Sunday, September 28, 2008

The debate

Comment from a Right-of-center British observer below. Most media comments seem similar

After the extraordinary political and financial drama of the last week it was always unlikely that Friday night's first presidential debate could possibly produce anything to compete. And so it was. The two candidates, both highly experienced debaters, steeled in an unending series of similar verbal contests in their primary campaigns, battled each other to an inconclusive scoreless draw.

There were no obvious gaffes, no clinching moments, nothing memorable that will play on the TV news for the next few days, nothing in fact that would make the average undecided voter suddenly convinced that one or the other was the obvious winner.

But if an inconclusive result can be said to favour anyone then it was, maybe, just Barack Obama's night. The Democrat was playing on away turf in content terms and that alone probably gave him a small advantage. The planned subject of the debate was foreign policy. This was John McCain's home field advantage - a big opportunity to wrest the campaign back in his direction after a couple of weeks of economic mayhem that seemed to push things decisively in Senator Obama's favour.

But the events of this week dictated a change in plans and almost half the debate was taken up instead by timely discussion of the economic crisis. On that, if only by going through the motions of talking about an issue that polls suggest clearly favours the Democrats, Senator Obama had a distinct advantage.

Senator McCain made no effort to explain his controversial decision this week to suspend his campaign briefly and return to Washington to help out in the Great Bailout Negotiation. That gambit - coupled with the suggestion that he might not attend Friday night's debate, an uncertainty not resolved until about eight hours before the scheduled time - was an attempt to show leadership in the economic crisis. But by not talking about the bailout, and not even endorsing it during the debate (neither, by the way, did Senator Obama) Senator McCain will have left voters a little puzzled.

When the subject turned to foreign policy, Senator McCain had a clear edge. He repeatedly emphasised his experience - at times reeling off a long list of foreign leaders he had met and international crises he had helped resolve (although at one point he did mis-state the name of the president of Pakistan).

Senator McCain's strongest moment in fact was probably his final answer, a stirring defence of his decision to support the surge in Iraq and a cutting denunciation of Senator Obama's opposition to it. In general, Senator McCain surely succeeded in sowing further doubts in the public's mind about the Democratic candidate's readiness for the presidency.

Senator Obama's advisers were quick to point out that the two candidates left contrasting impressions that might have helped the Democrat. Senator McCain's constant emphasis on his experience may have reminded voters of just how long he has been around in Washington. Senator Obama, in contrast, talked up his campaign mantra of change. In an election in which voters have said the desire for change dominates their concerns, that was probably better for Senator Obama.

Against that, Senator McCain's staff were clearly pleased that the Democrat didn't have much success in tying the Republican candidate to the unpopular incumbent President Bush - one of Senator McCain's main sources of weakness they had expected Senator Obama to exploit.

But overall, it was not a debate that was likely to have moved many voters one way or another. We may have to wait until the remaining debates - beginning next week with the vice-presidential contest between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, and continuing with two more presidential debates - to know whether these set-pieces are likely to have much effect on the outcome.

It certainly seems safe to say that nothing that happened on Friday night could really compete with events in Wall Street and Washington in the contest for American voters' attention. And with the crisis over the bank bailout likely to take centre stage again almost immediately, the lasting effect of this debate will be small


Barack Obama Is Lying - Lying - About "Equal Pay" For Women

Senator Obama Sinks to New Low in Desperate Attempt to Deceive Swing Voting Block

Through the years, the Center for Individual Freedom's policy disagreements with Senator John McCain have been legion. From McCain/Feingold, to foreign drug importation, to the decisively successful 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, to amnesty for illegal aliens, we have forcefully challenged Senator McCain on many fronts.

Despite these disagreements, however, it is also important that Americans remain fair and objective during this Presidential campaign. More specifically, we cannot stand idle when Senator McCain or any other public figure is subjected to tasteless and meritless attack. And this is one such occasion. On the flashpoint issue of equal pay for women, Senator Obama is simply lying about Senator McCain's record. Not fudging, not slanting, not merely misinterpreting. Lying.

In a recent television advertisement expressly approved by Obama, he contends that John McCain "opposed a law to guarantee women equal pay for equal work." And at a recent campaign appearance in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Senator Obama said, "I'll continue to stand up for equal pay as President. Senator McCain won't, and that's a real difference in this election."

There's only one problem. Equal pay is already well-established law. Indeed, discrimination in pay or any other term or condition of employment on the basis of sex has been illegal under federal law since Senator Obama was a toddler. And as a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former professor of Constitutional law, Senator Obama is well aware of this fact.

For instance, the 1963 Equal Pay Act (EPA) unambiguously prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex. This prohibition applies not only to equal pay for the same job, it bars discrimination in pay even for "substantially equal work." Similarly, Title VII of the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, as well as race, color, religion or national origin. As stated on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC's) official website, this protection extends beyond pay, and includes discrimination: "against any employee or applicant in hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training, or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment. Title VII also prohibits employment decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions about abilities, traits, or the performance of individuals on the basis of sex. Title VII prohibits both intentional discrimination and neutral job policies that disproportionately exclude individuals on the basis of sex and that are not job-related."

As noted by the EEOC official statement, Title VII's prohibitions against sex discrimination also extend to sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. This broad swath of protection puts to rest any assertion that unequal pay is remotely permitted under existing law. As yet another example of already-existing federal law prohibiting sex discrimination, Executive Order 11246 prohibits all federal contractors and subcontractors, as well as federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, from discriminating on the basis of sex. Thus, discrimination in pay on the basis of sex is flatly illegal under a myriad of overlapping federal and state laws. And Obama knows it. But he's apparently unwilling to let that stand in the way of a naked attempt to deceive female voters.

Notably, this comes at a particularly embarrassing time for Senator Obama on this very subject. It has been revealed by that his own female staffers earn less than his male staffers. Specifically, according to LegiSorm, Senator Obama's female staffers earn only 83 cents for every dollar that his male staffers earn.

Talk about walking the walk. In contrast, according to LegiStorm, Senator McCain's female staffers earn $1.04 for every dollar that his male staffers make. But Senator Obama has the audacity to accuse the McCain campaign of shameless tactics?

This election is shaping up as a tight, emotionally-charged and bitter one, and female voters constitute a critical electoral block. But that doesn't justify outright dishonesty by any candidate. Hopefully, this campaign will not descend to these depths again.


Racism, Obama and the polls

Post below recycled from Discriminations. See the original for links

Since I've waited a few days to discuss it, by now most of you are probably already familiar with the new AP/Yahoo poll on the role race is likely to play in the election. The gist of it, and the nature of most of the coverage it has received, is nicely captured by the Chicago Sun Times headline on this widely read Associated Press article by Ron Fournier and Trevor Thompson, "Bigoted white Dems could doom Obama's effort." That article's lede:
WASHINGTON -- Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks - many calling them ``lazy,'' ``violent'' or responsible for their own troubles. The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 -- about 2.5 percentage points.

The survey itself can be found here, and a longer version of the Fournier/Thompson AP article containing a sidebar with a graphical representation of some of the survey's highlights appears here. On this sidebar responses to questions about "words that describe blacks" are broken down to reflect the views of all whites, white Democrats, white Republicans, and white independents, although curiously that data is not in what was described as the complete results. Obviously the AP writers had access to data that, for some reaon, was not released. Those responses are fascinating, but they reveal, I believe, a number of flaws, or at least questionable assumptions, that characterize the easy "white bigot" conclusions that many commentators have drawn.

Some examples from the sidebar:

First, interestingly, on all the positive adjectives, white Democrats have a more favorable attitude toward blacks than white Republicans or Independents. For example, about 40% of white Dems regard blacks as "Friendly," compared to about 31% of Republicans and only 25% of Independents. Similarly, about 25% of white Dems regard blacks as "Smart at School," compared to about 20% of white Republicans and Independents. (Unreported is whether this means that 75% of white Dems do not regard blacks as "Smart at School," etc., which I think is the logical implication.)

The negative attitudes, however, or rather attitudes about negative characteristics - Violent, Boastful, Complaining, Lazy - are more interesting, especially since they provide the media paydirt here ("white bigots" may rob election, etc.). About 12% of white Dems, for example, regard blacks as both lazy and irresponsible, compared with about 15% of white Republicans and Independents.

By far the most interesting negative attitude, at least to me, is "Complaining," which all categories of whites regarded as the most negative of all their negative attitudes about blacks. About 22% of white Dems thought this term applied to blacks, compared to about 35% of white Republicans and Independents. This was the largest spread on all of the negatives. I think this "Complaining" button was what Rev. Wright pushed, and Michelle Obama re-enforced with her comments about America being a mean country that had made her proud only recently. I also believe that when whites regard blacks as "complaining," what they are primarily responding to is the demand for special treatment, i.e., for racial preferences.

What makes this poll such a hot commodity right now is not simply the numbers of whites who have some negative attitudes about blacks (the positive attitudes aren't newsworthy), but the pollsters' claim that
[s]tatistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice.

I don't know what these "statistical models" are, and I wouldn't know if they were persuasive even if did know what they are. But I do know that some of the poll's underlying assumptions can be questioned. For example, the AP article notes that
[t]he pollsters set out to determine why Obama is locked in a close race with McCain even as the political landscape seems to favor Democrats. President Bush's unpopularity, the Iraq war and a national sense of economic hard times cut against GOP candidates, as does the fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

As John Hinderaker notes on PowerLine, however,
[o]thers would say that the question requiring investigation is why John McCain is locked in a close race with Barack Obama, when Obama has no discernible qualifications for the office and (as the survey shows) holds views well to the left of the electorate. Occam's razor would suggest that the fact that 47 percent of respondents describe Obama as "inexperienced" accounts more readily for the tight race than the divinations of "racism" derived from the poll.

Some of the attitude questions in the poll, moreover, do not necessarily support the conclusions that the pollsters and most commentators have drawn from them. As Roger Clegg has observed (in an email to me, which I quote with permission):
what are we to make of this kind of sentence: "One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that `if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites.'"

I don't think that agreeing with that statement makes one a bigot, and I don't see how agreeing with it makes it harder to vote for the particular black guy who's running for president. Is the sentiment in that sentence - that too many African Americans are not availing themselves of the opportunities they now have - very far removed from what Bill Cosby has said? Similarly, associating black with "violent" makes Jesse Jackson a bigot, too, I suppose (recall his famous admission that he was relieved when he found that the teenagers walking behind him are white instead of black).

Recognizing that, in 2008 America, African Americans are, statisically speaking, more likely to be underachievers and violent isn't the same thing as saying that they are hardwired to be so. Sheesh.

If 22% of blacks said whites would be better off if they worked harder, would that make them racist? In any event, Roger's reference to "hardwired" raises the question of just what we (and here, for a change, I include pollsters and commentators) mean by "racist," and ultimately by race itself. Is it necessarily racist, that is, to associate blacks with violence if blacks commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime? It certainly may be, if the violent behavior is thought to be genetic, or if it be thought that all blacks are violent. But is the association itself, in answer to a pollster, necessarily evidence of racism? I don't think so, and, as Roger says, even if it is such an attitude would not necessarily mean the respondent would not vote for Obama.

I should add here that not everything in the poll or in the current reports of it are objectionable. It was conducted with the assistance of Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman, who has written widely and well about race and polling about race. (I do not say that simply because I'm a Stanford grad, nor do I know Sniderman. But see here for some of the works to which I refer.) And the AP article does contain some important cautions and qualifiers, such as the following:
Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren't voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn't vote for any Democrat for president - white, black or brown.

Not all whites are prejudiced. Indeed, more whites say good things about blacks than say bad things, the poll shows. And many whites who see blacks in a negative light are still willing or even eager to vote for Obama....

Race is not the biggest factor driving Democrats and independents away from Obama. Doubts about his competency loom even larger, the poll indicates. More than a quarter of all Democrats expressed doubt that Obama can bring about the change they want, and they are likely to vote against him because of that.

In my view, however, it remains odd that the poll would find race a powerful explanation for why so many Democrats, but not Republicans, would vote against Obama.

Finally, returning to the "hardwired" issue and assumptions about the meaning of racism, we are constantly told that race is "socially constructed." I think this is largely true (whatever it means exactly), but I also think this truth has some implications that are rarely recognized. Consider, again, the fact that by far the most negative characteristic attributed to blacks is "Complaining," which is also the negative characteristic that most clearly flows from a position on public policy (demanding racial preferences). As I've pointed out several times, no one thinks of Colin Powell as "complaining" about things. As I pointed out here, first quoting the New Republic's Peter Beinart and then criticizing him:
Despite the pervasive racism of the electorate Beinart remains an optimist, "because even racists can be wooed."
Think about it this way [Beinart writes]: Many of the voters who right now won't vote for Obama because he's black would probably vote for Colin Powell even though he's black. That's because they don't see Powell as a racial redistributionist, a guy who would favor his community at their expense.

What Beinart is really saying here is that Powell is not really black, because he's not a "racial redistributionist." It never seems to occur to Beinart that if voters will vote for black candidate P, who does not support racial redistribution, but will not vote for black candidate O, who does (or who they think does) support racial redistribution, the reason they don't support O in greater numbers is not at all because they're racist and he's black but because they disagree with his position on an issue (actually, probably many issues) that are important to them.

When liberal academics, liberal commentators, liberal journalists, et. al. assert knowingly that race is "socially constructed," what they mean is that race is not a biological fact but an arbitrary invention of, in our case, American society, something imposed on blacks by and for the benefit of whites. But by favoring racial preferences, i.e. "complaining" that the demand for official colorblindness is the new racism, perhaps blacks and white liberals like Beinart contribute more than they realize to the "social construction" of what we mean by race.

Why Obama will lose

It is also my prediction that Obama will lose but I think that the writer below overlooks the fact that a huge proportion of the voters these days have no family or other connection to the traditional America he describes. From memory, about 30% of the voters are black or Hispanic so what do Pilgrim tradtions mean to them? And there are many others who are not of early-American ancestry

- When Benjamin Franklin was dispatched to France as ambassador of the United States in 1776, he won the hearts of the French through his authenticity. Rather than take on an affected and phony continental style, Franklin eschewed the powdered wig of the European gentleman and donned the fur cap of an American frontiersman. Original genius and polymath, Franklin understood that the French would see through any false pretension but respect an authenticity that sprang from an unpretentious and naive love of country.

What a contrast there is between Franklin and Barack Obama. Obama is a Harvard lawyer who is a mile wide and an inch deep. He is only the latest in a long line of shallow elites that consider it stylish and intellectual to despise their own culture and heritage.

Nothing exemplifies Obama's antipathy for American culture better than his statement that Americans "cling to" religion and guns out of frustration or bitterness. We only can suppose that Obama regards religion or firearms as aberrations that need to be eradicated.

Of course, both guns and religion are essential aspects of American culture. The United States was founded by people seeking religious freedom. Does the word "Pilgrim" ring a bell with anyone? Our freedom and the right to self-government were won by farmers with guns.

The American Revolution started when the British marched to Concord with the intention of confiscating colonial arms. Both the right to "keep and bear arms," and the right to "free exercise" of religion are enshrined in the Bill of Rights. We have come a long way when the presidential nominee of a major political party regards the exercise of fundamental rights as a mental aberration.

When Obama refers to "my Muslim faith," the verbal gaffe resonates as a Freudian slip because of Obama's thinly veiled hatred for this country's unique culture and institutions. Obama sat for 20 years in a church where the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr preached "goddamn America." He only resigned from the congregation when it became politically expedient to do so. When earlier this year, Michelle Obama said "for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," can we conclude that her husband disagrees? Is it not remarkable that Michelle Obama can be so small-minded as to find nothing in the history of the United States that merits her admiration but the personal success of her husband?

What is Barack Obama for? His campaign motto is "change." But even a 6-year-old child understands that "change" can be either good or bad. Lacking specifics, the invocation of "change" as policy is completely empty. As we witness Obama's minions mindlessly endorse the meaningless maxim of "change," it only can call to mind the barnyard animals in George Orwell's "Animal Farm" chanting "four legs good, two legs bad!"

The choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate has been devastating for the Obama campaign precisely because she is everything Obama is not. Palin is not ashamed of her culture or country. She is not embarrassed by being an American, but naively embraces her birthright. Unassisted by affirmative action, Palin has risen to national prominence on the basis of her character, intelligence and natural gifts. In a word, she has guts. This is a woman who is proud of her country, not because it has granted her personal success, but because she respects what America stands for: freedom, opportunity, and individualism.

Obama is a vapid demagogue, a hollow man that despises American culture. He is ill-suited to be president of the United States. As the weeks pass, more Americans will come to this realization and elect McCain/Palin in a landslide.


Obama's alarming "one-world" aims

I've written of Obama's heinous Global Poverty Tax before. Barack Obama is a Marxist, a one-world whore, a poverty pimp on steroids, and he is ready to serve up America for the third world to slice and dice. You know, we often speak of the left's fanaticism with redistributing wealth, but that is so misleading. They simply wish to redistribute poverty. They want America's back broken and Obama and his pathetic "disenfranchised hoards" to feast on our corpse.

Obama and his ilk are vile beyond expressing. May the mortal wounds he wishes to deal this country rebound to him and his entire family one hundred fold. He has to be stopped, and I really don't care how that is accomplished, but this little bastard has to be stopped. Aurora at Midnight Sun offers the details. Details that the freaking legacy media won't discuss and details that Obama will never be forced to explain in interviews.

"Those U.N. protocols would make U.S. law on issues ranging from the 2nd Amendment to energy usage and parental rights all subservient to United Nations whims."

"[T]he legislation, if approved, dedicates 0.7 percent of the U.S. gross national product to foreign aid, which over 13 years. would amount to $845 billion `over and above what the U.S. already spends.'" "The plan passed the House in 2007 `because most members didn't realize what was in it.' Congressional sponsors have been careful not to calculate the amount of foreign aid spending that it would require."

And, how would the United States pay for this $845 BILLION commitment? According to Kincaid, who published a report on the legislation; "A global tax will clearly be necessary to force American taxpayers to provide the money." And that $845 BILLION global tax is in addition to our nation's current Foreign Aid programs, which, in 2006, cost American taxpayers about $300 BILLION!

It Gets Worse! Here are some of the additional provisions of the Millennium Development Goal:

--a "currency transfer tax," that is, a tax imposed on companies and individuals who must exchange dollars for foreign currency;

--a "tax on the rental value of land and natural resources";

--a "royalty on worldwide fossil energy projection - oil, natural gas, coal";

--"fees for the commercial use of the oceans, fees for airplane use of the skies, fees for use of the electromagnetic spectrum, fees on foreign exchange transactions, and a tax on the carbon content of fuels."

--a "standing peace force," meaning a standing United Nations army that might, in time, be large enough to force us to bend to its will;

--a "UN arms register of all small arms and light weapons," the beginning of the end of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution;

--the "eradication of poverty" by the "redistribution [of] wealth and land"

How do you suppose the United Nations expects to "redistribute" the land and the wealth? And what country do you think the third-world majority will go after first?

--cancellation of "the debts of developing countries,"

--"a fair distribution of the earth's resources."

--and "political control of the global economy."

In other words, it's a blueprint for a world government, owned and operated by the United Nations. One thing is clear: the Millennium Development Goal is a dagger aimed at the heart of America.

While the Global Poverty Act, as presently championed by its Senate supporters, embraces certain aspects of the Millennium Development Goal, one should wonder if some of our legislators also support land and wealth "redistribution."

The Millennium Development Goal is a dagger aimed at the heart of America. May that dagger find it's way back to Obama and every traitorous politician who has sanctioned this nightmare.


(For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena . For readers in China or for when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)

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