Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Protect Values, Protect America: Vote Life

Via Jill Stanek, here's the powerful video from Catholic Vote 2008:

Life, faith, and family ... now more than any other time in history ... a new generation must stand for truth ...

Vote life in 2008.

Don't Proclaim the Obama Era Just Yet!

I need to follow up my earlier entry, "Obama's Landslide Projection is Risky," with this truly wonderful post from Hillbuzz, "Here’s What’s Going to Happen For the Next Five Weeks":


The financial meltdown in Washington has been coming for the last two years. Ironically, ever since Democrats regained Congress and Nancy Pelosi became Speaker. We did not expect things to come to a head at this moment — instead, we believed Democrats were trying to keep the bubble aloft until mid-October, so the meltdown would happen just before the election. For whatever reason, this financial situation happened now, and it’s benefitted SoetorObama in the short term. The narrative this week will continue to be about a struggling economy in recession — which benefits SoetorObama as long as voters don’t think too long about his actual ability to do anything about the situation. When they think long and hard about their financial problems, then look at SoetorObama’s complete dearth of experience in economic matters, the fact he’s never run any kind of a business, and his complete lack of experience ever dealing with large-scale problems like this on a bipartisan basis, with real accomplishment, we believe voters will not put this country in the hands of the media’s darling — not when jobs, lives, and the economy are at stake.
Hillbuzz has a provocative discussion of Democratic voter mobilization for Barry Soetoro (the black Democratic base is already mobilized as the most loyal voting constituency in the nation, so new registrants may not in fact turnout), and then concludes thus:

We’re in the middle of a pro-SoetorObama news cycle that will end this weekend — when Sarah Palin exceeds expectations in the debate this Thursday and people get together on the weekend to talk about how much they liked her and how well they thought she did....

Next week will be back to another upswing for McCain, followed by another SoetorObama week, give or take.

About two and a half weeks before the election, in mid-October, for all of SoetorObama’s shady connections to come to light and for the GOP to do what SoetorObama in his two autobiographies and his two years of running for president failed to do: define him. The GOP will prove to the American people that SoetorObama is unfit for the presidency: not ready to lead, but also morally questionable in his judgment and decisions through the years.
The Obama camp and some of his supporters are a bit too optimistic. Yet, the McCain camp has its work cut out for it, first with helping Sarah Palin master the national media spotlight, and next in repositioning McCain as the bare-knuckled fighter he'll need to be if he's going to successfully battle the left-wing media machine's attempted elevation of Barry Soetoro to the White House.

The Activist Fifth Column Probama Mass Media

I like Jeff Goldstein's take on the Glenn Reynolds' "media-in-the-tank-for-Obama" e-mail:

What strikes me as most odious is that last bit in the Instapundit excerpt — “The fix is in, and its [sic] working” — an admission made all the more disheartening to those of us who realize that the press is becoming a willing accomplice in election rigging because it was just 4-years ago that Evan Thomas of Newsweek acknowledged the media’s complicity in this attempted anti-democratic, anti-American gambit. But rather than feel shamed at their failure to honor a contract with the public, the press has decided instead to double down and give up any pretense of being neutral — all to help elect a Stepford candidate forged from 60s radicalism and polished by Alinsky, Gramsci, and the philosophical precepts of progressive fascism.

Proof positive that those who have suspected the press of being an increasingly activist fifth column are not so much paranoid as they are perspicacious.
But don't miss the other side on the Reynolds' scoop, for example, TBogg and Whiskey Fire (hat tip: Memeorandum).

Worst Case Scenario

Back to the future?

Mother of Seven Children During the Great Depression

Ross Douthat, responding to the economic crisis and the congressional stalemate, suggests a depression is the worst of three scenarios ahead. But read David Brooks as well, "Revolt of the Nihilists":

What we need in this situation is authority. Not heavy-handed government regulation, but the steady and powerful hand of some public institutions that can guard against the corrupting influences of sloppy money and then prevent destructive contagions when the credit dries up.
That's reminiscent to what I wrote previously, in "Conservatism, Neoconservatism, and Economic Crisis."

Florence Owens Thompson, by Dorothea Lange.

Monday, September 29, 2008

In the Tank: Media Fix For Obama?

What's the definition of "in the tank"? Perhaps this:

I think your answer for why a thrown fight is considered “in the tank” is located directly above the entry for “in the tank” in the sports writer’s handbook. An easy fight may be “in the bag,” but a thrown fight? Well, that’s in an even sturdier, more reliable receptacle. It’s in the tank.
How about a thrown election? Could be:

A READER AT A MAJOR NEWSROOM EMAILS: "Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working." I asked permission to reprint without attribution and it was granted.
Emphasis added, and there's more at the link.

Come to think about it, on abortion and ACORN alone, Barack Obama's skating free. He may get some critical press once in a while, but this notion that "editors refuse to publish anyting that would jeopardize" Obama's chances sounds eminently reasonable to me (for example,

Obama's Landslide Projection is Risky

The Daily Telegraph reports that Barack Obama believes he'll win the November election in a landslide:

Barack Obama's senior aides believe he is on course for a landslide election victory over John McCain and will comfortably exceed most current predictions in the race for the White House.

Their optimism, which is said to be shared by the Democratic candidate himself, is based on information from private polling and on faith in the powerful political organisation he has built in the key swing states.

Insiders say that Mr Obama's apparent calm through an unusually turbulent election season is because he believes that his strength among first time voters in several key states has been underestimated, both by the media and by the Republican Party.
Obama's confidence rests on his expectation to win in battlegrounds states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, where he suggests that extant polling has underestimated his appeal.

While there's no doubt that Obama's currently doing well relative to the GOP ticket, the Illinois Senator's theory underlying his landslide projection is suspect.

Gallup reported in June that voter enthusiasm dipped considerably at the conclusion of the primaries, and experts predict that young voters' enthusiasm turns into unreliable confusion in November. Additionally, it turns out that Obama's outreach efforts to unionized white-working class voters have proved difficult, as the New York Times reported this morning (from Wisconsin, where union activists say working-class voters often base their votes on non-economic issues, including race). Not only that, while dramatic turmoil in the economy continues, Americans see better times ahead, as soon as next year (58 percent as indicated in the new USA Today poll).

The way these variables interact depends on developments both in the economy and the campaign, although both
Democratic and Republican operatives indicate things are looking good for the Obama camp.

Peter Wehner suggests a huge opening for John McCain:

Potentially, the most lethal political charge against Obama is that he is a deeply liberal/ideological figure who has associated with radical individuals in order to advance his political career. The question is whether Obama’s countenance and personal style make those charges seem far-fetched; or whether the McCain campaign can convince voters that Obama’s appeal is at its core fraudulent and his new-found centrism a mirage.
Members of both the left and right recognize Obama's genuine ideological radicalism, to the glee of the trolls of the left-wing fever swamps and to the consternation of conservatives (and see Stanley Kurtz's new essay, linking Obama to ACORN and the subprime mortgage crisis).

As it stands, other than
Gallup, a number of other major surveys find Obama up only by four or five percentage points in national head-to-head matchups (today's Los Angeles Times and Rasmussen, for example); yet Obama is picking up ground in some key battleground states.

It remains to be seen, however, whether recent improvements warrant Obama's optimism.

Obama Sought Rape Victim for Ad Promoting Abortion

Jonathan Martin reports that Barack Obama looked into procuring the services of a rape victim to appear in a pro-abortion camaign ad buy:

Barack Obama's campaign earlier this month sought to find a rape victim to appear in a campaign commercial, according to an e-mail obtained by Politico.

Kiersten Steward, director of public policy at the Family Violence Prevention Fund, served as a conduit between the campaign and victims and women's advocates....

The Obama campaign wouldn't detail the strategy behind finding an individual to discuss such a sensitive topic but did suggest the ad may be aimed at underscoring their candidate's support for abortion rights and ongoing effort to retain those women who backed Hillary Clinton in the primary.

"Choice is an important issue, and we're going to continue talking about it in battleground states through the election," said spokesman Bill Burton.

Virginia is one of those swing states that Obama is especially focused on, and that's where one rape victim received the request to appear in an ad.

Mikele Shelton-Knight declined to do so, but said in an interview that she was glad the Obama campaign was seeking to highlight the issue.
There's likely more to it than that ... perhaps Shelton-Knight found distasteful the prospect of becoming the poster-girl of the Democratic-left's pro-abortion fanaticism.

Barack Obama's an abortion extremist,
Senator Infanticide.

Obama's bid to exploit tragedy is just one more example of how
the left devalues life. Family-planning organizations counsel abortion as a "solution" to rape, but research shows that women feel more guilt over aborting their pregnancies than being victims of sexual assualt. The abortion industry is all about rights, except those for the baby who might come into this world, an innocent child that in the end signal's God's ultimate blessing of healing.

Obama himself has said that women shouldn't have to be "
punished" with a child, and he refused as a member of the Illinois state legislature to guarantee the right to life for infant abortion survivors.

It's no suprise that the driving factor in the radical left's demonization campaign against Sarah Palin has been the Alaska Governor's living threat to the ideology of abortion on demand. Obama's effort to exploit rape victims to advance the cause of abortion extremism is logically part and parcel to that.

Palin Operation Gets Upgrade Ahead of Veep Debate

The Wall Street Journal reports that GOP running mate Sarah Palin's campaign operation is getting an upgrade ahead of Thursday night's vice presidential debate:

The McCain campaign moved its top officials inside Gov. Sarah Palin's operation Sunday to prepare for what is certain to be the most important event of her vice-presidential campaign: her debate on Thursday with Democrat Joe Biden.

Additionally, at the urging of the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, Gov. Palin will leave late Monday for his Arizona ranch to prepare for the high-stakes debate.

The moves follow several shaky performances by Gov. Palin last week and come amid concern and grumbling from Republicans, and even a few queries from her husband, Todd Palin, according to campaign operatives and Republican officials.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and senior adviser Steve Schmidt are planning to coach the candidate ahead of the debate, according to senior advisers. They traveled Sunday to meet the Republican vice-presidential nominee in Philadelphia. After her appearance with Sen. McCain at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, these top officials plan to fly with her on Monday to Sen. McCain's ranch in Sedona, Ariz., which they hope she will find a comforting place to prep, these people said.

More broadly, the McCain campaign aims to halt what it sees as a perceived decline in the crispness and precision of Gov. Palin's latest remarks as well as a fall in recent polls, according to several advisers and party officials.
The concern's not without merit. But I don't think the left's demonic ridicule masters should start counting chickens.

William Kristol notes this morning:

In the debate, Palin has to dispatch quickly any queries about herself, and confidently assert that of course she’s qualified to be vice president.
In other words, Palin needs to get back to being herself.

Joseph Biden is a 35-year veteran of the Congress, and bloviating sexist. He'll be walking on eggshells to avoid looking like an intemperate pig. Palin needs to have a ready comeback for Biden's over-confident preening, a "there you go again" moment that will put that stuffed suit in his place, revealing the utter hypocrisy of his attacks on Washington. A nice target will be the blatant corruption of Biden's son, Hunter, who just resigned as
a corporate lobbyist in shame.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Conservatism, Economic Crisis, and American Power

I'm seeing an interesting reaction to last night's post, "Conservatism, Neoconservatism, and Economic Crisis."

Uncle Sam

It's not often that one gets attacked and ridiculed for having honesty and integrity, but that seems to be the case here.

Most vocal is the initial comment from an arch paleoconservative, "HarrisonBergeron2," of the
Conservative Heritage Times. He's joined by a fellow who calls himself "The Angry Republican" in the comment thread. They're both followers of Ron Paul, and his tinfoil hat-style of extreme right-wing ideology (see "Ron Paul and the Fringe of American Politics"). Paleocons harbor a well-known hatred for neoconservatives, which in many respects puts them in bed with the antiwar left on questions of war and peace, and apparently on the economy as well.

So what's the beef?

The issue surrounds what might be called "the neocon approach" to the current economic crisis. Recall
Jacob Heilbrunn's essay this weekend, which takes a look at variations of conservative thought. Heilbrunn argues that George W. Bush is hardly conservative when it comes to economic management and the expansion of the state sector. Not only does Bush's big goverment neoconservatism rile paleocons, but some of the top conservatives on the mainstream contemporary right as well, like Newt Gingrich and Michelle Malkin.

As I suggested at
the post:

Americans expect an activist role for a substantial state sector, even conservatives. Until we are willing to peel back the entitlement culture and the regime of unchecked non-discretionary spending, much of the talk about fiscal conservativism is a ruse. The federal government is society's safety net, in most aspects of life. When things get rough, no other agent in American life has the legitimate power and resources to act to preserve basic functions and institutions, and hence to guarantee the survival of the republic.
Some may have read into this passage more than my meaning. The simple fact is that all modern industrialized democracies are advanced technocracies with large social welfare states. The notion of small-g conservative is fine in principle, but the U.S. has never really enjoyed a truly libertarian economic structure, the kind Hayekian libertarians advocate.

As the economist Robert Shiller points out today at the Washington Post, a strong role for government intervention in the economy is as old as the republic:

Americans may assume that the basics of capitalism have been firmly established here since time immemorial, but historical cataclysms such as the Great Depression strongly suggest otherwise. Simply put, capitalism evolves. And we need to understand its trajectory if we are to bring our economic system into greater accord with the other great source of American strength: the best principles of our democracy.

No, our economy is not a shining example of pure unfettered market forces. It never has been. In his farewell address back in 1796, 20 years after the publication of Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations," George Washington defined the new republic's own distinctive national economic sensibility: "Our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing." From the outset, Washington envisioned some government involvement in the commercial system, even as he recognized that commerce should belong to the people.

Capitalism is not really the best word to describe this arrangement. (The term was coined in the late 19th century as a way to describe the ideological opposite of communism.) Some decades later, people began to use a better term, "the American system," in which the government involved itself in the economy primarily to develop what we would now call infrastructure - highways, canals, railroads -- but otherwise let economic liberty prevail. I prefer to call this spectacularly successful arrangement "financial democracy" - a largely free system in which the U.S. government's role is to help citizens achieve their best potential, using all the economic weapons that our financial arsenal can provide.

So is the government's bailout a major departure? Hardly. Today's federal involvement offers bailouts as a strictly temporary measure to prevent a system-wide financial calamity. This is entirely in keeping with our basic principles - as long as the bailout promotes, rather than hinders, financial democracy.
Like myself, Shiller sees federal intervention as guaranteeing the survival of our economic institutions, and this is a temporary intervention that may well serve as the catalyst to a new wave of dynamism that transforms the American marketplace.

From a neoconservative perspective, which sees a role for government regulation of the economy and the military-industrial sector, the administration's policies are reminiscent of the response we saw to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The nation faces a fundamental crisis, and an expansion of the state in response is both necessary and proper.

Anne Applebaum notes that the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15 was "an economic 9/11":

The September 11 metaphor is a weary one: too many events, in recent years, have been described as "a new September 11", or "England's September 11", or even "football's September 11". Still, it might be worth rescuing the phrase one last time.

For if September 11, 2001 was the day that we had to reassess our ideas about America's role in world politics, September 15, 2008, the day
Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, may well be remembered as the day we had to reassess our ideas about America's role in the world economy. It's that cataclysmic, that decisive, that irreversible.
Beyond this comparison, Applebaum's thesis is that instead of uniting the country (as we say in 2001, the Wall Street's financial mess has sent the country into a partisan funk, upending "our national psyche."

Applebaum's conclusion offers some speculation on whether the current economic crisis marks the end of America's international economic preponderance. She doubts it, but amazingly,
some anti-Americans on the left are hoping that this month's collapse will weaken the United States and foment the rise of a true multipolar world order that effectively rein-in U.S. power and ambition.

I wouldn't bet on it,

As the world grapples with the fallout from Wall Street's shenanigans, there's no shortage of consternation, and even anger. But so far the international image of the U.S. economic model has shown amazing resilience. Lehman Brothers may be in the morgue and AIG on government-funded life support, but most businesspeople think the U.S. is more about Silicon Valley and Hollywood than the erstwhile dynamos of Wall Street. Even in China—where broadcaster CCTV-2 has been running two hours of special programming every night about the financial crisis—the U.S. is still a land to be emulated.
It's more than perception, however. Every major international crisis or domestic setback the U.S. has faced has been met with cries on both left and right that America's in relative economic decline. Yet, the more likely scenario, as Applebaum notes, is that if the U.S. ecoonomy goes down, the rest of the world will go down with it. Not only that, there's no ready alternative to American world economic leadership. The dollar still finances more than 90 percent international trade in goods and services, and the U.S. market is the destination for both people and products from every shore abroad.

This is not to say the way out of our crisis is guaranteed, or that it will be easy. It does suggest that simplistic notions calling for some pastoral states-centered economic system in the U.S. is silly. On top of that, expectations that the Wall Street crash heralds the end of the American global protectorate is wishful thinking at best, and implacable America-bashing at worst.

Folks need to step back a bit, and think things through. We are facing a grave crisis, and in times of trauma often Americans turn to Washington for help as well as their own perserverance. Our traditions and our republic will endure, and they'll continue to adapt and evolve, as they always have.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Conservatism, Neoconservatism, and Economic Crisis

Last Sunday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich offered a compelling conservative critique to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's Wall Street rescue plan. According to Gingrich, "this gigantic power shift to Washington and this avalanche of taxpayer money is being proposed by a Republican administration, [and] the normal conservative voices have been silent or confused."

Not all conservatives were silent nor confused, however. The day after Gingrich spoke out,
Michelle Malkin asked, "Will the real fiscal conservatives please stand up?"

In the comments here, at some of my posts on the bailout, I've seen considerable conservative skepticism and outrage at the enormity of Washington's financial rescue activities over the last few weeks. As readers may recall, I've mostly just reported on the developments, without advocating one way or the other (the exception being
my post on the left-wing protests against the administration in New York and Washington). I have, of course, been amazed with the concentration of power in the Treasury Department under Secretary Paulson, and I've entertained the idea that the $700 billion rescue may indeed work to stablilize markets and restore confidence in the economy, helping to shift the system back toward financial recovery.

There's a couple of reasons for this: One, frankly, we're in a fast-moving and complicated period of economic crisis, and I'm like many others who are sorting their way through events, trying to get a handle on things. More than that, secondly, is that I don't disagree ideologically with the direction the adminstration has taken. The scale of the banking fallout certainly is unprecedented in my lifetime. Wall Street as it's been known throughout the 20th century - one composed of big investment banks and brokerages - no longer exists; and I see the Paulson plan as providing the stability and structure that will allow American capitalism to survive the seemingly existential shakeout now at hand.

That said, what's happening now economically and politically raises fundamental questions about the direction of conservatism, a continuation of the debate we were seeing on the right before the GOP primaries commenced in January: What happened to the Reagan legacy? Can small-g conservativism make a comeback?

While we may never again see another Ronald Reagan, lots of conservatives won't be too happy to see George W. Bush take his last ride out of Washingtion on Air Force One.

Jacob Heilbrunn takes a look at the Bush administration's handling of the crisis, with an eye toward the administration's legacy for the conservative movement:

Bush’s break with traditional conservatism is not a sudden development. Some of his most far-reaching measures — the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind education policy and, most emphatically, the costly Medicare prescription drug benefit — cut against the grain of that orthodoxy.

To Michael D. Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of “Leviathan on the Right,” Mr. Bush is not a conservative by any definition. “Anybody would be more restrained than Bush,” Mr. Tanner said. “Bill Clinton was a more conservative president than Bush” because Mr. Clinton “balanced the budget.”

Mr. Bush’s thinking, it appears, is rooted in a rival conservative vision. In this view, big government is here to stay and the job of conservatives is to convert it to the proper uses. The most articulate proponents of this idea include thinkers like Irving Kristol, who as early as the 1970s identified a new mission for conservatives — not to destroy government but rather to wrest control of it from a “new class” composed of professors, educators, environmentalists, city planners, sociologists and others trying to steer the economy toward a “system so stringently regulated in detail as to fulfill many of the traditional anticapitalist aspirations of the left.”

Mr. Kristol understood that Americans had grown accustomed to the services government provides. The conservative mission must be to transfer some of that power to private enterprise by slashing taxes while also fostering a religiously based moral vision for society.

And it is essentially this argument that has advanced throughout much of Mr. Bush’s presidency.
President Bush's vision, therefore, is a neoconservative vision that is far from hostile to the role of a large bureaucratic state in the development and administration of mass industrial policy, regulation, and social provision. As Irving Kristol once noted:

Neocons do not like the concentration of services in the welfare state and are happy to study alternative ways of delivering these services. But they are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on "the road to serfdom." Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable.
One doesn't have to be neoconservative to agree with this view.

The development of the modern industrialized state has been the development of bureaucratic, technocratic government power and scope. To think that the U.S. will return to some kind of early-19th century agrarian model of state-centered federalism is naïve. That's not to say we shouldn't seek to downsize the role of the state. It's simply to realize that the massive size of the federal goverment today is the result of the increase in government responsibility in all aspects of life, economic, military, and social, and the hopes to turn back the tide to an earlier era of libertarian small government are a bit wistful.

Americans expect an activist role for a substantial state sector, even conservatives. Until we are willing to peel back the entitlement culture and the regime of unchecked non-discretionary spending, much of the talk about fiscal conservativism is a ruse. The federal government is society's safety net, in most aspects of life. When things get rough, no other agent in American life has the legitimate power and resources to act to preserve basic functions and institutions, and hence to guarantee the survival of the republic.

In Contempt: McCain Wanted to "Demonize the Enemy"?

The early word this morning on last night's presidential debate held that the nation saw stark contrasts between the candidates, but "neither emerged as the obvious winner except to their partisans."

Actually, maybe the perception of a win for Barack Obama isn't as obvious as his left-wing supporters might like. With the exception of an odd post here or there, few Obama backers are ready to say the Illinois Senator hit a home run. Indeed, with the debate a draw, folks are looking for idiosyncracies or anomalies with which to blow up into a major news story. I heard George Stephanopolous say twice last night that "McCain didn't make eye contact," or just thereabouts.

Well, that's it: The left wants McCain's concentration and focus to be the week's big attack meme. Josh Marshall's been leading the partisan charge, for example, saying McCain was an "
angry" old man this morning. That spin's turning to something allegedly more sinister: McCain is being said to have held Obama in contempt, and as Eugene Robinson claims in the interview with Chris Matthews below, McCain wanted to "demonize his enemy":

Steve Benen's now working to get the "contempt" meme viral:

After the initial dust settles on a presidential candidate debate, Phase II begins - the media moves beyond who said what, and starts looking for some overlooked trend to obsess over.

The quintessential example was, of course, Al Gore "sighing" during the first of the three debates in 2000. A few people noticed Gore's breathing the night of the debate, but a day or two later, it became the story. To a lesser extent, Bush's bizarre facial features, and the apparent bump under his suit jacket, became fodder for discussion four years ago.

So, what's the stylistic story from last night? It may be John McCain's willingness to be ... what's the word I'm looking for ... something of a jerk....

The specific and unusual rules of last night's debate were intended to generate more interaction between the two candidates. Jim Lehrer seemed intent, at least early on, to get the two to engage each other directly. Obama mostly spoke to the camera last night, but he didn't hesitate to speak directly to McCain.

McCain, on the other hand, went out of his way, it seemed, to not even look in Obama's direction. Chris Matthews described this as a sign of "contempt," which struck me as the right description.
Benen concludes his piece with a coy disclaimer, offering doubts that the "contempt" meme might generate significant traction.

That's baloney, of course. CNN's already spinning the focus group data toward an Obama "win" last night (when in fact Democrats are overrepresented in the samples), and
some in the leftosphere are working hard to portray Obama as having put McCain down for the count.

I've followed McCain's presidential campaign like an addict all year, and I have never heard it on good faith that John McCain literally holds Barack Obama in contempt.

I saw McCain last night as a candidate at the top of his game, which was a phenomena in itself, considering the stressful week of events, and McCain's breakneck pace in working to ease the financial crisis. The Arizona Senator, frankly, was in the groove in Mississippi, and he wasn't about to knocked off his stride by slick debating tricks or slippery evasions. As
David Yepson argued last night, "McCain never got rattled or flustered, he just constantly stayed focused on the attack."

Not only that, if there's truly been any "contempt" and efforts to "demonize the enemy" this year, that program's been on the left of the spectrum, especially with the full-blown cultural revolt we've seen in response to Sarah Palin's nomination, but also in the earlier efforts to portray McCain as
a bloodthirsty neo-imperial warmonger who would keep the U.S. in Iraq for 100 years, and as a feeble geriatric whose "hair was whiter than his teeth."

The left's hysteria surrounding McCain/Palin continues to build, amazingly. Barack Obama didn't do as well as he should have last night, and his partisans are going to make it even worse for him.

Debate Shows Obama Not Ready to Lead

Here's John McCain's new ad buy slamming Barack Obama as "Not Ready to Lead":

Neither candidate in last night's debate emerged as a clear winner, although many leftists concede that Obama's performance was far from spectacular.

Barack and Michelle Obama
don't look all that pleased with the performance, for example, as seen walking off stage immediately following the debate:


Meanwhile, CNN has a lead story with the headline, "Round 1 in Debates Goes to Obama, Poll Says."

Yet, as Noah Pollack reports, more Democrats watched the debate, and were thus over-sampled:
Buried way, way down at the bottom of the story — hopefully, one surmises, past the point where anyone would read — is the following:

The results may be favoring Obama simply because more Democrats than Republicans tuned in to the debate. Of the debate-watchers questioned in this poll, 41 percent of the respondents identified themselves as Democrats, 27 percent as Republicans and 30 percent as independents.

I’m far from being a polling expert, but this is obviously a slanted poll.

Pollock's right, which means that the consensus among the punditocracy is accurate as well: John McCain, not known for powerful oratory, did better than expected, and in fact was successful in highlighting his towering foreign policy credentials in contrast to Obama's inexperience.

So what's the left to do?

Focus on any angle they can to keep up their relentless smears against the GOP ticket. The fertile ground? McCain's "lack of eye contact," which is apparently
the opening Josh Marshall needs to paint McCain as angry and psychologically unstable, even animal-like:

Here's one comment we got from TPM Reader EO ...

As a psychotherapist and someone who treats people with anger management problems, we typically try to educate people that anger is often an emotion that masks other emotions. I think it's significant that McCain didn't make much, if any, eye contact because it suggests one of two things to me; he doesn't want to make eye contact because he is prone to losing control of his emotions if he deals directly with the other person, or, his anger masks fear and the eye contact may increase or substantiate the fear.

I noticed him doing the same thing in the Republican primary debates. The perception observers are likely to have is that he is unwilling to acknowledge the opponent's legitimacy and/or is contemptuous of the opponent.

And here's another note from TPM Reader TB. I guess I'm really not sure quite how to characterize it ...

I think people really are missing the point about McCain's failure to look at Obama. McCain was afraid of Obama. It was really clear--look at how much McCain blinked in the first half hour. I study monkey behavior--low ranking monkeys don't look at high ranking monkeys. In a physical, instinctive sense, Obama owned McCain tonight and I think the instant polling reflects that.

So McCain may have given away his status as a low-ranking monkey. I'd never even considered monkey rank.

It turns out that the attack-potentional arising from the psycho-simian meme looked so promising that Marshall checked out his commenter's scientific credentials, which - joy! - turned up as legitimate.

Hooray! Obama's poor debate performance may not turn out so bad after all!

The Illinois Senator's not only got CNN in the tank for post-debate polling manipulations, but the nihilist leftosphere can perform clean-up work with a novel round of "McSimian" attacks (and make themselves look even more racist simultaneously - Obama a "high-ranking monkey"? Sheesh...).

It's just keeps getting better...

A Glimpse of Left-Wing America

Is the era of "post-partisan" America upon us, with the possible accession to power of "The One" in January? I wouldn't bet on it, if this video showing the left's reaction last Sunday in Manhattan to - blasphemy! - a pro-McCain victory march:

The Jawa Report suggests the scene is "a painful glimpse into a segment of America which is insular, bigoted and mired in despair."

The original hat tip goes to
The People's Cube:

These useful intellectuals turn out to be not as peaceful, inclusive, and open-minded as they claim to be. Take a peek into the glorious progressive world they want us to live in - they display zero tolerance to the opposing viewpoint, yet they want to impose their rule over our lives. Fugedaboudit! Republicans should be lucky New York doesn't have a Colosseum with lions.
I've been covering this stuff all week (with some predictable backlash), but for an even better overview of contemporary leftist ideology, see Dr. Sanity, "Competition for the Most Unhinged is Fierce - But There's a New Leader of the Pack" (and the winner is ... Naomi Wolf).

American Power Fan Mail

I must be doing a great job lately.

My essays have been getting linked by a considerable number of blogs on the left-wing fringe, like
At Largely, LGM, Stump Lane, and TBogg.

The traffic's nice, thank you, but the comments at the posts get old fast. My skin's thickened up a bit over the last couple of years, so I don't get too bothered by the attacks. Besides, it's like
Mike's America once told me: "It's a badge of honor ... you know you're really getting to 'em."

My writing's been all over the place on the issues, but a common theme is often Palin Derangement Syndrome (or just
left-wing nihilism generally).

But apparently
my post on Matt Taibbi's way-over-the-top attack on the Alaska Governor generated some considerable resentment, at least if this e-mail from an outraged lefty is any indication:

I was going to say sophomoric...

But pathetic is better. You say you “despise the hard left agenda” yet you “abhor irrationalism.” Your diatribe on Taibbi’s Oct. 2 Rolling Stone article has no rationalism in it. It is as fully emotional and full of invective as the piece of writing you criticize, just nowhere near as imaginative and insightful. And you are just plain unoriginal and ordinary. I guess that explains why he’s a nationally syndicated writer and TV personality and you are a pathetic blogger. You are a hypocrite too, but that’s not surprising; I’ve found it to be a necessary prerequisite for neoconservatism. That you are an Associate Professor, even of some podunk JC in the OC, yet aren’t well schooled and self-critical enough about your blather to catch and edit obvious oxymorons is also not surprising considering the poor state of education in this country. Nor is it surprising, based on the above, that you would tout your academic credentials and spout your mindless, uncritical slavish patriotism (“I fully support current U.S. military operations throughout the world”) in one breath. (I doubt there is one American general that would make that blanket of a statement. Certainly many have voiced the contrary.) Do the world a favor. Stop masquerading as someone who’s got anything at all important to say about anything and make yourself at least of some use by getting a manual labor job. Leave the thinking to those who are endowed with intelligence and real learning.

Palin Rolling Stone

I must be getting up there in the "wingnutiasphere," perhaps along with Michelle Malkin, who gets this stuff in her inbox routinely.

All in a day's work, I guess.

(And note, as well,
that I did - finally, ha! - get linked at Newshoggers a while back, which was a tremendous success after years of tormenting old Cernig, the nihilist, enemy-cheering proprietor of that concern.)

Paul Newman, 1925-2008

Sometimes one doesn't realize how much we adore an actor until they're gone. That's the way it is with Paul Newman, who passed away Friday at his home in Westport, Connecticut.

Paul Newman, 1925-2008

I mention this while reading the New York Times' obituary, which lists so many of Newman's films, and not only American classics, but movies that I saw upon commercial release.

Unlike say, Marlon Brando or Cary Grant, I took in many of Newman's films at the theaters.

I must have seen "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" a half-a-dozen times (or that's what I remember; if that's an exaggeration, maybe the couple of times I did see the movie had an exponential impact). We had a small movie theater at the mall by my house. This was in the early-1970s, when I was in junior high. My parents let me go to the movies on the weekends by myself or with friends. "Butch Cassidy" is the film that reminds me most of that time. We didn't have cable TV back then, or iPods. It was still the age of the golden cinema, and nowadays I always hope that going to the movies will bring back the sense of fun and escape I had in those days - a carefree kid, really, innocent and out for a little getaway.

I remember, too, that Robert Redford was the heartthrob in all these flicks (like "The Sting"), but Newman was the sly joker, and he played off Redford magnetism just perfectly. I love the horseback getaway scene in "Butch Cassidy," where Newman and Redford are about to jump off the cliff and Redford says "I can't swim," and Newman says, "Are you kidding? The fall alone will kill ya!"

I don't remember the movie as a comedy, however. It's a tragedy when Butch and Sundance die in the blaze of bullets at the end, and the fade-away scene is a classic of motion picture artistry (reprised, for example, in 1991's "Thelma and Louise"). I just didn't want that movie to end...

Other films, like "Cool Hand Luke," I saw on Saturday afternoon's hanging around my parents house. I think I'm a lot like Luke, likely to spend the night in "the box" for getting too ornery for my keepers.

Anyway, I imagine I could go on.

I've only met a few actors in my life, and my dad once told me that Newman wasn't friendly to common folk, that he was cranky and stuck up. I always remembered that in watching his films. We like our stars on the screen so much, we don't want a negative image or personal background story to ruin it for us.

It happened to me, for example, with Sigourney Weaver. I bumped into her in Santa Barbara at a children's shoe store where we were both getting footwear for our kids. I lit up with the biggest smile and said hello to her, but she barely acknowledge me and went on about her business. That's certainly undstandable (while less forgivable), but it reminded me of what my old man has said about Newman. I don't know if he was a cranky guy to strangers - I had no personal experience with it. He did brighten many a Saturday afternoon for me, and his stunning good looks and clever deviousness endeared him to everyone.

May he rest in peace, and best wishes go out to his family.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dancing in September ... Never Was a Cloudy Day!

My ace regular, Kreiz, put in a request for some Earth Wind and Fire, "September," so please enjoy (I like the psychedelics in the video, by the way):

I've been meaning to get back to my "lightening up" series with some more music, so stay tuned (and I'm in a punky mood as well, so we'll be rockin'!).

Presidential Debate: McCain's Clarity and Command

I'm watching ABC News, and George Will made an interesting observation that in baseball the ties goes to the runner, and so for the debate, comparing Barack Obama to Ronald Reagan in 1980 (with both Obama and Reagan the newcomers), the debate should be called in favor of the Illinois Democrat.


Will also noted that neither candidate said anything really meaningful about the Wall Street financial crisis and the proposed $700 billion bailout. McCain's call for cutting spending was a "non-starter," with so much of federal spending already on autopilot (in Will's opinion, and I concur), and Obama, frankly, sounded like a pointy-headed bureaucrat explaining the details of current congressional negotiations (that's my opinion).

Here's the two moments that stood out for each candidate:

First was McCain's response during the Afghanistan exchange, where he essentially said I've been right on all the major foreign policy decisions facing the nation since 1983, when President Reagan sent U.S. forces to Lebanon, with
disastrous results. Obama simply cannot compete with McCain's authenticity in foreign policy. Even McCain's ideological opponents must concede the Arizona Senator's advantage there (and Obama's pained and impatient facial expressions during that segment genuinely revealed that he's not comfortable listening to McCain expound on international affairs).

The second moment was Obama's answer the question of "what priorities" he would bring to the country, and his response revealed that the Illinois Senator plans a huge expansion of the federal government, way beyond the immediate needs for financial recovery (from the

There are some things that, I think, have to be done.

We have to have energy independence. So I've put forward a plan to make sure that in 10 years time, we have freed ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil, by increasing production at home but most importantly by starting to invest in alternative energies -- solar, wind, biodiesel -- making sure that we're developing the fuel- efficient cars of the future right here in the United States, in Ohio and Michigan instead of Japan and South Korea.

We have to fix our health care system, which is putting an enormous burden on families. Just -- a report just came out that the average deductible went up 30 percent on American families. They are getting crushed, and many of them are going bankrupt as a consequence of health care. I'm meeting folks all over the country. We have to do that now, because it'll actually make our businesses and our families better off.

The third thing we have to do is we've got to make sure that we're competing in education. We've got to invest in science and technology. China had a space launch and a space walk. We've got to make sure that our children are keeping pace in math and in science. And one of the things I think we have to do is make sure that college is affordable for every young person in America.

And I also think that we're going to have to rebuild our infrastructure, which is falling behind -- our roads, our bridges, but also broadband lines that reach into rural communities; also making sure that we have a new electricity grid to get the alternative energy to population centers that are using them.

So there's some -- some things that we've got to do structurally to make sure that we can compete in this global economy.
Obama's laudry list is indeed a throwback to the Great Society, just as Senator McCain suggested. Indeed, Obama's big government agenda, combined with his foreign policy of no-preconditions, is exactly why he's the candidate of the contemporary left's postmodern elite and nihilist revolutionary contigents. Obama represents big change, and he'll in fact be prone to the most substantial capture by the "progressive" interest-group sector in American history.

The McCain campaign is
already out with a YouTube from the debate, "McCain is Right":

Both candidates did well, but I'd argue than McCain did better in reinforcing his strengths in foreign policy and as a reformer, and if the quick turnaround on this YouTube is an indication, we'll see a big spin from the McCain camp over the weekend highlighting Obama's big government agenda and neophyte foreign policy.

Photo Credit: New York Times

Robert Farley and the Party of Defeat

I'm reading David Horowitz and Ben Johnson's Party of Defeat, so I found Robert Farley's review of the book rather odd (even oddly unbalanced):

I found it impossible to engage with this work as serious scholarship, and impossible to take it seriously as polemic. The book is unlikely to convince anyone who has not already been convinced of the perfidy of the Democratic Party. Indeed, in tone and approach Party of Defeat would be more appropriate as documentary film or perhaps podcast; both formats encourage dramatic flow over reflection. The most significant problem is thus; the American people, by and large, do not appear to agree that Islamic terrorism is as grave a threat as Mr. Horowitz and Mr. Johnson believe. It is this fact, rather than the ongoing treachery of the Democratic Party, that substantially explains the decline in support for the Bush administration and the Iraq War.
This is a troubling statement.

First, it's not true. On the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks,
nearly two-thirds of Americans were worried about a terrorist attack on the U.S., with 18 percent very worried. The same survey found more than 6 in 10 Americans agreeing that "the nation is now safer than it was before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," so it could be that the decline in terrorism fears is a direct response to the possibility that the Bush administration has made the country safer. Note, too, that in 2006, one of the bloodiest years of the war, a majority of 54 percent agreed with the administration's desciption of the nature and challenge of the terrorist threat facing the country, while at the same time even larger majorities said it was "a mistake" to send trooops to Iraq, and that the United States was "losing" the war. Thus, support for the war was declining amid continued majority perceptions of substantial terrorist threat, which casts further doubt on the Farley's argument.

Second, one of the antiwar left's most common attacks on the Iraq war is the claim that Saddam Hussein had absolutely no ties to al Qaeda (a point in itself that has been
substantially rebutted), so for leftists the claim of terrorism as a legitimate casus belli is unsustainable. It makes no sense, then, for Farley to argue that Democratic Party differences on the nature of the terrorist threat explain why public support in Iraq has declined. If Democrats don't believe terrorism was a cause of war, it's illogical to suggest that an absence of terrorist threat explains declining public support. Besides, among scholars on the left, the most widely accepted hypothesis for the decline of public support for the conflict in Iraq holds that an erosion of support is explained by an increase in combat fatalities: as casualties mount public backing for the deployment should decline.

Farley might at least make a reference to either data or theory before laying out such a criticism.

Perhaps more importantly, Farley's essentially dishonest in his review. According to Horowitz and Johnson,
in their response to Farley's critique:

We note that while Professor Farley has not served in the military – at least so far as we can tell – he is ready to advocate military policies that would be harmful to American troops on the field of battle. “I wholeheartedly oppose the summary field execution of Afghan civilians, a position which, Horowitz and Johnson suggest, led directly to the deaths of nineteen US soldiers in Afghanistan.” But Horowitz and Johnson did not “suggest” this. Marc Lutrell, the lone survivor of this al-Qaeada massacre, escaped to this story to his countrymen. Farley has no evidence or authority to declare that the betrayers of Lutrell and his comrades were simply Afghan civilians with no link to the al-Qaeda savages who murdered them. Forgive us for regarding as this sloppy reading as typical of some critics of the war, who care more about scrubbing their moral scruples and constitutional rights than protecting the brave warriors who defend them.
Horowitz and Johnson offer a number of other scathing rebuttals to Farley, but the paragraph here captures perfectly the kind of antiwar ideology common among academics, activists, and bloggers on the left of the spectrum.

This is not, for example, just "sloppy reading" on Farley's part; it is nihilist epistemology. Today's left is completely hostile the use of force in American foreign policy.
As Ronald Brownstein reported today, MoveOn.org, since the first days of the war on terror, has been the "point of the spear" for Democratic Party foreign policy. The group not only opposed the war in Iraq, but campaigned against Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2001. The organization led the attack on David Petraeus' testimony to Congress in 2007, as well, with the full endorsement of radical activists on the Democratic Party's left-wing.

Robert Farley (and his allies at the American Prospect and
Lawyers, Guns and Money), epitomize the contemporary pacifism of the hard-left of the Democratic Party.

This is the ideology now taking hold of much of the Democratic Party leadership, and this is the ideology that's deligitimized and repudiated in Horowitz and Johnson's Party of Defeat.

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Wall Street Bailout's Got to Go!

There's a lot of talk suggesting the Bush administration's plan to rescue financial markets is "Republican Socialism" for "Wall Street evil-doers."

Protests were held this week to "
bail out people before bankers."

Protest Wall Street

Take note of the kind of folks involved:

A coalition of grassroots groups, including Credo Mobile, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice and MoveOn.org are planning to express their opposition to Paulson's bailout plan and call for those clear principles this Thursday, September 25 in a rally and march at 4:00pm near Wall Street in lower Manhattan.

Protestors took to the streets outside the White House yesterday as well:

Inside it was all business: President Bush was meeting with the congressional leaders, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama about the nation's financial crisis.

Outside, it was business as usual.

The chant was the all-purpose rhythm-and-rhyme that on any given day since the Vietnam War might be heard outside the White House.

But rarely is it applied to ... financial markets.

Nevertheless, while the meeting was taking place in the Cabinet Room, along Pennsylvania Avenue the $700-billion bailout for Wall Street was a magnet for complaint.

About 50 people marched in a circle, their umbrellas an array of color against a rainy sky and the early dusk as they shouted over and over:

Hey hey, ho ho
Bush bailout's got to go.

That's the real socialism, revolutionary socialism that's in fact not committed to helping everday Americans but to overthrowing the hated "Bush-Cheney regime":

National Archives Protest

I routinely get commenters here arguing that today's left-wing of Barack Obama, William Ayers, Markos Moulitsas, Tom Matzzie, Andrew Sullivan, Jeremiah Wright and on and on ... represents a movement of moderate Democrats and "progressive" reformers.

That's a lie.

Folks on the left are calling for the elimination of the current American regime (a battle against "fascism"), and they're hoping that the current market turmoil ends up being so deep as to represent Marx's crisis of capitalism.

We are in a period of deep and fundamental ideological transition. Americans are rightly worried about the financial health of the nation, and they want some kind of solution to the crisis (see, "
78% of Americans Want a Bailout...").

The current protests, on the other hand, are the latest in the left's ongoing "'struggle' against 'oppression' and 'imperialism,' code words in the lexicon of revolutionary socialism."

This election represents the larger ideological struggle gripping the nation: Barack Obama has repeatedly dismissed American tradition and values, and he speaks of Islam as "my religion," which is Freudian shorthand for his "thinly veiled hatred for this country’s unique culture and institutions."

Readers should keep this in mind as they see continued protests in the weeks ahead.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain Quiet on Bailout Proposal, Sought Consensus

Think Progress is leading the left's political attack on John McCain tonight, alleging that the Arizona Senator killed the bipartisan Wall Street rescue plan.

While to be expected, the McCain-killed-the-bailout meme is bogus.
Jennifer Rubin explains:

The Democrats have begun a ludicrous game: try to blame John McCain for nixing a mythical deal that was eminently reachable before he forced Barack Obama back in town. Throw in some trash talk and you have a perfect display of shabbiness.

The tale does not mesh with any available facts from reports we are getting. First, there was
no “deal” — hence the cries of help from Harry Reid and Hank Paulson on Wednesday for McCain to come to town. My own conversations with Senate offices bear this out: McCain’s entry helped push a deal among Senators, but House Republicans were never on board (and still aren’t). Second, unlike his mute counterpart, John McCain is taking an active role in the negotiations and a constructive one. Third, the House Democrats likely have the votes to pass a deal – they simply wanted cover from at least 100 House Republicans.
Rubin also cites a statement from the McCain camp:

At today’s cabinet meeting, John McCain did not attack any proposal or endorse any plan. John McCain simply urged that for any proposal to enjoy the confidence of the American people, stressing that all sides would have to cooperate and build a bipartisan consensus for a solution that protects taxpayers.
Think Progress cites Senator Christopher Dodd as claiming McCain threw a wrench into the proposals, but Marc Ambinder corrects the smear:

Though Sen. Chris Dodd implied that Sen. McCain sandbagged the rest of the negotiators by bringing up alternative proposals, McCain himself did not bring up those proposals, according to four independent sources briefed by four different principals inside the meeting, including two Republicans and two Democrats.

"McCain has not attacked the Paulson deal," said a third Republican who was briefed by McCain direclty. "Unlike the [Democrats] in the [White House] meeting, he didn't raise his voice or cause a ruckus. He is urging all sides to come together."

Republicans like John Boehner brought up the concerns of House GOPers and McCain acknowledged hearing about their concerns. And McCain, and staffers, did seek to gauge the level of support of the GOP working group's white paper. The Democrats were left with the impression that McCain endorsed the GOP efforts, but they concede that he did not raise them directly.
See also, "White House Meeting Fails to Yield Bailout Deal," and "Blame Game Begins as Bailout Proposal Fizzles."

Code Pink Activists Meet With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Via Wake Up America, Jodie Evans, a Code Pink co-founder and Barack Obama fundraiser, met with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday at New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel, adjacent to the United Nations.

Jodie Evans

The Code Pink press release is here.

According to
Melanie Morgan:

Evans is co-founder of the pro-terrorist group Code Pink and works with state sponsors of terrorism to undermine America in the war on terror. She also has publicly announced her support for the terrorists in Iraq, her sympathy for Osama bin Laden and her "love" of Hugo Chavez.
Both Wake Up America and Melanie Morgan suggest that Jodie Evans' longstanding working relationship with Obama puts the Democratic nominee in a compromising position, raising serious questions of national security.

The Iranian president gave
a literal tumbs-down to President Bush during his address at the U.N. this week, and Ahmadinejad attacked Israel - and the Israeli people directy - in his own address to the General Assembly, attacking "a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists."

Code Pink, in meeting with the Iranian leader this week, provides an extreme left-wing endorsement to that anti-Semitism, all the while enabling Tehran's anti-American agenda with its effort to "work together and improve relations" with Iran's terrorist regime.

See also, Amanda Carpenter, "Code Pink Obama Bundler Meets With Ahmadinejad."

Photo: "CODEPINK co-founder, Jodie Evans, disrupts acceptance speech of Republican Vice Presidenial nominee, Sarah Palin at Republican National Convention in Minneapolis."