Archive for October, 2008

Campbell Brown, closet satirist?

October 17, 2008

Sometimes I think the zero marginal cost of CNN or another news outlet publishing one more opinion may not be a universally good thing.  Campbell Brown’s piece today may actually be foolish enough to merit a read for humor’s sake.  Brown is proposing that both campaigns stop spending money on ads and donate their money to food banks for the next three weeks.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/10/16/campbell.brown.negative.ads/index.html

First off, she keeps mentioning that they are going to spend $30 M per week, not mentioning that Obama is outspending McCain 2, 3 or 4 to 1 because he broke his pledge to take public financing.  And for someone who has been so clearly and openly in the tank for Obama for so long now, is it not supposed to occur to us that she waited until her candidate was ahead in the polls before she proposes her idea?  Why didn’t she suggest this great idea back after the Republican Convention? There were still hungry people before the current economic crisis.  Did she just not care because those were poor people, as opposed to middle class people now facing trouble?  Imagine all the money we could have redirected (sort of like spreading the wealth around) if we’d started in September!

Again, not that I think it was meant as an actual suggestion, but from McCain’s perspective what’s the better way to help America? Is it to abandon his quest for the White House, buy soup and sandwiches for a few weeks, and allow an outright socialist to come into office and tax us into the next Great Depression? Or does it seem more prudent to fight like hell to become this nation’s leader, and apply tried and true American principles to clean up government, enable American innovation and grow our economy out of this mess which socialism (CRA, subprime mortgages, Fannie/Freddie) created in the first place.

Hmmm . . . let me think about that one for a minute.

The Obama Gas Law

October 14, 2008

How many people can you distance yourself from before you’re technically back in bed with the first one?

I think it was probably in some high school chemistry class that a teacher was describing the behavior of a gas.  The molecules would essentially “distance themselves” from one another by constantly bouncing back and forth until they reached an equilibrium spacing.  They were still bounding around, I suppose, but they’d optimized the distances between each molecule to equilibrate the pressure.

I started thinking of that today when Obama added another set of close associates to his list of people he barely knows.  Let’s recap (and feel free to comment if I’ve missed any).

  • There was Tony Rezko, convicted felon, who bought the property next to Obama’s on the same day and from the same seller as Obama bought his, but at remarkably a much higher price (Obama paid a surprisingly low price)
  • There was Jeremiah “G– D— America”, Obama’s “spiritual mentor”, whose sermons he listened to for 20 years, one sermon of whose Obama borrowed from to name his book. Until he decided that Wright’s racism and obvious hatred of America were despicable and he quit the church
  • There was William Ayers, the admitted domestic terrorist and flag stomper, who hired Obama to the only actual managerial job Obama’s ever held, and with whom Obama distributed between $50 and $160 MM dollars to Chicago schools to teach radical ideology to children. They sat on boards together, launched O’s political career together (in Ayers’ living room), but in reality O finds Ayers despicable.
  • And now, today, like clockwork, it’s ACORN.  Never mind that O represented them as a lawyer. Never mind that Obama helped train their staff. Never mind that O’s campaign paid $800,000 to ACORN and mischaracterized it in violation of election laws until he was caught and fixed it. Now that ACORN is being investigated for voter registration fraud (and possible vote fraud) in between 11 and 13 states, wouldn’t you know it, O never new the guys.

Would anyone else out there actually find it far more refreshing and sincere if Obama said something like the following:

People of America, Chicago is a rough and tumble place and I’m a politician who wants to do great things for this country. When I came to Chicago I saw that not all the people who held political power had the kinds of honorable background that, to be frank, someone like John McCain has accumulated over a lifetime of service.  In fact, some of them have said things or done things that I found downright outrageous. But you know what, the world is also filled with people who’ve done and said things I find outrageous. I could have avoided all of them, associated only with others who share my view of America as a shining city on a hill (hat tip: Reagan), but I’d never have gotten anywhere and would never have had the chance to make the lives of the people of Chicago, of Illinois, and of America better.  As President I’ll need to work with leaders around the world who I might detest. As a rising star in Chicago politics I had to work with them as well. I’ve proven throughout my career that I can work with them without becoming one of them. Send me to Washington and I’ll do the same thing to get done what needs to get done to make our world safer and more secure.

Period. End of story.

But, lacking the political conviction or moral compass to stand by his associations, he instead just bounces this way and that, denying this friendship, disavowing that political mentor, disclaiming his “spiritual mentor.”  All the while, just like that gas, bouncing this way and that, afraid at every turn about what other foolish relationships he’s forged.

Who knows, maybe now 21 days out from the election he’s finally reached equilibrium, distanced himself from everyone and he can stay there floating alone and run out the clock.  But as with a gas, when the pressure increases the motion increases and inevitably he’s going to bounce back into someone else. At least, let’s hope so.

Why I think Obama would be wrong for America

October 14, 2008

I had an interesting exchange recently with someone who wanted to understand why I was not as taken by the Obama juggernaut as a lot of people are. She feels, to her credit I think, that if we don’t understand one another’s viewpoints better then the whole democratic experiment here is headed somewhere we don’t want it to head . . .

I wonder whether it’s truly more rancorous than it was 20 years ago or whether we are just prone to forget the rancor.  I do recall when Reagan died that a lot of commentators pointed out how some of the Democrats who remembered him so kindly had excoriated him when he was President. If our next Administration does not foul up the seedlings of democracy that have been planted in the Middle East then I believe that in 20 or 30 years Bush will be credited with ending Islamic terrorism in the same way that Reagan is credited by most thinkers today as having brought about the end of Communism.

Which gets to one of the core reasons why I could never cast a ballot for Obama.  I believe very strongly in American exceptionalism. That is, I don’t just think America is a really neat place. I think it’s a beacon of hope to billions around the world and an incredibly successful experiment in what true freedom looks like. As such, we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to support freedom and democracy elsewhere.

I think plenty of Obama’s actions would lead one to conclude that he does not share this same view of America, from his political associations with William Ayers to the 20 years he spent in the pews of a “spiritual mentor” who, it’s got to be clear even to Obama supporters, hates America and hates white people (that is, Wright does, not that Obama does).  I conclude that Obama views America as a deeply flawed place, one that owes an apology to the rest of the world for all the wrongs we’ve done.  I not only believe this is a deeply wrongheaded view, but also one that bodes poorly for the longest-burning beacon of freedom in the world.

Israel, for example, is the one true democracy in the Middle East. As such, and because of the historical wrongs perpetrated against her people, America has been a stalwart friend to her. Iran, on the other hand, has vowed to actively seek Israel’s destruction. It’s leader, who’s called Israel a “stinking corpse”, is actively pursuing nuclear weapons. Barack Obama has vowed, on multiple occasions to meet with this dictator, as well as those of Syria, North Korea, etc.  To bestow upon them the honor and prestige of a face-to-face meeting with the President of the United States, without requiring any precondition in advance.

Obama has since perhaps recognized the foolishness of this plan, but rather than change his mind or acknowledge that he was wrong, both of which would reveal how inexperienced and naive he is, he just denies it.  I know a lot of his supporters might not have seen the original debate (I watched it live) so there’s a very good video compilation here which juxtaposes Obama calling McCain a liar for claiming Obama would meet with these dictators and Obama uttering exactly what McCain claims he said.  It’s 3 minutes of video and it’s really worth watching.

Here’s what Jesse Jackson was saying last week to the World Policy Forum in France:

The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end.

Jackson believes that, although “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.

“Obama is about change,” Jackson told me in a wide-ranging conversation. “And the change that Obama promises is not limited to what we do in America itself. It is a change of the way America looks at the world and its place in it.”

I’m not suggesting Jackson is an official surrogate for Obama, but he’s a supporter and a longtime associate. And at the very least one must ask if there’s anything Obama has said or done which would suggest that Jackson is misspeaking (for example, Obama’s not renounced or denied any of Jackson’s comments).

For some Americans, this view of America as needing to back away from a leadership position in the world and back away from our strong support of Israel will match their own views. If it does, then Obama is clearly the candidate for them. For me, they are as far from my views as any could be. They make me recoil and they spell the end of any serious effort to combat the hopelessness and mismanagement of corrupt dictatorships in the Middle East by supporting freedom and democracy. Undermining those regimes and replacing them with free nations and free people is the only clear path to our long-term security. It’s one Bush has pursued at the expense of all his political capital and considerable approval, and it’s why I support his Presidency and could not support Obama’s.

For the record, I understand why others feel differently.  After 8 years of someone who doesn’t speak very well and who seems to anger other countries, there’s a lot of people who are going to be drawn to Obama. And frankly, if the world were inexorably headed toward a collision with the Sun in 6 months and there was nothing anyone could do about it, I’d vote for Obama because he’d make everyone feel hopeful and the long-term strategic implications of his naivete would never have time to manifest themselves.  But I have 2 little girls who are going to inherit those implications and are, G-d willing, going to be around in 70 or 80 years still living with them.  Nothing I’ve seen from Obama makes me think he has the right judgement to make that a safe world for them, and enough of his actions and associations make me seriously doubt he shares my view of America’s place in the world.

Every four years . . .

October 7, 2008

Every four years my time spent reading, watching the news and trading emails with politically active friends across the aisle ramps up dramatically.  This year even more so than in 2004, the stakes feel incredibly high.  I thought I’d post a few thoughts here across the course of the last month of the Presidential campaign.  It really is a truly amazing country that every four years for well over two centuries has managed to pull back from whatever is the crisis of the day and, in a process filled sometimes with mud, occasionally with bile and yes, every once in awhile with a little bit of grace, selects its leader for the next little bit of time.

I certainly have my strong preference in this upcoming election, as do many, but I’m not one to state that so and so will ruin our country.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t believe that one of the candidates is woefully ill-equipped to handle the job. I certainly do think he is. But the job is bigger than either one of them. And if you think about it, at least once, and (depending on the order they came in) possibly several times in our nation’s history we’ve been led by “the worst President (up to that point) in history”. And yet, by virtue of the fact that we’re heading into elections again, we survived. And we will again.

Because more so than any other country on earth, the “leader of the free world” starts the job with his days already numbered.  FDR notwithstanding you get 1461 if you fail your performance review. 2922 if you pass. And then you’re out. You don’t linger on the scene like Putin’s post Presidential leadership in Russia. You build a library, you build some houses. If you’re really lucky you might end up the First Gentleman. But your time in the big chair is limited and the power, ultimately, rests with the people you serve.

So, I’ll do whatever I can in the month ahead to try and secure the leadership America deserves. But if we end up with someone else I believe we’ll make it through.

Hello world!

October 7, 2008

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