Sunday, August 31, 2008

Repercussions for Backing Georgia

Lest we lose site of how others see us or how others are responding to our aid for Georgia:

"From Moscow's point of view, Nazarbayev's words are worth their weight in gold. Kazakhstan is the richest energy producer in Central Asia and is a regional heavyweight. It borders China. The entire US regional strategy in Central Asia ultimately aims at replacing Russia and China as Kazakhstan's number one partner. American oil majors began making a beeline to Kazakhstan immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 - including Chevron, with which US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was associated.

nsurprisingly, Kazakhstan figured as a favorite destination for US Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W Bush has lavishly hosted Nazarbayev in the White House.

The US had gone the extra league in cultivating Nazarbayev, with the fervent hope that somehow Kazakhstan could be persuaded to commit its oil to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, whose viability is otherwise in doubt. The pipeline is a crucial component of the US's Caspian great game."



By the way, Kazakhstan is not run by a democratic government so calls to protect Georgia's democratically-elected government naturally would fall on deaf ears in that part of the world.

The neo-conservatives and their liberal allies (Senator Joseph Lieberman and the The Washington Post editorial bard) in this part of the world view Russia as an aggressor which is trying to bully a smaller neighbor into conformance.

I agree but then again, that is how the world is governed. Smaller nations are bullied by their larger neighbors. History is replete with examples - the Spaniards subjugating South and Central America. The Ottomans subjugating the Middle East and North Africa. The Nazis overrunning western Europe. Western European empires laying claim to vast swaths of territory in Africa. Americans subjugating Native American tribes in the west.

Could not fight over Georgia be viewed in the same light? Two powers vying over an oil pipeline? And if it could be viewed that way, why wouldn't the Russians react when we back client state in its backyard against two pro-Russian separatist groups and why wouldn't the Russians use the Iranian uranium enrichment program to inconvenience us further? Don't be surprised if the Russians push for Iranian membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to counteract Georgia's admission into NATO (if it ever succeeds).

The Iranians know how to play this game. They haven't backed the Russians on Georgia but they haven't exactly come to Georgia's defense either. Iran's mullahs have certain expectations from Russia - namely, inclusion within the SCO and support for its uranium enrichment program. Our threatening demeanor has done nothing to win them over to our way of thinking. The Russians get it, which is why they haven't invited Iran into the SCO as of yet. Putin may view Iran as the bargaining chip he has with the United States. They get it. Do we?

Perhaps we could "bomb, bomb, bomb" Iran or expel Russia from the G-8.

Or maybe not.

Words The Democrats Can Make Senator McCain Eat

I wonder if the Democrats were reading The New York Times today:

At the very least, the process reflects Mr. McCain’s history of making fast, instinctive and sometimes risky decisions. “I make them as quickly as I can, quicker than the other fellow, if I can,” Mr. McCain wrote, with his top adviser Mark Salter, in his 2002 book, “Worth the Fighting For.” “Often my haste is a mistake, but I live with the consequences without complaint.”

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Restraints/Force in the Classroom

Seems to me parents should know when schools use physical force (however defined) on their children if it is to be used at all and even that is questionable. Should not such students who would otherwise pose a risk to their classmates be removed from the class room and home schooled or sent specialized school?

The Weekend Preview

1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Senator John McCain on his race for the White House and the upcoming Republican convention, the panelists on the upcoming convention, and one man behind the scenes at Republican conventions.

(a) Presidential Candidate: Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) on his vice presidential pick, and the upcoming Republican National Convention.

(b) FOX News Panel: Brit Hume of FOX News, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams of National Public Radio on the upcoming Republican National Convention, and the vice presidential running mate.

(c) Power Player of the Week: Mike Miller, the director of operations, on his role at the Republican National Conventions in days past.

This show, which Chris Wallace hosts on Sunday mornings, is repeated on the FOX News Channel at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET.


2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Tim Pawlentry on the Repblican Convention and the vice presidential running mate, political analysis from a roundtable.

(a) Former McCain VP Shortlist Candidate: Governor Tim Pawlentry (R-Minnesota) on McCain's pick for a vice presidential running mate and the upcoming Republican National Convention.


(b) Political Roundtable:
presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, Republican strategist Mike Murphy, and NBC News Correspondent Kelly O'Donnell on the race for the White House.

This show, which is temporarily being hosted by Tom Brokaw on Sunday mornings, is repeated on MSNBC at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET.



3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Cindy McCain on her husband's campaign, Lindsey Graham on the vice presidential pick and the Republican National Convention, Senator John Kerry on the Democratic response, and the round table on this week's politics.

(a) Presidential Candidate's Wife: Cindy McCain talks about her husband's life and his campaign for the White House.

(b) Republican Convention Preview from a Surrogate: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) on the vice presidential pick and a preview of the Republican National Convention.

(c) Democratic Response: Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) offers a response to Senator Graham's comments.

(d) Roundtable: Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, George Will, and Matthew Dowd on the Democratic National Convention and Senator John McCain's vice presidential pick.

(e) In Memorium: a look back at those who have died this week.

(f) Sunday Funnies: political joke excerpts from the late night talk shows aired.


This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.


4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):


Topics This Week - The Republican National Convention.

Guests this week will include former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York), Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut), McCain advisor Carly Fiorina, and columnist David Brooks of The New York Times.


This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.


Bias Warning: no Democratic opponents will be on "Face The Nation" to give the opposing viewpoint.


5. "Late Edition Sunday with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):


Topic This Week: preview of the Republican National Convention as viewed by Republican and Democratic leaders.

Guests will include House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Governor Charlie Crist (R-Florida), Governor Tim Pawlentry (R-Minnesota), former Presidential candidate Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee), Governor Mark Sanford (R-South Carolina), Representative Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), McCain economic adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota), Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), and FEMA adviser David Paulison.

This one hour show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer on Sunday mornings.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin: Exciting Campaigner but a Dark Horse in Governing

History will be made this November no matter what now that Senator John McCain picked Governor Sarah Palin to serve as his vice presidential running mate. We will have either the first African American president or the first female vice president on January, 2009.

An unusually boisterous Senator John McCain introduced her to us as a union member who is married to a union member, a mother of five children, and an outsider. The governor from Alaska may prove to be a valuable asset on the campaign trail. She is, as mentioned above, a relatively young "hockey mom" (as she describes herself) with five children who will excite the Republican base with her conservative views on economic and social views while potentially dividing the Clinton's feminist vote. She challenged and then upset Governor Frank Murkowski, a fellow Republican, in that state's gubernatorial primary two years ago, giving her the credentials to reintroduce Senator John McCain as the anti-Washington reformer he once ran as in 2002.

In her speech today, Governor Palin described herself as a reformer, a hunter, fisher woman, and a "hockey mother" who will help Senator John McCain challenge the establishment in Washington. Palin said she fought special interest groups in her state and noted her opposition to the "bridge to nowhere," a reference to a proposed $300 million + project linking Gravina Island to Ketchikan, Alaska.

Towards the end of her speech, Governor Palin urged voters to break the "glass ceiling." She praised the women who came before her - former U.S. Representative Geraldine Ferraro (D-New York) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York). "Hillary Clinton left 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling," Palin noted. The "women aren't finished yet."

Though he is far more experienced than Governor Palin, Senator Joe Biden may have trouble attacking her in the vice presidential debate since she is a woman. Voters may not like a candidate who beats the woman up in the debate.

While Palin may energize the Republican base which is fed up with pork barrel spending in Washington and their failure to implement a socially conservative agenda, her value as a vice president are questionable. She lacks the experience that Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Kay Baily Hutchison (R-Texas) acquired in Washington and the executive experience former (and/or current) governors Mitt Romney (R-Massachusetts), Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas), Charlie Crist (R-Florida) and Tom Ridge (R-Pennsylvania) acquired in their home states. Governor Ridge served as a congressman, governor and Secretary of Homeland Security. Governor Mitt Romney was a successful businessman and governor of four years. Huckabee served an 11-year stint as Arkansas' governor. Crist, like Palin has served as a governor for two years but he governs the larger, more politically diverse state.

Senator McCain wasn't looking for someone with with national security credentials and as a former POW who sits on the Armed Services Committee he felt he didn't need to bolster those credentials. Whatever comfort we may take from his national security credentials however must be tempered by our concerns about his age and his bout with cancer. President McCain had to reassure voters that his lieutenant is prepared to fill in if and when he needs to resign for health reasons or if he were to die in office. One conservative says we shouldn't concern ourselves with her foreign policy inexperience too much since she is shooting for number #2 position while Obama is shooting for the # 1 position, but I disagree.

Obama will have Senator Joe Biden in his corner for the next four years if he is elected to serve as the next president of the United States. Were Senator McCain to step down, Palin won't.

The governor will have to put those concerns we may have to rest.

Quote of the Day

"So I've got news for you, John McCain: We all put our country first." - Senator Barack Obama while delivering his acceptance speech in Denver.

Say What?

"32. He said things about gay rights — hospital visitation, etc. — that few, few Republicans could disagree with." - Jay Nordlinger at The National Review

He must not be referring to theseRepublicans now, is he?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama's Speech in Full With Comments

Note: Speech in italics. Comments in bold. Comments I wish to emphasize are italicized.


"To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation;

With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest – a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours -- Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next First Lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia – I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you."


Obama showing some class as is usual.

"Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story – of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women – students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors -- found the courage to keep it alive."


Obama clearly credits the common man and woman for saving this country when its values were challenged by practices here and abroad and when the fight to protect their dreams for their children seemed bleakest. Good for him. We needed to hear Obama speak for the working man or woman's self empowerment.

"We meet at one of those defining moments – a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this."

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes."


Here Obama stumbles a little, particularly when he offers the stories of struggling workers but his indictment of the Bush administration's colossal failure at Katrina and the veterans who were treated so disgracefully upon their return was moving and could not have been said any better. I also think Obama may be promising too much. Bringing back the manufacturing jobs that were lost to China and the third world is a tall order, particularly since businesses do not have to provide their workers with the minimum wage mandated in this country.


"Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land – enough! This moment – this election – is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

Enough! The American dream is imperiled and we must rise above it. He says McCain will offer Americans more of the same. This is what the Democrats are looking for.


"Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need."



Right. Obama must give McCain credit where it is due and by thanking McCain for his service he he honors all who proudly wear or have worn the uniform in battle. Now watch him go for the jugular where it is called for:


"And when one of his chief advisers, the man who wrote his economic plan, was talking about the anxieties that Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a mental recession and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made.

Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third, or fourth, or fifth tour of duty.

These are not whiners. They work hard, and they give back, and they keep going without complaint. These are the Americans I know.


Ouch! Phil Gramm, McCain you are on notice. Accuse Obama of being an elitist and you will be tarred with the same feather, when it counts. Nation of whiners? Well, they aren't whining, even when they have a reason to do so. One caveat - Obama can be tarred with the speech he gave psychoanalyzing poor Democrats who vote for Republicans on values questions.

"Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans;"

No, but this denial allows you to put that idea in our heads anyway.

"I just think he doesn't know."

McCain's elitist thinking! Obama says.

"Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies, but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans?

How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care; it's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades -- for over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy: Give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.

In Washington, they call this the "Ownership Society," but what it really means is that you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck, you're on your own. No health care? The market will fix it. You're on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don't have boots. You are on your own."



Common sense for someone who agrees with the Democratic Party's emphasis on communal responsibility. Give tax breaks to those who need it. Spread the wealth so that working Americans of all backgrounds can live the American dream. Common sense and values.


"Well, it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America. And that's why I'm running for president of the United States."

Nice transition.

"You see, you see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage, whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma.

We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was president...

... when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of go down $2,000, like it has under George Bush. (APPLAUSE)

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off and look after a sick kid without losing her job, an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great, a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight."



Note the values-driven rhetoric. Promises made must be fulfilled. It is, in his eyes, our moral responsibility to care for the veteran, our responsibility to lift up the hopes of the downtrodden. Consider this a turn away from Clinton's "the era of big government is over" speech. Obama believes in what the government can do for the American people just as much if not more than he fears its destructive potential.



"Because, in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the G.I. Bill."



He's one of us, Obama says.


"In the face of that young student, who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree, who once turned to food stamps, but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.

When I -- when I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business or making her way in the world, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman."


I never cared for this personification by example because, as a skeptic, I know Obama was thinking of his run for office before he met these people. I'm sure of it. Bill Clinton used this tactic. George W. Bush used it. Obama used it and his successors will use it. Why? It works.

"She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life. She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight and that tonight is her night, as well.


Your grandmother? What about your mother?

"Now, I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine."


Ouch.

"These are my heroes; theirs are the stories that shaped my life. And it is on behalf of them that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States."

Democrats at the Convention are thinking the following: Want more values talk? Eat this Republicans!


"What -- what is that American promise? It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have obligations to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, to look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours -- ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools, and new roads, and science, and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

That's the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper.

That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now."


"I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper." Clearly Obama is putting the Republicans on notice. Republicans need not own the Christan values market. Evangelicals, hear what the Democratic Party has to say.


"So -- so let me -- let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president.

Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it."


Great line but that's not specific enough.


"You know, unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America."



Here we go. Good. Getting better.


"I'll eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow."

Okay. We next see Obama make some costly promises. In the debate we'll need to hear how he will pay for them:

"I will -- listen now -- I will cut taxes -- cut taxes -- for 95 percent of all working families, because, in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

We will do this. Washington -- Washington has been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years. And, by the way, John McCain has been there for 26 of them.

And in that time, he has said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil than we had on the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution, not even close.

As president, as president, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America."

I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars.

And I'll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power, and solar power (OTCBB:SOPW) , and the next generation of biofuels -- an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced.

America, now is not the time for small plans. Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy.

You know, Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance.

(APPLAUSE)

I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries, and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability.

And we will keep our promise to every young American: If you commit to serving your community or our country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.

Now -- now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American.

If you have health care -- if you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves.

And -- and as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most."



Now how are you going to pay for this?


A few relatively cost-free but important promises (in so far as the businesses and not the government could pay for this) are made to Senator Clinton's supporters:

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their job and caring for a sick child or an ailing parent.

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses, and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have the exact same opportunities as your sons."


"Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime: by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow.

But I will also go through the federal budget line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less, because we cannot meet 21st-century challenges with a 20th-century bureaucracy."

McCain's made that unbelievable promise too. We need specifics here and in the debates the moderators better press Obama and McCain to provide us with the details and what they will do if the senators won't go along. Remember. Neither candidate as president will have the line-item veto.

"And, Democrats, Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our intellectual and moral strength.

Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient.

Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents, that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework, that fathers must take more responsibility to provide love and guidance to their children.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility, that's the essence of America's promise. And just as we keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad.

If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next commander-in-chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have."



Obviously a nod to ahem, "value-voters."


Now, onto foreign policy:

"If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next commander-in-chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have."


Great one-liner that had been used in part before. Note the twist though. Obama may go after McCain's temperament. He is a known hot-head. WW III is just around the corner.

"For -- for while -- while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats that we face.

When John McCain said we could just muddle through in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights.

You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives."



This leads us back to something Obama said before he won the nomination. Obama's not against all wars. He's against dumb wars. We should not divide ourselves into hawks and doves. We should not group ourselves into peaceniks, neoconservatives, realists, liberal internationalists or paleoconservatives before we are confronted with the question of whether this nation should go to war or not. We should rather ask ourselves whether that war is necessary or if it will further our national interest. The Iraq War did not. This elective war distracted us from the war on terror we have to confront.

Obama is making a new vow. He will fight the war on terror to its logical conclusion. He will have Osama bin Laden killed whether the madman is found in Afghanistan or Pakistan. McCain would have us fight an elective and unnecessarily wasteful war in Iraq while refusing to follow the jihadist into Pakistan.


"And today, today, as my call for a timeframe to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush administration, even after we learned that Iraq has $79 billion in surplus while we are wallowing in deficit, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war."

Obama says McCain, like Bush, is not in touch with the facts on the ground. He may have no problem keeping American troops in Iraq for 100 + years (albeit as peacekeepers and not as peacemakers) but the Iraqi government and Bush apparently are not ready to make that commitment.

That's not the judgment we need; that won't keep America safe. We need a president who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.



"You don't defeat -- you don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances."


Obama will regret this, for McCain will come back with a rejoinder utilizing Obama's opposition to water-boarding, the suspension of habeas corpus rights at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and wiretapping. Obama covered himself in part for supporting telecommunications immunity but he will still be hounded by McCain on habeas corpus and water-boarding. Do I agree with Obama on water boarding and Guantanamo Bay? Yes, but it doesn't make for good politics.


"If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice, but that is not the change that America needs.We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country. Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe."

Amen. Free your party from the hippies, Chomskyite imperialist conspiracy theorists, and peaceniks. Your party stared down Nazis, fascists, imperialists and communists in the 20th century. Now let us do the same with the terrorists who attacked us on 9-11.


"The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts, but I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.

I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty and genocide, climate change and disease.

And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future."


"These -- these are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.

But what I will not do is suggest that the senator takes his positions for political purposes, because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and each other's patriotism."



Once again we see Obama attack McCain for taking politically opportunistic principles by suggesting that he himself would never do that to McCain.


"The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain.

The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together, and bled together, and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a red America or a blue America; they have served the United States of America."



Wow! Karl Rove. Dick Cheney. You were put on notice. Obama will not let you smear his good name. He is a proud American, as are the soldiers of both and neither political persuasion who fight and die in our wars.


"So I've got news for you, John McCain: We all put our country first."

Obama now turns to the hot-button issues. He notes where he disagrees with the conservatives and suggests the areas where there really should be a meeting of conservative and liberal minds. Good to see him try or at least seem to want to defuse the standoff associated with the culture war:


"America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices. And Democrats, as well as Republicans, will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past, for part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose, and that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.

The -- the reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.

I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.

You know, passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers.

But this, too, is part of America's promise, the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.


Common-sense gun control without banning the right to bear arms. Some dignity for gay Americans. Keeping immigrant families together (well, the immigrant problem can be solved as he addressed it by sending both the mother and child back to their home country).



"I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer, and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values.

And that's to be expected, because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters."



Obama's pre-emptive war against the smear campaign to follow. Voters. Don't believe what you will hear from the other side. It isn't true and by the way, it's a sign of their failure to engage in the debate. Nice spin on issues where there is room for genuine disagreement and by suggesting that this is all about distracting the voters from the real issues, Obama is himself not living up to his agreement to respect the views of those who disagree with him.


"If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things.

And you know what? It's worked before, because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty. If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping and settle for what you already know."



He knows the game and he's ready for it, even if he doesn't like the "old politics."


"I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

Obambi no more. Take notice Maureen Dowd. Take notice Political Heretic.

"Now, for the best, and the most heart-felt part of the speech and I have only one complaint here - he lowered his voice when he spoke of Georgia which made it seem as if he was not comfortable about what he said but other than that no more need be said:

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me; it's about you.

It's about you."

For 18 long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said, "Enough," to the politics of the past. You understand that, in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same, old politics with the same, old players and expect a different result.

You have shown what history teaches us, that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.

Change happens -- change happens because the American people demand it, because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that, as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming, because I've seen it, because I've lived it.

Because I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work.

I've seen it in Washington, where we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans, and keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

And I've seen it in this campaign, in the young people who voted for the first time and the young at heart, those who got involved again after a very long time; in the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did.

I've seen it -- I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day, even though they can't afford it, than see their friends lose their jobs; in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb; in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

You know, this country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit, that American promise, that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night and a promise that you make to yours, a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west, a promise that led workers to picket lines and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that, 45 years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustrations of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead -- people of every creed and color, from every walk of life -- is that, in America, our destiny is inextricably linked, that together our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back...

... not with so much work to be done; not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for; not with an economy to fix, and cities to rebuild, and farms to save; not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend.

America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone.

At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America."

Obama's Speech - Quick Thoughts

Grand slam. He took the major allegations used against him - his portrayal as a celebrity, his elitism, in inexperience in dealing with national security and war, and his patriotism and turned it against Senator McCain with a passion and conviction of one who believes in what he says. He made the Democratic Party's case for government - for hard working middle class Americans a helping hand - by appealing to the Christian values most Americans of Democratic and Republican stripes share. He turned the inexperience issue on its head by once again casting his vote for the war as a profound misjudgment that distracted us from the real war against the terrorists, then "out-hawked" him on Pakistan.

Brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed.

Extended comments and the speech in its entirety to follow.

Gore Not Covered on FOX?

Why didn't FOX News cover Al Gore's speech? He was a sitting vice president for eight years and he almost won the 2000 presidential election. FOX News could decide for itself who it will cover but any serious news outlet would give a former vice president the deference that is his or her due. FOX News failed.


Addendum:

Okay. MSNBC covered Al Gore's speech but not "America The Beautiful." FOX News covers the singing of "America The Beautiful" but not Al Gore. and CNN covered both. Are MSNBC and FOX News fulfilling their role as stereotypical liberal and conservative news outlets or what?

CNN - it's unbiased (in comparison) treatment up to date may be attributed to the Clinton crowd that had been hired to serve as its analysts.

Gore - as I Watch

Not like the claim that we are facing the same change. Obama shouldn't be cast as
a vote for Al Gore.

Like the the Republican "recycling line."

Obviously grateful for reference to gay rights even if it only lasted for one second.

One dig on McCain - a change on caps.

Obviously well-written but a bit rushed in delivery. Does he know what periods are for? No passion shown.

Like the big oil "50-year lease on the Republican Party line." Now if only he slowed down and raised his voice in anger.

He finally gets to some red meat for liberals - justices like Scalia, the war in Iraq, and torture but again he's rushing through it.

Coverage update - CNN and MSNBC are giving Al Gore coverage. FOX News? Nope. They are staying with the obnoxious Bill O'Reilly.

Update Again:

Al Gore - Obama right on Iraq at time when war was popular.
Obama nuanced.

"inconvenient truths?" Is Gore promoting his book?

She' s Right

Arianna Huffington is right. We need to hear more about national security. Which reminds me -

The Russians scored the political feat of the week by stalling on Georgia. They bought themselves a week to do whatever they want since the media shifted its attention to the Democratic National Convention.

Obama's Day

History will be made tonight when Senator Barack Obama accepts his party's nomination to be the 44th president of the United States at INVESCO Field tonight. Senator Obama will be the first African American to be nominated for the highest office in this land and, should he be elected this November, the first person of color to lead the free world.

Forty-four years ago today, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" Speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He spoke of a day when his children, and all children for that matter, would be judged by the "content of their character," and not "by the color of their skin." The Democratic Party, as a whole, and however imperfectly, has now lived up to the late civil right activist's dream.

Senator Obama was not expected to clinch his party's nomination when he first entered the race for the White House. It was Senator Hillary Clinton's turn, in most pundits eyes. Though she too was making history, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) had all of the advantages one would expect of an incumbent. She inherited from her husband and former president a list of campaign donors, the good will of a Democratic Party that liked her husband's economic policies, and an unchallenged claim to experience that she never had but a younger set of Democratic primary voters were looking for something different - a fresh face, a new style of governing, and an exit strategy from an unpopular war started by a dubious weapons of mass destruction claim.

His mixed heritage did not stop the largely white caucus participants of Iowa for siding with the man with the more credible anti-Iraq war platform nor did his race deny him a near upset in New Hampshire.

Questions about his race surfaced during the race for his party's nomination for reasons that were and were not of his making. His association with the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright no doubt plagued him when his divisive, hateful, and in some respects, anti-American speech surfaced on Youtube. Voters in the Appalachian states and the Midwest voted against him (and for Senator Clinton) in part because they had some concerns about his racial background.

He put the Reverend Wright scandal to rest for now. The college-educated young voters knew they could separate the man from his pastor's controversial remarks, just as they distance themselves from their spiritual advisers' religious beliefs.
His lofty rhetoric inspired them. They yearn for change. They want Obama to present to the world a fresher, less militaristic image of this nation to the world - a country that would bring AIDS and malaria relief to Africa as easily as it could bomb a country to kingdom come, a nation that would negotiate with the Iranians so we don't start World War III, and a nation that would bring our seemingly endless commitment in Iraq to an end. They look for a nation that will renew its commitment to the young, a socially more diverse and tolerant America that lives up to the dream that all men (and now women) are created equal.

Tonight, however, Obama will have to sell himself to a wider audience. Millions of Americans could be watching him tonight, as late as it is (10:00 PM) to hear if he shares their concerns and their values. He will have to speak to the economic concerns facing white, middle and working class Americans facing rising mortgages, energy prices and college tuition and put to rest any doubts lingering about his experience deficit and national security credentials. He can offset his experience deficit by referring to his judgment, and bolster his national security credentials his more hawkish stance on the war in Afghanistan.

On the economic front Mr. Obama will have to cast himself as the true tax cutter in the race, the one who will bring businesses and consequently jobs back, and the one who will push for universal health care for all.

Then he will have to do what former rival Senator Hillary Clinton did on the campaign trail - meet, greet, drink with, and listen and speak to the middle and working class voters struggling to make ends meet.

Senator Joe Biden's Speech

Very forceful and passionate delivery. He nailed it:

"Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history, nearly $500 billion in the last five years, John wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. That's not change. That's the same.

And during the same time, John voted again and again against renewable energy, solar, wind, biofuels. That's not change. That's more of the same. Millions of Americans have seen their jobs go off-shore, yet John continues to support tax breaks for corporations that send them there. That's not change. That's more of the same.

He voted 19 times against the minimum wage for people who are struggling just to make it to the next day. That's not change. That's more of the same.

Addendum:

I find Chuck Todd's analysis concerning Biden's speech writer amusing. First, MSNBC analysts asked if Obama would keep Biden under control so he wouldn't gaffe. Now Todd says Biden is better speaking off the cuff. Wow.

I do agree with critique concerning the faulty intelligence used to get us into the war in Iraq and the vice president's grip on power though Obama and Biden would be opening themselves up to some criticism. Obama signed onto telecommunications immunity and Biden voted for the misnamed PATRIOT Act.



And when he says he'll continue to spend $10 billion a month, when the Iraqis have a surplus of nearly $80 billion, that's not change. That's more of the same.

The choice in the election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader. A leader who can change, change -- the change that everybody knows we need.

Barack Obama's going to deliver that change, because, I want to tell you, Barack Obama will reform our tax code. He will cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people who draw a paycheck. That's the change we need.

And as we gather here tonight, our country is less secure and more isolated than it has been at any time in recent history. The Bush foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole, with very few friends to help us climb out.

And for the last seven years, the administration has failed to face the biggest -- the biggest forces shaping this century: the emergence of Russia, China, and India as great powers; the spread of lethal weapons; the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water; the challenge of climate change; and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front in the war on terror."


And his biggest gaffe? So what? No news is broken if he gaffes on the campaign trail or when he delivers a speech. He saved the biggest one, the more noticeable one anyway, by suggesting it would be easy for anyone to confuse George W. Bush for Senator John McCain. "Freudian slip." All is forgiven.

In sum:

"America cannot afford four more years of this failure."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Senator Clinton's Speech

Senator Hillary Clinton delivered a forceful speech urging her supporters to rally behind the Democratic ticket last night.

"We don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare," Senator Clinton said.

"Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hangs in the balance. ...

... That is our duty, to build that bright future, to teach our children that, in America, there is no chasm too deep, no barrier too great, no ceiling too high for all who work hard, who keep going, have faith in God, in our country, and each other.

That is our mission, Democrats. Let's elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden for that future worthy of our great country."


She left her former supporters no doubt where their interests lied. "Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president," Senator Clinton said. The senator from New York reminded her audience of the issues facing this country - affordable education, discrimination, health care, the war in Iraq, global warming, and higher gas prices. She blamed Senator McCain and Bush's policies for the economic squeeze middle class voters are facing and the unsuccessful war in Iraq. Electing McCain, Senator Clinton said, would lead to another four years of economic stagnation, less affordable health care, higher gas prices attributed to the oil-dependent energy plan he would endorse (in all fairness, McCain said we have to rely upon nuclear and renewable energy sources as well), more wars and privatized social security.

Senator John McCain's campaign said Obama's former rival did not say Obama was "ready to serve on day one" or answer the phone at 3:00 AM. Technically, of course, the McCain campaign is correct. She did not explicitly vouch for his national security credentials and her reference to Senator Biden's experience can be read as a dig at his more inexperienced boss.

"Americans are," she said, "fortunate that Joe Biden will be at Barack Obama's side." He is "a strong leader, a good man who understands both the economic stresses here at home and the strategic challenges abroad." One reading of this statement would have us believe that we are fortunate to have Biden at Obama's side since Obama is not experienced and does not know enough about "the strategic challenges abroad."

The Political Heretic thinks McCain's supporters are reading too much into her speech. She rejected McCain's foreign policy of "more wars and less diplomacy" in favor of Obama's diplomacy. He would "meet the global challenges of our times."

She did what she had to do, speech-wise. Now, if only she could match her rhetoric with action.

:Maureen Dowd Sees the Return of Barack Obambi

with good reason.

If Obama has trouble negotiating with the Clinton machine in his own back yard at his own convention, how will he negotiate with Iran?

One more insult that Dowd forgot:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michele Obama's Speech

Spectacular speech on paper; pretty good speech when delivered. Mrs. Obama did what she needed to do. She delivered a positive, uplifting and hopeful spin on the challenges facing working lower and middle class America while presenting her husband's proposals as the means to overcome them. She was forceful and determined at times but I sometimes thought she appeared angry. Her hand gestures appeared robotic at times. Maybe it's me and maybe we should leave her alone. She is merely, after all, the wife of and not the candidate.

The best, most humanizing part, however, came after the speech when she and the Obama children faced the audience and then the candidate. Senator Barack Obama didn't get to say much, but the interplay between himself and the younger and more outspoken of his children was cute. I don't think there is a parent in America (well, minus Appalachia anyway) who wouldn't relate to that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Glowing Praise from Some Anyway

"In choosing a running mate, every presidential candidate insists that he is seeking above all someone who could serve as president at a moment's notice. Often that assertion is patently preposterous. With his choice of Joe Biden, Barack Obama can make that assurance with a straight face. The six-term senator from Delaware is serious, substantive and sophisticated in his understanding of the world." - editorial in The Los Angeles Times


"Biden has chaired the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees. He knows many of the world's leaders and has dealt with foreign policy in detail. He was an initial supporter of the Iraq war, but has said it was a mistake. He would help shape a new foreign policy and avoid a return to the cold war and brash unilateralism of George Bush.

A president must seek a partner in a vice president, as Bill Clinton did with Al Gore. The nation can no longer afford a vice president assigned to bit roles and ceremonial duties. But neither should a president shunt off huge portions of policy to a vice president, as George Bush did to Dick Cheney on energy and national security matters. That has been a disaster.

Obama is far smarter, more curious and more analytical than Bush. He's not about to cede his job to someone else. But he can benefit from sage advice, and that makes Biden a wise choice. If the chemistry is right, the administration will be strong."
- editorial for The San Jose Mercury News

"We haven't always agreed with his judgment, such as his advocacy of de facto partition of Iraq when the war was going badly. Mr. Biden stuck to that plan long after it was convincingly debunked as impractical by U.S. military commanders and Iraqi political leaders, and, like Mr. Obama, he wrongly bet against last year's troop surge. But he is a committed internationalist, and he has used his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee to promote intelligent U.S. engagement. The hearings he held before the Iraq war, which he supported, pointed both to the danger posed by Saddam Hussein and the daunting challenges that would follow military action." - editorial of The Washington Post

"Twenty years later, few of his colleagues in either party would dispute that he has done that. With his Republican partner, Richard Lugar of Indiana, he has rehabilitated the reputation of the Foreign Relations Committee and made it a vehicle for exceptionally thoughtful examinations of U.S. foreign policy.

A consistent critic of Bush administration policy in Iraq and Pakistan, Biden has had more impact on the thinking of other decision makers than he ever did on voters when he returned to the campaign trail as a presidential candidate last year."
columnist David Broder in The Washington Post


"But the text-message nonsense aside, Biden is a splendid pick - not just because he brings the required level of foreign policy expertise, maturity and gravitas to the ticket, but because at the end of the day he is someone the nation would feel comfortable with in the number two slot." - editorial for The Boston Herald, which had already endorsed Senator John McCain for the White House.


Theoconservative Rod Dreher likes him as does his comrade-in-armsJames Poulos, whom he links to:


"There are three main things you want out of a Veep.

(1) The ability to appear in public 24 hours a day, uttering incessant and high-profile attacks on the opposition, without overshadowing the Presidential candidate.

(2) The ability to shape the office of the Vice Presidency, post-Cheney, into something more than useless but less than monstrous.

(3) The ability to square dispositionally with the Presidential candidate without disappearing into his aura or echoing his every instinct.

This is why Cheney was an exceptional (1 and 3) but not perfect (2!) veep, whereas Biden is an extraordinary, almost perfect choice. If Ben Porritt thinks he's got Obama behind the 8-Ball with charges like these, McCain had better lock Romney in a refrigerator and throw him into the sea:

Biden and Obama make sense together at the gut level, in a way Bush/Quayle or Gore/Lieberman never did. Biden is old but not too old (whereas Bayh, for example, was too old to be young and too young to be old); and his name looks right on that new run of bumper stickers headed our way. ("Obama/Sebelius? Whut's that, some kinda Arab Ocktypus?") Biden makes a great VP pick for the same reason his Presidential campaigns never soared: he is the best second-rate career politician the Democrats have, and he will never chafe in office with the same celebrity ambitions of a Clinton or a Gore."


"Biden brings valuable foreign-policy experience as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Obama said he wanted a vice president who could help him to navigate dangerous international waters; Biden has a firm grasp of foreign affairs and national defense.

A senator for almost 36 years, Biden also understands how Washington works. He's an effective lawmaker and, for years, has been a prominent voice in evaluating Supreme Court nominees. The choice of Biden blunts the criticism that Obama lacks Washington experience."
editorial for The Philadelphia Inquirer

"As a leader, you can make decisions in a vacuum. Or you can surround yourself with smart and experienced people who are prepared to fight for their beliefs.

You can run a rigged race, where the president’s ego always wins. Or you set up a fair contest where the best ideas prevail.

If Joe Biden has one great strength, it is this: what you see is what you get, and if you don’t like it, too bad. We feel confident that Biden as vice president would tell President Obama just what he thinks, even when the president didn’t want to hear it."
editorial for The Chicago Sun Times

"A successful vice president of the United States always tries to make the boss look good—and never snores loudly during state funerals in distant lands. The most crucial qualification, though, is to be instantly capable of governing this nation if a new president flops over dead—at his or her inauguration or any moment thereafter.

By that measure, Barack Obama has done well for his country by selecting fellow Sen. Joseph Biden as his running mate.

Biden is a known and respected, if not universally beloved, commodity. His depth of global expertise—he chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—complements Obama’s inexperience in that realm. Biden unarguably is qualified to be president—and to help manage what may become a decades-long conflict with global terrorists."
editorial for The Chicago Tribune, the city's conservative paper.

Meanwhile, conservatives use what they cannot deny (Biden's experience) to undermine the Democratic Party's nominee, Senator Barack Obama.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

One Teacher's Fight for Scientific Standards in a Science Class at School:

The morning after his Mickey Mouse gambit, he bounced a pink rubber Spalding ball on the classroom’s hard linoleum floor.

“Gravity,” he said. “I can do this until the end of the semester, and I can only assume that it will work the same way each time.”

He looked around the room. “Bryce, what is it called when natural laws are suspended — what do you call it when water changes into wine?”

“Miracle?” Bryce supplied.

Mr. Campbell nodded. The ball hit the floor again.

“Science explores nature by testing and gathering data,” he said. “It can’t tell you what’s right and wrong. It doesn’t address ethics. But it is not anti-religion. Science and religion just ask different questions.”

He grabbed the ball and held it still.

“Can anybody think of a question science can’t answer?”

“Is there a God?” shot back a boy near the window.

“Good,” said Mr. Campbell, an Anglican who attends church most Sundays. “Can’t test it. Can’t prove it, can’t disprove it. It’s not a question for science.”

Bryce raised his hand.

“But there is scientific proof that there is a God,” he said. “Over in Turkey there’s a piece of wood from Noah’s ark that came out of a glacier.”

Mr. Campbell chose his words carefully.

“If I could prove, tomorrow, that that chunk of wood is not from the ark, is not even 500 years old and not even from the right kind of tree — would that damage your religious faith at all?”

Bryce thought for a moment.
passage excerpted from The New York Times

Note the last part when the boy's answer when asked if the ark "proof" story is debunked. Two different thought processes. The one relies upon some proof or at least some observations concerning what happens(the basketball and gravity illustration). The other survives even when there is evidence debunking it.

Telling, isn't it?

Very Good Background Material on Candidates' Tax Cut Policies

in The New York Times magazine section today. A definite must read for anyone who wants to know about Obama's tax policy without getting into the complex 58-page report (PDF) I have yet to read.

Money quotes:

On Obama:

"The Tax Policy Center, a research group run by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, has done the most detailed analysis of the Obama and McCain tax plans, and it has published a series of fascinating tables. For the bottom 80 percent of the population — those households making $118,000 or less — McCain’s various tax cuts would mean a net savings of about $200 a year on average. Obama’s proposals would bring $900 a year in savings. So for most people, Obama is the tax cutter in this campaign. ...

All told, Obama would not only cut taxes for most people more than McCain would. He would cut them more than Bill Clinton did and more than Hillary Clinton proposed doing. These tax cuts are really the essence of his market-oriented redistributionist philosophy (though he made it clear that he doesn’t like the word “redistributionist”). They are an attempt to address the middle-class squeeze by giving people a chunk of money to spend as they see fit."

He would then pay for the cuts, at least in part, by raising taxes on the affluent to a point where they would eventually be slightly higher than they were under Clinton. For these upper-income families, the Tax Policy Center’s comparisons with McCain are even starker. McCain, by continuing the basic thrust of Bush’s tax policies and adding a few new wrinkles, would cut taxes for the top 0.1 percent of earners — those making an average of $9.1 million — by another $190,000 a year, on top of the Bush reductions. Obama would raise taxes on this top 0.1 percent by an average of $800,000 a year.

He would then pay for the cuts, at least in part, by raising taxes on the affluent to a point where they would eventually be slightly higher than they were under Clinton. For these upper-income families, the Tax Policy Center’s comparisons with McCain are even starker. McCain, by continuing the basic thrust of Bush’s tax policies and adding a few new wrinkles, would cut taxes for the top 0.1 percent of earners — those making an average of $9.1 million — by another $190,000 a year, on top of the Bush reductions. Obama would raise taxes on this top 0.1 percent by an average of $800,000 a year.

t’s hard not to look at that figure and be a little stunned. It would represent a huge tax increase on the wealthy families. But it’s also worth putting the number in some context. The bulk of Obama’s tax increases on the wealthy — about $500,000 of that $800,000 — would simply take away Bush’s tax cuts. The remaining $300,000 wouldn’t nearly reverse their pretax income gains in recent years. Since the mid-1990s, their inflation-adjusted pretax income has roughly doubled.

Quote of the Day

"No cops, no KKK, no fascist USA,"

from the anti-war protesters the anti-war crowd doesn't need.

So, where's the KKK and fascist USA? Who, mind you, was forced to goose step their way into Iraq? Do we have the draft? No. Had the Bush administration succeeded in silencing its critics. Watch MSNBC and you will know that it hasn't. In fact, you can find the occasional Bush critic on FOX News as well though from a different perspective.

Are the cops in this country evil? Should they really, as a general rule, be lumped in with the KKK? Um. No.

Do their actions match their fiery rhetoric? Apparently not. They were escorted to the Pepsi Center by cops. When told to disband, did the throw rocks at the cops, overturn cars throw firebombs into stores? No. They "dispersed peacefully" when asked.

I rest my case.

One anti-abortion political activist who presumably got his talking points from Operation Rescue's Randall Terry, deserves the silver medal:

"Obama is a bay killer,"

Lock your doors. Your children are not safe. And your unborn? well, don't tell him. He'll rip them out of your womb.

Um.
Can we talk about nuance?

Quote of the Day

"The two political parties as they exist today, and the partisanship that they foster, reflect the many fights of the cold war, the Vietnam era, the post–cold war and the 9/11 periods. Today we are in a different place altogether, where our security as a nation is challenged not just from abroad but also close to home. The energy, health-care and financial crises threaten our national prosperity and well-being, just as surely as any confrontation overseas or an attack by radical terrorists." - The two political parties as they exist today, and the partisanship that they foster, reflect the many fights of the cold war, the Vietnam era, the post–cold war and the 9/11 periods. Today we are in a different place altogether, where our security as a nation is challenged not just from abroad but also close to home. The energy, health-care and financial crises threaten our national prosperity and well-being, just as surely as any confrontation overseas or an attack by radical terrorists."

Susan Eisenhower
, in The National Interest on Thursday.

Susan Eisenhower had already endorsed Senator Barack Obama, (D-Illinois) but now, with this announcement, she made it clear - the party, itself, and not just Senator John McCain, lost the general's granddaughter.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama Gaffed

Well, if anyone was expecting Joe Biden to gaffe first they are wrong. Obama introduced Joe Biden as the next president of the Untied States.

Oops.

Love Biden's reference to McCain's seven kitchen tables to sit at.

"So Beautiful"

So Obama walks up to a love song and we hear some of the lyrics -"you so beautiful." Okay. So who is this in reference to - Obama or Springfield?

The Biden/Cheney Comparison

The conventional wisdom is that Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) was picked because he has the foreign and domestic policy experience that the Democratic Party's nominee, Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) lacks.

Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) campaign and his allies within the Republican Party and FOX News have predictably used this to highlight Senator Obama's perceived weaknesses. A commentator on MSNBC has already brought up the Richard Cheney comparison. Vice President Richard Cheney (R-Wyoming) was picked to reassure voters who were concerned about then Governor (and Republican nominee) George W. Bush's experience deficit.

Today, many pundits Cheney for this administration's political follies abroad. They say he wielded too much power, leading this nation into an elective but unnecessary war in Iraq. For his part, President George W. Bush deferred too much to his more experienced running mate.

The Democratic nominee's opponents would have us believe that Biden would be the Democratic Party's answer to Cheney - an uncontrollable, unreliable vice president who pulls the strings behind the scenes, undermining a hapless president who got involved in affairs way over his head.

The Political Heretic does not agree with this analysis since he watched the debates which both Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and then Governor George W. Bush (R-Texas) participated in. Barack Obama is no George Bush. President Bush came across in the debates as the hapless, intellectually challenged (or unmotivated) simpleton in the debates that he behaved as in the White House. When asked about his favorite philosophers, Mr. Bush referred the questioners to Jesus of Nazareth. He faltered then as now, on foreign policy questions. He struggled to put nouns and verbs together in sentences. He displayed little if any concern, for what was happening around the world.

Mr. Obama now doubt faltered in his first debate but he has grown since then and has shown an ability to speak cogently about world around him as one would expect from a college professor, a man who appreciates the nuances that Bush overlooked and a man that shows a deep respect for arguments made from the opposing side.

The Weekend Preview

THE SUNDAY INTERVIEW SHOWS


1. "FOX News Sunday" on FOX (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week: Obama's appeal to the swing states, the vice presidential pick's role on the campaign trail forecast, the Clinton family at the convention, convention speech preparations.

(a) Surrogates on Senator Obama in the Swing States: (a) Governor Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) and Governor Bill Ritter (D-Colorado) on Senator Barack Obama's chances to win over swing state voters with his appeal for new politics.


(b) Obama Spokesperson on the Vice Presidential Running Mate:
Robert Gibbs on what the vice presidential pick means for the campaign in the fall.


(c) FOX News Sunday Panel:
Brit Hume of FOX News, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Juan Williams of National Public Radio on the role Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) and former President Bill Clinton will have at the convention.


(d) Power Player of the Week:
Speech coach Michael Sheehan on preparing a candidate for his convention speech.

This show, which is hosted by Chris Wallace on Sunday mornings, is repeated at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET on the FOX News Channel.


2. "Meet The Press" on NBC (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Caroline Kennedy on the vice presidential pick, Nancy Pelosi on the legislative issues facing the next president, roundtable on the campaign.

(a) the Vice Presidential Pick: Vice Presidential Search Committee Co-Chair Caroline Kennedy on Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) on Senator Obama's selection of Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware) as his running mate and the tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) expected Monday might.

(b) The Campaign and Key Legislative Issues: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on the campaign and the key legislative issues facing the next president of the United States.

(c) Political Roundtable: "Insight and analysis" from Gwen Ifil of PBS, Jon Meacham of Newsweek, and Chuck Todd of NBC News.


This show, which is temporarily being hosted by Tom Brokaw on Sunday mornings, is repeated at 2:00 PM ET and 6:00 PM ET on MSNBC.



3. "This Week" on ABC (Sunday at 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - Axelrod on the vice presidential running mate, Giuliani on his role as the Republican's keynoe speaker, political roundtable.

(a) Obama's Chief Strategist on the Vice Presidential Pick: Obama Campaign Strategist David Axelrod on the vice presidential pick and a preview of the Democratic National Convention.

(b) The Republican: former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York) on his role as the Republican's keynote speaker and his reaction to Obama's vice presidential pick.

(c) Roundtable: Donna Brazile, Cokie Roberts, George Will, and Mark Halperin offer their views on this week's political stories.

(d) In Memorium: a look at those notable celebrities, politicians, and soldiers who died this month.

(e) Sunday Funnies: excerpts from the political jokes seen on the late night talk shows.

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.

4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): no preview offered for this show, which is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.


5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on CNN (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET):

Topic This Week - key Democratic Leaders speak to Wolf Blitzer about Senator Barack Obama's nomination.

Guests will include Senator Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), Governor Janet Napolitano (D-Arizona), Representative James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and Clinton Campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Plus, insight from CNN roundtable.

It's Official

Broken at approximately 3:12 AM. Not quite 3:00 AM but close enough.
The hawkish neo-liberal editorial writers at The Washington Post, think they have found the argument to counter those of us who say we need Russia's assistance on weapon proliferation and Iran's uranium enrichment program. That assistance, they claim, had not been forthcoming and as such we are losing at most the prospective partner we never had.

Russia's inaction with respect to Iran's uranium enrichment program however, did not occur in a vacuum. Its leaders justifiably viewIran as a potential counterweight to the United States' growing influence in the former Soviet Republics and the Middle East. We ignored them by admitting the three Baltic states into the NATO alliance, compounded that problem by inviting (albeit unsuccessfully) Ukraine and Georgia into the alliance, sided with the Bosnian government against the Serbian separatists but then sided with the Kosovars against the Serbian Yugoslavian government, established military bases on former Soviet Republics, and condemned the Russians for the brutal suppression of Chechen separatists.

Is it no wonder why they don't cooperate with us? Could not the Medvedev-Assad meeting's timing be attributed to anything but our reaction to the crisis in Georgia?

We cannot expect the Russians to side with us every time we ask for their help when they see us consistently siding with those who have disputes with the Russians. If they think we are threatening their national interests, the Russians will make their deals with our opponents.

Biden

Solid choice if this holds up.

Readers of this blog should know that he was this blogger's first pick for the White House.

Senator Joseph Biden (D-Illinois) has the experience that Obama lacks, and the blue-collar language which Obama lacks, the foreign policy credentials which Obama lacked and the gravitas that the other candidates on the short list lacked.

John King of CNN says Obama decided on Biden while he was vacationing in Hawaii, the time, that is, when Russia invaded Georgia. Obama knew what he needed - an answer to the Republicans on national security and foreign policy. With Biden we'll see a, a realist, go after the ideologues in the Bush administration.

And since he actually proposed a solution to the Iraq War, Obama can honestly vouch for Biden as a knowledgeable agent of change. Oh and he shouldn't offend any liberal interest group.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chet Edwards?

Please tell me it isn't picking him. I hope this is a diversion. Totally anti-gay. He couldn't even vote for ENDA.

Quote of the Day

"I would tuck her in, [perform] oral sex, massage her. That was it," Roger Alan Scherner

Clinton Talk

As it is, Senator Barack Obama is giving his former rivals too much air time. The former president is speaking on Wednesday night even though he refused to say whether Obama was qualified to serve as commander in chief and the former president's wife is speaking on Tuesday night. Must CNN harp about her potential as a vice presidential running mate? What will they do if she is not chosen? Dwell on whether that is a mistake up through the election?

I believe he really can't pick her even if he needed to do so as an act of desperation. The Clinton family did not make it easy for Obama. During the campaign they spoke of McCain's (but not Obama's) patriotism and McCain's (as opposed to Obama's) experience. Bill Clinton would not be humbled by his wife's loss. He said Obama must come to him for any endorsements and, as mentioned above, refused to answer in the affirmative when asked if Obama was ready to govern.

Picking Senator Clinton would therefore make Obama seem weak since he would be reversing the course he made when the clamor for Clinton's vice presidential bid was at its peak immediately after she suspended her campaign and endorsed him. The pundits on the talking shows would point to tightening poll numbers at a time when the Republican brand name is as appealing as rotting tomatoes. The economy is in the slump. Gas prices are still too high for many commuters. The war in Iraq is unpopular and Obama has yet to seal the deal.

Obama's weak commander-in-chief image will look even weaker because Bill Clinton had offered him nothing which he could use in a campaign commercial against Senator Barack Obama. As I said above, the former president would not say whether Obama was ready to serve as our president.

CNN refers to her as the candidate who can bolster her former rival's national security credentials. No one on CNN meanwhile referred back to the national security clearance she lacked when her husband was in the White House.

Obama, for his part, said he would pick someone who is independent, can talk about the economy and could offer Obama "robust debates" in the White House. So it must be Clinton! Oh wait. Maybe Joe Biden, Candy Crowly said but the first person she mentioned and spoke of was Clinton. No one else in DC apparently can offer Senator Obama a robust debate.

Conservative critics used to refer to CNN as the Clinton News Network. I can see why.