Sunday, September 28, 2008

SNL on Palin

I think Saturday Night Live isn't too far off the mark in portraying Senator John McCain's running mate as ill-informed naive, bimbo. Well, she's a "high functioning moron," if I may borrow the language Democratic strategist Paul Begala used to describe President George W. Bush (I disagree with his assessment on Bush - the president is in all actuality, a low-functioning moron so Palin is a modest improvement).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fineman: McCain Won With Aggressive Style but Voters May Want Something Else

On debating points--and if campaigns are boxing--McCain won. He was the sneering aggressor. He had Obama backpedaling for much of the night on foreign policy. Obama, for his part, missed several chances to counterattack, especially on the economy. Obama’s answers were strewn with annoying “ums” and “ahs” as he played for time to calibrate the least-damaging response.

Note to colleagues on the White House beat, especially any of you who are (sub-consciously perhaps) cheerleading for Obama: I predict that you are going to come to hate his press conferences; they are going to make you hunger for sound bites.

Maybe boxing is the wrong metaphor. Maybe voters are fed up with leaders who start wars without studying the possible consequences. Maybe voters are tired of the kind of presidency that blows off Congress and its critics as unpatriotic. Maybe voters are tired of my-way-or-the-highway thinking."
Howard Fineman in Newsweek

The Weekend Preview

The Political Heretic will comment on the the debate, point by point, shortly but first, the weekend preview of the Sunday interview shows.

1. FOX News Sunday on FOX (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET):

Topics This Week - the first presidential debate, the upcoming vice presidential debate, McCain's claim to suspend his campaign, and the director of the National Museum of Natural History

(a) Surrogates on the Debate and the Debate over the Debates: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)for the McCain Campaign and Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) for the Obama campaign on the debate and the trip to Washington. Both offer their views as to who won the debate and whether Senator John McCain's trip to Washington and claimed campaign suspension paid off.

(b) 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 preview the vice presidential debate between Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) and Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware).

(c) Power Player of the Week: Dr. Cristian Samper of National Museum of Natural History.

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 10:00 AM ET):

Topics This Week - dueling campaign strategists on the debates and bailout, an interview with Bill Clinton, and Udall v. Schaffer in a "Meet The Press" Senate Debate series.

(a) Sunday Exclusive Interview: former President Bill Clinton on the fourth Global Initiative summit, his views about the financial crisis and his views on the race for the White House.

(b) Campaign Surrogate Debate: Chief strategist David Axelrod of the Obama campaign and Chief strategist Steve Schmidt of the McCain campaign on the presidential debate, the ramifications of the financial bailout, and the election.

(c) "Meet The Press" Senate Debate Series: U.S. Representative Mark Udall (D-Colorado) and former U.S. Representative Bob Schaffer (R-Colorado) debate the issues facing the United States and Colorado in particular as they vie for outgoing Senator Wayne Allard's (R-Colorado) seat.

This show, which Tom Brokaw is hosting on NBC for the interim, 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 - interview with Republican presidential nominee John McCain on the economy and the debate, roundtable on the debate, the economy and the debate on holding the debate.

(a) Sunday Exclusive Interview: Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) on the economy, bailout and his first presidential debate with Senator Barack Obama.

(b) Roundtable: former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia), business columnist Steve Pearlstein of The Washington Post, writer and former Secretary of the Labor Robert Reich of The American Prospect, and columnist George Will of ABC News and The Washington Post on the bailout, the debate, and the debate on holding the debate.

(c) In Memorium: tribute to noted celebrities, actors, actresses, writers, statesmen, and soldiers who died recently.

(d) Sunday Funnies: political clips from the late night talk shows are briefly replayed.

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.

4. "Face The Nation" on CBS (Sunday at 10:30 AM ET): nothing posted yet. This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.

5. "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (Sunday at 11:00 AM ET): nothing posted yet.

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

Friday, September 26, 2008

Palin on Couric Part II: Foreign Policy Questions Answered as if they were Cultural or Value Voters Questions

Not much better. Here's the transcript of the Jane Wayne's interview with Katie Couric frisked (boldfaced my emphasis):

Note the terms she uses. "Good guys," "beacon of light,"kids, "that culture," etc.
Katie Couric: As we stand before this august building and institution, what do you see as the role of the United States in the world?

Sarah Palin: I see the United States as being a force for good in the world. And as Ronald Reagan used to talk about, America being the beacon of light and hope for those who are seeking democratic values and tolerance and freedom. I see our country being able to represent those things that can be looked to … as that leadership, that light needed across the world.

How illuminating. No talk about our role in NATO or our role as a benevolent policeman. She didn't speak about the national interests (or more accurately, what she believes to be our national interests). No. She turned this question on its head. She answered this question as if it was a question about her values (America is a "force for good in the world" and not a question about America's role in the world.

Couric: In preparing for this conversation, a lot of our viewers … and Internet users wanted to know why you did not get a passport until last year. And they wondered if that indicated a lack of interest and curiosity in the world.

Palin: I'm not one of those who maybe came from a background of, you know, kids who perhaps graduate college and their parents give them a passport and give them a backpack and say go off and travel the world.

In other words, she's the average American who was not spared the rod from her parents when she was naughty. No. She wasn't spoiled or given spending money to party overseas.

Palin:No, I've worked all my life. In fact, I usually had two jobs all my life until I had kids. I was not a part of, I guess, that culture. The way that I have understood the world is through education, through books, through mediums that have provided me a lot of perspective on the world.

She had no time to observe what was going on overseas. She worked, unlike those rich snots who get a passport and backpack from their parents with the expectation that they will "go off and travel the world." She got her education from reading, 'righting, and 'rithmetic - the old-fashioned way. Traveling? That's sooo cosmopolitan. What do they do? Community organizing?. No. Not for her.

Did she answer the question? Yes, in her roundabout way. She wasn't curious about what was going around because she was too busy to care about what is happening in Bangladesh or China or Hungary or Bolivia or Papua New Guinea or the Marshall Islands or Namibia or Jordan or, well, you get the idea. And your average day American will relate to that. Why? because they are concerned about their own jobs, their own heating bills, their own child's education, and their own health.

But I'm sorry. Those who travel overseas do get a different perspective. They get to see what others think of us and why? And they get to see how those in poorer countries live? Traveling provides them with "a lot of perspective" too.

Couric: Gov. Palin, you've had a very busy week. And you're meeting with many world leaders. You met with President Karzai of Afghanistan. I know the McCain campaign has called for a surge in Afghanistan. But that country is, as you know, dramatically different than Iraq. Why do you believe additional troops, U.S. troops, will solve the problem there?

Palin: Because we can't afford to lose in Afghanistan, as we cannot afford to lose in Iraq, either, these central fronts on the war on terror. And I asked President Karzai, "Is that what you are seeking, also? That strategy that has worked in Iraq that John McCain had pushed for, more troops? A counterinsurgency strategy?" And he said, "yes." And he also showed great appreciation for what America and American troops are providing in his country.

Poorly worded but she gets there. Why? Because it supposedly worked in Iraq. Fits the McCain storyline.

Couric: The United States is deeply unpopular in Pakistan. Do you think the Pakistani government is protecting al Qaeda within its borders?

Palin: I don't believe that new President Zardari has that mission at all. But no, the Pakistani people also, they want freedom. They want democratic values to be allowed in their country, also. They understand the dangers of terrorists having a stronghold in regions of their country, also. And I believe that they, too, want to rid not only their country, but the world, of violent Islamic terrorists.

Palin provides an incomplete answer to the question then moves on to some talking points that have little to do with the question being asked. Zardari may not want to protect al Qaeda but there are no doubt elements within Pakistan's intelligence and military communities that believe it is within their country's interest to protect al Qaeda. She failed to bring that up. As to her point about democratic governance? Well, the Pakistanis obviously revolted and forced the unpopular president and general, Pervez Musharraf, to resign or face impeachment. But that doesn't have anything to do with the question at hand, which concerns Pakistan's anti-American views and the interests it may have financing and hiding Islamic terrorists within its borders. No answer there. It would have been comforting, at least to me, had she noted that Zardari, like Musharraf, will have some difficulty capturing Osama bin Laden when he doesn't have full control over Pakistan's government. Palin could have bolstered her credentials by noting that some parts of that nation are virtually ungovernable.

Couric: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Sarah Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It's funny that a comment like that was kinda made to … I don't know, you know … reporters.

Oh, here she goes. Blame the media for what, I guess taking something out of proportion? Seizing on a gaffe that only reinforces in its mind her experience deficit?

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.

Yeah. She's being mocked. Snotty, liberal, east coast establishment liberals.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

If our "next-door neighbors" (how suburban!) are not in the United States, then they must be foreign. No kidding.

Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

Was Putin in a fighter jet recently? Gee I knew he was some wrestling god but... I never knew this. When Putin's Russia invades the United States it will send its massive army across the Bering Strait. The CIA operatives have their binoculars set - right on the Bering Strait. Not in Russia. No. We have no operatives in Moscow. They are hidden on the Aleutian Islands and on the western shore, binoculars out in hand. They are waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Palin apparently was there too, with the Alaskan National Guard too. She could see Russia from Alaska after all. Alaska is our first line of defense.

Follow-up not asked: Does she lead the National Guard through its exercises? Drill sergeant Palin. No for real:

Did she go on any of these trade missions? I doubt it and Couric must dout it too since (a) Palin did credit herself for going on any of these trade missions and (b) she had no passport. Oh and these trade missions generally are done for networking purposes so that deals can made later on. No. She did not meet Putin.

Couric: When President Bush ran for office, he opposed nation-building. But he has spent, as you know, much of his presidency promoting democracy around the world. What lessons have you learned from Iraq? And how specifically will you try to spread democracy throughout the world?

Palin: Specifically, we will make every effort possible to help spread democracy for those who desire freedom, independence, tolerance, respect for equality. That is the whole goal here in fighting terrorism also. It's not just to keep the people safe, but to be able to usher in democratic values and ideals around this, around the world.

Okay. She, as Senator John McCain's running mate, is defending neoconservative values with respect to foreign policy.

Couric: You met yesterday with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is for direct diplomacy with both Iran and Syria. Do you believe the U.S. should negotiate with leaders like President Assad and Ahmadinejad?

Palin: I think, with Ahmadinejad, personally, he is not one to negotiate with. You can't just sit down with him with no preconditions being met. Barack Obama is so off-base in his proclamation that he would meet with some of these leaders around our world who would seek to destroy America and that, and without preconditions being met. That's beyond naïve. And it's beyond bad judgment.

Here she cleverly answered the question she wanted to answer. Couric never asked her whether she would shake hands with Ahmadinejad or Assad, only if she would negotiate with them. By the way. Neither Ahmadinejad nor Assad say they would "destroy America." Their ire is largely directed at Israel.

Couric: Are you saying Henry Kissinger …

Palin: It's dangerous.

Couric: … is naïve for supporting that?

Palin: I've never heard Henry Kissinger say, "Yeah, I'll meet with these leaders without preconditions being met." Diplomacy is about doing a lot of background work first and shoring up allies and positions and figuring out what sanctions perhaps could be implemented if things weren't gonna go right. That's part of diplomacy.

No, but he does believe we have to negotiate with the Iranians and that was, after all what Couric was originally asking Palin.

Couric: You recently said three times that you would never, quote, "second guess" Israel if that country decided to attack Iran. Why not?

Palin: We shouldn't second guess Israel's security efforts because we cannot ever afford to send a message that we would allow a second Holocaust for one. Israel has got to have the opportunity and the ability to protect itself. They are our closest ally in the Mideast. We need them. They need us. And we shouldn't second guess their efforts.

An answer to a different question. If the Iranians bombed Israel or they supplied the bomb Hezbollah or Hamas used on the Israelis or if there was evidence proving Iran's intent to launch an attack upon the Israelis then of course the Israelis would have every right to respond in kind but that wasn't the question that was being asked. Palin was asked about Israel's "right" to launch a first strike.

Couric: You don't think the United States is within its rights to express its position to Israel? And if that means second-guessing or discussing an option?

Oh Couric boxed her in here. The American and Israeli perspectives might differ somewhat and if that is the case, then we cannot speak up if we can't second-guess Israel. Duh.

Palin: No, abso … we need to express our rights and our concerns and …

Couric: But you said never second guess them.

Palin: We don't have to second-guess what their efforts would be if they believe … that it is in their country and their allies, including us, all of our best interests to fight against a regime, especially Iran, who would seek to wipe them off the face of the earth. It is obvious to me who the good guys are in this one and who the bad guys are. The bad guys are the ones who say Israel is a stinking corpse and should be wiped off the face of the earth. That's not a good guy who is saying that. Now, one who would seek to protect the good guys in this, the leaders of Israel and her friends, her allies, including the United States, in my world, those are the good guys.

Well, if the Iranians do indeed seek to wip the the Israelies off the "face of the earth" they are doing a poor job at showing it. Aside from Ahmadinejad's rants, nothing has been done. The Iranians have not launched any missiles into Israel. Jerusalem is still standing.

Palin returns to that "good guys", good-old American values-laden answer.

Palin on Couric

Scary, isn't it?

Couric: You've said, quote, "John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business." Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie - that, that's paramount. That's more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

Couric: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

Palin: He's also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about - the need to reform government.

How does the citation of McCain's reputation for being a maverick address the central premise behind blaming McCain - that he opposes regulation? Was he a maverick on regulation?

Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you've said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

Couric: I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.

She'll "try to find" some specific examples for Katie Couric. She couldn't even raise the McCain-Feingold reform bill? Was it perfect? No. but that was at least an attempt or (maybe "faux" attempt) to change how things are done in Washington.

Oh and she has no idea how she too doesn't know if she would support the bailout. When asked to name the pros and cons for any such bailout she offered one, fairly obvious con that does not give us any insight into whether she knows anything about how the economy works.

McCain the Faux Teddy Roosevelt

Senator John McCain says he considers President Theodore Roosevelt one of his favorite presidents. He portrays himself as a Republican who, like Teddy Roosevelt, would go to Washington and take on the interest groups and a Republican who would vanquish this country's enemies on the battlefield.

TR took Panama from colombia, built a canal, and fought the trusts in court and through regulations. Like other great presidents who preceded and followed in his footsteps, TR took some liberties with the constitutional restrictions that were imposed upon him but he at least got some things done in the process. He was, in sum and most importantly, a decisive and active leader with an agenda which he intended to push through as president.

Compare that record with the one from the man who claims him as his political forefather. McCain says he generally opposes economic regulations so he probably would make for a poor trust buster. McCain believes we should involve ourselves in overseas conflicts. TR did too, but he selectively involved this country in those wars that served our national interest. TR took charge but McCain, this week, only pretended to do so:

"At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting."
- from The New York Times

Noncommittal! Does he support the bailout? Does he oppose the bailout? Does he have an alternative for the White House and his colleagues on Capitol Hill to look at? He deferred to the others at the meeting.

So why did Senator John McCain "suspend" his campaign and go to the White House? If he had nothing to say, there was no reason for him to "suspend his campaign," go to Washington, and threaten to withdraw from the debate.

Senator McCain is no Teddy Roosevelt.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Political Gamemanship

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) probably scored a tactical win today when he called for the postponement of the presidential debate held this Friday if Congress fails to pass a bailout bill (though he did not say whether he would the Paulson bill).

Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) apparently urged his Republican rival to sign onto a largely substance-deficient joint statement (more unspecified regulation, taxpayers somehow getting a return on their investment, capping executive pay for those who are bailed out without knowing if it is constitutional or not but McCain one-upped him by suggesting that he and Senator Obama should suspend their political campaigning and go to Washington and work for a resolution on the bill.

We could dismiss his gambit for the cynical act in political theater that it was, but McCain may accomplish two feats with his statement - First, he might have changed the debate in the voters' minds from McCain's gaffes on the economy and his prior support for deregulation to his apparent resolve to "reach across the aisle" to "get things done" and second, he is bolstering his apparent credentials as the Teddy Roosevelt Republican maverick who will take the lead in moments of crisis.

If and when he does "cave in," and appear in a debate, Senator McCain will pound on Senator Obama's decision to "talk the talk" without "walking the walk."

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut), who had endorsed his colleague from Arizona after he won the Republican Party's nomination, said both candidates could play a significant role in the debate by crafting the legislation. Lieberman told The Hill that McCain could "take take what I see as the conceptual agreement and now work out the details" since, in his view, "it’s clear from this discussion that the details are not worked out."

Like his candidate, Senator Lieberman may have jumped to this conclusion too soon. McCain does not sit on either the Banking or Finance Committees so he could not, even if he wanted to, craft the legislation that would reach the floor for a floor vote. But Lieberman's reasoning suffers another fatal floor. Senator McCain has, up to now anyway, has not demonstrated a command of the facts that we as a nation face. He was forced to backtrack on his statement that the "fundamentals of the economy" are strong, and forced to reverse himself on the AIG bailout (though here, too, he is joined by Obama's running mate, Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware). McCain also asserted, apparently without any knowledge of the prerogatives of a president, that he would have fire the SEC Chairman, Chris Cox. A candidate who does not bother to do any research wouldn't "work on the details" unless he is being instructed by those with far more knowledge about what they should do.

A Republican guest on "Hardball" said McCain could win the Republican votes Democrats are seeking for the political cover to bail out Wall Street. We don't know yet whether McCain will support the bailout plan or not but if he does, then he could announce his support live on television at the debate. Republicans who want to see him win the election will not embarrass him by voting against a measure he clearly supports.

Nothing however, prevents him from attending the debate and making an appearance in Washington. Since Obama and McCain will be in Washington tomorrow, both candidates will have plenty of time to participate in the presidential debate and fly back before senators and representatives vote on the bill.

The Political Heretic believes that Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) will show up and the debate will go on. He can use his time to blame Senator Obama for their collective failure to reach and provide the votes for any deal. Senator Obama, McCain will say, likes to "talk the talk" about bipartisanship but won't "walk the walk," by going to Washington to provide any crucial vote for or against the bailout plan.

Voters will get their first chance to listen to the two nominees this Friday and the moderator will, for the first time have the opportunity to press them on how they would vote on a bailout plan, how they would promise a return on the $700 billion spent bailing Wall Street out, and what specific programs they would have to put on hold if not abandon to offset the cost to the taxpayers.

Both candidates will and should be put to the test. The Political Heretic doesn't know if the moderator and the voters who watch the debate will see the political gamemanship for what it is and call them out for it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Some Attacks Are Beyond the Pale

"In Mr. Obama’s case, the messages have frequently sought to paint him as foreign, like the chain e-mail messages sent for months to Jewish areas of Florida, suburban Philadelphia and other swing states that portray Mr. Obama as Muslim (he is Christian). This week, a hate group calling itself the League of American Patriots distributed fliers to as many as 50 homes in Roxbury, a mostly white town in northern New Jersey, portraying Mr. Obama as Osama Bin Laden and including language that was derisive of black people." from The New York Times

"Do you want a black president?" - flier as quoted in The Daily Record

Senator John McCain may not be responsible for these ads, but the press should press him to disavow such ads every chance they get. Senator Barack Obama is not a Muslim (not that there should be anything more wrong about being a Muslim than there is being a Christian, Jew, Hindu, Wiccan, etc.) and he is not connected with mass murderer Osama bin Laden.

The Republican nominee says he wants to rally the American people to serve an interest greater than themselves. Senator Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut, says we must put our differences to the side and unite behind the man who is going to lead to victory in the war on terrorism. McCain can choose to make his war on the mass murderers who attacked us on 9-11 (and their friends who are responsible for bombings in Pakistan, Yemen, Spain, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom) or he could make his war with the Islamic community as a whole. If he truly wants to rally the forces of peace to his side, he would make his war with the former and not the latter, and disavow bigoted fliers that cater to anti-Muslim sentiments in this country every chance he gets. And if he truly wants to bring this country together, he would repudiate anti-black fliers.

Statesmanship is expected from those who want to rally the American people behind them. McCain can win this election in an honorable way, without resorting to the classless and spite-filled tactics employed by the radical fringe groups, and he should do everything he can to distance himself from those tactics.

Quote of the Day

"Mankind perishes. The world grows dark. McCain calls for a review board." - Michael Gerson goes admonishes both presidential candidates in his latest op ed found in at The Washington Post.

For the record, the Political Heretic knows too little about the plan's details to offer a comment but does have some concerns regarding the Treasury Department's power grab. The Political Heretic believes there should be some Congressional oversight. As it is, the Constitution was written so that Congress, and not the president, "shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States." Congress should not give this or any future White House the ability to circumvent its Constitutionally-imposed restrictions on fund raising.

Russia and Iran

"Russia's actions in Georgia -- and the U.S. condemnation -- have severely strained relations between Moscow and Washington. Russia balked Tuesday at a meeting of foreign ministers this week to discuss a new round of international sanctions against Iran for failing to come clean on its nuclear programs. The meeting was canceled Tuesday night.

In a statement, Russia said it saw no need during "this extremely packed week at the General Assembly, to make us toss everything else aside and urgently meet to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue."
- excerpt from The Washington Post

President George W. Bush could admonish the Russian president and prime minister all he wants but the fact remains that, at the end of the day, we need their cooperation to win Iran's compliance on any fruitful uranium/plutonium enrichment suspension deal.

Will on McCain's Temperament


Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?"
- George Will in The Washington Post

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Question Worth Asking before This BailOut is Passed

I would like the candidates to be questioned on one point Representative Ron Paul raised on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer this Sunday whether the influx of new money would lead to a further devaluation of the dollar at a time when many working Americans are struggling to make ends meat.

Obama's Promise to Slash Earmarks

is as credible as McCain's promise to slash them. They can't unless they vote against every appropriations bill that makes its way through Congress.

The Supreme Court, lest we forget, struck down as unconstitutional the Line Item Veto Act in Clinton v City of New York.

Fiscal Prudence

Senator Barack Obama promises universal health insurance. McCain new tax cuts. Let's just say that, federal bail outs, the entitlement program financing left unresolved, a war in Iraq, and our transportation infrastructure in need of repair, both proposals should be delayed if not axed.

McCain's Mental Factulties and Obama's Hesitation

Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) gaffes and reversals on the economy should in theory hurt him in this campaign but him enough? Yes. We see McCain acting a bit impulsively when he selected Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) as his vice presidential running mate without a sufficient vetting and yet again when the senator said he'd fire SEC Chairman Chris Cox even though no such power was given to the president. McCain promises change, even when he doesn't know if he can deliver.

His other gaffes make me wonder if he is getting senile - confusing Shia with Sunni and vice versa, claiming that the "fundamentals about the economy" are fine even in the face of the facts.

The Democratic Party's standard-bearer, however, appears weak because he isn't the first candidate out with the sound bite. While McCain was blustering his way through the as of yet unsettled Russian-Georgian crisis with his "we are all Georgians" comments, Obama, still on vacation in Hawaii, offered a tepid response calling on both parties of, it is presumed, equal blame to find a political settlement. (He would later revise that statement and put the blame on the Russians). McCain says he would fire the SEC Chairman. Granted. He can't, and granted, he couldn't even if he was the president but it is a call to action which voters would like to hear more of when they are in a state of panic. Obama usually comes out with an academic lecture which they cannot relate to.

The fate of this election might ride on Sarah Palin's ability to connect with independent swing voters. (Obama apparently cannot) They might, whatever their doubts about McCain, hold their nose and vote for him, hoping that he won't be in the White House too long to do any major damage.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nonpartisan Condemnation

"Some who have been admirers of John McCain think that the war hero has debased himself by using gross distortions to trash Barack Obama and his record. Others see the media fury over McCain's campaign ads as more evidence of a double standard driven by liberal bias at most major news organizations.

Both are right."
- Stuart Taylor at The National Journal

Brutal towards Senator John McCain, Senator Barack Obama, and the liberal-leaning newspapers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Not about Liberal v. Conservative or Dove v. Hawk

"Meanwhile, and on Pakistani soil and under the very noses of its army and the ISI, the city of Quetta and the so-called Federally Administered Tribal Areas are becoming the incubating ground of a reorganized and protected al-Qaida. Sen. Barack Obama has, if anything, been the more militant of the two presidential candidates in stressing the danger here and the need to act without too much sentiment about our so-called Islamabad ally. He began using this rhetoric when it was much simpler to counterpose the "good" war in Afghanistan with the "bad" one in Iraq. Never mind that now; he is committed in advance to a serious projection of American power into the heartland of our deadliest enemy. And that, I think, is another reason why so many people are reluctant to employ truthful descriptions for the emerging Afghan-Pakistan confrontation: American liberals can't quite face the fact that if their man does win in November, and if he has meant a single serious word he's ever said, it means more war, and more bitter and protracted war at that—not less." Christopher Hitchens at Slate Magazine

Well of course, but then again, Senator Obama made it clear during the primaries that he wasn't against all wars; he's against "dumb wars." Obama does not, in his campaign speech, call for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. In fact, he calls for additional reinforcements so that we can defend Afghanistan from the Taliban, which provided the terrorists who attacked us seven years ago with a safe haven. He withstood criticism from Senators Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain for noting that we may have to strike terrorists now hiding in Pakistan. McCain and Clinton said we didn't want to destabilize a country we count as an ally.

We cannot, however, count Pakistan as a reliable ally of ours on this "war on terror." Al Qaeda forces have been launching attacks against Afghani and NATO troops with impunity.

And that is why Senator Obama takes the more "hawkish" position on Pakistan. The terrorists who attacked us on 9-11 are hiding in Pakistan and launching their attacks on Afghanistan in Pakistan. We don't need to follow the "terrorists to the gates of hell" if we follow them into Pakistan but we didn't need to follow them into Iraq because since they were never in Iraq. Some problems can be resolved peacefully; others cannot. Discretion is required and that is what Obama promises us.


A bit late in coming but right.

McCain's Worst Idea

The commission. Foreclosures on the homes. Pensions wiped out on Wall Street. Don't worry. Stop whining. McCain will appoint a bipartisan commission which will meet behind closed doors and, within the next year or so, publish a 585-page PDF report which can then be rejected or discredited by senators and congressmen who don't like what the conclusion is before they kick the whole thing under the table and vow to do nothing.

Great plan Senator McCain!

Obama's Speech

Good on paper but the delivery is getting better but more needs to be done. Not substantively. Obama sounds like he knows what's going on but I am beginning to believe that his greatest strength as a president is turning iinto his greatest weakness as a campaigner. As a general rule, he speaks like a college professor. He makes a strong case for regulation (not that Wall Street is giving us any reason not to), and reminds us of the savings and loan crisis (which doubles as a good but unfortunately merely an implicit dig at McCain. Tough penalties for fraudulent lenders, a homeowner tax credit, liberalized debt relief, government oversight. That bolsters my confidence in his intellectual prowess and level-headed reasoning. After eight years listening to a president who sounds like and has acted like a blundering idiot, hearing a generally boring, monotone, and wonkish speech that includes a look back at historical economic policies can be quite refreshing but as a candidate, Obama's approach will fall on deaf ears. (Twenty minutes into his speech, Obama offered the conviction and force that had been sorely lacking in his campaign.

Campaigns are won by having the American voter think of the candidate as one of them. Does the candidate share my values? Does the candidate know what I am going through? Does the candidate, (I hate to say this as a bona fide Clinton hater) "feel my pain?" Is this the guy I want changing my tire (not that the secret service would ever allow the president to do that for John and Jane Q Public)?

He's getting better. His argument for regulation was presented with the conviction and passion that had been sorely lacking in the campaign. Too bad that presentation was made twenty minutes into his speech.


McCain Has Economic Experience?

"His campaign also sent to reporters the text of a speech he was delivering later Monday that included much starker language about the nation’s financial troubles, and by Tuesday had produced a new advertisement asserting that his experience and leadership were necessary in a “time of crisis.” from The New York Times

The ad, straight from the web site.

Question: How does a candidate who once noted that economics is not his strong suit, run on [economic] "experience" with a straight face?

Note too, he is trying to co-opt the "Enough is enough" line Senator Barack Obama used. Not that he said it with the degree of force Obama used during his convention speech. and like most ads (from both sides), totally devoid of substance.

Obama's team should create a new ad that uses McCain's economic weakness admission against his new-found claim to experience.

Quote of the Day

"Are they going to make it the Black House?” a "parishioner from Holy Rosary as quoted in The New York Times

Not a strong reason to vote against a presidential candidate. Disagreement on the issues. Certainly. Questions concerning experience. Sure. Fanatical religious beliefs? If the candidate in question says he will use the state to impose his or her beliefs on the rest of mankind. Race? out of bounds.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NYT: McCain's Record on the Economy

"On the campaign trail on Monday, Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, struck a populist tone. Speaking in Florida, he said that the economy’s underlying fundamentals remained strong but were being threatened “because of the greed by some based in Wall Street and we have got to fix it.”

But his record on the issue, and the views of those he has always cited as his most influential advisers, suggest that he has never departed in any major way from his party’s embrace of deregulation and relying more on market forces than on the government to exert discipline."
from The New York Times

Senator Obama actually took McCain on today on the economy, something voters really do care about. Critiquing McCain on his lies wasn't really useful. All politicians lie, or so most voters and a debate that is focused on those lies is a debate not centered on Senator McCain's views on the economy and the Bush administration's management of it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Questions for the Candidates

Question for Obama:

Both to deal with the new problems and to guard against any revival of the old ones, any further troop drawdowns, now that the "surge" is over, should be modest until after Iraq gets through two big rounds of elections -- in late 2008 at the provincial level and in late 2009 at the national level -- which have the potential either to reinforce important gains or to reopen old wounds. But starting in 2010, if current trends continue, the United States may be able to start cutting back its troop presence substantially, possibly even halving the total U.S. commitment by sometime in 2011, without running excessive risks with the stability of Iraq and the wider Persian Gulf region. ...

... If any major party holds out and decides to fight rather than accept risky sacrifices for the larger good, then its rivals will find it very hard to hold their own followers to the terms of a cease-fire -- likely plunging Iraq back into open warfare. If reconciliation can be done slowly, via small steps, then each stage of compromise is likely to be tolerable, with the risk of one holdout party exploiting the others kept to a manageable level. In contrast, if reconciliation must be done quickly, with a grand bargain rapidly negotiated in the face of an imminent U.S. withdrawal, the necessary compromises will be great -- making them extremely risky for all parties. In a factionalized, poorly institutionalized, immature political system such as Iraq's, many parties would doubt their rivals' motives and could refuse to make such large and risky compromises. The Iraqis, out of fear for their own safety, might well respond to a threatened U.S. withdrawal by preparing for renewed warfare. Rather than persuading the Iraqis to accept huge risks together, a threat of withdrawal would more likely produce the opposite effect.
- Stephen Biddle, Michael E. O'Hanlon, and Kenneth M. Pollack in Foreign Affairs

How does Obama respond to this?

"Together, all of these developments raise the potential of creating a new and better political order in Iraq. For now, there is still more potential than realization. Legislative progress on reconciliation continues to be slow, factional and sectarian differences remain divisive, and there is still no new political alignment or movement with the power to bridge these divides. Moreover, elections have had a very mixed track record in Iraq: as in many emerging democracies, electoral incentives can lead to instability as well as progress. But recent changes in Iraq's underlying military and political dynamics have at least broken the pattern of dysfunctional politics that has paralyzed Iraq in recent years. And this creates an opening that, if the Iraqis and the Americans can exploit it, could lead to a very different pattern -- one of positive political development and compromise." same article

and to McCain? How long do we give the Iraqis? How would he get the factions agree on Kirkuk's political status bring the Sons of Iraq into the Iraqi Security Force? and at what cost to the war in Afghanistan where the troops are desperately needed?

Frank Rich Says McCain a Transitional Puppet; Maureen Dowd Compares Palin to Bush

"There were several creepy subtexts at work here. The first was the choice of Truman. Most 20th-century vice presidents and presidents in both parties hailed from small towns, but she just happened to alight on a Democrat who ascended to the presidency when an ailing president died in office. Just as striking was the unnamed writer she quoted. He was identified by Thomas Frank in The Wall Street Journal as the now largely forgotten but once powerful right-wing Hearst columnist Westbrook Pegler." Frank Rich in The New York Times

My thought: very plausible theory. McCain isn't accepted by the religious right but he is pretty old so the conservative evangelicals could always talk themselves into voting for an experienced war hero who would serve as a caretaker who would "fix" what President George W. Busb ruined (by finishing the job as they see it) in four years, then step aside for their heroine.

This hypothesis is bolstered in part by the suggestions raised by media reporters that Senator John McCain was strongly leaning towards Senator Joe Lieberman, the independent leaning Democrat of Connecticut until the theocratic evangelical base threatened to bolt. McCain subsequently caved in and nominated the one-term conservative evangelical governor from Alaska.

"The really scary part of the Palin interview was how much she seemed like W. in 2000, and not just the way she pronounced nu-cue-lar. She had the same flimsy but tenacious adeptness at saying nothing, the same generalities and platitudes, the same restrained resentment at being pressed to be specific, as though specific is the province of silly eggheads, not people who clear brush at the ranch or shoot moose on the tundra.

Just as W. once could not name the General-General running Pakistan, so Palin took a position on Pakistan that McCain had derided as naïve when Obama took it."
- Maureen Dowd at The New York Times

My thought: scary indeed but she knows a thing or two about sentence structure, which is more than can be said for the current occupant in the White House.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Weekend Preview

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

Topics This Week - Sarah Palin's record and effect on the campaign trail, punditry on McCain and Obama's aales pitches to voters, 9/11 Memorial Power player.

(a) About Governor Sarah Palin: Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell (R-Alaska) and former Governor Tom Knowles (D-Alaska) on Governor Palin's (R-Alaska) political record.

(b) Sarah Palin's Effect on the Campaign: Political strategist Karl Rove on Sarah Palin's effect on Senator John McCain's (R-Arizona) bid for the White House and Senator Barack Obama's (D-Illinois) sales pitch.

(c) 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 how Senators Barack Obama (D-Illinois) and John McCain (R-Arizona) will try to woo voters.

(d) Power Player of the Week: Pentagon Memorial Fund President Jim Laychak on the first major memorial to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

This show, which is regularly hosted by Chris Wallace, 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 - Giuliani v. Schumer on the election race, Bob Woodward on the Bush administration's war on terror, latest on the battle ground states.

(a) Political Debate: former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) on the issues that voters will pay attention to this fall and Governor Sarah Palin's (R-Alaska's) affect on the campaign.

(b) Interview: Bob Woodward of The Washington Post on the Bush administration's prosecution of the war on terror and his new book, "The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008."

(c) Horse Race Battle ground States: NBC political director Chuck Todd on the updated map of the key battleground states.

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

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

Topics This Week - McCaskill v. Fiorina on the women's vote up for grabs, Greenspan on the credit crisis and the bailout, usual punditry on this week's political news stories.

(a) Political Debate on the Projected Women's Vote: Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) and Carly Fiorina (McCain supporter) on the women's vote and Governor Sarah Palin's effect on the race.

(b) Interview on the Economy: former FED Chairman Alan Greenspan on credit crisis and the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac government takeover.

(c) Roundtable: Democratic strategist Paul Begala, Time Magazine's Jay Carney, and ABC News' Claire Shipman and George Will on this week's main political stories.

(d) In Memorium: a brief look at notable celebrities, and politicians who have died; names of servicemen killed in war displayed.

(e) Sunday Funnies: funniest political jokes excerpted from the late night talk and comedy shows.

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 - no update as of yet.

This show is hosted by Bob Schieffer on Sunday mornings.

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

Topics This Week - damage and recovery efforts for Hurricane Ike assessed, presidential politics.

Guests will include FEMA Administrator David Paulison, Governor Tim Pawlentry (R-Minnesota), Governor Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Obama campaign adviser Linda Douglass, McCain economic adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer, Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, conservative columnist Tara Wall of The Washington Times, and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tax Promises Compared By CNN

So, according to the Tax Policy Center, unless you are making $237,000 a year or more, you will have your taxes cut under Senator Barack Obama's plan and if make between $237,000 and $603,000 you will lose $12 a year - a drop in the bucket for those who make six figures.

Can we afford tax cuts with the entitlement solvency problem left unresolved? Probably not. What would Obama and McCain cut in government services to offset the tax cuts? I don't know. But whatever one makes about their tax plans, McCain should be called out on his claim that Obama would raise your taxes. Most would have their taxes cut.

Quote of the Day

“It necessarily requires public administrators to accept a certain perspective on the nature and morality of homosexuality and I think that’s enormously problematic,” said Laurie Higgins, the director of the division of school advocacy for the Illinois Family Institute. “I think this represent a misuse of public funds.” Laurie Higgins of the conservative Illinois Family Institute as quoted in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Why is this the quote of the day? Higgins' opposition to the establishment of this school wouldn't surprise me in the least and the comments she made weren't really outlandish.

Her quote caught my attention because it doesn't pass the smell test. As a member of the anti-gay Illinois Family Institute, Higgins' obviously would align herself with the "abstinence until [heterosexual] marriage" approach in schools and that, by implication, "requires public administrators to accept a certain perspective on the nature and morality of homosexuality." Don't expect Higgins to consider that to be a "misuse of public funds."

Somehow Gene Policinski at The First Amendment Center offers a better, viewpoint neutral alternative.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Strike Away in Pakistan

Finally, the president had enough. If the Pakistanis won't go after the terrorists, and there have been enough news articles suggesting that they won't, we must.

Of course, Senator Barack Obama was roundly criticized by Senators Chris Dodd, and Hillary Clinton.


Definitely a shortcoming in democracies or democratically-elected governments such as republics. Though, when the media chooses to divert the attention away from an issue-oriented campaign on matters pertaining to war, health insurance, the entitlement programs and education to horse race issues (polls, "lipstick on a pig" statements, controversial reverends, and the appeals to some 846,0000 constituency groups who can blame the voters?

The Media's Priorities

The news can be quite frustrating sometimes. Yesterday, Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois) dug himself into a wtf political hole with his "lipstick on a pig" remark which was actually used in reference to Rovian political tactics. Senator John McCain, himself, once used this now infamous saying on a prior occasion (in reference to Senator Hillary Clinton's health care plan but lest we think Obama is not a sexist who was referred to Governor Palin as a pig, a Republican congresswoman reminded us of Obama's "sweetie" comment to female journalist.

These allegations concerning the Democratic senator's misconstrued remarks comes from a Republican Party base that pontificates against "political correctness" (remarks perceived to be racist, homophobic, ethnically insensitive, or sexist are condemned too much in their view) while opposing reproductive rights (abortion, contraception), and equal pay for equal work. The party's Southern evangelical base takes the bible literally and openly welcomes within its ranks those who adhere to a religious creed (the Southern Baptist one)that expects "wives to be submissive for their husbands."

No one within the supposedly, or in the case of MSNBC, indisputably liberal media establishment has confronted the McCain/Palin acolytes on these points. Worse, the reporters and pundits are saturating their precious airtime on the "lipstick on a pig" remark (or in this case, the Senator Obama's reaction to the fallout and the McCain campaign's reaction) at the expense of any critical analysis of the education plan Senator Obama spoke for while visiting a high school in Norfolk, Virginia.

To independent-minded thinkers who stray from the party line like Political Heretic, Senator Obama offered standard boilerplate issues Democratic teachers unions would endorse (higher pay, more school funding, emphasizing less multiple choice tests) though not surprisingly they offered lukewarm praise when he touted his support for charter schools (too much innovation for them, threatens their monopoly). Reporters should confront Senator Obama how he would pay for the funding (higher pay, the Innovative Schools Fund, laptops on school desks) and how he would measure school performance (if the testing mechanisms used in "No Child Left Behind" are, as he puts it, an inadequate if not poor means in assessing student performance) and they should challenge his rival, Senator John McCain, about the comprehensive (home and school based learning) approaches developed by the three reformers cited in this article.

This would seem to the Political Heretic, a far better use of their air time than its devotion to some stupid "lipstick on a pig" comment made by the two candidates.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Hockey Mom Who Goes to $707 Hotel Rooms?

Billing for nights slept in her own bed. Talk about being a maverick. Did Bristol really have to accompany her mother to New York City for three days? Did they have to pay for a $707 a day hotel room? New Jersey and Connecticut have many $70 - $100 a night motel and hotel rooms within driving distance.

Broder on the Candidates

"Obama has an exceptional mind when it comes to analyzing and then formulating policy. His methods are reflective and sometimes iconoclastic, but the results are impressive. He has outlined approaches to domestic issues that might enlist support across a broad political spectrum. Still, his skills as a negotiator are largely untested, and he has yet to demonstrate, as McCain has, the backbone to challenge the prevailing interest groups in his own party.

McCain, for his part, is far more dependent on others for the detailed working out of policy. His real strength lies in personal relationships; he is at his best when negotiating a deal -- and in knowing what it will take to make the deal stick. On the international side, he has a better feel for the personalities involved than Obama at this point -- and probably more comfort in dealing with them."
- David Broder at The Washington Post

I largely agree with this analysis. Mr. Obama's stuttering in the debates may not look good but it suggests that he is trying to think through an answer. He in many ways reminds the Political Heretic of the college professor who would give a dispassionate lecture on topics like war, genocide, or poverty. Many college-aged voters were drawn to Senator Obama's call for "change," and the moderate, largely dispassionate persona which he displayed at the debates and the campaign trail but others may not find his dispassionate temperament appealing, particularly on matters where an emotive response seems more logical to them (so-called "moral" issues).

Obama's opinions may be too nuanced for the American voter. When Russia invaded Georgia, Senator McCain called for its expulsion from the G-8. His response to the invasion was forceful and swift. Voters could say McCain was arguing from a position of strength, someone who knew what he was doing. Obama's slow response may have contributed to his relatively weaker position on national security issues. Obama first tried to pin the blame on extremists fighting for those on both sides of the political divide. He appeared too evenhanded after the nation was invaded and had to modify his stance accordingly when the former POW's public approval ratings went up.

The junior senator from Illinois has to prove himself to be a tough negotiator. Voters do not want a wimp at the negotiating table with the Iranians, Chinese, Russians, or anyone else for that matter. Wimps won't fight for causes they believe in.

Body Count

Perhaps the thing that struck me the most was the president's obsession with the body count. It's Vietnam all over again.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Quote of the Day/Pakistan As an Ally In the War on Terror Undercut

Well, for yesterday really.

“I cannot lie to you ... The army comes in, and they fire at empty buildings. It is a drama — it is just to entertain.” Haji Namdar, a Taliban leader quoted in the magazine section of The New York Times

Well, the magazine article is definitely worth the read. It's pretty long but an easy read.

Here are the passages that the Political Heretic would like everyone, including those who do not read the article in whole, to note:

a. Redirect the Terrorists from Pakistan to Afghanistan

"IN JANUARY OF THIS YEAR, Pakistan opened an offensive into South Waziristan that was far fiercer than any that had come before. It inflicted hundreds of casualties on Mehsud’s forces and caused at least 15,000 families to flee. Then, after just three weeks, the operation ended. As they had before, Pakistani commanders and Mehsud struck a deal. But this time, remarkably, the deal seemed to stick. The army dismantled its checkpoints and pulled back its troops, and the suicide bombings all but stopped.

What happened? A draft of the peace agreement struck between the army and Mehsud may help explain. The agreement itself, which has not been officially released, provides a look into the Pakistani government’s new strategy toward the militants. According to the agreement, members of the Mehsud tribe agreed to refrain from attacking the Pakistani state and from setting up a parallel government. They agreed to accept the rule of law.

But sending fighters into Afghanistan? About that, the agreement says nothing at all.

And that appears to be the essence of the new Pakistani game. As long as the militants refrain from attacking the state, they are free to do what they want inside the tribal areas — and across the border in Afghanistan."

b. Pro-Pakistani Afghanistan to Counter India

THE MOST COMMON THEORY offered to explain Pakistan’s continued contact with Islamic militants is the country’s obsession with India. Pakistan has fought three major wars with India, from which it split violently upon independence from Britain in 1947. To the east, the Pakistani military and intelligence services have long tolerated and sometimes directed militants moving into Indian Kashmir. To the west, Afghanistan has long been seen as a potentially critical arena of competition with India. After the U.S.-led invasion in the fall of 2001, for example, India lost no time in setting up consulates throughout Afghanistan and beginning an extensive aid program. According to Pakistani and Western officials, Pakistan’s officer corps remains obsessed by the prospect of Indian domination of Afghanistan should the Americans leave. The Taliban are seen as a counterweight to Indian influence. “We are saving the Taliban for a rainy day,” one former Pakistani official put it to me.

c. the War Financing Complex

ONE SWELTERING AFTERNOON in July, I ventured into the elegant home of a former Pakistani official who recently retired after several years of serving in senior government posts. We sat in his book-lined study. A servant brought us tea and biscuits.

Was it the obsession with India that led the Pakistani military to support the Taliban? I asked him.

“Yes,” he said.

Or is it the anti-Americanism and pro-Islamic feelings in the army?

“Yes,” he said, that too.

And then the retired Pakistani official offered another explanation — one that he said could never be discussed in public. The reason the Pakistani security services support the Taliban, he said, is for money: after the 9/11 attacks, the Pakistani military concluded that keeping the Taliban alive was the surest way to win billions of dollars in aid that Pakistan needed to survive. The military’s complicated relationship with the Taliban is part of what the official called the Pakistani military’s “strategic games.” Like other Pakistanis, this former senior official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of what he was telling me.

So, the Pakistanis would have no expectation of gaining the military assistance we provided them if they defeated the Taliban. Well, the Pakistanis will now be allowed to use the funding we provided for weapons better utilized against India.

Perhaps we should gut aid to Pakistan and remind the new incoming administration that we could always shift our support to their detested neighbor to the east.

Conservatives for Lowering Inequality

David Frum, in The New York Times, makes the conservative, Republican case for sparing the United States from the widening divide between rich and poor. Go figure.

Why Obama and Biden Could Very Well Lose

Joseph Romm says the Democratic nominees this year are selling a losing message. He thinks they should go on the attack. Obama sounds too wonkish; Biden too complementary of his opponents. As much as I hate to say it (we really should expect the aspirants for the leader of the free world to present cogent arguments), I fear he may be right:

"Being weak and wonkish is an equally losing strategy. Worse, neither Obama or Biden are particularly sharp edged in delivering even their core message at least on TV, especially compared to McCain and Palin. The public backs those who attack, even if they disagree with the substance of the attack. Why? Because they are fundamentally electing somebody to defend them -- and if a politician can't defend himself or herself, how can they possible defend the public? A core theme in US popular culture -- especially TV and the movies --is tough people getting so fed up with the wimpiness of those around them that they take action into their own hands and save the day. That's what the public expects to see in real leaders, even if it is a fantasy.

Now it is true that Obama and Biden are tougher on the stump than they are talking to the media on television, but the debates are going to be in the latter format -- and the debates are where the public will make its final judgment on who is fit to lead the most powerful nation in the world. The weird disconnect is that what energized the Democratic base as much as anything else was Obama's convention speech, where he took the fight to McCain and even questioned his temperament. But the Sunday talk shows suggest Obama's tough message is slip-sliding away."

Debates aren't won by making substantive arguments. They are won by the one who has the best one-liners. McCain will filibuster his way through the town hall format and talk tough. Voters like the GI Joe talk (our military can do anything and solve our problems) that McCain and the Republicans in general spew in every election while casting Obama as the "uppity" wimp (he wants us to surrender Iraq) and the voters will love him for it. McCain will promise viewers that he will follow Osama bin Laden to the "gates of hell," while skewering Obama for booking ACLU lawyers a flight to Guantanamo Bay.

Obama's reasonable demeanor didn't help him on Georgia. Former Vice President Al Gore lost the debates to an idiot who rarely puts nouns and verbs together in coherent sentences (let alone the intellectual curiosity required of one who must respond to crises around the world) even though he had a command. Senator John Kerry lost against an increasingly unpopular president because he was portrayed as an effete flip-flopper who once turned against his comrades in the military during the Vietnam War. Go figure.

Leaving aside the political leanings of the candidates, it's depressing when a relatively smart candidate loses to a complete imbecile. It says way too much about the American voter and no, it's not funny.


Liberal columnist Richard Cohen is getting worried too:

"Not, anyway, the Obama who appeared Sunday on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos. That Obama was cool, diffident, above it all -- unflustered, unflappable, unexcitable and downright unexciting. These "uns" ran on, a torrent of cool that frosted my flat-panel TV and had me wondering if, as a kid, Obama ever got a shot in the mouth on the playground, he'd glare at the bully -- and convene a meeting."

What did liberal columnist call Senator Barack Obama? Obambi?

If the American public had a choice, who would they pick, a wuss or GI Joe?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Book Challenge

A story on it from the local newspaper:

Emmons drew a clear distinction Saturday between the nature of Palin's inquiries and an established book-challenge policy in place in Wasilla, and in most public libraries.

“I'm not trying to suppress anyone's views,” Emmons said. “But I told her (Palin) clearly, I will fight anyone who tries to dictate what books can go on the library shelves.”

Palin said Monday she had no particular books or other material in mind when she posed the questions to Emmons.

Emmons said in the first conversation, before being sworn in as mayor, Palin briefly touched on the subject of censorship.

But on Monday, Oct. 28, Emmons said Palin asked her outright if she could live with censorship of library books. This was during a weak when Palin was requesting resignations from all� the city's department heads as a way of expressing loyalty. ...

... Emmons said Palin asked her on Oct. 28 if she would object to censorship, even if people were circling the library in protest about a book.

This scares me but we need someone to verify Emmons' account before we can say for sure that this happened.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Weekend Preview

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

Topic This Week - The Republican National Convention and the election campaign going forward.

(a) The Democratic Viewpoint: Obama Campaign Strategist David Axelrod on the Palin nomination and the Democratic strategy for victory.

(b)The Republican Viewpoint:
McCain Campaign Manager Rick Davis on the Palin nomination and the Republican strategy for victory.

(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 Republican Convention.

(d) "On The Trail:"
a look at the sights and sounds.

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 - interview with Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama, among other things.

Topics This Week - interviews with VP running mate Joe Biden and columnist Thomas Friedman.

(a) Sunday Exclusive: Senator and Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden (D-Delaware) in his first interview since he was selected to be the party's nominee.

(b) Interview:
Thomas Friedman of The New York Times on the environment and energy.

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

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

(a) Sunday Exclusive: Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama (D-Illinois) in an exclusive interview, on the Republican National Convention, the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, and this week's other news.

(b) Other - not posted yet.

This show is hosted by George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.

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

Topic This Week - exclusive interview with Senator and presidential candidate John McCain.

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

Topic This Week - campaign surrogates on the election 2008 campaign.

Guests will include Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Governor Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs, McCain economic adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer, Democratic strategist James Carville, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, Republican strategist Tara Wall, and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

This two hour show is hosted by Wolf Blitzer on CNN.


Before the media buzz shifted to the Democratic National Convention and Senator Barack Obama's search for a vice presidential running mate, the topic of interest pundits were talking about were the McCain ads portraying Senator Barack Obama as an empty suit celebrity in the tradition of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

McCain's supporters obviously at best wanted us to discount Obama's stature as a celebrity when considering who they should vote for in November and at worst to tarnish his reputation by grouping him with disreputable celebrities from Hollywood.

Now that the campaigns are over, however, Governor Sarah Palin is getting the same treatment. She is the first woman to be nominated by her party to serve as the next vice president of the United States. History will be made when voters go to the polls in November. They will either vote for the first African American president with a white male as his vice president or a white male president with a white woman as his vice president.

Senator McCain and his vice presidential running mate, Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) were visiting a predominantly Republican Milwaukee suburb today and according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,
voters came out to see Mrs. Palin. McCain vowed to bring his undefined message of "reform" to small towns across America while Palin attacked Obama for his opposition to the troop surge in Iraq.

Most striking, however, is double-standard employed by the journalists covering this race. In her speech to the Republican delegates, Palin referred to Obama's supporters as "devoted followers," as if he is a leader of a celebrity cult and the media, before the Democrats held their convention, played their part. They wondered if the senator contributed to that negative story line by holding large rallies at football stadiums.

Palin, apparently, also has a cult-like following if you read The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report from Cedarburg:

No enthusiasm gap was evident today as McCain sought to build on momentum gained from Palin's surprise selection and the high-energy reception that both Palin and McCain received at the GOP gathering in St. Paul this week.

A lot of the interest seemed to be for Palin. Sara Rattan, 49, of Menomonee Falls carried a sign that read, "Read My Lipstick," a nod to a joke Palin told during her speech at the Republican National Convention.

"She makes me want to do more with my life because she's done so much with her life at such an early age," she said.

Christina Brockhaus, 30, of West Bend wasn't close enough during the speeches to see the stage, so she climbed the railing of temporary bleachers near the stage afterward, but the most she could see was Cindy McCain's blond hair.

"I would have killed to see Sarah Palin," she said.

Brockhaus said that as a moderate Republican she found both John McCain's and Palin's speeches "refreshing."
"I'm a (deer) hunting mom, and I just think she's phenomenal," Brockhaus said of Palin. "Everything about her appeals to me."

Brockhaus "would have killed" to see the governor from Alaska. Would she settle for a speck from vice presidential running mate's hair? Lipstick touched by Palin?

Will the journalists raise questions about Palin's status as a celebrity and will they ask McCain if he still approves of those Obama celebrity ads? Don't hold your breath.


From the Right
Underwhelming according to Michael Gerson. Ditto David Gergen.

Some conservatives were pleased overall.
Ross Douthat
liked the text.
The Cornerites
said they were, for the most part, pleased. Jonah Goldberg alone stands out and says it was a mediocre speech. Hugh Hewitt got the Republican talking points down pat. Dan Blatt says he did better than Barack Obama.

From the left
Michael Signorile, Mickey Kaus nitpicks at McCain's speech but offers no overriding argument himself, Josh Marhsall pointed to a the contradiction in McCain's message - championing reform while espousing more of the same. Jeffrey Toobin says McCain pulled a Carter for the reasons I have already stated here. Apparently we are not alone, according to Andrew Sullivan (not that Andrew Sullivan or the letter writer are liberal).

Thursday, September 04, 2008

McCain's Uninspiringly Vague and Visionless Speech

Again, the speech here.

Thank you all very much. Tonight, I have a privilege given few Americans -- the privilege of accepting our party's nomination for President of the United States. And I accept it with gratitude, humility and confidence.

The speech is pasted in full here in italics and my inserted comments are bold-faced (as usual).

In my life, no success has come without a good fight, and this nomination wasn't any different. That's a tribute to the candidates who opposed me and their supporters. They're leaders of great ability, who love our country, and wished to lead it to better days. Their support is an honor I won't forget.

Okay. The prerequisite sign of respect is shown.

I'm grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following the worst attack on American soil in our history, and keeping us safe from another attack many thought was inevitable; and to the First Lady, Laura Bush, a model of grace and kindness in public and in private. And I'm grateful to the 41st President and his bride of 63 years, and for their outstanding example of honorable service to our country.

You know how unpopular your party's standard-bearer is doing when he is only thanked once in the speech. Here, the president is thanked for leading us through the crisis on September 11. McCain thanked Bush once - here - on this one, limited subject and nothing else.

As always, I'm indebted to my wife, Cindy, and my seven children. The pleasures of family life can seem like a brief holiday from the crowded calendar of our nation's business. But I have treasured them all the more, and can't imagine a life without the happiness you give me. Cindy said a lot of nice things about me tonight. But, in truth, she's more my inspiration than I am hers. Her concern for those less blessed than we are -- victims of land mines, children born in poverty and with birth defects -- shows the measure of her humanity. I know she will make a great First Lady.

When I was growing up, my father was often at sea, and the job of raising my brother, sister and me would fall to my mother alone. Roberta McCain gave us her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength, and her belief we are all meant to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country. I wouldn't be here tonight but for the strength of her character.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you, who helped me win this nomination, and stood by me when the odds were long. I won't let you down. To Americans who have yet to decide who to vote for, thank you for your consideration and the opportunity to win your trust. I intend to earn it.

I certainly hope Senator McCain will make a compelling argument for his candidacy if only to keep his opponent on his toes. We are owed a strong and substantive debate between two equals. Earning our trust, however, requires more than statements attesting to one or the other candidates' character. Courage, resolve, and conviction are necessary but insufficient character traits for the office he seeks. McCain has yet to show us an inspiring vision for this country and his plans to get us there.

Finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it over the next two months. That's the nature of these contests, and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, an association that means more to me than any other. We're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that. And I wouldn't be an American worthy of the name if I didn't honor Senator Obama and his supporters for their achievement.

If only then, he denounced the tactics employed by the current administration which all but-branded branded anyone who wouldn't agree with its global priorities a traitor. If only then, he did not have himself standing in front of an American flag (or a picture of one flapping in the wind), as if his values are synonymous with patriotism (and implicitly, anyone who dissents is not).

But let there be no doubt, my friends, we're going to win this election. And after we've won, we're going to reach out our hand to any willing patriot, make this government start working for you again, and get this country back on the road to prosperity and peace.

Define "willing patriot."

These are tough times for many of you. You're worried about keeping your job or finding a new one, and are struggling to put food on the table and stay in your home. All you ever asked of government is to stand on your side, not in your way. And that's just what I intend to do: stand on your side and fight for your future.

And I've found just the right partner to help me shake up Washington, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. She has executive experience and a real record of accomplishment. She's tackled tough problems like energy independence and corruption. She's balanced a budget, cut taxes, and taken on the special interests. She's reached across the aisle and asked Republicans, Democrats and Independents to serve in her administration. She's the mother of five children. She's helped run a small business, worked with her hands and knows what it's like to worry about mortgage payments and health care and the cost of gasoline and groceries.

McCain offers his vice presidential running mate's biography as his way of proving how he will "fight for our future." It would be nice if he actually told us how he will fight for us. Balancing the budget, cutting taxes, and taking on "the special interests" are vague terms. Tell us how he will balance the budget so we know if they will affect the programs we depend on (well some of us depend upon anyway). Tell us which tax cuts he would implement so we can see how much we will save under his plan. Tell us which "special interests" he will fight against and let us know how they are hurting us.

McCain spoke of health care without telling us how he failed to offer us a plan for getting more American citizens on a health care plan.

She knows where she comes from and she knows who she works for. She stands up for what's right, and she doesn't let anyone tell her to sit down. I'm very proud to have introduced our next Vice President to the country. But I can't wait until I introduce her to Washington. And let me offer an advance warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second Washington crowd: change is coming.

Exactly what is McCain willing to cut? Earmarks. Good for him. What else? What government programs would he cut? How about the money we are squandering by rebuilding Iraq?

I'm not in the habit of breaking promises to my country and neither is Governor Palin. And when we tell you we're going to change Washington, and stop leaving our country's problems for some unluckier generation to fix, you can count on it. We've got a record of doing just that, and the strength, experience, judgment and backbone to keep our word to you.

I guess he is referring to Washington's failure to reform the entitlement programs - social security and medicare but again, he offered no solution. It's easy to run against Washington when you don't have to run for something.

You know, I've been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of his own drum. Sometimes it's meant as a compliment and sometimes it's not. What it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you.

I've fought corruption, and it didn't matter if the culprits were Democrats or Republicans. They violated their public trust, and had to be held accountable. I've fought big spenders in both parties, who waste your money on things you neither need nor want, while you struggle to buy groceries, fill your gas tank and make your mortgage payment. I've fought to get million dollar checks out of our elections. I've fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes. I fought crooked deals in the Pentagon. I fought tobacco companies and trial lawyers, drug companies and union bosses.

Perhaps the worst that can be said about this is how McCain is offering himself as the candidate with a record or in other words the candidate of the past and not the candidate of the future. He presented himself tonight as the man who did something, not the man who will do something.

I fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq, when it wasn't a popular thing to do. And when the pundits said my campaign was finished, I said I'd rather lose an election than see my country lose a war.

Thanks to the leadership of a brilliant general, David Petreaus, and the brave men and women he has the honor to command, that strategy succeeded and rescued us from a defeat that would have demoralized our military, risked a wider war and threatened the security of all Americans.

Well, here McCain is half-right. The troop surge has at worst delayed and possibly averted an expected loss in Iraq in so far as it bought us the time to enlist the help of new, Iraqi allies, in the fight for its future. Resolving this dispute, however, involves more than a military occupation. It requires sacrifice on the part of the principal negotiators.

If there was ever any hope of bringing Iraq's disputing factions together then yes, McCain was right to support the troop surge (assuming, of course, that stabilizing Iraq is worth the sacrifice in terms of spending, troops wounded or killed, cuts in domestic programs, taxes raised, and the search for Osama bin Laden hindered) If however, history proves that their disputes are irreconcilable, then Obama was right to oppose the surge because no peace will hold once those troops leave Iraq.

I don't mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I've had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way. In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test.

I fight for Americans. I fight for you. I fight for Bill and Sue Nebe from Farmington Hills, Michigan, who lost their real estate investments in the bad housing market. Bill got a temporary job after he was out of work for seven months. Sue works three jobs to help pay the bills.

I fight for Jake and Toni Wimmer of Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Jake works on a loading dock; coaches Little League, and raises money for the mentally and physically disabled. Toni is a schoolteacher, working toward her Master's Degree. They have two sons, the youngest, Luke, has been diagnosed with autism. Their lives should matter to the people they elect to office. They matter to me.

I fight for the family of Matthew Stanley of Wolfboro, New Hampshire, who died serving our country in Iraq. I wear his bracelet and think of him every day. I intend to honor their sacrifice by making sure the country their son loved so well and never returned to, remains safe from its enemies.

Geeze. Like I said when Obama spoke - don't speak of the Americans you plan to speak to once in your lifetime.

I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.

Standard Republican boiler plate - small government (on the economic front).

We believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity to reach their God-given potential from the boy whose descendents arrived on the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers. We're all God's children and we're all Americans.

Technically that is partially true. Children born in the United States of migrant workers are considered American citizens. Those of us on the right, left, and center who favor more restrictive immigration laws find this constitutional status highly problematic. A constitutional amendment denying citizenship to those who are born from those who are illegally residing in the United States is in order.

We believe in low taxes; spending discipline, and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk takers and letting people keep the fruits of their labor.

We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and judges who dispense justice impartially and don't legislate from the bench. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities.

Standardized Republican stump speech that could be given by anyone. The Democrats, in contrast, apparently believe in a weak defense, a slothful work ethic, doubt, slavery, a culture of death, grossly irresponsible conduct (particularly impulsive behaviors like nominating running mates you vet one day earlier - oh wait, wrong party), anarchy (how this fits with the party of big government is beyond me), legislating from the bench, and antisocial behavior.

We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans. Government that doesn't make your choices for you, but works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself.

I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them. I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them. I will cut government spending. He will increase it.

My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them. My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.

McCain's vow to keep taxes down is note, qualified. Note also his distorted representation of Obama's tax policies. Obama said he would renegotiate but not end, NAFTA (how he must explain). Obama said he would cut taxes for the middle class while raising them on those who make $200,000 or more. Obama would cut taxes for those who relocate here, thereby creating jobs.

McCain's expressed concern in the reduction of wages and the bureaucrat standing "between you and your doctor" are particularly interesting given his opposition to minimum wage increases and his opposition to contraception.

Keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs. Cutting the second highest business tax rate in the world will help American companies compete and keep jobs from moving overseas. Doubling the child tax exemption from $3500 to $7000 will improve the lives of millions of American families. Reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs will let you keep more of your own money to save, spend and invest as you see fit. Opening new markets and preparing workers to compete in the world economy is essential to our future prosperity.

I know some of you have been left behind in the changing economy and it often seems your government hasn't even noticed. Government assistance for unemployed workers was designed for the economy of the 1950s. That's going to change on my watch. My opponent promises to bring back old jobs by wishing away the global economy. We're going to help workers who've lost a job that won't come back, find a new one that won't go away.

We will prepare them for the jobs of today. We will use our community colleges to help train people for new opportunities in their communities. For workers in industries that have been hard hit, we'll help make up part of the difference in wages between their old job and a temporary, lower paid one while they receive retraining that will help them find secure new employment at a decent wage.

Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

Nice promise. So why did McCain vote against the GI Bill for vets? They don't have a right to this future?

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I'm President, they will.

Agreed here but I wonder how you will come up on top. The unions are very strong.

My fellow Americans, when I'm President, we're going to embark on the most ambitious national project in decades. We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much. We will attack the problem on every front. We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we'll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.

I don't think the Iraqis (save for the Kurds maybe) like us so he can promise to cut aid to Iraq for starters. Promising to cut aid to foreign nations is one thing. Telling us where he will find those cuts is quite another and there is always the question of how much those cuts will be offset by the money we spend in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to restore the health of our planet. It's an ambitious plan, but Americans are ambitious by nature, and we have faced greater challenges. It's time for us to show the world again how Americans lead.

This great national cause will create millions of new jobs, many in industries that will be the engine of our future prosperity; jobs that will be there when your children enter the workforce.

Today, the prospect of a better world remains within our reach. But we must see the threats to peace and liberty in our time clearly and face them, as Americans before us did, with confidence, wisdom and resolve.

We have dealt a serious blow to al Qaeda in recent years. But they are not defeated, and they'll strike us again if they can.

Right so what is McCain going to do about it. Al Qaeda terrorists are hiding in the mountainous Afghan/Pakistani border region. Will the armed forces, under his command, launch military strikes when the terrorists surface? Will he cut aid to Pakistan if it is not utilized to fight the terrorists? Will he transfer American troops from the Iraq to Afghanistan?

Iran remains the chief state sponsor of terrorism and on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons. Russia's leaders, rich with oil wealth and corrupt with power, have rejected democratic ideals and the obligations of a responsible power. They invaded a small, democratic neighbor to gain more control over the world's oil supply, intimidate other neighbors, and further their ambitions of reassembling the Russian empire. And the brave people of Georgia need our solidarity and prayers.

Competing interests here. McCain says he will stand up to Russia, the very country we need to help us stand up to Iran so the question he must answer is how, if at all possible, we can bring the Russians on board with respect to Iran while fighting for Georgia's independence. As President I will work to establish good relations with Russia so we need not fear a return of the Cold War. But we can't turn a blind eye to aggression and international lawlessness that threatens the peace and stability of the world and the security of the American people.

We face many threats in this dangerous world, but I'm not afraid of them. I'm prepared for them. I know how the military works, what it can do, what it can do better, and what it should not do. I know how the world works. I know the good and the evil in it. I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don't. I know how to secure the peace.

Very illuminating isn't it. He expects to stare down those who disagree with us; not win them over.

When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house. A Navy officer rolled down the window, and shouted at my father that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. I rarely saw my father again for four years. My grandfather came home from that same war exhausted from the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home with me. I hate war. It is terrible beyond imagination.

I'm running for President to keep the country I love safe, and prevent other families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has. I will draw on all my experience with the world and its leaders, and all the tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military and the power of our ideals -- to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace.

Nothing to critique here since there is nothing of substance.

In America, we change things that need to be changed. Each generation makes its contribution to our greatness. The work that is ours to do is plainly before us. We don't need to search for it.

We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy; from the way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network; from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children. All these functions of government were designed before the rise of the global economy, the information technology revolution and the end of the Cold War. We have to catch up to history, and we have to change the way we do business in Washington.

McCain's view on Bush: We need change. Sounds like Obama rhetorically but like Bush substantively.

The constant partisan rancor that stops us from solving these problems isn't a cause, it's a symptom. It's what happens when people go to Washington to work for themselves and not you.

Again and again, I've worked with members of both parties to fix problems that need to be fixed. That's how I will govern as President. I will reach out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not.

But what does McCain think we are in need of fixing? Specifically? Again, a man of the past is arguing for what he did in the past, not what he will do in the future.

Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didn't think of them first, let's use the best ideas from both sides. Instead of fighting over who gets the credit, let's try sharing it. This amazing country can do anything we put our minds to. I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.

Yes. Let's do that. If something makes sense. Let's do it. Better to use "the best ideas from both sides" as opposed to "the worst ideas from both sides." Could you imagine what shape this country would be in if we rejected "bad ideas" in favor of "good ideas?"

We're going to finally start getting things done for the people who are counting on us, and I won't care who gets the credit.

I've been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. But I have been her servant first, last and always. And I've never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I didn't thank God for the privilege.

Long ago, something unusual happened to me that taught me the most valuable lesson of my life. I was blessed by misfortune. I mean that sincerely. I was blessed because I served in the company of heroes, and I witnessed a thousand acts of courage, compassion and love.

On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission over North Vietnam. I hadn't any worry I wouldn't come back safe and sound. I thought I was tougher than anyone. I was pretty independent then, too. I liked to bend a few rules, and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I did it for my own pleasure; my own pride. I didn't think there was a cause more important than me.

Then I found myself falling toward the middle of a small lake in the city of Hanoi, with two broken arms, a broken leg, and an angry crowd waiting to greet me. I was dumped in a dark cell, and left to die. I didn't feel so tough anymore. When they discovered my father was an admiral, they took me to a hospital. They couldn't set my bones properly, so they just slapped a cast on me. When I didn't get better, and was down to about a hundred pounds, they put me in a cell with two other Americans. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even feed myself. They did it for me. I was beginning to learn the limits of my selfish independence. Those men saved my life.

I was in solitary confinement when my captors offered to release me. I knew why. If I went home, they would use it as propaganda to demoralize my fellow prisoners. Our Code said we could only go home in the order of our capture, and there were men who had been shot down before me. I thought about it, though. I wasn't in great shape, and I missed everything about America. But I turned it down.

A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. I'd been mistreated before, but not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after I'd been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me.

When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn't know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had the honor to serve with. Because every day they fought for me.

I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's.

I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.

If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.

Again. What he did; not what he is going to do. We are being asked to vote for the candidate with proven character with no known vision.

I'm going to fight for my cause every day as your President. I'm going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank Him: that I'm an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth, and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are always within our reach. Fight with me. Fight with me.

Fight for what's right for our country.

Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.

Fight for our children's future.

Fight for justice and opportunity for all.

Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.

Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.

Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. We're Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God Bless you.

Fight for what? What is the mission you would have us fight for? I'm perplexed.