Monday, December 22, 2008

TAX & SPEND: A Tale of a City, Two States, and a Nation

I can see the darkness at the end of the tunnel. As a conservative, living just outside NYC, I am dismayed at the spread of "tax & spend" liberalism across the "heartland" of the nation. Here's a quick primer, for those who don't get it: The two states with the highest tax rates (NY and California) also have the highest budget deficits. NYC's Mayor Bloomberg has declared it a "luxury" city, as if there were no place for "commoners," and NYS' Gov. Paterson has said that NY'ers can avoid his new proposed taxes by "not buying those things." Way to encourage economic prosperity, idiots! Gov. Schwartznegger's attempt to spin his "green" economic plan as "kicking ass" is true, in one way: it's kicking the average working joe or jane's ass!


What we have here is a "perfect storm" of foolish liberal policies. Both of these governors are coming, "hat in hand," to the federal government for a hand out, when the federal deficit is at record levels. Bush will rebuff them this year, but he's not the target of their current lobbying. We have the most liberal Democrat ever elected coming into the White House, and he has said he's going to "spread the money around." Roll the dice, and place your bets on who wins the lion's share of the pot!


I have faith that we will endure, through whatever tough times are ahead. I have seen the failure of similar policies before, and read about even earlier failures of these policies. The fact that Obama, Arnold, Paterson and Bloomie have all compromised to some degree with conservative opponents is what sustains my faith. I just worry that when Obama is in office, and working together with them, that they may exclude the conservative point of view.


Time will tell, and the liberal media is sure making a point right now of ending Obama's "honeymoon" before he takes office. Will this prod him into a "more liberal" policy, both economic and regarding national security? Or will it make him think "screw it, the libs are going to hate me, no matter what I do," and turn to a more moderate policy on these issues? He's screwed, either way. President-elect Obama is stepping into the deepest "doo-doo" that any president in my lifetime has had to step into, arguably.


"Tax and spend" may well become the policy of the day, but even a productive nation such as ours has limits on how far that policy can go. The economic crisis won't be solved by this classic liberal policy combination, and the nation won't keep a leader in office who can't find a way to turn the economy around. Obama has one term to fix this, and fairly or not, that's what he'll be judged on.


Bloomberg is history, even after changing the law to let him run for a third term. His plans to squeeze more money out of average NYC residents and homeowners will not be forgotten by next year's election. The same goes for Gov. Paterson, who bizzarely claimed "we'll take over Saturday Night Live" at a political rally. See, they weren't making fun of his blindness on that infamous SNL show. They were making fun of how politically clueless this guy is. Our economy is going to hell in a handbasket, and he's raising taxes on "regular" soft drinks, and "music downloads"...and BEER! (Harumph!)


California is it's own separate tax hell, but I've read enough to sympathize with them. Governator Arnold wants to be president, and maybe he should be allowed to, under the principle of "failing upward." He couldn't be any worse than Paterson or Bloomberg. He could be worse than Obama, if he tries really hard (as he's doing now, as Governor). I pray for my friends and family in that beautiful state, and hope the rest of you pray for me!


I predict higher taxes, and higher government spending for the forseeable future, on the federal level. While higher spending is nothing new, raising the tax rates is in direct contradiction to the president-elect's promise to cut taxes for 95% of working people. Obama's pre-election "tax calculator" said I would save $500 next year. I'll believe it when I see it, thanks.


Here are some recent headlines, with links:


Business As Usual


Gov's Tax & Spend Shocker


Paterson Punts


Paterson dishes up the same old me$$


Postponing Reality Dr. Thomas Sowell


Counterfeiting versus monetary policy Dr. Walter E. Williams


It's no time to panic Jonah Goldberg


Dollar to donuts - Ben slashes rates to near zero: greenback slammed

Friday, December 12, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS To Intolerant Atheist Pinheads Everywhere!

"At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." This is the text of the "winter solstice display" in the Washington state capitol.


Don't get me wrong; I'm sure ALL atheists aren't "intolerant pinheads." I will opine, however, that supporters of the above statement being displayed on government property qualify for that designation. How did I get there? Let's see...if this group wanted to put up a sign with a similar message opposite a Ramadan display, I doubt that Gov. Gregoire would allow it. I don't know if they have a Ramadan display in Washington's state capitol, but they do elsewhere, and I doubt that idea would fly anywhere. Why? Because it's patently offensive.


The statement could have just celebrated the winter solstice for what it is, instead of denigrating religious beliefs. Increasing awareness of the history of human knowledge of the day, and the different effects it's had on humanity is a worthy endeavor. However, this statement doesn't "celebrate" the winter solstice at all. It is a blatant attack on people who believe in any God at all, even if they aren't Christian.


Gov. Christine Gregoire has shot herself in the foot politically, by allowing this. Now, some people are fighting for a "Festivus" display. I'm in favor of that, because it's not as offensive as the winter solstice statement, which speaks in broad strokes about "gods" and "devils." Festivus wisely steers clear of the "god" issue, poking fun at the "holiday ritual" aspect of this time of year, and commercialism, among other things (link). Will the Governor allow the "Festivus" display? Not likely.


I don't like to be combative at Christmas time (OK, maybe I do), but I'm glad that somebody is protesting these pinhead atheists, and the pinhead governor that allows hate speech to be displayed as a "celebration" of any holiday. So, in the Washington state "holiday" spirit, I want to say "Merry Christmas to intolerant atheist pinheads everywhere, and to the pinhead enablers of their hateful message."


PS: Remember that Jesus wanted to reach out to those that didn't have faith in God. In other words, people just like these atheists are most deserving of our forgiveness. "They know not what they do" comes to mind. In the true spirit of Christmas, I wish that all people will have love, and not hate in their hearts during this "winter solstice season." That would be a truly Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 28, 2008

TERROR STRIKES INDIA AS WE CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING IN NYC UNDER THREAT...

I am deeply disturbed by the terrorist attacks in India, and feel the deepest sympathy for the victims. I rode the Long Island RailRoad, and the "D" train on the NYC subway system on Thanksgiving, along with Anna. She saw the armed soldiers at Woodside, on Wednesday, and was very worried about a terrorist attack here in NYC on Thanksgiving, especially after the India attacks.

I tried to ease her mind about the threat to the MTA system, but she knew more about it than I did. I told her I wanted to write this post before we went to Brooklyn, so it would get a "gazillion" hits here if we were blown up on Thanksgiving. That didn't go over well with Anna, and we ended up arguing about how her daughter could claim my Gather points if we both died together. Talk about yer "bad jokes gone wrong!"

Seriously, the "threat level" has been upped, though I didn't see a single cop or soldier on our trip from Lynbrook to Brooklyn on Thanksgiving day. In fact, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving in Bensonhurst, and terrorism didn't "come up" in any conversations at the dinner table, though we talked about politics, and many other subjects. Of course, Anna and I talked about it into the early hours of Thanksgiving morning, before we boarded the train to Brooklyn.

Frankly, she's scared, on a daily basis, and I'm mad as hell.

The terrorist attacks in India have exposed another new head of the Hydra that Al Queda seems to continually sprout. I want to help my Indian friends grab the neck of this beast, and co-ordinate with us in cutting it's head off, and ripping it's heart out. I only have sympathy for the victims, not the terrorists, or their "sympathizers." On this issue, my lovely liberal Anna agrees with me. Death to the enemies of freedom.


The NYC terror attack was supposed to have several people take trains from several different locations on Long Island, Westchester, and possibly Connecticut. These people would all be carrying bombs, or other weapons, and converge on Penn Station, in Manhattan. At least that's what I heard from Anna...

I wish I could help my brothers and sisters in India, to end the current "situation." India has been on the front line of this war far longer than most people realize, of course. Events in India have a direct impact on our life in NY, which many Americans don't realize, either. We're all in this together, people. It's time we started acting like we knew that.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!




I hope everybody had as great a Thanksgiving day as Anna and I had! God bless America!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Does Prop. 8 "Amend" or "Revise" California's Constitution?


James Taranto wrote the following, in Tuesday's "Best of the Web" column, regarding efforts to overturn California's Prop. 8, which amended the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman (link):




You may be wonder how the state Supreme Court could overturn a constitutional amendment. As Dale Carpenter, a Minnesota law professor who favors same-sex marriage, explains, the question is whether this amendment is actually a "revision" to the constitution. Although California voters can "amend" the constitution through a ballot measure alone, a "revision" must receive a two-thirds vote of the Legislature before being put before the voters.




Without taking a side on the issue, I'll say that it's apparent that banning same-sex marriage is not "revising" the state constitution. Actually, the court's interpretation of the constitution that allowed same-sex marriage was "revisionist." Let's not blind ourselves to the fact that marriage, under either the US or the various state constitutions, has meant, historically, a union of a man and a woman. When these documents were written, no-one thought that marriage could be defined any other way. How can an amendment that reiterates this historical view be called a "revision?"



Michael C. Dorf rebuts this argument on the FindLaw blog (link):




First, the decision holds that the California Constitution confers upon Californians a fundamental right to marry. The state, and various same-sex marriage opponents, had argued that the right to marry had to be understood in its historical context, and that was as a right of opposite-sex couples alone to marry. The Court rejected this argument as legerdemain. In so doing, the Court drew an analogy to its own 1948 decision invalidating a law barring interracial marriage, and quoted New York Chief Judge Judith Kaye's observation (in dissent in New York's same-sex marriage case) for the proposition that ìfundamental rights, once recognized, cannot be denied to particular groups on the ground that these groups have historically been denied those rights.




That was written at the time of the initial court ruling, in May of this year, overturning the law (Prp. 22) banning same-sex marriage. It should be noted that the 1948 ruling allowed interracial marriages between opposite-sex couples only, and that the history of racial discrimination is quite different than the history of homosexual discrimination (Homosexuals have voted, under the same historical restrictions as heterosexuals have, since the inception of the nation). I can't help but also notice that they cite a dissent from a NY State judge in their ruling, meaning it was a losing argument in NY's "left" leaning court system. Not the most best of legal precedents to cite.



This is a complex issue, and a deeply divisive one, so I'm just skimming a few points, here. While I'm sure that same-sex marriage will eventually become the law, it has to be legalized by the legislative branch of government, not by judicial fiat. The court's May ruling was counter-productive for supporters of gay marriage, because now, as Mr. Taranto points out, "Let's suppose the California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8. Will Schwarzenegger then be willing to sign legislation legalizing same-sex marriage? It doesn't matter! Such leglsiation is now unconstitutional under Proposition 8."



Read Mr. Taranto's whole piece for his take on Gov. Schwartznegger's cowardice in dealing with this issue, along with his usual funny take on other interesting stories. As for my opinion on this issue, "marriage" is a religious sacrement, and has no place being defined by the state. All "marriages" should be legally defined as "civil unions," which can be defined by the state. I support "civil unions" between same-sex couples. There are already churches that will perform the religious sacrement of marriage for same-sex couples, so it would be a moot point. Of course, that would be too "sweeping" a ruling for a court to make, so I fully expect the California court to call Prop. 8 a "revision" of the California Constitution, and overturn it, taking the judicial shortcut again.



I wonder if they'll ever learn.

Friday, November 07, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS, PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA, FROM A CONSERVATIVE OPPONENT


I want to wish warm congratulations to President-elect Obama. I am now officially among those feeling "hope" and "faith" regarding him (I knew that "change" was coming, either way). Though I supported "the other one," I am proud that America has elected it's first Black president. The historic aspect of his election must not occlude the historic nature of the problems he faces, upon entering office.



To be blunt: Sen. Obama, the first Black president, will be challenged with problems larger than either Reagan or Kennedy had to deal with, and may end up facing another worldwide depression, as Roosevelt did. I'm hoping that Pres. Obama is the right leader for our times, and have faith that he is. In a changing world, the USA has "risen up" to the challenge of "change."



I can't predict whether things will get better or worse, but if I were a betting man, I'd bet on the latter. Pres. Obama's job is going to be very difficult. Even if he manages to navigate the nation in the right direction, it will be against strong political headwinds. If things "keep going the wrong way," he will get the blame. Welcome to the Oval Office, President Obama.



Here are some questions for, and thoughts about our next president:



On foreign policy, will he follow the "Clinton" model, and return the "war on Islamist terrorism" to a "law enforcement" effort? Will he "escalate" the military action in Afghanistan in a way that destabilizes Pakistan, and perhaps the entire region? No-one knows, but we are in the middle of a global war, unlike any we've been engaged in before. This will be the trickiest minefield for him to cross.



Sen. Obama said that he employed no lobbyists in his campaign, but the head of his Nevada campaign, the late Terrence Tolbert, was "a top official who ran lobbying efforts for the (NYC) Department of Education." Was there an exemption for taxpayer-funded lobbyists? Mr. Tolbert died of a heart attack, tragically cut down at the age of 44 on the Sunday before the election. My condolences go out to his family, and my apologies for using him to make a political point.



I have to repeat a question from an earlier post of mine: "Medicare and Medicaid are losing billions of dollars every year, and are riddled with fraud. If the government can't pay for, and adequately manage these health care programs, how can it afford 'universal' health care? Will you fix Medicaid/-care before proposing any new health care program?"



He can't seriously offer government-funded health care for "everyone" until Medicare and Medicaid are fixed, and he has put both of those on the "back burner," calling them "long-term problems" that he won't try to tackle right off the bat. Yet he still wants to expand government's role in (and financial obligation to) the health care industry (PS: That's what killed Hillarycare, over a decade ago). Forcing businesses to provide health care will be disastrous to many small businesses, as well.



There is some debate over whether he will govern as a moderate, or from the left. I suspect the latter, but will try to keep an "open mind" on this subject until he actually starts governing. Either way, I wish him well in dealing with the serious problems facing our nation. While I may be a critic, I also realize that great challenges often forge great leaders. I hope this is the case with President Obama.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I BOUGHT THIS ELECTION, FAIR AND SQUARE


I have told you everything you wanted to hear, and spent the money to make sure you heard it. If you haven't heard it, "I will be whatever you want me to be, and give you whatever you need. I will spend my unlimited resources to ensure that everyone has everything they need to live like Warren Buffet, or at least Jimmy Buffet." We're going to "stick it to the man," by giving their money to "the other 95%, including YOU!" I enjoyed all of those contributions of less than $200 from "doodad pro" and all of my other supporters, and you will get paid back ten times over. We're gonna have a party on Warren and Jimmy's dime! It will last for about 8.5 seconds, until we get back to spending money borrowed from China and Saudi Arabia. Oh, did I mention I appointed George Soros as head of the Federal Reserve?



Resistance is futile. We control the money, and I own the presidency. I bought it "fair and square," public financing be damned!



VOTE FOR ME...THE ELECTION IS OVER...I AM PRESIDENT OBAMA! -by Wednesday, I hype!




Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WILL OBAMA'S "SLICK" TAX "CUT" OFFSET THE NYS "TOBACCO TAX?"

This guy is nothing, if not "slick." It sounds good, the way he explains it. The income tax "cuts" that go to people who don't pay any income tax actually "offset" other taxes they pay, like the FICA payroll tax, sales tax, or state income taxes. Why doesn't he go all the way, and call it a federal wage increase? There are many holes in the logic of this "tax plan," but I'd like to start with the thought that this "tax check" is meant to offset FICA, better known as "Social Security" tax. William McGurn takes this idea on, in his WSJ column today.



In most parts of America, getting money back on taxes you haven't paid
sounds a lot like welfare. Ah, say the Obama people, you forget: Even those who pay no income taxes pay payroll taxes for Social Security. Under the Obama plan, they say, these Americans would get an income tax credit up to $500 based on what they are paying into Social Security.

Just two little questions: If people are going to get a tax refund based on
what they pay into Social Security, then we're not really talking about income tax relief, are we? And if what we're really talking about is payroll tax relief, doesn't that mean billions of dollars in lost revenue for a Social Security trust fund that is already badly underfinanced?

Austan Goolsbee, the University of Chicago economic professor who serves as one of Sen. Obama's top advisers, discussed these issues during a recent appearance on Fox News. There he stated that the answer to the first question is that these Americans are getting an income tax rebate. And the answer to the second is that the money would not actually come out of Social Security.

"You can't just cut the payroll tax because that's what funds Social
Security," Mr. Goolsbee told Fox's Shepard Smith. "So if you tried to do that, you would undermine the Social Security Trust Fund."

Now, if you have been following this so far, you have learned that people
who pay no income tax will get an income tax refund. You have also learned that this check will represent relief for the payroll taxes these people do pay. And you have been assured that this rebate check won't actually come out of payroll taxes, lest we harm Social Security.

You have to admire the audacity. With one touch of the Obama magic, what otherwise would be described as taking money from Peter to pay Paul is now transformed into Paul's tax relief. Where a tax cut for payroll taxes paid will not in fact come from payroll taxes. And where all these plans come together under the rhetorical umbrella of "Making Work Pay."

Not everyone is persuaded. Andrew Biggs is a scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute and a former Social Security Administration official who has written a great deal about Mr. Obama's plans on his blog (
AndrewGBiggs.blogspot.com). He notes that to understand the unintended consequences, it helps to remember that
while people at the bottom pay a higher percentage of their income in payroll taxes, they are accruing benefits in excess of what they pay in.

"It's interesting that Mr. Obama calls his plan 'Making Work Pay,'" says
Mr. Biggs, "because the incentives are just the opposite. By expanding benefits for people whose benefits exceed their taxes, you're increasing their disincentive for work. And you're doing the same at the top of the income scale, where you are raising their taxes so you can distribute the revenue to others."

Even more interesting is what Mr. Obama's "tax cuts" do to Social Security financing. As Mr. Biggs notes, had Mr. Obama proposed to pay for payroll tax relief out of, well, payroll taxes, his plan would never have a chance in Congress. Most members would look at a plan that defunded a trust fund that seniors are counting on for their retirement as political suicide.



It's interesting to note that the government spends excess Social Security revenue in the "general fund." Isn't it a little misleading to propose using general fund revenue to pay people that are still paying taxes into the Social Security system? If Obama wants to propose "payroll" tax cuts for lower-wage workers, he should just propose that. Of course, that's "political suicide," so he did a "slick" thing. He proposed a convoluted plan that sounds "fair" to most "middle class working people," and moreso to lower end wage-earners, who stand to benefit from it. Liberals of all incomes like it because it is textbook "income redistribution."

As far as reimbursing people for state taxes, property taxes, or sales taxes, those are even thinner smoke screens. Why didn't he pitch it as a "tobacco tax rebate," for all of us NYers paying $9 a pack? Besides being "political suicide," it's not a relevant reason for this plan. Neither are any of these other taxes he says this payment is meant to "offset." Let the federal government stick to relieving the taxes they actually levy, instead of reimbursing us for "local" taxes.

He flat-out couldn't call it a "payroll" tax cut, but that's what he's selling it as. McCain needs to address this, in a way that exposes the whole "ponzi scheme" behind Social Security: spending it's dwindling surplus in the "general revenue" stream is "wasteful," to be generous. Giving it directly to people who are still working, and paying into the system is going to tick some retirees off.

If Obama can claim that this rebate "offsets" every other tax under the sun, all taxpayers should share in this benefit. Retirees, and Social Security recipients pay sales tax, and often other taxes, but get no benefit from Obama's income tax cut. How fair is this to them? Plus, his proposed "tax cut" comes nowhere near reimbursing all of the government's other levies, so it's dishonest to suggest it addresses them all.

He's selling a dream, folks, and many people are buying it. "Slick" doesn't begin to describe this guy.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rev. Wright, Ayers, and Rezko Attend Obama Fundraiser at Raines' Mansion: Exclusive Coverage on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor!

HA! SCARED YOU LIBERALS! Heck, I don't even know if Rezko is available to attend such a potential fundraiser! On a serious note, I don't think such an occurence is neccessary for McCain to win. As Sen. Obama said, "don't let our guard down," and as Sen. McCain said, "we've got them right where we want them," this race isn't over. Just a little "election fever" fun! Sorry to tease my conservative friends, if you bought the title! LOL!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Economic Questions For Sen. Obama


Some questions for Sen. Obama on economic issues:



The last Democratic president also promised a "middle class tax cut," but ended up raising taxes on people making less than $30,000 a year. Since your record doesn't show any support for tax cuts, why should we believe you?



Medicare and Medicaid are losing billions of dollars every year, and are riddled with fraud. If the government can't pay for, and adequately manage these health care programs, how can it afford "universal" health care? Will you fix Medicaid/-care before proposing any new health care program?



Rich people are notoriously cheap; many will tell you that's how they got rich. If you raise their taxes in an economic downturn, when they've already lost a signifigant amount of their wealth, won't that hurt many small busnisses that cater to them? Remember the "luxury boat" tax, a huge failure that had to be repealed?



Some of us struggling middle class voters didn't take advantage of the "subprime" and "no money down" mortgages, because we knew we couldn't afford the eventual payments. Instead, we're still renting, as our landlords increase our rent to cover their increasing bills. Will you give renters a tax credit, or some kind of relief you're offering struggling homeowners?



Social Security must be fixed. Will you allow workers to have private SS accounts, instead of government IOU's? Isn't the current system, where current workers' taxes go directly to current retirees, unsustainable? As for the crashing markets, what's the difference between bailing out these big companies, and bailing out the Social Security recipients that have nothing but the government's IOU backing up the money they've paid into the Social Security "system?"

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It's Time to Use the RICO Act on ACORN


If I hear one more ACORN defender say "it was just a few bad canvassers' fault," I'm going to explode. By now, everyone must've heard of the fraudulent voter registrations collected by this group in around a dozen states. If this were really the work of "a few bad apples" that they hired, why is it happening all over the country? Further, why is it continuing, when they had these same problems for several election cycles?



The evidence is becoming overwhelming that ACORN is a corrupt racketeering organization, using federal money to file fraudulent voter registrations. Michelle Malkin has a great round-up of the details, and it's not pretty. Some law-enforcement agency has to end their corrupt activities, for once and for all.



Just as Rudy Giuliani used RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act to break (or at least weaken) the mafia's stranglehold on NYC politics in the 1980's, RICO can be used by the US Attorney General to do the same to ACORN, on a federal level. Since there doesn't seem to be the political will to do this under the current administration (and it's not certain that either a McCain or Obama administration would, either), I have a suggestion.



It's time we (you, me, etc..) filed a class-action civil RICO action against ACORN, and get them out of the "voter registration" (read as: election) industry, and investigate corruption in all of their other businesses and political activities. Their defenders will cry "racism!" and "disenfranchisement!" -but actual voters, who vote only once, in their own name (that's most of us voters), are the ones being "disenfranchised" by ACORN's actions. That's why "we" have standing to file this suit. The tax money that ACORN has received must be returned to the government, and "treble damages" should apply (that means a peanalty of three time the amount of money that was fraudulently obtained and/or used for fraudulent purposes), as well.



There are many corrupt facets to this organization, and if it's apparent to me, why isn't a single Democrat of note willing to criticize them? Why are Obama's ACORN ties not being used by McCain, or often mentioned in most of the MSM reports about the "ACORN fraud" stories? Could ACORN be the "October surprise" that clinches a McCain victory? Or will ACORN's activities "tar" an Obama victory? Those are just a few of the political questions that will be answered eventually.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin "Kicks Butt" in Debate! (I'M HERE TO COLLECT ON MY BET)


On Aug. 30th, I wrote this about Gov. Palin: "I'm betting that she's dealt with blowhards like Biden before, and will kick his butt in their debate." I'm here to collect my winnings. The most negative take one could have on her performance in the vice-presidential debate was that "she held her own," or "she stopped her downward momentum." There were roughly an equal number of gaffes, mispronunciations, and misstatements between them, but there was a palpable difference between the two. One liberal commentator (on MSNBC) said they seemed "as if they were on two different worlds," and though he meant that Gov. Palin was from "the other" world than his, most Americans live there, too.



I sure do. After listening to most of the debate, I found myself right back at my first analysis of the governor, embodied by the title of that Aug. 30th post: "I LOVE SARAH PALIN! (In a Totally Platonic/Political Way)" This lady has everything required to be president of the United States. I am more confident in her than I was when I wrote my first post about her. She is the "bold" and "audacious" politician that Obama talks about being, but has never been.



She won the debate, though Sen. Biden "held his own." That translates to "he didn't self-destruct," as it did when applied to Palin from liberals. He didn't get any real "zingers" in against her. His "outstanding" moment was when he talked about his family's tragedy, which "humanized" him, but really didn't advance the Obama ticket. Conversely, Gov. Palin had several "outstanding" moments, few of which invoked her family. Nonetheless, she did advance the McCain ticket's goals, especially with these comments:



First among them was when she said "I've only been at this for five and a half weeks," which put the whole debate in perspective. "Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq" was another good rejoinder. I also liked this quote (excerpted from the FOXNEWS website): "It's so obvious that I'm a Washington outsider, and someone just not used to the way you guys operate," she said at one point, criticizing him for voting for the Iraq war before speaking out against it. "Americans are craving that straight talk."



"Talking points" they may be, but hers were better than Sen. Biden's, and anyone who doubts it is living in MSNBC's "other world." Look for the media to say that she "delivered" them better, or that she was "better coached" than Sen. Biden. The fact is that she conveyed her message better than Biden did, and in a more "charismatic" way.



I'm going to stand by the analysis of the most honest liberal I know: my girlfriend Anna, who was really impressed by Gov. Palin, even though she doesn't agree with her, politically. She said that Gov. Palin "won" the debate, by being a little more than Sen,. Biden's "equal." She gave better than she got, in this shoot-out.



People may have concerns about her being "ready to be the President," but she's not running for president. The other ticket is the one with the "inexperience" at the top. She's no Dan Quayle, that's for sure. She is proving herself a valuable political asset to the McCain campaign. She also didn't ride her husband's political train to get where she is.



If they don't win, look for her to be the leading contender in 2012 on the GOP side, if she wants it, and works toward that goal. She's a very impressive lady, and a fantastic new political voice.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Bailout Bill: Now Dems Believe in "Trickle Down" Economics


I'm suprised that no one has picked up on this yet. This whole "bailout" bill is based on "trickle down" economics, and the Democrat leadership has to explain it, and promote it. While conservatives were concerned about the amount of government intrusion into the private sector, they understand the principle of saving, or assisting large companies, because it usually helps the average person. They just wish the private sector to do it.



None of the Dem leadership was comfortable in this role, and it's probably why Speaker Pelosi unleashed that tirade in the House the other day. She, and the other leaders (Frank and Dodd chief among them) who have been painting this as "bailing out the Bush policies" are deflecting blame from their own actions, which also prove the "trickle down" theory.



This "bailout" bill is the "other shoe" of one that dropped more recently: The Fannie/Freddie bailout bill. I don't remember any of these leaders decrying that one as strongly in the debate leading up to this bill. Mostly, they said all the right, "bipartisan" things, though a few tried to blame the GOP for Fan/Fred's "deregulation." Unfortunately, it wasn't GOP deregulation that caused Fan/Fred to back all these bad mortgages. It was liberal Democratic regulation that forced them to "give homes" to people that couldn't afford it. (Say Anything has the details, hat tip to Rob)



Deregulation did have a role, of course. It enabled Fan/Fred to package these mortgages in very complicated and creative ways, and to sell them as securities. These are free-market mechanisms for reducing "risk" by spreading it around. Boy, and did they ever "spread it around." Fannie/Freddie sold these securities to all of the big investment banks, worldwide.



How does this relate to "trickle-down" economics? Well, when the US government "stimulates" an industry that's already diong fine, it creates a "bubble." The "trickle down" effect was to make poor and middle-class people homeowners, and it worked. It also drove home prices higher, as the market was flooded with buyers. This should have caused interest rates to rise, but the Fed was hoplessly biased to keeping interest rates low, perhaps for political reasons ( I'll write about that another time).



The bubble burst when prices started declining, and people owed more on their homes than their home's current value. This coincided with a harsh increase in inflation, which the government has been outright lying about, in their "official" numbers, for years (yes, longer than the Bush administration, but again, that's another story). So the people who received the good "trickle down" effect were the first to feel the bad "trickle down" effect.



When they started defaulting on their loans, the assets that backed those loans were not worth what was owed. Eventually, this "trickled" back up the economic food chain. The banks didn't actually "own" those mortgages anymore. They had sold them to Fredie or Fannie, who had sold them to investors from all over the world. All of a sudden, banks in China, Europe, and Russia are in trouble, and it's "trickling down" to their average citizens.



Now, after bailing out Fan/Fred to the estimated tune of $200 Bil, all of the people who bought their bad paper over the past decade are saying "where's my bailout?" That $200 Bil was only the mortgages that Fan/Fred were holding, and by agreeing to buy them, we implicitly told all past customers of theirs that we would buy back whatever bad things they sold. We're making that explicit now, and you know who's paying the $700 Bil bill for this bill. You and me.



There is a bright side to all of this. Americans who go through crises often come through it stronger, and wiser. This goes for the nation as a whole, in general. More people will understand our economy, and government's limitations in controlling it, because of this "crisis." I'm not sure if I'm for or against the plan, to be honest. I just know that it isn't the last "shoe" to drop, and that "bipartisan quick fixes" usually do more harm than help to the economy.



Meanwhile, the holdouts seem to be conservatives, and liberals, but the leadership is being persuasive. They even suggested that "the taxpayers could make a profit on this investment," as if the taxpayer would actually see any of those "profits." Maybe this is how Obama will pay for universal health care. It's about as rational as inflating tires to bring gas prices down. He cited FDR's buying of mortgages in the '30's as a "stabilizing influence." He's right, FDR's various policies "stabilized" us in an international economic depression.



I've got a question for Sen. Obama. Beside the strain this bailout will put on our budget, will you fix the looming crises in Medicare and Medicaid funding, before you try to implement universal health care? While it sounds off-topic, think of the current crisis as the Dems attempt at "universal home-ownership." "Trickle down" applies to the public health care industry, as well. It may be about to overflow, as well, with more disatrous consequences than Fannie/Freddie.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Free Syria" Website Published My Article: Thanks!


Back in May, I wrote an article titled "Expansionist Iran: Lebanon, Syria, Gaza." I didn't know it until recently, but a website called "Free Syria" published it, under my name, the same day I first published it on Gather.com. While I didn't know about it, I appreciate the exposure, and wanted to return the favor. I'm publishing an excerpt from the Chief Editor's Word, Oct. '06:


The fear of freedom is the worst of all fears. A timorous leader is a prisoner who is simply unaware of the real importance of freedom. It is the only key to guarantee a national unity that could be weakened by oppression, it is the only incentive for rising up a country and promoting stability for the whole society. Freedom is the first step towards democracy which will guarantee the citizens' rights to decide for their own destiny and to exercise their freedom of religion, thinking and expression.



Syria has been living for the past decades under a constant confiscation of public and private liberties and natural rights. This situation profoundly ripped Syria's national unity, weakened and impoverished its structure and led to the spread of corruption in a country where law, justice and rights are simply nonexistent notions.



This situation is even more dangerous since one individual and one family are constantly manipulating the country's destiny, spreading corruption, stealing public money, sowing fear and terror among citizens and supporting oppressive policies.



In the light of all this we felt that it is our national duty to create this website in order to help liberating Syria from an oppressive, unjust and corrupted regime so that a new democratic regime will be established. Democracy will guarantee the respect of both public and private liberties and will allow our population to exercise freely its natural rights.




"Free Syria" supports the Syrian National Salvation Front, which is devoted to democratic reforms and human rights in Syria. I'm honored that Free Syria published my piece in their "special articles" section, which features a wide spectrum of pro-freedom points of view. I highly recommend them as an insight into the Syrian "opposition" effort. As dismal as things look these days, I have hope for my brothers and sisters in Syria. One day, they will enjoy the peace and prosperity of democratic freedoms.



GO CHECK OUT "FREE SYRIA," FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

RUSH LIMBAUGH AND MEXICANS SLANDERED BY OBAMA CAMPAIGN


I'm sorry, but the Obama campaign has stepped over the line with this one. Connecting Sen. McCain to Rush Limbaugh is beyond the pale. It was one thing, when their strategy was to paint McCain as "Bush III," but Mr. Limbaugh is even further from McCain than President Bush is, politically. In their zest to discredit Sen. McCain, Sen. Obama's campaign has done just this, with a "Spanish language" commercial using "quotes" from Rush to characterize Sen. McCain as hostile to Latinos.



However, the two "quotes" from Rush Limbaugh are actually his characterizations of other points of view, not his own opinion. Here are the quotes:



". . . stupid and unskilled Mexicans" and "You shut your mouth or you get out!"



This is an excerpt from Rush's WSJ piece about the "controversy." (link)




And more to the point, these sound bites are a deception, and Mr. Obama knows it. The first sound bite was extracted from a 1993 humorous monologue poking fun at the arguments against the North American Free Trade Agreement. Here's the context:



"If you are unskilled and uneducated, your job is going south. Skilled workers, educated people are going to do fine 'cause those are the kinds of jobs Nafta is going to create. If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people, I'm serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do -- let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work."



My point, which is obvious, was that the people who were criticizing Nafta were demeaning workers, particularly low-skilled workers. I was criticizing the mind-set of the protectionists who opposed the treaty. There was no racial connotation to it and no one thought there was at the time. I was demeaning the arguments of the opponents.



As for the second sound bite, I was mocking the Mexican government's double standard -- i.e., urging open borders in this country while imposing draconian immigration requirements within its own borders. Thus, I took the restrictions Mexico imposes on immigrants and appropriated them as my own suggestions for a new immigration law.



Here's the context for that sound bite: "And another thing: You don't have the right to protest. You're allowed no demonstrations, no foreign flag waving, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. You're a foreigner: shut your mouth or get out! And if you come here illegally, you're going to jail."



At the time, I made abundantly clear that this was a parody on the Mexican government's hypocrisy and nobody took it otherwise.




Here's the thing: why is this only in a "Spanish language" commercial? The answer is cultural/political; Obama is targeting Latinos that don't know much about Republicans/conservative politics, politicians, or punditry. Rush's column justly imputes base motives in the ad, which itself imputes unjust motives to Sen. McCain.



Truth to be told, McCain's campaign is just as dishonest, in some ads. I just don't like the use of a such great American as Rush Limbaugh, under false pretenses. It was a dirty shot, in more than one way. Sen. McCain is the best shot for reconciling the issue of illegal immigration, and far more knowledgeable on the issue than Sen. Obama.



If voters who care about this issue want a solution, the choice is clear: Sen. Obama will side with the left, and fight against at least half of US public opinion. Sen. McCain is trying to "pick up" on a few of the "right's" issues (border security, deportation of criminal aliens), and compromise with the "left's" issues about keeping families together, and civil rights. Both sides of the debate have valid points, and Sen. McCain has been an agent for a "comprehensive compromise."



However, I have to report seeing an NBC "Latino" progam at 6:30 AM, and all of the guests were stridently "pro-Obama," for "the Latino community." It seemed a little "Stepford Wives" to me. I think there's more political diversity in all communities, including Latinos, and Obama's commercial will backfire. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WHY AREN'T FANNIE AND FREDDIE BEING BROKEN UP, AND SOLD OFF?


The biggest "scandal" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is that they exist. Now that it's official that you and I "own" them, let's break them up, and sell them off to private firms, over the next few years. These corporations were "tools" for the government, to provide "liquidity" and "stability" in the housing markets. If you don't know it, these two objectives were at odds with each other, when housing prices "crashed." "Liquidity" means that if you want to sell a house, you should be able to find a buyer fairly quickly. "Stability" means that if you want to buy a house, it is going to be a good investment, over the long term. Fannie and Freddie have proved to be a failure at both of these policy objectives.They serve no purpose, other than political power over a large piece of the economy, for their political patrons.



Because they had the implicit backing of the US taxpayer, they were allowed to grow larger than they should have, and to gain political and bureaucratic influence greater than any normal publicly-traded private corporation had. While their support in congress was somewhat bipartisan, any quick look at their corporate leadership shows mostly Democrat names involved in their many scandals. Fraklin Raines, Clinton's former budget director, resigned in shame from Fannie, and Jamie Gorelick, contributor to the Reno Justice Dept's "wall between intelligence gathering and law enforcement" (who later minimized her role in that policy, when sitting on the 9/11 commission), was vice chair of Fannie from 1998-2003. Both of these individuals are millionaires, thanks to altering Fannie's books to give them larger bonuses.



Fannie's original mandate was to loan money to banks, for mortgages. Freddie was created by the US government after Fannie was "privatized," to provide "competition." David Frum has an excellent piece from July of this year, which gives a brief history of these institutions, and even predicts "the voters will likely exact a political price for the debacle from John McCain and the Republicans - even though the party most tainted by the failure ought to have been the Democrats." This is why, when Fannie and Freddie did get bailed out, Obama outright blamed it on the GOP; he's following a script written a long time ago. I don't think it will wash with the voters, this time.



Look at the government bailout of AIG insurance company. It's being loaned $85 billion, as it sells itself off to other companies. The government is hoping to make back the $85 billion from the sale, but the important thing is that AIG customers still have insurance. Fannie and Freddie should be treated the same. It's a bigger "hit" on the budget than AIG will be, but it's worth it to get rid of these corrupt bureaucracies, and the political poison they've spread in our economy. The difference between Fannie/Freddie and AIG is who their customers are.



Who are Fannie and Freddie's "customers?" Banks. Some try to claim that "poor people, trying to stay in their homes" are Fan/Fred's real customers, or that "we all" are dependent on these institutions, in some way that is beyond our ken. I understand exactly how the default of these entities would affect the world economy, not just ours. They can not be allowed to wreak havok on the economy, because each time they do, it seems exponentially worse.



The modern world has surpassed the efficiencies these companies provided, decades ago. Liquidity has been improved by technology, and stability was sacrificed by low interest rates, as housing prices drastically increased. Their (Fan/Fred's) accumulated debt now has been added to our government's balance sheet, but there is no political will to sell them off as soon as possible, and wash our hands of them. Why? Because of the money they pump into our elected representatives.



I don't hold the Dems solely responsible for this scandal. John McCain was in the top 20 recipients of their political donations, over the last few decades. I just find it interesting that Barack Obama was the second highest beneficiary of their political favor, second only to Chris Dodd. Now, McCain and Dodd have been senators for a LONG time, and Obama has only been a senator for a few years. How did he end up in the number two spot on this list, and why does that make me think that "he doth protest too much," when he blames Fannie and Freddie's failure on the GOP?



Fannie/Freddie are long overdue for a "special investigation," as long as it is of a criminal nature. These corrupt enterprises need to be stripped of their political cover. I was aggravated that Bush didn't do this in 2003, but understand that he was using all of his "political captal" on Iraq at the time. Now, it's up to McCain to take the point on this, because Obama surely won't.



This issue ought to be "front and center" in the election debate. Fannie and Freddie have been plagued with scandals, and it would be interesting to see exactly who promoted giving "sub-prime" mortgages to people who couldn't afford a house, and relaxing the "regulations" on getting mortgages "without a credit check." Was it all done by the Bush administration, and the GOP? -Or was there signifigant support from the Dems, particularly Sen. Obama? Let the truth come out, and all of the players come to light, regardless of party affiliation.



Hat tip to Rob Port, of Say Anything, and Michelle Malkin.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The "Bush Doctrine" Was a Media Creation


When Charles Gibson asked Gov. Palin if she agreed with the "Bush doctrine," I confess I wasn't sure what he was talking about. I remember this term, but I also remember it being used by many people, to describe different Bush policy positions. Indeed, no single policy was ever oficially labeled "the Bush Doctrine."



The media have taken, over time, different statements from several Bush speeches, and claimed them to be his "doctrine.*" I wasn't surprised that she didn't know which one he was talking about. "In what respect, Charlie?" was the correct reply.



Further, as Bill Sammon of FOX NEWS points out (link):




Gibson and his colleagues have been all over the map in defining the Bush Doctrine over the last seven years. In 2001, Gibson himself defined it as "a promise that all terrorists organizations with global reach will be found, stopped and defeated."



But when Palin tried to give a similar definition on Thursday, Gibson corrected her.



"I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation," Palin said in her first interview since being nominated as the GOP's vice presidential candidate.



Gibson countered: "The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us."




This seemed like a "gotcha" question, and somewhat condescending, as well. First of all, he asked a subjective question, giving her a "yes or no" option on "agreeing with Bush." Second, he asked her to "define" a term that has different meanings to different people. Third, when she gave her definition, he ignored the fact that he had defined it in the same terms, and proceeded to try to "correct" her.



All this proves is that she's not "up" on the latest "liberal" definition of the "Bush doctrine." He might think he came out looking "smarter" than all of us who didn't know what the "Bush doctrine" is supposed to be, but her answer seemed to make alot of sense to the average voter.



BTW, I think that both Gov. Palin, and the average voter agree with the "Bush doctrine," in one (or more) of it's formulations. Gibson simply picked the one that sounds most unpopular, these days.



* Besides what Gov. Palin and Mr. Gibson mentioned, the "Bush doctrine" has been described as "bringing democracy to the Middle East," and "treating states that harbor terrorists as terrorists themselves," among others that have been pointed out since the Gibson interview with the Gov.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain Takes Lead in Polls; Obama Campaign "Rattled"

I don't know if it's just me, but Sen Obama seems a little "shakey" in his recent campaign events. His "lipstick" gaffe is a prime example, but it's more than that. He seems to have trouble focusing on what he's trying to say, as if he's "overthinking" every word. The "uuh's" and other lapses don't sound like the candidate that beat Sen. Clinton in the primaries. That is, unless you count the later stages of the primaries, when he couldn't win the nomination outright. He "backed into" the nomination, and he knows it.


No sooner did he "smooth things over" with Sen. Clinton (if not all of her supporters), when Sen. McCain named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Since then, Sen. McCain has had a signifigant "bounce" in almost all of the various polls. This was a bigger swing than after the Rev. Wright mess came to light, late in the primaries. (With all due respect to Sean Hannity, who broke the Wright story much earlier).

There is more to this "bounce." Sen. Obama has lost some of the lustre he had, as a "new" type of politician. He is increasingly being defined as a "typical liberal" on many issues, when compared to McCain, who has had to explain his crossovers into liberal territory (illegal immigration, campaign finance reform, etc...). McCain has given definitive answers on why he votes the way he has, and has a long record to defend.

This will likely be a close race, but I won't be surprised if McCain wins by a larger margin than either of the last two elections. Sen. Obama is a formidable candidate, and may be a great president, if elected. Or not. Still, it might be interesting to see the Democrats running not only the presidency, but both houses of the Congress. "SHUDDER"

Seriously, though, Sen. McCain, and Gov. Palin really are "agents of change," in the Republican party. Many of the old "Reagan Democrats" (including many women in their '40's) are still around, and they're the vanguard of this movement in the polls. Whether it will last is the question. Stay tuned, for further analysis.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

TAKE THAT, NBC!


"Save the Cheerleader, Save the World."



It's not demeaning to compare Sarah Palin to the "cheerleader" in the NBC Sci-Fi show "Heroes." After all, the "cheerleader" is also an "indestructible hero." You gotta love this lady.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

BABYGATE: IS GOV. PALIN "GETTING VETTED" BY THE MSM, OR IS THE MSM "GETTING VETTED" BY THE VOTERS?


Before Gov. Palin addresses the Republican National Convention Wednesday night, I want to review some of the "vetting" that has occupied the media since Friday. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would say that McCain has "baited a trap" for the liberal media, and they took the bait. Let's start with the story of her daughter Bristol's pregnancy, which was front-page news in every newspaper, and the lead subject of every TV news outlet, both broadcast and cable, in the nation.



I don't have the time or patience to review all of the coverage, so I will cite one example. On PBS, Mark Shields implied that Gov. Palin's acceptance of McCain's offer of the VP slot "guaranteed that her daughter would be known globally as the best known 17-year-old unwed teenager in the world, and that decision many people question." I'm sure he meant to say "pregnant" in there, but he continued on: "The ambition of going on a national ticket, and her love and consideration of her daughter, being known once and for all as ‘Aren't you the daughter who was pregnant of the vice presidential candidate in 2008?'" Yes, this will be remembered for a long time, Mr. Shields. NOT.



It gets worse, as Shields stresses his concern for Bristol: "The question of how it affected her daughter is not open to question. It has made her daughter a front-page item for the country. That would not have been the case if Sarah Palin had said to John McCain, ‘thanks but no thanks. This is a private time for my daughter, an important and terribly difficult time in her life.' I really can only imagine the painful time that girl is going through, not simply to be known and introduced to the nation this way, but also being conflicted about what this pregnancy could do to her mother's career and all the rest of that. So I don't think there's any question the impact it was going to have upon her."



The flip side of this might be related to Shields' second to last sentence, "but also being conflicted about what this pregnancy could do to her mother's career and all the rest of that." He makes no mention of the other side of that "conflict." What would Bristol feel if her mother declined this opportunity because of Bristol's pregnancy? Might that not be more traumatizing, in the long term, than the brief glare of the "media assault" she, and her future husband are enduring right now? I heard this point from another commentator, on another show, but I don't remember who it was (except that it was a woman). I just want to give her credit for a thoughtful point of view, but one that Sheilds totally ignored.



There are far worse examples of bias in the MSM coverage of this non-story. I picked Shields' remarks because of their phony concern for "the daughter," diverting attention from the slam at the Mother/candidate. I found myself yelling at the TV while watching this, and later found a link to some of Shields' quotes at Newsbusters.org. There are more examples at their website, which you can judge for yourselves.



Gov. Palin does not have a "broken family," as an online commenter suggested elsewhere. It's just gotten larger by two members: Bristol's baby, and future husband (Levi "I'm a f-in' redneck" Johnston). Watch how the media attempt to exploit them, and Bristol, to discredit Gov. Palin. If the left-wing media didn't already realize it, let me say it clearly: Your coverage is being "vetted" by the public, and it's being rejected. This will end up hurting the candidate that you so obviously support, through no fault of his own. You forget that your power is a double-edged sword; you expose your "in the tank" coverage of Obama by your completely "out of the tank" coverage of Palin. Media popularity can be destroyed as easily as it is created, by public opinion.



I hope Gov. Palin kicks your liberal media asses, in her speech. I almost feel bad for Sen. Obama, because your sins shouldn't be visited on him. In big league politics, though, that's the breaks. Let's see what the Governor "brings to the ticket," besides conservative enthusiasm. I'll continue to bloviate on other criticisms of the GOP VP nominee, and why they'll continue to backfire on the liberal media, not to mention the most liberal Dem nominees since Carter/Mondale.



Who's being "vetted" here? Not just Gov. Palin, that's for sure.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

I LOVE SARAH PALIN! (In a Totally Platonic/Political Way)



McCain is still a maverick. The choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is "on the edge of the bubble" to some, but she is an excellent VP candidate. I'm betting that she's dealt with blowhards like Biden before, and will kick his butt in their debate. Her experience should be an issue, because it compares so favorably to Obama's. Sarah Palin took on corruption in her own party, and has an 80% approval rating. She has been more than bipartisan in her appointments, by including "independents," as well as Democrats. She fits well with McCain, who should now change his stance on drilling in ANWR.

Her story will come out, and she will impress the nation. Alaska deals with more international issues than most states, so her experience may be greater than Obama's, on a practical level. Granted, he just did the "big tour" of Western Europe, but what does he know about keeping the Russians from claiming all of the oil in the arctic circle? Less than she does, I'll bet.

Gov. Palin is one of the "new generation" of conservatives, along with LA Gov. Jindal, who are picking up the mess that the "old guard" GOP made, since Bush's second term. The GOP congressional majority that took over in '94 was a different animal than the GOP that the Dems routed in '06. "Our party left us," according to fiscal conservatives, and they were right.

McCain is against congressional earmarks, which, though a small amount in the overall budget, are often used as political payoffs to just about anyone, with no scrutiny of how the money is used. This is also something that Gov. Palin has confronted, by rejecting the famous "bridge to nowhere," that Alaska Sen. Stevens tried to "appropriate" for his contractor friends. This was before he was indicted, when he still had serious political power in the state, which took guts.

She seems like a valuable resource for seeing through all of the BS, and is just the kind of "spark" that McCain needed. He has guaranteed that no matter who wins, history will be made. At the risk of sounding sexist (not to mention ticking off my darling Anna), I have to think that she sends shivers up conservatives' legs, a la Chris Matthews' reaction to Obama. She does it to me.

I love Sarah Palin! (in a totally platonic/political way, of course)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Obama's Acceptance Speech Ripped by Malveaux and West: "Running Away From History," or "Whitewash?"



Drs. Cornell West and Julianne Malveaux panned Sen. Obama's acceptance speech, in an interview with Tavis Smiley, on PBS. Tavis Smiley got them to open up, and gives us a real insight into their point of view. This link has 4 minutes of it, and I'm hoping the most critical parts aren't edited out. I saw the whole interview, but didn't view the online excerpt. Dr. West said that Obama's speech was "running away from history," and Dr. Malveaux called it a "whitewash," and stood behind that word, when challenged by Mr. Smiley.

If you don't know who Drs. West and Malveaux are, see their websites (Dr. Malveaux, and Dr. West), or just search the web. It is safe to say that they come from the liberal end of the political spectrum, and they are both African-American. It's an interesting interview, and deserverves to be transcribed fully.

PS: I have to commend Tavis Smiley, because I am a huge fan of his. He is ten times as good at interviewing guests as Charlie Rose, who I can't stomach. I find Mr. Smiley's style conducive to getting guests to "open up" in ways that Charlie Rose never could (or will), even if Mr. Rose could just "shut up" long enough to listen to an answer. Tavis has a kind of class that Charlie never did, or will have.


(PS: I hate Charlie Rose for an entirely personal reason. He cursed out my girlfriend, in one of those "don't you know who I am!" pseudo-celebrity rants. I won't get into details, but Karma gave him a big blue "shiner" a few months later. He said he "fell on the street," but I dream that it was me punching him out! -and it's true, he won't shut up! LOL!)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"The World As It Is Just Won't Do"

Michelle Obama said: "All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won't do--that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be."

I have a few quick questions: How does a US president change "the world?" Who decides "how it should be?" What does "just won't do" mean, in this context? It "won't do" what, for who?

Okay, if I take it as a figure of speech, meaning "is unacceptable," it still doesn't make sense, because "the world" has never "been acceptable" to everybody. Everyone has competing ideas on ethics, morality, and culture.

Does her "obligation to fight for the world as it should be" extend to Iraq? Not likely, given her husband's advocating abandoning Iraq before the surge, when things were rough.

Unfortunately, her husband is the one who "just won't do," and it's not because of his race. It's because of his equivocating statements, rather than stating a straightforward position. His "positions" often seem to be against the beliefs of a majority of American voters, which is why he's had to further "clarify" his positions, with more equivocation. That's really all there is to it.

Hat tip to James Taranto, from WSJ's Best of the Web Today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"PAY TO PLAY": NY Dem Sells Himself in "IPO" to Lobbyists, "Or It'll Cost You More, Later"

Cartoon by Sean Delonas, from Page Six of the NY Post.

Want to know how corrupt NYS politics are? Here's the latest from Fredrick U. Dicker of the NY Post, in another great expose. This one's about NYS Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, who expects to be majority leader after the Nov. elections. (link)


SENATE Minority Leader Malcolm Smith told a conclave of lobbyists in Kingston last week that their clients would be shut out of a Democrat-controlled Senate in January if they didn't pony up large contributions now, a "shocked" longtime lobbyist has told The Post...


..."The whole thing was incredible. Malcolm got up there and thanked everyone for coming and told them we should think of his fund-raising event as being like an IPO, an initial public offering.

"He said we should get in early because then it doesn't cost as much. The longer you wait to get in, he said, the more it will cost you and if you don't get in at all, then it will be painful after November, after the Democrats win the majority," the lobbyist continued.

"Then he referred to [Bronx state Sen.] Jeff Klein about four times as his 'enforcer,' who is going to be brutal, aggressive, about collecting the contributions, and that he was the one managing the IPO."

Linking campaign contributions to future government actions is illegal under New York law, legal experts told The Post.

These guys are the real government mafia, folks. The Dems control both other branches of government already, as well as the Assembly. The Senate is down to a 1 seat majority for Republicans, and when that ends, it'll be "open season" on anything that generates revenue, specifically taxpayers. If you've ever been "shaken down" before, or even if you had your lunch money stolen as a kid once, you know how I feel, living in NYS.

Gov. Paterson, a Democrat, has become the heavyweight promoting spending restraint, but it's unclear how much power he has in the process, other than calling a "special session" during the summer recess to deal with the issue (which he has done). The Republican senators are walking on pins and needles, because "cutting" spending (slowing the rate of growth, actually) could cost them the majority. ASSembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is the "godfather" of the left-wing special interests, and one tough nut to crack, regarding control over legislation. He is the source of Smith's, and the NYS Democrat party's arrogance, as they abuse the public six ways from Sunday.

If you think I'm exaggerating about this, here's an excerpt from the follow-up story, as Republicans called for a criminal probe (link)

Smith refused for three days to discuss his remarks, but late yesterday, in response to the GOP attacks, he issued a statement claiming his remarks were meant to "entertain" the lobbyists who attended the event.
"We were, on the day in question, at a golf outing [and] rain forced us indoors," said Smith. "And, like any good host, it was important to entertain all guests. That is simply what occurred. And nothing else."


Look, if the lobbyists are dropping dimes on pols "shaking them down," imagine how I feel as a (non-union) taxpayer living in one of the most corrupt states in the nation, and paying the price of the shakedown, without even having a lobbyist at the table!


Gov. Paterson should call on AG Andrew Cuomo to investigate this, and prosecute both Smith and Klein, if the charges are true. Someone needs to step up on this, as Patterson has on the budget.

DEFINE "RICH" Quips: Do "Book Sales of 25 Million" Beat "5 Million Dollars" of Income?


After Saturday's Presidential Forum with Rick Warren, Obama tried to jump on McCain's answer to the question "On taxes, define rich." McCain tried to define it in terms of a person's wealth, not income. He said that it "Should be defined by a home, a good job and education, and the ability to hand our children a more prosperous and safer world than we inherited." When pressed on income, he said "If you're just talking about income, how about five million." When the audience laughed, he used the words "but seriously" several times, trying to finish his point, which was that he wants to keep everyones taxes low, even "the rich," and focus on out-of-control spending.



There is a larger point here. Someone may only make the kind of money that the government taxes at the highest rate for very few years. People move up and down the income scales, and many of them sacrifice much to get there, and lose it all long before they pass away. Making over $1 million a year can make you feel rich, but if you only make that for a few years, as many million dollar earners do (sports stars, for example), you better invest your earnings wisely. The idea is to gain wealth, which is not taxed as income is. Wealth accumulation comes from saving and investing money. People should be allowed to keep as much as they can of their earned income, whether they spend or save it.



I would define "rich" as making over a million a year for more than 5 years in a row, at least in the NYC "tri-state" area. I don't know how, or why that definition could/should apply to the tax code in the first place. If one is for taxing higher incomes at a higher rate, just say that. Calling it "taxing the rich" is a misnomer, because a person making $250,000 (Obama's definition of "rich") for the first time in their life may have debts of that amount already, and just be starting to "get out of the hole," so to speak. The term "rich" would not apply to that person, in my book. It shouldn't apply in the tax code, either. That's what I thought of after McCain's answer.



The line got laughs, and to his credit, Obama prefaced his criticism of McCain with "I don't know if he was joking..." before citing the $5 mil number. Now, Obama made a joke in his answer to that question, as well. "If you've got book sales of $25 million, then you qualify...." he said, talking about the host, Rick Warren. Obama himself has a few million books sold, as well. Was he trying to say that selling only 11 million books didn't make him "rich?" Of course not.



In fact, he did mention his own book sales, and that he didn't like paying the taxes on that income ("nobody likes it"), so I guess he does consider himself "rich." He also mentioned that people who earn $250K or more are only 3 or 4 percent of "this country.". That's millions of people, regardless of how vague this "statistic" was. At a population of 300 million, there are 9-12 million people making over $250K, if you take his statistic to mean "of the total population." How large is that as a percentage of people who actually work for their income? I'm not going to look that number up, but you can bet it's higher.



McCain picked a high income (seemigly "out of the air," to my eye) for a reason, in the context of his answer. The fact that Obama jumped on it shows that he will try to ride the "bash the rich" theme as much as possible. This populism is not catching on as well as it used to, because of alternative MSM outlets. Many more people realize that increasing taxes, even on "the rich," in a weak economy is a recipie for disaster, than did in the past.



I just saw a clip from Monday, where Obama criticized the "recipie for disaster" line I borrowed in the previous paragraph, to which he responded "the disaster is already happening!"



This is not making his case for higher taxes.



The "disaster" can get alot worse, if he just looks at the historical record. Revenue has increased when taxes on "the rich" are lowered, in an economic down cycle. McCain is right, in our current economic condition, as he was wrong to oppose Bush's tax cuts after the muliple hits our economy has taken since the internet bubble burst (9/11, gas prices, health care costs, home prices, the credit crunch, etc.). In his defense, the economy did seem to keep "booming" through most of these, at least early on. Government spending must contract, or at least grow at a slower rate (which is the liberal definition of "cutting spending," by the way).



A final note: Tax revenues did grow after Clinton's tax increase, but that was because of a "boom" economy from the PC/internet revolution, not because of tax policy. Note that the "surplus" started after the GOP took control of Congress, and ended just as Bush took office. Also note that gas prices increased faster since the Dems took back control of Congress than they had under Bush's first term. One can spin this issue any way they want, but the economy is really not partisan, though it is used as a huge political issue. "Tax the rich" is just another bad idea that has become a populist slogan. In practice, it hurts much more than it helps ALL of us, especially the poor and middle classes.



CNN has a transcript linked here, and please take a look at Shelley's excellent post on the overall forum, linked here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"REGIME CHANGE" In Georgia? NOT LIKELY!

Crossposted from GRAFFITI POLITTI on Gather (08/11/08), with an update below:


South Ossetia was the flashpoint. Now, other provinces, notably Abkhazia, are also under seige. There are naval blockades, and other nations are denying port access to Russian vessels. The US is going to transport 2,000 Georgian troops from Iraq to Georgia. Russian Prime Minister Putin has said that Georgia's President Saakashvili "has to go," according to one press report.



Will this war result in a "regime change" in Georgia? How can it be averted? Was the "Rose revolution" totally in vain? Reality check: It's not 1968, and this ain't Prague. My US Dollars are still betting on freedom, in the longer term. In the near term, I see lots of fighting, death, and destruction. Same as it ever was.



There are some interesing angles to this story. Georgia was applying to become part of NATO. This should be a lesson not to accept any nations with "provincial" disputes with a former patron state, especially one as large as Russia. If Georgia was a NATO member, we would be obligated to fight the Russians. The flip side is that the Russians are doing this now to prevent Georgia from joining NATO.



Meanwhile, thousands of innocent people are dead. Will the world stand by, as a blossoming free nation gets mulched under the wheels of power-mad autocrats? Of course they will! Right now, Russia's plan seems to be "win on the ground," and then let the UN codify it.



My heart goes out to Georgians worldwide. I hope you have a country to go back to, and not "the Georgian Province of Russia." I feel as powerless as the UN, but I will criticize Russia.

UPDATED 08/13/08: It is important to note some other commentary on this war, from Ralph Peters, and John McCain. Both men have a grasp on the situation that is lacking in much of the political debate from the Democratic candidate, and the MSM (including PBS, to their shame).

First, some choice excerpts from Peters' latest pieces, from the NY Post:

"Working through their mercenaries in South Ossetia, Russia staged
brutal provocations against Georgia from late July onward. Last Thursday,
Georgia's president finally had to act to defend his own people."

"Yet our media give Putin the benefit of the doubt. Not one major
news outlet even bothers to take issue with Putin's wild claim that the
Georgians were engaged in genocide."

His sidebar piece totally disses the Russian military:

This campaign was supposed to be the big debut for the Kremlin's revitalized
armed forces (funded by the country's new petro-wealth). Well, the new Russian
military looks a lot like the old Russian military: slovenly and not ready for
prime time.

Russia has been planning and organizing this invasion for months. And they're
pulling it off - but the military's embarrassing blunders must be infuriating
Prime Minister Putin.

HEAR! HEAR!

Now, (hat tip to Powerline and Rob Port) read what a President should say, when the war was still breaking:

Georgia itself, my friends, has a long and remarkable history. It was a
fourth-century convert to Christianity, one of the first nations on Earth to
convert to Christianity -- if you go to Georgia, as I have several times, you'll
see churches that go back to the fourth- and fifth-century -- and it's been a
part of the grand sweep that comprises Western civilization. But because of
their location, their history hasn't been easy. Through the centuries, they have
seen invasions and attacks from Mongols, Russians, Turks and Persians. And
through it all, they maintain their language, their cultural identity, and their
national pride. And as you know, they were part of the Soviet Union and were
able to achieve their independence when the Soviet Union disintegrated. And
they're facing terrible trials today, but they'll get through this, too.

And, my friends, and I'll talk about this more in a minute -- but they're at
a strategic crossroads. There's a pipeline, an oil pipeline,
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, which brings oil from the Caspian to points west and
traverses Georgia -- that's the very pipeline that the Russians tried to bomb.
And I don't have to tell you about the price of oil and disruption of oil
supplies.

In this country -- it's that little country, a country whose territorial
integrity, independence and sovereignty NATO countries reaffirmed at their
summit in April -- terrible violence has occurred. Now let me just remind you
exactly what has taken place here.

On Friday, Russian tanks and troops moved through the Roki Tunnel, across an
internationally-recognized border, and into the Georgian province of South
Ossetia. Two years ago, I traveled to South Ossetia, my friends, and we went
through this barricade, and as soon as we got into this place, which the
Russians are maintaining hundreds and now thousands of troops, there's this huge
billboard and it said, 'Vladimir Putin, Our President.' Have no doubt about
Russian ambitions in this area.

The Russian government stated it was acting only to protect Ossetians, and
yet, on Saturday, its bombing campaign encompassed the whole of Georgia.
Hundreds of innocent civilians have been wounded and killed -- possibly
thousands. Military bases, apartment buildings, and other infrastructure all
came under Russian fire. And the Russian Black Sea Fleet began concentrating off
of the Georgian coast.

Before the weekend ended, Russian troops drove the Georgians out of South
Ossetia and stepped up their offensive in the region of Abkhazia -- Abkhazia is
another area that the Russians have controlled in violation of Georgian
territorial integrity. And Georgia asked for a ceasefire, and Russia responded
by bombing the Tbilisi Airport.

Yesterday, Russian troops advanced on one city after another. Gori, Senaki,
Poti, and other cities were attacked. In 2006, I visited Senaki and reviewed the
Georgian troops who had served with honor beside American soldiers in Iraq --
2,000 of them served beside American soldiers in Iraq, and we're proud of
that.

President Medvedev stated that he has halted the offensive, but reports
indicate that Russian military forces have continued attacks in some areas and
the situation remains fluid and dangerous. Foreign Minister [Lavrov] announced
that Russia seeks regime change in Georgia, and that it's democratically-elected
president 'better go.'

In the face of this threat, the leaders of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania,
Ukraine and Latvia -- you know there's a common thread there amongst them, they
all suffered under Soviet domination -- they've all announced that they'll
travel to the region, and the French president is in Moscow in an attempt to
help resolve the crisis. They understand that it's a responsibility of the
leading nations of the world to ensure that history continues to record reform
and make progress toward respecting the values and security of all free
people.

This is the situation in Georgia as we meet here this morning. The impact of
Russian actions goes beyond their threat to a democratic Georgia. Russia has
used violence against Georgia to send a signal to any country that chooses to
associate with the West and aspire to our shared political and economic
values.

My friends, we learned at great cost the price of allowing aggression against
free nations to go unchecked. With our allies, we must stand in united purpose
to persuade the Russian government to withdraw its troops from Georgia. There
must be an independent, international peacekeeping force in the separatist
regions. And we should ensure that humanitarian aid can be airlifted to
Georgia's capital, and stand ready to help our Georgian partners put their
country back together. And we must make clear to Russia's leaders that the
benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world require their respect
for the values, stability, and piece of that world.

My friends, today the killing goes on and aggression goes on. Yet, I know
from speaking this morning to the President of Georgia, Misha Saakashvili, who
I've known for many years, that he knows that the thoughts and the prayers and
support of the American people are with that brave little nation as they
struggle today for their freedom and independence. And he wanted me to say thank
you to you, to give you his heartfelt thanks for the support of the American
people for this tiny little democracy far away from the United States of
America. And I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to
him, today, we are all Georgians.

I'm with Senator McCain, and Col. Peters on this one. A final question: would Russia have done this if Georgia were already in NATO?

World Oil Consumption Rises, US Has Largest Decline in 26 Years


How about them apples? US oil consumption dropped by the largest amount in 26 years, and world oil consumption still increased! I suppose it would have risen more, if not for all of us Americans conserving our resources. High prices will do that, you know. (source)



Does this have anything to do with the recent falling of oil prices? You bet it's a large factor. There are also new sources being found all the time. Oil prices are coming down, because the market says so.



Watch the pols line up to take credit, when they did nothing.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Congressional Ban on Offshore Drilling Expires on Sep. 30th: What Will Dems Do?


Something I didn't remember was that the offshore drilling ban passed by Congress expires on Sep. 30th. This is an interesting twist to this issue. What are they going to do, a month before the election? The markets already have this one figured out. Congress is going to let it expire or pass something expanding offshore drilling.



Here's an excerpt from the Evans Novak Political Report, which is still publishing without Mr. Novak, who has a malignant brain tumor. I want to wish him all of God's grace, and my prayers for his health, as I quote his successor, Timothy P. Carney:



Republicans are winning the energy debate and will continue to highlight the issue until Democrats are forced to either renew the existing offshore ban when it expires on September 30, or allow it expire. Democrats need to hope for prices to come down and stay down until the election. Whether they have a legislative way to bring that about (such as releasing fuel from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) is unclear.



Here's my further analysis: The price of oil is coming down because of the speculators seeing the political outcome before the public does. When Bush dropped the presidential ban, the clock was set, clicking down to Sept. 30th. The Democrats may have the luxury of stifling debate on drilling, but the market doesn't.



I'll do some speculating of my own, here. Democrats will try to take credit for the recent decrease in oil prices, which probably will continue until the election. I see oil breaking 100/barrel, heading downward, before election day, if the ban expires. Oh, yeah, they'll blame "ending the ban" on Republicans, of course, to the MoveOn crowd.

CHAVEZ: "EL VERDADERO DIABLO"


Anyone who didn't see this coming is living in another reality. The man who had the nerve to call Pres. Bush "the Devil" in front of the UN a while back has once again shown where the stench of brimstone really came from. Who wants to bet he stays in power beyond his term limit? I ask all of the people who think that Bush is a "dictator" (if not the Devil) to make an objective comparison. Read the AP piece linked here, and you will realize why I laugh off the allegation of Bush's "tyranny."



Speaking of tyranny, Rep. Maxine Waters recently threatened to try to nationalize America's oil industry. Chavez did this a long time ago, which shows what path Rep. Waters wants to take this nation down. I doubt that even a potential Pres. Obama (or a majority of Democrats) would go along with this, but it's important to know that we also have a faction that is as tyrannical as the Chavez regime.



Watch out for "El Diablo," and his American apologists and apostles. Any fool knows where his leadership is taking Venezuela: straight to hell. We can't do anything about it overtly, and we shouldn't, at this point. Let's concentrate on getting our own house in order, and stay prepared for any "surprises" Chavez cooks up with his pal Ahmedinejad. In the best scenario, they both get overthrown internally, but that's not happening any time soon.