Sunday, December 14, 2008

REVIEW: The Day the Earth Stood Still

This poorly considered remake starring Keanu Reeves should be re-titled "How to Fuck up a Classic". Sorry, but it's true. How bad is it? Well, try this on for size: The reviews are so nearly universally bad that it scores lower than Attack of the Killer Tomatoes on

So, we can take it as a non-debatable "given" that TDTESS sucks. The bigger question is why? Well, I think it's pretty damned clear. Nobody involved in the remake had the slightest understanding about what made the original a classic. They didn't understand the plot; they didn't understand the message; they didn't understand the characterization. They completely failed to grasp the slightest concept that made the original memorable.

Let's start with the characters. In the original Michael Rennie's Klaatu was thoroughly human, despite the fact that he was from outer space. He was warm, engaging; he had a sense of humor. We could easily identify with him, and through his eyes we could see ourselves in a new light, with all of our inconsistencies, petty fears, and superstitions exposed. (There are other themes revolving around Klaatu's use of the name "Carpenter", his resurrection, and the saving of humanity, which give the classic enough levels of profound meaning to keep a college philosophy class busy for weeks.) Keanu Reeves' Klaatu could have been played as ably by a cigar-store Indian. He has no depth, no subtlety, no humanity. Reeve tried so hard to be otherworldly that he and his opinions of us lost relevence. Who cares what a frackin' robot thinks?

In the original, Mrs. Benson and her son are simply ordinary people that Klaatu encounters as he's studying humanity. Why is this important? Because Mrs. Benson is not some scientist who is so thoroughly non-representative that even an alien would discount her presense, much less her claims for humanity. She and Bobby are humanity... a mother and child: caring, sensitive, inquisitive people by whom Klaatu can measure our species. How fortunate we are that he meets thm first! What a shame that the remake re-casts her as an "important" -- and therefore irrelevant -- personage.

The original's Professor Barnhardt is not awed or cowed by the presense of Klaatu. He doesn't beg for humanity. He looks Klaatu in the face as a fellow being equal in spirit, if technologically backward. In every case, the new production screws up the characterization. Hell, if I were Klaatu and were faced with this new lot of whiners, I doubt I could find a reason to save them.

And that brings us to the message. In the original, Klaatu's people couldn't give a rat's fart whether or not humanity survives on our own world. But at the time of the original movie nuclear weaponry was new and we held high hopes for our eventual colonization of space. It is the thought that we might take our violence off of this planet that gives Klaatu's people pause. They are acting to forestall a danger to themselves. Klaatu himself is a good person, and is merely delivering the message in an effective way that will get our attention while not violating his own code of non-violence. He is thoroughly genuine. And this is a message that is still appropriate in a world dominated by terrorism and anti-terrorism, nascent nuclear states and rogue nuclear powers... a world which only recently announced a renewed push to establish a base on the Moon and a human foothold on Mars.

By contrast, the new Klaatu is a hypocritical bastard that would calmly commit genocide to save "the planet". News flash to all pseudo-intellectual Al Gore wannabes that made or (God forbid!) like this movie: if we all die off, "the planet" continues. If we screw up the biosphere as much as we possibly can, then life on this ball will continue. This planet has already experienced repeated global ecocide (notably, the Permian Extinction wiped out 90-95% of all life 251 million years ago). Guess what? Life continued. There is no impact upon Klaatu's people, not even a philosophical one, even if we completely and totally screw up. As such, Klaatu's whole mission is pointless in the remake. Why should Klaatu prefer our existing species of Blue Spruce to the plant species that would succeed them when we kill ourselves off? Why should he prefer ANY species to the only intelligent one on the planet? The only possible answers to this do not do the aliens credit.

Take this exchange from the remake: the Secretary of Defense asks Klaatu, "Why have you come to our planet?" Klaatu responds, "YOUR planet?"

Well, YES. Our planet, you bug-f*cker. Who do you think it belongs to? Us, or some gussied up space-monkey who shows up to demand that we live our lives in accordance with his alien design? As you can see, the new Klaatu's motives don't pass the sniff test. He's not authentic. He's not genuine. He's not believable in any fashion. He's not a savior, he's a usurper. (To the Liberals out there: he's George Bush in Iraq.) In the original, Klaatu warns us of the consequenses of our own actions: he's there to give us fair warning. In the remake he "saves" us from a trumped-up "danger" of his own making. That's not salvation! Should a gunman be credited with "saving your life" if he decides not to administer a killing shot after he's wounded you? It's a stupid concept at its very core, yet it's the same stupid concept that Reeves & Co. think script-worthy.

There's more. I could go on about the top-heavy special effects (the original had few because they weren't needed to drive the story). I could point out that dozens of giant spheres and gargantuan robots that noisily and sloppily destroy the world (hypocritically causing great ecological stress) aren't nearly as impressive as one saucer that can do the same job quietly and efficiently. And what's the point of Dr. Wu? I could point out more, but by now you get the point. In trying to be "different", largely due to the academic ineptitude of the filmakers, the remake turns all of the original's themes on their heads. The result isn't a new and fresh update of a classic; it's an anti-classic that deserves its 22 on the Tomatometer.

We see this all the time from Hollywood. For instance, we saw it with Tom Cruise's War of the Worlds. It scores 73% on the Tomatometer, whereas the 1955 version with Gene Barry scores a more respectable 85%, the same as the 1951 version of TDTESS. Neither film is terribly true to the book, but the 1955 version at least has the excuse that the special effects describe weren't really achievable in its day. Tom Cruise doesn't even have that excuse, and his movie scores 12% lower. If you want to see WOTW achieve a better rating? Set it in Victorian England. Follow the damned book. Give us some real Tripods, and sink the bloody Thunder Child with a Heat Ray. Leave the kids and the comic relief at home. Hollywood says it would never work. I say how could you possibly know? In the last hundred years you've never tried it. Sadly, WOTW has been done wrong so many times that even a genuine masterpiece of a film would seem cliched.

All is not lost for The Day the Earth Stood Still, though. The best possible use for this abyssmal, disastrous turkey of a movie is to use it as a launching pad for a kick-ass sequel. Here's a premise: The Day the Stars Trembled. For years, in fear of our lives, we've been bicycling to work and conscientiously composting our banana peels under the watchful eye of the the GORT on each corner. Publicly we're all smiles and say "Yes, massah!" to our alien robot overlords... I mean "protectors". In the meantime there's been a massive underground movement to study, adapt, and improve upon the alien technologies. Now it's been 200 years and it's time to take our planet back. In the course of exposition, all of the eco-plot flaws of the original are exposed, and our heroes, having subdued and captured one of the aliens during the planet-wide melee, puts it to him directly: "What are you REALLY afraid of?" To which the alien answers, "Of all the animal species in all the known Galaxy, human beings are the only ones who bare their fangs when they're happy."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Class Act

Today we awake with a new President-elect, Barack Obama.

Although I was and am a McCain supporter, I'm almost glad that he lost this election, if for no other reason than to show the Democrats how it's done.

Although there was arguably cause for bitterness, given many thousands of questionable voter registrations by groups such as ACORN, voter intimidation at the polls, etc. McCain chose not to whine and cry about his defeat as did the last two Democrat contenders. He did not drag it through the courts to the detriment of our country as did Gore and Kerry, but conceded with grace and dignity. He truly does put "Country First". John McCain truly is a class act.

Before I take McCain's advice and get behind the new President, I'd like to make some observations.

First, this election is proof that remnants of racism are alive and well in the United States of America. But the source is unexpected. There is no doubt whatsoever that Obama was elected with unprecedented support from the white community, and no one would argue that these constituents voted for Obama simply because he is black. At least we all hope that didn't happen, and that the issues took precedence. There is also no doubt whatsoever that he was elected by many black voters because he is black, just as some white voters voted against him because he is black. I think that's a shame for two reasons.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Obama is every bit as white as he is black. If there's anyone on Earth who can claim to transcend race -- to claim humanity over race -- it is he, and yet he chose to pass up that opportunity. That's a shame.

Also, As Dr. King said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Those people who voted because of color, either primarily or incidentally, are not yet ready for that day. And that's a shame. But it's not a terrible shame, because the novelty of this event provides some measure of excuse. The next time a candidate runs and mention is made of his race, we should say, "so what?" And we should look back on past candidates like Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes (a favorite of mine) with 20/20 hindsight and be able to admit that they did not lose "because they were black", but because they weren't very good candidates to start with. And we should look with some satisfaction that voting patterns were not significantly different with regard to this candidate: rural areas generally voted Republican and urbanites generally voted Democrat, just as they always have. That Obama's support cut across demographics brings us one step closer to that dream.
Second, I still have reservations about Obama's judgement. He is, if nothing else, a poor judge of character, and reckless in his associations, whether we're talking about William Ayers, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, or the misguided ACORN that has promoted fraud in the name of community activism. Nevertheless, these are reservations based on his associations of other people of questionable character, and it does not necessarily follow that Obama is of questionable character himself. The plain fact is that we know very little of Obama's character because we have never seen him when he is not campaigning. He has no track record, so at this time we have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Third, I have reservations about Obama's promises. His purported "tax cut" is nothing of the kind. It is money given to people who pay no income taxes at all. After the fact, his campaign explained that we're talking about a rebate of payroll taxes. Folks, what this means is that he is dipping into Social Security taxes, plain and simple. And we know that this is fiscally reckless, and if he'd been man enough to own up to it in the campaign. Though he calls it a "tax cut", the only way to make it work without bankrupting Social Security is to replenish the money out of the general fund, and that amounts to EXACTLY what the Republicans alleged... that it's a simple re-distribution of funds. It's pandering. It's a bribe.

But bribes work, in the short term. I saw an interview with an Obama supporter who claimed she was excited by an Obama presidency because, "I won't have to worry about my house payment or my car payment no more." And she's not alone: here's another one who says almost the same thing (this one was saved for posterity on YouTube). These people think they elected Santa Claus. I can imagine no one on this planet who will be more disillusioned and pissed off this time next year. What happens to the love when these voters are scorned?

The sort of promises that lead to these reactions are nothing new. It's called pandering. And it rarely works out in the long term. The last president that offered "a chicken in every pot" was Herbert Hoover. And we know how that worked out. But once again, Obama has no track record, so we are all destined to a future of surprises, whether our expectations are met or not.

In his victory speech, Obama tries to manage these expectations, saying that change may not happen in the first year or the first term. It's a far cry from a campaign in which the mere mention of his candidacy slowed the rising of the oceans and hastened the healing of the planet. Nevertheless, he will have to deliver something, or there will be no second term.

Finally, I have reservations about what will happen in terms of foreign policy. I strongly suspect that Obama will discover what Carter and Clinton did... that talk is cheap, and much of our foreign policy is dictated by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Does anyone really believe that George Bush invited or wanted the attacks of 9/11? That he wants to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan any longer than necessary? If so, they are fools. No president wishes such a thing upon himself or his country. We all agree that we should bring the war to a close... the only disagreement is on how that should be done, and how we should define "necessary." I don't believe that Barack Obama will intentionally screw up our foreign policy, nor do I believe he will be the unmitigated disaster that was Jimmy Carter. He will do his best, and partly this is because he now has to fill the rather large set of shoes he created for himself.

So those are my reservations. To overcome those reservations, and with no supermajority in Congress, Obama will have to "reach across the aisle", and that means that we need to reach back. We don't want failure anymore than he does. Especially given his near total lack of experience, and our experience with similarly naive presidents in the past, this is a case where we need to get behind the President and offer him our full support... and I don't mean "support" in the sense of cheerleading.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Will wonders never cease?

The pundits and talking heads pretty much agree that there was nothing "game changing" about the second Presidential debate. I'm not so sure about that.

If you've been reading this blog, you'll remember that when McCain suspended his campaign, I offered a solution to the banking crisis. What I said was that we should make every possible effort to renegotiate the loans rather than foreclose. These are bad risks, but they're not losses... not yet, anyway, unless we foreclose and take the loss. I mentioned then,
Of course, my plan would never make it to the table because it actually makes sense and it would actually work. Let's see what sort of "second best" solution they come up with.
Well, it looks like something very much like my plan has indeed been offered... by John McCain. It is, in fact, the only memorable thing about the second debate. While Obama was fumbling around with his head in the past trying to assign blame to anything but Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (where it properly belongs), McCain has moved past the "blame game" to suggest a solution: that the Federal government should buy these loans to renegotiate them, either to sell them off or hold them until paid.

This idea differs from mine in that the government would buy the loans outright rather than direct lenders to renegotiate them. I happen to like my version better because it places no burden on the taxpayers (who after all are not responsible for this mess); however, it's quite likely that my version will have some negative impact on the economy in the near-term due to the lessened ability of these lenders to make additional loans (for lack of capital). I happen to think that's OK; that other lenders will appear, and that companies you haven't heard of yet, but which are in better shape financially, will step up and fill the gap. Again, that's OK, because those companies currently on top really don't deserve to stay there. Adversity is the mother of opportunity. And if necessity is the mother of invention, opportunity is its father. I do not guess or hope that the financial void will be filled; I know it. It is as inevitable as the change of seasons.

The McCain plan would keep the top players where they are and would put an onus on the taxpayer. This would provide greater short-term stability in the market. And the onus is temporary, as the money will be recouped; probably most of it within ten years. I don't much like the idea of privatizing most of this industry, but it would actually work, and is indeed "second best" to the plan I would prefer. Renegotiating the loans and keeping those homeowners in their houses are the most important aspects of any workable solution. The rest of it is negotiable, and I think this is a good compromise.

I expect to hear a lot of complaints from Libertarians and the far Right as well as from Democrats who are pissed because they didn't think of it first.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Where Obama's money came from

You've probably received an email questioning where Barack Obama got the money for a 'round the world trip while he was in college, for his house, etc. The implication is that there is some sort of conspiracy among nefarious evil-doers to enrich Obama. This post is directed specifically at those people who buy into those implications.

There's no mystery here. Here's a link to the Snopes page listing both the contents of the email and Snopes' analysis:

The short answer is, he took out student loans. Then followed a long, drawn-out process of repaying student loans on professor's and lawyer's salary (not exactly a paltry sum), then huge income from best-selling book to finally pay off those loans.

The only one that's not fully explained so far is the trip in '81, but if you're staying with friends and relatives, even that one is do-able. Nothing nefarious is required.

Imagine that you're a candidate. You have a volunteer organization to raise and collect campaign donations, and these people are hired by yet more volunteers. The plain fact is that you don't even know the people who are working on your behalf. You accept funds on the Internet, by phone, by check.

How are you, personally, supposed to know that any of these donors are who they say they are? The best you can really do is return money if irregularities crop up.

I think it highly unlikely that, even if he knew all these illegal donors personally, Obama would have solicited campaign donations from them. First of all, at this point he doesn't need the money: he has enough donations from legitimate Democrat donors. Second, this sort of connection harms his campaign more than the money helps. If he were a real evil genius he'd have told these people to shut up and lie low. The "fault" of these donations lies with the donors, not the candidate. If you make it the candidate's fault, then you can't defend McCain when similar things happen without his knowledge.

What IS disturbing Obama's relationship with William Ayers, known unrepentant terrorist. Obama can't convincingly pretend that he didn't know about this guy. Obama was a professor. He was a lawyer; well educated, knowledgable and highly interested in political affairs. And yet he's perfectly willing (despite all his claims to exerience) to imply that he was naive and stupid enough to sit in Ayers' kitchen and plan his political career. So depending on whether you choose to believe Obama's story, either his judgment is completely suspect, he's a conspirator, or he actually IS naive and ignorant. Any of these conclusions validates the Republicans' opinion of him. None of these conclusions recommends him for President.
UPDATE (2008-10-09): As it turns out, the link between Obama and Ayers is much stronger than initially thought. Read about it in American Thinker. Better yet, read about it in the Wall Street Journal. Obama's campaign wants to distance themselves from Ayers, stating that "any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost 40 years ago is ridiculous." The problem for Obama is, nobody's trying to do that. They're examining the public record and connecting him with events of which he himself was an active participant. And these events are troubling: personally, I would characterize it as no less than an attempt to subvert the educational system and indoctrinate children. As Stanley Kurtz rightly observes, that is a story "even if Ayers had never planted a single bomb 40 years ago."
What's also disturbing is the quality of supporter that Obama attracts. It's understandable that people in the Middle East support him. The guy's name is Arabic, after all, and Libya's Qadafi thinks he's a "good Muslim" on that basis alone. But he's gathering support from terrorists, hostile governments, and a wide lunatic fringe. There's a reason for that. I think it's pretty clear that they know he's naive; they can see with their own eyes from the Ayers connection that he's sympathetic to terrorists (and there's no denying that he's been sympathetic to at least one); and they think he's a pushover. Hostile governments have no reason whatsoever to support a US candidate unless they are convinced in their minds and hearts he is bad for this country. I happen to agree with them... a Barack Obama presidency would be a disaster, and a gift to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

But these are largely questions about other peoples' support of Obama, which he can't fully control. Beyond these connections, what disturbs me the most is the things that he can directly control. The fact is that for all his talk of "change", Obama has few if any votes or actions that support his talk. In the debate and in all his stump speeches he looks back for blame for the economic situation and Iraq (consistently mis-assigning blame). For months he's been running against George Bush, NOT John McCain. He picked a left-wing career Capitol insider as his running mate. He hasn't even made it to the PRESENT, much less looked to the future. His campaign slogans are quite simply untrue. They're not supported at all by his actions.

By contrast McCain looks to solutions. He has been pushing his ideas for years, and only now have the times caught up with him. He chose a running mate with an eye to the future, and he picked her from far outside the Capitol Beltway. He walks his talk.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

McCain Suspends Campaign; Puts Country First.

John McCain has announced that he's suspending his campaign (including his television ads) to go back to Washington and work on the financial bailout. He had already spoken with Senator Obama and invited him to join McCain.

I agree. We have three senators campaigning who should be rolling up their sleeves and doing their day jobs. McCain's statement indicates that the bailout will not pass "in its present form." I'm sure it won't.

I have a suggestion or two... first of all, I like the idea that while in the government's "care" that no CEO should make more than the highest-paid government worker. However, this makes for some difficulty in finding talent, so I'd suggest that these top execs should be able to reap substantial bonuses upon successfully repaying the government.

Keep in mind, too, that this "$700 billion" is not necessarily $700 billion. It's security against risky loans. Some or most of it may never be used. So I would include in the legislation some provisions that make it very difficult for lenders to foreclose, and to encourage lenders to renegotiate the loans. Here's why...

Many of these loans were adjustable rate mortgages that were (barely) affordable at the deeply cut introductory rates. Of course, they're risky because the loan should never have been given unless the borrower could pay it back at the higher rate. So re-lower the rate. Tank their credit rating for all I care, but if they're currently in a mortgage, do everything possible to keep them in the house and keep them making payments... any payments. 90% of a loaf is better than none, and this scheme would not torch the economy.

What we need is a completely new way of thinking about how we handle risk. Tossing people out in the streets is not an option when there is no mortgage insurance to pick up the loss. At the moment there isn't, because the risks were off-loaded to companies that didn't set aside enough capital to follow through with their obligations. Rather than you thinking, "we taxpayers can't afford to let BankX fail," BankX needs to be thinking that they can't afford to foreclose on you. In the meantime, they would be heavily discouraged from making more risky loans. This approach would maintain home ownership, rescue the economy, and be generally superior than a simple bailout.

Of course, my plan would never make it to the table because it actually makes sense and it would actually work. Let's see what sort of "second best" solution they come up with.

Nearly an hour after McCain's announcement we're still waiting for Obama's response. And the University of Mississippi still thinks the debates are going ahead on schedule. Wishful thinkers. As it stands, Obama is in a political "no-win" scenario. Either he goes to Washington and follows McCain's unquestioned leadership, or he doesn't go, in which case he's all talk and no action. Either way it's a bold, magnificent move on McCain's part. It's magnificent from a political perspective, and it's even more magnificent given that "political" is exactly what this move is not intended to be... it's just something that needs to be done, and once again John McCain is unhesitatingly willing to walk the talk.

Update: Obama found a podium an hour and a half later. Obama states that he initiated the call with a mind toward issuing a joint statement, laying out the broad principles of an acceptable agreement. (BTW, I agree that the principles he lists are reasonable. They're also readily addressed by my own proposal.)

When asked about his plans, Obama said, "What I'm planning to do right now is to debate on Friday. That's what I'm preparing to do." When pushed for a statement regarding action he would take to do something about the bailout, he said, "I've done what I set out to do." That is, he issued a statement.

Alrightey, then. All talk and no action it is, then.

In the lull between the two candidates' statements, one thing really stood out. On MSNBC there was an interview with Sen. Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas. She thinks that the debates should go forward so that people can see how their future leader would deal with problems. I think that's exactly what we're seeing: John McCain will roll up his sleeves and do something about the problems; Obama will just talk about them.

If what Senator Lincoln wants to get out of this debate is an understanding of leadership styles, then the debates are unnecessary, as John McCain has already won.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hillary Clinton needs a dictionary

The Associated Press reports, "Clinton Cancels Rally Appearance After Learning Palin Invited". Well, there's no surprise there. What is a surprise is the revelation in this story that Hillary Clinton doesn't know what the word "partisan" means. From the story:
“Her attendance was news to us, and this was never billed to us as a partisan political event,” said Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines. “Sen. Clinton will therefore not be attending.”
Obviously this is not a partisan political event. That's the reason that representatives of both parties were asked to attend. It's a rally, sponsored by American Jewish voters, against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both parties ostensibly agree on this issue, but in the case of Hillary Clinton it's turned out to be nothing more than lip service, as she has pointedly chosen not to join this protest after having first agreed. Most pundits suggest that Hillary Clinton is insulting Governor Palin. She is not. Hillary Clinton is spitting in the eyes of each and every Jewish voter in America.

Maybe she's just clueless. Maybe she just doesn't play well with others. Or you can put on your tinfoil hat and suppose that this is a clever and subtle way of subverting Obama's chances by driving tens of thousands of Jewish voters to the Republican party. After all, an Obama presidency would mean that Hillary will never have a shot at the White House; but if he loses she can try again in four years.

It doesn't matter. For Jewish voters, these kind of one-sided party games mean exactly this: it is the Republicans who give a damn about issues concerning Jews and Israel. It is the Republicans that understand when it is time to set aside partisan politics and join a common cause. It is the Republicans who have an open policy of working together, even with people who who disagree on other substantive issues. It is the Republicans who are willing to reach across the aisle to work on common goals.

Democrat politicians support none of that, and Hillary just proved it.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

And a star is born!

Sarah Palin didn't knock it out of the park tonight... she launched it into orbit.

Tonight she showed us a beautiful, intelligent, decisive leader who is a better orator than Barack Obama. Whereas Obama has stilted rhetoric, Palin has sincerity, humor, a relaxed conversational style, and substance. With a smile and a quip she tore the Democratic ticket apart. Here's the speech.

This excellent picture of a pit bull with lipstick is from

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thanks for the advice, Alan

Alan Colmes provides provided us with a milk-through-the-nose moment this evening when he said, "If McCain wanted to be a maverick then he should have picked somebody like Joe Lieberman."

Get that? To be a maverick, McCain should make the choices that the Liberals expect him to make. The left-wing media's outrage about McCain's choice of Sarah Palin boils down to "why didn't you choose who I wanted you to choose?" And the reason for this is simple: they are very, very scared. They would not be making up sexist FUD about about Palin if they weren't. They wouldn't be dredging up complete irrelevancies as her husband's 22-year old DUI charge. That's right boys and girls... over two decades ago the Vice Presidential candidate's spouse had too much to drink.

Hmmm... years ago what was Barack Obama doing? Oh, yeah... according to his memoirs, he was doing drugs. Y'know, like marijuana and cocaine.

The Democrats do NOT want to put the same scrutiny on their own candidates as they'd like to put on others, and that's just a fact. But they can't afford not to try, simply because Palin is so strong a choice. So you're going to see increasingly vicious attacks against her while Obama sits back with clean hands and decries it. And you'll see more "helpful advice" like Alan Colmes'.

Folks, McCain doesn't need anybody to appeal to moderates... he does that all by his little lonely. In case you've forgotten, McCain is the guy who has differed with his party on several substantive issues of conscience. "Someone like Joe Lieberman" just doesn't add anything to the ticket that McCain doesn't already bring. Remember that when you hear the "helpful" advice spouted by people who have a vested interest in seeing you fail. Fortunately, McCain doesn't take advice from Alan Colmes, and is free to make the right choice instead. And this choice has the far left quaking in their boots.

Live in the present, Obama

This from Reuters. Barack Obama, on his qualifications vs. Governor Palin's:
"My understanding is that Gov. Palin's town, Wasilla, has I think 50 employees. We've got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million dollars a year -- we have a budget of about three times that just for the month," Obama had said.
Y'know for somebody who's supposed to be a pretty smart guy, Barack Obama can't keep his facts straight. Sarah Palin is the governor of Alaska, not the mayor of the town of Wasilla.

She used to be mayor. She has about as much experience at being governor as Obama has at being a Senator. The big difference is this: as a Senator, Obama has no executive experience; Palin does. She is, quite frankly, more qualified to be the Chief Executive than Obama. Also, she has a solid, proven record of not just campaigning for change, but actually delivering it, even when that means going against her own party incumbents.

Thanks to Obama for once again highlighting the fact that he himself is less qualified than John McCain's running mate, and horribly underqualified compared to McCain himself. It is after all, the maverick reformer John McCain that Obama must beat. Perhaps if he's reminded enough Obama will remember that. I suggest he tape a note to his bathroom mirror... because whatever he's doing now just isn't working.

And thanks to Obama for highlighting the difference between his own empty promises and the actual reforms instituted by Palin in her home state and by McCain in Congress.

A couple of posts ago I noted that the masks are off, and the Democrats were showing their true faces. Those faces are uglier than I thought, and more sexist. Their comments run the gamut of nasty conspiracies, ranging from "Trig's not really her child" to "She's a bad mother for seeking office". Most boil down to thinking she has to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen to be a good conservative... and these idiots think they are feminists.

Let's straighten out some common misconceptions; being a conservative doesn't mean that your children are never going to be in trouble. Conservative parents face the same issues as Liberals: the big difference is how they respond to them and how their children respond. Sarah Palin's daughter is 17 and pregnant. She's also keeping the child and getting married. That's walking the walk, and shame on the hypocritical Democrat or Republican that criticize her for it. My own mother wes 16 when she got married. So?

Also, being conservative doesn't mean that the "little woman" stays home. The Palin children have a mother AND a father. It takes both of those - not a village - to raise children. Without a mom and dad you're in trouble no matter how many people try to run your life... but with two parents you can grow up happy and strong without the village. And it doesnt' matter which parent works. When any Democrat casts doubts about whether Palin can be VP and a mother I want you to look him in the eye and ask exactly why it's OK for John-John and Caroline, or Amy, or Chelsea to have had a father who was President, but it's not OK for Trig to have a mother who's the VP? Ask what possible reason could they have for such a sexist, pig-headed and blatantly wrong point of view?

I've heard them disguise the argument this way: "Many conservatives feel...". Bullshit. I'm conservative, and so are most of the people I know, and I know of not one who subscribes to that anachronistic way of thinking. Not. A. Single. One. The Democrats who are using that argument are simply using it as a smokescreen. They don't really know any conservatives that feel that way; but saying they do give them license (in their minds) to say the most outrageous lies and blame it on those nameless, faceless (and bodiless) "conservatives." They should be ashamed of themselves, and should be called out.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What's your candidate IQ?

The Chicago Tribune has a couple of quizzes online to test your candidate "IQ". I thought it would be fun to put the questions side-by-side to see how the media spin their coverage of the separate candidates.

(Hey, I post my opinions... but if the major media pretend to be neutral we should hold their feet to the fire. Speaking of spin... I picked neither the smug, smarmy picture of Obama, nor the hunched up picture of McCain... the Trib did that.)

It might be my imagination, but are the Obama questions a little light on substance? I'm not sure whether this is because of some difference in the spin or because there's just not enough Obama experience to fill out 20 questions. It's nice to know what kind of car Obama drove in college while at the same time discussing the number of issues on which McCain split from the Republican establishment (the answer to that one is "All of the above", btw... as a maverick and effective agent of change he tends to do that).

Click on the text in each column header to take the corresponding quiz. (Scroll waaayyy down for this if you don't see it... Blogger is acting strange today.)

McCain Quiz

Obama Quiz

1What historic event did John McCain's grandfather witness firsthand? Obama's camp touts his mom as a Kansas native. Where did she spend her teen years?
2Where was John McCain born? In his third-grade essay, what did Obama say he wanted to become?
3Where did McCain graduate in his class at the Naval Academy? Obama spent three years of his childhood at what kind of school in Indonesia?
4What was the nickname of the North Vietnamese prison where McCain was held? An Indonesian word Obama used when teasing friends there meant what?
5What is McCain's religion? According to a friend at Punahou High School, what did he and Obama often discuss?
6Before his election to Congress, what job did McCain hold? What was Obama's most common choice of footwear during his freshman year at Occidental College?
7McCain defied President Reagan by refusing to back what? What personal vice has Obama battled since at least college?
8On what other issues had McCain broken with the Republican establishment? What kind of car did Obama buy to drive from Chicago to Harvard Law School?
9What tax plan has McCain proposed in the current presidential race? Whom did Obama randomly meet on a South Side street corner as a young
community organizer -- an encounter that would later help propel his
political career?
10How did McCain, a victim of torture, vote on a bill to require the CIA abide by torture bans outlined in the Army Field Manual? In July 1995, who became one of Obama's first political contributors?
11What is McCain's position on abortion?
What did Obama do in that first run for political office?
12How has McCain traveled during his 2008 campaign? Obama nearly came to blows with West Side Democrat Ricky Hendon over what?
13McCain has jokingly described himself as older than: How long after taking office did it take Obama to give his first major
speech on the Iraq war as a U.S. Senator?
14What is the name of McCain's current campaign bus? Just weeks after his arrival in the U.S. Senate, Obama met with his
advisers to map his political strategy, which some dubbed the "2010-2012-2016" plan. Its broad outline:
15How did McCain help Donald Diamond, a wealthy Arizona real estate developer, close friend and political donor? When did Obama first introduce legislation setting a timetable for
withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq?
16What is NOT one of McCain's health-care proposals? As a freshman U.S. senator, Obama joined veteran Sen. Richard Lugar
(R-Ind.) on a fact-finding tour through the former Soviet Union to
study what?
17What is NOT part of McCain's economic plan? Obama told the editorial board he made a "boneheaded" move by doing what?
18What is NOT one of John McCain's positions on Second Amendment rights? What is not part of Obama's plan to strengthen civil rights?
19In 2001, McCain allies set up a think tank, the Reform Institute, to promote transparency in government. What has the institute done since then?What is not part of Obama's plan for "restoring fiscal discipline"?
20Before he quit in 1980, how many cigarettes per day did John McCain smoke? What is not part of Obama's plan for immigration?

...aaand the masks come off!

Well, the early reactions to McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate are in, and already we see the micron-thin veneer of civility peel away from the Democrat's faces.

As if we didn't know it from their failure to even consider Hillary Clinton for the #2 spot, we know it now... these are not the people that brought you Geraldine Ferraro. No, the current "champions of women's rights" are sexist pigs. Let's look at the criticisms so far:
  1. "If she were a man with these qualifications she'd never be considered for this position." This is worth raucous laughter. The Democrat's own pick for the NUMBER ONE slot has far fewer qualifications! Hypocrisy at its most blatant.
  2. This is "tokenism". If she's a token woman, Obama's a token black... and I'll jump down anybody's throat who makes that allegation, too. They really don't want to go there. The fact is she is exactly what McCain and the Republican party need.
  3. "She's only on the ticket because Hillary isn't". This is an insult to Palin's qualifications. She is the only person with experience as a chief executive on either ticket. If Hillary were on the ticket, Palin would still be the only candidate with such experience. Hillary's second best only because she watched the job being done. If the Democrats find it such a disadvantage that Hillary isn't on their ticket, then it was a damned stupid move not to offer her the VP position. So if you accept their argument here, then Obama doesn't even have enough sense to have chosen the right running mate. So much for "hitting it out of the park".
  4. "This is a 'Dan Quayle' choice." This is a deliberate insult to Palin's intelligence. They don't want to go there, either. This is one smart woman. Besides, the argument boomerangs immediately: they must have forgotten that Quayle actually got the job.
  5. "Will she have time for her children?" This is an insult, period... to everyone. No one asked if Joe Biden was qualified for his office when his wife died. So a job is OK for him, but not her? Even when she has a spouse to share the load and Biden didn't? Oh, yeah... the masks are really off. I'm personally offended by it, having been a single parent and a current sole wage earner and have had to do that balancing act under the worst possible conditions. If you truly buy this argument - if you think Palin can't balance her career and family life - then it says nothing about her, and everything about your own shortcomings. Not everyone's a pathetic wimp, so stop measuring them with your yardstick.
  6. Reuters published a photo of Palin's shoes, for crying out loud. I'd show you a picture, but Reuters don't know much about Fair Use. Google.
If you didn't know who Obama was before, you're starting to know now.

Just as I predicted last night, the Obama campaign are focusing on Palin's qualifications for President, inviting the comparisons with Obama. They've forgotten already that it is McCain at the top of the ticket. They're running against G.W. Bush, and against Palin. They're ignoring the many years that McCain has demonstrated his willingness to put his country's needs above his party's. This has rightly has earned him the label "maverick". This cannot be erased by simply pretending it doesn't exist, as we will see in the upcoming Republican convention. Obama's strategy is to put his fingers in his ears and sing "La la la!". Not really a mature way to run a campaign.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thoughts on the conventions and VP pics.

Like 38 million other people, I spent at least some time watching the Democratic National Convention.

Of course, nothing in the convention dispelled the notion of Obama as The One, and he was appropriately appointed Savior of the Universe in his own Greek Temple. This wasn't lost even on the New York Post (hardly a conservative think tank):

Ouch! And those are the folks that are on his side! Obama gave an adequate speech. Not great, adequate. He has a problem with rhetoric, and with facts. On the rhetoric side, he claims of McCain that "he wouldn't even follow [bin Laden] to the cave where he lives." Nobody believes a word of it. McCain is a proven military hero. Obama spent his youth pointedly avoiding the kind of military experience and personal sacrifice for which John McCain volunteered. Obama has EXACTLY ZERO credibility of any kind on this subject. End of story. On the subject of energy independence, Obama promises total independence from Mid-East oil within ten years. This smacks of complete ignorance. It's easy to promise a chicken in every pot. It's another thing to provide it. Obama has no details at all... he just knows what you'd like to hear, and has no objection to saying it regardless of his actual ability to deliver.

The previous night, Bill Clinton gave a rousing speech. I mean that sincerely... I love listening to Bill give a speech. It's always clear, concise, and superlatively delivered. Almost everything he said was bullshit, of course, but it was supremely articulate bullshit. Here are some examples:

Bill focused closely on economic issues, ignoring entirely the effect on the economy of prosecuting the war on terror. He doesn't think that's a valid issue at all, which is no change from his stance during his own presidency. Of course, it was his presidency that saw the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombing of the USS Cole, the disastrous involvement in Somalia and more; all of which weakened the reputation of the United States and set the stage for the attacks of September 11th, 2001. Those attacks were in part, his fault, and his criticisms of Bush's foreign policy have little, if any, validity.

Likewise, regarding the war, Bill Clinton asserts that America is "weakened by too much unilateralism". Yet it has been the courage to do the right thing without waiting for the consensus of the uninvolved and uninterested third parties that has prevented further attacks for the last 7 years; something Bill can't say about any of his own attempts at keeping America safe. His was a presidency where terrorists attacked us again and again and again with impunity. This was while his administration murdered American citizens on Ruby Ridge and in the Waco Massacre. Not the guy to deliver a balanced perspective on security matters. At all.

Bill Clinton further claims that if Obama "cannot convert adversaries into partners, he will stand up to them." The problem with that claim is that Obama cannot discern whether an adversary can be converted to a partner. Indeed, Obama asserts that Iran is "a tiny country" that doesn't pose a threat regardless of their ambitions to nuclear arms. On the other hand, McCain has made the right calls in foreign affairs over and over again. Obama fought against the military surge in Iraq that was urged by McCain, but that surge was incontrovertibly successful, and now Obama would like to take credit for that success (brazenly, but unsuccessfully). McCain warned of the dangers of Russian aggression that would lead to the situation we're currently seeing in Georgia, though this wasn't even on Obama's radar. Unlike McCain, Obama has not the experience or perceptiveness to properly interpret world events.

Bill Clinton described Obama's choice of Joe Biden as a running mate as "hit[ting] it out of the park." Hyperbole at best. Look... Obama had exactly one primary criteria for his running mate; he needed somebody more experienced than himself, who would make voters feel better about electing a noob to the White House. Hardly a difficult task... anybody he could choose would have more experience. And in choosing Biden, Obama's got somebody more experienced than himself; so what's Obama doing at the top of the ticket? The Democrats would have done much better to nominate Hillary for President and Obama for VP so that he could gain the experience necessary for a follow-on run 4 or 8 years from now. Not doing so was a disastrous blunder. I thought it hilarious to hear Obama describe his criteria for a running mate include the need for someone who wouldn't let his ego get in the way. If that's so, then he failed miserably with Biden.

John McCain had a more difficult task in choosing a VP. There's nobody he could choose with more experience, nor did he need to. He needed somebody younger (not difficult), vibrant, who appeals to women and young voters alike. Somebody who would cement the votes of the conservative Right, who were very shaky about supporting McCain due to his maverick tendencies. Someone who was strong-willed, and who stood a good chance of carrying his policies forward beyond his own Presidency, as all programs of real change and worth need time for success. Considering the broadly separated groups he had to appeal to with one choice, it is McCain, and most certainly not Obama, who hit it out of the park.

Palin squarely hits every criteria. As a former mayor and current governor, she's got more executive experience than Obama. Her ethical reforms are unanimously considered to be successful. As a member of the NRA and pro-lifer she appeals to the Right. And she's gracious: tonight on FoxNews Geraldine Ferraro offered her excitement at Palin's candidacy; and noted that Palin's acknowledgement of Ferraro's candidacy was the first time in 24 years that anyone had ever thanked her for her own attempt at cracking the "glass ceiling".

I think that she's such a good choice that Obama's campaign stands a serious risk of forgetting who the Presidential candidates are. It will take every ounce of restraint for them to refrain from attacking Palin's inexperience. They will most likely forget that it's OK for a VP to grow in office; that this should be the case. Should they make this mistake and start comparing Palin to Obama, they will merely highlight Obama's own inexperience; and if they compare Palin to Biden using the argument that the VP is a step away from the Presidency, they once again open the question of why their Presidential nominee - Barack Obama - is the least qualified person on either ticket.

In any event, Sarah Palin was an inspired choice. Witness this: since the announcement of Palin as a running mate, the news coverage on every channel, everywhere, has been all Palin, Palin, Palin. She's completely stolen the show from Obama. One day after Obama's acceptance speech, on what should be a day of the Democratic nominee basking in the glory, the big question is "Obama Who?"

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Large Hadron Rap

Subatomic particle physicists rapping about the large hadron collider in Switzerland to explain what it does. Fortunately "Stephen Hawking" doesn't do the whole rap.

If you really liked that, you're probably this guy.

Please. Somebody shoot me. My ears are bleeding.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

¿Y Dónde Quedó América Latina, Obama?

It's perhaps unfortunate that negative ads work, but I don't really think so, so long as you're bringing legitimate questions and not throwing muck. For that matter, I don't really think it's "negative" to call the other candidate's position into question. The one who has to fear from that is the man with a questionable position.

For example, here is the latest "negative" McCain ad:

Here is my probably very poor translation of the caption panels, which appear periodically as Obama runs through a list of European, Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries in a speech in Berlin on July 24, 2008:
  1. The World According to Barack Obama
  2. But entire nations were left out! (forgotten)
  3. And where is Latin America?
  4. And the Latinos?
  5. Are we to be forgotten?
Let us not forget that Latinos are a huge minority in the US. They are a larger minority than Blacks. Is it "negative" campaigning to bring their concerns to light? Or should we just forget them?

McCain hasn't forgotten them.

New song: Here in Union

There's a "new" song on my music page, Here in Union.

Actually, it was written in 2002, but it's posted now. Enjoy.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The superior candidate

I've spent several posts detailing what is wrong with Barack Obama as a candidate. But a recent comment from an anonymous poster has made me realize that I should spend some time showing why you should vote for McCain and contrast the two candidates. After all, it's possible to have problems and still be the lesser of two evils. That's not the case here. These statements are in the comments, but I'm bringing them front and center here because they're worth saying and expanding.

"Anonymous" writes,
I'm an Obama supporter. I think that he did mean race. I don't understand why he said that.

He's still the best candidate, for one simple reason. (There's more than one, of course, but this is the key one for me): Taxes. He doesn't believe that we should cut taxes on the rich even more; instead, he says we should raise them. Know who agrees? Warren Buffett.
Unless you're solely concerned with what's coming out of your own pocket, political discussion of taxes is really a discussion of the economy. The candidate proffers his tax plan as a way to "fix" whatever is perceived to be wrong with the economy. So look at that: Clinton raised taxes; Bush cut taxes. Both inherited a poor economy and presided over periods of prosperity that declined late in their second terms. If you look at it historically, the President has very little control over the economy, though he does get the credit or blame for its performance.

You don't have to believe me. Here are some references, deliberately mixing liberal and conservative references: Math Mistakes. Steve Kanga's Liberal FAQ has a fine write-up. The Seattle Times. Daniel Gross in Slate. Seeking Alpha. US News & World Report. Or Google all you want. The consensus is clear. That "one reason" of Anonymous' is trivial indeed. You might as well elect a President based on his professed ability to control the weather.

However, the President has enormous influence over foreign relations and the country's security. I feel that the matter of taxes (as inconsequential as they ultimately are in the larger picture) does not overbalance the damage that Obama's character flaws can cause the country. As I've made clear in previous posts, I believe Obama's judgement leaves much to be desired. Clearly his hubris gets in the way of his message.

When I first heard Obama speak I felt that I would not mind if he became President, even though I support the other party. However, that first speech was the sum total of what we knew about the man. But in retrospect, what I was impressed with was a well-crafted and well-delivered speech, Not necessarily the man delivering it. As for the man himself... the more he speaks, the more he leaks... information about himself and the kind of man he is, and believes himself to be. And the picture is becoming less and less flattering with each revelation. His problems stem not from what his opponents say about him, but from the statements coming from his own mouth. And those are the kinds of problems that don't go away.

On the other hand, McCain's character was tested in a Vietnamese concentration camp. When offered early release, he declined because the Vietnamese would not first release the prisoners that were taken before him. He chose his own continued imprisonment over that of his comrades. He endured torture and two years of solitary confinement. The word "hero" is not applied to John McCain lightly; he was and is a genuine American hero.

This is important because we are now in a period of war. War is not an intellectual exercise for McCain: he understands it from the perspective of one who lived the very worst it... of one who would crave death over continued torture. He has made personal sacrifices and hard choices that the Barack Obama has never allowed himself to face. He knows personally what the decisions of the Commander-in-Chief mean to the troops on the ground. And he knows the realities of the situation. Contrary to the fluffy fictions of the left, he understands that a continued presence does not mean a prolonged war. Folks, we still maintain a presence in Japan and Germany, but no one on Earth is stupid enough to suggest that World War II is still ongoing. So why are so many Democrats stupid enough to make that argument regarding a continued presence in Iraq?

Representing the state of Arizona, McCain has the superior perspective on the issue of illegal immigration. He literally does, as he once stated, "know more than anyone in the room" about the subject. Unsurprisingly, his common-sense approach to border security will work.

In his energy policy, McCain knows what everyone in the energy industry knows... that there is a significant speculative component to oil prices. And that can be addressed by taking concrete, realistic steps toward energy independence. And that can only be achieved by including increased domestic oil production in the mix. This is in addition to electric and flex-fuel cars, reforming the transportation infrastructure, developing alternative sources of energy, increasing energy efficiency, and building clean and safe nuclear plants. In contrast, Obama naively believes that energy independence can be achieved without significantly expanding domestic production, including offshore drilling. Sadly, this country is not powered on dreams and wishes. We cannot pretend that Obama has a comprehensive energy policy when he deliberately excludes the most effective options from it.

I could continue point-by-point, but it's not necessary. You can read McCain's policies and see that they are, each of them, realistic and achievable. (Obama, on the other hand, measures the beginning of the reversal of global warming from the date of his own nomination. And yes. I know it was rhetoric. But such blatantly silly rhetoric begs exposition. A man who wants to discuss "the issues" would do well to start doing so.)

I will make special mention of one aspect of McCain's economic policy: Taxes (as it's quite important to "Anonymous"). Since, as we've seen, it's well-established that the President has only limited impact on the economic cycle, it's illogical to self-impose taxes that will make no significant difference to the economy or to the government budget. If logic has any role in your decision-making, then vote for the candidate that will keep your taxes low. That would be John McCain. And to the extent that the President does influence the economy, he does so by encouraging the conditions for employment. Poor people do not employ others. Neither do rich people, if the money that would have been used to pay them has been taxed away.

McCain is not an ideologue. His positions do not always align with that of the Republican Right. Often enough that Rush Limbaugh is on the record opposing him, I think unreasonably. Limbaugh's is the single most influential endorsement on the Right, and McCain will not put up a false front to gain it. It is important for people in the Center and on the Left to know: McCain can, has, and will work to the benefit of the country, not a Party. It also means that you're doing yourself a disservice if you oppose him simply because he's a Republican. If you want to know where he stands, look at his voting record, read his policies. They're not hidden. They're not secret.

There is a strong possibility that Obama will learn from this experience and become a better candidate in the future. But as for the present contest, I would emphatically stress that he is not the best candidate. John McCain's inarguable strength of character, his lifetime of public service, 25 years of legislative experience, his realistic and commonsense policies, and his proven track record of holding his convictions above his party affiliation make him the superior candidate for President.

He ventured forth to bring light to the world

Normally I'm not overtly political in this blog, but you may have noticed I'm making special dispensation for Obama. He's making it quite easy.

Gerard Baker has hit a home run with his satire, "He ventured forth to bring light to the world." Here it is, read by Baker himself:

Direct quotes from Obama:
  • "A light will shine down... from somewhere. It will... it will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany. And you will say to yourself, 'I have to vote for Barack!'"
  • "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal!"
  • "I have become a symbol of America returning to our best traditions."
  • "We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
  • "What Washington needs is adult supervision."
  • "I honor -- we honor -- the service of John McCain, and I respect his many accomplishments, even if he chooses to deny mine." (Obama is a first-term senator. McCain has been in Congress as a Representative and Senator since 1983... 25 years of accomplishment)
  • And in the "Actions speak louder than words" category, he stood behind a mock presidential seal for a press conference on June 20th. He's not president. He dispensed with it when he was ridiculed.
Don't believe it? Look:

Well, a little arrogance is to be expected when you're a Super-Genius. Witness the following:
  • "I had learned not to care. I blew a few smoke rings, remembering those years. Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though. ..." (Perhaps what he needed was adult supervision)
  • "In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died -- an entire town destroyed." (12 people died, not 10,000. Oh well, it's the thought that counts)
  • "I've now been in 57 states -- I think one left to go." (video) (Wile E. Coyote... Sooooper genius! There are 50 states)
  • "On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes -- and I see many of them in the audience here today -- our sense of patriotism is particularly strong." (Praise be! He's raised the fallen heroes to come stand before him!)
  • May 13th, 2008, Obama explained a lack of Arabic translators in Afghanistan as a mis-allocation of resources: “We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then it’s harder for us to use them in Afghanistan.” (Afghanis don't speak Arabic)
  • Here are some more.
Listing the gaffes is fun, but it doesn't mean much. Anybody can make a slip of the tongue, and if you're speaking day after long day in a campaign, you're going to misspeak (as with the "57 states" quote. He obviously was thinking 50 states, then changed in mid-sentence because the actual number was 47. "One to go" would have made 48, and he didn't visit Hawaii or Alaska). Every public speaker has such statements on the record. They have nothing but entertainment value. They're like spelling mistakes in chat.

But in Obama's case, it's the premeditated statements in the speeches that are the big problem. This man is simply too arrogant and too inexperienced to be our President. In all seriousness, a President does not have to know everything. But he shouldn't place himself on a pedestal and should not look down his nose at the people he will depend upon to accomplish anything. A President accomplishes nothing of value except through the actions of others... that's what leadership is, and it takes a fair amount of humility to pull it off. Obama has none whatsoever.

Though it's of passing indifference to many of us, Obama seems to think his minority status is of primary importance, so let's not shy away from that. Firstly, it should be of passing indifference to everyone, Obama included, as he is every bit as Caucasian as he is African. If anybody has the right to straddle the fence and bring people together, it is he. Yet he's chosen not to do that; rather, he chooses one side over the other in a divisive way, as illustrated by his pre-emptive and unwarranted playing of the "race card" against McCain. This is exceptionally bad judgement. But what makes it worse is the way he's used it to plant a wedge between himself and the majority of people, whom he should be courting. Democracy is, in the end, a system of majority rule. To be elected he cannot eschew one group for another, even though he does it with flowery rhetoric about togetherness and change. It's not words that people react to... it's the meaning contained within them. With a little "adult supervision" perhaps Obama will learn that and be better prepared for a future election.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

And if that ain't enough...

...Obama himself (not his "campaign") has decided to dive right under the muck to the bottom of the barrel by playing the race card. Without cause, I might add.
“Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Obama said. “You know, ‘he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name,’ you know, ‘he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”‘ -- Barack Obama
Not that anybody has actually done that, no. And since McCain hasn't made race an issue, Obama's decided to just pretend he has. Or will have done. Maybe. Someday in the future that Obama imagines. Yeah, that's it, the imaginary future that would exist if people were actually as shitty as Obama thinks they are.

According to the FoxNews article, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday that Obama was not referring to race.

“What Barack Obama was talking about was that he didn’t get here after spending decades in Washington,” Gibbs said. “There is nothing more to this than the fact that he was describing that he was new to the political scene. He was referring to the fact that he didn’t come into the race with the history of others. It is not about race.”

When translated from politicalese, this can be expressed as follows, "It sure as hell was about race, but I'm spinning like a UFO to put out the fire this arrogant moron candidate of ours started."

Robert Gibb's slick spin to the contrary, Obama certainly wasn't talking about the political history presidents on the dollar bills. Here's the history:
  • George Washington ($1 bill) had no political history whatsoever. But he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.
  • Abraham Lincoln ($5 bill) was an Illinois state legislator, but served only one term as a US Representative in 1847-49 prior to his Presidential run in 1860.
  • Alexander Hamilton ($10 bill) was the first Treasurer of the US, not a president.
  • Ulysses S. Grant ($50 bill) was an Army general who had no political experience prior to his Presidential run.
  • Benjamin Franklin ($100 bill) was a founding father, not a president.
For the most part, you'd think that Obama would claim that he does resemble one or two of the Americans immortalized on the money, particularly Lincoln. But wait... Lincoln was a Republican. How inconveeenient. Only Andrew Jackson ($20 bill) bears any resemblance to the type of career politician that Obama claims was the focus of his statement. (Jackson was a US Representative, Senator, and Territorial Governor before becoming President.)

Surely... surely... if Obama's statement were as cleverly nuanced as Gibbs would have you believe he would have taken these bald facts into account. A man as smart as Obama thinks he is wouldn't mis-state history to that extent, now would he?

No, Gibbs, your apology is transparent and silly. Obama meant race. And he clearly thinks it's OK for him to paint McCain and Bush as racists, without cause.

One thing is clear. Barack Obama can never, ever in his lifetime make any credible complaint about "going negative". He's descended as low as it goes.

Obama bends over.

I'd like you to take a look at this Democratic party ad. has headlined the story, "McCain desperate, Democrats say" with an exceedingly poor analysis of what this ad actually means. Before we discuss it, click on the embedded ad. Watch it. Or read's summary.

Note that the ad never identifies "the charge" except to say that it's very negative for Obama. Also note that the ad never once even attempts to refute whatever the charge may be. It simply says that it's such a mean thing to say that McCain shouldn't have brought it up. IOW, faced with their inability to refute McCain's "charge" against Obama, the Democrats have resorted to changing the subject.

So there are two concrete conclusions to take home here:
1. There is something really negative to be said about Obama.
2. He doesn't deny it.

The best Obama has been able to do is bend over and let the Democratic party have their way with him by posting this silly, self-damaging ad. It's silly, in that the causes are trivial and not terribly negative; and it's self-damaging, because it brings attention to McCain's statements, which as it turns out, are solidly founded.

Also note that doesn't do anything to remove the uncertainty for the reader by identifying or linking to "the charge" or to the "negative ads" that are claimed. They really don't want to put this in context. This is what you would expect from Obama supporters, as presenting both sides might cause you to see merit in McCain's statement. Better to drag out the stale old "the severity of the charge" tactic that's been used since waay back when Clarence Thomas was nominated for the US Supreme Court. That is, it's not the truth of the charge that matters, it's the severity of the charge. And McCain is being charged with going negative, presumably with baseless accusations born of desperation. Except that nobody is denying what McCain said.

What could it be? Who knows, they won't identify it. But MSNBC reports this as McCain's "first negative ad":

Here's the announcer's script:
ANNOUNCER: Barack Obama never held a single Senate hearing on Afghanistan. He hasn't been to Iraq in years. He voted against funding our troops. Positions that helped him win his nomination. Now Obama is changing to help himself become president. John McCain has always supported our troops and the surge that's working. McCain. Country first.
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.
This aired just prior to Obama's overseas trip, and it was factual. Frankly, if stating the truth is "negative" then the negativity doesn't lie with the ad, but with your candidate.

But here's the latest "negative ad" that's drawing so much Democratic ire:

Here's the script:
ANNOUNCER: He's the biggest celebrity in the world. But, is he ready to lead? With gas prices soaring, Barack Obama says no to offshore drilling. And, says he'll raise taxes on electricity.Higher taxes, more foreign oil, that's the real Obama."
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.
All of which are verifiable. Again, if the facts are negative, it's the candidate -- Obama -- not the ad, to blame.

Instead, the Democrats would rather focus on the fleeting glimpses of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears in the ad (both of which occur during the words "biggest celebrity in the"). That's it. That's the big controversy. They showed some celebrities when talking about celebrity. How dare they?

What was the "scurrilous statement" Joe Klein ranted about (Joe called it a "McCain Meltdown"). It was this:
This is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.
Well, it does seem that way. And not just to me. Apparently McCain's opinion is shared by a lot of folks. And with good reason. For instance, the troop surge that Obama opposed has worked, but Obama resolutely refuses to say that it has, even though will say that the situation in Iraq has improved, and he clearly knows why. "I will not say the words you're looking for," he told a reporter on FoxNews, though his website has removed the reference to his opposition to the successful surge. Obviously, "inconvenient truths" are there to be buried and forgotten. And the evidence of his responses says that Obama's self-esteem is more important to him than the safety either troops or civilians.

So the McCain tactic is to counter the mainstream media's Obamagasms with reasons why you should temper the hype... reasons that you will not hear from the smitten schoolchildren writing the news. Obama's tactic is to puff up all indignantly and cry "foul!" when anything unflattering about him is said, even though it's true.

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