Sunday, September 28, 2008

You Got Econo Served

Sorry, even the debates cant trump this one.

Earlier this week, I awoke to the cheery sounds of NPR news when I heard something that just left me dumbfounded. It was Senate Majority Leader Reid saying we need the Republican Presidential nominee to tell us what to do on the current economic crisis.

I was completely shocked. Did NPR go conservative on me? Did I just hear Harry Reid admit to McCain being the key to solving our Nation's financial system crisis?

As I listened more to the commentary on the Majority Leader's statements, an NPR commentator explained that the Majority Leader made those remarks to force John McCain's hand to agree with the 700 billion dollar bailout. Democrats have enough votes to pass the measure and it has the agreement of the president and the vice president. But the Democrats in the House wanted to interject the current presidential campaign into this agreement by saying that both parties are in favor of this unpopular measure.

For a day, their plan completely backfired. The Majority Leader's statements were basically an admission that when you need something done in the Senate that requires bipartisan support, you call John McCain. Funny, McCain's campaign has consistently spoken about this theme. Harry Reid did not say "We need the Great Uniter, Barack Obama to make this deal happen".

McCain in turn responded like a true leader by suspending his campaign and returning to Washington to hammer out the deal, albeit not the one Harry Reid may have wanted. The Junior Senator from Illinois, well, acted like a true Junior Senator and said essentially "Call me if you need me". "Call me if you need me" is what people who are not key decision makers say. It was completely pathetic and certainly not presidential. Leaders place themselves at the center of the table with all the key people.

Basically Harry Reid admitted McCain is a leader in times of crisis and a bipartisan force to be dealt with. He also admitted that McCain is well versed on the underlying issues of the economic crisis. If this was a horrible dance movie, you might say that Obama got "served" by his own people.

I knew that the Dems would realize their mistake soon and begin to issue statements about how little they needed McCain and how they misspoke earlier. These statements came in a plenty by the next day. However, the damage had been done and you can't put the genie back in the bottle. As far as I'm concerned, the election is over. Just give it to McCain already. The Dems basically admitted he's the best suited to handle tough situations.

As for Obama, we'll call you if we need you.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Thoughts about last night's debate

Immediately upon debate's end, I checked my email, since I'm a member of several conservative blogger email groups, and I went wandering into the blogosphere to see what conservatives had to say about the debate. What I learned was that conservatives generally thought McCain was the winner. More surprisingly, I also learned that, in blogs meant for other liberals, as opposed to liberal sites for general public consumption (such as Time or Newsweek), people also thought McCain had done better. They were just grateful that their man was still standing at the end.

As it happens, I also agree that, substantively, McCain did better, but I'm not sure that's good enough. Here's what I thought of how the ordinary person would see it, rather than those who, like us, are extremely involved politically and therefore very knowledgeable about the underlying facts.

The informed (that would be us) could tell that McCain was more accurate and more responsible. However, McCain is sometimes an elliptical speaker, who starts a thought and then forgets to finish it, or who speaks in jargon (such as referring to the Department of Defense as the DOD). Obama, although his answers were ill-informed, involved prevarication or outright lies, and were abusive, was still the smoother speaker, and that was despite the stuttering. He has the lawyer's tactic of keeping the words flowing even when nothing is coming out. Listeners hear subject, verb, object and, unless they are themselves well-informed, don't track that they just heard "The phelmble reamplicated the intializer."

These communication styles -- McCain talking sense but sounding confusing, and Obama talking nonsense but sounding lucid -- mean that those who don't know the issues and don't know the facts (that would be a lot of the undecided voters), probably walked away thinking that Obama was more in command. We, the obsessive political wonks, looked at every smirk and interruption with disdain, but they just heard a smooth flow of words.

Certainly this takeway -- smooth Obama, rough McCain -- is already the message the talking heads in the MSM are beginning to emphasize. (See here, for example.)

McCain wasn't helped by Lehrer's ineptitude, made manifest when he asked how the financial crisis would affect their Presidential governance. Obama embarked on a convoluted, empty description of the way in which he was going to choose between his important programs, some of which we really need and others of which we only have to have. (His words, not mine.) McCain replied that he was going to cut spending everywhere.

Lehrer then came back at them claiming neither had told him how they were going to deal with a post-financial crisis Presidency -- but that, in fact, was precisely what McCain did tell him. Cut, cut, cut spending. If that's not a way to deal with government indebtedness, I don't know what is. But again, by asking that stupid question, Lehrer undercut the intelligence of McCain's answer, and brought it to the same level as Obama's waffling -- a problem made worse by McCain's elliptical speaking style, which prevented him from saying "Jim, I did answer your question. Just as a household would do when the money is tight, I'm going to tighten the belt everywhere, and I'm going to do that through increased efficiency."

If McCain is going to have a hands-down win in the next debate, he is going to have to tighten his speaking style. People need to hear his thoughts from beginning to end. They are the better, more informed thoughts, but if they get lost behind a less than linear speaking style, the public is going to gravitate to the smoother Obama, no matter how meaningless or dishonest his answers.

I'd like to blame my anticipation of public superficialitity on the fact that we live in an MTV/soundbite generation, but that's too easy. This problem has been around since the modern media intersected with elections. Warren G. Harding, although it's hard to believe it know, overwhelmed women (voting in their first election in 1920), because he looked so good in his pictures.

Likewise, back in 1960, America for the first time saw a televised debate, featuring knowledgeable, experienced Nixon, sweating like a pig since he had the flu, and facile, less experienced Kennedy, artifically tanned because of his hidden Addison's disease. Despite the fact that Nixon won on the radio, where people couldn't see faces, Kennedy won hands down on TV, where they could. It was a triumph of style over substance.

By the way, this is not a gloom and doom prophecy. I think McCain has shown himself to be a master of both strategy and tactics. With more sleep, and a wee bit more prep (not so much as to make him wooden), he can tighten his communication and leave Obama staring at his dust.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Obama, You’re Fired!

I can’t help but think that if Donald Trump ran the U.S. Senate, he would fire many senators for dereliction o f duty. A Senator’s first responsibility is to represent a constituency before the country’s highest legislative body.

At a time when both houses of Congress are debating one the most important pieces of legislation in the last decade, Senator Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, refuses to perform his elected office.

Senator John McCain knows his responsibilities and announced yesterday that he would suspend his presidential campaign and would return to Washington, D.C. to work on the financial bailout in the U.S. Senate. Indeed, on Thursday John McCain made good on that promise. The fate of the first presidential debate at The University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS is in question.

Senator McCain is putting the country and the citizens of Arizona first. Senator McCain realizes that he works for the people of Arizona. He has decided that his responsibilities, for which he is being paid $175,000 per year, are more important than his personal campaign to win the U.S. Presidency. Moreover, his history of bipartisanship could be helpful for rapidly passing the legislation.

On the other hand, Senator Obama stated that he planned to continue his campaign and attend the debate. He seemed to think that his presence wouldn’t make a difference in Washington, D.C. He indicated that he could be reached by telephone, if he was needed. You know, I believe him. He has so little legislative experience in Washington that his presence would not be missed.

What does this say about the man Barack Obama? It says he struggles with exercising good judgment. Unfortunately, the U.S. Constitution does not have a provision for recalling senators and congressman who refuse to perform their elected duties. Short of impeachment, there is no way force out senators who behave like Senator Obama.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Do Real-Life Events Have to Interrupt a Good Campaign Season?

Everybody's focus is naturally on the crisis, financial breakdown, collapse -- insert appropriate panic word here -- on Wall Street. Unfortunately, this news cycle has helped Obama in the polls and the McCain/Palin momentum that has been steamrollin' since the Convention seems at least momentarily derailed. Not that Obama has done or said anything that inspires confidence in his ability to solve this crisis.

Unfortunately, McCain's handful of proposals have not gained any traction with the media or the American public. McCain's most important selling point on this issue is that a couple of years ago he warned about problems with Fannie and Freddie. Saying there is too much corruption and greed on Wall Street may get wild applause on Main Street, but it's not clear to me there was widespread corruption. It seems like it was just bad and stupid investing.

In his radio address over the weekend, McCain did offer a 5-point plan, which seems to make sense on a more long-term basis. However, now it's Wednesday, and I'm not sure whether that plan is still what McCain is proposing as the solution. More recently, McCain came out with a new suggestion for a bi-partisan board to oversee Paulson's buyout plan.

Part of the problem that both campaigns are having is that they are trying to react to a news cycle that is quickly changing. First Lehman Brothers went under; second, AIG went under; then Paulson announced a $700 billion buyout plan for mortgage-backed securities. It's hard to stick to a clear message when things keep changing. Consequently neither candidate has looked that good on this issue.

Honestly, I have no idea what should be done to solve this crisis -- I'm not even sure it really is a crisis. What would be really interesting and maybe even a great political move is if McCain stopped traveling around campaigning, went back to Capitol Hill, and actively worked to pass legislation to handle the financial situation. It would be a risky move as any time not spent on the campaign trail is lost time, but it might show that McCain is more interested in solving problems than scoring political points in swing states.

But then again, none of this might matter as the first debate on Friday (where the focus is foreign policy) might change the entire news cycle and campaign momentum.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Will Hillary run (as VP)?

Biden is a never-ending source of delight -- for those who don't like Biden. Whether he's chastising reporters for being out of shape, demanding that the wealthy show their patriotism by transferring their money to the middle class, making bizarre and ill-informed pronouncements regarding Catholic doctrine and abortion, or offending Ohioans en masse, you can really count on the guy to get it done (or, should I say, to get it done wrong). Nothing about this is new; it's just Biden being Biden.

If gravitas means being old, gray, and a Congressional seat warmer, Biden is the ticket. However, if gravitas means being thoughtful, informed and wise, Biden is, and always was, the comedy man in this straight man's role. Although Obama must have known going in what he was getting with Biden, you can't help wondering if he's suffering from buyer's remorse right now. That's especially true given the legions of women who took umbrage at the way he cavalierly insulted Hillary and who, in response, fled to McCain.

The question then, at least in the blogosphere, is whether Obama is going to pressure Biden to withdraw for some sympathetic reason, such as health or a family crisis, enabling Hillary to come in and save the day. While everyone with any sense will know that Biden's withdrawal is manufactured, some women may be so glad to see Hillary back on the ticket that they'll yield to the Democrats' siren song. Frankly, I've been one of those worried about this.

Noemie Emery, however, is much more sanguine. She thinks that, whether Obama wins or loses (and, of course, especially if he loses), she'll come out on top if she sits this one out:
If Obama wins, she gets to see her party in power, if that is her object. The problem is that the party is no longer hers. Or hers and her husband's. If Obama wins, the Clintons become history. They also slip down considerably on the great grid of power: She is eclipsed by a president who defeated her, a first lady who hates her, a loquacious vice president with a large, lively family, and a legion of people who early on threw in their lots with Obama, and have prior claims upon him and his loyalty. She becomes in effect a footnote to history, remembered perhaps for her personal dramas, her historic run in the primaries no longer remarkable, but overshadowed by Sarah Palin's run for vice president. Win or lose, Palin becomes the country's most visible she-politician, culture phenomenon, as well as the best bet to succeed John McCain at the head of her party. Hillary is yesterday's news, and has the rest of her life to brood on the mistakes that caused her to lose--very narrowly--the great prize she wanted and pursued, some will tell you, for the past 30 years.

This changes, however, if McCain wins. At once, she becomes the most important Democrat, the shipwreck survivor, the frontrunner for her party's 2012 nomination; the road not taken; the one that, if followed, would have led to the outcome for which her party has struggled so long. For four long years, she will be saying "I told you so"--to the super-delegates who didn't flock to her even when she won all those big primaries; to Obama, now back in the Senate, who didn't name her when he had his big chance. A deflated Messiah, a w√ľnderkind who couldn't quite hack it, Obama would join Al Gore and John Kerry in the weary line of pitiful losers who tried and failed to match Bill Clinton's success. Bill Clinton himself becomes the Big Dog again, the one shining light in the overall darkness, the only Democrat to be elected twice since Franklin D. Roosevelt, the most successful Democrat since the mid-1960s, when Lyndon Johnson's luck, along with his party's good fortune, ran out. (Granted, this is a fairly low bar to get over. But still.) If you were Hillary Clinton, which prospect would you find more appealing? Let's guess.

That sounds like a reasonable Clinton-esque calculation to me, and one that is given more heft by the fact that Hillary's emissary (that would be Bill) has managed to trample all over Obama by heaping lavish praise on both McCain and Palin. The current Clinton tribe plan, therefore, seems to be to support generic Democratic issues, while building up the opposition. It's a long range plan, but certainly one that may benefit McCain/Palin in the short term, and one that seems antithetical to a Hillary October surprise.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jabbering Joe Biden’s Taxation Gaffe

Senator Joe Biden has stuck his foot in his mouth again. Wow! Last time he was attacking Governor Palin’s VP-qualifying experience, which happens to exceed his and Senator Barack Obama’s (B.O.) executive experience combined. Those attacks created a tsunami of publicity and sympathy for Governor Palin. This time he is comparing patriotism to paying more taxes. This guy is a laugh riot!

In any election, it supposed to be secret that taxes are going up to pay for all the stuff that was promised. However, all candidates for public office feel obliged to speak out against wasteful spending. Earmarks are also a no, no. However, earlier today, Jabbering Joe Biden indicated that it was time for the wealthy in America to be patriotic and pay more taxes. He didn't define what he meant by the term wealthy. Doesn’t he understand that his words will be heard and read around the country? Think of the advertisements suggesting that the Democrat Party thinks paying taxes is patriotic...

The taxation gaffe could eliminate any opportunity that he and B.O. may have had of winning the election. Yes, I already called the Presidential election for the Repubicans, but I’m amazed that the Democrat party is continuing to do everything possible to lose the election. Biden is out in front saying every possible to hand silver bullets to the McCain campaign. Don’t say taxes are going up! Hillary Clinton must be laughing at the sheer stupidity...

I really hate to say this but there is only one way for B.O. to win… he has to dump Jabbering Joe Biden. (Ok, I won’t tell them who to replace him with, but everybody already knows that.) After Jabbering Joe’s latest gaffe, can’t you just imagine Michelle Obama saying to B.O., “We aren’t moving into the White House with that blabbermouth on your ticket… He just can’t keep a secret! ”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama on Experience

Obama visited the Googleplex last November to preach to the choir, and a devoted follower asked him a pretty softball question about how he's going to defend his relative lack of experience compared to others in the Democratic primary pool. I thought his answer was interesting in light of recent criticisms of Palin. He describes what makes a good presidential candidate and Palin more than fits the bill:

"What we're looking for when it comes ot leadership is vision, judgment, and character. and that's what I bring to this race. I have the experience of bringing people together to get things done...I'm good at listening to people and finding common ground. I've also got the ability to stand up for what I believe in, even when it’s unpopular...I know how to choose talent and get smart people around me who are capable and independent and bring together a variety of different points of views [sic]...We’re not looking for a chief operating officer when we're selecting a president. What we're looking for is someone who will chart a course and say here’s where America needs to go...This is all about judgment and character, and also I think a little sense of impatience, because part of the reason I'm running is that I'm impatient with the status quo and what we've seen from Democrats and Republicans is a certin willingness to tolerate what I consider an intolerable status quo."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Winning California for McCain

Tonight, I went to the volunteer kickoff event for the McCain campaign in San Mateo County. There were about 300 volunteers who attended, and many of them had not been involved in the campaign previously. As one of the speakers joked, "There are so many people here it looks like a Democratic Rally." It shows you that the excitement about the McCain-Palin ticket carrying across the country has even reached the Bay Area.

I am really curious to know how close the race in California is. All the California polls I've seen are pre-convention. (If any has seen recent California polls, please let me know.) I heard that a recent internal Republican poll put Obama's lead in California at about 5%. Honestly, I would be surprised if it is that close, but I do think it could be single digits. And that means McCain is within striking distance.

The bottom-line for those living in California: Don't be afraid about wearing the McCain pin or putting a McCain-Palin bumper sticker on your car or putting up a yard sign. There are more McCain voters in California than you realize. McCain is definitely the type of Republican who can do well in California and maybe even win the state. And get involved with campaign! Any resources that the Obama campaign has to put in to shoring up support in California are resources that he cannot spend in swing states like Ohio, Florida, or Pennsylvania.

The speakers also spoke a little bit about ways to talk with undecided voters. The number one thing is to explain why you specifically support McCain. You may not know every issue, but you should have one or two specific reasons why you support McCain. And don't be afraid to draw contrasts with Obama, especially as it relates to the reasons why you support McCain.

The other thing that may help is to visit some of the conservative blogs which quickly respond to what is going on in the news to give you ammo when the Democrats attack McCain or Palin. Some good sites to go to are McCain Report, The Weekly Standard, and the National Review Corner. And of course, check back here regularly as we offer our opinion on why the McCain-Palin ticket is best for the US.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The McCain Messiah

Much has been said about the Barack Obama's near mythical status among people of the left and Europeans. The Left, Europeans, Newspaper reporters and Celebrities swoon over him. As we all know, this prompted the McCain Celebrity ad. Of course, there are those who think that that the Obama hype has gone beyond celebrity status to something more epic. Rush Limbaugh jokingly pokes fun of Obama calling him the Messiah. The funny part is that Obama supporters genuinely believe he is.

Just check out any of the Obama Campaign schwag you see out in the area. It's not just a "Vote Obama" sticker or "Obama/Biden 08". It's Obama's face in Che fashionista style above a single word, a profound concept such as HOPE, CHANGE or BELIEVE. It's almost as if the message they are trying to convey is that Obama like Jesus, Krishna, Buddha or Ganesh is more than just a politician. Obama is the entity that can deliver these philosophical concepts to you and give you inner peace. Check out this Obama Messiah blog. It is a hilarious collection of Obama deity imagery and religious comments from his backers.

Now, personally I know that Obama is not the reincarnation of any deity. But honestly if anyone deserves Messiah billing it is probably McCain.

I came across this article long before the RNC and the stirring video before McCain's speech. This article is from a fellow POW who spent time with McCain. There's also an accompanying video interview of Tom Moe and I highly recommend you all watch it. Tom Moe recalls how as a POW he carved out a small hole in the wall of his cell so he could peak into the neighboring room. His neighbor, John McCain and him became friends as for a long period of time McCain was the only person who Tom could communicate with. But Tom's story relays the difficult moments of McCain's POW stay. Tom, a retired USAF colonel, recalls how McCain would be taken out daily for interrogation and beatings. But everyday when they brought him back and you could see the damage done to his body, McCain would make sure Tom could see him and give him a thumbs up sign. Tom states how McCain's attitude was something that helped him to get through the trying times alive and back to his family. McCain inspiring Tom helped in some ways to save his life.

Taking it even further, McCain's suffering and abuse more closely parallels another Messiah we all know who suffered as a prisoner and endured torture and abuse. And as for Crucifixion, well just watch MSNBC and CNN.

Seriously though, McCain is not Jesus. I will remove the candles and incense from my McCain shrine at home. But the next time you see an Obama "Hope" sticker, think about the candidate who has inspired hope in the most gruesome of circumstances.
To find it within you to see that your fellow man has the hope to endure even though all your bones are broken and you are a beaten man is superhuman inspiration indeed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Out of Touch With Your Running Mate, Barack?

Obama once again strayed away from the "audacity of hope" and made another cheap shot against McCain in his video "Still," which makes fun of the fact that McCain joined the Senate like, totally 20 years before Obama did. So uncool. And that he said he doesn't know how to use email or computers very well. 

Ok, fine. I've been trying to get my parents to use Gmail for 2 years. They won't budge from their beloved Microsoft Outlook. And it's not because they're not smart. Kids I babysat for in high school probably have fancier cell phones than I do and know how to program their DVDs and Tivos, and I still don't have the patience to do that. Who cares?

I'm not even gonna get into the fact that McCain can't type because of the injuries he endured at the Hanoi Hilton. But let's look at a few things McCain does know how to do that Obama doesn't:

Fly a plane.

Fire a gun. (Palin can do that too.)

Run a committee dedicated to national commerce, science, and technology.

And McCain did decently when interviewed during the primaries by CNET in their "Technology Voter's Guide" to the election. Check out his responses - he shows a solid understanding of the internet's role in fighting terrorism, takes positions in favor of competition and free trade as they apply to tech, and says he's against internet taxes. And in this Tech Crunch inteview from last year, he sounds pretty confident (there's also a podcast) and cracks some good jokes, too.

How did Obama's running mate fare in this survey? Well, Biden refused to answer it, perhaps because he didn't want to discuss his pro RIAA record, crackdown on copyright law in online music downloading, and skepticism of net neutrality - all positions that don't sit well with the techie-happy Obama. Or perhaps it's because he received a 37.5% score from the CNET folks in the 2006 Voter's Guide.

Looks like Obama should consider his running mate's positions on technology issues, not just whether he can click 'send,' before he throws the first stone.

Are Republicans falling into the hubris trap? Or, pride goeth before a fall

Interestingly, the two concepts in my post title have ancient roots. More than twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greeks concluded that overweening pride and arrogance were sins so great that they were worthy of criminal penalties. It upset the polis to have an individual align himself with the Gods.

The Biblical concept of pride leading to personal destruction is also an ancient one, having its roots in Proverbs 16:18 (a Biblical book reputed to originate with King Solomon, almost 3,000 years ago): "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

In other words, there is absolutely nothing new in the fact that some people, elevated to high position, lose control of their connection to humanity, begin to believe that they are gods or demi-gods and, Icarus-like (to quote another ancient concept), end up plummeting earthward from their artificial heights.

Over the past year, Obama, driven by his internal narcissistic dialogue and buoyed up by apocalyptic levels of worship emanating from the media and the MoveOn.org crowd, became the poster boy for hubris and overweening pride. He started to believe his own press. His speeches become more and more unrelated to pragmatic politics, and suggested that he had the magical powers to lower the oceans, clear the air, and bring everlasting peace to mankind. This kind of message would have been a hard sell to the unconverted in any event, but it was made harder by the fact that his implicit faith in his wonderfulness kept stumbling and crashing into his marked ordinariness: his verbal gaffes; his horrible friends; and his bad decisions (one word: Biden).

Once Obama had blown himself up to Olympian proportions, and had shown himself to be devoid of even a smidgen of humility, he made himself an easy target. The McCain campaign gets huge kudos for being bold enough to aim the pin at that target by creating a couple of wonderful ads that showed that Obama was a mere celebrity, full of sound and fury, but signifying (what else?) nothing.

Obama then let any remaining air out of the balloon by giving the most pedestrian of convention speeches. That Obama's oration didn't rise to rhetorical heights might have been forgivable in someone weary from campaign for almost two years, had it not been for the Britney-inspired Greco-Hollywood backdrop and the 38 million souls who tuned into watch this recycled, embittered, mean-spirited and surprisingly boring speech.

And then McCain, showing true fighter pilot instinct, blasted Obama from on high -- and along came Sarah. Conservatives went flipsy-wacky. People are turning out at Republican political rallies in record numbers, polls show that conservatives and independents think she's wonderful, and the blogosphere has gone stratospheric in its praise: she's a natural, she's a political wunderkind, she's real, she's pragmatic, she's a straight shooter, she's a values laden candidate, she has charm, she's the ultimate candidate for women, she's the ultimate counter to feminism, and on and on.

All of which raises the worry that, with Palin, we're heading down the stretch to the same hubris that pretty much predicted Obama's current tumble. Except I think not. I think that there are several good reasons why Grecian hubris and Biblical pride are not going to dictate Palin's (and McCain's) downfall in the next couple of months.

First of all, the time frame is such that it's unlikely that Palin will be able to match Obama's two year long journey of ego inflation and deflation. Even if her ego does go upwards, it's unlikely (especially given her performance to date) that she can amass sufficient gaffes to start the post-inflation humiliation.

Second, while Republicans are thrilled about Palin, she's not feeling the love from the media. Their venom will probably serve two salutary purposes. To begin with, it will backfire nicely by exposing media bias and lies, and by turning Palin into an underdog, an every-woman, for whom voters can root. To see one lone mother attacked by thousands of reporters world wide isn't a fair fight, and you know that Americans, at least, don't like seeing people bullied. Additionally, it will keep Palin's own ego in check. She can't simply relax and bask in her own wonderfulness. Being on the defensive is a good way not to become too proud.

Third, well, I'll leave the third strand to Charles Krauthammer, who was comparing Obama to Reagan -- but I think you can fill Palin's name for Reagan's with the same results:

The problem is that Obama began believing in his own magical powers — the chants, the swoons, the “we are the ones” self-infatuation. Like Ronald Reagan, he was leading a movement, but one entirely driven by personality.

Reagan’s revolution was rooted in concrete political ideas (supply-side economics, welfare-state deregulation, national strength) that transcended one man. For Obama’s movement, the man is the transcendence.

Which gave the Obama campaign a cultlike tinge. With every primary and every repetition of the high-flown, self-referential rhetoric, the campaign’s insubstantiality became clear. By the time it was repeated yet again on the night of the last primary (No. 3), the tropes were tired and flat.

And fourth -- and this may be stretching it -- Palin is a deeply religious person. Hers is manifestly not a lip service religion, but is part of the very fiber of her being. She acknowledges God and knows the vast difference that lies between her, a mere striving mortal, and God.

I can't get into Obama's heart and mind, but his church selection and his words about religion leave me feeling that, for him, religion is a matter of social and political expediency rather than faith. (I may be wrong, but that's how he presents himself and his faith.) I think that's part of why he was comfortable buying into the Messiah identity. He could see himself aligned with the gods, rather than functioning appropriately below them.

Hubris is a real and present danger whenever power, praise and human frailties are allied. I think, though, that Palin has some insulation from the risk -- and certainly enough to carry her through to election day. Poor Obama, did not. And whether he wins the White House or loses it, he's headed for a fall. I can only hope that his fall takes place before November 3, or I fear that, when he does tumble for once and all, he'll take the rest of us with him.

Friday, September 12, 2008

So what IS the Bush Doctrine, anyway?

Sarah Palin had the right answer –“In what sense, Charlie?” – when he asked her about the Bush Doctrine. Fact is that the “doctrine” covers a lot of ground, not just pre-emptive warfare. Here’s Wikipedia on the term:

The Bush Doctrine is a phrase used to describe various related foreign policy principles of United States president George W. Bush, created in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The phrase initially described the policy that the United States had the right to treat countries that harbor or give aid to terrorist groups as terrorists themselves, which was used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan. Later it came to include additional elements, including the controversial policy of preventive war, which held that the United States should depose foreign regimes that represented a supposed threat to the security of the United States, even if that threat was not immediate (used to justify the invasion of Iraq), a policy of supporting democracy around the world, especially in the Middle East, as a strategy for combating the spread of terrorism, and a willingness to pursue U.S. military interests in a unilateral way. Some of these policies were codified in a National Security Council text entitled the National Security Strategy of the United States published on September 20, 2002. This represented a dramatic shift from the United States's Cold War policies of deterrence and containment, under the Truman Doctrine, and a departure from post-Cold War philosophies such as the Powell Doctrine and the Clinton Doctrine.

Someone also needs to ask Obama and Biden if they understand (as they should) that their own encouragement of NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia means that the U.S. “perhaps” would go to war for those countries. That’s simply the reality of being in NATO, a military alliance in which an attack on one member is considered an attack on all.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Global Climate Change Presidency

The Global Climate Change Presidency

The next U.S. President could have significant impact on global climate change, yet Senator Obama’s policy is more about energy. Senator McCain’s policy addresses the larger scope of global climate change.

My personal research is relevant to the presidential candidates’ energy and climate change policies, because the two candidates seem to have vastly different understandings of climate change and potential underlying causes of change. (The research is on beliefs about climate change and I am looking for always looking for additional participants: http://www.geocities.com/dawagnersjca/short.html .) Advertising not withstanding, I’ve been thinking a great deal about global warming.

Some voters are not convinced that global warming is occurring. Others believe strongly that global warming is occurring. Those who believe strongly in global warming are not in agreement about the cause. Some attribute the warming to human activity (i.e., anthropogenic). Still others who believe in global warming are split among a variety natural causes, such as solar radiation due to sunspots, etc.

The Obama campaign has no clearly stated policy on global warming; There is no discernable action plan relative to what the Obama / Biden ticket will do to tackle this extremely important issue. Instead, Obama’s energy plan makes vague reference to reducing greenhouse gases.

On the other hand, the McCain campaign has published a clear statement on climate change policy, albeit brief. Like the Obama plan, the McCain plan presupposes that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming. Unlike Obama, McCain provides extensive detail about how a market-based cap and trade policy will encourage an overall lowering of greenhouse gases.

Double-fault: Obama. Obama’s energy policy provides easy-to-understand bullet points that are absent necessary detail, implying that the candidate and his advisors have not really done considerable thinking about how to address global climate change. Moreover, the lack of detail combined with the prominence of the term green house gas emissions (as the only cause of global warming) in the energy policy seems to indicate that no further scientific inquiry will drive the Obama plan.

Advantage: McCain. McCain’s climate policy is much more detailed and seeks scientific answers for setting acceptable levels of greenhouse gases. Presumably, a science-based approach would include a development of an extensive understanding of the degree to which greenhouse gases have played and will continue to play a role in global climate change.

Both candidates’ websites offer press releases with praises of their respective policies relative to climate change, but only Senator McCain has articulated a point of departure for building a comprehensive solution to the problem of global climate change.

References:

http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/newenergy

http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/News/PressReleases/1F8B2869-689E-4E79-BFB4-C20CF1A47297.htm

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Anatomy of a Non-Story

Remember what the MSM were saying right after John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate? That his “vetting process” was somehow deficient because the media hardly knew anything about her. Judging by what we see so far, McCain vetted her just fine. But the media will keep trying to prove him wrong and throw her off her game by finding some embarrassing detail that he might have missed.

So swarms of investigative reporters, lawyers and opposition researchers have descended on Alaska to do what McCain probably did months ago. That is, check her out. Of course, their agenda is different from his. They have gone North in the hope, if not the expectation, of digging up some dirt. But they don’t have much time to be thorough and fair. So, instead of real dirt (which requires serious and sustained digging) you can expect to find innuendo, speculation, gossip and the passing along of unsubstantiated charges from political enemies. Non-stories, in other words.

I’ve been in the newspaper business and I know how these things work. News organizations don’t deploy well-paid reporters on weeks-long assignments without expecting something for all that time and money. Put your crack team of investigative journalists on the hunt and they will have to produce something, even if it is flimsier than a wet shopping bag. Witness the New York Times “Did he have an affair with a lobbyist”? piece.

Now we have an article in The Washington Post that describes – in many, many words – how Palin followed the rules on reimbursed travel and has spent much less in this area than her predecessor.

Only that’s not the lede. What the Post wants you do know, right off the bat, is that “Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a ‘per diem’ allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.”

This is made to sound bad, especially for a self-styled fiscal conservative. But it shocks only those who don’t understand Alaska or its geography. Juneau, the capital, is an 800-mile round trip from Palin’s home in Wasilla. It is far from most Alaskans’ homes, and at least once it has come very close to losing its place as the capital to a more convenient spot. Long commutes for state officeholders are nothing new. And in a state as big as Alaska, lots of air travel on state business is the norm. The Post does note, about two thirds of the way down, that Palin spent $93,000 on airfare in 2007, rather less than the $463,000 spent in 2006 by former Gov. Frank Murkowski. And a check of Alaska’s rules for reimbursement shows that she did not break them.

Here’s another story The Washington Post should pursue, if it wants balance. The Website OpenSecrets details Joe Biden’s expense reimbursements for official travel in 2007. A sizable amount of this (covering about seven pages) is for Amtrak fare to and from his Delaware home. Maybe it’s not travel on an Alaskan scale, but the object is the same and so is the case for billing it to the taxpayers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In Defense of Palin

The Democrats have ramped up their attack machine against the newest star in the Republican Party, Gov Sarah Palin. In one sense, their preoccupation with Palin should not worry us because it shows the Dems are running out of ammo against McCain. In the voting booth, voters are really going to be making their choice between McCain and Obama. Nevertheless, we should not allow these attacks to go unanswered.

I doubt a moose-hunting Hockey Mom needs any help from me in defending herself, but here it goes. By the way, I wonder if she has ever hunted donkeys...

On the Bridge to Nowhere. As governor, Palin officially killed the the $398 million bridge. Before support galvanized for ending this wasteful project, Palin's transition team questioned the usefulness of the bridge and criticized its drain on resources in February 2007 report. Barack Obama and Joe Biden voted against an amendment to the 2006 Transportation Appropriations Act that would have taken money from the Bridge to Nowhere project to help fund repairs for a bridge in New Orleans damanged by Hurricane Katrina.

On earmarks. As governor, Palin realized Alaska relied too heavily on federal earmarks and asked state officials to limit the number of requested earmarks in 2007. The Anchorage Daily News editors praised Palin's efforts to reduce the number of federal earmarks Alaska received. What other state has said "no thanks" to free money from the federal government?

On per diem. During her first year as governor, Palin's travel expenses were about 80% less than that of her predecessor. She rarely sought reimbursement for meals while staying in Anchorage or Wasilla. She even usually flew coach!

Also, as mayor, Palin never demanded that the Wasilla library ban any books. The librarian has said Palin asked a "What if?" question, and the librarian continued in her job through most of Palin's first term.

Palin was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that advocates voting on whether Alaska should secede from the United States. (I thought that secession question was answered oh about 140 years ago, but I digress.) The party chairman admitted her mistake a few days after the story ran although the correction in the New York Times was buried on page 18. Palin has been a registered Republican since 1982.

It's clear. There is only one choice for those interested in cutting wasteful spending from the Federal budget -- McCain/Palin!

Monday, September 8, 2008

To Young Independents


Let me start by saying that I respect you immensely. Your initial instinct is to question everything you hear and make a level-headed decision. You think about how much a president actually matters in getting business done in Washington, as opposed to where he or she stands on every conceivable issue. You’re comfortable with opinion dissonance inside your own head. You’re practical, thoughtful, and, most likely, quite cynical about what government can do for you.

            But I urge you not to be cynical this time. This election’s important, and it’s going to be fascinating. Gov. Sarah Palin’s selection as McCain’s running mate was yet more evidence of this last week. Each candidate has chosen a running mate that buttresses (or perhaps highlights) his weaknesses or shortcomings. The Gallup polls have been nail-bitingly close all summer. This is the first general election in 56 years where we have no incumbent candidate nor a sitting vice president running for president. And we stand at a crossroads in our national security and energy policies, with the opportunity for substantial discussion. The fact that both parties have made history in this election is icing on the cake compared to what I think are the real points of interest.

            Now it’s most likely you’re an educated bunch who doesn’t buy into political theatre or rhetoric. You acknowledge that Obama is a brilliant speaker and McCain a brave veteran, but aren’t confident that these are sufficient for the presidency. So allow me to ask that you get into the true joy of politics – not the name-calling or mudslinging, although I get into that stuff like I enjoy reading People magazine – but the candidates’ strategies. Have fun reading between the lines of their speeches. Because the vast majority of Americans aren’t as smart as you are, and politicians need to make their message simple, emotional, and easy-to-understand for those other people. But you’re different – you’ve studied the candidates’ voting records. You read realclearpolitics.com and Politico every morning. Hell, you’ve stumbled across this blog today. And you’re waiting for the debates before you make your final decision.

            In that case, allow me to make an attempt at an intelligent pitch for McCain. I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles and went to Harvard for college. I’ve always been a hesitant conservative/moderate in a sea of liberals. I’ve always been in environments where it was cooler and even seen as more moral to be liberal and to be vocal about it, or at least to be a moderate. But in my last semester of college, I realized that it’s ok to be partisan, and it’s no less moral to be conservative. I think a lot of self-proclaimed “moderates” want to be fair and magnanimous. But just because I’m a Republican doesn’t mean I agree with everything the party does – I’m a human being, not a political party, and my ideas are shaped by my personal experiences. Over the years they may change, though I must admit that my core beliefs have remained pretty Republican.

At the beginning of the summer, though, when I saw how empty Obama’s message was and how liberal his supposed “post-partisan” policies were, I stopped believing that he’d stand by that line in his 2004 Democratic convention speech saying that “there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.” That was a statement that I personally found very uplifting (if only many of my liberal friends would take it to heart). But I trust McCain’s record of across-the-aisle legislation and unique combination of morality and pragmatism when it comes to foreign policy. And these are all qualities we really need right now in a president.

            Voting can be a lot like accepting a job offer – sometimes you’ll be skeptical of the company and the job, but hopefully at the end of the day, you recognize that the corporation’s basic mission is sound and it gets some solid, honest business done. The same goes for politics. I believe that both parties’ presidential and vice presidential candidates this year want to help this country. That’s why they’ve made public service their careers. But I just think the Republicans are the ones with the right ideas about rejuvenating both large and small businesses, ensuring that America has domestic oil reserves as well as a sustainable plan for alternative energy, and disabling terrorists by leading the world, not caving to it. And that’s why I’m choosing McCain and Palin.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Accomplishments you can believe in

Correction: Accomplishments in which you can believe!

Since I don't have TV, I sometimes am oblivious to much of the happenings in the world. I was startled when channel surfing at a friend's house to find out how much the Palin Hate machine is in full swing. It is both tragic and depressing. While watching CNN, and I forget the announcer's name, I witnessed him become practically hysterical in his outright denounciation of Palin and her incompetence, inexperience and lack of values. The same went for MSNBC. I found a link on the web where some one posts a list of the latest smears and how to refute them. The worst part about this witch hunt is that many of my friends are starting to quote this stuff verbatim like it's gospel. I can tell they are quoting CNN/MSNBC/etc when they tell me "How could McCain pick this unknown person. She's so inexperienced."

The word unknown is the dead giveaway. My reply is simple, I say "Dude, she's unknown to you. It's not her fault you're a dummy".

Check out one of my previous posts and you'll know that I've been following Palin's career for a while, even before she was Governor. But I'm no stranger to Alaska. I've travelled there often to visit friends. I've watched some college hoops up there. I even met Coach K when he brought the Duke team to play in the Great Alaska shootout. I am also part owner of an Alaskan business. And yes, I even know how to spell Murkowski.

So when people sit back and tell you that Governor Palin is inexperienced, point them to this article on the Investor's Business Daily. It nicely illustrates the scope of her 'inexperience'.

We in the "lower 48" are in need of natural gas. Alaska has an abundance. However, while this project's immense potential was known to all, the project had been stalled for a while as special interests previous govenors wrestled over concessions to big oil and objections from people in the state legislature. Sarah Palin though, in her brief term in office got this pipeline through. And yes, while she did leverage the work of others, she was the one who pushed the legislature to get it through. She seized the opportunity that came from high energy prices to make this happen. This was also done ethically. To avoid the appearance of any sweetheart deal, she opened up the bidding process again and awarded it to the best firm, who coincidentally happened to be a Canadian firm. Much of this pipeline will go through Canada making this one of the largest internationally construction projects ever. This involved considerable difficult negotiations with Canada.

The completion of this pipeline will bring in a tremendous amount of energy to the country, driving prices down and improving the lives of all. This will be no simple task. At a price tag of 26 billion dollars and stretching for over 1715 miles this will be the biggest US construction project in history.

Now when energy is one of the biggest issues facing all Americans, both Democrat and Republican, it is good to know that there is someone on the ticket with Accomplishments you can believe in.

I mean Accomplishments in which I can believe.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

How much do brains matter in a President?

It happens pretty much like clockwork: In every presidential election that I can remember, voters are assured that the Republican is a brainless buffoon, and the Democrat a savvy intellectual. I first saw this with the 1976 election, when I was 15 years old and, for the first time, politically aware. Gerald Ford was presented as a big, dumb jock, who couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. Jimmy Carter was a brilliant, analytical engineer.

In 1980, as you recall, Ronald Reagan was the actor/jock who had simplistic ideas. I remember going around parroting the line that you could wade through Reagan's deepest thoughts without getting your ankles wet. Carter, of course, despite his abysmal Presidential record was still, as the media repeatedly assured us, so much smarter.

By 1984, Reagan's intellectualism had fallen even lower in the media's and pundit's estimation. The guy was dumb as a rock, and spoke in stupid, infantile terms about evil, and freedom, and simplistic things like that. He had no nuance. Fortunately, the savvy (but pure) Walter Mondale was going to save us from the guy with the obvious 2 digit IQ.

Fast forward a few years to 1988, and you've got the inarticulate George H.W. Bush, who was obviously too dumb to communicate in basic English, despite his illustrious career. And on the other side, you've got the pedantic Michael Dukakis, who really did sound like a hyper-analytical university professor. He was obviously smart.

I don't need to remind you of the Clinton years. For me, they pass in a blur of paeans praising his extraordinary intelligence. The press wrote reams of laudatory columns about his ebullient wonkishness, his extraordinary ability to master complex ideas, and his lust for knowledge. The only person smarter than he was, the press assured us, was his wife, a woman who intelligently subordinated her own career to exponentially expand the power of his through their combined brains.

Wait! I forgot, there was one person smarter than Clinton -- Al Gore! Al Gore, the great genius who made Dukakis look like a fluent, witty speaker. Al Gore, the all seeing, all knowing internet inventor. It was unthinkable that George W. Bush, the ultimate buffoon, a man with a West Texas accent and a habit of speaking about "nukular" weapons, could beat this Ivy League genius. And yet the unthinkable happened. And it happened again when the even smarter and more intellectual John Kerry also went down before that buffoon. (Never mind that subsequent investigation revealed that the "buffoon" did better at Yale than either of these two shining lights.)

It should be no surprise at this point that the exact same pattern is shaping up here. Obama, as we know, is even smarter than all of his Democratic predecessors put together! He is a luminous speaker (as long as he has a script). He's a luminous writer (although his off-script speaking skills are beginning to tell me that, as much as anything else, he had a good editor). He's just plain luminous. Palin, with her non-Ivy League degree, her slightly goofy Alaska accent, her beauty queen credentials is, of course, laughable when compared to Obama, right?

Well, I'm not so sure. For the fun of it, let's accept as true that all of these Democrats are indeed infinitely more brilliant than their Republican opponents. I won't get into petty discussions about GPAs and IQs. I'm going to agree: Each Democratic candidate since at least 1976 has had -- I don't know -- heck, let's give him 40 IQ points on his Republican opponent. The question is whether, even if we accept the genius Democratic premise as true, those type of academic smarts matter.

Popular culture has always joked that those who can, do; and those who can't, teach. Growing up, as the child of a teacher, and with the assumption that I would eventually get myself a PhD (only to end up with a JD), I always thought that this olds expression was sour grapes. The correct expression in my world would have been, those who are smart excel academically and use big words; and those who aren't smart, well, they aren't smart. Life has taught me otherwise.

What I've learned is that you can be too smart for your own good. Take my father. He was a superb teacher, and a truly fascinating and erudite man, but that's not why he taught. The wages were abysmal and it would have been great if he could have held another job -- but he couldn't. His sense of intellectual superiority made him a miserable employee. He never rose past the bottom ranks because he was so deeply offended by having to work for stupid people -- a disdain he made manifes -- that those same stupid people, all of whom were further up the hierarchy than he was, made sure to keep him firmly under their thumbs. He never got fired because he was an honest and reliable worker, but he never got promoted either. So much for his brains (and they were impressive).

Or take my uncle. It is no exaggeration to say that he was the most brilliant student in the history of the Jewish Academic high school in pre-WWII Berlin. (My father, who was much younger, repeatedly heard this encomium to his older brother from teachers frustrated by the fact that my father was merely smart, and not brilliant.) Considering that the school was both German and Jewish, you can imagine the standards. My uncle was a bona fide genius. He was also a complete git.

My uncle ended his life as a low level civil servant living in squalor with his wife and adult child in a one bedroom apartment in Copenhagen. My mother, to this day, recalls how he and his family eschewed handkerchiefs, opting instead to blow their noses into their hands and then wipe their fingers on the walls.

It would be too facile to say my uncle was just another tragedy of the war, someone damaged by the the hunt from pillar to post as he stayed one step ahead of the Nazis. The fact is that others fared worse than he did, but did better in the end. What he was was an embittered Leftist, who was so convinced of everyone else's stupidity (and, when it came to brains, he was right about the others, I guess) that he became dysfunctional.

Those are family anecdotes, but you can learn a lot too by looking at our brilliant Democratic presidents and our less brilliant Republican ones. Jimmy Carter, the brilliant engineer, was quite possibly the most wishy-washy man ever to hold the office. An engineer friend of mine explained that Carter made calculations. He assembled data and reached a conclusion. Add in new data and he'd arrive at a new conclusion. My friend's analysis was right as far as it went -- that was how Carter thought -- but it missed the scary corollary: Carter had no fixed principles. He lived in a moral vacuum in which everything was a factual problem that could be solve by manipulating integers.

The arguably less intelligent Reagan might not have had the world's greatest head for details, but that left him a lot of space for large thoughts about abstract values. He cherished freedom and therefore didn't get bogged down in the real politik that was de rigeur in Washington when he took office. He knew that the Soviet Union was an evil institution and was able to keep his eye on that ball. Likewise, he figured out that governments don't make money, they just spend money. People make money. This was intuitively correct and was backed up by the collapse of socialist economic systems. He didn't need experts to spell out in stifling academic details an opposite principle that could not possibly be true.

Clinton too had a Carter-esque habit of getting bogged down in inessential details. Even the loving press noted how people often dreaded going into meetings with him because he was unable to stay focused. His overweening sense of his intelligence also blocked his moral compass. Clinton felt that he was too smart for the petty rules confining ordinary people. (Same for Mrs. Clinton.) Smart and narcissistic, they both did precisely what they wanted because they refused to believe that mere mortals could catch up with them. When mere mortals did catch up, rather than being repentant, they were actually offended that ordinary people would come after them.

I believe that precisely the same pattern is emerging here. I'll concede that Obama is a smart guy, with a good word sense. (Especially if the word is "uh, uh, uh," which pops up a lot in his extemporaneous speaking.) However, he's already shown over and over again that, in common with people who believe that they're smarter than the average bear, he's guilty of terrible and dangerous hubris. He's also incapable of learning from his mistakes because, in his own mind, he's too smart to make mistakes. Anything that goes wrong is the other guy's fault. I think this accounts for the ponderous, inept, back-firing attacks that he's aiming at Palin.

In contrast, Palin and McCain may not be the greatest intellectual lights in the world, but that's probably a good thing. They speak clearly. They embrace simple, intuitive ideas. They are able to view the big picture without getting bogged down in details. And they're very, very clear on larger values and morals issues. Because they're not getting tangled in petty sidelines of thought, they don't see moral questions as being above their pay grade. Their answers ultimately may not be right, but at least they have them.

I hope you don't take this post as an attack on intellectuals, academics and smart people generally. I think smart people are wonderful and delightful. I know many who are almost obscenely functional and who have utterly admirable values. It's just that I think that the Democrats' obsessive focus on smarts leads them to a form of arrogance that blocks situational awareness, that makes them extremely arrogant and that, in extreme cases, enables them to substitute values free analysis for fixed moral principles.

Friday, September 5, 2008

An In Touch Speech

With a speech so decorated and captivating, John McCain proved once again why he should be the next President. However, Barack Obama said this morning that John McCain’s speech was “out of touch” with America. I was left scratching my head. Did he watch the same speech I did?

John McCain: “I don’t work for a party, I don’t work for a special interest, I don’t work for myself, I work for you….I’ve fought corruption, and it didn’t matter if the culprits were democrats or Republicans…I've fought big spenders in both parties…I've fought to get million-dollar checks out of our elections… I've fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes… I fought crooked deals in the Pentagon... I fought tobacco companies and trial lawyers, drug companies and union bosses.”

So far so good, seems to be what America is looking for. Maybe it happened later.

“We believe in low taxes, spending discipline and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk takers and letting people keep the fruits of their labor. We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and judges who dispense justice impartially and don't legislate from the bench. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities. We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans. Government that doesn't make your choices for you, but works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself.”

Not there either. It must be at the end.

“Fight for what's right for our country: Fight for the ideals and character of a free people. Fight for our children's future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all. Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America. Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We're Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.”

That seems pretty in touch to me. There is only one logical explanation:

It is Obama who is out of touch with the American people.

Newsflash Barack: John McCain is in touch with the American people because he knows what the American people want. American’s want to know: who they are voting for, what he has done, and what he will do. This is exactly why McCain spent a great deal of time explaining his past in the military, as a POW and Senator, and the specifics on what he plans to do when elected.

Honestly people, sit back and think for a second. Aside from Obama’s charm, personality, and overall likeability, why would you even consider voting for him? We all want “Change” but does Obama bring more change that McCain? The only change Obama would bring is the least experienced person ever to become President, not to mention a voting record where he failed to make a tough decision 130 times and never once did he introduce a major piece of legislation.

Let’s face it. McCain has the perfect amount of experience to be President. He is a Maverick, a Hero, a Father, a Son, and most importantly a Leader. Beware Barack; the voters will one day realize that you have no executive experience, courage, valor, or voting record to be president. And that is why, come November, I am confident that the American people will make the intelligent decision to elect John McCain as President.

Closing the Convention

Now that the last streamers and balloons have fallen from the Xcel Center--and I think I'm still trying to get the confetti out of my hair--I want to reflect a little bit on what I experienced.

This was my first convention, so I really can't compare it to other conventions, but my bottom-line reaction to the convention is that it was a lot of fun. It was similar to attending the Super Bowl three days in a row, but it is even better than that because your favorite team wins every night and everybody else is cheering for the same team.

Most of my California friends support Obama, so it is also encouraging to be around with so many McCain supporters. I also met several other McCain supporters living in the Bay Area. Yes, there are Republicans in the California Bay Area. The convention has really infused me with even more excitement for a McCain adminstration, and I'm looking forward to getting back to California and working hard over the next 60 days to get him and Sarah Palin elected.

McCain's speech was in a word, presidential. He did not give a rah-rah speech like Palin did the previous night, but he looked to inspire Americans and quietly but forcefully explain why he should be president and what he will do when elected.

Before the speech, many television pundits said that McCain needed to talk about his domestic policy. On Thursday night, McCain did just that. He will cut wasteful spending, keep taxes low, work on retraining people to take advantage of opportunities in this new economy, give people a choice in education, make it easier for Americans to find good health care health care insurance, and achieve energy independence.

It was very exciting at the end of the speech when McCain was saying he would fight for us and encouraging us to stand up and get involved. The crowd was going absolutely wild. We were cheering and clapping so loudly that I really could not hear a word of what he was saying at the end. How cool is that!

During McCain's speech, a question kept running through my mind. Why have I supported McCain as president since the primaries? The basic reason, which was reinforced by seeing McCain give his speech, is that I trust McCain to do what is best for America. I believe that trust is justified by McCain's long public career. I may not agree with McCain on every single issue, but I trust McCain's judgement. I just cannot say the same thing about Obama.

When the speech ended, the balloons and confetti started falling, the music started playing (check out the "Raising McCain" song by John Rich), and people started dancing. The McCain and Palin families came out on stage, and the Xcel center seemed to get even louder. Palin and McCain both walked out to the crowd and shook hands. About 10 high school students made their way to the center of the hall right in front of the podium and held up a couple of big signs saying "Students For McCain." Balloons started popping making the convention sound like a big popcorn machine.

Eventually, we began to exit the Xcel Center energized to stand up, fight, and win the election for John McCain.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin: Change in Which We Can Believe

Sarah Palin: Change in Which We Can Believe

Of course, today’s title is a play on Senator Obama campaign’s slogan, “Change we can believe in.” Has it annoyed you that the slogan is grammatically incorrect? It bugs me when I read student papers with sentences that end with a preposition. So with today’s entry I co-opt Obama’s slogan to make my point about the best presidential ticket to effect change in Washington, DC.

I believe the McCain / Palin ticket will go all the way this election year and that was my gut instinct from the beginning. Yesterday, my Dad played back the answering machine message that I left for them on the day of Governor Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) selection for Vice President, August 29. In the message, I screamed, “Wooooohooooo! Great choice! The Democrats are gone. They’re dead. They’ve already lost…”

My Dad got such a kick out of that message, he has been playing it back for everybody who will listen. Is it premature to call the presidential race for the Republicans? Well, I hope that my initial evaluation of Governor Palin proves correct. I am calling the election now. The McCain / Palin ticket will win the White House in November 2008. Is that too bold? Perhaps.

Yes, that’s bold, but rarely do we see a speaker interrupted by several minutes of applause so intense that she is unable to begin speaking. That was the case with Governor Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC). Her selection by Senator McCain has energized the Republican base and totally changed the game. Money is flowing. Volunteers are signing up. Democrats are worried that they have once again found a way to lose. As I listened to Governor Palin’s acceptance speech, I actually felt a little sorry for the Obama / Biden presidential ticket; frankly, I do not believe they know what has hit them. Their strong allergic reaction to her candidacy might indicate that they are deeply concerned. Category 5 Hurricane Sarah has come ashore and slammed into the side of Democratic Presidential ticket.

Without a doubt, Governor Palin is a woman of generous looks before the camera and dynamic speech before the microphone, but her appeal is truly multi-dimensional. The family. The experience. The package. The more we learn about Sarah Palin and her family, the more she appeals to working class Republicans and Democrats. It seems implausible that a more perfect running mate for Senator John McCain could be found. Moreover, her political background includes a record of reforming that uncannily resembles McCain’s own background.

If we want to talk about real change, or change in which we can believe, we need a different team in Washington. Senator Obama has been whining about the need for change in Washington, but the Democratic party has been in control of the House of Representatives and Senate for two years. Where is the change that was promised two years ago? What did Obama and Biden change as U.S. Senators? Let’s face it. We need something new and two Ivy League-trained attorneys will not make the needed difference.

We’ve tried dad after dad in Washington. Let’s try a mom for once. To effect real change in the White House, we need a woman’s perspective on domestic and foreign affairs. I say this as a son, father, and husband. There are some jobs that require dad and others that require mom. There are some tasks that I do best and others are best handled by my wife. Women should be in high political office.

I sure hope that Governor Palin brings the baby to the debate. That should silence jabbering Joe Biden (as Dad calls him because of his penchant for saying too much) for at least a few seconds…

I Think I Need a Third Hand

When I was in high school and college, my two sisters refused to sit me with at baseball games because they hated my cheering. I would cheer really, really loudly in a very throaty and raucous yell. Since that time, I have mellowed and don't cheer as loudly at baseball games. But Wednesday night, at the Republican Convention, I resurrected that voice and cheered as loudly as I ever have at any sporting event! What an awesome night! Michael Steele, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Guiliani, and especially Sarah Palin all gave excellent and rousing speeches. What I really didn't know what to do was what I should do with my hands. Seriously, should I clap or wave my sign? I tried to do both simultaneously, but I think I really could use a third hand.

OK, enough about me. On the last blog, I mentioned the Texas delegation. Some other delegations that I noticed were Pennsylvania waving thier yellow "terrible" towels, Florida waving their orange towels, American Samoa in their flowery shirts, and Michigan wearing some very cool hockey sweaters with the number 08 on the back. It was the Michigan delegation that cheered the loudest at Hockey Mom comments. The Maryland delegation also started a good back-and-forth chant for Michael Steele.

And now a cheat sheet to some of the the impromtu chants that started up in the crowd in case you could not understand them on TV.

How should you respond to questions about Obama's legislative record? "Zero! Zero!" with the forefinger making a circle with the thumb. The Obama-Biden ticket is big on talk. The McCain-Palin ticket is big on results.

How do you respond to questions about how to make the U.S. energy independent and bring down gas prices? "Drill, baby, drill! Drill, baby, drill!" We're not advocating only drilling for oil, but drilling for oil needs to be part of the solution along with nuclear power, clean coal, wind, solar, and other sources of energy.

How do you respond to the role of many media outlets in this campaign? "Booooooooooo!" and turn around to look at the television booths in the rafters with thumbs down. We Republican delegates are proud to stand up against the Washington insider, the old boys club and liberal media establishment who are attacking Sarah Palin because she is not one of them and not of Washington.

And of course, chants of "Sarah! Sarah!" and "John McCain!" are always appropriate.

I cannot wait for John McCain's speech to close out the convention. I'm planning to wear a "Stanford 4 McCain" T-shirt. Look for the Cardinal red.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Partisan Politics

In listening to Joe Lieberman talk yesterday I was taken aback by his topic, as I was expecting something more along the line of Senator Thompson’s speech, constantly explaining how McCain’s military background makes him the only choice to be our next President. Especially since Partisan politics hasn’t been high on the priorities of the American public, at least not as stated in recent polls, his speech came as a shocker. Yet what he spoke about, Partisan politics has been stated by activists such as Japhet Els of Change-Congress.org as the most central problem of our government, the root from which many of our woes stem.

As a member of today’s youth, I like many of my generation, am put off by the current state of the government. Apathy in my generation has taken hold, caused in large part to what we see when turning on the T.V to listen to our politicians. We hear a cacophony of words with no backing, Partisan ideas, slander being thrown about by both sides, and little actually being “said” by those running for office. However, while this campaign has had its fair share of candidate bashing and negative advertising (to note I watched the RNC on CNN and they were running anti-McCain ads during the convention) I still feel much more enthusiastic about my options for President then I have in my short lifetime following politics.

At the base of what I’m looking for in this election, is a break in the gridlock that grips Washington. Several months ago I attended the Leon Panetta lecture series, featuring Tucker Carlson, Gov. Bill Richardson, former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, and Bill Press. The panel focused on this gridlock in relation to Obama’s campaign, as this was a Democrat delegation, the thing that struck me the most was how they stressed that the only way to get things done in D.C, will be with the political capital the President has in the first 100 days he's in office. Be this what it may, I don’t want to think that the next President has only 100 days to grapple with some monumental issues. The perils we face scare me; from our foreign energy dependence, to social security, the war on terror and the image of our nation to the world, not to mention our teetering economy, and looming Medicare crisis. It’s going to take more than 100 days to set forth policies that deal with even one of these issues, and thus we need a President who can cross party lines to make sure that the necessary decisions be made and legislation passed to deal with these issues accordingly.

Lieberman’s speech helped to highlight for the general public, the impressive resume that John McCain holds in his fight against special interests in Washington, who are responsible for much of the quagmire the besets our government. From his campaign finance reform bills to his championing of those who try to infuse our legislation with Pork Spending, McCain has time and again put the interests of our nation before that of the Party. In doing so he has strayed from typical Republican policies and crossed over to work with Democrat’s to make such accomplishments possible. To me, this history makes him stand out as the smartest candidate to pick when the November election takes place.

While our future President will be charged with the task of spear-heading the fight against Partisan politics, in no way does this mean that the general public should simply sit back and wait for change to happen. Our politicians are representatives of their constituencies, meaning that our voices for change are necessary for any action to occur. We can’t let special interests and corporate lobbyist drown out the cries for action of the general populace. I’m proud to say that here in Silicon Valley; the cries of the public are being amplified with the help of technology and our entrepreneurial culture. Sites like Change-congress.org have been present at the conventions, talking to various delegates and elected officials about the corruption that has taken hold. Specifically traction has been found at both conventions surrounding the effort to deal with earmarks and maneuver legislation through the Partisan stand still.

Hope isn’t a word that should be patented by just those of the Democratic Party; rather it should be the rallying cry of all of us, across party lines. Hope should inspire us to pick the candidate who can create change in the future, not merely preach about it. Hope should be handed down to the next generation, so that the problems we face today will not cripple their future tomorrow.

Notes from the Convention, Day 2

Now that Hurrican Gustav has passed, the number one topic of conversation in the convention halls is Sarah Palin, and there is really an excitement and buzz about her. People are really looking forward to her speech tonight, and we're all anticipating great remarks. When she comes out on the stage, the hall is absolutely going to go wild. And all the media reports over the past couple of days about Palin and her family are just increasing the support and fervor for Palin as the next vice president. If there is one thing that we conventioneers know how to do it is to give long standing ovations (see our ovation for Laura Bush on Monday or our impromtu ovation for Bush 41 on Tuesday evening), and I except we'll give an incredibly long standing ovation for Palin tonight.

If any of you reading this blog are from Texas, you should be really proud of your delegation. The Texas delegation really knows how to act at a convention. First, they all wear the same outfit--usually a polo shirt with a cowboy hat--so they are really noticeable. The California alternates sit behind the Texas delegation and in front of the Texas alternates, so it's kind of like Texas surround sound. It's a fun sight to see 40 cowboy hats being waved in unison. Anyways, the Texas delegation also leads cheers. Last night during some of the breaks the delegation would yell "McCain!" and the alternates would respond with "Palin!" They're also encouraging people to stand up and wave their signs, and they even tried to get the wave going. It's a lot of fun--part political pagentry and part sporting event.

On Monday night, I went to a Daddy Yankee concert which was partly hosted by the Republicans. A couple of weeks ago, the Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee endorsed John McCain, and it was arranged that Daddy Yankee would perform in Minneapolis. The club was packed, mostly with local Minneosta Hispanics, who obviously knew his music. But sprinked among the crowd were a lot of white Republicans who like myself were at best semi-familiar with his music. Anyways, we all had a fun time, but who would have ever thought that Republicans would have a post-Convention party at a Daddy Yankee concert?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lay Off Bristol

Even Obama gets it. Yesterday he told reporters that Bristol Palin’s pregnancy has no relevance to the campaign. The NY Times reports that he said, “Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be. And if I ever thought there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they’d be fired, O.K.?…I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.”

Good for Obama. If only my friends would listen to their so-called Obama god and stop saying it’s “hilarious” that Palin has a pregnant teenage daughter. They see it as hypocritical of a governor who supports abstinence-only sex education in her state to have her eldest daughter get knocked up. Or they’re like Sally Quinn and think that Governor Palin can’t possibly juggle such family drama and the vice presidency at the same time.

Let me respond by first saying that Michele and Barack Obama are working parents, and yet no one is questioning their commitment to their children. As McCain’s chief strategist told the NY Times yesterday, Palin has “been a very effective governor and again I can’t imagine that question being asked of a man.”  I don’t think it would actually occur to me to ask this question of Hilary or Nancy Pelosi at any stage of their child-rearing years.

Such discussion leads to another comment made by the liberal pundits this weekend – isn’t there some classism going on, considering that Bristol Palin has so much more support compared to a typical poor black teenage mother? Well, yes, she does have a better network of support and wealth. Is this really a ding against the Governor though? Maybe Sarah Palin will now actually have more sympathy for families dealing with this problem. Maybe she’ll understand the range of emotions a young person experiences when faced with such a difficult choice. The pain associated with becoming a mother when you’re not ready isn’t only related to not being financially supported – it’s very much based inside the individual and her family dynamics. I bet Sarah Palin understands this better than so many of us, even if we’ve known families dealing with teenage pregnancies.

Liberals have also argued that Palin’s support of abstinence-only sex education seems to have bitten her in the foot here – did it not work even for her own daughter? they ask. To this I say a couple things – first, to apply a statistic to an individual case is a recognized academic no-no. Who knows what the circumstances surrounding Bristol’s pregnancy are?  They could have been related to carelessness, emotional difficulties, or any number of things. We’re all well aware of these if we watch Lifetime teen pregnancy specials. It wasn’t necessarily her lack of access to or misunderstanding of birth control. For all we know, in a family where the mother is the governor of the state, such issues could have been openly debated and discussed at great length.

Second, whether or not you agree with Palin about abstinence-only education, you have to wonder how many teen pregnancies are the result of pure ignorance about how condoms and birth control pills work, and how many are the result of other factors. Perhaps sex ed needs to present all the relevant facts, but also make teens feel more secure about waiting to have sex. Personally, I think the biggest factor pushing kids into sex is social pressure, not what teens learn in the classroom, so an education that makes abstinence appear normal – while still presenting factual information – might not be such a bad idea. But I digress.

So what does Bristol’s pregnancy say about Sarah’s family values, which evangelicals prize so highly in their candidates? I’d say that the Palins are doing the best they can – Bristol is marrying the father. I don’t see how an evangelical family would want otherwise for their children. They’re playing exactly by the books.

And look, I’m close to people who’ve dealt with this issue, and I know that they’re good parents. There’s a limit to how much you can control your child in this country, since we don’t lock teenagers up or put tracking collars on them (yet…). After a certain point, teenagers have the information they need and must make choices for themselves.

Finally, there have been great presidents with renegade children who have done worse, such as John Adam’s alcoholic son Charles, James Madison’s stepson John Payne Todd who was an “alcoholic, a gambler and a thief," and Ronald Reagan’s “renegade” daughter who posed for Playboy, to name a few. Hey, if this were England, the scandals of the nation’s leaders’ children would be the main income-generators of many well-read tabloids!


Notes from Convention, Day 1

Much of the Convention on Day 1 was correctly focused on Hurricane Gustav. Because all the evening speeches were cancelled, the convention mostly focused on business, such as approving the platform.

Still, it was exciting being there. All of us here are really excited about the McCain-Palin ticket, and looking forward to showing our support for it over the next few days. Watching the Democratic convention on TV last week, I was really impressed by how much passion, enthusiasm, and unity the Democrats were showing for Obama. However, I think people who watch the Republican convention this week will see just as much if not more passion, enthusiasm, and unity for McCain. It's an exciting time, and it's fun to be a part of it.

A good example of that enthusiasm: Laura Bush appeared at the Convention to say a few words, and we gave her a long and energetic standing ovation. Part of that ovation was due to the fact that she was the first notable speaker to appear at the convention, but I think we also wanted to show our deep appreciation for her role as first lady over the past 7 1/2 years. She really has been a wonderful first lady. She has never had a very public role as first lady but when she is interviewed, she is always very gracious and thoughtful. I was glad we had the chance to thank her for her service.

Laura Bush's comments focused on Hurricane Gustav, and she introduced a video of taped statements from 4 of the governors affected by the hurricane: Gov. Perry (Texas), Gov Barber (Mississippi), Gov Riley (Alabama), and Gov Crist (Florida). These 4 governors all described the work of their states preparing for the hurricane and the work their emergency management agencies and National Guard Units were doing. They also expressed their appreciation of the support and aid being offered by the federal government. It was good to see government-in-action with these Republican governors rolling up their sleeves and doing the work they were elected to do.

One thing that I had not really thought about previously but which has come up in a few conversations over the past day is Barack Obama's connections with the Chicago political machinery. People who are familiar with Chicago politics say that anyone from Chicago who rises to top of politics must have had help/support/aid from Chicago's political machinery. Is this the case with Obama? Part of Obama's promise is that he will crack down on special interests, but did he do anything to crack down on the special interests in Chicago? I do not know the answers to these questions, and maybe there is nothing here. But I do wonder if the media has ever looked into it.

The protestors also seem to be out in force. However, I have not seen any protestors other than on TV. The convention and its security has been very good at getting the delegation buses to the convention without running into the protestors. Apparently, some protestors did attack one bus and others blocked the road. They obviously have the right to hold a protest, but it clearly went too far if the rumors are true about them attacking buses and blocking roads.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Palin pick scares Democrats; Gustav's impact on RNC

One of our fellow bloggers already predicted that the Palin pick was a wacky but brilliant decision. Now that we have the weekend behind us, and with the RNC just started, we can further confirm the genius behind John McCain's decision,
  • The news during the weekend was without question the Palin pick. When was the last time the mainstream media got excited with a Republican issue? Only Arnold's bid for the governorship of our wonderful state of California seems to have come close in recent memory. And even that... During the primary season the Clinton-Obama fight might have eclipsed the Republicans but I would gladly sign for having between now and November 4th the media as excited with the McCain-Palin ticket as they have been during the last weekend.
  • Obama's acceptance speech, despite being the most watched acceptance speech of a presidential candidate in US history, was either ignored or not given enough attention by the media.
  • The Republican base got so excited by the pick that the McCain campaign raised 4 million dollars over the Internet in one day and a half. John McCain said in an interview to Fox News last Sunday, "I wish I had have taken her a month ago".
  • And what is probably the best evidence that the Palin pick has effectively neutralized Obama, polls from Gallup and CNN show a very modest (in CNN's case not even statistically significant) bounce for Obama after the DNC. Going into the DNC, I am sure the Democrats had higher expectations than that ;D.
Democrats are sure panicking. Given how game changing the Palin pick has been, that reaction is understandable. In fact, Joe Trippi warns their fellow Democrats that they shouldn't underestimate Palin. But that's one thing and quite another to react, as the most recalcitrant of liberals have, with fallacious, unsubstantiated nonsense smear attacks against Sarah. If what we saw during the last 2 days is any indication, it might be a very nasty campaign by the other side. But if that's the best they can do against the McCain-Palin ticket, it's tantamount to an implicit acknowledgement that our liberal friends are scared to death about what seems right now the very real possibility that John McCain will be the next President of the United States, a very different scenario than what they imagined just one month ago when Obama was enjoying his status as American celebrity with the Germans.

As I am finishing this post, a scaled down RNC has just started; as I watch my fellow Republicans in Saint Paul greeting Ms McCain and Ms Bush, it's evident that they continue to be electrified with Palin. My thoughts are with the Americans who have been affected by the Gustav hurricane. A prompt action by the federal and state governments together with a weakened storm makes me believe that Gustav's impact will be less severe on the human front than Katrina was three years ago. Let's hope it's the case.