Monday, September 1, 2008

Zogby Poll: Equilibrium in the POTUS Race!

McCain pick of AK Gov. Palin neutralizes historic Obama speech, stunts the Dems' convention bounce

Republican John McCain's surprise announcement Friday of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate - some 16 hours after Democrat Barack Obama's historic speech accepting his party's presidential nomination - has possibly stunted any Obama convention bump, the latest Zogby Interactive flash poll of the race shows. The latest nationwide survey, begun Friday afternoon after the McCain announcement of Palin as running mate and completed mid-afternoon today, shows McCain/Palin at 47%, compared to 45% support for Obama/Biden. In other words, the race is a dead heat.

The interactive online Zogby survey shows that both Obama and McCain have solidified the support among their own parties - Obama won 86% support of Democrats and McCain 89% of Republicans in a two-way head-to-head poll question not including the running mates. When Biden and Palin are added to the mix, Obama's Democratic support remains at 86%, while McCain's increases to 92%.

After the McCain "Veep" announcement on Friday, Palin was almost immediately hailed as a strong conservative, and those voters have rallied to the GOP ticket, the survey shows. Republicans gather in St. Paul, Minnesota this week to officially nominate McCain and Palin as their presidential ticket.

Overall, 52% said the selection of Palin as the GOP vice presidential nominee helps the Republican ticket, compared to 29% who said it hurt. Another 10% said it made no difference, while 10% were unsure. Among independent voters, 52% said it helps, while 26% said it would hurt. Among women, 48% said it would help, while 29% said it would hurt the GOP ticket. Among Republicans, the choice was a big hit - as 87% said it would help, and just 3% said it would hurt.

Pollster John Zogby:
"Palin is not to be underestimated. Her real strength is that she is authentic, a real mom, an outdoors person, a small town mayor (hey, she has dealt with a small town city council - that alone could be preparation for staring down Vladimir Putin, right?). She is also a reformer." "A very important demographic in this election is going to be the politically independent woman, 15% of whom in our latest survey are undecided."

"In the final analysis, this election will be about Obama vs. McCain. Obama has staked out ground as the new JFK - a new generation, literally and figuratively, a new face of America to the world, a man who can cross lines and work with both sides. But McCain is the modern day Harry Truman - with lots of DC experience, he knows what is wrong and dysfunctional with Washington and how to fix it, and he has chosen a running mate who is about as far away from Washington as he could find. "This contest is likely to be very close until the weekend before the election - then the dam may break and support may flood one way or the other."

The interactive survey shows that 22% of those voters who supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in their primary elections or caucus earlier this year are now supporting John McCain.

Among those who said they shop regularly at Wal-Mart - a demographic group that Zogby has found to be both "value" and "values" voters - Obama is getting walloped by McCain. Winning 62% support from weekly Wal-Mart shoppers, McCain wins these voters at a rate similar to what President Bush won in 2004. Obama wins 24% support from these voters.

Other demographic details are fairly predictable, showing that the McCain/Palin ticket heads into its convention on Monday with numbers that may fuel an optimism they may not have expected, and that many would not have predicted, especially after Obama's speech Thursday night.

More here

Playing his cards brilliantly

BARACK Obama is a fraud. But he is a very familiar kind of fraud: a politician pretending to be something he's not. He is not the post-partisan, post-ideological seeker of a new politics and leader of a broad social movement to redeem the soul of America. Rather, he is a brilliantly gifted, traditional, self-seeking politician who has sought for a long time to get to the top. He is also a traditional left-liberal, obsessed, at least in his public life, with race. He has built the momentum of his campaign on the most dubious basis that can exist in a democracy for garnering political support, racial identity.

But if he wins the US election in November, as he well might, he will have a chance to be a good president. The ruthlessness of his politics is the most encouraging suggestion that a desire to be re-elected will keep him near the middle ground. That Obama is such a brilliant politician is evident in the fact that he came from nowhere to win the Democratic nomination. In that he confounded all the smartest judges of American politics, whether liberal or conservative.

He certainly confounded President George W. Bush. Now it is customary in polite circles to regard Bush as a gibbering idiot or the devil incarnate. But Bush twice won the governorship of Texas and the presidency of the US, so he must know something.

On September 5 last year, Bush was visiting Sydney for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum summit. That night he had dinner with John Howard and a few others at Kirribilli House in Sydney. The discussion covered Australian politics and Howard's difficulties, but naturally it also turned to the forthcoming US presidential election. Bush thought the Republican primary contest was wide open. When someone made a critical remark about former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who would eventually lose the nomination to John McCain, Bush pushed back forcefully in defence of Romney. Although Bush wasn't endorsing one Republican over another, people had the impression he favoured Romney.

On the Democratic contest, Bush was much more certain. Hillary Clinton would be the nominee. He did not rate Obama's chances. The Australian diplomatic and intelligence establishment went one step further than Bush. They believed strongly that Clinton would win the Democratic primary and the subsequent election. No serious analyst predicted an Obama-McCain contest or that, going into the Democratic convention, the two candidates would be neck and neck in the polls.

All data points to an enormous Obama win. The list is overwhelming: most Americans think the country is on the wrong track; Bush is highly unpopular; Iraq is unpopular; only twice since World War II (1948 and 1988) has an incumbent party won a third consecutive term in the presidency; the American economy is hit with financial crises and crippling oil prices; Obama is 47 and charismatic, McCain is 72 and can't lift his arms above shoulder height; and the generic identification of voters heavily favours Democrats over Republicans. Finally, the mainstream media is overwhelmingly pro-Obama and anti-Republican.

If the Democratic candidate doesn't win in these circumstances, it's a miracle. So what's making a miracle possible, especially given, as I believe, that Obama is a brilliant politician? It seems the American people still harbour doubts about him. The best guide to who Obama is politically comes not from the millions of hagiographic and densely uncritical words penned by adoring media across the world but from Obama's autobiographies and his legislative record as an Illinois state senator.

After he secured his party's nomination, Obama moved sharply to the centre, ditching previous positions such as opposition to free trade deals and the like. But that left the main ground of difference between him and McCain the question of racial and cultural identity. That, in a sense, has been the subtext of much of Obama's maddeningly vague uplift rhetoric: "Change we can believe in, yes we can, we are the ones we've been waiting for." These soaring lines are content free. But they've allowed an obvious subtext to play out in Obama's campaign. Blacks should vote for him because they're black and whites should vote for him so they can feel good about their nation for having elected a black president.

That more than 90 per cent of black Americans support Obama, and did so throughout the Democratic primaries, is profoundly unhealthy. I am an old-fashioned liberal on race. I don't believe race should matter. If it is wrong, as it surely is, to oppose any candidate on the grounds of race, then logically it must be wrong to support any candidate on grounds of race. Racial solidarity is one of the most toxic dynamics in any society, certainly in any electoral contest.

The US has been electing and appointing racial minorities to high office for decades. There are black governors and senators, Hispanic governors and senators. The Republican governor of Louisiana is Punjabi and the Republican Governor of California is Austrian.

But in no case before has the toxic politics of identity been so much the heart of a candidate's appeal. Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Centre has written an important analysis of Obama's record as a state senator in Illinois. Obama has no real record in the national Senate. He is a first-term senator and has often avoided taking a position on key issues by voting "present". But Kurtz shows that in the Illinois Senate, Obama was a predictable left-liberal who injected a high degree of race consciousness into his politics, appealing to people to vote on grounds of racial solidarity, supporting all discriminatory affirmative action and set-aside programs, demanding voting discipline from the black caucus rather than legislators pursuing their individual agendas.

On crime and government spending he took a left-liberal line. He favoured racial gerrymandering, commenting to a Chicago newspaper: "An incumbent African-American legislator with a 90 per cent district may feel good about his re-election chances, but we as a community would probably be better off if we had two African-American legislators with 60 per cent each."

It is important to emphasise there is nothing inherently wicked in the positions Obama was arguing. They are legitimate positions within the democratic debate. But they are a million miles from the post-racial, post-partisan figure that he wants to project. Fair enough. No doubt he's changed. But the Obama narrative doesn't say he's changed, it just ignores all his previous positions.

Obama has written two volumes of autobiography. By far the most interesting is the first, Dreams from My Father, published when, at 33, he first ran for statewide office in Illinois. It is very well written and Obama is obviously a capable guy. The memoir works at lots of different levels but is best seen as a campaign document. One of the most notable things about it is how obsessed Obama is with the question of race. He is technically a member of generation X, born just too late to be a baby boomer. Yet his consciousness is quintessentially that of the baby boomer. Obama's background is unusual: African father and white mother. But he had a wonderful childhood, full of opportunity.

His maternal grandparents, who mostly brought him up, doted on him and organised their lives around him. His grandmother was vice-president of a bank, his grandfather a furniture store manager and later an insurance salesman. Obama went to the best high school in Hawaii and the family took holidays in the mainland. Later he went to a good college in California, followed by Columbia University in New York and Harvard in Massachusetts.

We middle-class baby boomers are the most privileged generation in human history. Nothing has been asked of us and everything has been given to us. All we have been required to do is live lives of unparalleled affluence and not go mad. Yet throughout Obama's admittedly beautifully written memoirs, on numerous occasions he claims to be fighting off despair. This tone captures the whining self-pity and utter self-obsession of the archetypal baby boomer.

Obama's gloomy introspection finally finishes on a note of hope, as is essential for any aspiring politician. But the endless flirtation with existential despair is perfectly pitched to appeal to the self-indulgence and baseless vanity of the baby boomer generation.

The autobiography is a striking contrast to Colin Powell's memoir, which begins with the bracing sentence: "I have had a great life, and this is the story so far." Powell lived through infinitely more racial discrimination than what has touched Obama, but his memoir is full of gratitude to America and to life. Not the gratitude of a cringing minority but simply of a proud and happy man who understands the great opportunities American society offers.

A similar tone infuses McCain's memoir, Faith of My Fathers, the best written of them all. McCain, who was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five years and was tortured nearly to death, actually had something to despair over but was sustained by faith.

It is no criticism of Obama that he has not been to war. But his confected existential angst is similar to Hillary Clinton's fictional landing in Bosnia under imaginary sniper fire. It is the device, brilliantly executed by Obama, very clumsily by Hillary, of a politician desperate to self-dramatise. Oddly, it is the very cynicism and skill of this exercise that suggests to me Obama could yet make an effective president.


And Now a Moment of Realism

Barack Obama during his acceptance speech played a riff on Phil Gramm's impolitic remarks about a "mental recession" and a "nation of whiners." Like a succession of Democrats at the podium, he painted the economy in the darkest, most hopeless of colors -- never mind that the economy is actually growing and unemployment is still lower than it was during much of the Clinton presidency.

But here's the bad news for the dour Democrats in Denver -- most Americans don't share their economic pessimism. That's the finding of public opinion expert Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute. "Most Americans are feeling pretty good about their jobs and their personal lives," she says after investigating the fine details of recent polls. Her report goes right to Mr. Gramm's concern about the gap between actual economic performance and the dreary negativity of politicians and the media.

She finds that 76% of Americans say they are actually optimistic about the direction of their own lives and their personal economic situations -- even though only 18% are optimistic about the country. That's the big disconnect. "These numbers haven't changed much over time," Ms. Bowman tells me.

Job security and job satisfaction are both high in America too. "In Gallup's August 2008 survey, 48% working Americans said they were completely satisfied, and another 42% somewhat satisfied. Only 9% were dissatisfied with their jobs." And sorry, Lou Dobbs, that war on the middle class and the outsourcing of America that you complain about every night? Americans aren't buying it. Only 8% worry about their jobs being outsourced to foreign competition. Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation tells me this squares with the economic data. "Very few jobs are lost each year to companies moving jobs offshore," he says.

What's the No. 1 economic worry for Americans? Gas prices. Some three-quarters of Americans in Gallup's July 2008 survey blame high gas prices for financial hardship, compared to 40% eight years ago. Mr. Obama last night offered a vague but dramatic promise to "end our dependence" on Middle East oil within a decade. (The AP candidly led its report by pointing out this "goal likely would be difficult -- perhaps impossible -- to achieve and flies in the face of how global oil markets work.") Voters don't seem to buy that either. Repeated polling has shown that, with their mantra of "drill, drill, drill," Republicans seem to be offering a solution voters find more credible.

I asked Ms. Bowman what accounts for the gap between people's attitudes about their own lives and the economy in general. Her answer is no big surprise: "The relentless negativity of the media."

The Democratic message in Denver was about all that is wrong in America, though any balanced perspective would notice how resilient the U.S. economy has been amid the housing bust and surging oil prices. Former Clinton economist Brad DeLong noted in his blog recently: "If you had asked me a year ago whether this degree of financial chaos was consistent with a domestic U.S. economy not clearly in recession, I would have said no."

Given all this, John McCain might want to sound a more Reaganite note next week. As the Gipper proved in the 1980s, the economic optimist is likely to win in November.


rdball with its critics. Team Obama has launched an offensive against WGN, the Chicago Tribune's radio station, for interviewing Stanley Kurtz. Mr. Kurtz is a conservative writer who this week forced the University of Illinois to finally open its records on Sen. Obama's association with William Ayers, the unrepentant 1970s Weather Underground terrorist.

An Obama campaign email to supporters called Mr. Kurtz a "slimy character assassin" whose "divisive, destructive ranting" should be confronted. WGN producer Zack Christenson says the outpouring of negative calls and emails is "unprecedented." He also notes that it is curious -- because "we wanted the Obama campaign's take" on Mr. Kurtz's findings, but the campaign declined to put anyone on air.

Separately, Mr. Obama's lawyers have also demanded that the Justice Department prosecute an organization called the American Issues Project for running an ad about ties between their candidate and Mr. Ayers.

Obama aides believe John Kerry lost in 2004 because he failed to respond to the "Swift Boat" ads attacking him, and they are lashing out. Sometimes the Obama objections have merit, as when they exposed errors in Jerome Corsi's sensationalized Obama biography. But sometimes they are designed to shut down legitimate questions. "They're terrified of people poking around Obama's life," one reporter told Gabriel Sherman at the New Republic. "The whole Obama narrative is built around the narrative that Obama and [campaign strategist] David Axelrod built, and, like all stories, it's not entirely true." The stakes are high. If the full story of Mr. Obama's relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright had been revealed before the Iowa caucus, he wouldn't have won.

Aides claim Mr. Obama "has taken voluntary transparency steps" that allow "his constituents, the media and his political opponents to fully examine him." In reality, anyone questioning the approved story line is liable to be ignored, misled or even bullied. This isn't what reporters expected when Mr. Obama began campaigning for a "new politics" that would bring honesty and openness to government.

Walking the rows of media outlets at the Denver convention, I had no trouble finding reporters who complained the campaign was secretive and evasive. Ben Smith of has written about Team Obama's "pattern of rarely volunteering information or documents, even when relatively innocuous." Politico asked months ago if Mr. Obama had ever written anything for the Harvard Law Review as a student. The Obama campaign responded narrowly, with a Clintonesque statement that "as the president of the Law Review, Obama didn't write articles, he edited and reviewed them." This month it turned out Mr. Obama had written an article -- but it was published a month before he became president.

Chasing the rest of Mr. Obama's paper trail is often an exercise in frustration. Mr. Obama says his state senate records "could have been thrown out" and he didn't keep a schedule in office. No one appears to have kept a copy of his application for the Illinois Bar. He has released only a single page of medical records, versus 1,000 pages for John McCain.

Then there's the house that Mr. Obama bought in 2005 in cooperation with Tony Rezko, his friend and campaign fund-raiser -- a move the candidate concedes was "boneheaded." Rezko was convicted in June of 16 counts of corruption. (Mr. Obama was not implicated in Rezko's crimes.)

Rezko's trial raised a host of questions. Was Mr. Obama able to save $300,000 on the asking price of his house because Rezko's wife paid full price for the adjoining lot? How did Mrs. Rezko make a $125,000 down payment and obtain a $500,000 mortgage when financial records shown at the Rezko trial indicate she had a salary of only $37,000 and assets of $35,000? Records show her husband also had few assets at the time.

Last April, the London Times revealed that Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born billionaire living in London, had loaned Mr. Rezko $3.5 million three weeks before the day the sale of the house and lot closed in June 2005. Mr. Auchi's office notes he was a business partner of Rezko but says he had "no involvement in or knowledge of" the property sale. But in April 2004 he did attend a dinner party in his honor at Rezko's Chicago home. Mr. Obama also attended, and according to one guest, toasted Mr. Auchi. Later that year, Mr. Auchi came under criminal investigation as part of a U.S. probe of the corrupt issuance of cell-phone licenses in Iraq.

In May 2004, the Pentagon's inspector general's office cited "significant and credible evidence" of involvement by Mr. Auchi's companies in the Oil for Food scandal, and in illicit smuggling of weapons to Saddam Hussein's regime. Because of the criminal probe, Mr. Auchi's travel visa to the U.S. was revoked in August 2004, even as Mr. Auchi denied all the allegations. According to prosecutors, in November 2005 Rezko was able to get two government officials from Illinois to appeal to the State Department to get the visa restored. Asked if anyone in his office was involved in such an appeal, Mr. Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times last March, "not that I know of." FOIA requests to the State Department for any documents haven't been responded to for months.

After long delays, Mr. Obama sat with the editorial boards of the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune in March to answer their questions about his connection to Rezko. He had no recollection of ever meeting Mr. Auchi. He also said he didn't understand a lot about house buying, and gave vague answers to other questions. Since then, he has avoided any further discussion of the Rezko matter.

Some inquiries could be cleared up if the Obama campaign were forthcoming with key documents. Mr. Obama claims that in buying his house in 2005 he got a low mortgage rate from Northern Trust bank because another bank made a competitive bid for his business, but his campaign won't reveal from which bank. While he has released 94 pages of documents relating to the Rezko sale, they don't include the single most important one -- the settlement statement that shows the complete flow of funds that were part of the house sale. When asked why that last key document isn't being released, the Obama campaign issued a boilerplate statement saying, "we have released documents that reflect every one of the final terms of the senator's purchase of the home." But key data are still being withheld.

The Obama campaign didn't hesitate to criticize Hillary Clinton for not revealing the names of donors to the Clinton Library, or John McCain for releasing only two years of tax returns as opposed to Mr. Obama's 10 years. Those were proper questions. But so too are requests for information from Mr. Obama, a man whose sudden rise and incompletely reported past makes him among the least-vetted of presidential nominees.

Reporters who decline to press Mr. Obama for more information now, whether it be on William Ayers or the Rezko-Auchi partnership, may be repeating an old mistake. Most reporters failed to dig deep enough into the Nixon White House's handling of Watergate before the 1972 election. The country was soon consumed with that scandal. Most reporters pooh-poohed questionable Whitewater real-estate dealings of the Clintons before Bill Clinton's 1992 election. Within months of his inauguration a tangled controversy led to the appointment of a special prosecutor and an endless source of distraction for the Clinton White House.

All presidential candidates resist full examination of their records. But it should be the job of reporters not to accept noncooperation, stonewalling or intimidation when it comes to questions about fitness for the nation's highest office.


Obama's Friend, America's Enemy

Have you ever been a friend or business associate of a terrorist? Not someone who, to your shock and horror, turned out secretly to have bombed government buildings. No, the question is whether you've ever befriended an unreconstructed radical whose past was well known to you when you entered his orbit and walked through doors he opened for you. Have you been chummy with an unapologetic terrorist who, years after you'd known and worked closely with him, was still telling the New York Times he regretted only failing to carry out more attacks - and that America still "makes me want to puke"?

Barack Obama has.

An organization called the American Issues Project, backed by Dallas investor Harold Simmons, is running a campaign ad which highlights Obama's troubling relationship with William Ayers. Ayers is a former member of the Weathermen terrorist organization that bombed the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, various police headquarters, and other targets in the early 1970s.

The Obama campaign's rejoinder is three-pronged: The first shot was an Obama response ad, which fails to offer any substantive explanation of why Obama maintains ties to Ayers. Obama's second move was to launch a heavy-handed effort to pressure television stations into rejecting the ad by promising financial retaliation against the stations and their advertisers - which effort has apparently succeeded in intimidating Fox and CNN. The capper is a desperate call for the Justice Department to muzzle political speech through the prospect of a criminal investigation - a demand that provides a disturbing sneak peak into what life would be like under an Obama Justice Department.

Needless to say, none of this is justified. If Obama has a good explanation for his ties to Ayers, he ought to give it. In the meantime, raising questions about that relationship is entirely legitimate.

Obama's campaign has acknowledged that the candidate and Ayers are friends. Though Obama has more recently minimized Ayers as "just a guy who lives in my neighborhood," it is clear that the relationship was much deeper than that. Ayers and his fellow-terrorist wife, Bernadine Dohrn (who has spoken admiringly of the infamous Manson Family murders), are icons in Chicago's hard-left circles, to which Obama sought entr,e as a young "community organizer." In 1995, they hosted a fundraiser that helped launch his career in Chicago politics.

Ayers has never abandoned his indictment of America as an imperialist hotbed of racism and economic exploitation. He has merely shifted methods from violent extortion to academic indoctrination. Through his perch as a professor of education at the University of Illinois, he has been a ceaseless critic of the criminal-justice system (he is essentially opposed to imprisoning even the most violent criminals) and a proponent of what he calls "education reform" but what is actually the use of the classroom to proselytize for the Left's political agenda.

Writing in the Chicago Tribune in 1997, Obama called A Kind and Just Parent, Ayers' polemic on the Chicago court system, "a searing and timely account." Michelle Obama, then a dean at the University of Illinois, invited Ayers to participate in a panel with her husband, then a state senator who, the program explained, was "working to block proposed legislation that would throw more juvenile offenders into the adult system."

Obama apologists dismiss all this as "guilt by association" based on a single joint appearance. But it was far from the only one.

In fact, by 1997 Obama and Ayers were collaborators on a far more significant level. They sat together for several years on the board of the Woods Fund, a left-wing Chicago charitable organization. There, they doled out tens of thousands of dollars to such beneficiaries as the Trinity Church (where Obama was a longtime member and where another Obama mentor, Jeremiah Wright, preached a radical, anti-American brand of Black Liberation Theology) and the Arab American Action Network (co-founded by Rashid Khalidi, a Yasser Arafat apologist who has supported attacks against Israel and now directs Columbia University's notorious Middle East Institute, founded by Edward Said).

Even more intriguing, in 1995 Ayers won a $49.2 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation - matched two-to-one by public and private contributions - to promote "reform" in the Chicago school system. He quickly brought in Obama, then all of 33 and bereft of any executive experience, to chair the board. With Ayers directing the project's operational arm and Obama overseeing its financial affairs until 1999, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge distributed more than $100 million to ideological allies with no discernible improvement in public education.

Until this week, moreover, the University of Illinois at Chicago, where Ayers works, was blocking access to the project's files (examination of which was being sought by frequent National Review contributor Stanley Kurtz), until finally relenting under public pressure. Less than three months from Election Day, analysis of the records from Barack Obama's only significant executive experience is just beginning.

The mainstream media has been derelict on the Obama/Ayers relationship. Perhaps now, finally, it will get the scrutiny it deserves.


Obama camp seeking 'totalitarian' state?

Ad maker criticizes attempts to shut down information

Ed Martin, co-founder of the American Issues Project, which made a television and Internet ad questioning Sen. Barack Obama's ties to William Ayers, is wondering whether the Democratic presidential nominee actually wants a "totalitarian" state. "The attacks . from the Obama camp on the American Issues Project calling upon the Justice Department to shut us down and calling on stations to succumb to boycotts reminds me of a kind of place we've been blessed not to know - a kind of a totalitarian, or worse, state," Martin said.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor has characterized the ads, which raise questions about Obama's links to Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground organization responsible for bombings at the U.S. Capitol and Pentagon, as "false, despicable and outrageous."

Martin says, however, the ad's accuracy was checked carefully. "We took the time and effort to back it all up - 168 pages of research documents backing up every word in the ad about William Ayers, his past, the bombs he built, the people who died because of his efforts. He actually had a terrorist group he formed and some of the people that he trained, that he helped, became part of the Weather Underground who went on and actually killed police officers. And you really get a sense this isn't a guy who kind of smoked a little weed and was upset about the draft. This was a guy who said 'I'm going to bomb the Capitol, bomb police stations, I'm going to kill people.' He was a fugitive from justice, in part because he had planned a big bombing of an Army office in New Jersey and the bomb blew up and killed three of his own gang, so he had to go on the lam for ten years. It just goes on and on, it reads like a movie," Martin said.

The controversy that erupted as the result of the TV ad placed by the American Issues Project is now in legal hands. WND has reported Obama has warned TV stations and asked the Justice Department to intervene in an attempt to block the ad from airing.

Martin said he and his board members didn't take that action lightly. "You can't just blow it off, so we had our lawyers write back and say 'Look, as to whatever is being said, we've seen the letter, it's not true and here's why and we're happy to discuss it.' Frankly, this kind of slash and burn tactic where the Obama campaign is threatening boycotts - first of all, that's a page out of John Kerry's book, he did that in 2004 where they're going to threaten boycotts and complaints. That's one thing.

"But the Department of Justice letter, we responded and said we're doing everything according to the law, we've been very careful, spent a lot of time and a lot of resources to comply with what are very difficult, sometimes complicated-beyond-belief laws around these things and we're just going to plow ahead," he said.

"If these aren't going to be discussed in any meaningful way by the media, issues like William Ayers and ones we're going to bring up, then we think we're doing a service, and again our goal is to get as much information out there as possible so that people can make informed decisions. We're paying to put the ad on in places like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, other key states. We're also talking to the press and getting lots of calls, lots of interest in spreading the message.

"We have yet to decide if we're going to continue to run the ad, do some more of that ad in other states, or if we're going to stop and decide to do a different ad. We're moving slowly but we're moving methodically, and again hopefully getting lots of people talking about important issues like this one," Martin said.

The questions arose over Obama's links to Ayers and whether that sheds light on his character or judgment. "The facts are simply this - and no one has disputed these facts," Martin said. "Sen. Obama began his career not 50 years ago, not 30 years ago, not 20 years ago, but maybe in the last five or 10 years.

His career began with an unrepentant terrorist named William Ayers in Chicago. Now, I'm not from Chicago, I'm from St. Louis, Missouri. Maybe in Chicago you have to get a sponsor to get into politics that includes unrepentant terrorists or mobsters, I don't know. But in this case, William Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist who bombed the Capitol and helped bomb police stations and killed police officers. And not only did Sen. Obama have his opening kick-off for his state senate campaign in this guy's home, but then the guy gave him money, he served on a board with him for years.

"If I served on a board with a guy that said things on 9-11 like, 'I wish we'd done more when I was a terrorist like in the '70s', I wouldn't stay on that board. I would have turned to my fellow board members and said 'Guys, what are we doing here? I got a reputation. I got a wife and kids I care about'."

Ayers told the New York Times at one point several years ago, "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough." He is married to fellow Weather Underground founder Bernadine Dohrn, who once was on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted List and described by J. Edgar Hoover as the "most dangerous woman in America."

"No one has said from the Obama campaign, 'Ed Martin from the American Issues Project, your facts are wrong, this isn't true.' And maybe there are worse parts of this story that we're not hearing yet. So, it's a very strange response from the Obama campaign, but I'm very grateful because it's created an incredible amount of interest across the country, and that was our goal from the beginning." ....

The Obama campaign's response to the TV ad triggered more reaction in the press than the ad initially did, resulting in even greater exposure than originally anticipated, despite the refusal of two cable news networks to air it. "We're running the ad in a lot of the battleground states. We actually went to two of the national stations - CNN and FOX to run the ad and both refused. Now, we didn't get a straight answer why, but it seemed like they were disinclined to run it during the conventions, although I can't say we got a straight answer. But it's running in all those local stations that run Fox and CNN in the local buys.

"A lot of the press wanted to look the other way which is frankly, what the media has done on a lot of issues for a long time. But the Obama response, which was threatening Department of Justice action and boycotts, caused people to sort of say 'Well, now it's news. The fight is news. Let's cover it.'

"I love America and I love these moments," Martin reflected. "We're very pleased that Sen. Obama has overreacted and gotten a little hysterical about the charges, because we think this will get a lot of attention on the issue and we'll be able to talk a lot about who William Ayers is and why Sen. Obama thinks its OK to spend time and work with the guy who's an admitted terrorist.

He said Obama could calm the issue down quickly, if he chose. "He could say, 'I was young. I hung out with a guy who was my mentor. Then I realized he was wrong and I walked away. But he didn't walk away, or he hasn't answered that, so we're going to find out." "And there are more things to come, I suspect," he said.

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Some Speeches are Better Than Others

By Alan Caruba

Some speeches are better than others. Sen. Barack Obama knows how to deliver a speech, but his acceptance speech was familiar stuff to anyone who has been listening to politicians as long as I have. Permit me a bit of cynicism because sometimes it allows you to separate the wheat from the chaff.

It is a bit of luck that Barack Obama's acceptance speech was given on the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. King's famed 'I've got a dream' speech. That speech brought people together to build a better America, to fulfill its promise of equality.

I not only lived through the Civil Rights era, but I actually met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was brief, but memorable for me. Dr. King could deliver an inspirational sermon or speech. I often wonder if the civil rights movement would have been as successful if there had not been a Dr. King to lead it. Things might have turned out differently for Barack Obama.

I thought it interesting that Barack Obama did not hew that closely to Dr. King's oratorical style in his acceptance speech, but then it occurred to me that he is striving to get people to believe he is just like you and I. He is not.

He is the child of an imperfect mother who twice married Muslim men and whose child was literally rescued by two extraordinary grandparents. He is not like you or I.

He is half black and half white. He is not like you or I.

His intellect opened doors to elite universities, earned scholarships. He is not like you or I.

He has never served in the military, nor has he ever held a job that did not require a suit and tie. He is not like a lot of Americans.

He was imbued from an early age with the sophistry of Marxism that seeks to impose a government that promises all things to all people from cradle to grave and delivers only a soul-killing slavery to the state.

His speech had a central theme and it was jobs. In Obama's world most Americans are out of work. They are not.

In Obama's world, corporations are the enemy, not the engine of the economy.

In Obama's world, the nation can free itself in ten years from its dependence on oil. No nation on Earth can do that. And $150 billion of your money and mine to the charlatans offering wind and solar power will not produce much more than the one percent of electricity these limited sources of energy currently represent.

What America needs is more drilling for oil for our transportation needs, more coal-fired and nuclear plants for the electricity we require, and more natural gas for its many benefits.

The other theme of his speech was that the last eight years of the Bush administration were a failure. Is it a failure that we have not been attacked since 9/11? Is it a failure that unemployment remains at a bare five percent, among the lowest in generations? Is a $14 trillion economy a failure?

Never mind. Obama is not addressing facts. He is in the business of generating promises like the one to reduce taxes for 95% of working families. That is not going to happen.

He promises 'a world class education' for every child, but Teddy Kennedy's failed 'No Child Left Behind Act' is guaranteeing a failed education for the nation's children. He promises higher wages for already well-paid and pensioned teachers despite the fact they are turning out students who cannot spell, cannot do arithmetic, and have no idea of America's real history.

Promises are what politicians make. Speeches are what politicians give, but Barack Obama is no Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For one thing, Dr. King was a registered Republican.

Some speeches are better than others. I give this one a C.



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