Friday, August 29, 2008

The Palin investigation

Okay, so I've been digging through Alaskan newspapers and so far I've discovered that the national media knows little about this issue. Here's what I found:

The problems began when Palin fired her Public Safety Commissioner, Walter Monegan. Monegan failed to adequately fill vacancies in the state police (upwards of 50-60 total slots) and varying sources suggested difficulties in recruiting as a reason. In addition, Palin discovered that Monegan had gone directly to the State Legislature to request additional funds for his department without her approval. These funds were not authorized by Palin and, in fact, violated her strict budgetary requirements. As a result, Monegan was fired. Monegan never claimed lack of funding as a reason for failing to fill the slots and the legislature refused his request, citing his inability to fill the vacancies as evidence of incompetence (in so many words).

As Governor, she has the authority to do this and no one disputes that.

Shortly after the firing, a blogger named Andrew Halco, described as a "former political rival and relentless critic of Palin's" looked into the firing and eventually conducted a private interview with a Trooper named Mike Wooten, who Halco knew was once married to Palin's sister and whose marriage ended in divorce with a bitter child custody fight. These things had been well-publicized by the press and occurred before Palin took office as Governor. After Halco's investigation, the Alaska State Trooper's office released Wooten's file to the media and it should some nasty stuff. During this divorce, Wooten was suspended for threatening to kill Palin's father, for tasering (yes, he tasered) his 11 year old stepson, for drinking beer in his squad car and for violating wild game laws. The suspension was for 10 days and was later reduced to 5 days after a union protest.

Apparently, Halco claims that Monegan was fired for failing to fire Wooten under pressure from the Governor. Monegan was silent on the issue for a lengthy time. Palin's office refused to comment on the firing as well, out of respect to Monegan (so they claimed). But once Monegan broke his silence he began openly discussing the firing, and claiming coercion. Palin's office then released the details and the reasons behind his firing.

Monegan claims that Palin's office contacted him many times to exert pressure on him to fire Wooten. Records show dozens of calls from Palin's office to Monegan's, but these have all shown to be related to appropriate day-to-day business, except for one where there was a somewhat suspicious conversation. In this conversation, a man named Bailey (from Palin's office) was discussing a routine matter with Monegan when the topic drifted toward Wooten. Bailey was on tape saying (pp): "Sarah and Todd are scratching their heads as to why this guy is still on the force, he seems like a huge liability when it comes to recruiting".

Palin claims that she was unaware of this conversation and never authorized Bailey to discuss Wooten with Monegan's office. As a result, Bailey was suspended for an unspecified time. When Palin was made aware of the tape of the discussion her office immediately turned the tape over to the AG's office and formally requested that he open an investigation into the matter. In addition, the State Legislature, under Republican leadership, also enlisted the services of an independent investigator and began immediate chatter about impeachment. Related or not, it's important to understand that this is the same legislature that Palin was at odds with regarding fiscal discipline and ethics reform. To say their relationship was strained would be an understatement. Palin, while popular with the people, was NOT popular among state politicians.

To this point, that one phone conversation is the only evidence of Monegan's accusation. No one else at the Dept of Public Safety has complained about the Governor's office or claimed coercion. Monegan has also complained about not receiving a pension, although he technically was not fired but was offered a different position outside the area of department head, or basically offered a demotion. Monegan refused and thus, technically, resigned his office.

So you can form you're own opinion, but I don't see this going anywhere. Yes, this one statement was somewhat inappropriate but Palin's response was adequate. It does not represent enough evidence of Monegan's claim. Granted, more evidence may emerge and if she is found to be abusive of power then, obviously, she should resign her nomination. It looks like Halco made quite a large leap in connecting this story and coming up with the allegations of coercion, but that's just my opinion. McCain doesn't seem to be concerned about this, so this probably won't go anywhere.

The Palin investigation

An excellent choice.

McCain has just reinforced his persona as a maverick, as someone who isn’t afraid to buck the trend, to take on his own party. He picked someone who mirrored his political philosophy in so many ways and even though I would have rather seen Hutchison or Ridge on the ticket I still think Palin is a great pick. Republican political leaders may not like her, but that’s fine with me. Those people should be unemployed anyway come November.

Setting her personal story aside – and she really does have an amazing personal story, as does Obama, Biden and McCain – Palin has established herself as a maverick. Yes, she is relatively unknown nationwide, but I think that plays to her advantage. Being unknown means people will start researching her record and conservatives, independents and Reagan democrats will like what they see…I certainly do. Her record may be short in duration, but she has done some extraordinary things in the way of reform. She has lived the talk of fiscal responsibility and ethics reform. She has great work in energy and taxes. And she has broken with her party (and McCain) on more than a few occasions, sometimes drawing harsh criticism. These are the things that are missing in Obama’s and Biden’s records.

I took issue with Obama for talking the talk and not walking the walk, and then McCain steps up with this pick, who personifies what was lacking in Obama. It was an absolute stroke of genius for McCain. What has happened is a change in campaign strategy, and a huge gamble for McCain.

Gone are the days of the “experience” issue. McCain can’t use that anymore and, frankly, neither can the Dems. In the same fashion, the Dems can’t use the “Washington insider” tagline anymore. Instead, we will hear about the “reform” issue. Government reform will become the talk of both campaigns, and McCain and Palin are the only two who have the record to back it up, while Obama has the rhetoric and Biden has a long legislative record of partisanship. Government reform is something that gets voters charged up and energized, just ask Ross Perot. This campaign is shaping up as something that’s good for all Americans. When both campaigns make reform the top issue, we all benefit. My vote-them-all-out wish gets a bit closer to becoming reality.

The stories say that McCain decided on Palin before Obama’s speech last night, which tells me that he took a risk. Either that, or he has some amazing foresight. Last night, Obama made the case that experience doesn’t matter. Indeed, that was a message we heard repeatedly from the convention. They were going at one of McCain’s biggest charges and making some headway. Instead, Obama focused on the importance of reform, of changing Washington…bringing change “to” Washington. And part of that argument was that it takes an outsider to do these things. Yes, McCain could have gone with Romney and kept banging away at the “no experience” thing, but it wasn’t likely going to stick. America seemed poise for something new.

So McCain gives them Sarah Palin, someone new from way outside the beltway with a proven record of reform. McCain has effectively yanked the Oval Office blue rug right out from under Obama. Because Obama’s problem now is the fact that he speaks of reform yet carries a partisan record with him, along with Biden. Reform will be a tough issue for him now that he has to tackle both McCain’s and Palin’s records, which demonstrate just that.

And even though the Dems will likely press the experience issue, they will have to tread very lightly. Palin’s sweet, attractive demeanor will make it difficult for them to attack too hard without looking like brutes. And they can’t talk about lack of experience when Palin has about as much as their Presidential nominee, and has more executive experience than Obama, Biden and McCain combined.

Yes, McCain will have to abandon the “he isn’t ready” talk, but he no longer needs it. He made his point and has driven this message home. It’s time for something new. Reform is now the top issue, Obama ensured that last night with his speech. And, in truth, it was a key issue for me as well. A person doesn’t need experience to be a good President…this is the case Obama made last night and McCain took it from him. Changing Washington will be the topic of discussion. And when the records of the two tickets are compared, there simply won’t be any comparison.

And to quote Obama: “When you don’t have a record to run on, you paint your opponent as someone to run from.” This will come back to bite him many times.

On a personal note, experience hasn’t really been a major issue for me. Yes, I am a bit uncomfortable with Obama’s lack thereof, and feel the same level of discomfort with Palin’s. But it’s more important to me to have someone who won’t continue with business as usual, and I mean that in the general sense, not in the Bush-bashing sense. Washington has been rendered incompetent from blind partisanship, and BOTH democrats and republicans are responsible. I say vote them all out! Give me someone who’s non-partisan, yet shares my traditional, conservative values and they’ll get my vote every time, even if they’re an aging Senator from Arizona or an unknown 2-year Governor from Alaska. And in a country that tends to hover in the middle-right area of politics I am not alone.

Palin will certainly have to prove herself but I think she can do it. She’s surprisingly tough and has proven that. I don’t think Joe Biden or Vlad Putin scare her.
This is a phenomenal pick. Well done, John McCain

Day opportunity for change

Before I get into this, let me say a few things to help you understand my perspective. I’m a conservative. My posts certainly reflect that. But more than that I am an American and I deeply love this country. Because of that, I deeply despise politicians. There are few creatures on this planet that have done more to weaken my beloved nation. So when Obama first appeared on the scene it was rather refreshing. His newness and inexperience were appealing. I read his book and gained some admiration for him. Nice guy, lovely family, equally skeptical of Washington politics. Of course, there wasn’t a single issue where I agreed with him…not one. But I was willing to overlook that for the right message. This guy was talking about a new kind of politics. In my mind, enduring four years of bad policy was worth it if it meant cleaning up the sludge pit money grab of corruption that Washington had become. In my mind, we had to start somewhere and if that meant a far Left liberal I was open-minded enough to consider it.

Unfortunately, the campaign revealed more about Obama, namely the fact that he is just another politician. Along the way, I lost respect and admiration for him. Last night I was hoping to get that back. It didn’t happen.

He entered to U2 blasting away in the background which was great and, in all honesty, the best part of the speech. There were the typical gimmicks and anecdotes, the sad tales of people he met on the campaign trail, typical liberal tag lines, the laundry list of America’s problems. The first half of the speech was a waste of time. And then came the words of inspiration that he is so good at delivering. He began talking about his new kind of politics, about bringing change to Washington, about doing things differently, about new solutions, about tossing aside the failed policies of the past. Maybe this was where he regained my respect. Nope.

Instead, he launched into the same old attacks on his opponent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with attacks. In fact, I’m okay with the two guys ripping each other apart. They’re politicians, they deserve it. But in light of a “new kind of politics”, I thought the attacks were excessive, misleading and unfair. And this after saying his opponent should be respected. A new kind of politics? Nope.

Then he went into the details of what he planned to do as President. There was absolutely nothing new. His solutions were typical democrat solutions, only applied to new 21st century problems. Higher taxes, more government spending. He flirted with something new when talking about personal responsibility, but that was fleeting. This was a democrat speech, canned in 1976 and recycled today on a grander, more elaborate stage. It was Jimmy Carter’s covered in cheez wiz.

I’ve got news for Obama. We have problems today, but they weren’t only created by Republicans. Both parties have been in power equally the past 40 years. So if we talk about failed policies we need to talk about both sides. Yes, he alluded to cutting failed government programs but he didn’t name a single one. Name one. Just one (and the military budget doesn’t count, the Dems always cut that one). Instead he ripped apart the GOP as if to say the Dems have the only answers. This is one example of how divisive this speech was. He also pitted workers vs. entrepreneurs, rich vs. poor, males vs. females. Aside from the eloquence and charisma, did he truly say anything that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? Nope.

A few specifics that stick out: First, he said he would debate John McCain and welcome the topic of foreign policy. So why hasn’t he? McCain has repeatedly offered to debate, but Obama has refused. A new kind of politics? Also, his promise to cut taxes for 95% of Americans. I’m sorry, I’m calling the Senator out on this one. Health care alone will require MASSIVE tax increases. In fairness, Obama may not realize this. He may not “get it” as he said about McCain. Regardless, there is no way…no way he can cut taxes like that and still do the things he promises to do. And then there was the attack on McCain, “if you don’t have a record to run on you paint your opponent as someone to run from”. Hmm. How ironic, coming from someone who’s only been a Senator for a few short years.

So where did he fall short? If you want all of America behind you, then it takes honesty, sometimes brutal honesty. He should have ripped into his party like he ripped into the GOP. Yes, the GOP has screwed things up, but so have the Dems. Congress shares just as much blame as the President if not more, and GOP has only controlled Congress for 12 of the past 40 years. So a new kind of politics would require changing Capitol Hill as well as the White House. Vote them ALL out! If Obama had said that, I would have come out of my chair and his poll numbers would be in the stratosphere.

It also requires new ideas, not just the same solutions to new problems. Talk about reforming the tax code, not using the same tax and spend methods that have, yes, failed in the past. Talk about a Constitutional amendment for the line item veto. Talk about cutting the government, and give specifics. Talk about shifting power from the federal to the local level where the people have more access to their leaders. These are fresh ideas. This is change.

It also requires telling people the whole truth. Obama filled our heads with visions of sugar plums, but he didn’t tell us the down side. He didn’t mention doubling the capital gains tax. He didn’t mention increasing payroll taxes. He didn’t mention the windfall profits tax. He left out quite a bit and that simply looks dishonest. Just tell us, Senator. We can take it. If Washington is going to change, then we understand there will be some tough parts. Not telling us about these looks deceptive. It looks like politics as usual.

And he needs to avoid the contradictory talk. Is America a land of opportunity where someone from impoverished beginnings can rise to success like Barack, Michelle and Biden? Or is it the land of “empty promises” where the poor and unprivileged don’t stand a chance? It can’t be both. They succeeded without government help, by their own bootstraps, yet Obama criticized that as a failed Republican value. So which is it?

All in all, I was under-whelmed. I appreciated the historical context, but I honestly think Dr. King’s legacy was cheapened a little. Seriously, would Dr. King have rock stars performing before his speech? Would he have fireworks and balloons and confetti? Would he have created a stage that mirrored a Greek temple? Of course not. Obama fell short in a big way. He dazzled democrats and maybe some independents, but he left out a lot of people.

Obama is not the second coming of Dr. King. He’s more like the second coming of Jimmy Carter. And if there is something America can’t afford, it’s another four years of that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Day 3

Bill Clinton did a good job. He delivered a solid speech as he has a talent for doing. He did a much better job than Hillary at making a case for Obama. Overall, I think the speech was a bit heavy on self-glorification, but he nonetheless did what his party needed him to do.

Like Hillary, he delivered a laundry list of problems that the next President will have to deal with, but he fell a bit short in explaining how Obama would solve those problems. In fairness, that's Obama's job. Clinton's job was to at least appear as though he was fully supportive of Obama and that's what he did.

Now, some criticisms. Clinton mentioned the failure of America in addressing AIDS nationally and worldwide, and our failure to lead on global warming. Yet, he seemed to forget that he had eight years in office to address these issues and his administration fell very short. The same could be said about energy independence (if he'd started drilling then that oil would be hitting the market by now), global terrorism and Islamic extremism, and maintaining a strong military (no administration cut the defense budget as much as Clinton). Then he followed by saying that his "experience" tells him that Obama is ready. Hmm. Is that the same experience that dropped the ball on these issues?

All in all, I'd say BJ's speech was a plus for the Dems, but I also think that much of it was devoted to Clinton's own accomplishments and seemed to suggest that if Obama followed his lead then the candidate will do well. Fair enough. The speech was a success and may provide a small bounce but won't sway too many voters.

Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War. That should be noted since he seems to have forgotten. Also, why was it okay in the minds of Dems to take down Milosovic for genocide, but not Hussein for similar crimes? Just wondering.

More from Biden: "giving up is unforgivable" - Then how does he explain Obama's position on Iraq?

"the greatest warriors in the world" - this line got VERY little applause.

But I finally got some specifics about what Obama plans to do. Granted, these were sandwiched between the same old references of emotion, but I paid close attention. Apparently, Obama plans to provide health care to every American, save the Social Security trust fund, put more police on the streets, make college more affordable and help the nation of Georgia rebuild....and he will do all of this while cutting taxes for 95% of Americans. Huh?

Someone needs to explain to me how this is possible, because that seems like some very expensive things to do while also lowering taxes. With respect to Biden and Obama, I'm no idiot. I don't buy it.

Now, tomorrow. I am stunned that Obama insists on moving the convention to a larger venue to allow for more people to attend so he can deliver his trademark "rock star" speech. I think it's a huge mistake and a perfect metaphor for Obama's biggest shortcoming....his pride. He knows that the image of "The One" has and will hurt him. He knows that the average American most likely won't react very well to a candidate who speaks in front of a Greek temple backdrop before 80,000 people. He knows this, but he doesn't care. He wants the adoration, the crowd. At at time when America needs to learn more about Obama, he refuses to keep things more intimate, more one on one.

Obama's folks are already saying that he's doing this to allow the public more access to Obama's campaign. Bull! If that's true, then why doesn't Obama agree to the town hall debates with McCain? Why did he fight the vote counts in Florida and Michigan? That kind of rhetoric is bogus. Obama wants the grandiosity. And I don't think America is going to appreciate that.

This will look self-indulgent, presumptuous, pretentious and very arrogant. Americans may like confidence, but they don't like arrogance. A President is a servant of the people, and being a servant requires some humility. Obama has yet to demonstrate an ounce of humility. Before he says a word tomorrow, he will be facing an uphill task. His wife made the case 2 days ago that Barack was just an average guy-next-door type, and now he insists on moving the entire convention to a larger venue for his speech, complete with pillars and a stage fit for a Greek god. The two images don't mix well. Obama's speech tomorrow is already a big mistake and he hasn't said the first word. Regardless of what he says, tomorrow's speech will be more about Obama's ego than anything else. He may very well come out of this convention with a dip in the polls rather than the usual bump.

Day 2

Well, for the second consecutive night I am disappointed in the lack of substance from the Democrats, but I honestly wasn’t expecting much given the recent tension in the party. Last night, Hillary Clinton gave the first speech of her Hillary 2012 campaign. It was a bit self-indulgent with the clear intent of establishing herself as some sort of cultural icon and a voice for women. I think she accomplished that task, but she didn’t do much for election ’08, she didn’t do much for Obama.

Yes, Hillary said she supports Obama. Yes, she launched a few zingers at McCain. As a key democrat, she had to do her duty. But if this was an endorsement it was mediocre at best and hardly enthusiastic. She did what she had to do but overall didn’t really have much to say in support of the candidate. She went through the motions but this speech was about Hillary.

It was filled with a laundry list of problems America faces but no solutions were offered. There were Clinton ’s typical “folks she met on the campaign” references, no doubt inserted for the usual emotional effect. The best line was a quote from Harriet Tubman.

A few specifics that caught my eye: she spoke of universal, high quality, affordable health care. Of course, this is an oxymoron. There is no such thing as universal, high quality, affordable health care. It is the proverbial unicorn of politics. Clinton doesn’t realize this but she continues to pursue it like it was Sasquatch.

She also passionately spoke of some nonspecific mom she met on the campaign whose work hours were recently cut. I’m not sure what she was referring to, but I interpreted that as someone who had been victimized by the recent minimum wage increase that most employers simply can’t afford. And speaking of can’t afford, she also mentioned the need for more unionization. Yes, liberalism was alive and well.

One line that stuck out: “We’re Americans, we’re not big on quitting.”

Was this a subtle jab at Obama’s Iraq plan? Not sure, but that’s the first thing that came to mind when I heard it and I’m sure I am not alone.

She never mentioned foreign policy. She never said Obama was experienced enough and qualified enough to be President. She never said Obama was ready. She didn’t mention his character or his background, so there was no link to the theme of the first night. She didn’t mention any of his specific policies or plans. Her endorsement could have been applied to any fill-in-the-blank democrat. Basically, her Leftist supporters will vote for Obama but her independent supporters won’t budge, and I think that was her intent. She had the difficult task of looking supportive and doing what a good democrat should do without looking too supportive, without swinging the election back to Obama’s favor. Mission accomplished. Obama’s problem is with that subset of Hillary voters in the white, working class population. These are the folks who are typically moderate and not yet sold on Obama, the most liberal member of the Senate. These are the ones he needs to win. And these are the folks who won’t be swayed by what she said. Hillary’s primary campaign was based on Obama’s lack of experience and she said nothing last night to the contrary.

Let’s be clear. Hillary cares only about Hillary. She wants the White House like a two year old wants the chocolate chip cookie, she’ll break the cookie jar if she has to. If 2008 isn’t possible, then she will pursue 2012 and that’s what this speech was all about. I don’t for a second believe that she wants Obama to win because that would ultimately hurt her chances in 2012. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that when she’s in that voting booth she actually pulls the lever for McCain. So will Bill, and so will the intern that’s in the booth with him.

Tonight, Bill will speak and this should be interesting. Two nights have gone by and nothing has been accomplished aside from the launch of Hillary’s next campaign. Tonight will not likely be any different. Bill simply doesn’t like Obama and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. Tonight’s speech will be about Bill and will certainly be a continuation of last night’s theme…Hillary 2012. Plus, BJ has some image problems that he wants to address, namely the “racism” charges that came out during the campaign. He’s bitter about it and he seems intent to blame Obama for the perceived slander. But he also brings a bit of uncertainty. The guy isn’t exactly predictable lately and there really is no telling what he might say. He most definitely has not been an ardent supporter of Obama and if I were the candidate I would be a bit nervous, especially after Hillary’s speech. This should be entertaining if nothing else.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Day One

My assessment of DNC day one:

I didn’t watch Ted Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi. Frankly, I knew what they were going to say and wasn’t in the mood for the usual politics. Pelosi and Kennedy are two people for whom I have little respect. Last night was Michelle Obama’s night and I was interested to hear her speak.

I start off with something that didn’t occur to me until after the speech, but I think is the most important thing about last night. In the after-speech discussion, Juan Williams (my favorite liberal) was asked of his impression. Williams became visibly emotional. He talked about how amazing it was for him, a black journalist, to watch a black female stand and deliver an address in such a context. He was proud. Then he became more emotional when discussing the image of the Obama family. There, before the world, was the picture of a whole family. Michelle mentioned her father and the importance of his influence, her brother and the strength he provided. Then we saw Barack, a man devoted to his wife and children. In these times where the black family has been shattered, such a picture was a wonderful thing to see. That’s what moved Williams and, you know, he’s right. I think America needs more of this and I welcome the fine example set by such a handsome family, as should we all. This could be a very important legacy for an Obama presidency if he goes about it the right away. Bravo for Michelle Obama! Bravo for her beautiful family!

As for the speech, I think it was warm, fuzzy and loaded with typical liberal idealism. Granted, Mrs. Obama did a good job and she accomplished the task of reintroducing herself to America , but the content was lacking. I heard things like “the world as it should be” and “the new tide of hope”. I heard “listen to our hopes instead of listen to our fears”. I heard “stop doubting and start dreaming”. Basically, I heard the same old baby boomer, let’s-all-hold-hands-and-love-each-other-hug-a-tree-world-peace-tie-dyed-kumbaya idealist nonsense that stinks of the ‘60s and has become common from the Left. Don’t get me wrong. I’m okay with idealism. I’m okay with dreaming about utopia, but not at the expense of reality. And the reality is that I don’t have time for this mess. I have to get up and go to work in the morning. I have mouths to feed. I have bills to pay.

That’s reality, Mrs. Obama.

The reality of our world is that there are bad people out there who want to kill us. Acknowledging this fact does not amount to listening to our fears. The reality is that even though they’re easy to hate, we still need rich folks to drive business and provide jobs. I know I do, and so do most Americans. Rich folks aren’t evil, they’re just successful. They should be modeled and not demonized. The reality is that government is not an efficient, effective way to provide people with things they need. This has often been a brutal realization for some, yet it’s a lesson we have somehow yet to learn. The reality is that national health care has been ultimately detrimental for other nations. The reality is that we need to find a way to lower the cost of living and wean ourselves from foreign energy and we need to start RIGHT NOW! Listening to our dreams and the new tide of hope does absolutely nothing in that regard.

In fairness, it’s not Michelle Obama’s job to detail specifics about these things, so I don’t want to be too hard on her. But I do hope that the rest of the DNC doesn’t follow suit. The Democrats have long been the party of emotion much more so than the GOP, which is why Republicans are often viewed as insensitive and uncaring. But emotion doesn’t solve the problems we face. Emotion makes us feel good, but then we still have real problems that need effective solutions. Feeling warm and cozy doesn’t help. As a middle class voter, I can respectfully say that I don’t need a hug. I don’t need to listen to my dreams. I don’t need the new tide of hope, but thanks anyway. I need to hear someone talk about solving problems in a way that will benefit me, my family and my country, and I need specifics. “Change we can believe in” doesn’t cut it. “Yes we can” means nothing to me. Americans need more action and fewer words. While Michelle Obama’s speech was sweet and cozy, it still failed in that regard. There was plenty of emotion, but the lack of action left me dissatisfied. It will be interesting to see how the others follow.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Joe Biden on Barack Obama:

Aug. 2007 on Obama's experience: "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training."

Aug. 2007 on Obama's threat to go into Pakistan after Al Qaeda: "The way to deal with it is not to announce it, it's to do it. . . . The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we're about to violate . . . their sovereignty."

Aug. 2007 on Obama's pledge to meet with leaders of rogue nations: "Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries within the first year I was president? Absolutely, positively no."

Sept. 2007 on Obama's Iraq plan: "My impression is he thinks that if we leave, somehow the Iraqis are going to have an epiphany. I've seen zero evidence of that."

"If the Democrats think we're going to be able to nominate someone who can win without that person being able to table unimpeachable credentials on national security and foreign policy, I think we're making a tragic mistake..."

Biden On Obama's Leadership On Iraq: "I Don't Recall Hearing A Word From Barack About A Plan Or A Tactic."

Biden on McCain:

"I'd feel a lot better if I knew that President Bush was going to be elected--and I'm not being solicitous--if I knew he was going to start to listen to John McCain instead of the secretary of Defense..."

"And so I've believed for a long time, a view shared by my Republican colleague John McCain and many others as well, that we need more force in Iraq. That's not a popular position to take. But we need more force now in order to have less force later. We need to gain control of security in Iraq."

"John McCain is a personal friend, a great friend, and I would be honored to run with or against John McCain, because I think the country would be better off -- be well off no matter who..."

Some of Biden's gaffes:

"You cannot go into a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. Oh, I'm not joking."

"Better than everybody else. You don't know my state. My state was a slave state. My state is a border state. My state is the eighth largest black population in the country. My state is anything from a northeast liberal state,"

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,"

Again, I think Obama made a mistake here. He can no longer attack McCain for being a "Washington insider". He can no longer run a credible campaign of "change" and "new faces" in Washington. And Biden will eventually have to explain why his opinions of Obama and McCain suddenly changed when his name was added to the ticket. Politics as usual, perhaps? Obama could have done much better with Bayh.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden is a mistake. I'm not sure what Obama was thinking there. Biden has a brutal tendency to shove his foot in his mouth....things like "Delaware was an original slave state" when explaining why he appeals to southerners. Plus, he roasted Obama on inexperience and a poor plan for Iraq during the primaries, all while praising McCain. The VP pick is rarely significant, but I think Obama could have done better.

Now, I'm really hoping McCain goes with Hutchison. If he does this, the election would be effectively over.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quick picks for running mates:

Obama goes with Bayh. Whether or not this is wise has yet to be determined. Biden has way too many soundbites criticizing Obama's Iraq strategy. Hillary would turn his campaign into a circus. Richardson is too inconsistent. And the Virginia guys are simply too risky. Bayh mirrors Obama. That's my bet.

McCain's pick is less clear. I'm going with an out-of-left-field darkhorse and saying Kay Bailey Hutchison. He wants Lieberman or Ridge, but the GOP would never allow it. He can't stand Romney, although I wouldn't be surprised if this ended up being the ticket. Pawlenty is a maybe, but I don't see it happening. Jindal would be a great choice, but would take away McCain's "no experience" complaint against Obama. Hutchison would be superb. She would mirror McCain in many ways and potentially bring in some of the disenchanted Hillary supporters.

Just my thoughts. Tomorrow we'll see...when Obama "reveals his running mate to the world"

Give it a rest, Senator. You're not the center of the universe.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A tough week

Obama’s slide continues and there is no doubt that the powers that be in the DNC are getting worried. Ever since his Obamapalooza tour of Europe, the poll numbers have been dipping. Obama’s troubles began then and he has yet to right the ship. And most recently, the events of the past 1-2 weeks have been a near disaster for his campaign. He’s limping into Denver with what appears to be a new strategy. Obama looks poised to get muddy, leaving behind his claim of a new kind of politics. Today, he challenged McCain by saying his opponent “doesn’t know what he’s up against.” If this isn’t the sound of desperation – or perhaps preschoolish whining - then I don’t know what is. Something tells me McCain isn’t afraid. I’m wondering how far Obama is from asking McCain to “step outside”? My money would be on the old man in that one.

McCain’s charge that Obama is an empty celebrity, aka “The One”, has had some effect, and Obama didn’t get any help from Nancy Pelosi when she said that he is “a leader that God has blessed us with.” Really? So now the Dems have reached the point of claiming that God will be voting for Obama in November? Not a bright move from Pelosi, and I’m sure Obama cringed at the remark.

About the same time, the Soviets decide to dust off the hammer and sickle and invade a democratic neighbor. McCain was quick to act tough. Obama urged both sides to exercise restraint. Both sides. The American people saw one candidate unafraid to back down to a bully, the other hesitant to take sides. Big mistake, especially for a party trying desperately to shake their “weak on national security” reputation.

Meanwhile, the Dem convention has turned into Hillary’s gala. Somehow this event changed from Obama’s nomination to the Billary Show. Now Hillary, Bill and even Chelsea have primetime speaking slots. Huh? Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I thought Obama was the winner of the primaries. I doubt the same courtesy would have been extended to the junior Senator had Hillary triumphed. The fact that he allowed Hillary to elbow her way, once again, into the center stage spotlight reflects even more weakness. If he caves that easily to Hillary, how will he do against Ahmadinejad? Or is this a hint that Hillary will be on the ticket? Talk about caving. I can honestly see Obama in the Oval Office telling Hillary to get out of his chair and Bill to get out of his office. That ticket would turn the White House into a frat house.

And then there’s the Saddleback forum. Was this a disaster for Obama or what? Take away the teleprompter and suddenly the oratory master starts spinning his wheels. Most notable was the simple question: “When do babies get human rights?” It was painful watching Obama stumble around that one. For someone who repeatedly votes for abortion rights, including legalizing partial birth abortions, it seems the answer to this question would be quick and easy. But, that’s not how it went down. Obama responded by saying that such an answer was “above my pay grade”. Above my pay grade? What? Did he actually say that? Did he actually say that he is not qualified to answer that question? And yet, he has a problem with people questioning his experience, or lack thereof. You know, there are certain things you expect from a presidential candidate while he’s campaigning, but refusing to answer a simple question because it’s “above my pay grade” isn’t one of them. Is there a higher pay grade in this country than President? I respect people of differing opinions, but I don’t respect people who are obvious in their fence-riding. Take a stand, Obama. Have an opinion. If you don’t know when life begins, then maybe you should rethink your votes for abortion rights, or at least explain them. After all, if there is some uncertainty maybe it’s wise to err on the side of caution instead of the old “kill ‘em all and let God sort them out” type of answer. This was a gaffe, and a huge one at that. Especially compared to McCain’s answer: “at the moment of conception.” Short and to the point. Yes, there will be people who don’t like him for it, but at least he has the guts to voice his opinion.

McCain won that night in a big way, and suddenly the dems are shocked that the old man isn’t rolling over for the Chosen One. But, instead of putting the night behind them and moving on, they have the stones to suggest that McCain cheated. Arrogant? Just a bit. And now amidst the whining Obama says McCain doesn’t know what he’s up against. Funny, I was just thinking the same thing about Obama and the Dems. Although, I think they have a much better idea now. No wonder Obama doesn’t have the guts to take on McCain in his cross-country town hall tour.

Something tells me the Obama campaign is about to get dirty. Next week is the convention. Let’s see how many times they go after McCain, rather than the usual “change we can believe in” and “a new kind of politics”. We’ll see.
The Old Man has turned the Obama campaign on its ear and he is clearly here for a fight. Good for him. Before this election I wasn’t a big fan of McCain’s, but I’m really beginning to warm up to him. He’s feisty. He’s mean. He’s tough as nails. And he has the Dems squirming. That’s alright in my book.

Friday, August 15, 2008

After watching Lance Armstrong win his seventh Tour de France, I was convinced that I would never live to see anyone match his accomplisment. I figured there was no way anything could compare. I was wrong. I just watched Michael Phelps win his seventh gold medal in Beijing, his 13th overall Olympic championship. Unbelievable. What Phelps is doing is unheard of and I can't even think of the words to describe it. There's no basis for comparison here. I'm just glad I was around to watch it happen.

Now, for more serious stuff. Russia is out of control. I'm wondering if we're witnessing the return of the Red Army. We haven't seen bullying like this since the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia. Not sure what they're doing, but it looks a lot like annexation. No doubt Ukraine and Belarus are more than a bit concerned. It appears that all Russia needs is an excuse and they will commence to rebuilding the old Soviet Union. It's simply unacceptable, brutal aggression.

But, even worse, is the silence from the UN headquarters in New York. Moments like this are exactly what the UN was established for, and they have - as always - been utterly inept in stopping the Soviet (yes, I used this word intentionally) aggression. Amazingly, it seems like the only thing between Georgia and its complete destruction is Condi Rice. Again, this is unacceptable. I've long advocated for the US withdrawing from the UN, and this only reinforces that notion.

Not to be outdone, the Europeans are equally silent. Yes, Sarkozy has pressured the Soviets, but that's about it. Why? I don't know. Maybe it's because the Soviets supply 30% of Europe's oil. Maybe it's because apathy is running rampant. Or maybe it's just typical European cowardice...they're not knocking on my back door so why should I care? Absolutely shameful.

And faced with a golden opportunity to show that his lack of experience is not an issue in foreign policy, Barack Obama decides to vacation in Hawaii while the people of Georgia get steamrolled. Yes, he climbed out of the swimming pool long enough to issue the obligatory condemnation, but that's pretty much it. Granted, he's only one Senator. But it seems to me that if he expects us to trust him as President he should at least postpone his vacation and take a more forward approach in leadership. After all, McCain doesn't have a problem with it. Very disappointing.

And finally, President Bush has gone too far with US involvement. He has dispatched military planes and units for humanitarian purposes. As always, I have a big problem with this. Bush, like many before him, forget that the US military is not a babysitter. These people are trained to kill people and destroy things, not to hand out toilet paper and bottled water. When you start sending US troops for these types of missions you're asking for trouble...period. We don't belong there. Our troops don't belong there. Soon, Naval warships will be rubbing elbows in the Black Sea with Russian ships, while our planes circle overhead to deliver supplies. How long before someone gets trigger happy? All it takes is one breakdown in communication and suddenly we have a major international incident, if not an all out war. Bush is dead wrong and he'd be wise to keep our troops out of it. I sympathize with the people of Georgia, and strongly condemn Russia, but this situation is not a matter of US national security and therefore our military has no role here.

I'm okay with sending the Sec State to help negotiate peace. But instead of sending troops to Georgia, Bush should be standing before the UN demanding international action against Russia. Humanitarian assistance is THE UN'S JOB! Hopefully, one day the UN will eventually take a leadership role in that regard.

Meanwhile, let's all pray that our involvement doesn't lead to disaster.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Happy Olympics to you all. I love this time. Every four years the people of America seem to come together for a common purpose…cheering for our nation’s best athletes as they compete against the world. I guess that’s what makes sports such a great thing. For a while, our petty differences don’t seem to matter all that much, whether you’re talking about the Olympics or some other sporting event.

When I go to a Cowboys game, I may be sitting next to a Liberal, or a Libertarian, maybe even a socialist. But who cares? At least I’m not sitting next to a Redskins fan. We don’t talk about politics. We don’t talk about Iraq or the energy crisis. No, we focus more on why Tony Romo can’t seem to win while he’s dating the latest hottie du jour. You won’t see Code Pink at a Cowboys game, and if you do it’s okay as long as they’re cheering for the Cowboys and not cursing our military. The point is we’re united despite our different backgrounds.

The same thing happens when I’m at a NASCAR race. You won’t hear any disagreements about drilling, or taxes, or how to properly fight Islamic extremism. Sure, there may be the occasional argument over who’s the better restrictor-plate driver, but it’s all in good fun. And the people of NASCAR are all-inclusive, a perfect metaphor for the way America should be. You’re not hated for your religious beliefs, or your sexual orientation, or your racial background. You’re not excluded based on your feelings about abortion. If you like to watch racing and you are passionate about the sport, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. Nobody cares about your political affiliation. Nobody cares about your background. The only thing that isn’t tolerated is political activism. That’s sort of a buzz kill for the folks who are there to have a good time. Be passionate about your favorite driver, but don’t talk about the Bush-Gore SCOTUS decision. After all, such talk does nothing to help your driver win the race.

Ever go to a college football game? You see quite a mix of people. There are 80 year old guys who never miss a game, and 20 year old kids who are recovering from last night’s frat party. They may vote differently but they all want their team to win and win big. It doesn’t really matter if the team wins with a conservative, grind-it-out running game or with a “showboat” progressive hook-and-ladder trick play…as long as they win. What a concept!

But nothing compares to the unity that we feel during the Olympics. We may be at each other’s throats about how to fix Social Security, but when the gun goes off we’re all pulling for Michael Phelps and the Red-White-Blue. That’s what makes the Olympics great to me. Others may say the competition is a time for world unity, but I disagree. For me, it’s more of a time for national unity. I don’t care about being united with the Chinese or the Australians. To me, it’s all about being united as Americans. I want our athletes to beat them all.

So here’s to the next 16 days. I look forward to America once again coming together as one. I’m hoping that McCain, Obama, Pelosi and Bush put aside the politics and give it a rest for a while. There’s plenty of time for jabs and mud-slinging after the closing ceremony. And, frankly, I think we’re all a bit tired of it. The Olympics only come around every four years, let’s not ruin them with the same old politics. Thank God the Olympics occur during election years. It’s good to get a break from the garbage that comes from Washington. It’s good to still see that no matter how different we may be we can still find that elusive common ground.

Coming together for the common good despite our personal differences…I think our elected leaders could learn quite a bit from American sports fans.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Ever heard of the UN's Millenium Development Goals? Neither had I until I read this column by Ollie North, a man I trust and admire. Here's the skinny:

For years, the UN has been pushing for a global effort to bring the Third World into the modern world. On the surface, their intentions seem wonderful. They call their objectives the Millenium Development Goals and it consists of 8 specific things they hope to achieve. These are: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; develop a global partnership for development. The target date for achieving these goals is 2015.

Here is the website if you want to learn more.

Now, I am all for doing these things. You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who isn't. But my cynicism immediately kicks in when I hear talk of such things because doing these kinds of things costs money, and lots of it. And where does the UN hope to get such money?

Before we get into that, I also want to point out my past criticism of the UN. It's no secret that I despise that institution. In my mind, the idea of a multinational global union that works for the benefit of all people is a pipe dream. Each individual nation is going to seek its own self-interests, regardless of what's best for the world. So bringing nations together for a common goal amounts to herding cats. Then there's the Third World influence which seems to dominate the UN, as well as the influence of dictatorial regimes like Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba, who have no interest in democracy and basic human rights. They all get one vote in the UN General Assembly, as does the United States despite the fact that we pay 25% of the UN's annual budget revenue. So I often wonder how the UN expects to fight for human rights issues when many of its member nations aren't interested in these issues. Then, you have to factor in the corruption, and the UN is arguably the most corrupt institution in human history. There's a lot of money going into that body, and the people who pay this money aren't getting much return on the investment.

My point is that if we want an effective global union then it must be a group of nations with a common goal and a common interest. This body should be comprised of ONLY nations who practice democracy and equality. At least then, we would find some common ground while also speaking with a loud voice. It would encourage those outside nations to clean up their acts in order to be a part of the global community. Seems so common sense to me.

Now, back to the Millenium Goals. The UN hopes to achieve these with a familiar plan - redistribution of wealth. It will require the wealthiest nations to pony up big time so that the poorest nations can be provided with the necessities required to achieve the goals. The US cost? Annually, 0.7% of its gross national product. That's $100 billion a year NOT including the 25% of the UNs annual budget that we already fund.

While you try to close your jaws, you can also think about this. Despite his inexperience, Barack Obama HAS proposed some legislation, and one of his key legislative pieces is the Global Poverty Act of 2007. In addition to Obama, it has 29 cosponsors. Here is what the bill says:

"To require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day."

Basically, this bill is an endorsement of the UNs plan and it requires the US government to find a way to get the UN what it needs to accomplish it. What does that mean to you and me? Simple, the IRS will be collecting taxes for the United Nations. Frame it anyway you want, but that's what will happen.

I am a "by your own bootstraps" kind of guy. I sympathize with people who struggle but I believe it is ultimately their responsibility to free themselves of that struggle. Society's responsibility is to ensure they have the freedom to do so, without someone else's boot on their neck. Freebies are nice, but are more often than not squandered. It's only when things are earned that they are valued. This rings true whether you're talking about a single individual or an entire country. Many nations have pulled themselves out of poverty, look no further than China for such an example. So the idea of taxing the wealthy to give to the poor is just as fruitless on an international level as it is on an intranational level. How much has this nation spent on entitlements and social programs since the 1960s? And how much have we accomplished? Just look at the statistics and you'll see again that there has been little return on that investment.

Obama calls himself a citizen of the world, and his Global Poverty Act is his crowning piece of legislation. It passed the House in September 2007, and now has to pass the Senate and be signed by the President. Once that happens, the American people will be paying heavier taxes to the UN - a corrupt and inept institution - for the benefit of those nations who won't take responsibility for themselves. No wonder this man is loved by the world moreso than by his own country, his loyalties at times seem to be misplaced. $100 billion a year can do a lot right here in America.

Redistribution of wealth does not work and it never will. Think about that on November 4.