Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obama's agonizing stupidity yet again

"A new television ad released Wednesday by Sen. Barack Obama's campaign highlights the closure of Corning Inc.'s plant in State College, Pa., and accuses Washington with Sen. John McCain's help of selling out the workers," the Associated Press reports. So what did Corning make at the plant? The ad, which you can see here, does not say, but the AP story does: "glass tubes for television sets and computer monitors."

It's hard to remember now, but in the olden days TV sets and computer monitors used a technology called cathode ray tubes. A CRT consisted of an electron gun that projects an image onto a fluorescent screen. In most cases the gun had to be some distance from the screen, with the entire assembly enclosed in glass, which meant that TVs were bulky and boxy (hence the term "idiot box").

In modern times, the CRT has given way to superior technologies such as plasma and liquid crystal, which take up less space and provide superior picture quality. This is an enormous blessing to all Americans who watch TV or use computers.

It's hard to imagine a more backward-looking position than mourning the decline of the picture-tube industry. What'll Obama do next, promise to restore American supremacy in the manufacture of buggy whips, iron lungs and floppy disks?


Networks Help Obama Bridge Gap on Earmarks

Journalists race to 'check' Palin claims, ignore Democrats' billion dollars in earmarks

When Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin claimed she defeated the infamous Alaskan "Bridge to Nowhere" earmark, the Democratic nominees and network, cable and print journalists rushed to "fact check" her statement.

Journalists across the media spectrum carried Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama's argument portraying Palin as an exaggerator at best, a liar at worst. Reports often failed to fully explain Palin's handling of the "Bridge to Nowhere" earmark and mostly ignored budget watchdogs that still defended her record of reform. Obama's nearly $1 billion in earmark requests, as well as Sen. Joe Biden's $323 million were not mentioned by network reporters either. The assault stemmed from Palin's remarks in her acceptance speech and on the campaign trail since September 3 about earmarks and specifically the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere."

USA Today said on September 10 that her claim about the bridge was "barely half true." A Washington Post front-page headline hit harder: "As Campaign Heats Up, Untruths Can Become Facts Before They're Undone." CBS "Evening News" ran three separate "Reality Checks" criticizing her statements.

Obama's shots against Palin on the campaign trail also resonated with media eager to discredit her. Obama's sound bite on the issue made its way into four network stories in four days and seven CNN reports in six days. Recent stories aired by ABC's "Nightline," "World News with Charles Gibson," and "Good Morning America" all repeated Obama's criticism of Palin without rebuttal from her or the McCain campaign. "When you've been taking all these earmarks when it's convenient and then suddenly you're the champion anti-earmark person that's not change. Come on! Words mean something. You can't just make stuff up," Obama said.

Obama attacked Palin's "self-styled record of reform," according to ABC's Jake Tapper, who quoted a portion of those remarks in a "Nightline" story without including a rebuttal from the McCain campaign.

Reporters didn't include groups that have praised Palin's reforms, including Citizens Against Government Waste and Americans for Prosperity (AFP). AFP has said unequivocally that she did kill the "Bridge to Nowhere."

The national media focused on minutiae: berating Palin for claiming to have killed the "Bridge to Nowhere" - instead of laying out her record of support for earmark transparency, fewer earmark requests and charge to Alaska to grow up economically.

Journalists could have taken the opportunity to dissect the earmarks and wasteful spending of both sides, but instead mostly ignored Obama and Sen. Joe Biden's millions in earmarks for their respective home states.....

The Washington Post article headlined: "As Campaign Heats Up, Untruths Can Become Facts Before They're Undone," written by Jonathan Weisman, said that Palin's repeated mentions of the bridge were "one example of a candidate staying on message even when that message has been publicly discredited." But Ed Frank, vice president of public affairs for Americans for Prosperity, disagreed. In a "Memo to National Media" Frank said, "Publicly discredited? The simple, undeniable fact is Sarah Palin killed the Bridge to Nowhere, no matter how much Jonathan Weisman and the rest of the national media wish it weren't so or how hard they try to `undo' it." ....

Phil Kerpen, AFP's director of policy, wrote on the AFP Web site September 11, "Palin stood up to [Sen. Ted] Stevens and pulled the plug on the bridge on September 21, 2007." Anchorage Daily News backs up Kerpen's claim. The newspaper reported on Sept. 21, 2007 that Alaska had "officially abandoned" the project. Palin was quoted in that story saying the bridge was $329 million short of complete funding and "It's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island."

According to Kerpen, "[T]he facts are plain. When it mattered, Gov. Palin stood up to Sen. Stevens and dealt the Bridge to Nowhere its death blow." But Kerpen also called attention to something the national news media was ignoring: Obama and Biden's support for the bridge to nowhere. "Let the record show that Barack Obama himself voted for the bridge at least twice, as did his running mate Joe Biden," Kerpen said....

As for the Democratic nominee for vice president, Biden's made 119 earmark requests for 2009 totaling $323 million. Republicans are pressuring Biden to release records of his earmark requests for the past 35 years.

As Time magazine's Mark Halperin said on ABC "World News" September 9, "There's almost no politician in America with a clean record on earmarks." Halperin then credited McCain for being one of the few exceptions. ABC's Ron Claiborne responded, saying. "In his 26 years, in Congress, McCain has never asked for an earmark

More here

Obama Is Stoking Racial Antagonism


I understand the rough and tumble of politics. But Barack Obama -- the supposedly postpartisan, postracial candidate of hope and change -- has gone where few modern candidates have gone before. Mr. Obama's campaign is now trafficking in prejudice of its own making. And in doing so, it is playing with political dynamite. What kind of potential president would let his campaign knowingly extract two incomplete, out-of-context lines from two radio parodies and build a framework of hate around them in order to exploit racial tensions? The segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s were famous for such vile fear-mongering.

Here's the relevant part of the Spanish-language television commercial Mr. Obama is running in Hispanic communities: "They want us to forget the insults we've put up with . . . the intolerance . . . they made us feel marginalized in this country we love so much." Then the commercial flashes two quotes from me: ". . . stupid and unskilled Mexicans" and "You shut your mouth or you get out!" And then a voice says, "John McCain and his Republican friends have two faces. One that says lies just to get our vote . . . and another, even worse, that continues the policies of George Bush that put special interests ahead of working families. John McCain . . . more of the same old Republican tricks."

Much of the media that is uninterested in Mr. Obama's connections to unrepentant 1970s Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah Wright have so far gone along with the attempt to tie me to Mr. McCain. But Mr. McCain and I have not agreed on how to address illegal immigration. While I am heartened by his willingness to start by securing the borders, it is no secret that we have fundamental differences on illegal immigration.

And more to the point, these sound bites are a deception, and Mr. Obama knows it. The first sound bite was extracted from a 1993 humorous monologue poking fun at the arguments against the North American Free Trade Agreement. Here's the context: "If you are unskilled and uneducated, your job is going south. Skilled workers, educated people are going to do fine 'cause those are the kinds of jobs Nafta is going to create. If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people, I'm serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do -- let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work."

My point, which is obvious, was that the people who were criticizing Nafta were demeaning workers, particularly low-skilled workers. I was criticizing the mind-set of the protectionists who opposed the treaty. There was no racial connotation to it and no one thought there was at the time. I was demeaning the arguments of the opponents. As for the second sound bite, I was mocking the Mexican government's double standard -- i.e., urging open borders in this country while imposing draconian immigration requirements within its own borders. Thus, I took the restrictions Mexico imposes on immigrants and appropriated them as my own suggestions for a new immigration law.

Here's the context for that sound bite: "And another thing: You don't have the right to protest. You're allowed no demonstrations, no foreign flag waving, no political organizing, no bad-mouthing our president or his policies. You're a foreigner: shut your mouth or get out! And if you come here illegally, you're going to jail."

At the time, I made abundantly clear that this was a parody on the Mexican government's hypocrisy and nobody took it otherwise. The malignant aspect of this is that Mr. Obama and his advisers know exactly what they are doing. They had to listen to both monologues or read the transcripts. They then had to pick the particular excerpts they used in order to create a commercial of distortions. Their hoped-for result is to inflame racial tensions. In doing this, Mr. Obama and his advisers have demonstrated a pernicious contempt for American society.

We've made much racial progress in this country. Any candidate who employs the tactics of the old segregationists is unworthy of the presidency.


Shhh ... Don't call Obama's national service scheme a 'draft'

Both Barack Obama and John McCain have long supported some sort of "national service" that involves large-scale participation by Americans in projects deemed worthy by a government agency. It may mean building housing, assisting with the provision of medical care or patrolling the border, but overall it involves putting aside personal preferences for, as McCain puts it, "a cause greater than yourself."

Obama devotes an entire section of his campaign Website to national service; McCain does the same and penned a column back in 2001 praising AmeriCorps and calling for expanded opportunities for government-sanctioned service. Both candidates recently appeared at a national service forum sponsored by Time magazine, which has made the issue its house hobbyhorse. McCain and Obama each have praised local volunteerism, but seem to think that donating your time to a soup kitchen, a clinic or a church is less valuable than participation in a grand-scale scheme managed by the state.

I have a lot of thoughts about politicians who deem hours spent in grassroots service to causes chosen freely by volunteers to be inferior to government programs run from D.C., but I'll hold my tongue -- for now. What does interest me, though, is whether all of this talk of "national service" means that the grand old days of conscription are about to return, though now with draftees stuffed into hospital scrubs and denim as often as they're required to don camouflage.

McCain was once an advocate of the draft, though, as far as I can tell, he's uttered nary a word in favor of conscription since he started pursuing residency in the White House. The national service section of his Website is full of talk of opportunities and incentives -- lots of carrot, but no stick. Whatever his personal feelings, he seems to understand that draft boards are no longer compatible with presidential ambitions.

At first glance, Obama's scheme is similar. His proposal even specifically refers to "universal voluntary citizen service." It's all very touchy-feelly. But, as Michael Kinsley put it so well in the pages of Time: "Problem number one with grand schemes for universal voluntary public service is that they can't be both universal and voluntary. If everybody has to do it, then it's not voluntary, is it? And if it's truly up to the individual, then it won't be universal."

Of course, Barack Obama could be playing the usual politician's game of throwing empty words at an audience, without worrying overly much about their meaning. But his campaign has put forward a detailed plan for national service, and on close inspection, it's clear that he really does mean "universal." And while there's no call for old-fashioned conscription, his national service carrots are matched by very modern sticks that introduce almost as much compulsion as the old kind.

In fact, Obama's national service plan is "voluntary" in a technical sense -- nobody will be arrested for declining to participate. But non-participants also won't be allowed to graduate from high school, and without those diplomas, life could get a bit rough. Obama's national service plan (PDF) says:
Schools that require service as part of the educational experience create improved learning environments and serve as resources for their communities. The Obama-Biden plan sets a goal for all students to engage in service, with middle and high school students performing 50 hours of service each year, and college students performing 100 hours of service each year. Under this plan, students would graduate college with as many as 17 weeks of public service experience under their belts.

But schools set their own policies, don't they? Well ... sort of. You see, as the saying goes, "he who takes the king's coin becomes the king's man." And most public schools depend on federal dollars. As Obama elaborated in a speech last December, "At the middle and high school level, we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities."

So, it won't be the nasty federal government forcing your kids to donate their time to government-approved service, it'll be the local schools -- but that requirement will be the among the strings attached to federal money.

This is a very modern way of imposing mandates from the top down. The uniform 21-year-old national drinking age, for instance, is nominally the choice of each state government, not a federal law. But the states set the age at 21 as a condition of continuing to receive a full measure of federal highway funds. The same goes for the late, unlamented 55mph speed limit.

Of course, state and local agencies could choose to give up the checks from D.C., but they almost never do. And so, violations of federal policies get punished by state and local authorities.

Under Barack Obama's plan, a refusal to participate in a national service program touted at the federal level will be punished by the withholding of high school diplomas by the school district in your town. And without that diploma, few colleges or employers will even bother to look at your application.

It's a softer sort of authoritarianism which requires no draft boards, muddles the identity of the "bad guy" and produces no martyrs i handcuffs for the evening news. You just can't get a job if you don't do as you're told.

Such "soft" mandates are easier to escape than the old draft. Private schools will still be able to set their own criteria for graduation, as will homeschoolers. At least, they will so long as they can resist social pressure to conform to the requirements imposed by public schools.

And 50 hours of service isn't exactly a tour in the rice paddies. Most people will just roll their eyes and do what it takes to get that diploma. (The 100 hours required of college students will be in return for a $4,000 grant, which amounts less to conscription than to the world's most expensive work-study scheme.) But make no mistake: Barack Obama wants your kids. And he's willing to draft them, in a plausibly deniable way.


Joe Biden loses Barack Obama the Catholic vote

More, as promised, on Senator Joe Biden (why should Sarah Palin get all the coverage?). Remember, you read it here first: on September 11 this blog reported a mounting backlash from Catholic bishops against Biden, Barack Obama's "Catholic" pro-abortion running mate. At that time I estimated eight bishops had come out to denounce Biden; the total is now 55. Beyond that, Biden is being trashed across every state of the Union by Catholic newspapers, TV and radio stations, and blogs. It is a tsunami of rejection.

The story has now hit the secular media. Last Saturday Time magazine asked: "Does Biden Have a Catholic Problem?" By Wednesday the issue had moved onto the front page of the New York Times. Joe the Jinx has blown it, big time. Biden has only himself to blame: he started this war, with his notoriously undisciplined mouth. He knew the dangers. Last August, Archbishop Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St Louis and now Prefect of the Apostolic Segnatura in Rome, said communion should be denied to pro-abortion politicians "until they have reformed their lives".

Archbishop Chaput of Denver had already announced Biden should not receive communion because of his pro-abortion views. Defiantly, Biden took communion in his home parish in Delaware in late August. On September 2 the Bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania (a crucial swing state) banned him from communion in his diocese. That is effective excommunication. Then came the crucial provocation. On NBC's Meet the Press programme on September 7 Biden grossly misrepresented the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion and audaciously cited St Thomas Aquinas in his own cause.

That did it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had already done the same thing on the same programme, in her instance citing St Augustine. Even the torpid US bishops could not have false doctrine glibly broadcast by public figures, misleading their flock. So the counterattack described here last week began, culminating in a statement from the US Bishops' Conference. The bishops of Kansas City have also issued a pastoral letter on the subject. It is open season on Biden.

There are 47 million Catholic voters in the United States. One quarter of all registered voters are Catholics. At every presidential election in the past 30 years the Catholic vote has gone to the winning candidate, except for Al Gore in 2000. This year 41 per cent of Catholics are independents - up from 30 per cent in 2004. Psephologists claim practising Catholics were the decisive factor in the crucial swing states in 2004: in Ohio 65 per cent of Catholics voted for Bush, in Florida 66 per cent. They were drifting away in disillusionment from the Republicans and split 50-50, until Joe Biden worked his magic. This is electoral suicide by the Democrats.


Why does Joe Biden lie about a 'drunk driver' killing his 1st wife?

It is terrible to lose family members to a traffic accident. But why on earth would a United States Senator fabricate an embellishment and claim that it was a drunk driver's fault, when the record clearly indicates it was not? Delaware Online reports:
Since his vice presidential nomination, Joe Biden's 2007 statement that a "guy who allegedly ... drank his lunch" and drove the truck that struck and killed his first wife and daughter has gained national media traction.

Alcohol didn't play a role in the 1972 crash, investigators found. But as recently as last week, the syndicated TV show Inside Edition aired a clip from 2001 of Biden describing the accident to an audience at the University of Delaware and saying the truck driver "stopped to drink instead of drive." The senator's statements don't jibe with news and law enforcement reports from the time, which cleared driver Curtis C. Dunn, who died in 1999, of wrongdoing.

"To see it coming from [Biden's] mouth, I just burst into tears," Dunn's daughter, Glasgow resident Pamela Hamill, 44, said Wednesday. "My dad was always there for us. Now we feel like we should be there for him because he's not here to defend himself."

Biden has embellished his supposed "working class" origins in Scranton, PA, when in fact his father was successful sales professional for substantial companies, and he attended a very expensive private school.

Is this an attempt to exploit the death of his first wife for political gain? The thought is sickening. Even if Biden was inititially misinformed, he and his campaign have allowed a lie to propagate throughout the media. The news report above mentions:
"...since Barack Obama tapped Biden to be his running mate on Aug. 23, The New York Times, National Public Radio and The Economist have run stories that characterized Dunn as a drunken driver."


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