Saturday, August 30, 2008
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
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
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
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.
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.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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.
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.