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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Michelle Obama puts foot in mouth, Hillary wishes Bill more like Cindy McCain

Posted by Fred on February 20, 2008

Now that Michelle Obama has been quoted as saying that, for the first time in her adult life, the 44 year old is proud of her country, how much do you think Hillary wishes Bill hadn’t called Obama’s anti-war record a fairy tale, or that Obama would likely win in South Carolina because of his race, or that President Hillary would send Bill and George H.W. Bush on a mission to clean up George W. Bush’s mess?  You just know Hillary would love to have her surrogates come out hard (the way Cindy McCain did), but she doesn’t have much credibility on that front.

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McCain, Obama sweep to victory in Potomac Primaries

Posted by Fred on February 13, 2008

Graphic

Yesterday’s so-called Potomac Primaries saw resounding victories for Barack Obama in DC, Maryland and Virginia.  The results in DC and Maryland were not surprising, as each has substantial African-American communities, which turned out in force for Obama.  The margin of victory in Virginia was a surprise, with Obama beating Clinton by 29 percentage points (pre-vote polls suggested a margin of more like 18%).

On the Republican side, McCain won in all three states as well.  Again, his victories in DC and Maryland were expected, as neither state boasts the sort of conservative, evangelical base that makes up virtually all of Huckabee’s support.  Neither state is even remotely in play in November, as either Obama or Clinton would beat the Republican handily.  In Virginia, early returns suggested that Old Dominion conservatives might be sending a message to McCain about his conservative credentials (or lack thereof), but in the end McCain managed to get half the vote in the open GOP primary.

On a county-by-county basis, both Huckabee and Clinton found their support largely in the rural Southwest corner of the state.

VA_counties_demObama’s support was solid in all counties east of Lynchburg.  Clinton picked up support in the SW, plus Shenandoah (50%), Warren (55%) and Page (59%) counties.

VA_counties_repMcCain, like Obama, did well in the more urban and suburban east.  Huckabee polled well in the SW and Cumberland, Amelia and Dinwiddie counties west of Richmond, plus the conservative parts of the SE (Charles City, Isle of Wight and Surry counties plus the cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk).

What are the lessons to be drawn from this?  First, Obama is clearly able to pick up support from rural whites, as David Weigel notes at Reason:

Highland County, which borders West Virginia, is 99 percent white, and it went 54-45 for Obama. Floyd County, deep in Appalachia, is about 97 percent white, and it went 49-48 for Obama. Virginia has 11 congressional districts, all but two of them with white majorities, and Obama only lost one of them, the ultra-conservative 9th, which looks more like eastern Tennessee than the rest of Virginia.

Second, the not-McCain vote is far stronger than the pro-Huckabee vote.  Look at where Huckabee did well, areas that are incredibly conservative and have as much chance of voting for a Democrat as choosing polo over NASCAR.  Listen to Huckabee’s supporters.  Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell said that McCain “has some work to do to convince Republicans and independents that he’s the man. . . . There are a lot of people still searching.”  Voters aren’t any more fired up about the Huckster than are the politicians:

In Loudoun County, Huckabee found support yesterday among some voters who said former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney had been their first choice, and among others who wanted to send a message. Former Romney supporter Mark Vayda, 82, chose Huckabee because he said McCain is weak on immigration.

Janice Schell, 45, of Purcellville, a self-described conservative Christian, voted for Huckabee even though she acknowledged that his chances are slim. “I’ll support John McCain if he gets the nomination. I guess it’s just to make a statement,” she said.

The conservatives are tilting at windmills, as McCain now has 821 delegates, needing only 370 to secure the nomination.  Upcoming primaries where McCain would be expected to do well include Wisconsin (Feb. 19: 40 delegates), Indiana (May 6: 57 delegates), Ohio (March 4: 88 delegates) and Pennsylvania (April 22: 74 delegates).  Huckabee’s chances to even be a gadfly until the convention will probably be determined by the March 4 Texas primary.  McCain victories in Ohio and Texas would give him another 228 delegates.  A McCain victory in Ohio or Texas would also make it mathematically impossible for Huckabee to win outright.

Momentum is now clearly with Obama, who has won eight straight contests over the suddenly-shaky Clinton, and McCain, who has broken a recent string of Huckabee protest vote victories.  It’s certainly far from over, at least on the Democratic side.  A President Huckabee would be a disaster, a strange amalgam of tax increases, statist policy and an ultra-conservative social agenda. You’d get an amendment to remake the Constitution in God’s image, policies to ban unapproved food, drink and other vices, and tax increases to pay for it all.  President Clinton redux would be equally bad; her aborted efforts at remaking the health care system the first time around show just what to expect, and the fact that her support comes from old-line Democratic interest groups suggests that she wouldn’t even be able to claim the centrist New Democrat mantle her husband tried to claim.  McCain and Obama may not be ideal (McCain’s anti-First Amendment campaign finance reform agenda comes to mind), but they look positively wonderful in comparison.

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Hillary’s Problems With the Truth

Posted by Fred on January 23, 2008

Bill Clinton was one of our more veracity-challenged Presidents, which is a notable accomplishment, given that politicians have a questionable relationship with the truth to begin with.  His wife is apparently no better, given her recent attacks on Barack Obama.

First Hillary said that Obama “really liked the ideas of the Republicans” over the past fifteen years as part of his general praise for Ronald Reagan’s dynamism.  What Obama actually said was

I think it is fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10, 15 years, in the sense they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you’ve heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they’re being debated among the presidential candidates, and it’s all tax cuts. Well, you know, we’ve done that, we tried it. That’s not really going to solve our energy problems.

There’s nothing in there about liking the Republicans’ ideas, just a statement that it was the GOP, not the Democrats, pushing new ideas.  Given that the Republicans in Congress spent a long time out of power, it makes perfect sense that they would be the ones challenging conventional wisdom.  Obama’s wrong on tax cuts, in my opinion, but there is absolutely no justification for Bill and Hillary’s criticism.

Not content with one whopper, Hillary then tried to tie Obama to controversial developer Rezko, claiming that her opponent had represented a “slumlord” in Chicago.  A nice story, and a good way to counterbalance Hillary’s own service on the Wal-Mart board by arguing that she was misguided, but Obama was malicious.  Again, however, a complete fabrication:

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama received $168,000 in campaign contributions from Rezko and his associates after 1995. Obama has denied doing any legal work directly for Rezko or his companies. During Monday night’s debate, he said that he had done “about five hours’ worth of work” on a joint real estate development project involving Rezko and a Chicago church group.

William Miceli, Obama’s supervisor at the law firm, said the firm represented the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp., a nonprofit group that redeveloped a run-down property on Chicago’s South Side with Rezko. He called Clinton’s assertion that Obama represented Rezko in a slum landlord business “categorically untrue.”

“He was a very junior lawyer at the time, who was given responsibility for basic due diligence, document review,” said Miceli, adding that Obama did what he was told by the firm. According to Miceli, that was the only time Obama worked on a Rezko-related project while at the law firm.

Why politicians continue to think they can get away with this in the Internet Age is beyond me.  Fact checking is just too easy.  Maybe it all depends on what the definition of is is.

[via Hit & Run]

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Krugman’s latest delusion: Reagan Was a ‘Failure’

Posted by Fred on January 22, 2008

Not content to be a one-hit wonder writing column after column about how much he hates George Bush, Paul Krugman is now taking on Ronald Reagan, clearly peeved that alleged “progressive” Barack Obama praised Reagan’s “dynamism”:

Contrast that with Mr. Obama’s recent statement, in an interview with a Nevada newspaper, that Reagan offered a “sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

Maybe Mr. Obama was, as his supporters insist, simply praising Reagan’s political skills. (I think he was trying to curry favor with a conservative editorial board, which did in fact endorse him.) But where in his remarks was the clear declaration that Reaganomics failed?

Krugman clearly doesn’t understand why so many people were, and remain to this day, supporters of Reagan. Liberals generally have this problem, and Krugman’s no exception.  You can just see the incredulity – don’t people know Reaganomics failed?  Blah, blah, blah.  I’m too young to have ever voted for Reagan, but the reason so many remain Reagan acolytes is obvious even to me.  If Krugman took off his official Progressive I Hate republicans blinders, he’d see it too.  Here are a few reasons:

1. The Economy Isn’t Everything

Bill Clinton’s condescending rhetoric aside, it is not “the economy, stupid.”  or at least not just the economy.  Putting aside for a moment whether Reaganomics “failed,” the Reagan dynamism praised by Obama certainly went beyond economics.  In 1980, US foreign policy was a joke.  The Iranians had held American hostages for more than a year, and the peanut farmer President’s attempt to rescue them was straight out of Keystone Kops. Eastern Europe was under the thumb of the Communists, and the Soviet Union was emboldened enough to attempt a foolhardy invasion of Afghanistan on Christmas Day, 1979.  The predecessors of today’s progressives urged cooperation with the Soviets when they weren’t defending the regime’s murderous oppression and planned economy (want to talk about an economic system that is a clear failure? Start with communism, not Reaganomics).  And President Carter offered little other than a communal woe-is-me, there’s-nothing-we-can-do national melancholy.

Reagan refused to accept that, arguing instead that America was the proverbial shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope for a world with far too much oppression and far too little freedom.  Consider Reagan’s First Inaugural Address (audio, transcript):

On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, president of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, “Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of . . . . On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”

Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children. And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.

To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale.

As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever.

Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength.

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors.

That is dynamism and hope and aspiration all rolled up into a tidy package. It’s something Carter certainly didn’t give us, and it’s something that the Clintons, Obama and Edwards don’t give us now.

2. Never, Ever Forget About the Cold War

Is America safer now than it was in 2000 or 1992? That’s a debatable question. What’s not debatable is that Reagan turned over a more secure nation to George HW Bush than he received from Jimmy Carter.  He firmly rejected appeasement and directly confronted the evils of totalitarianism.  The June 12, 1987 speech at the Brandenburg Gate is well-known, of course, but the words still pack an incredible punch two decades later (audio, transcript

In the 1950’s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind-too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control. Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.

There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe , if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom is the victor.  There’s that dynamism again, an optimism and hope that Reagan’s opponents said was naive, not reality-based (to use a more modern phrase).  Of course, Reagan was right and the progressives were wrong. Strength and freedom prevailed over appeasement and oppression. The wall did come down, and millions enjoyed a freedom they would never have tasted but for America finally having the courage to stare down the Soviets and refuse to blink.

3. The Economy, Stupid

Krugman, of course, ignores all that. His political amnesia allows him to ignore the Carter years. He apparently missed the part of the 1980s when the Cold War ended, or perhaps his still has a progressive longing for the old Soviet Union, which had a fairly effective way of addressing troublemakers and income inequality.  But what about the economy? Was Reaganomics a failure?

The answer, of course, is that nobody really knows.  Reagan’s economic vision was based on three principles.  First, slash taxes to allow Americans to increase prosperity, create jobs and improve their lives.  Second, slash government spending and stop feeding the ravenous monster consuming the economy of the 1970s. Third, free Americans from the confines of regulation (Government is the problem, not the solution).  He was initially successful at the first, with the 1981 tax cuts, but the second and third components of Reaganomics never succeeded, thanks to a Democratic Congress that was loath to give up big sacks of money and the control that comes along with it.

Nevertheless, 19 million jobs were created during the Reagan Administration. The economy recovered from the economic malaise of the Carter years, a recovery that continued for three-quarters of Reagan’s term.  Were there still problems?  Of course there were. But imagine what the American economy would have looked like after four more years of Carter.

Not only does Krugman not acknowledge any of the successes of the Reagan presidency, he engages in a bit of typical progressive goalpost-moving to belittle the economic growth of the mid to late 80s:

The Reagan economy was a one-hit wonder. Yes, there was a boom in the mid-1980s, as the economy recovered from a severe recession. But while the rich got much richer, there was little sustained economic improvement for most Americans. By the late 1980s, middle-class incomes were barely higher than they had been a decade before — and the poverty rate had actually risen.

Don’t forget the cause of the “severe recession” of the 1970s — the abject failure of the sort of progressive politics advocated by Krugman and put in place under Carter.  Progressives seeking to diminish republican accomplishments love to talk about “greed” and “income inequality.”  You see, economic growth doesn’t count if investment bankers on Wall Street snort coke and proclaim that Greed is Good.  Rising income levels only count if the rich don’t get richer.

Reagan’s supporters, on the other hand, recognize that Hollywood bluster aside, greed is good. So, frankly, is income inequality, up to a point. You call it greed; I call it keeping the wealth I create rather than handing it over to the government.  Reagan slashed the capital gains tax rate, which allowed both (1) greedy investment bankers and (2) Midwestern housewives to profit from a rising stock market.  If economic success means handing over most of what you gain to the government, what incentive is there to create wealth in the first place?

4. Clinton was no progressive

Krugman praises progressive politics and lauds the Clinton years, leaving the implication that the progressive politics of the 1990s were the cause.  That’s nonsense.  The last progressive President was Carter, not Clinton.  At his core, Clinton was a liberal, but his utter lack of ideological backbone allowed himself to look like something else.  Clinton’s attempts at policies favored by today’s progressives were failures (i.e. HillaryCare). Clinton’s singular domestic policy success, the welfare reform bill, owes far more to Jack kemp than to Jack Kennedy.  Clinton certainly didn’t do the right thing on taxes, but he didn’t increase spending the way Krugman would prefer.

The Clinton years were also a sham, an economic boomlet fueled by stock market gains driven almost entirely by mass delusion.  The biggest form of wealth created was real estate purchased by dot-com millionaires now crashing in the housing bubble.  Krugman’s happy to diminish Reagan’s economic successes, but doesn’t apply the same analytic rigor to Clinton.

Those are the things Reagan’s supporters find attractive about Reagan to this day. An ideological rigor that is absolutely lacking in the post-Clinton, poll-based rhetoric of the day.  A sense of optimism about America and the role she plays in establishing and maintaining freedom.  A willingness to unblinkingly face down the original Evil Empire until the wall fell and freedom reigned.  Reaganites aren’t redefining the historic narrative; they’re refusing to allow people like Paul Krugman to do so.

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Presidential campaign now even more annoying

Posted by Fred on January 8, 2008

993938happy-bunny-throw-up-posters.jpgThis year’s presidential contest is beginning to make me throw up in my mouth a little (yeah, I know how annoying that phrase is, but I can’t think of another one right now). On the plus side, voters in New Hampshire appear poised to stick another dagger in the rotting corpse of Hillary’s campaign.  Those tears the other day seemed about as real as Roger Clemens’ denials on 60 Minutes.  or more to the point, no more real than Hillary’s depressed and depressing appearance on 60 Minutes with Bill in 1992, or her emotional outbursts about the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, or her one and only appearance in a pink suit in 1994, or her swings from strong-woman-the-voters-don’t-get to victim and back again.  See Jeff Taylor’s rundown on the Reason blog.

That does, however, leave one with Obama, destined to be America’s next motivational-speaker-in-chief.  Not sure what to make of Obama, as there’s not a whole lot of there there (yet).

On the other side of the aisle, Mike Huckabee’s star rose after Iowa, but will almost certainly crash again after New Hampshire, whose voters are less impressed by evolution-denying, will-of-God baptist preachers who have compared homosexuality to necrophilia than are their comrades in the Hawkeye State.  Ron Paul has always said the right sort of things 9and I’ve never been adverse to throwing away my vote on actual Libertarian party candidates, so why not a libertarianish Republican?) but he never had any real hope of getting the nomination unless a meteor crashed into one of the GOP debates he wasn’t invited to. Plus, some of the seedier side of his newsletter screeds are starting to see the light of day. Old history?  Probably. The work of someone other than Paul himself?  Maybe.  But none of that is relevant to the average voter, who really doesn’t want a President even tangentially associated with claims that Martin Luther King “seduced underage girls and boys” or that “95% of the black males in [Washington, D.C.] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

So where’s that leave someone like me, a fiscally conservative, kind-of-libertarian Hayekian liberal? Rudy Giuliani? John McCain? Mitt Romney?  No thanks. It’s just depressing.

banana_slug.jpgObligatory update: so Hillary won in an “upset.”  Given that she had a 12 point lead in New Hampshire three weeks ago, that we’re calling this slim victory an upset is somewhat telling.  Of course, NH voters also picked McCain, so who knows what any of this means. I’d still vote for a banana slug over Clinton.

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Obama calls Internet accusation about his patriotism a ‘dirty trick’

Posted by Fred on November 9, 2007

Wow. Lots of people actually care that Barack Obama may or may not have put his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance and/or National Anthem.

The e-mail in question shows a photo of Obama, as well as rival candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson during Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin’s steak fry in September. Harkin’s wife, Ruth, is also pictured. Richardson, Clinton, and Harkin all have their right hands on their heart while Obama’s hands are at his sides.

Read the comments on the CNN story – commenters actually say that Obama not wearing a flag pin on his lapel or making a mistake during the national anthem should disqualify him from running for President.  I’m no Obama fan – he’s better than some Democrats, but he still plays too fast and loose with my money – but this is simply absurd.  Not wearing a tiny metal American flag on one’s lapel (that was undoubtedly made in a Chinese factory) no more makes one unpatriotic than wearing one makes one a patriot.  What this really means is that the American presidential campaign season is FAR too long.  The Iowa caucuses are still two months away and we’ve already run out of things to talk about.

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