Monday, September 29, 2008

OBAMA CAMPAIGN IS SUING NRA FOR "FALSE" AND "MISLEADING" ADS

Well here is the NRA ad that the OBAMA campaign is suing over, you be the judge. It certainly, sounds about right to me and my fellow bitter small town, church going, Bible thumping, gun owners.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

PAUL NEWMAN (1925-2008)

It’s easy to talk about the films and I do that below, but it should also be mentioned that Newman used his star power to help people in a way that few celebrities do. I saw him interviewed on 60 Minutes a few years ago. They were at his HOLE IN THE WALL GANG camp for children with cancer. He proved to be a guy who really made a positive difference in this world. Many of his other causes weren’t mine, but when it counted his money went to something that really mattered. I hope to enjoy his salad dressing and spaghetti sauce for years to come.


SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME (1956) – Newman’s breakout role as boxer Rocky Graziano was originally supposed to star James Dean, I once read. He was already 30 years when he made this, but he looks so young in comparison to the roles you remember that he seems much younger. Newman became quite a good actor over the years, but that Actor’s Studio style is evident and annoying here.

THE LEFTHANDED GUN (1958)
– Newman is Billy the Kid. The film has a decent enough reputation helped by the direction of Arthur Penn, but it was not particularly memorable for me. I saw it the same week I saw Arthur Penn’s PENN AND TELLER GET KILLED, showing that the auteur theory is still somewhat debatable.

LONG HOT SUMMER (1958) The first film he made with Joanne Woodward also stars Orson Welles. While neither Welles nor Newman seem believable as a southerners to me, Woodward is believable in most anything. Newman is the hardheaded young man in conflict with Welles during most of the story although Welles comes to respect him more than his own weakling son. But can Welles match Newman with his daughter, Woodward? You guess.

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958)
– Newman teams with Elizabeth Taylor in the Tennessee Williams play. Like most of Williams stuff “the love that dare not speak its name” is hovering around the periphery. The play begins with Newman’s unseen friend having killed himself and Newman feeling guilty because the friend had a crush on him. The central conflict of the play is that Newman has cut off the advances of wife, Elizabeth Taylor. But his dying father “Big Daddy” needs him to produce an heir so his tub-of-goo brother doesn’t inherit the plantation. Newman’s star power is evident and Taylor’s natural acting style is a pleasure to see. Burl Ives reprised his Broadway role as Big Daddy. I saw Ashley Judd, Jason Patric, and Ned Beatty do this on Broadway and critics weren’t kind. They weren’t as good as the movie cast, but it was still better than watching most of the Broadway musicals that I’ve seen. So much of good acting is good material and this was Newman’s best film up to this time, I think.

THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS (1959) Back when getting a Philadelphia lawyer was tantamount to getting the best, Newman is a young ambitious lawyer who will do anything to get ahead, stepping on those that love him along the way. The movie is melodramatic in that late 50s sort of way so it should be no surprise that Newman gets some redemption at the end. Brian Keith has a nice turn early in the film. I can’t think of a bad Brian Keith performance.

THE HUSTLER (1961) – The first out-and-out classic Newman movie and the first one I remember where he seemed relaxed enough to be the character instead of trying to play the character. Most everyone knows that Newman is pool hustler Fast Eddie Felson, a talented but egotistical young man who rises and falls. It’s great material helped along by Newman’s gritty determination. Had Newman died shortly after this film, I think we’d see HUSTLER posters in much the same way we see REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE now.

HUD (1963) – Newman gets to play the heel and a cowboy one at that. This is the most famous Newman film I have never seen, and the only one on this list haven't seen. I just didn’t think I could skip over it for all its importance.

COOL HAND LUKE (1967) – Another one of the all-time classics. My old hippie boss got me onto it and he loved to talk about the Christ symbolism. I found it interesting that he was a free spirit who wanted to be left alone and he inadvertently created a following that he wasn’t comfortable with. The fight with George Kennedy, and then the egg eating contest, and the rush to build the road all seem so fresh in my mind. I found it slow the first time I saw it. I was expecting another Butch Cassidy, I guess. But the second time I saw it much differently and I have admired and enjoyed it every time since.

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969) – The first Newman movie I ever saw. It was on television when I was twelve years old and I watched it all by myself and then quoted it in English class when the teacher asked about hero characters on the wrong side of the law. It was the most powerful ending I had seen up to that time and still one of the all-time great resolutions. I particularly like the train robberies early in the film and how nice Butch is robbing people. I have since recommended it to other friends with mixed results. One friend said that he couldn’t stand the music montages especially with the pop tune. That song does seem dated, but I think the montages in South America still work although he had no use for those either. Historically it's probably the first buddy film to be successful enough to create that subgenre.

SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION (1971) – This is not considered a great movie, but there are a couple of reasons that it appealed to me. First, Henry Fonda as the father of Paul Newman has great possibilities. Second, it’s one of three movies where the main characters are named STAMPER. Can you name the other two? This film is based on the book by Ken “Cukoo’s Nest” Kesey about a family of loggers who are in the midst of a union fight. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I remember thinking it had a conservative bent which seems impossible with this cast and author. I guess I wasn’t supposed to like the Stampers and what they do. That would explain it. The other thing I remember is a real poignant scene where Newman’s brother Richard Jaeckel is trapped under a log. Looking it up on ALLMOVIE, I realized I had totally forgotten about the other plot involving Lee Remick (Not easy to forget) and Michael Sarrazin.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN (1972)
My least favorite movie on the list. I saw it during the period I was watching all of the John Huston movies I could find. Newman is not sympathetic although the movie is funny at times. It just has too many weird characters for me. I suppose it could be someone’s cult favorite, but not mine.

THE STING (1973) – This is the Newman/Redford movie that won best picture although I prefer the other one. Still, this movie is a lot of fun and can be enjoyed multiple times. Robert Shaw always made a good heavy and there are plenty of other good supporting parts as well. Charles Durning and Harold Gould come to mind. The granddaddy of all confidence man films, I suppose.

THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974) – One of the weaker Best Picture winners with a great cast. Famous for the opening credit where McQueen’s name was first, but Newman’s was higher. The 70s loved disaster movies with high priced talent and this was just one of many.

THE DROWNING POOL (1975) – A sequel to the 1966 film HARPER where Newman plays PI Lew Harper once again based on the Ross McDonald’s Lew Archer series. The drowning pool is exactly how it sounds and a clever device to kill Newman in the movie. But maybe he escapes! Woodward shows up as does a young Melanie Griffith.

ABSENCE OF MALICE (1981) – Ironically, this movie is the counter-balance to the Redford film, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, where crusading reporters are admonished for printing stories based on hearsay information from anonymous sources. Both and Sally Field are quite good and the investigation into the truth works pretty well too.

THE VERDICT (1982) – If there was ever a time where you could say that Newman was not only a great movie star, but a great actor, the Verdict would be the example time I would pick. Everything about the performance says that it needs an actor and not a personality and the way Newman becomes this alcoholic lawyer is really impressive. It’s a shame that he didn’t take more character parts. He would have been a joy in those Robert Duvall type roles.

HARRY AND SON (1984) – Newman is Harry and Robbie Benson is the son and they have less than a harmonious relationship. It’s not a very good movie and it’s not all that memorable, except that Newman had lost his own son a few years earlier and that he chose to direct this picture says something about its meaning to him.

THE COLOR OF MONEY (1986) – Newman returns as Fast Eddie in this Hustler sequel directed by Scorsese and co-starring the up and coming Tom Cruise. There is a lot to like about the movie and I enjoyed it again last year sometime. The shame is that the Academy chose to finally reward Newman for his body of work and it should have been for something a little more interesting.

BLAZE (1989) Ron Shelton’s follow-up to Bull Durham is only nice for Newman’s performance as the corrupt Louisiana Governor and even that wears a bit thin at times.

FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY (1989)
– A dull telling of the atomic bomb creation with Newman wasted in a role anyone could have portrayed.

NOBODY”S FOOL (1994)
– Newman really deserved to win an Oscar for this forgotten movie about a lovable loser who reconnects with his family. It’s a little quirky at times like the Richard Russo novel it’s based on, but if you can forgive that this movie is a gem and the last classic he made. Bruce Willis is great in a small role as Newman’s boss/friend./rival and Melanie Griffith is Willis’ wife and an object of Newman’s fancy. Jessica Tandy plays Newman’s land lady in her last screen role. I first saw it at the theatre with brother John and have seen it again several times over the years and it never gets old.

HUDSUCKER PROXY (1994)
– One of the Coen Brothr’s lesser efforts and still not without its moments. Newman plays the CEO of a big company and Tim Robbins the lowly office boy who makes good. Jennifer Jason Leigh channels Katherine Hepburn’s screwball comedy accent.

TWILIGHT (1998) Newman re-teams with Russo and director Robert Benson as a Private Detective shot by Reese Witherspoon. A few years later he is living in the garage apartment of Reese’s parents (Gene Hackman and Susan Sarandon) and trying to solve as mystery. It’s a fine effort for all involved and worth the time if you see it on cable.

ROAD TO PERDITION (2002)
Sam Mendes follow up to American Beauty starring Tom Hanks is a adaptation of a graphic novel filled with stars but also a kind of emptiness. Newman won a supporting Oscar nomination for his small but impactful role as a crime boss.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

URGENT EMAIL MESSAGE

This is circulating today.

Subject: Letter from Minister Paulson

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude. I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America . My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 700 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transacting is 100% safe.This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully,
Minister of Treasury Paulson

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

MR. NEWT STILL SPEAKING GOOD SENSE

Newt posted a great piece on the Corner about the Bailout and what the government should really do. It's worth reading the whole thing, but I will quote his overall solution:

Question Two: Is a big bureaucracy solution the only answer?

Answer: There is a non-bureaucratic solution that would stop the liquidity crisis almost overnight and do it using private capital rather than taxpayer money.

Four reform steps will have capital flowing with no government bureaucracy and no taxpayer burden.

First, suspend the mark-to-market rule which is insanely driving companies to unnecessary bankruptcy. If short selling can be suspended on 799 stocks (an arbitrary number and a warning of the rule by bureaucrats which is coming under the Paulson plan), the mark-to-market rule can be suspended for six months and then replaced with a more accurate three year rolling average mark-to-market.

Second, repeal Sarbanes-Oxley. It failed with Freddy Mac. It failed with Fannie Mae. It failed with Bear Stearns. It failed with Lehman Brothers. It failed with AIG. It is crippling our entrepreneurial economy. I spent three days this week in Silicon Valley. Everyone agreed Sarbanes-Oxley was crippling the economy. One firm told me they would bring more than 20 companies public in the next year if the law was repealed. Its Sarbanes-Oxley’s $3 million per startup annual accounting fee that is keeping these companies private.

Third, match our competitors in China and Singapore by going to a zero capital gains tax. Private capital will flood into Wall Street with zero capital gains and it will come at no cost to the taxpayer. Even if you believe in a static analytical model in which lower capital gains taxes mean lower revenues for the Treasury, a zero capital gains tax costs much less than the Paulson plan. And if you believe in a historic model (as I do), a zero capital gains tax would lead to a dramatic increase in federal revenue through a larger, more competitive and more prosperous economy.

Fourth, immediately pass an “all of the above” energy plan designed to bring home $500 billion of the $700 billion a year we are sending overseas. With that much energy income the American economy would boom and government revenues would grow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Palin draws crowd of 60,000 in The Villages

The Villages, a vast, upscale planned community north of Orlando, has about 70,000 mostly adult residents -- many of them military retirees -- who vote reliably Republican in statewide races. Tens of thousands inched along roads into the picturesque town square of the complex, where they stood in sweltering heat for about four hours as local GOP officials and a country band revved up the crowd.

"Sa-Rah! Sa-Rah!" they chanted at every mention of her name, applauding loudly and waiving tiny American flags that were distributed -- along with free water bottles -- by local volunteers. The fire chief estimated the crowd at 60,000.

John had tickets and we were going to go, but he called to say that it was an hour worth of traffic getting in and no where to park. It made me feel better because Trish had to fly out tonight and Abby has been congested. She persuaded me that it wasn't a good idea to ditch her for another dame. Hopefully Sarah makes it to Orlando before the election.

I haven't been feeling great myself and I suppose Sir Saunders hasn't either because neither of us called the other this week to schedule our regular Saturday bike ride. Sir Saunders, how about we go on Wednesday?

Friday, September 19, 2008

PATRIOT GAMES

Biden says it's the patriotic duty of the rich to pay taxes. I invite McCain/Palin to Gettysburg, Valley Forge, or Independence Hall to share their thoughts on patriotism.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

REVIEWS OF MOVIES FROM 2007

SHOOT ‘EM UP (2007)
–The reliable Clive “no smile” Owen is just a schlub waiting for a bus when he notices a gunman trying to shoot down a pregnant lady. Although unarmed he tries to save her life and winds up with a baby for his efforts. From then on, a gang led by Paul Giamatti chases Owen and the bambino all over creation. It’s a funny movie that makes the villain a gun manufacturer and then entertains us with bullets flying everywhere and mostly into the guts of evil henchmen. The death toll is enormous and the stunts are inventive with early ones seeming a bit of a stretch and later ones downright impossible. It’s so over the top that you have to enjoy it on its own terms, and it helps if you aren’t sickened by the sight of blood.

AWAY FROM HER (2007) – Julie Christie seems to materialize once a decade for an Oscar nomination and here she is this time with Alzheimer’s. And it’s a fine performance all and all. It’s directed by Sarah Polley, the girl who played the cashier in GO and has been seen most recently as the daughter of JOHN ADAMS in the HBO miniseries. She does a fine job with good performances by Gordon Pinsent as her husband and Michael Murphy and Olympia Dukakis as another couple who figures big in the plot.

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (2007) Last year I saw Julian Schnabel’s film about the artist Basqaut who died of aids in the 1980s before people even knew what aids was. To find a more depressing subject, Schnabel chooses a guy completely paralyzed by a stroke who has to write a book with eye blinks. What’s funny is that Schnabel seems like a pretty up beat guy in real life. I saw him interviewed once about some paintings he was exhibiting and he was smiling and was not the least bit pretentious. I can understand Schnabel’s nomination for director, because this book is not easy material to turn into a film and he does a wonderful job of bringing the paralyzed world to life. Still, the main character is a narcissistic bore and recounting his life doesn’t redeem him.

DAN IN REAL LIFE (2007) – Steve Carell is the affable widower who meets cute with Juliette Binoche in a bookstore. It turns out that the French babe is dating his brother although she and Carell might turn out to be soul mates. Dane Cook is the brother, Diane Wiest as mother, and John Mahoney plays dad. If that sounds appealing you’re in for no further surprises.

INTO THE WILD (2007) – Sir Saunders summed this up a in a post a while back and I agree that it’s a fine movie that showed all of the adventure of such a pursuit and the danger at the same time. Sean Penn is a very thoughtful director, which is baffling after seeing him on Larry King back in 2003 where he couldn’t speak a coherent sentence in an hour of trying. Steve and I recently spoke about the adventure and how the environment has really been romanticized in the last 10-15 years. It’s like the Garden of Eden myth is back in the consciousness. Talk about coming full circle. But the movie shows how the environment will kill you without remorse. Civilization is little overrated until you’re out of rice and on the wrong side of the river. I think that’s why conservatives make the best outdoorsman. They have the most respect for the wild and they don’t mind turning hooves into steaks. Progressives are hoping that Puck and friends will sweep into the camp and with manna. Emile Hirsch is solid as Chris McCandless and Penn casts the supporting players ably too. Catherine Keener stands out as the aging hippy who takes on Chris as the son she lost. Nominated Hal Holbrook didn’t appear until the last 30 minutes, but he was a joy to watch. I liked the film enough that I might read the book.

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (2007) – I consider Noah Baumbach’s 1995 debut KICKING AND SCREAMING to be a minor classic. 5 movies later I just can’t imagine he’s the same guy after watching the tiresome MARGOT. Is there anything really left to say about dysfunctional families? Some people just don’t love one another as they should and some have baggage. If the point of movies is to make you uncomfortable then they rang the bell, otherwise this is a yawn.

LA VIE EN ROSE (2007)
– Another singer biopic and this time in French. Marion Cotillard’s Oscar for Best Actress is right out of the Charlize Theron book of “let’s ugly it up for the sake of art.” You can see her beautiful in awful film, A GOOD YEAR. I don’t see her winning that statue without the imagination of the voters thinking of her beauty. And isn’t it time we ban Oscar nominations for biopics about singers anyway? Edith Piaf was another interesting person that just didn’t have it easy. These scripts almost write themselves anymore. I can’t wait to see all the terrible things that happened to Pat Boone before he became famous.

WE OWN THE NIGHT (2007) – Duvall is a cop and the father of Marky Mark (cop) and Jaquin Phoenix (nightclub manager). Well the nightclub is mobbed up and Mary Mark takes a bullet and Phoenix quits his pals for family. Everything else about the plot is cat and mouse which is alright if you are in the mood, but not exceptional.

DARJEELING LIMITED (2007) – Wes Anderson has the style down pat and he loves unusual characters, but I’m convinced that he isn’t interested in story. I find that the majority of his movies aren’t really about anything. And although they are funny at times, they are mostly slow. I don’t think I have liked any of them since The Royal Tennenbaums, and that movie might not have worked at all without the brilliant Gene Hackman. Here three brothers Owen Wilson, Adrian Brody, and Jason Swartzmann are on a search in Asia to find their wandering mother Angelica Huston. Not as dysfunctional as MARGOT, but playing the same general idea for laughs.

KING OF KONG (2007) - Documentary on the guys who hold the all-time scores on classic video games, with a focus on two guys battling to be the best Donkey Kong player in the universe. Player one, Billy Mitchell, has been the Donkey Kong champion since he was a teenager in the 1980s. So famous was he during that time they included the guy in a Life Magazine spread about the best gamers. He’s now around 40 and the owner of a sports bar and wing sauce business in Hollywood, FL. He still enjoys in the glory of his teenage self, having never cut his long long hair. The challenger, Steve Weibe from Washington State is a normal looking guy with a nice family and an obsession to be the best Donkey Kong player anywhere. We watch him play the game for hours in his garage as his kids and wife yell for his help with various household things. The wife is both annoyed at the time this takes and proud when he achieves his goal. It’s not too unlike my own experiences with poker. The film maker builds up good drama between the two rivals especially the way the champion shows no respect for the budding challenger. It’s one of those stories where you really root for people.

2 DAYS IN PARIS (2007)
–Writer, Director, Star, Julie Delpy doesn’t have the French characters look down at Americans, but she does have the American, Adam Goldberg do so. He is the typically holier than thou American who is better than where he came from, even going so far as to give American tourists the wrong directions. I’m supposed to love him for it because one of the ladies is wearing a Bush/Cheney T-shirt, an unlikely possibility. That’s not the problem with the movie, but the problem with what Delpy finds funny. The real trouble here is that she tries to channel Linklater with a talky boyfriend/girlfriend piece and it has none of the charm of the BEFORE movies and with time it gets annoying. By the end it’s not even realistic. But it never really was realistic, because I don’t see Julie Delpy anywhere near the geekish Adam Goldberg even on a bad day.

JUNO (2007) – The script is full of quirky dialogue that sometimes surprises you into laughter. Ellen Page seems a perfect fit for the role as a cute yet somewhat harsh teenager trying to find parents for her accidental baby. The couple she lands on, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, seem perfect at first like most couples, but underneath lies a struggle between the two. JK Simmons plays Juno’s father and is becoming quite a reliable character actor filling that unashamedly masculine authority figure device. My only real knock on the movie is that I don’t find Jennifer Garner all that sympathetic, she’s a bit of a pain really and seemingly phony at times, and yet she comes out better at the end than the story would have led me to believe.

EVAN ALMIGHTY (2007) – Steve Carell is winning enough, but this is the one-joke premise with few surprises. I didn’t see the Jim Carey version a few years ago and I don’t know why I thought this wouldn’t be mediocre. The God comedies are a little awkward, always having to stick with the Old Testament version and sidestepping the Jesus question. Remember how George Burns deflected the question as posed by John Denver. Here we get the humor of the prophet beard growing faster than he can shave, as if the beard were holy in itself.

THE BRAVE ONE (2007)
– It’s more or less a remake of DEATH WISH with Jodie Foster in the Charles Bronson role. Like Death Wish, Foster loses a loved one to a violent attack and she fights back wild west style. Plenty of action, although the New York depicted here is really pre-Guiliani with a mugging on every corner. You’ll be surprised how many crimes Foster is the potential victim of and how quickly the perps become dog meat. It’s directed by Neil Jordan of all people. The original Death Wish has a few scenes that really test suspension of disbelief, and the Brave One is no different. Christopher Guest will never speak to Jodie Foster again.

GONE BABY GONE (2007)
– I liked Mystic River for the most part. An hour into the film it had all the making of a classic, but I found the last ten minutes disappointing and the ending disjointed. I can see now that my problem was with the book author, Christopher Lehane, who also wrote GONE BABY GONE. This plot is just too busy with too much grey area for the character to reside in. Casey Affleck is quite good. I knew Amy Ryan from HBO’s THE WIRE, and she continues to be a solid actress, although her screen time didn’t really warrant a nomination. I think using heavyweights like Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman in smaller roles gives too much away and the resolution is quite contrived.

ACORSS THE UNIVERSE (2007) – This could have been an interesting 90 minute movie, but at 133 minutes its way too much for way too long. If you like Beatles music and know a little of their backstory then you can enjoy the first 30 minutes or so, but the movie drops off a cliff soon after that. The story of a bunch of kids exploring the possibilities of life with the Fab Four in the background is nothing but the millionth baby boomer romantic fantasy. Will that generation ever grow up? Julie Taymor is overrated, her one hit being the Lion King stage show that already had a built-in fan base. Did you see her last film, Frida? I did and I don’t remember anything but Geoffrey Rush showing up as Trotsky.

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007) – This was interesting material for the Coen Brothers. It really fits their crazy dark genre and yet fits into the realism universe at the same time. Javier bardem got all the ink and the Oscar, but it’s one of those performances that’s rewarded for the writing blended with the actor’s obscurity. I think Benicio Del Toro could have played the character just as menacing but we would have expected that. Tommy Lee Jones is so weather beaten that the guy has been playing an old man for ten years and he’s still not 65. I can’t complain about his performance though. They’re all good really. Even Woody Harrelson’s quirky personality seems to fit here. You could argue that it’s the Coen’s best film. I still prefer Miller’s Crossing. It may not have been the best film made last year, but it was better than the other films that were nominated for Best Picture.

CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007) – No script can turn Tom Hanks into a whiskey- soaked womanizer. The first scene of the movie has him in a hot tub with naked strippers and you don’t believe it for a minute. WILSON does have a typically good performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and another icy performance by Julia Roberts. Is she no longer allowed to play fetching? Hoffman makes all of his scenes worth it and the scenes without him drag. The movie built a lot of good will with me by acknowledging the real bad guys. Enough time has passed that the Russians can be enemies even to Aaron Sorkin. But I guess it was all worth it to Sorkin so that he could have his little epilogue with Hoffman explaining to Hanks that without U.S. funding for Afghan schools, the whole place will fall apart, and he only needs $1 million. I don’t know what’s funnier about that comment, that a typical liberal solution of more education solves everything or that the whole country can be educated for $1 million. Orange County Florida can’t build a single high school for less than that. Good will or not, this is not a very memorable movie. I finished watching it 25 minutes ago and I’m having trouble remembering plot points.

Monday, September 15, 2008

RECOMMENDED READING

Because most of my political reading lately has been in the form of short blog posts, it was a pleasure today to read this lengthier, cogent analysis of how Obama has painted himself into a corner and why "the issues" don't get much attention in presidential elections.

Obama can keep trying the "McSame" argument, but it falls flat for at least 3 reasons:

1. McCain isn't Bush. In fact, his very brand is his not-Bush-ness, his highly visible departures from the Republican party line.

2. Obama isn't change. He's classic liberalism.

3. "Change" does not necessarily redirect dissatisfied Independents and Republicans to Obama. Voters didn't lose faith in Republican ideas, they lost faith in Republicans' willingness to execute them. Classically Republican ideas remain more popular than classically liberal ideas.
VP CANDIDATE GIVES 10% OF HIS TALK TO CHARITY

...and 0.1% of his income. Biden releases his tax returns.

In 1998, Biden and his wife Jill gave $120 to charity out of an adjusted gross income of $210,979.
In 2005, out of an adjusted gross income of $321,379, the Bidens gave $380.
In nine out of the ten years for which tax returns were released, the Bidens gave less than $400 to charity.
In 2007, when Biden was running for president, they gave $995 out of an adjusted gross income of $319,853.

It would be unseemly to make "news" out of this, but this is typical lib -- their "contribution" is to tell everyone else to make contributions, or to legislate that everyone is required to make contributions, and out of their own pockets -- next to nothing. Tell me what I should do by showing me what it looks like, if you would please.

I'm still not pro-McCain, but I am decidedly anti-Obama/Biden, which is effectively the same thing when you count my one vote.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

FAKE BUT TRUE






FACT CHECKS

Still a pig. . .



. . . and Ayers still does not like America.

QUALIFIED

Alert: McCain is old. He can't type, and in the 80s he wore 80s clothes. So says Obama's new ad. Never mind that the SEVERE BEATINGS he took make him unable to type. Obama has gotten so far off message that he may have his own severe beating on the way. The Quinnipiac polls in PA have gone from Obama +12 in June, to +7 in July and August, to +3 now. States that Obama should be dominating, like NJ and WA, he is leading by just a couple points. I know it's early and a lot can change, but wow, quite a turnaround.

Maybe at the debate Obama can say, "OK, all the questioners tonight who think I'm the best choice for President, raise your hands." (Unanimous.) "Right, okay. Now, um, look, everyone here on stage that thinks they are qualified to be President, raise your hand. Raise it up high. Well look, there you go."

McCain should keep up the humorous ads that poke at Obama, and at the end he should say, "I'm John McCain, and I approved this message, and I laugh every time I watch it."

Friday, September 12, 2008

PROUD PAPA

If I may boast for a moment, I just received the following note from my son's teacher after his second week of 4th grade.

Ben has had a great week this week. I have noticed that his relationship with the other boys is not cliquish; rather, he includes many and all, for that matter. This is a sign of the Holy Spirit working in his life, as he could very easily snub some who are not as athletic or intelligent as he is. He lifts others up by his humble attitude toward others. As far as academically, he is a bright young man: he reads well, he applies what is being taught in a manner that exceeds his years, and he is exceptionally creative. I was especially impressed by his speech from a key word outline he made this morning. It was if he had done it many times before! If there were a “heroic” flaw, it would have to be his handwriting, but I hear many a statesman, doctor, and minister have atrocious handwriting. It is a privilege to be able to teach this class – and it is especially a privilege to be Ben’s teacher.

I love that his handwriting is atrocious, as mine was and is. He is a fine young man who careth not whether others appreciate his genius -- the surest sign of genius!
THIS SETTLES IT

Peggy Noonan today:

A certain normal-versus-sissy template was captured in a deadly email that is making the rounds. It offers two pictures. One is of a young Mrs. Palin in a short skirt, smiling at the camera as she leans against a big ol' motorcycle. The other is of a thin and careful Obama on a bicycle, in a plastic safety helmet, looking like a tony suburban professional trying to lower his carbon footprint. The headline on the email: "This settles it."

If you get this email, please send it to me or post the photos here.

I have to admit I felt bad for Obama last night. I did not have the patience to listen to him ramble, but he looked so tired and worn. McCain looked lively and fresh. McCain was able to take long naps while Obama was out battling Hillary, and the wear of the long campaign is starting to show on the young fella. His eyes were dead. I wondered whether that was related to his meeting with Bill Clinton earlier in the day, which could not have been pleasant. I kept rooting for Obama to smile, but he couldn't, and then I watched baseball.

He is in a tough spot. He is losing momentum, as he was bound to do eventually, because his appeal was built solely on his appeal. So now he is falling back to earth and melting on re-entry. He is trying to be serious now and point to the issues, but unfortunately he doesn't have much to say on the issues, and what he does have to say is standard-issue losing Democratic message, and "Change!" and "McCain=Bush" doesn't carry the day after Palin and the RNC convention. A bit of a dilemma for our skinny friend, not that I mind.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11

It seems like a distant memory. It shouldn't.

Ten home videos here from various vantage points in New York.
TED OLSON ON BARBARA OLSON

And, most of all, we will defeat these terrorists because Barbara and those other American casualties of September 11, and our forebears, and our children, would never forgive us if we did not.

Bush at the memorial dedication:

When our enemies attacked the Pentagon, they pierced the rings of this building. But they could not break the resolve of the United States Armed Forces. Since 9/11, our troops have taken the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. Thanks to the brave men and women, and all those who work to keep us safe, there has not been another attack on our soil in 2,557 days.When our enemies attacked the Pentagon, they pierced the rings of this building. But they could not break the resolve of the United States Armed Forces. Since 9/11, our troops have taken the fight to the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. Thanks to the brave men and women, and all those who work to keep us safe, there has not been another attack on our soil in 2,557 days.

Lieberman:

“As we remember that horrific day, we should also rededicate ourselves to remain vigilant and united against an extremist foe that threatens our security and our freedom. This is a struggle of humanity against barbarism, of justice against tyranny whose outcome will affect the lives of not only our citizens, but billions of others throughout the world.
“Just as America and all freedom-loving peoples prevailed over the twin evils of fascism and communism in the last century, we will prevail over the evil of Islamist terrorism that attacked us on that September day seven years ago. Let us stand united in that cause.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

20 QUESTIONS

Foreign Policy Magazine's blog has 20 questions for Sarah Palin. I decided to pretend to be tbe the VP nominee and answer them myself, off the cuff.

1. In a broad and long-term sense, would you have responded differently to the attacks of 9/11?

A lot of things could have done in hindsight, but Bush got the big things right. For instance, no attacks since 9-11.

To answer your question, I would probably be supping in Tehran by now.

Is Iraq a democracy?

In the sense that the Iraqi people can vote, then yes they are. But the Iraqi people have rights that other established democracies don’t. Iraq is certainly freer than Venezuela.

2. What’s the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?


It’s not the difference that is important, but that there is a difference as far as they are concerned. We need to know who is who so that we can work out differences or use those differences to our advantages. We can leave the specific Imam questions for them to debate among one another.

3. What is your preferred plan for peace between Israel and Palestine? A two state solution? What about Jerusalem?

The question is whether the Palestinians want to live peacefully. The peace begins the day they do. Plans for peace made by others are good water cooler conversation, but no President can make them happen. I’ve seen the players standing in the Rose Garden my whole life and yet things remain the same.

4. How do you feel about French President Nicolas Sarkozy's recent visit to Syria? Do you believe the United States should negotiate with leaders like President Bashar al-Assad?

The French had a hand in the creation of Syria so there is a different relationship there. The visit made me think about that history.

I don’t see the point in negotiating with dictators. We should tell them what behavior we expect and the consequences of not following that behavior. For us, Israel’s right to exist is fundamental and no negotiation is going to make them acknowledge that right. So why give them standing by trading little things back and forth.

Remember it’s in the European nature to negotiate regardless of how fruitless their efforts have been in the past. It’s much like America sending a team to play in the World Cup every four years.

5. Nearly 40 percent of the world's population lives in China and India. Who are those countries' leaders?

Nobody really leads a country of a billion people. There are people who run the governments in those countries. In China it hardly matters what that person’s name is because the policy is always the same. In India the person is probably named Ghandi or will change his name to Ghandi.

6. Do you support the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement, which would lift restrictions on sales of nuclear technology and fuel to India, a country which hasn’t signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty?


Those treaties are as worthless gun control laws. Good nations will behave well regardless of signing and bad nations will not live up to any signature on any document. India is a longstanding ally and they should receive our help.

7. Other than more drilling, what steps do you suggest the U.S. take in order to move toward energy independence? Do you believe more investment is needed in alternative energy research? If so, how would you recommend this funding be allocated?


The premise of your question is that such research is automatically the responsibility of government. The market will find alternatives as the price of fuel rises. Government research is more likely to produce inefficient results, whereas the free market will have to find solutions that work. Remember that the government didn’t invent gasoline, so why do we expect them to invent the thing that replaces it?

I've heard people say that we need another Manhattan project or follow NASA's quest to get to the moon. But both of those initiatives were free from cost constraints. I have no doubt the government can create a new source of fuel if given unlimited money, but if it isn't cheap and abundant then it won't solve the problem. No government solution is likely to beat the free market one.

8. How would you balance concerns over human rights and freedom in China with the United States' growing economic interdependence with that country?

The China problem is a world problem and the Untied States cannot change that country without a consensus with other big economic powers. And there is no consensus. Most countries are perfectly happy with China’s level of barbarianism enough so that they awarded them the Olympics. The real changes will have to be internal. America needs to be honest about their shortcomings and not just call them a great friend all the time.

9. What's more important: securing Russia's cooperation on nuclear proliferation and Iran, or supporting Georgia's NATO bid? If Vladimir Putin called you on the phone and said, "It's one or the other," what would you tell him?

As the future VP, I cannot give away my hand on this one. But between you and me off the record, Russia will never be cooperative when it comes to Iran. They were buying all the oil from Iraq against the U.N. sanctions. Russia will do whatever they want. Sometimes our interests will overlap with their interests and sometimes they won’t. I wouldn’t trade the sovereignty of Georgia for a promise of help from a country that has already defied previous agreements.

10. Critique the foreign policy of the last administration. Name its single greatest success, and its most critical failure.

Biggest Success: No attacks since 9-11
Biggest Failure: The inability to keep our country united on the Iraq war.

11. What do you think will be the most defining foreign-policy issue in the next five years?

Iran

12. What role should the United States play in the global effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS? Should it support contraception, or abstinence only?

Contraception is a prevention of pregnancy not HIV. Are you suggesting that we hand out the pill? Monogamy will actually prevent the spread. Ask yourself, is a condom adequate protection from HIV if you knew your partner was infected? We should be teaching that every person is likely infected and risk decreases with condoms but condoms won’t always prevent infection.

13. You've said that the federal government spends too much money. What, in your view, is the appropriate level of spending as a percentage of GDP?


All government spending should be divided in half. One half for defense and the other half for all of the other things the constitution doesn’t require. 10% total should suffice.

14. You're an advocate of reducing environmental restrictions on drilling. How much oil needs to be found in the United States before the country achieves energy independence?

The price of energy will always be dictated by world supplies. Full independence is not really possible for any product in a world market. Should we only eat food grown in the United States? The goal is to create more so that the world price decreases. If someone creates it cheaper than us then we should buy it from them.

The race for alternative fuels reminds me of the medieval pursuit of alchemy turning cheap metals into gold. Energy is always going to have a cost. Our job is to make that cost as low as possible. We drill because that will lower the price. But to answer your question with a question. What amount of money do you need in the bank for you to stop cashing your paychecks?

15. What are your picks for the three most enlightening books written on foreign policy in the last five years?

America Alone by Mark Steyn
The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky
John Bolton’s book. I forget the title.

16. Who among the world's leaders can be listed as the top three friends of the United States and why?


Most every leader in the free world is a friend of the United States, assuming that you are talking about foreign policy. They have their own internal politics to weather and they can outwardly disagree with us on a number of issues. Behind the scenes they share our goals, keeping the world free and their people safe. Our disagreements on Iraq have not led to them hampering our efforts to fight terrorists.

17. In your opinion, which U.S. president was the most successful world leader and why?

Ronald Reagan defeated communism when much of the world and the political Left in this country were willing to let them live.

18. Which U.S. political thinkers, writers, and politicians would you enlist to advise you on matters of foreign policy and why?

Newt Gingrich, John Bolton, Richard Pearle, Condi Rice, and Paul Wolfowitz to name a few.

19. Who is the first world leader you'd like to meet with and why?


Sarkozy. He loves America almost as much as I do.

SARAH PALIN: MY KIND OF GIRL

The attacks on my girl Sarah continue and seem to bounce off nicely. I went back (and even borrowed for my class with his permission) one of Tom's recent blog posts on identity politics. Go back and read it because it truly sums up what is happening.

Now in the most ironic twist of all, the victim centered politics of the left is being used against them by the McCain campaign. Poor Barack Obama cannot even get a word in edge-wise, since Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated, without charges of sexism. It is a shame. Wouldn't the American people be better served if we would live up to our own ideals during campaigns and judge our potential future leaders not by the color of their skin (or their Gender) but by the content of their character? Oh I forgot, character doesn't matter anymore. At least not since "Slick Willie" had it buried. I love the political cartoon I found above. It is as if the GOP leadership decided (and McCain as well), "Wow, golly gee, conservative/libertarian politics does work after all. I guess we need that base." Rush said in a recent broadcast that had McCain picked a "Joe Liberman" type or the like as VP, that there would have likely been a walkout on the floor and maybe a fundamental shift or fracture of the Republicans. I hope Sarah reminds them of what they are supposed to be fighting for (and standing on).

Another non-issue recently that has gotten some limited press is a video of Sarah at her church asking for prayer for her son and all soldiers who are being deployed to Iraq, she says in the video on YouTube , "Pray for military men and women in Iraq who are stiving to do what is right for this country...That our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God, that is what we have to pray for." What the non-believer types do not understand in this statement is what she is saying is to "Pray that the task they are being sent on is a Godly one." In other words, make sure God is guiding our national leaders so they don't goof up and make a mistake or send troops on an errand that is ego centered not centered in a greater purpose. When one prays for "God's Will", one is striving to achieve the best possible outcome that is a movement toward Goodness and Righteous Justice. The Atheist Left never understand religious language because they are bound to a materialist, only the 5 senses exists Universe; but being that I grew up Pentecostal, I'm happy to translate for Sarah whenever she needs me. Keep it up girl, I'm Praying for YOU!
AH-OOOOOO

I love the new ad. Angry Obama and his pack of wolves.

http://thepage.time.com/2008/09/10/mccain-palin-stays-on-offense-in-new-ad/

All they can talk about is Sarah Palin. That is just fine, she is the strength of the ticket. Keep the attention off of McCain at all costs! We never liked him anyway.

Monday, September 08, 2008

McCAIN SUPPORTS THE SURGE - IN INTEREST

Obama appeared here a few months ago in front of a large crowd of 4,000. At the time, I was unenthusiastic about McCain and bemoaning the fact that he could never draw nor rouse a crowd of 4,000. Sunday we got an automated phone call informing us that McCain and Palin would be here Tuesday and where to get free tickets. Today when my wife stopped in for tickets, she was informed that the 8,000 tickets had already been distributed and they were arranging for a large video screen for additional supporters outside the venue.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

McCAIN GAINS IN FLORIDA POLLING

I spoke with both my mom and dad on separate phone calls this week. They are Florida seniors, regular voters at the presidential level, with a generally casual interest in politics.

First my dad. He was so fired up about McCain-Palin, particularly Palin. He was knowledgeable and interested, fully soured on Obama and fully enthused all of a sudden about the GOP ticket. I don't remember ever talking more than casually with him about politics. We went on for at least half an hour. He was fired up!

The day after McCain's speech, I talked to my mom and again it turned to politics. She was already rabidly anti-Hillary and sour on Obama but suddenly she was so excited about McCain. She loved his speech. She loves his background. She gushed, "I REALLY like John McCain. I REALLY like him." I pressed for details. She thinks he is honest, has strong character, is plain spoken... qualities that get people elected - and which are very much in doubt about Obama.

So if this very small, unscientific poll has any validity, things are suddenly looking very good for maintaining the White House.

I was looking at contributions data at opensecrets.org today and saw, to my surprise, that McCain's #1 "industry group" among his sources of support is... "Retired"... by a 3-to-1 margin over #2 "Lawyers/Law Firms" (Obama's #1 source of support). (Trial lawyers heart Democrats.)

(Aside: another interesting finding at opensecrets is how McCain's support is heavily male, about 72% through July compared to 58% male for Obama. [Not sure how they assign gender to illegal contributions from 'hkdkj hksdl' and such.] I wonder if the gap will start to narrow with Sarahcuda on the ticket.)

Unlike his parents, Swish is reserving judgment. Not sure what he thinks about chicks in the mix, other than I know not to mention Hillary Clinton in his presence.

The upshot is that, based on my polling sample of 2 likely voters, the GOP convention seems to have played very well with its target market, perhaps better than it did with the highly partisan base. Margin of error 50%.

The more I think about McCain's speech (which now I am doing in bed, oh my) and how it fits into the overall campaign strategy, the more impressed I am with it, and the more I realize the campaign planners are a lot smarter than me.

Friday, September 05, 2008

MY GOP CONVENTION THOUGHTS

I thought the speech was weak and then I was surprised to hear the pundits deem it passable. The take tonight was that it started slow and then picked up, but I never felt the pickup. I yelled at the TV 3 or 4 times before realizing that I would wake up Trish who couldn't weather it. She was riveted during Palin and zzzzzzzzzzz for McCain.

I don’t understand it. McCain’s speech at the 2004 convention was pretty doggone good, not Giuliani good, but good enough that I liked it although I was still angry at him for voting against the tax cuts. He just seemed so flat here. Was he over-rehearsed? Under-rehearsed? A lot of it had to do with the choppy nature at the beginning maybe. The whole nonsense about not working for a party or special interests but the people belies his insistence on passing the amnesty bill despite the public outcry against it. How about those 2003 tax cuts? What people was he fighting for that time? ANWR? Well, that might change now.

The biography highlighted all his demerits and his finishing 5th from the bottom at Annapolis. He’s always been a maverick and I can relate to that. Dude and I spent the majority of our college time in conflict with the student and faculty advisors of the TV program. But McCain is not a maverick, contrarian, nonconformist because he is fighting for the people. It’s just his nature. Dude and I rebelled at the stodgy and pretentious news program not because we were fighting for the audience, but because we were fighting against our own boredom. Getting a laugh or two from our piece made the time and effort worth it. McCain is probably bored with conformity too, but it sounds phony to me to put a populist spin on it.

I’m not a pollster so maybe it is good politics to brag about reaching across the aisle, but when you do that, you’re just reaching for a checkbook from the Federal Treasury or you’re limiting some sort of personal liberty. And those were the things he just finished telling us he wouldn’t do. Something for everyone, I guess.

I like him on the war and I don’t trust him on much else. Until Palin, I hadn’t discounted the idea of voting for Barr. Buckley used to say that he always voted for the rightward most viable candidate. Buckley is right, but Palin has made it much easier to live with.

E made a good point about Obama’s surge admission to O’Reilly. Obama said something else that perked my ears. He said that a President can never take the military option off the table concerning Iran. But that is exactly what elected officials did by criticizing Iraq. The bluster and maneuvering by Amadinejad was a direct result of sensing that America did not have the unity to invade Iran. And although unspoken by White House, the intimidation of Iran was one of the major reasons to invade Iraq in the first place. I hear politicians criticize the invasion by saying that it hasn’t been worth the cost, but every time they speak against the war, they further weaken any gain and thus get the opposite results of what they purport to want.

Obama handled himself well on the interview. Fox has now landed Hillary and Obama this year and I don’t think they ever got Gore or Kerry during their runs. Most Democrats use to avoid Fox. Maybe they feared tough questions or maybe they feared their anti-Fox constituents. The blogosphere is full of rage at Fox, the same people who are always celebrating differences. But I think I read last year that as many as 40% of Fox viewers are Democrats. I would guess that a great many of them are the kinds of swing voters that Democrat Presidential candidates covet.

Before the speech I thought the race was McCain’s barring a late innings news event that would help Obama. McCain didn’t do himself a big favor with the speech, but maybe Palin’s star turn will make up for it. Maybe it played just right to undecided voters. But Obama going on O’Reilly was kind of a news event I didn’t expect. I think it’s going to be an interesting two months.
OCHO CINCO

As I consumed nothing but political news over the past 10 days, I totally missed that Chad Johnson is now legally Ocho Cinco. Too bad his Bengals will win about cinco games this year.



CONVENTION WRAP

The unfortunate thing about McCain's convention is that it had to end with McCain.

Quick hits:

I caught O'Reilly's "teaser" interview (part 1 of 4) with Obama. I give Obama credit for meeting with O'Reilly who I'm sure asked tough questions and didn't back off.

The media could really decide the election. I have always believed that Obama is a deeply flawed candidate, in ways that the media is trying hard to ignore. McCain should keep going negative because there are a lot of real negatives there. Palin is going to be receiving a lot of attention and she should start hitting at his soft spots right away. I mean today. The major influences on his life and his thinking are more than a little disturbing to this American.

Back to the O'Reilly clip. Obama, in a few minutes' time, contradicted himself on three points:

1. "Iran is a major threat." Previously he said Iran is a minor player, more of an irritating side story. Now a major threat. He is catching up to the rest of us.

2. "The surge has succeeded beyond anyone's expectations." Say what? How about McCain's expectations, for example? Logically, then, he is saying that the generals and the politicians launched a major military initiative without expectations that it would succeed. That is quite a charge.

3. By his comment that "McCain says he'll pursue bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won't even pursue him to the cave where he lives," well, really, all he meant by that is that "in my administration, if we have bin Laden in our crosshairs, we'll take him out." Gee, no kidding, so would anyone. As if bin Laden is a stationary target and we know the station. Maybe we do. Maybe that was his point, I don't know.

What little I saw of the convention leading up to McCain was terrible.

Joe Gibbs was going on about the importance of "God as coach of our lives" as if he were teaching a 4th grade Sunday school class. It was beneath believers and offensive/simplistic/preachy to non-believers, consistent with the caricature. I have no idea why he was allowed to do that. Stupid. Palin rallied the base, Gibbs should have been scrapped.

Lindsay Graham is just not a lively speaker. Weak.

Tom Ridge came across as intense, angry and defiant. Totally wrong tone for the evening. He would have been a disastrous VP selection and I doubt he was ever seriously considered.

The Cindy McCain video touted Anheuser-Busch's "great products." I am not sure that's a winning message with the base. She was an "organizer" of doctors and medical professionals. So now organizing has professional merit? Dumb dumb dumb. She talked way too long and said too much. She is best when she is smiling and waving. Just say hello and look friendly and then disappear.

Tonight sort of had the feel of the Pro Bowl for me -- all the enthusiasm died off after the Super Bowl, but you still have to go out and play this game for the networks.

The McCain intro video. I was afraid it would be over the top but I thought it was okay. It hit the main themes without lingering too long at each stop. National peace through strength, personal strength through brokenness. Good. His mom is old and lively. "I will not die in office." Overall a good intro.

The blue background behind McCain when he walked out was awful. The green background that followed it was worse. The first impression was terrible for me. I was not hearing his words, was just shaking my head at the background and wondering what they possibly could have been thinking.

I watched on C-SPAN to avoid the interruptions from the talking heads. I expect C-SPAN to just show the event, unbiased. So why did they cut away FOUR TIMES to a lone protester ("McCain votes against vets") AS McCAIN ACCEPTED THE NOMINATION? That was completely unfair.

I like how he laid his own claim to the mantle of change. They are chipping away directly at Obama's perceived strengths and diluting his message.

At 10:38, halfway through, it was mostly platitudes and thin anecdotes.

He needed to communicate "I am not Bush" and I think he did that fairly well without trashing the President. Most of the things I said yesterday that he should do, he didn't so, and that may be part of why I was mostly unimpressed. I had set my own expectations and they were not met.

Most of the "I will do this" stuff was at 30,000 feet. He left me wanting. Maybe I was just sleepy and cranky. I am glad it's over.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

OBAMA WILL GUT DEFENSE

Here is the piece I referred to in my last post....

[the rest, from NRO's The Corner]

Obama Will Cut Defense "Line by Line" [Steve Schippert]

While he didn't say it with the same directness and unmistakable clarity that he once did, Barack Obama is sure to gut defense first when he "go[es] through the federal budget, line by line." He has told us exactly how he plans to do it, though nowadays he wisely keeps that under his hat.

From his acceptance speech regarding spending, taxation and the federal budget:

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime — by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less — because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.

He's got a plan to eliminate programs, all right. When I first saw the leaked video where Obama lays out his defense positions, I called it "52 Seconds Over Washington." Within it, Obama said that he "will cut tens of billions of dollars of wasteful spending." Then he told us precisely how he will do it.

I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems.

I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems.

And I will institute an independent defense priorities board to ensure that the Quadrennial Defense Review is not used to justify unnecessary spending.

Third, I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal, I will not develop new nuclear weapons, I will seek a ban on the production of fissile material,

and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBM's off hair-trigger alert and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal

And there you have it. He just left that little bit of detail out of his acceptance speech last night, lest he be perceived as weak on defense and naive on foreign policy.

His eyes clearly look to defense for cuts. Defense may well in fact be the only source of significant cuts. Are there any other "programs that no longer work" that Barack Obama has identified with such specificity for cuts to make room for the plethora of massive programs he has been proposing?

Barack Obama surely never intended that clip to go public — and for good reason. But it is, though you won't hear him challenged on it by a fawning domestic media.We are a nation at war in many theaters. We are currently being challenged directly and boldly by Russia. And we are the military anchor in a failing NATO alliance that was created to face down precisely that threat. While NATO members Britain and France have the hardware capacity for defense, it is increasingly arguable whether any of the European states possess the will.

So Obama opposes our engagement in the Iraq theater. Well, it's just a part of a much broader war that is still in its early stages, while more conventional conflicts and threats are now making themselves apparent.

And with the nation at war (like it or not), a party's nominee for president seeks to cancel missile defense, slow development of future combat systems, stop development of any and all nuclear weapons, and make deep cuts in our current nuclear arsenal?

This is beyond irresponsible. He surely will never utter those words again in this campaign, but it is difficult to argue that the above is not his true thinking and approach — whether he lets us in on it with such directness again or not.

You just learned more about Barack Obama's position on the budget, defense and foreign policy in 52 seconds over Washington than you did in 60 minutes in Denver.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
WHAT McCAIN SHOULD DO

So far, so good. Now McCain needs to deliver too.

No parade of soldiers. We get it about Viet Nam and service to country. Palin's line that only 1 of the 4 has ever actually fought for their country was terrific and memorable and on point.

They all had memorable lines - Rudy, Palin, Huck, Romney, Michael Steele, the governor of Hawai'i. Bring them out to wave and generate applause and then take their seats on the platform, not too close to McCain but they'll get plenty of air time smiling and clapping and showing unity and support for McCain and reinforcing how thoroughly they chewed up Obama and liberalism this week. Play up the party unity, diversity, talent, message and strength in that way - visually, not verbally.

Limit the sarcastic attacks, but do give us a few, as applause lines. Don't try the "above the fray" thing, but don't go so low that they can cast you as mean, a crotchety old man. Keep the tone serious but not grave.

Keep it short. 40 minutes with applause.

Have a theme and carry it through. Obama did not. Tell us early what you're talking about. Last night the theme was supposed to be Prosperity and there was nothing on that. The theme should be Reaganesque. Show us what optimism looks like, and contrast your worldview (and the heartland view) with theirs. Why is love of country important? What does it look like? Hey, he's talking about me! I feel that way too!

Hammer the distinctions on the issues of the day. Talk policy not platitudes - no one has done that yet this week.

On oil, "drill, baby, drill." When our 150 million cars run out of gas each week, we can't fill them with hydrogen or hope. We need a sustained supply of affordable oil, and only Big Oil can get it out of the ground. Jed Clampett can't do it.

On the environment, safeguard the planet AND safeguard the economy. If other nations control the energy, eventually they control the planet.

On the military, quote Obama on how he will pay for all his new programs - by cutting military spending. He spelled it out 6 or 12 months ago, and I would have to look it up, which I am not going to do now. Peace through strength. Paint the left as hope-fairies who aren't dealing with reality. Explain that it is only Bush's SUCCESS vs. terrorism that allows libs to pretend they have any answers. Continued success requires a strong military under wise command. This reminds us of all the soldier/captive/Viet Nam stuff without being blunt and unseemly.

On prosperity, most important is national security. Look at how dramatically the US economy has outperformed after 9/11. Tax relief. Limited government. Reducing waste. Vetoing earmarks. Let him riff a bit on this.

Reform. Give examples.

Fiscal restraint. Give examples.

Real bipartisanship. Their RECORDS clearly indicate that McCain is doer and his opponents are do-nothing windbags.

Remind us of checks and balances, that if all three branches of government fall under liberal control, what that will look like.

What's in it for me? Ultimately this is the payoff question. Ideology only appeals to ideologues, which many voters are not. Tell me why I should care who is President, what's in it for me. I do not pretend to know the answer, other than he is not Obama. If I have a good answer to this tomorrow, then his speech was a tremendous success.
BEST HEADLINE OF THE DAY


THE BEST NEWS OF ALL

Boy did I enjoy the speeches last night, everything except Huckabee's stupid story about the desks. Michael Steele (his "Drill, Baby, Drill" became a catchphrase for the night), Romney, Huck, Rudy, and finally Palin -- they made a fool of Obama. What fun, I absolutely loved it. My favorite lines were when Rudy couldn't help but laugh at the "community organizer" and then how he mocked Obama's "present" votes -- as mayors (and like the rest of us, who have real lives with choices and responsibilities and consequences), we don't have that luxury, we have to actually make decisions. And the best news of all is how Hillary Clinton, she of 18 million votes, has been completely erased by a woman politican that people actually like.

Palin—Jindal 2012 [Peter Kirsanow]

Possibly the most depressed liberal in the country today (other than Obama) is Hillary Clinton. She has been dogged, patient. She has spent years preparing to win the presidency. She's weathered public humiliation. She was planning to be the frontrunner for 2012. But last night she saw the future and she's not in it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

WRONG TODAY, RIGHT TOMORROW

Coming home from the gym tonight I was listening to ABC news at the convention and they actually described Sarah Palin as the VP nominee and the mother of a pregnant 17 year-old daughter. There wasn’t even any context or discussion about it. They just needed to get it in.

Is there suddenly a stigma behind teenage sex? ABC didn’t seem to have much problem showing Terri Hatcher’s teenage daughter lose her virginity on Desperate Housewives. I remember Hatcher being rather powerless and it didn’t lead to any discussion about morality. The networks don’t pass judgment on any number of shows that display casual sexuality, the kind that leads kids to think it’s glamorous and expected of them.

They save their judgment for a mother that has to deal with their sliding scale of morality.


************************TV NETWORK MEMO***************

For the week, TV networks will be adopting a Victorian morality. Beginning next week and continuing until the second Tuesday in November, the networks will be practicing a duality, in which all prime time shows will be displaying current Hollywood mores while the news divisions will remain with the Victorians. In the likelihood that the Obama or Biden families face some sort of discretion, the networks reserve the right to bounce from one morality to another.

************************END MEMO*************************
MY VOTE FOR VICE ANYTHING

Have you seen pictures of Hillary Clinton at this age? Uck!!

NOW AM LOOKING FORWARD TO THESE THREE NIGHTS

McCain, Palin and the rest of the lineup this week need to be all about SUBSTANCE not STYLE. If it's about style, they lose. There is no way to compete with the phenomenon that is O. They need to soberly spell out why conservatism is good and liberalism is bad. It is a compelling argument that gets lost in the Big Story news culture. The GOP convention cannot be flashy, they should focus on CONTENT and make their case because the media will never make it for them. This is their opportunity to frame the political debate. They have a good lineup this week.
THE FEEBLE LEFT, EXPOSED

The Left is melting down and it is funny in a not very funny kind of way. This is the article I would write about it if I had talent and time.
This is going to be tough election for the Left, barring surprises. They don't handle the uncertainties of a neck-and-neck race very well. They have too much of their sizable emotional needs riding on the outcome.

Rarely has the inner life of the Left been so exposed to public view. Look for a lot of uncontrollable rage if the McCain/Palin ticket sweeps to victory.

Monday, September 01, 2008

SHE'S LOADED FOR BEAR

Palin's dad has this bumper sticker on the back of his truck: VEGETARIAN—OLD INDIAN WORD FOR "BAD HUNTER." See Newsweek cover story for full treatment.

I saw an old photo yesterday of Palin and her daughter with a freshly killed moose. Palin is playing well in all of Pennsylvania except Philly and the burbs which are deep blue. About 866,000 hunters killed about 361,500 deer last year in Pennsylvania. I sometimes think I am the only guy in the county who doesn't hunt and fish. I know many men who take off for a week or two each fall to go hunting. Little surprise that this woman is playing even better among men than among women here.