagoland area serving on a board with a former terrorist may in fact be a political plus, but that isn't the way the rest of the country sees it.

The final point is that Ayers is a leader in the education community not withstanding his terrorist past and has been for the last twenty years. Now, I could roll out a laundry list of statements made in the last twenty years where he recalls glowingly his unrepentent terrorist past. I can point out the plethora of anti American statements in the last twenty years. I can even show the magazine cover in which he stepped on an American flag. I won't. Ayers is a radical, and this idea that he left his radical belief system is absurd when it comes to education. The reality is that once you examine his "contribution" to education in the last twenty years you will find that he contributes a radical, leftist agenda. Here is an example of Ayers' "contribution" to education.

Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute has done masterful work over the years commenting on the state of education in America. Two years ago, he wrote about Ayers in "The Ed Schools' Latest-and Worst-Humbug". The article is a revelation. Ayers may have given up on the bombs, but he has found our nation's classrooms an ideal way to promote his revolutionary and anti-American views. Stern returned to the subject of Ayers' influence this week.

While attending Columbia University Teachers College in 1984 he had an epiphany. He adopted the views of one of his professors, Maxine Greene-a leader in the "critical pedagogy" movement. What did he take away from the course? An ideology that he has promoted throughout his career -- and one that has very little to do with education but has a great deal to do with radicalism. Stern writes:

As Ayers wrote later, he took fire from Greene's lectures on how the "oppressive hegemony" of the capitalist social order "reproduces" itself through the traditional practice of public schooling-critical pedagogy's fancy way of saying that the evil corporations exercise thought control through the schools.

Greene told future teachers that they could help change this bleak landscape by developing a "transformative" vision of social justice and democracy in their classrooms. Her vision, though, was a far cry from the democratic optimism of the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr., which most parents would endorse. Instead, critical pedagogy theorists nurse a rancorous view of an America in which it is always two minutes to midnight and a knock on the door by the thought police is imminent. The education professors feel themselves anointed to use the nation's K-12 classrooms to resist this oppressive system. Thus Maxine Greene urged teachers not to mince words with children about the evils of the existing social order.

They should portray "homelessness as a consequence of the private dealings of landlords, an arms buildup as a consequence of corporate decisions, racial exclusion as a consequence of a private property-holder's choice." In other words, they should turn the little ones into young socialists and critical theorists.

All music to Bill Ayers's ears. The ex-Weatherman glimpsed a new radical vocation. He dreamed of bringing the revolution from the streets to the schools. And that's exactly what he has managed to do.

Ayers has subsequently written a best seller used in ed-school courses which focuses on the moral imperative of teaching social justice to students in K-12 classrooms. He has been active in "teaching teachers" that capitalism is a curse and imperialism is an American obsession.

Here is how Sol Stern himself summarized it.

What he can be blamed for is not acknowledging that his neighbor has a political agenda that, if successful, would make it impossible to lift academic achievement for disadvantaged children. As I have shown elsewhere in City Journal, Ayers’s politics have hardly changed since his Weatherman days. He still boasts about working full-time to bring down American capitalism and imperialism. This time, however, he does it from his tenured perch as Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Instead of planting bombs in public buildings, Ayers now works to indoctrinate America’s future teachers in the revolutionary cause, urging them to pass on the lessons to their public school students.

Indeed, the education department at the University of Illinois is a hotbed for the radical education professoriate. As Ayers puts it in one of his course descriptions, prospective K–12 teachers need to “be aware of the social and moral universe we inhabit and . . . be a teacher capable of hope and struggle, outrage and action, a teacher teaching for social justice and liberation.” Ayers’s texts on the imperative of social-justice teaching are among the most popular works in the syllabi of the nation’s ed schools and teacher-training institutes. One of Ayers’s major themes is that the American public school system is nothing but a reflection of capitalist hegemony. Thus, the mission of all progressive teachers is to take back the classrooms and turn
them into laboratories of revolutionary change.

Unfortunately, neither Obama nor his critics in the media seem to have a clue about Ayers’s current work and his widespread influence in the education schools. In his last debate with Hillary Clinton, Obama referred to Ayers as a “professor of English,” an error that the media then repeated. Would that Ayers were just another radical English professor. In that case, his poisonous anti-American teaching would be limited to a few hundred college students in the liberal arts. But through his indoctrination of future K–12 teachers, Ayers has been able to influence what happens in hundreds, perhaps thousands, of classrooms.

So, I will take Ms. Lenz at her word. Barack Obama didn't serve hand in hand on the Annenberg board with a former terrorist. No, instead he served on the Annenberg board witha teaching radical. He served with an individual that believes that America's education agenda should focus on teaching about anti American themes that condemn capitalism and encourage "social justice". He believes this is what we should strive for in K-12 education. This is what the theme of the Annenberg project was. This is what Barack Obama contributed to, and this is what we should expect his education policy to be.

Two Ideas For New McCain Ads

I won't attempt to actually do the video work on these advertisements so all readers will have to settle for a pseudo screenplay manner of presenting these three. As I see it, the best political jujitsu is to take an opponents strengths and turn them against them. Obama's speech was a virtuoso in rhetoric, vision, and he even laid out some proverbial meat on the bones. In my opinion, the speech left Obama open for serious and legitimate criticism and McCain needs to take advantage.

Fade in.

Barack Obama's speech comes on screen

Barack Obama

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

Voiceover comes on screen as images from prior American wars interchange while he speaks.

That's tough talk Senator, but when Senator McCain repeatedly offered you an opportunity to have this debate you repeatedly refused. Senator McCain offered an opportunity to host joint townhall debates all throughout the summer, and each and every time you refused. Just last month, a coalition of military groups offered to host a national televised townhall debate about issues relating to being Commander in
Chief. Senator Obama YOU REFUSED!!

That's tough talk Senator considering every opportunity you were offered to actually debate these issues YOU REFUSED.

The McCain campaign also welcomes a vigorous debate about who has the temperament and judgment to be Commander in Chief. That's why we offer the challenge to Senator Obama for a townhall style debate specifically on these issues. If that really is a debate you're ready to have, Senator, you'll accept our challenge.

John McCain

I'm John McCain and I approved this message

fade out...

Barack Obama's speech comes on screen

Barack Obama

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

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives - on health care and education and the economy - Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisors - the man who wrote his economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."


It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

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


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


Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things.

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

Voice over with headlines of commentary pointing out Obama's thin resume filtering on screen

From 1991-1993 Barack Obama was a community organizer. In that role, he lobbied government for money for community programs. The Obama campaign has yet to show any tangible accomplishment from that time

In 1996, he became a State Senator. He spent eight years in Springfield, Illinois as an unaccomplished State Senator with no signature piece of legislation to his record.

In 2004, he became a U.S. Senator. Among his duties, he chaired the committee on NATO. He held exactly zero hearings. He's contributed in no significant way to any signature piece of legislation. In fact, Senator Obama's greates accomplishment as Senator is running for President.

Senator, the McCain campaign agrees, when you have no record to run on, all you do is paint your opponent is someone to run from.

John McCain

I'm John McCain and I approved this message.

...fade out

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Obama Campaign's Totally Politically Tone Deaf Attack on Sarah Palin

It didn't take the Democrats and the Obama campaign long to attack the VP pick of Sarah Palin.

A leading House Democrat said Friday John McCain's choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is a "risky" move that could ultimately prove disastrous to the Republican prospects in November.

Meanwhile, a top Senate Democrat said the pick is a "Hail Mary pass" and a "roll of the dice," in what is the initial reactions from McCain's rival party.

Speaking on a South Carolina radio station, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn likened the choice of Palin to Walter Mondale's choice of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and George H.W. Bush's pick of Dan Quayle in 1988. Both picks — relatively unknown political figures at the time — generated initial excitement but were ultimately deemed poor choices by many political observers.

Here is the Obama campaign's statement.

the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency."

The scathing description of Sarah Palin, from Obama spokesman Bill Burton, comes as Democrats scramble to gather a response to a selection that nobody in the political world expected."

Governor Palin shares John McCain's commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush's failed economic policies — that's not the change we need, it's just more of the same,"

Now, in my opinion, these attacks are totally politically tone deaf. First, Barack Obama talked about ending the partisanship in Washington just last night, and he turns around and makes a cheap shot not twelve hours later.

Now, again, I am troubled by her lack of readiness for the Presidency, however that is a lot less troubling in a VP, then a President. The irony of these attacks is that everything that can be said about the Palin pick can be said about Obama himself. Obama has zero foreign policy experience himself. He has just as much experience as Palin and he isn't a heartbeat away from the Presidency, he is right there.

Inexperience can be excused in a Vice President because the duties of the VP are rather light. In a President, experience is vital. The other thing about her lack of experience is the impressive set of accomplishments she has had. She has a history of cutting taxes, ending corruption, and taking on the establishment. So, while her time in office is slim, her record during that time is impressive.

What's really puzzling about these attacks is that they undercut much of Obama's theme. He proclaims that experience doesn't necessarily come from being in Washington. Here is how Barack Obama, himself, put it last night.

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

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

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

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

America, this is one of those moments.

Now, with this statement, he did and said everything he claimed to be cynical about Washington, We can't trust Sarah Palin because she was mayor of town that was too small. Barack Obama in less than twelve hours did everything he claimed was wrong in D.C.

Much more than that though, Palin's experience matches up quite well with Obama's. In fact, her record of achievement and accomplishment dwarfs that of Obama's, which of course is zero. The reality is that Palin is a lot more qualified to be President than Barack Obama is and she is on the bottom of the ticket. If it is dangerous to have Palin so close to the Presidency, what does it say to have Obama as President?

Tax, Spend, Create Jobs?

That is the mantra that John Schwarz is backing in the Washington Post. His back up for this is this.

The facts are clear enough: When the presidency was under Republican control during the past 40 years, 1.4 million net additional jobs have come into being per year on average. Under Democratic control, 2.5 million net jobs have come into being in an average year -- 78 percent more. Jimmy Carter actually surpassed Bill Clinton's highly praised job-creation performance.

Similarly, real wage gains for all non-managerial workers, who constitute nearly 80 percent of the labor force, have suffered more, on average, during Republican than Democratic administrations. Even the stock market has not done as well on the whole under Republicans as under Democrats.

There are many reasons for all this. Among them is this simple truth: While minimalist government may be necessary for a free market, that doesn't necessarily mean minimalist government is good for the growth of the economy, or for job creation, or even for generating private wealth.

Now, comparing Republican to Democratic Presidents over the last forty years is totally misleading. That's because over the last forty years Republicans have controlled the White House for 28 years and Democrats 12. Furthermore, Clinton's economic boom was set up by the tax cuts put together during the Reagan years. That spawned the technological investment that blossomed in the nineties. Again, when Bill Clinton entered office, ten percent of the population owned cell phones and internet. When he left it was nearly 100%. It's silly and misleading to proclaim that Clinton had anything to do with this dynamic that began long before he entered office. It is furthermore misleading to proclaim that this wasn't the main reason the economy boomed during that period. Such misleading statistics hold weight on those with little economic background, but they must be challenged by those that don't.

I would argue that the statistics are misleading and so far the author has not pointed to anything that connects government spending, more taxes, and more economic growth. Here is his attempt.

Consider the kinds of industries usually associated with the modern economy: jet aviation, semiconductors, computers, the Internet, global positioning systems, laser technology, MRI technologies, high-strength steel alloys, fiber-reinforced plastics, nanotechnologies. Tens of millions of new jobs -- well-paying jobs with good benefits -- were created through these innovative industries.

Each of them arose out of government-funded research, initial development by government, requirements established by regulation, large-scale governmental demand and purchasing to provide initial markets, or some combination of these. Every one of them.

Free-market advocates want voters to believe that government dampens the growth of opportunities that a free market would otherwise generate. The history of today's economy demonstrates that, to the contrary, governmental activism has been indispensable to the growth of many of our most prosperous industries and well-paying jobs in the United States. In so doing, it has laid the foundation for the creation of substantial private wealth as well.

Serious lapses beset the private market that the free-market mantra simply glosses over. Not many rational investors will step up when there is no clear prospect of ready consumers for a new technology and the costs of research, development and initial production of that technology run into the billions. Often the start-up costs for a technology are so high and market prospects so vague that few private investors, even venture capitalists, are interested. Sixty years ago, the first computers were practically room-size -- and were so expensive that even most banks shied away from purchasing them.

It's even sillier to proclaim that innovators and entrepeneurs need government research and breakthrough before they take a chance. Did Thomas Edison wait for government research before he invented and marketed (by creating General Electric) the light bulb. Did Orville and Wilbur Wright need government programs to invent the airplane. There was no government program for the assembly line before Henry Ford made it a staple of automaking. There is no doubt that government has lead the way in many innovations, but it is totally misleading to say it is necessary for innovation, expansion, and evolution.

Mostly what expanded spending and taxes create is more bureaucracy. More bureaucracy leads to more government, and all that leads to is more corruption. While I think that government spending can certainly lead to innovation, the baggage that goes with it is not worth it. More often than not government is a roadblock to innovation, not a highway. Extra taxes make an extra burden to innovation. Government spending is NOT necessary for innovation. Our greatest entrepeneurs throughout our history prove that they don't need the government to lead the way for them. In fact, it is an indictment of the human spirit to say that government must lead the way to innovation.

Some Thoughts on Sarah Palin and the 24 Hour News Cycle

From a purely political level, this is a brilliant political move, choosing Sarah Palin for Vice President. Choosing a woman plays into exactly what Dick Morris thought would be an astute political play.

But the most important thing is that Obama did not choose a woman. He needed one.
Now, John McCain can take advantage of Obama’s blunder by coming back with a female nominee for vice president. Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison would be an excellent choice. She’s been around for decades and is not going to start making mistakes now.

Her nomination would be a signal to American women that McCain takes their aspirations seriously, even if Obama does not.

I have previously written about the advantages of Joe Lieberman for vice president. His nomination would send a signal of bipartisanship which would be notable and would hasten Democratic defections. But conservatives would be horrified.

Obama’s failure to nominate a woman is such a glaring misstep that McCain should pounce and take advantage of it.

Take advantage of it McCain just did. Now, McCain puts the women's vote into play in a serious way. No longer is the Obama campaign the one with historical significance. Furthermore, Palin is a traditional, dependable, conservative. She is wildly popular and you can't be farther from D.C. than Alaska. (except maybe Hawaii though you get the point) This counters directly Obama's attacks that McCain is part of the D.C. establishment. She is tough and enjoys a non traditional persona. She was top level basketball player. Her husband is top flight snow mobiler in Alaska. She shoots guns. There will be all sorts of fascination with her candidacy. The beauty of this pick is that it is every bit the unconventional pick that Senator Obama's candidacy claims to be. Furthermore, it's unconventionalism is in stark contrast with the bland and conventional pick of Joe Biden. This pick is everything Obama's campaign claims to be and that's why it is so brilliant.

My problem is on a practical level. I don't think she is ready to be President. McCain just turned 72 today and I am uncomfortable with her so close to the Presidency. I firmly believe she is capable and she will with some more seasoning be more than ready. That said she has only been governor, quite succesfully but, for 2 years. Before that she was a successful mayor of a fairly small town. There is no doubt that she is a very capable politician, but she is NOT yet ready to be President. McCain is very healthy for his age but his age is what it is. Still, that matters little on political level, and politically, this is brilliant.

Now, what's really fascinating is watching the 24 hour news cycle evolve right in front of my eyes. Sarah Palin's pick now dominates the media attention, except MSNBC but that speaks for itself. By the end of the day, I doubt anyone could quote anything from Obama's speech. John McCain just pulled off a brilliant piece of political jujitsu. By holding the pick until this morning, Obama's speech went from front page news to an afterthought in roughly ten hours. This not only destroys any bounce that Obama would have gotten, but more than that, McCain is now going to get a serious bounce. The twenty four hour news cycle will follow the McCain campaign right into the Republican Convention. Furthermore, there is one other thing that Dick Morris said.

That’s what the Democratic convention has been doing in Denver. They are so anxious to run against Bush, their animosity is so pent up, that they persist in running against a man who is not seeking a third term. In speech after speech, the Democrats knock the Bush record and then add, lamely, that McCain is the same as Bush. Or they call the McCain candidacy Bush’s third term. It was no accident — or Freudian slip — when Joe Biden spoke of John Bush instead of George in his litany of attacks.

This pattern of shooting at the decoy, not the duck, gives McCain a bold strategic opportunity. He can nullify the impact of the entire Democratic convention simply by distancing himself from Bush.

The truth is, of course, that McCain is the most unlike Bush of any of the Republican senator. (When Obama’s people claim that Bush and McCain voted the same 94 percent of the time, they forget that most of the votes in the Senate are unanimous.) The fact that McCain backs commending a basketball team on its victory doesn’t mean that he is in lockstep ideologically with the president.

It's clear that McCain's convention theme will play into destroying this image. McCain will now make the case that he is the one to shake things up and that his Republican party is nothing like Bush's. If McCain does this effectively in th convention, the entire Democratic convention and theme is destroyed. If McCain is able to pull this off, then the Presidency is his.

Finally, there will be those that attack Palin's lack of experience. I have my own problems with it, but politically, this is a loser. Here is why. First, it is one thing for a first term Senator to become President. There are real problems of experience. A Vice President is not as easy to attack as not experienced enough. The job description of the VP is not altogether difficult. Second, while her experience is light, her accomplishments are rather remarkable for such a short period of time in public service. She pushed through a sweeping ethics reform bill. She has near 80% approval ratings. She was known as the barracuda while mayor for her tough nosed politics. Barack Obama points to vague concepts as his "accomplishments". Sarah Palin can point to specific pieces of legislation as accomplishments.

McCain's Counter to Obama's Acceptance Speech

I'm not sure what to make of Obama's speech last night. In many ways, he did exactly what I asked for last night. He put some meat on his bones and yet kept the speech lively. The most ironic thing for me was that in analyzing the speech afterwards on Fox News, it was the two traditional conservatives, Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, that defended the speech the most. It was the rest of the panel, Nina Easton and Juan Williams, that took the biggest shots at it. I am not sure what this means besides an interesting antedote to the claim that Fox News is some right wing extension.

That said, the speech left plenty of room for the McCain campaign to counter. First, while Obama did lay out an agenda, it was vague and often wishful thinking. For instance, he said that not only would everyone have health insurance, but even those currently with health care will have their costs reduced. How does he plan to do this? He didn't say and likely doesn't know. He said that he would cut costs by closing corporate loopholes. Well, the Alternative Minimum Tax was supposed to close a loophole and turned into a diaster. So, what are these loopholes? How will closing them wind up any better than the debacle of the Alternative Minimum Tax? He said that he wouldn't raise taxes on 95% of the American people, but he plans on raising taxes on capital gains. Half the people own stocks and would have taxes raised on gains on any of these stock transactions. He said that he would end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and create tax breaks for companies that keep their jobs here. How would he do this? What are these tax breaks and incentives? Isn't raising the corporate tax encouraging all corporations to take their business elsewhere? Barack Obama said it makes no sense to raise taxes on the middle class when the economy is weakening. If I am the McCain campaign, I forcefully counter that it is disastrous to raise taxes on anyone while the economy is weakening.

He said that he planned on paying for his massive spending increases by cutting non working government programs. He didn't name one, and so I'd like to know what programs those. It is boiler plate rhetoric for a liberal to reassure the voters that their massive bureaucracy increases will be met by cutting non performing programs, but we all know that government is much easier to grow than to shrink.

He said he would make sure teachers were paid well. Would he pay them himself? Does he mean that there will be more federal control of education? He said we would be energy independent in 10 years and then proposed to spend 150 billion dollars over the las ten years to get there. We've spent ten times that much in the last thirty years. How would his spending be any different?

Obama also said that everyone including Prime Minister Maliki and President Bush now support his timetable plan for withdrawal from Iraq. He didn't mention that a timetable sounds feasible because the surge has worked so overwhelmingly that even a timetable couldn't screw it up. He wants to end the war responsibly but the only way to end a war responsibly is VICTORY.

Second, he, with chutzpah, declared that if John McCain wanted to have a debate on foreign policy judgment and temperment that was a debate he was prepared to have. That's tough talk for a wuss. McCain offered to have multiple townhall debates throughout the summer. One of them would be in front of veterans on exactly these issues. Obama refused EACH AND EVERY TIME. His tough talk doesn't match his actions. If I were the McCain campaign, I would immediately propose a debate in front of one of the academies, VMI, or the VFW, for exactly this debate. Now that Obama has opened his mouth, it's time to put up or shut up.

Third, Obama proclaimed that when you have no record you attack your opponent. Obama has no record, and he spent the entire speech attacking President Bush, John McCain and D.C. politics. It appears that Senator Obama has told the country who they should vote for himself.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

McCain's Opening?

That's how Dick Morris sees the Democrats fascination with George Bush in their convention.

Many political campaigns run against the wrong candidate. The opportunity to pick on a vulnerable target is so tempting that they are lured into attacking someone who isn't running.

In 1992, the Republicans unleashed their convention barrage at Hillary Clinton and left Bill unscathed. In 1996, Dole still ran against Clinton the liberal and ignored the changes in his political positioning. Campaigns go after the flaming red cape, so glittering a target, and leave the matador alone.

That's what the Democratic convention has been doing in Denver. They are so anxious to run against Bush, their animosity is so pent up, that they persist in running against a man who is not seeking a third term. In speech after speech, the Democrats knock the Bush record and then add, lamely, that GOP candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) is the same as Bush. Or they call the McCain candidacy Bush's third term. It was no accident — or Freudian slip — when vice presidential nominee Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.) spoke of John Bush instead of George in his litany of attacks.

This pattern of shooting at the decoy, not the duck, gives McCain a bold strategic opportunity. He can nullify the impact of the entire Democratic convention simply by distancing himself from Bush.

Morris goes onto point out that McCain is the Republican most unlike Bush. He points out that the claim that they voted together 94% is out of context since most of those votes were procedural or ceremonial, like recognizing the NBA Champions.

Morris goes onto list a plethora of stances upon which McCain differs from Bush. I believe there are two issues which McCain can point out that will not only show his independence from President Bush, but it will endear him to the conservative base.


Remember, it was McCain that four nearly four years said that the Rumsfeld strategy was failing. He continued to criticize that strategy while no one else in the party dared. Imagine what would have happened had the President adopted McCain's strategy from the beginning. In fact, the surge's success only underscores how successful we could have been if it had been followed from the beginning.

We took a country nearly on the brink of total chaos and in less than two years turned it around and have it on the brink of near total victory. Just imagine if that strategy was followed from the beginning. We might not have an argument about timetables because there might not need to be many troops left now.


The biggest failure of the Bush domestic policy is the enormous spending spree that he and the Congress went on for a full term and more. This spending spree was opposed by McCain as a lone wolf. It is a spending spree that lead in large part to the meltdown of the Republicans in 2006. This issue is the best way to get the base fired up. It is an issue that puts John McCain at odds with George Bush.

These are the two ways that I would make sure that John McCain distances himself from George Bush.

My Best Story of All Time

In my junior year of college, starting in January of 1996, I studied abroad in London. I went with my friends John and Ted. In our third week, my friends and I went to experience something very American, the NFC Championship Game. That game was played between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys in a game the Cowboys would eventually win. (along with the Super Bowl two weeks later) Now, even though all three of us were from the Chicago area, John was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. So huge in fact, John showed up at the bar in his Troy Aikman jersey. Now, since London is several hours ahead, the game didn't start till roughly 9:30 PM their time.

When we arrived at the bar, there was a contingent of Packers fans. It turns out many of them had gone to Boston College with the Packers tight end, Mark Chmura. Since John's loyalties were clear, and they were counter to much of the crowd, he made a "friendly" wager with one of the Packers fans. It was 20 pounds or about $30 dollars.

Now, as soon as the game began, so too did everyone begin drinking. Soon enough, both John and the Packers fans were quite inebriated. The game was close throughout and in doubt till about three minutes left in the fourth. Green Bay was driving down 24-14, and once their drive stalled, it was clear that the Cowboys were victorious.

At this point John, quite inebriated, attempted to collect his money. The problem was that the Packers fan had made his way into a side room, and when John attempted to enter the room he was told that it was by invitation only. Of course, this was peculiar since we both noticed Ted already in the room, though Ted always had a knack for snagging such invites. John called Ted over. He pointed out the Packers fan and told him to collect the money. Ted is about 6"5' 230 lbs. so collection just comes naturally. (John is short and stocky about 5"9' 180 lbs) Ted walked over to the guy and calmly said

My friend over there says you owe him 20 pounds and I'm here to collect

The guy responded in an obscenity laced tirade. Ted, calmly again responded,

I don't even know what you're talking about right now, all I know is you owe my friend 20 pounds and I'm here to collect

This was met with more obscenity and that turned into a shoving match and eventually the shoving match spilled outside of the backroom and into the main room of the bar. The bouncers broke it up and proceeded to kick Ted out. This was frankly purely ceremonial because by now it was near 1 AM which was closing time anyway.

We were about to head home when Ted suggested that we hang on the street for a minute. Within minutes, the guy walked out of the bar and began scouting the street until he spotted us. He was about 100 feet away when he first noticed us and he began walking toward us slowly picking up speed as he got closer.

When he reached Ted, he attempted a round house. (Of course, Ted wouldn't have been the one of the three of us I would have chosen to take a swing at) The problem for him was that he made such a big motion that he telegraphed his punch. Ted ducked out of the way and countered with a quick right. The fight was on however the guy didn't seem to learn his lesson. Four or five times, he came at Ted with telegraphed punches. Each and everytime, Ted ducked out of the way and countered with a quick punch. Finally, Ted simply caught the punch, countered and then jumped on top of the guy. He began wailing away at him with reckless abandon. By this point, a crowd had formed and several guys jumped in and broke the two up before this guy had serious damage done to him.

Several guys moved Ted up against a building and several other guys moved the guy by the curb, with a safe distance betweeen them. After a minute or so, the guy wrestled his way away from the guys holding him and went after Ted. The problem is that there were so many guys in front of Ted that when he went for a punch, he hit a gut several layers in front of Ted. Then, the momentum first took him forward and then backward. The momentum of the crowd eventually threw the guy to the ground.

At this moment, I saw my opportunity. While he was on the ground, I jumped on top of him and nailed him with three square punches on his cheek. I stood up and proclaimed to Ted

I got your back bro

Ted gave me a priceless dismissive look. Then, the guy stood up and looked like a battered fighter after 15 rounds. He was bleeding all over and looked as though his entire face was ready to swell up. With his face clearly showing which side had won this fight, the guy proceeded to call out Ted.

Let's go right now. I'll kck your a$$. Right now.

He blurted out the typical cattle calls for more fighting. Of course, I got the sense that the crowd was thinking the exact same thing I was. This wasn't going to work. In most fights, there is no clear winner, however this was NOT one of those fights. The guy might have come to the same realization as well. In the middle of his diatrobe, he stopped, froze for a few seconds, and then turned around and ran away, never to be heard from again.

The crowd congratulated Ted on a great victory, and then we all proceeded to disburse. Within minutes of our dispersal, we heard the sirens. A paddy wagon showed up. Three constables jumped out, and immediately pinned the three of us against the wall. As soon as this happened the crowd that had dispersed came running back, and they all screamed the same thing

it wasn't them it was the other guy

The constables restored order and assured the crowd that they were merely going to take statements. As the constable taking my statement was about to begin questioning me, I had an epiphany. I could tell the story nearly truthfully and it would look as though the other guy was the aggressor. All I had to do was leave out the part where Ted stuck around waiting for the guy and the rest of the story was truthful.

That's what I did, however I could overhear John, quite inebriated, blurting out

then he pulled out a knife

and I remember thinking

No John!! There's no knives in this story

Well, the constables compared notes and of course two stories sounded exactly the same and one had a knife. Now, something was rotten in Denmark. They called Ted over to go with them. Now, the crowd wanted blood and they were out with the proverbial pitchforks. They were screaming, pleading, and enraged. Then, Ted lifted his arm and dropped it slightly in a motion to quiet the crowd and the uncontrolled noise immediately turned to total silence. It was one of the greatest shows of power I'd ever witnessed.

Ted went with the three constables into the paddy wagon. Meanwhile, this eclectic crowd standing on a London street began spontaneously and in unison to chant


Meanwhile, Ted is now in the paddywagon and in his left pocket is his passport which he used for ID. I should also mention that we lived at 31 Cleveland Square in London. The one constable asks

your name

without hesitation Ted Responds

Jim Miller

Jim was a friend of Ted's back home

The constable then says

All right Jim, and your address

...Ted responds

27 Cleveland Square

...the constable says

all right Jim, I have your name and your address, so if there is anymore trouble
I will know where to find you.


no problem officer, you won't have any trouble from me

Ted was excused and he walked out of the paddy wagon to a fierce roar of


The crowd finally dispersed. We all looked at each other and wondered seriously if it was time to go back home to Chicago because it would never get any better than this moment anyway. (we did decide to stick around for a few more months as originally planned)

As the crowd dispersed, there would be random folks that would get our attention and then scream


That's my best story of all time.

What Obama Needs to do Tonight

All right, there will be no shortage of pundits, columnists, and bloggers giving Barack Obama unsolicited advice about what his speech should do tonight. Senator Obama certainly doesn't need my advice and given that we are political opponents he would certainly take anything I say with a grain of salt.

That said, I have noticed something about Obama's speech making. That is that his soaring rhetoric has, for months, given him diminishing returns. He gave his campaign theme, message, and purpose with his uplifting and soaring rhetoric. His message of unity, hope and change were themes that the public at large were desperate for. That said, after a while of speaking of the nebulous unity, hope and change the public began to ask how he would accomplish all of these things. In fact, George Will described his predicament well today.

When Barack Obama feeds rhetorical fishes and loaves to the multitudes in the football stadium Thursday night, he should deliver a message of sufficient particularity that it seems particularly suited to Americans. One more inspirational oration, one general enough to please Berliners or even his fellow "citizens of the world," will confirm Pascal's point that "continuous eloquence wearies." That is so because it is not really eloquent. If it is continuous, it is necessarily formulaic and abstract, vague enough for any time and place, hence truly apposite for none.

Speaking on the subject Dick Morris said the most effective acceptance speech was delivered by Al Gore. He said that speech was more like a State of the Union speech. In it, he produced a laundry list of ideas that he was looking to implement. That speech gave Gore, in Morris' recollection, a bounce of nearly ten points.

But what can Obama learn from Gore? Well, Gore basically gave a State of the Union speech - at the risk of boring the audience, he laid out to TV viewers a complete presidential program, delving into each area of substance and articulating his plans in detail and with specificity.

The media highlighted his prolonged kiss with Tipper on the stage as the reason for his bounce, but it was really a speech bursting with specifics that gave him his edge.

Voters have been very impressed by Obama's opening act. His charisma, intellect and message have thrilled tens of millions, especially among the young. But, so far, he's had no second act - he's been unable to follow up the generalities with specifics or to put flesh on the skeletal message of change.

Now, in his acceptance speech, the nominee needs to go where he hasn't been before and answer the implicit question voters always ask of candidates who run on promises of change: Where's the beef?

One of the knocks on Obama is that he speaks in broad terms and never tells anyone how he will accomplish any of his lofty goals. Iran is on its way to get a nuclear weapon. We are struggling for victory in Afghanistan. We are on the brink of victory in Iraq. Gas prices continue to be near all time highs. Russia appears insistent on relaunching the Cold War. We have nearly 50 million uninsured. The economy is struggling to recover from the real estate bubble's burst. There will likely be up to three Supreme Court Justices chosen by the next President. In other words, there will be plenty on the plate for the next President. Simply saying hope, change, and unity is not enough for this speech.

This speech must get into specifics and the more specific the better. If he says he will spend X dollars on alternative energy, that is good. If he explains how his program will differ from all previous alternative energy investments, that will be effective. If he proclaims that his health care plan will provide insurance for all uninsured, that is good. If he explains how his plan will reduce health care costs to all, that will be effective.

This speech will test Obama's oratory skills. It will NOT be what the crowd in Invesco Stadium will want to hear. Detailed plans of policy will likely bore most of his most ardent fans who are mostly seduced by the soaring rhetoric. Furthermore, the massive crowd and elaborate set up is not exactly the backdrop for detailed numbers explaining tax policy. If the speech bores people his opponents will quickly produce the narrative that his specifics aren't as effective as his soaring rhetoric.

Furthermore, I am of the opinion that his specifics are frankly cut and cloath standard boiler plate classic liberalism. If he lays out a play to spend a lot of money, increase the size of government a lot, and raise a lot of taxes, my hope is that John McCain's campaign immediately releases this release

Listening to Barack Obama's speech I couldn't help but be reminded of something Ronald Reagan once said, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are I'm from the government and I'm here to help

Barack Obama's speech will need to thread a very sharp needle. He will have to finally put a lot of meat on the bones. He will have to do it while keeping the crowd riled up, and he will have to do it without exposing a classic liberal philosophy that will then be torn apart in the next convention. That may be a tall order but those that have doubted his oratory skills have overplayed their hands before.

Second Quarters Numbers Very Strong

The The Bureau of Economic Analysis released their latest economic data and it shows a very strong economy.

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the second quarter of 2008 (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.9 percent.

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected positive contributions fromexports, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential structures, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment, residential fixed investment, and equipment and software. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.

The acceleration in real GDP growth in the second quarter primarily reflected a larger decrease inimports, an acceleration in exports, a smaller decrease in residential fixed investment, and anacceleration in PCE that were partly offset by a larger decrease in inventory investment.

There is a great deal of irony here. First, this comes only two days after I speculated about stagflation. Second, it comes after the Democrats spent three days making our economy look as though we were living in Zimbabwe . Clearly these numbers undercut that attack. In fact, all Democrats criticize John McCain for saying that the economic is fundamentally strong. Well, given all that they claim is wrong with the economy, the fact that the economy still grew at such a brisk pace shows that in fact McCain has a point.

Still, there is still plenty to be concerned about when analyzing these numbers. Much of the growth of the GDP had to do with weakening imports and strengthening exports. Of course, this is entirely due to both a weak dollar and a weakening global economy. That dynamic is not the blue print for sustained growth. The housing market continues to be extremely weak and I don't believe we will see any sustained growth until the housing market is stabilized. While these numbers are excellent, I firmly believe the economy is a long way from being out of the woods.

Obamanomics Not That Bad?

Steve Chapman is pundit that on domestic issues, like the economy, can normally be counted on to follow a fairly conservative free market, small government, deregulation ideology. As such, his latest piece can't be attacked ideologically. Yet, this defense of Obama's economic policies left this conservative less than reassured. Chapman's defense of Obama's economic platform rests on three principles.

1) Obama isn't that liberal.

Chapman proclaims that Obama's record has been skewed by the National Journal ranking him most liberal. He proclaims that others have him as low as 16th. Well, frankly, what one or another survey ranks him is frankly entirely irrelevant to me. I am not concerned about Obama's economic policies so much because the National Journal ranked him most liberal. I am concerned because of what I believe his policies will unleash. It is rather stark that in this piece Chapman spends scant time addressing any of Obama's specific economic policies. Barack Obama wants to concurrently raise trillions of dollars worth of taxes at the same time he wants to introduce trillions in new spending programs. This is called tax and spend liberalism. It has a history of enormous failure and at this weakening economic period it is a recipe for disaster. Whether such ideas put him first, sixteenth, or six hundredth in terms of liberalism is irrelevant. The specific policies are dangerous. Period.

2) He's open to evidence. I hope so, but it's difficult to surmise how Chapman could know this with any certainty. Obama has made no decisions on economics. Chapman's evidence is the large economic team that he has assembled and its varying ideologies. So what. So far, this team has produced an economic policy that includes raising the top two income tax brackets, capital gains taxes, inherintence taxes, and even taxes on oil companies specifically. He intends to spend several hundred billions more in job creation. He wants to socialize medicine. Yet, despite all of this, Chapman contends that Obama has more affinity to the "free market" than most Democrats. Based on his platform, if this is a correct analysis, that says much more about the Democrats total rejection of the free market than Obama's acceptance.

It is on the issue of mortgages where Chapman really uses circular logic.

He balked when she said all adjustable mortgage rates should be frozen for five years -- with Obama's campaign quoting an expert who said, accurately, that it would be "disastrous

What Chapman doesn't mention is that Obama supports Dodd/Frank. This law won't merely freeze rates. Instead, it will take the unprecedented step of reducing mortgage balances. Furthermore, it will do it only for those borrowers that currently have lates on their mortgages. Borrowers with no lates aren't eligible for this lucrative deal. If this expert thought that freezing rates was disastrous, what do they think of this boondoggle? Does it sound as though Obama is listening to evidence?

3) Barack Obama believes in the free market more than most Democrats.

This really isn't very reassuring because nothing in Obama's rhetoric or economic platform shows that he believes in it all that much. His solution to health care is socialization. His solution to job creation is government spending. His solution to the real estate bubble is more regulations. He says he is against the winner take all economy without recognizing that free markets thrive based on competition. Competition and winner take all go hand in hand. Will he also recommend that the NCAA basketball tournament stop once we reach the final four and have those teams share the National Championship? What exactly is Obama's definition of competition? Does he recognize that the free market encourages competition?