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October 27, 2008

Jay's ELECTION POLICY GUIDE - DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS & MORE

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MONDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2008

OUR ENDLESS ARGUMENTS WITH OURSELVES
[Hint: They don’t come to an end in January, 2009.]

INTRODUCTION

 

-- 4 dirty little secrets, 4 talking points, 4 big issues, and 4 burning crises --

 

Some think it was Guiseppi Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary, who said, “The more things change - the more they stay the same.” 

 

Whoever said it, he or she was probably kvetching about some revolution that failed expectations.

 

They all do.

 

I can guarantee that - whether you are voting for Obama or McCain - if your expectations are revolutionary, they will be frustrated.

 

Campaign rhetoric, straight talk or not, must always follow certain rules.  You have to inspire, so you are urged to exaggerate.  You have to propose, but you are urged not to get too specific.  When you succumb to the “dramatic promise” gesture (as in “read my lips, I won’t raise taxes”) you can pretty much be sure you will be screwed by your own words. 

 

And, yes, in this media saturated environment, nothing – I mean NOTHING – can be buried forever. So the game afoot is to bury the skeletons until November 5.

 

In every presidential election cycle, the candidates talk in circles about issues that approach one or two concerns of actual importance to the country. But in fact, campaign talk is actually designed to seem to address our concerns while actually saying almost nothing of substance. 

 

At worst, the candidates avoid talking about anything that is really important.  The game is to sound important and relevant without tying one’s self down to a policy position that will need to be abandoned.  As a result, the outcome of the election is often decided by marginal voters who are driven by boutique issues that will never come up in the real world and who are overly impressed by vague themes worthy of a high school class election. 

 

The 4 DL SECRETS

 

Here are the four Dirty Little Secrets of Campaign 08:

 

[1] Neither candidate can roll back the seas.

 

[2] Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain can repeal the business cycle.

 

[3] Neither can reverse the consequences of a fifteen year credit-real estate bubble created by bipartisan greed, shortsightedness and neglect. 

 

[4] But either or both of them can really screw things up (much as a well meaning FDR did) by making the recovery slower and more anemic than necessary. [The Great Depression could have been reversed in three instead of nine years.]

 

This leaves us voters in a place where we need somehow to measure a candidate’s judgment, adaptability and willingness to jettison ideology in favor of the practical and workable.  Good luck with that.  Senator Obama’s resume is full of air pockets and McCain’s only hints at his approach to decision making.

 

We face an economic crisis, an ongoing terror jihad against us, an energy shortage and a cranky national mood.  And that’s just the short list. Here’s what I propose to survey in the rest of this piece wherein I talk about (but fail to solve the problems presented by) the following:

 

[A] THE CANDIDATES’ FOUR BEST TALKING POINTS;
[B] THE FOUR REAL ISSUES – wherein REALITY is IGNORED;
[C] THE FOUR BURNING CRISES – one or more will burn the incumbent;
[D] WHAT NOW?

 

Jay B. Gaskill
From a secure, undisclosed location in Northern California

 

[][][]

 

THE FOUR BEST OBAMA TALKING POINTS

 

[1] A post-racial solution to racial politics via the candidate himself:

 

Simply by being African American Lite, i.e., not strident, by projecting his thoughtful, cool charisma and by carefully avoiding all racially heated rhetoric, Barack Obama has succeeded (at least partly) in personifying the post-racial era that his prospective presidency offers to usher forth.

 

[2] Partisan transformation through the cult of personality and end to the Bush-era:

 

Again, the charisma is the message. “We are the change we’ve been waiting for” as a slogan, would have been laughed off the stage in any other era.  But the change mantra is driven by Bush fatigue and propelled by a particularly charismatic speaker. 

 

[3] Middle class reparations via income redistribution:

 

This looks a lot like a reworking of the “black reparations” theme, now understated and aimed at a much larger constituency.  The “middle class” rhetoric, no matter how that is defined in real world terms, was designed to obscure the Marxist / class warfare look-and-feel of previous political attempts to “take from the rich and give to the poor”.

 

[4] Soft power internationalism:

 

This approach has failed historically, even in the middle of an unpopular war (as in the McGovern and Kerry defeats). But now, conditions may favor a “new approach”.  The US has been free for seven and ten months from a terrorist attack. In the context of a sudden recession and the three trillion dollar wealth hemorrhage, the resources devoted to a very long term military struggle overseas are resented.

 

[][][]

 

THE FOUR BEST MCCAIN TALKING POINTS

 

[1] Middle class empowerment:

 

This is the upwardly mobile approach, focusing on middle class aspirations to improve ones’ situation through hard work, savings and risk taking.  Those movers and shakers with a classic left mindset often fail to grasp just how powerful the “audaciousness of middle class hope” can be. For example, liberal leaders are repeatedly puzzled when opposition to high inheritance taxes surfaces among the “working classes”.

 

[2] Partisan transformation through common sense, reform and divided government:

 

This is the “come let us cross party lines” approach, as augmented by the “but I’ve already done that” track record argument shared by both Senators McCain and Clinton. The reform piece is another “look at my track record’ argument.  It has appeal, but the lack of specific targets, other than vague references to “earmarks” and “greed” has blunted the cutting edge. But the divided government argument has legs, partly because there is no partisan aisle to cross if this election, as predicted, functionally eliminates the republicans. The one meaningful bipartisan conversation would be the one across the street between the White House and the Congress. The American people have a history of preferring a divided government as the best way to achieve bi-partisan cooperation.  
 


[3] Economic empowerment:

 

This is classic, red meat Regan doctrine – Reduce taxes, get government off the entrepreneur’s back and let capitalism work, but the McCain campaign so far seems to lack the Reagan gift of street-level explanation.  Joe the Plummer instantly made the blue collar version of the case in a way that no blue blood, country club republican ever has.

 

[4] Steady, experienced national security realism:

 

This should be a winning argument for McCain, even among a large plurality of democrats, but the whole issue set is overshadowed for now by the financial meltdown.

 

[][][]

 

THE FOUR REAL ISSUES – wherein REALITY is IGNORED

 

[1] The Energy Thing

 

The situation calls for a massive, comprehensive effort to achieve the impossible with an impractical time frame: true energy self sufficiency at a low cost. In the real world, this means that no practical energy source, including nuclear power and local coal and oil resources, can be ruled out on ideological grounds.  I’ve addressed the nuclear energy question (and the needed augmentation of America’s electric grid) in a separate article. This could have been John McCain’s best issue. LINK: http://jaygaskill.com/GoNuclear.htm  . A candidate who takes this issue seriously would have been about funding and construction timelines.
 


[2] The loss of American Manufacturing Infrastructure

 

This is the problem that Ross Perot warned us about.  Neither free trade nor protectionism will solve it now.  Some form of industrial policy (meaning a massive public/private investment strategy) is probably needed.  Neither candidate will touch the issue except in vague, fog-ball rhetorical flourishes.
Industrial policy is populist-nationalistic in essence, and it involves proactive support for key manufacturing and infrastructure elements.

 

[3] The great immigration flood

 

Neither candidate chooses to talk about it.  I find this truly amazing in light of the overwhelming popular sentiment favoring a major change in the “open door” policies of the last several administrations. The failure of the republicans to take up the issue of immigration without assimilation is the single biggest reason for the lack of conservative confidence in McCain’s “me, too” approach to this issue.  

 

[4] The Trade, Fiscal & Credit Deficit Time Bomb

 

We hear rhetoric only.  Yes we owe China half the national debt. Yes, we’ve promised benefits we can never fund.  But how – really - do we get out of this? We hear a resounding campaign silence from both camps.  This is because any practical solution involves short term sacrifice, mid term sacrifice and long term sacrifice.  The bottom line: The country cannot afford to pamper its boomers and its leaders can’t afford to tell them that right now.

 

[][][]

 

THE FOUR BURNING CRISES – At least one of which will burn the new incumbent badly

 

[1] Real Estate Deflation Driven Credit Meltdown

 

Truth be told, both candidates are thrilled that the current administration and congress get to sweat this one out for now.  Neither candidate is willing to say the truth – that real estate prices were too high, and that the government just has to let them fall to meet incomes.  And neither candidate has a realistic clue about what to do next.

 

[2] Collapse of American Auto Industry

 

Look for a partial bailout of GMC, Ford and Chrysler.  But without a massive commitment to nuclear power and a new electric grid, no manufacturer can afford to commit to a plug-in and drive strategy, which is the only technology “on the self’’ that can revolutionize the industry in the near term. A hydrogen powered transportation system?  Not for at least 15 years.  The economy can’t wait.

 

[3] Resurgence of Malignant Marxism

 

Marxism has broken out again in our hemisphere and it is in the interests of China and Russia - and even some Middle East mischief makers - to stoke that particular fire.  Ironically, communism, socialism and the other Marxist economic models have failed, yet petro-dollars have given the corpse artificial life.  Oil money has been just enough to resurrect this dismal, authoritarian way of life for one more shot at the American jugular.  The timing is good for our enemies because we are suffering from an acute form of the “nobody loves me” neurosis, made worse by the post modern multiculturalism that acts like a “guilt virus”. What are the symptoms of this virus, you ask? They include policy ambivalence, addiction to the grand moral gesture and an aversion to self assertion. Will we be cured in time? Stay tuned…

 

[4] Dangerous Oil Supply Vulnerability

 

Windmills and camp songs won’t get us out of this in time.  Unfriendly dictators and enemies hold most of the energy cards.  We’ve dithered for fifteen years, trapped in arguments about boutique issues other than national survival.  We need to actually build stuff that works.  And time’s up. 

 

WHAT NOW?

Part of leadership is “follow-ship”.  This doesn’t mean that policy differences have to be submerged in some sort of national “salute the leader” exercise. But there have been all too many instances in which the current president’s opponents refused to go along with good policy just so the same idea could be repackaged later with different credit. 

Let’s leave aside the detailed merits of the bailout (I remain a skeptic about the current approach – you can see what I’ve been saying at this link: http://jaygaskill.com/TheGreatMeltdownOf08.htm ).

The remarkable thing was that congress actually deliberated over a weekend and arrived at a compromise in record time on an immense question with lasting consequences.  Ironically, this was only possible because President Bush was a lame duck, thus eliminating any risk that coming together would in any way help the “other” party. 

That may or may not ever happen again in our lifetimes.

I hope you feel better. 

 

JBG

 

October 25, 2008

THE COLD CANDIDATE - Barack and the Accidental Baby

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LINK TO ‘HTM’ VERSION: http://jaygaskill.com/Death.htm

 

THE COLD CANDIDATE?
About The Case of Barrack Obama and the Accidentally Born Baby

 

Reasonable minds can differ about whether human life begins at conception, unless, of course, we are talking about when our personal histories began. In that special case we want to think, “Well, MY story began with conception!” 
Only when the issue becomes less personal, can the discussion become abstract and legalistic… and … cold.
And, yes, reasonable minds certainly can differ about the “personhood” status of a fertilized human cell, of a few aggregated cells, even of the blastocyst from which the fetal baby will develop.
But at some point in time, we all realize that the lump in Mommy’s tummy – the little heartbeat, the tiny kicking legs, the tiny hands sometimes the miniature thumb in the little mouth, that whole beautiful business - is certainly a living being. 
And for almost everyone, weeks later, we intuitively know that mommy’s “fetus” is really a baby, still living within the envelope of Mommy’s biological nurture and protection, but a real someone who will very soon be revealed as a little Barry or Michele. 
While I support any prospective mother’s decision not to get pregnant, I am viscerally pro-life in the broadest and most sympathetic sense.   
With that background, I will admit I was not inclined to overreact when Barack Obama declined to say whether human life begins at conception, claiming that it was above his “pay grade”.  [I’m confident that the pay raise associated with becoming POTUS will not change things for him in this respect.]
But when a nurse is actually holding the little boy or girl baby, in her warm hands, holding that little child of God, freshly delivered into the world, or when you or I are privileged to enjoy that holy and magical moment, I defy anyone with a heart to deny the human status, the inherent worthiness of that baby; surely he or she, named or unnamed is one of us.  
Ah, but when that little baby slips into the world “by mistake”, a certain state senator from Illinois was willing to declare her as good as dead, not worthy of mandatory medical treatment, palliative care or succor.
Why? Strictly for cold hearted legal and ideological reasons.
This is a portrait of Barack Obama as the classic heartless lawyer.  Personally I find it chilling to the core.
When a barbaric late term abortion procedure, all too graphically called “partial birth abortion”, fails in its purpose - which is to end the life of the little being who otherwise would be born alive - there is sometimes an accidental live birth. You might think of this unexpected outcome as a blessing, even as a divine intervention.
In this situation, there is sometimes delivered a tiny, breathing baby, with little hands, little feet, scrunched up face and a beating heart.  One person’s blessing is another’s “problem”.
For some pro-abortion extremists, this is just like one of those failed executions of a condemned killer, in that a second try is just fine, thank you. Except that the planned execution was of an innocent little being.
Suppose you and I walked into the delivery room at that moment. We would naturally assume that a baby had been born. We would naturally ask –Why aren’t you trying to save the little guy? You save preemies all the time?  What is going on?  Won’t someone call a doctor?
Enter Barack Obama, the constitutional lawyer: 
In 2002, as an Illinois legislator, he voted against the “Induced Infant Liability Act”, which was written to require medical assistance to babies that survived attempted late-term abortions.  The late term element is important because premature born babies can often be saved.
Now I want you to imagine a physician being stopped at the delivery room door.   Imagine an abortion rights lawyer standing there. He says, “No one called you, Dr. There are legal issues involved here, I’m afraid.  We have to finish the abortion -- Roe vs. Wade, you know.”
The physician hears a baby sound on the other side of the door. “What was that?”
“Not your concern, Doctor.”
Now imagine, if you will, being present to hear the young Senator Barack Obama as he addressed the Illinois legislature in 2002, opposing the measure to require that the surviving baby be provided medical assistance.
“...this is probably not going to survive constitutional scrutiny.
“Number one, whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we're really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a – child, a 9-month-old – child that was delivered to term. …
“I mean, it – it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute. For that purpose, I think it would probably be found unconstitutional.”
Later in 2002, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, essentially verbatim with the Illinois act that Obama opposed, was signed into law. Only 15 members of the U.S. House opposed it, and it passed the Senate unanimously on a voice vote.  Barack Obama wasn’t voting in US Senate then.
As a state Senator, not only did Obama vote against essentially the same bill, he killed it in committee… twice. When the matter was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee, as chairman in 2003, he never called the bill up for a vote.

Jill was a delivery-ward nurse who actually there when aborted babies were born alive, and who were
left to die. She testified twice before Obama. Then she did the same before the U.S. Congress. She has said that her wrenching testimony “did not faze” state Senator Obama.

I’m sorry Senator Obama, a mother’s authority to
choose death is limited.  It ends decisively and absolutely the moment the little, innocent human life is in the hands – figuratively and literally – of a nurse or doctor.
Thank God for the Hippocratic Oath.
A CNN special report is available on You Tube, including nurse Jill’s account --
Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPZCXcTwZPY
In another You Tube clip, you can hear part of Senator Obama’s argument against the bill -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypDwNpgIUQc
Senator Obama will now say that the federal bill was improved because it included legal language to the effect that medical assistance is to be provided without necessarily taking a position about whether the baby to whom the medical assistance is given is or is not a legal person. 
More lawyer talk...
No presidential race is decided by a single issue.  But our next president will be called upon to make critical moral judgments at critical times. And the capacity to make such judgments – or its lack - is illuminated by past performance.
People demonstrate by their actions whether they have the capacity for actual caring or … dare I say it: cold indifference.  We can overcome our personal histories, of course.  But I’ve heard nothing from Senator Obama where preservation of human life is the issue to dispel the chill I felt when actually hearing his words.
JBG

October 23, 2008

DO THE POLLS LIE? [Updated Friday]

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THURSDAY EVENING

 

WHICH POLLS CAN WE TRUST? WHY DO THEY DIFFER SO MUCH? WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

 

Contrary to other polls, some of which show Obama ahead by double digits, the IBD/TIPP Poll shows a sudden tightening of Obama's lead to 3.7 from 6.0.

And as of Friday, the margin has tightened to 1.1% per the same poll. LINK: http://www.ibdeditorials.com/Polls.aspx?id=309635713550536 .

 

“McCain has picked up 3 points in the West and with independents, married women and those with some college. He¹s also gaining momentum in the suburbs, where he's gone from dead even a week ago to a 20-point lead. Obama padded gains in urban areas and with lower-class households, but he slipped 4 points with parents...”

 

LINK: http://ibdeditorials.com/Polls.aspx?id=309546869309178


AND see Michel Barone’s piece – “Are the Polls Accurate?” by following this LINK: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122463210033356561.html?mod=djemEditorialPage  .

EXPLAINING THE INEXPLICABLE

So, how do we explain the huge spread in the current polls?

Selection of the interview sample is more like a culinary recipe than hard science. Interviews are done via land line phones in an era where many potential voters don’t even have a land line, and most of us hate to be polled at all.

I suspect that the Rasmussen poll (showing a 5% spread for the last two weeks) actually hides volatility because some weeks ago the “leaners” were included as a vote. 

And I think that the polls that cover all registered voters also exaggerate volatility.  A recent Zogby poll that showed a narrowing race was limited to likely voters. 

One thing is clear enough: Turnout will be a huge factor. It can be depressed by a sense of futility, and it can be energized by a sense of apocalypse.  This is where Palin becomes a strong asset for McCain, and the demonization of “evil republicans” works to the advantage of the democrats.

HOW DID WE GET TO THIS PLACE?

What I find most perplexing, however, is the cranky ambivalence among some republicans about John McCain.  For authentic conservatives, McCain is a perfect Trifecta - he's pro-life, a deficit hawk and an anti-jihad hawk. 

And in a different election, the selection of a very liberal junior senator from a north-eastern state would have been a non-starter.  For “blue dog” democrats to reject Hillary in favor of someone whose liberalism makes Carter and Dukakis looks positively Reaganesque is improbable on the face of it.

But the hunger for victory and Bush hatred among democrats, who otherwise might be more divided than currently appears to be the case, is really not that surprising

Nevertheless, I think that all these developments demonstrate the failure of the primary system -- in the sense that it allows at least one party to become captive of a tiny ideological minority and the early leaders in the race to build a commanding lead before thorough vetting. 

I still believe that both democrats and republicans would have done better with those old smoky backroom conventions, where the pros concentrated on the task of actually winning the general election from the very first.  This old system virtually guaranteed a focus on the center of the political spectrum.  In such a decision making process, it is unlikely that Obama would have gotten the nod, given his inexperience. Hillary would have been the nominee.

It is unclear what the republicans would have done this time, but the winning candidate would be fresh (instead of burned out from a 14 month campaign), privately vetted and selected with winning the general election as the primary goal.

None of these considerations will be taken seriously if Obama wins.  Later, if Obama fails in office, you will hear everything I have talked about here repeated and more.

THE END GAME

 

If the race tightens further, say to a 2.5% spread before Halloween, expect a panic response from "The One" campaign. If the spread is less than 1.5% on Halloween, Obama will lose.

I don't think there is a classic "Bradley effect" in the sense that racists will lie to pollsters, but I do think that there is social pressure that inhibits someone inclined to vote against Obama from saying so because of fear of being thought of as a racist.

 

And I suspect that the "Obama effect" is about 2% in many voting areas.  So a down trend for Obama on the last weekend and a spread lower than 2% would be terrible news for "The One". 

 

This is why so much attention is being given by democrats the advance voters right now.

JBG

October 20, 2008

JOE BIDEN'S OCTOBER SURPRISE

 

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All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]
Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

 

 

JOE BIDEN’S OCTOBER SURPRISE

 

Joe “Bigmouth” Biden (this is a term of affection – I personally like Senator Biden) may have delivered the final October surprise. 

 

Decoding his words is not always as straightforward as this. 

 

Sunday in Seattle at fundraiser, Senator Biden revealed that he thinks that Senator Obama’s inexperience and lack of national security credibility will provoke a major attack on American interests – if not the USA itself – within six months of his election. 

Of course, he added that Obama will be up to the challenge.

 

No, Senator Biden did not say this in so many words, but he did actually Make The Point by necessary implication.

 

History is an excellent teacher here. 

 

Saddam’s Iraq invaded Kuwait after a US ambassador held a conversation with an Iraqi counterpart in which she simply left Kuwait off a list of countries that the US would defend with force.  The omission was taken as an invitation.

 

JFK cancelled air support for the CIA’s Cuban ex-pat invasion, resulting in the Bay of Pigs disaster. 

[Years later I had a private conversation with Senator Frank Church, who was close to John Kennedy and reported that JFK knew he had made a mistake and attempted to resign.] 

 

Later JFK met with Khrushchev who left with the impression that the young president could be rolled.

 

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a Russian test of the young president’s resolve. It was a test that would never have been attempted when Eisenhower was in office. 

 

The world nearly blew up.  

 

Senator Obama has been careful to stop short of pledging the direct use of American military might to defend Israel in the event that stalwart democratic ally is attacked, say, by a coalition of Iran and Syria.  Other candidates have deliberately left the matter ambiguous enough that an adversary would conclude that we won’t “stand idly by” (as the code goes) while Israel is attacked.

 

Biden is an old pro at this and fully understands the implications of Obama’s choice of rhetoric, but he is not at the head of the ticket and cannot directly address the problem in public without making things much worse.

 

With that context, consider carefully what the Seattle press reported about Biden’s remarks on Sunday:

 

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

10-20-08, Describing 10-19-08 fundraiser where Biden said:

///


“It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama the way it tested John F. Kennedy,” he said.
Unmentioned was the fact that JFK was bruised by his initial testing: the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and a Vienna summit with Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev.


And


"Pakistan is already bristling with nuclear weapons, all of which can hit Israel."


///

 

Here is the full text:

 

///

"Mark my words. Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy," according to press accounts. “The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. And he’s gonna have to make some really tough - I don’t know what the decision’s gonna be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it’s gonna happen. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate. And he’s gonna need help."

///

 

And here is how I decode this warning.

 

If we elect Obama as POTUS we’ll suffer the following: a major attack on American interests – if not the USA itself – within six months of his election. 

 

This will not be the case if we elect John McCain. But with Obama, Biden has raised the collateral damage issue.

 

So here is the question:

 

Just how many casualties are the audacities of hope worth ?

 

JBG

 

October 17, 2008

The Great Debate 3 - Truman v Dewey Redux?


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Print Version link: http://jaygaskill.com/DebateThreeTrumanAndDewey.htm


THE GREAT DEBATE
Truman vs. Dewey Redux?

Harry 
NOTE: This famous photo is copyright by the New York Times and a print can be obtained at http://www.nytstore.com/ . 

The race for POTUS has a certain thematic resemblance to the 1948 Truman vs. Dewey election - no, I’m not old enough to have first-hand knowledge of Give-‘em-hell Harry’s surprise comeback, but I am a student of the period.


{For a quick history review, go to this link: http://www.kennesaw.edu/pols/3380/pres/1948.html .}
 

Today, we have the smooth talking, good looking guy who went to all the good schools and who is favored to win in the Dewey casting role, against a plain spoken patriot with more grit than eloquence, more experience than charisma.  Of course the party affiliations are reversed. And there are other variables, not the least of which are the tidal change in public attitudes that have created the red state – blue state schism, and all those tectonic shifts in social outlook (too many to catalogue here) since the immediate post-WWII period.
 

Actually, Senator Obama’s politics is more like that of Henry Wallace the proto-Marxist whom FDR dumped from the ticket as too radical, while John McCain is actually very close to Harry Truman’s political mindset (allowing for all the obvious differences in circumstances).


Wednesday night’s debate was probably McCain’s best showing of the three efforts, but he was outperformed in style and presidential demeanor, much as I expect Truman was against the more eloquent New York governor (the “man on the wedding cake”).


As I watched the last debate in a hotel room, I was disappointed. [A friend, who supports Obama, but admires McCain, was not. For him, the Arizona senator’s spirited attacks made the exercise more informative and interesting.]
 

I have studied the art of forensic argument and I’ve debated competitively, an avocation that was followed by a career as a trial lawyer. So I am a tough critic. 

I was disappointed, in part, because McCain - though more aggressive than before - still assumed that his audience knows as much Beltway gossip, argot and lore as his campaign wonks do. This made him seem oblique and sometimes even disjointed.  

Don't get me wrong - I don't buy into the "McCain is too old" narrative. This was a problem in debate training, experience and style – Rudi Giuliani would have taken candidate Obama apart (figuratively speaking and with a predatory grin) as would have Ronald Reagan (with an "ah-shucks" smile)-- or even Fred Thompson (with the courtly manner of a fatherly senior prosecutor talking to a wet behind the ears Deputy DA).
 

Instead, I was left with the uncomfortable image of McCain as the pit bull on a chain without lipstick, growling and challenging his opponent to fight, and Obama as the target that couldn’t be bothered to engage.   
 

I suspect that John McCain is best at talking one-on-one with reasonable people, or delivering prepared speeches to audiences he understands.  
 

But Senator Obama wasn't talking to McCain at all – he was just orating a well constructed patter to the camera, as triggered by the subjects under discussion, almost all of which were foreseen by his handlers. For McCain, the problem was that it really was well constructed patter, well delivered.

While watching, I entertained a vision of John McCain’s brain. He showed up brimming with advice and points not yet made.  All that "must say" material was queued up inside the senator’s hyperactive cognitive apparatus, jostling for a chance to get out first, crowding into an impossibly narrow time frame.  In fact, most of it did find its way out not necessarily in answer to the pending question), but in a sort of staccato shorthand.

 

If this debate turns out to have worked for McCain, it will be for its utility in setting the stage for a final campaign push. McCain’s jabs operated as a set-up that prompted a denial by Obama (think of Ayers and Acorn, for example) that can now be incorporated into a final add campaign.

 

If Obama wins, my personal prayer is that his latter day iteration, the more moderate, almost centrist image, will become the “real” Barack and that he will restrain the more loony ideological excesses among his fellow democrats.  If McCain wins, my prayer will be that the ruling democratic cliques in DC (and their media allies) will avoid the virulent style of presidential leadership antipathy that eviscerated not only “W” himself, but the very presidency.  For my own part, as a “Truman democrat”, I am more comfortable with a divided government that is forced to work together by existential circumstances that a mono-partisan juggernaut capable of taking the country over the cliff without any checks and balances.

 

JBG

 

October 14, 2008

Why McCain should "Go Nuclear"

NOTE: I posted this tuesday at 6 PM Pacific. Wm. Tucker has posted a similar (but less bold) piece on NRO early Wednesday morning - an instance of great minds running down the same path, I suspect.  That link is -- http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZDIwMjVjMTIyZTQ1NTJhNjM1YzFmZmFmNWVkNDA4ZjE= . 

As Published On
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The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Jay B. Gaskill

Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]
Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

Link to the htm “print” Version: http://jaygaskill.com/GoNuclear.htm
 

TUESDAY EVENING
 

WHY
MCCAIN’S BEST MOVE IS TO
GO NUCLEAR


A deep recession, especially one with high unemployment, is an opportunity. 


When ordinary investments in job creating, productive enterprises are paralyzed, there is an opening. The next president should propose a bold, large scale national project, a public/private undertaking of such obvious utility and audacious scope that it simultaneously drives full employment, restoration of American manufacturing capability and enhances national security. 
 

The WPA projects and World War II performed that function (the latter unintentionally to be sure) for FDR.  A massive transition to a nuclear-electric energy based economy would now have the same effect. 
 

The current mess presents a signal opportunity for the president who takes office in January 2009 on the eve of the worst recession in decades to (quoting JFK ) “get the country moving again’. 
 

And this is uniquely McCain’s issue to seize, if he dares.  Obama, still a captive of the paleo-green anti-nuclear crowd, is trapped in a much more timid approach. 
 

In my previous post, I outlined a hypothetical McCain speech.  Honed down to the essentials – whether announced now or later – this is it:
 

My fellow Americans, we are in crisis.  This is not a time for the audacity of rhetoric. This is the time for the audacity of action.
 

Yes we need to stabilize the credit markets and renew confidence in lending institutions.  That is happening already and the flow of money and credit will get steadily better over the coming weeks.
But our problems will not be fixed by moving “financial paper”.  We need to move American steel, brick, copper, aluminum, and uranium.
 

Yes we also need petroleum, natural gas, and solar panels.
 

But, above all, we need to rebuild American power lines and construct new, safe, clean nuclear power plants and to rebuild the American factories that will run on the new power sources.
 

We are at the crossroads between high rhetoric and bold action. I choose action.
 

And this is what we must do first:
 

In January 2009, we will commence a total energy makeover. We will because we must.
We will rebuild the electric power grid just as President Eisenhower rebuilt the highway grid in the 1950’s. Electric powered transportation means huge electric current demands. Our old blackout-prone grids will fail.  So we will build a new grid, capable of carrying unprecedented electric loads; and we will make it more secure and stable. 
 

We can’t expect our car manufacturers to take bold investment risks in electric powered transportation, unless we make the power lines and generating plants needed for their success. We will start early next year on rebuilding America’s power grid.
 

I have said that we will build 50 new nuclear power plants. That was just a down payment. We must build 200 new plants as fast as resources permit. And we simultaneously need to establish a nuclear security and waste recycling and disposal system worthy of a 21st century nuclear-electric economy.
 

The pace of construction will be calibrated to drive unemployment down to its lowest practical limits.
And that is to be the measure of our sacrifice. We will sacrifice subsidized idleness, the culture of over consumption and under-employment. We will sacrifice partisan bickering. 
 

American talent is a national security asset. We must not, cannot afford to waste it.
 

We can and will do all of this -- and more -- because now is the time.
 

I ask all Americans of vision and honesty to join me in leading the way. I promise not be deterred or sidetracked by partisan politics.  Country comes first.
 

There is a time for everything in life. The time for lofty speeches is over. It is high time to get America moving again.
 

Of course Obama could say this too but not without taking on the anti-nuclear environmentalists in his own party. The irony here is inescapable: The founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, a technically savvy engineer/scientist, is now an advocate of the rapid adoption of a nuclear-electric infrastructure. 
 

In 2006, Moore said:


“In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That’s the conviction that inspired Greenpeace’s first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.
 

Then again on April of this year, to a group in Boise, Idaho, Moore added:


“The chemistry of the atmosphere is changing, and there is a high-enough risk that ‘true believers’ like Al Gore are right that world economies need to wean themselves off fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gases, he said.

The only viable solution is to build hundreds of nuclear power plants over the next century, Moore told the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. There isn't enough potential for wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal or other renewable energy sources…
…. [And] “uranium can be found within the United States and also comes in large quantities from Canada and Australia. Nuclear Power reduces the reliance on supplies in dangerous places including the Middle East.”


The International Atomic Energy Agency Report


At the end of 2006, “There were 435 operating nuclear reactors around the world, and 29 more were under construction. The US had the most with 103 operating units. France was next with 59. Japan followed with 55, plus one more under construction, and Russia had 31 operating, and seven more under construction.”


“Of the 30 countries with nuclear power, the percentage of electricity supplied by nuclear ranged widely: from a high of 78 percent in France; to 54 percent in Belgium; 39 percent in Republic of Korea; 37 percent in Switzerland; 30 percent in Japan; 19 percent in the USA; 16 percent in Russia; 4 percent in South Africa; and 2 percent in China.”


(IAEA 2007)


Moore, again:


“… I don't want to underestimate the very real dangers of nuclear technology in the hands of rogue states, we cannot simply ban every technology that is dangerous. That was the all-or-nothing mentality at the height of the Cold War, when …[America saw] ‘The China Syndrome,’ a fictional evocation of nuclear disaster in which a reactor meltdown threatens a city’s survival. Less than two weeks after the blockbuster film opened, a reactor core meltdown at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear power plant sent shivers of very real anguish throughout the country.


“… Three Mile Island was in fact a success story: The concrete containment structure did just what it was designed to do -- prevent radiation from escaping into the environment. And although the reactor itself was crippled, there was no injury or death among nuclear workers or nearby residents. Three Mile Island was the only serious accident in the history of nuclear energy generation in the United States, but it was enough to scare us away from further developing the technology: There hasn't been a nuclear plant ordered up since then.

“And I am not alone among seasoned environmental activists in changing my mind on this subject. … Stewart Brand, founder of the ‘Whole Earth Catalog,’ says the environmental movement must embrace nuclear energy to wean ourselves from fossil fuels. On occasion, such opinions have been met with excommunication from the anti-nuclear priesthood: The late British Bishop Hugh Montefiore, founder and director of Friends of the Earth, was forced to resign from the group’s board after he wrote a pro-nuclear article in a church newsletter.”


Political Prisoners of the anti-nuclear Priesthood


For the moment, any democratic candidate is a prisoner of the “anti-nuclear priesthood” described by Moore.  But McCain is not.


If General Motors, Toyota and others are going to sell plug-in cars, where is the new electricity to come from?  How will the current, blackout prone grid handle the new demand? 


The short answer is that we have some heavy lifting to do.


In the June 26, 2006 issue of Scientific American, three authors (Paul M. Grant, Chauncey Starr and Thomas J. Overbye) proposed the construction of a “super-grid” to handle the country’s 21st century energy needs. This was followed by an August 21st, 2006 article in Scientific American by two scientists (John M. Deutch and Ernest J. Moniz) proposing a threefold increase in nuclear power plants in the US.


In the grid article, the history of blackout was discussed and we were reminded that time is running out:


“A more fundamental limitation of the 20th-century grid is that it is poorly suited to handle two 21st-century trends: the relentless growth in demand for electrical energy and the coming transition from fossil-fueled power stations and vehicles to cleaner sources of electricity and transportation fuels. Utilities cannot simply pump more power through existing high-voltage lines by ramping up the voltages and currents. At about one million volts, the electric fields tear insulation off the wires, causing arcs and short circuits. And higher currents will heat the lines, which could then sag dangerously close to trees and structures.”


The authors thought that the cost of the super-grid was staggering at 1 trillion dollars over several decades.  One wonders what they would have thought about a 1 trillion dollar credit bailout over several weeks!


A friend who is in the position to know tells me that at least 9 trillion dollars in private funds are currently being closely held in cash accounts earning almost no interest because of the economic log jamb.  The next step is to provide leadership, vision, direction, and a rational path to investments in real things that generate real income for real enterprises. 
 

Rarely does politics and history present such a singular opportunity as the energy makeover.


JBG

October 12, 2008

MOVING AMERICA - WHAT MCCAIN NEEDS TO DO FOR THE COUNTRY

As Published On
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→The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]
Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

MONDAY OCTOBER 13, 2008
 

MOVING AMERICA --
WHAT JOHN MCCAIN NEEDS TO DO FOR THE COUNTRY NOW

John McCain’s patriotism and his love for this country are beyond dispute. 

One might otherwise conclude from his campaign and debate performances to date that the candidate-in-chief has begun to lose heart.  This would be out of character for John McCain – or for any patriot who appreciates the serious risks attendant an Obama presidency.

[Emphasis here is on “risk”.  The Junior Senator from Illinois is a promising orator with questionable associations and chameleon rhetoric over time. Many democrats of my acquaintance – at least those over 45 – would prefer somebody like Hillary or a hypothetical 50 year old Obama with a longer record.]  

No, the Arizona Senator has not lost his love of country, his character or his senses.  I suspect that he’s just tired to the bone from the long campaign. I think that in his state of fatigue he is losing the patience, clarity and focus that the battle situation now demands of him. Too bad for the country… if true.

We will know by Thursday morning whether John McCain, the tough, battle tested warrior, is still in the game.  Nothing less than that original model John McCain will do at this critical juncture. The country deserves no less than John McCain’s best.

PART ONE -- THE HANDICAP

Obama’s slide in the polls was driven by exposure and Obama adoration fatigue.  The slide has been reversed. The economic panic has driven public opinion towards the Obama candidacy by a large margin. But the panic will subside – as all panics do.  If the panic subsides in time, a new factor will surface, one now obscured by the fog of fear.  This is a factor that will favor John McCain; it was exposed in the post-debate poll finding by the respected Scott Rasmussen organization.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


“Voters say Barack Obama beat John McCain in Tuesday night’s presidential debate 45% to 28%, but they also think McCain is better prepared to be president than Obama by an 11-point margin.


“Sixty-one percent (61%) say McCain is prepared to be president, while 50% feel that way about Obama.”
 

Here’s the link: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/voters_say_obama_won_debate_mccain_more_prepared_to_be_president  
If I am right, John McCain is only temporarily tainted by association with the Bush administration on economic issues. It is by default that Obama is doing so well, because the Illinois senator is seen as “good enough.”  
 

I believe that the picture of McCain as “erratic” will be forgotten if McCain delivers a strong, steady debate performance on Wednesday, October 15th.
 

And the picture of Obama as “good enough” will change in McCain’s favor as the crisis-smoke clears


PART TWO -- THE OPENING


Wednesday’s debate will be the staging ground for McCain’s recovery, or the pre-burial funeral for his campaign.
These are the three main variables that will affect the debate:
 

[A] A credible economic recovery plan: 


Since McCain is more plausibly prepared for the presidency than the junior senator from Illinois, he can gain the upper ground by crisply outlining a path to recovery, one that contains in sufficient detail some key differences with Obama’s approach.
Even if the two candidates’ plans have many similar elements, McCain can present as more competent and presidential in their implementation because he is already more prepared to be president in the minds of 61% of the voters.
 

But any McCain plan needs to be bought together in a single, crisp paragraph, stated with confidence, specificity and clarity. Part Four below, is a hypothetical sample of “The Speech”. My intent was to illustrate a style and approach – not necessarily the content – of a speech that should work very well for McCain.
 

BUT NOTE: the debate is the last possible moment for something new like this to be trotted out…


[B] Economic stabilization:


This is partly outside McCain’s control. As a candidate, he really needs the economic situation to move from a crisis to the familiar pattern of a traditional, if severe, downturn -- because everyone knows that such a downturn is always followed by a recovery.  If this shift takes place in time (i.e., before Halloween), there will be enough psychological room for voters to focus on all of the problematic elements in the Obama biography before voting. In the meantime, a credible McCain plan will help.


[C] A vital, reassuring debate performance:


All other things equal, undecided voters who watch the debate can be persuaded by the right chemistry. Assuming that I’ve read message hidden in the polls correctly – and I believe that I have – if John McCain can demonstrate the clarity, focus and the simultaneous command of detail and big picture that Americans expect of a leader in tough times he can win this debate and the presidency. 


But a debate performance remembered for its fog-ball generalities and incomplete thoughts just won’t cut it.  If John McCain fails to follow openings and opportunities (like the ones he missed in the last debate) with bright line clarity and fire-in-the-gut passion, he will probably doom his campaign.

 

 

PART THREE -- THE FOCUS


The first fifteen minutes will matter the most.
 

Ideally, John McCain needs to land at least one blow that rocks Obama back on his heels in the early rounds, and then ruthlessly press the advantage for the next hour. 
Knockout punch or not, energy, passion and clarity can win the day – and nothing short of that will be good enough.

 
McCain and his supporters believe that this election is of epochal importance to the nation.  Senator McCain, who loves this country more than any other prominent national politician, must effectively communicate that special sense of mission, occasion and purpose through the force of his performance on Wednesday.  In other words, he must use the final debate on October 15th to demonstrate his energy, passion and clarity. His keen sense of occasion and purpose and situational command must obvious to the viewer -- it won’t be enough just to say it.
 

This means that John McCain, the candidate, must summon all his battle instincts - the clarity, guts, skill and sense of direction of a warrior pilot. 
 

This mission requires all of the laser-like focus, attention, intelligence and skill that Navy jet pilots routinely use to make safe carrier landings in stormy seas in wartime -- and a peacetime leader’s ability to communicate, clarify and motivate. 
 

John McCain has met at least one challenge of this magnitude before. The American people need to know that he can do it once again at 72. 
 

Former Commander McCain understands that no crash on deck is allowed and that, on the 15th, there will “waive off” and no second try.


PART FOUR -- THE KEY MESSAGE – MOVING AMERICA


[To Senator McCain and his advisors: the candidate’s preparation includes REST. You are free to borrow from this piece without attribution.]

////

When landing on an aircraft carrier or rebuilding after a disaster, timing is everything.

This is not a time for the audacity of rhetoric. THIS is the time for the audacity of action

THIS is the time for clarity of purpose and heavy lifting, for the bold accomplishments that will astound the world and remind fellow Americans who we really are -- a nation of makers, builders and doers.

Yes we need to stabilize the credit markets and renew confidence in lending institutions.  That is happening already and the flow of money and credit will get steadily better over the coming weeks.

But our problems will not be fixed by moving “financial paper”.  We need to move American steel, brick, copper, aluminum, uranium, petroleum, natural gas, and solar panels. We need to build American power lines and power plants and to rebuild American factories.

We are at the crossroads between high rhetoric and bold action. I choose action.

There is one action we must take first:

In January 2009, we must immediately begin a total energy makeover.

We need to rebuild the electric power grid just as President Eisenhower rebuilt the highway grid in the 1950’s. When we start relying on electric current for our highway transportation needs, the current grid will fail.  The new grid must be capable of carrying unprecedented electric loads and it must be made more secure and stable. We need to start right away.

I have already proposed building 50 new nuclear power plants. That was too modest. We must build 200 as fast as resources permit. And we need to establish a security system worthy of a 21st century nuclear-electric economy.

Grids, power plants, new cars, and new factories:  The pace of construction will be calibrated to drive unemployment down to its lowest practical limits.

And that is to be the measure of our sacrifice. We will sacrifice the easy life and subsidized idleness, a culture of over consumption and under-employment. American talent is a national security asset. We must not, cannot afford to waste it.

We will do this for the America that we love and for our children. And we need to move our children from the easy to the challenging courses of study, and from rote study to knowledge and skill, from knowledge and skill to graduation, and from graduation to productive, full time jobs.

We can and will do all of this -- and more -- because we love America.  And because now is the time.

I ask all Americans of vision and honesty to join me in leading the way. I promise not be deterred or sidetracked by partisan bickering.  Country comes first. I will never, never give up on America.

There is a time for everything in life. The time for lofty speeches is over. It is high time to get America moving again.

////

jbg

October 11, 2008

WHY NO SELF-RESPECTING LIBERTARIAN SHOULD VOTE FOR BARACK


As Published On

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All contents, unless otherwise indicated are

Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Jay B. Gaskill

Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]

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SATURDAY

Why No Self-respecting Libertarian Should Vote For Obama

 LADY

SATURDAY
Why No Self-respecting Libertarian Should Vote For Obama

A Personal Note:

The last presidential Libertarian candidate I voted for was Ed Clark in 1980; he was a very appealing nominee who was at least nominally qualified for the job of POTUS.

But – while I’ve been periodically attracted to major features of libertarian theory – I’ve never been a “pure” libertarian.

I recall Albert Einstein’s explanation for his socialist inclinations. Socialism, for him, was the only political theory based on an ethical principle. The same can now be said of libertarianism, the favorite of the new Einsteins who work in the information technology & science sector.

The founding ethical principle of libertarianism is human dignity defined by an ethos of universal respect for individual volitional integrity.  But even Ayn Rand, a libertarian folk hero, strongly disliked libertarians because, in practice, they tended towards a morally ungrounded libertine world view. [One did not mock heroes in front of Ayn Rand!]  

But all these competing doctrines are but fragments of wise policy. They and their ideological variations founder on the two rocks called prudential policy and common sense. 

Without a strong government, strong predators always gobble up our liberties. Without checks and balances, any good government does the same. 

So my real world politics remain rooted …in the real world. 

BUT, MY LIBERTARIAN FRIENDS, THIS IS FOR YOU….

Michael Barone (Senior writer for U.S. News) writes about the Obama campaign's use of litigation to shut down free speech. This is a chilling pattern and one that presages OB's approach to dissent. [“The Coming Thugocracy”  Link: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YjUwZWIwZTNhY2Y0YTFkYzFmZTIyZWUwZWNkYjk4ZGM= .

Obama supporters, alerted by campaign emails, did when conservative Stanley Kurtz appeared on Milt Rosenberg’s WGN radio program in Chicago. Kurtz had been researching Obama's relationship with unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers in Chicago Annenberg Challenge papers in the Richard J. Daley Library in Chicago — papers that were closed off to him for some days, apparently at the behest of Obama supporters.

Obama fans jammed WGN’s phone lines and sent in hundreds of protest emails. The message was clear to anyone who would follow Rosenberg’s example. We will make trouble for you if you let anyone make the case against The One.

Other Obama supporters have threatened critics with criminal prosecution. In September, St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce warned citizens that they would bring criminal libel prosecutions against anyone who made statements against Obama that were “false.” I had been under the impression that the Alien and Sedition Acts had gone out of existence in 1801-02. Not so, apparently, in metropolitan St. Louis. Similarly, the Obama campaign called for a criminal investigation of the American Issues Project when it ran ads highlighting Obama's ties to Ayers.

These attempts to shut down political speech have become routine for liberals.

Many observers detect the psychological profile of “megalomania lite” in Obama’s pattern of over-the-top self aggrandizement. Frankly, it's too painfully obvious to miss and carries unpleasant echoes of Nixon's similar quirks. See Jack Kelly’s piece on Obama’s narcissism at this link: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/07/obamas_narcissism.html .  And compare Senator Obama’s faux presidential seal, the Greek columns & all the rest with Richard Nixon’s “special” White house guard uniforms. See Time’s piece from that era at this link: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,876538,00.html .

The coming ‘one party rules all” convergence in 2009 makes the “fairness doctrine” threat to radio free speech too close for comfort. Again from the above referenced Barone piece.

Congressional Democrats sought to reimpose the “fairness doctrine” on broadcasters, which until it was repealed in the 1980s required equal time for different points of view. The motive was plain: to shut down the one conservative-leaning communications medium, talk radio. Liberal talk-show hosts have mostly failed to draw audiences, and many liberals can’t abide having citizens hear contrary views.

To their credit, some liberal old-timers — like House Appropriations Chairman David Obey — voted against the “fairness doctrine,” in line with their longstanding support of free speech. But you can expect the “fairness doctrine” to get another vote if Barack Obama wins and Democrats increase their congressional majorities.

Obama’s anti-deregulation rhetoric discloses a profound misunderstanding of free market capitalism and his tax policy betrays full-on ignorance of the dynamics of the wellsprings of free market innovation. This is requires an extended discussion, mostly omitted, but my libertarian friends will understand.  The de-regulated airlines and our less-than-properly regulated mega financial institutions are not pure free market systems at all, but quasi-monopolies for which regulations are designed to reign in monopolistic abuses but often have the opposite consequence. Democrats strongly resisted greater regulation of the sub-prime lending institutions because their social agenda – lending to the poor in below market deals – would have been derailed. The quasi free market world of Obama and friends involves socialization of failure and the political exploitation of success. [Just follow the sub-prime money flow to politicians, including the junior Senator form Illinois.]

Obama’s “national service” rhetoric coupled with his infatuation with the morally based use of military power – so far decoupled from national security constraints - cuts uncomfortably close to the compulsory version of these things. This is the current liberal fad.  See Jonah Goldberg’s new book. “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning”.

A protest vote for the libertarian candidate is a de facto vote for Obama.

 

JBG

 

October 10, 2008

Do not Despair

As Published On

The Human Conspiracy Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog3
The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]
Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

 

 

COMMON SENSE SEEMS TO BE DYING OUT, BUT DO NOT DESPAIR

 

I have three offerings.  Two – excerpted and linked below -- are recent pieces containing the thoughtful and corrective analysis of Victor Davis Hanson, classicist, farmer and Hoover Fellow.

 

And the other is the completely charming account of a religious/spiritual surfing event in Orange County that I posted on my other Blog. 

Here’s that link: http://jaygaskill.com/blog2/ . 

 

Victor Davis Hanson remains one of the few sane, balanced and wise voices in the national discussion, a truly endangered species in the post-modern cacophony.

 

 

Hanson on the Obama Juggernaut

 

“When Iraq and Wall Street were off the front page, Obama went moribund in the last months of the Democratic primary. Why? Not because of racism, or even public weariness with Obama’s hope and change fluff, or his flip-flops, or occasional striking ignorance about basic history and geography. He finally began to wear on the public — as he continues to when events of the day do not smother the attention of the voter — for two reasons…”

LINK:
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NWI5YjQ4OWFhZDFkOTYwZWRmNzAwZjYzZWNlYjUxNWM=

 

 

Hanson on David Brooks vs. Sarah Palin

Hanson on David Brooks vs. Sarah Palin

 

 

“David Brooks, the gifted New York Times columnist, has described Sarah Palin as a "fatal cancer" and part of a larger pernicious conservative trend…

“Wisdom can be, but surely is not confined to, or even assured by, degree certification, rhetorical brilliance, or the ability to talk off the cuff about Niebuhr — or the wit to write Brooks and advise him about his own ethical conduct, which Obama did and which now impresses Brooks:
“ ‘For the next 20 minutes, he gave me a perfect description of Reinhold Niebuhr's thought, which is a very subtle thought process based on the idea that you have to use power while it corrupts you. And I was dazzled, I felt the tingle up my knee as Chris Matthews would say.

“This is sad — since everything from the faux-seal with its vero possumus pretensions, the Greek temple backdrops, the efforts to speak at the Brandenburg Gate, the mantra ‘we are the change we've been waiting for,’ the messianic idea that the seas and planet will likewise heel to His wisdom, and the inane 'hope and change' banalities do not suggest real wisdom at all, but a dazzling veneer that overlays a great deal of megalomania.

“Nor does Brooks grasp that recall of Niebuhr apparently offers Obama little ethical protection from the close association with the virulently racist Wright or warns him not to talk after 2001 with the now boastful and proud ex-terrorist Ayers, and no judgment about the moral course in the earlier conduct of his disturbing Illinois campaigns, or principled consistency in his ideas about NAFTA, FISA, campaign financing reform, drilling, the surge, Iran, taxes, abortion, or capital punishment — or even the ability to distinguish between maintenance of proper tire air pressure and the need to expand American oil production. Perhaps salmon fishing or moose-hunting might have been of value in reifying the more abstract wisdom found in Niebuhr.”

http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson101008.html

 

MY OWN COMMENTS

Both America’s leading political parties are suffering from fractious irritation and petulance, each momentarily united (the democrats by Bush hatred and the republicans by Obama fear). 

In each case I believe the real tension represents the resurgence of the long suppressed populist – elite schism.

David Brooks remains a paradigmic example of the conservative elite while Sarah Palin represents conservative populism. 

I wrote about this in a series of “Populism 101” posts starting about three years ago.  A reprise:

[][][]

“Here’s the deal:  We’ve evolved two cooperating political elites, each of which runs one of the two parties and shares three common traits: (1) high education levels, (2) important wealth (3) a distrust of the populist vote bordering on fear.  Winning elections for each requires a periodic courting ritual during which the populist vote (on which success depends) is earnestly sought, followed by a measure of post-election betrayal.

“The corporate country club conservatives and the Lexus limousine liberals have so far succeeded in achieving a rough division of the populist center: social populists on one side, economic populists on then other. 

“But conditions are rapidly changing. 

“While I still believe that a legitimate populist movement can accommodate local custom (when popular sentiment clearly differs from the mainstream, thinking of the accommodations for gay marriage in Vermont for example), I also believe that there can be no accommodation for the anti-democratic reversal of the popular will in the rest of the country in this important area of life, especially by judicial fiat.  When judges abuse their trust by overriding the popular will on essential ‘family values’ issues, a populist rebellion is inevitable.
 
“The coming populist reformation will be driven by the events and exigencies of the next few years because these challenges will bring the failures of elites of right and left to address the core populist values and concerns into sharp relief.

“There are three prominent threads in the reemerging American populism that will shape the parties and the political discussion over the next decade. They are:

Procedural populism.  The signal anti-populist development of the last 65 years was the emergence of governance via non-elected institutions under the control of the non-populist elites of the two parties. Principally the courts and the administrative agencies, these new power centers have quietly and not so quietly set public policies in motion that never could have gathered sufficient popular support.  Examples, many obvious, will follow as I expand this discussion. The signal pro-populist development in the same period was the emergence – principally in California producing what some political scientists are now calling “hybrid government” of the popular initiative as a tool for setting social and tax policy in ways that the legislative bodies – controlled by party elites – did not.

Me-first nationalism.  Starting with Ross Perot several election cycles ago, this is the many headed hydra that the elites in both parties fear the most, and it is the most universal form of populism.  The failure of the Soviet Empire is an international model is a classic case of a putative universal ideology hitting the nationalist wall.  Note that party elites of all stripes tend to be more internationalist than the so called “common people”.

Tough minded populism vs. the wimp elites. This covers a whole range of issues that will be pivotal in the next decade, all interesting.

[][][]

I now need to add one more:

Common sense economics.  The revolting specter of a broken financial system fueled by pampered executives (as many of them democrat-pandering as republican-pandering) who pursue ultra short term paper profits over long term real world gains is so profoundly unsettling that a populist rebellion is inevitable in some form.  The fears and anxieties in the current electoral-economic situation introduce a mob psychology wild card effect that will mask the larger trend.

But just wait for the immediate storm to subside:

There will be hell to pay in both parties.

JBG

 

 

October 09, 2008

OBAMA - A CHAMELEON?

As updated on 10-11/12-08

The most charitable spin on this record (see below) is that Barack Obama has always sought to blend in wherever he is, leaving as few traces of his true beliefs and affiliations as possible.  But I am forced to note that his longest term Christian affiliation was in a “black liberation theology” setting that was fully consonant with the doctrinaire left ideology of Ayers-Dorn and also with some of the fiery rhetoric of a  Louis Farrakhan, the black Muslim leader, once lauded by Rev. Wright’s church. 

Resistance or opposition within these shifting cultural environments would have made Barack stand out, but that is not chameleon behavior.

In the primary campaign, for example, Barack constantly tacked to the left of Hilary Clinton, courting the anti-military “Code Pink” fringe at every opportunity.  Now that he is in the general election, he has picked “Dick Cheney lite" as a running mate, toughened up his rhetoric and is trying to sound like a JFK hawk. 

Chameleons change colors to survive.  Stealth candidates change colors to slip into power, then blossom with their true colors. 

What are the true colors of Barack Obama?

JBG

 

As Published On
The Human Conspiracy Blog: http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog3
The Policy Think Site: http://www.jaygaskill.com
All contents, unless otherwise indicated are
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Jay B. Gaskill
Permission to publish, distribute or print all or part of this article (except for personal use) is needed. [Permission for use in group discussions is almost always routinely given.]
Please contact Jay B. Gaskill, attorney at law, via e mail at law@jaygaskill.com

 

The Dick Morris comments are included as “fair comment” excerpts, and are copyright 2008 by Dick Morris. Link: http://www.dickmorris.com/blog/2008/10/08/the-obama-ayers-connection/

 

THURSDAY

 

READER BEWARE – THIS POLITICAL COMMENTARY & OPINION IS NOT POLITICALLY CORRECT


 


 

 

[][][][]

BARACK OBAMA

Profile of a Political Chameleon

[][][]

Senator Obama and Those Uncomfortable Associations
With Muslims,
The Radical Left and A Syrian-Born Crook

 


 

[][]
OPACITY AND TRANSPARENCY

 

Three of the four candidates running at the national level present no problems of opacity, ambiguity or internal conflict.

 

What you see is what you get with Senator Biden, Governor Palin and Senator McCain.

 

Warts included, these three politicians are transparent.

 

[][]
BARACK’S SELF-DEFINITION PROJECT

 

But Barry (Barack Hussein) Obama appears to be a life long project in self-redefinition.  He was born in ethnic, social and religious ambiguity, the son of a somewhat temperamental Ethiopian intellectual and a new age American born mother. 

 

[][]
THE "I’M NOT A MUSLIM" FLAP

 

Flash forward to young Barack’s Indonesian-Muslim period when Mom had remarried and young Obama was enrolled in a local school – his religion was listed as Muslim.  This is no surprise since both of Mom’s husbands were Muslim.

 

But the senator has made very clear statements to the contrary:

 

“I've always been a Christian.”

 

“The only connection I’ve had to Islam is that my grandfather on my father’s side came from that country [Kenya]. But I’ve never practiced Islam."

 

“I have never been a Muslim -- other than my name and the fact that I lived in a populous Muslim country for 4 years when I was a child [Indonesia, 1967-71] I have very little connection to the Islamic religion.”

 

To be fair, Obama will – when pressed – say that he meant to limit his statements to his adult experiences. 

 

But –

 

Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng explained to Jodi Kanto – writing for the New York Times:

 

"My whole family was Muslim, and most of the people I knew were Muslim."

 

The Associated Press ran a story in which that "documents showed he enrolled as a Muslim" while at a Catholic school during first through third grades.

 

The Chicago Tribune ran a story confirming that Obama was "listed as a Muslim on the registration form for the Catholic school.

 

Other plausible but less well sourced reports assert that “Barack Hussein Obama was registered under the name Barry Soetoro … and entered the Franciscan Asisi Primary School on 1 January 1968 and sat in class 1B.  His religion was listed as Islam.”

 

The Los Angeles Times interviewed Indonesians who knew Obama when he lived in Jakarta. They confirmed that he “was registered by his family as a Muslim at both schools he attended.”

 

A Toronto Star reporter went to the Jakarta public school Obama attended and reported that “Three of his teachers have said he was enrolled as a Muslim.”

 

[]
THE SYRIAN BORN CROOK

 

After attending college in the New York, Barack met Antoin (Tony) Rezko.  Mr. Rezko was a crook.  He was born in Aleppom Syria. Rezko’s fortune was made as a Chicago real estate developer and dealmaker who kept public officials on a surreptitious payroll.  He is in federal custody and “singing” as I write this.

 

Ironically, Mr. Rezko, was honored as "Entrepreneur of the Decade" by the Arab-American Business and Professional Association".

 

When Obama finished Harvard Law, he was hired by Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland - the firm that represented “Rezar”, Tony Rezko's firm.

 

Mr. Rezko was a huge Obama financial backer when Barack first ran for office in Chicago. Later, Rezko threw a fundraiser for Obama that the Chicago Tribune described as the “seed money” for Barack’s U.S. Senate race.  

 

In 2005, Barack was able to buy a house in the exclusive Kenwoood District of Chicago for $1.65 million - this is apparently a bargain price!  Rezko's wife simultaneously bought the next-door empty lot for full price – it was later given over to Barack in another “bargain”.

 

The London Times has run a story that one Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born billionaire, had “loaned” Tony Rezko $3.5 million just three weeks before the Obama home deal.

[][]
CAMPAIGN FRIENDS, NEW, OLD AND UNDER THE BUS

 

Flash forward to the campaign. Obama’s trusted advisor was dismissed when it came to light that he was in regular contact with Hamas.

 

Michele Obama practiced law in the same firm that employed Bernadine Dohrn, the 60’s Weatherman terrorist who married the radical Weatherman, confessed bomber, Professor William Ayers.  Both were prosecuted for terror crimes.  Ayers would have served serious prison time but for his release on a technicality.  Bernadine did serve a short prison term.  It is beyond credibility that this famous 60's radical would not have come to the attention of Barack's wife or that William's terror background could not have been well known to Barack himself at a very early stage. The Senator's protestations to the contrary are incredible.

 

Barack has stubbornly minimized his relationship with Ayers – for good reason, it appears.

 

[][][]
THE DICK MORRIS SUMMARY

 

Dick Morris has pointed out the following:

 

“The records of the administration of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), released last week by the University of Illinois, show that the Ayers-Obama connection was, in fact, an intimate collaboration and that it led to the only executive or administrative experience in Obama's life.

 

“After Walter Annenberg's foundation offered several hundred million dollars to American public schools in the mid-'90s, William Ayers applied for $50 million for Chicago. The purpose of his application was to secure funds to "raise political consciousness" in Chicago's public schools. …Ayers's group chose Barack Obama to distribute the money. Between 1995 and 1999, Obama distributed the $50 million and raised another $60 million from other civic groups to augment it. …

 

“… Ayers has admitted bombing the U.S. Capitol building and the Pentagon, and his wife was sent to prison for failing to cooperate in solving the robbery of a Brink's armored car in which two police officers were killed. Far from remorse, Ayers told The New York Times in September 2001 that he "wished he could have done more."

 

[]___[]

 

 


MY SUMMARY

 

The most charitable spin on this record is that Barack Obama has always sought to blend in wherever he is, leaving as few traces of his true beliefs and affiliations as possible.  But I am forced to note that his longest term Christian affiliation was in a “black liberation theology” setting that was fully consonant with the doctrinaire left ideology of Ayers-Dorn and also with some of the fiery rhetoric of a  Louis Farrakhan, the black Muslim leader, once lauded by Rev. Wright’s church. 

 

Resistance or opposition within these shifting cultural environments would have made Barack stand out, but that is not chameleon behavior.

 

In the primary campaign, for example, Barack constantly tacked to the left of Hilary Clinton, courting the anti-military “Code Pink” fringe at every opportunity.  Now that he is in the general election, he has picked “Dick Cheney lite" as a running mate, toughened up his rhetoric and is trying to sound like a JFK hawk. 

 

Chameleons change colors to survive.  Stealth candidates change colors to slip into power, then blossom with their true colors. 

 

What are the true colors of Barack Obama?

 

JBG

 

 

October 07, 2008

DEBATE 2 - NO BLOOD & NOT MUCH BOUNCE

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NO BLOOD ON THE FLOOR, BUT…
The debate had all of the excitement of a fire engine arriving at a false alarm.  Yes, I watched the whole thing. 
 
My personal assessment was that McCain missed several opportunities to score body blows (as did Obama), but that the Arizona Senator nevertheless managed to win the encounter on points, say, 51-49. 
 
No one drew blood.
 
John McCain seems always to operate under a curtain of self restraint, and he in these encounters he makes the mistake, over and over again, of assuming that his audience is so well informed that its members can readily discern just from his shorthand when his opponent has gone off the reservation. But the election is not going to be decided by political junkies or policy wonks or other insiders.
 
The conservative talking heads I heard immediately after the debate were uniformly disappointed.  I don’t know what they expected.  None of the questions permitted any fireworks and a presidential candidate like Senator McCain isn’t one to flagrantly break the rules.
 
The debate format was a “bate and switch” operation.  This wasn't a free-for-all town meeting at all, just another evening of sedate, well-digested, carefully vetted questions in a pretend town meeting setting from which all spontaneity had been pre-drained. 
 
Pundit Dick Morris now predicts a tightening race. I agree with his reasoning.  Here's that link: http://www.dickmorris.com/blog/2008/10/07/expect-the-race-to-tighten/ . 
 
Obama's lead will probably dwindle to about 3% before the month is out. But it is difficult to imagine any dramatic game changing scenario - to use the current phrase - just the drip, drip, drip of additional information about Senator Obama's past.  It's very hard for me to imagine McCain regaining the lead at any time before that obscure last 30 hours when the polls go dark.  
 
Stay tuned.

 

JBG

DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ

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Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 by Jay B. Gaskill
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TONIGHT’S DEBATE –

---THE RACE FOR POTUS IS STILL ON

&

DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ

Including this, of course… 

But note that the latest CBS poll now shows the race tightening up after the Palin-Biden debate.  You remember that debate, the one that the mainstream media insisted Governor Palin “lost”.  Here’s the CBS poll story link: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/10/06/opinion/polls/main4504633.shtml .

What the American people are longing to hear is a credible plan, credibly presented for our economic recovery.  They won’t hear that this evening.  So, second best, they are looking for someone they can trust in this crisis.

On the first point, I’ll have more to say later. 

For now, just remember that the entire capacity of government to write checks (without touching off a South American style hyper-inflation) is bit change compared to the monetary magnitude of the private finance sector.  This crisis was set off by a lending spree fueled by misguided public policy and backed by inflated real estate portfolios.  As a nation we have built about 650 billion dollars worth of homes, located in the wrong places and still overpriced by as much as another 30%.  They were overpriced for one simple reason: Incomes weren’t high enough or stable enough in the “new economy” to support those huge purchase mortgages.

And hold this thought: 

The key is not so much the employment/unemployment rate as such as it is ordinary American incomes. 

Any effective recovery plan, other than one designed to support the banks and wait out the painful cycle of adjustment, will involved very carefully targeted investments in economic activities that generate new income streams for a whole lot of Americans who now are underemployed and whose talents and time are underutilized.  This boils down to public/private investments in energy production and distribution in the near term, in American manufacturing in the mid term and in focused high-tech research into the foregoing for the long term.  Every penny of public funds spent to subsidize failure is a penny wasted and every dollar spent to make it easier to buy stuff we really don’t need is inflationary. 

More to come…

JBG

 

 

 

 

October 05, 2008

ON NOT COUNTING MCCAIN OUT

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SUNDAY


On not Counting McCain out


There are several reasons to think that the Arizona Senator can once again pull even with Barack Obama:


  1. The economic picture may begin to move in a direction that tends to neutralize Obama's stance that a McCain presidency would be “Bush lite”. Credit markets may well stabilize over the next week or so. The news about similar troubles in European and Asian markets will tend to demonstrate that the problem is systemic and transcends administration.

  2. It will become increasingly clear that the democrats own the mortgage problem – not exclusively, but substantially – by virtue of the actions of key Obama allies to promote easy home loans and to stave off regulatory scrutiny of the lenders.

  3. Obama will eventually be forced to spend time defending and explaining his associations with far left figures like that aging pentagon bomber-sympathizer who was far, far closer to the young Obama than just some guy in the neighborhood.

  4. McCain is nothing if not a fighter. He will not go quietly – if at all.

  5. You can expect at least one more Obama scandal to poke through the media wall of silence before this election is over...


And please don't trust the polls that show that Governor Palin “lost” the VP Debate to Senator Biden.


Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Fellow, classicist, military history and astute observer of the current political scene, agrees that Biden won the point count in the beltway and lost the debate – in the heartland.


....as the rounds wore on, Palin lost much of her nervousness, smiled, and finally came into her own as the voice of an outsider who was not impressed by the same old, same old DC smugness. And as she did punch back, Biden began losing his composure, sighing with occasional break-ins and interruptions.

The more data he cited (much of it, again, less than factual [e.g., Biden really did, as Palin noted, rule out coal-generated power; he really did once deprecate Obama’s Iraq suggestions as ill-founded and dangerous; and he really does wish to create a trillion dollars in new spending entitlements; and senior commanders really do think the tactics in Iraq, mutatis mutandis, are of enormous advantage in Afghanistan]), the less effective he became. He’s a good debater, but he ended up out-pointing Palin and still clearly losing.


Assigned Reading:


http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson100408.html


Stay tuned,


JBG

October 01, 2008

JUST WHOSE CRISIS IS THIS?

NOTE - OTHER ARTICLES ABOUT THE CREDIT MELTDOWN ARE POSTED ON "THE OUT-LAWYER'S BLOG" http://www.jaygaskill.com/blog1/

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WEDNESDAY

 

Populism 101 Continues…

 

JUST WHOSE CRISIS THIS?

 

It should be obvious - but apparently is not - that when public policy drives bankers to make imprudent loans in service of an ideal (everyone gets to “own” a fine home regardless of ability to pay), there will eventually be a crash. The only surprise here is the staggering scale and worrisome pervasiveness of the ensuing financial toxicity.

 

For a brilliant indictment of the liberal-ideological mindset when it is forced on the otherwise cautious banking community (by George Neumayr, go to this link: http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=13970 .

 

 

But there is another dimension to this, captured in a single slogan: “It's the incomes, stupid!”…

 

The credit crisis was driven by a doomed attempt over decades to sell too much, too fast to people who earned too little. Even when America's blue collar manufacturing workers worked full time in real factories for real money with real benefits, credit was never as easy as it has been in the last fifteen years.

 

The cost of a typical American car has been driven up many multiples of the core manufacturing costs for its essential transportation function as a direct result of mandated technological additions (not just the relatively cheap seat belts, but sophisticated systems for air bag deployments, for example). Whatever the merits of these additional features (they would be frills in poorer countries) for safety, pollution control and other salutary goals, they have had three negative effects: (1) much higher purchase costs, (2) fewer owner driveway repairs (3) high computer chip vulnerability leading to non-repairable failures – even at your local garage.

 

All this still might have worked except that real incomes for most working Americans didn't keep up. [The days when Dad traded in the three year old car on a new one are long gone.] 

 

Why all this happened is difficult to untangle, but the big picture is clear enough. We Americans, the people who pioneered mass production, invented television, computers and the internet, among many, many other gifts to the world, have simply lost our effective monopoly in making the very things that originally made us great.

 

Put crudely, the smokestacks were allowed to resettle elsewhere while we tried to retain the clean stuff - design, advertising, finance, research and intellectual property.  So the subset of our population that works in these “clean” fields get the better paying occupations while the former manufacturing employees lost income, some would say irrevocably. [On that pessimistic point, I disagree, but that is for another article entirely.]

 

In general, it is an unpleasant truth that the world economy differentially drains incomes from those parts of the local economy where skill levels in-country and outside are approximately similar. Put another way, the cost of paying workers always seeks its lowest practical level.  The elites have been relatively protected from this trend, while our country’s non-professional workers have not.

 

An artificially loose credit system has operated, until now, as a subsidy mechanism to partly compensate our income deficient workers by flooding the market with low cost Wal-Mart style imports from Asian sweatshops, and big ticket items whose true cost was masked by unrealistically easy borrowing.

 

The coming populist revolt may make things better or worse, but come it will.

 

Intelligent solutions take more time and heavy lifting than the unintelligent ones. The elites are on notice. This week’s events tell us something else:

 

Time is running out.

 

JBG

 

 

 


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