THIS WEEK'S COVER TOPIC: Campaign 2008, by Michelle Malkin
The rage that’s not on your front page
hen a few unruly McCain-Palin supporters show their anger at campaign rallies, it’s national news. It’s an epidemic of “Weimar-like rage” and “violent escalation of rhetoric,” according to New York Times columnist Frank Rich. It’s the “re-emergence of the far right as a power in American politics,” according to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. It’s a mass movement of GOP crowds “gripped by insane rage,” according to newly minted Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman. Too bad they don’t give out global awards for the Blindest Eyes in Punditocracy. We’ve just hit a trifecta.
ARE A few activists on the right getting out of hand? Probably. Between massive ACORN voter fraud, Bill Ayers’ and Jeremiah Wright’s unrepentant hatred of America, and John McCain’s inability to nail Barack Obama on his longtime alliances with all of the above, conservatives have plenty to shout about these days. But a couple of random catcallers do not a mob make. And there’s an overflowing abundance of electoral rage on the left that won’t make it onto your newspaper’s front page. Last month on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, a small, brave contingent of McCain supporters marched through the streets with campaign signs. They were met by a menacing horde of New Yorkers who displayed their disapproval with a barrage of jeers and vulgar gestures. (“The number of middle fingers in the ‘progressive crowd’ is directly proportional to the number of Ph.D. degrees in the 10-block radius,” one of the witnesses wryly observed.) A YouTube video of the confrontation now has nearly half a million views (www.youtube. com and search “Pro-McCain March in Manhattan”). But don’t expect to find it on the nightly news. It doesn’t fit the Angry Right narrative. Neither does the near-riotous reaction of Obama supporters to a McCain-Palin sign in Democrat-dominated Prince George’s County, Md. Buried in a back local section, the Washington Post reported this week that “pandemonium” broke loose when an unsuspecting businessman erected a “Country First. McCain/Palin.” message on the marquee at his Colony South Hotel & Conference Center. “Operators of neighborhood e-mail group lists cried foul to their memberships. The NAACP logged calls. Community leaders demanded boycotts of the hotel, a
common venue for Democratic events,” the little-noticed article reported. A black professor called the sign “a stink bomb in the middle of the living room” of Obama land. The poor hotel manager, Alan Vahabzadeh, surrendered. “I didn’t even realize it was going to be like this.”
CAN’T BLAME him for missing the fiery hint from Portland, Ore. — where two deranged vandals were arrested after throwing a Molotov cocktail at a McCain yard sign in the middle of the night. Nope, that didn’t make it into the columns of Rich, Dionne or Krugman. Doesn’t fit the Angry Right narrative. Speaking of “violent escalation of rhetoric” you never hear about: Obama supporters in Philadelphia sported “Sarah Palin is a [disgusting vulgarism referring to female genitalia]” T-shirts and yelled, “Let’s stone her, old school” over the weekend. An Internet artist has designated Palin an “M.I.L.P.” — “Mother I’d Like to Punch” — and published a drawing of a man’s fist knocking a tooth out of the Alaska gover-
nor’s mouth and the glasses off her face. “ABORT Palin” graffiti has sprouted on the sidewalks of Seattle, and “Abort Sarah Palin” bumper stickers are spreading in web stores. — Palin-bashing Madonna performs before an audience of thousands, screeching and threatening to “kick her a—.” — Getty Images publishes a photo of a man pointing a fake gun at the head of a cardboard cutout of Palin on display at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition building. And no one blinks. Not a peep from the Obamedia. But when Palin simply spotlights Obama’s longtime relationship with Weather Underground terrorist Bill “We Didn’t Do Enough” Ayers? “Inciting violence,” frets NBC reporter Ron Allen. “Concerned ... for Sen. Obama’s safety,” agonizes ABC reporter Terry Moran. “Beyond the pale,” cries Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. As if the noholds-barred Obama campaign has ever had a rhetorical pale to stake. ALL THE world’s a Kabuki stage for the selectively outraged over rage.
__________________________________________ MICHELLE MALKIN (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
ACORN Morris (27) Answer Man Seamans (14) American Jews Charen (21) Biden, Joe Coulter (7) Greenberg (8) Tyrrell (6) Campaign 2008 Blankley (5) Buchanan (3) Charen (2) Malkin (1) Morris (9) Schlafly (28) Will (31) Courts Thomas (13) Election Day Jacoby (10) Financial Crisis Buchanan (17) Cain (15) Kudlow (15) Lambro (16) Lowry (16) Rusher (18) Free Speech Barone (24) Gay 'Marriage' Gallagher (21) Government Ownership Jeffrey (18) Iraq Bay (31) Jewish Vote Shapiro (22) Left and Right Prager (10) McCain, John Harsanyi (4) Murchison (6) Media Bias Parker (29) Mocking Christianity Bozell (23) Negative Advertising Sowell (27) October Surprises North (30) Obama, Barack Calabrese (20) Krauthammer (25) Limbaugh (26) Lee (12) Obama Campaign Limbaugh (11) Political Power Williams (13) Race in Politics Chavez (4) Religious History Norris (9) Taxes Elder (14) Term Limits Will (19) Town Hall Debate Saunders (23)
October 22, 2008
CAMPAIGN 2008: October 14, 2008
Could this be the end of conservatism?
ll of a sudden, this election is shaping up as a verdict on capitalism. The Obama campaign wanted it to be about George W. Bush. The McCain campaign wanted it to be about character. But instead, because the markets are shooting off in all directions like bullets from a dropped pistol, the stakes have suddenly been raised dramatically. We are in the midst of the worst panic in history, it’s true (because it is global). But as historian John Steele Gordon helpfully pointed on in the Wall Street Journal, panics are not unusual in American history. We’ve experienced them almost every 20 years since 1819. Gordon blames Thomas Jefferson, which is intriguing, but the point is that we’ve always emerged from these periodic paroxysms intact and our economy has continued to grow. Gordon believes more sensible banking policy would prevent future panics. But if we elect a crypto-socialist like Barack Obama and give him a bigger Democrat majority in the House and a filibusterproof Senate, banking regulation may be the least of our troubles.
consciences and come up with a winning strategy for next time.” Perhaps. But there are a few problems with that sanguine approach. In the first place, the Democrats can, with a super-majority, change the rules of the game. They can make the District of Columbia the 51st state with two new senators (guaranteed to be Democrats in perpetuity). They can reinstitute the so-called Fairness Doctrine that required radio stations to provide equal time to all political viewpoints. While the doctrine was enforced by the Federal Communications Commission, radio stations shied away from politics altogether. With the demise of the doctrine, conservative talk radio flourished. Liberal talk radio has never found much of an audience. Reviving the doctrine would kill one of the principal irritants to liberals and Democrats — to say nothing of disemboweling the First Amendment. To elect a super-majority of Democrats at a time of economic dislocation is to flirt with depression. Nearly all economists agree that two moves by the Hoover administration deepened and prolonged the panic of 1929 and turned it into the Great Depression. One was raising taxes and the other was imposing protectionist trade policies. Senator Obama proposes to do both of
WELL, you may say, “Win some, lose some. McCain isn’t all that great anyway. Conservatives and Republicans will simply have to examine their
those things. Obama’s smooth reassurance that only the top five percent of earners in America will see their taxes rise is a) almost certainly false, and b) beside the point. If the most productive members of society — those who create the majority of jobs — are taxed, we will have fewer jobs. It’s the old rule that if you tax something you get less of it. While Obama is killing jobs by taxing the productive, he proposes to “renegotiate” NAFTA and other trade deals thus putting the one bright corner of our economy, the export sector, in his crosshairs. OBAMA has a million schemes to redistribute the wealth of the top five percent (who by the way, already pay more than 50 percent of the taxes in our steeply progressive system). He wants to provide college for “anyone who wants to go and agrees to perform community service,” and community development block grants, and childcare, and universal pre-school, and housing, and retirement and on and on. He seems determined that more people will ride in the wagon than pull it. “Well,” you may say, “if the Democrats drive the country into a deep recession, so much the worse for them. The Republicans will come back strong — even with two senators from DC!” Perhaps. But in hard times people tend to ask for more government, not less, and this tumble started while George W. Bush was in the White House. Franklin Roosevelt continued to invoke the
boogeyman of Herbert Hoover long after the Depression was his own. In fact, Democrats used Hoover successfully for 40 more years! Finally, there is a one-way ratchet in public policy. Liberal reforms are never undone. How hard have conservatives tried to eliminate the Department of Education or subsidies to public television? Would they have more success uncreating a new nationalized health care system? AN Obama/Pelosi/Reid regime — if it were to get a filibuster-proof majority — will certainly be able to shift the country’s direction sharply to the left. The only question is — would the shift be permanent? __________________________________________ MONA CHAREN (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
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October 22, 2008
CAMPAIGN 2008: October 10, 2008
Can McCain still win? If Obama is unacceptable
wo weeks after the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., John McCain and Sarah Palin were striding forward toward victory. They had erased the eight-point lead Barack Obama had opened up in Denver and watched as one blue state after another moved into the toss-up category. That is ancient history now. Since mid-September, the stock market has cratered, losing half of the $8 trillion that has vanished since October 2007. All five of America’s great investment banks — Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill-Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — have either ceased to be independent or ceased to be.
in an averaging of national polls. While he has moved ahead in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, one senses America is not so much rallying to him as running away from a Republican brand that is now on the same shelf with Chinese baby formula. Obama still has not closed the sale. He has overtaken McCain not because of any brilliant campaign he has conducted but because of the dreadful news pouring out of Wall Street. McCain and Palin are being dragged down by Dow Jones, not Barack Obama. As of today, the country is not so much voting for Barack and the Democrats as it is preparing to vote against the Republicans. Consider: The Congress, whose Democratic ranks the nation is getting ready to enlarge — the Congress led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid — has an approval rating half that of Bush. Indeed, looking back on the Year of Barack, 2008, it is clear he has never closed the sale, either with the people or his own party. After he came off the blocks with a startling triumph in Iowa and ran up a dozen straight primary and caucus victories in February, arrived the spring when Hillary, though Obama’s media auxiliary was ordering her to get out, defeated him in Texas, crushed him in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and humiliated him in West Virginia and Kentucky.
THE NATION’S largest savings and loan, Washington Mutual, and largest insurance company, AIG, have gone belly up, with the federal bailout of the latter costing $100 billion and counting. Perhaps $3 trillion of the $8 trillion in stock value that is gone disappeared after passage of the $700 billion federal bailout of Wall Street. No bottom is in sight to the worst market crash since 1929. Recession is now certain. George W. Bush has fallen to 26 percent approval, a level unseen since Richard Nixon was driven from office in the Watergate summer of ‘74. Four in five think the nation is on the wrong course. Yet, Obama has only a six-point lead
EACH TIME the voters take a long second look at Barack, their positive first impressions seem to dissipate. Barack is a weak closer. Herein lies McCain’s hope. The country wants change, but it has not concluded it wants Obama. But if John McCain cannot raise grave doubts about his agenda, his associates, his record, his character, his fitness to be president, Obama is going to win by default. Obama has succeeded in the debates by playing defense. By his cool demeanor and persona, he has diminished apprehensions about an Obama presidency. There is no evidence of surging enthusiasm. The Obama media are well aware of Obama’s Achilles’ heel, his great vulnera-
bility, the doubts about him that still exist in the public mind. That is why they are near hysterical about Palin’s ripping of Obama for “palling around” with “domestic terrorists” like William Ayres, the 1960s and 1970s Weatherman radical who conspired to bomb the Capitol and Pentagon and was quoted the morning of 9-11 as saying he wished he had set off more bombs. The mainstream media call this irrelevant, as it was so long ago. Yet, can one imagine how the media would have reacted had they learned that a GOP presidential nominee was introduced to politics and worked in harness with a KKK bomber of black churches in the 1960s, who was quoted the morning of Oklahoma City as saying he wished he had planted more bombs? As McCain is an establishment man on illegal aliens, NAFTA and Wall Street bailouts, uneasy with social issues like affirmative action and abortion, he lacks the full panoply of weapons that successful Republicans like Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bush II used to win two terms. He seems to confine himself to the limited arsenal Gerald Ford, Bush 1 and Bob Dole employed when they went down to defeat. This election is not over. Yet, even if McCain gets a bit of luck, a dead cat bounce on Wall Street, he must persuade the nation Obama is an unacceptable occupant of the White House if he is to win. Palin appears ready to take the heat to make that case. But McCain seems ambivalent to the point of being bipolar on whether he wants to take responsibility for peeling the hide off Barack Obama. PERHAPS it comes down to what McCain really thinks about an Obama presidency, and how he wants to be remembered by history. __________________________________________ PAT BUCHANAN (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
JOHN MCCAIN: October 9, 2008
Republicans have no presidential candidate
his election never has been about John McCain, though his candidacy is sure to revive a debate about the worst presidential candidates of all time. No, this is a referendum on Barack Obama. And many Republicans are exuding the confidence of a hopelessly quixotic sports fan — a person who watches his atrocious team struggle b for three quarters with the false expectation that some miraculous comeback is imminent in the fourth. It rarely is. McCain consistently has remained inconsistent, vacillating between promises and populism. From his support of cap and trade to his actions during the bailout, McCain’s positions seem entirely focused on winning the middle-of- the-road vote. NO MODERN Republican ever has won the presidency solely focused on the ambivalent, squishy, inattentive center. Those people don’t care enough to name their political parties, much less pay attention. But he’s a maverick. One of McCain’s central arguments has been his uncompromising valor in opposing the Bush administration. Here’s a newsbreak: Disagreeing with the Bush administration on a handful of issues (often the wrong ones, in McCain’s case) doesn’t make you a maverick; it makes you an average American. And sadly, the second debate proved that McCain would be incapable of making his party’s philosophical or political case even if he genuinely tried. When Obama claimed during the second debate that raising taxes on the rich is the equivalent of giving them a “break,” McCain, terrified of defending anyone in a Lexus, failed to make an assertive case that economic freedom helps everyone. When Obama claimed he would lower income taxes for 95 percent of Americans, even though nearly 40 percent of households don’t pay a single cent in income taxes, McCain just smiled. When Obama continued his absurd insistence that our financial mess was caused only by Bush-era “deregulation,” McCain struggled to place the blame where it belongs: on government meddling. AND WHEN Obama contended that his economic plan would be a “net” cut in spending, McCain should have spit the water out of his mouth like a character on a sitcom because that’s exactly what the senior senator from Arizona is starring in. Those Republicans anticipating a
fourth-quarter comeback during the debate were hit instead with a wet fish. Did the putative Republican candidate just propose that the U.S. Treasury renegotiate millions of mortgages at a better price? Was McCain simply unable to articulate a more complex position? It sounded a lot like a comprehensive nationalization of the mortgage industry. It sounded a lot like hundreds of billions of additional tax dollars. Yep, he meant it. It’s called the American Homeownership Resurgence Plan. It will stabilize the economy. And
Obama will stop global warming. And McCain will find bin Laden, even if he has to do it with his bare hands. And ... well, at this pace, we’re about two debates away from being promised free lemonade and snickerdoodles. None of these promises has worked. So now the McCain campaign will set its sights on Bill Ayers, the Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko and other members of the Legion of Doom. All of them are legitimate topics of conversation, but with less than a month to go, the conversation reeks of desperation.
In fact, the entire campaign has been one big act of publicity stunts. McCain’s shining moment this campaign, as far as I can tell, was a funny ad comparing Obama to Paris Hilton. What McCain’s candidacy does tell us is that the Republican Party — even if it miraculously pulls this one out — is in need of some creative destruction. Not ideological purity, but ideological renewal. BECAUSE being a “maverick” is a political slogan, not a political philosophy. __________________________________________ DAVID HARSANYI (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
RACE IN POLITICS: October 10, 2008
Will playing the race card backfire?
as John McCain playing the race card when he referred to Barack Obama as “that one” in Tuesday’s presidential debate? Obama’s campaign and its echo chamber in the media surely want us to think so. Within seconds, the campaign was sending out e-mails to reporters drawing attention to the phrase, and the media were quick to take up the charge. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd somehow claimed that the phrase is “a cross between ‘The One’ and ‘That Woman,’” and meant as a subtle warning to whites that they “should not open the door to the dangerous Other,” namely a black man. CBS’ Jeff Greenfield said, “Those two words are going to be what the water cooler conversation is tomorrow.” Calling race “a particularly toxic issue in this country,” NPR’s Michel Martin asked a guest, “Do you think that race is becoming part of this campaign?” THIS FAUX racism charge is as offensive as it is off base. McCain’s somewhat un-artful reference was born of frustration that Obama has managed to avoid criticism for his pork-barrel spending, even when it benefits the superrich. McCain was referring to a 2005 energy bill that included huge breaks for the oil companies, which Sen. Obama supported and Sen. McCain did not. If race played any role in this calculus, it is the unspoken assumption that because Obama is both black and a liberal, he is immune from suspicion that he would ever do anything to benefit rich white guys.
Throughout the campaign, Barack Obama has tried to have it both ways on the race issue. As long as he thinks he’s safely ahead and no one has the temerity to criticize him, he’s the postracial candidate who refuses to be defined or constrained by race. But when
Chavez he’s being challenged in any way — say, by bringing up his 20-year relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright or his troubling association with Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers — his supporters, if not Obama himself, are quick to claim racism must be the motive. THE ASSOCIATED Press claimed Oct. 5 that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s reference to the ObamaAyers connection “carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.” Racially tinged? The Weather Underground were mostly over-privileged, white radicals from the ‘60s who tried to blow up buildings, including the Capitol and the Pentagon, and killed one policeman and maimed another in San Francisco. Obama has some explaining to do about his relationship with Ayers, and crying “racist” won’t stop legitimate inquiries into whether Obama has been honest about how closely
they worked together over the years or what Ayers’ role was in launching Obama’s political career. There are some real racial double standards in this campaign, but they seem to favor Obama, not McCain. If Obama were a white candidate who attended a church whose pastor regularly inveighed against blacks and accused them of plotting to kill whites, would he have become the Democratic nominee for president? Would he have been able to get away with a speech in which he said he could no more disown his pastor than he could the white community or his own grandmother? And how would it look if he abandoned this association only after the pastor began attacking him? If Obama were white, would he have won more than 90 percent of the black vote in the Democratic primaries? And without that overwhelming support from black voters, could he have secured the nomination? That is not to say that Obama is not talented and appealing on his own. But his race has been more a plus factor than a negative one to date. IT REMAINS to be seen what, if any, role race will play come Election Day. But crying racism over every perceived slight or personal criticism is more likely to cause a backlash than it is to win a single extra vote for Obama. __________________________________________ LINDA CHAVEZ (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
CAMPAIGN 2008: October 15, 2008
McCain’s next duty call — inform the nation
he essence of this election season couldn’t be simpler. The American public is so appalled at the condition of the country (which it unfairly, but not implausibly blames on the despised President Bush) that with fate casting John McCain in the role of Bush’s surrogate, a majority actually is considering voting for Sen. Obama. And when an electorate is intent on doing something, the last thing it wants to hear about are the facts. Moreover, the public’s lack of interest in the facts is facilitated by the major American media’s refusal to report them.
bent, were all disqualified.” Hmm. Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate was even more curious, as described by Gerard Baker in the Irish Independent: “Two exquisitely timed divorces ... smoothed the way. “In the Democratic primary, he was a long shot. But a month before the election, his main opponent, Blair Hull, a wealthy Chicago futures trader, was forced to publish divorce papers that revealed, among other charming details, his wife’s claim that he had once threatened to kill her. “In the general election, lightning struck again. His opponent, the engaging Jack Ryan, had run a campaign as a different sort of Republican. But a few months before the election, his divorce papers revealed that, while he might have been a different sort of Republican, he was from precisely the same stable of Obama political opponents. He had, it turned out, once tried to force his former wife to go with him to sex clubs in Paris.”
FOR EXAMPLE, as Obama has portrayed his political career as one extended beau geste to the ideal of American democracy, a slightly curious media would have thought to report on how he ran his previous elections. And those prior elections, far from being models of honest elections honestly fought, are redolent of Chicago politics at their most suspect. Obama’s first election was described recently by Martin Fletcher, a foreign correspondent for NBC News, in the British newspaper the Times (not on NBC): “Mr Obama won a seat in the state senate in 1996 by the unorthodox means of having surrogates successfully challenge the hundreds of nomination signatures that candidates submit. His Democratic rivals, including Alice Palmer, the incum-
WAS OBAMA really the innocent beneficiary of these rare events? Anything is possible. But when a fellow deals himself two royal flushes in a row, the other players are entitled to be suspicious. Moreover, when a politician is suspected of hypocrisy, the Washington press corps usually is supercharged in its efforts to prove their suspicions. But despite the
fact that these bare outlines of Obama’s elections are pregnant with the implications that he has gained every office he has sought so far by underhanded and sordid means — while posing as a Gary Cooper-like idealist in a corrupt political world — the American media have let these extraordinary events simply pass without significant comment. During the past few weeks, as I have been traveling extensively across the country, I have yet to find anyone (including a few reporters and producers at local news stations in Florida, California and New York) who has heard of these facts. The response when I recite the facts is always about the same. More or less: “Really? Wow!”
A few days ago, a senior McCain campaign aide was reported to have said that McCain would rather lose with dignity than win by questionable means. I hope that isn’t Sen. McCain’s view because the aide has it exactly backward. If the polls are reasonably accurate, three weeks of John McCain’s campaigning is the only thing standing in the way of the American public making the most uninformed presidential decision since the invention of the telegraph. John McCain has an unambiguous duty to the nation to force the public to at least be informed as to the nature and character of Sen. Obama. He needs to lay out all the accurate available information of Obama’s prior alliances, affiliations and conduct both for the purpose of revealing Obama’s character and Obama’s radical policy disposition. The Obama campaign has raised to a high art the technique of politically intimidating people from commenting honestly about Obama. They play the race card dishonestly, and almost the entire deck from which they deal is filled with race cards and threats of litigation. Real racism is appalling, but the act of falsely charging racism undercuts the very causes of equality and tolerance. AS COURAGEOUS as John McCain’s life has been to date, the next three weeks may be his most heroic. He must do his duty and alert the public despite the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” that will be shot into his back as he does so. Once he has discharged that duty — and arranged for sufficient lawyers to protect the ballot boxes from what is likely to be an unprecedented campaign of attempted voter fraud — Sen. McCain may be confident that his honor will be intact. And he will be ready to serve as our 44th president. __________________________________________ TONY BLANKLEY (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
JOE BIDEN: October 9, 2008
Palin vs. Biden: Which one is the airhead?
ow is it that an attractive woman who has been involved in state and local government since the early 1990s without much controversy is passed off in the media now as an airhead? Yet her opponent — long known as an airhead, a braggart and even a plagiarist — now is passed off as a statesman? I have in mind Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware or Scranton, Pa., or wherever he now claims to hail from. In September, Gov. Palin sat before ABC’s Charlie Gibson and CBS’ Katie Couric and was asked any question that popped into their minds or the minds of their researchers. The comely governor responded adequately. She might not win first prize on Jeopardy, but then no Jeopardy winner has governed Alaska. Nonetheless, she is portrayed in the mainstream moron media as an airhead, and Sen. Biden is a statesman. WELL, take a glance at Sen. Biden’s performance just last month. On Sept. 22, he bragged to a Baltimore audience: “If you want to know where al-Qaida lives, you want to know where bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down with a three-star general and three United States senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.” Two days later, he continued his BSing that al-Qaida’s headquarters had been moved to “the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where (his) helicopter was recently forced down.” Both statements were rehashes of his Sept. 9 garbage spiel that “the superhighway of terror between Pakistan and Afghanistan (is) where (his) helicopter was forced down.” Left unsaid by the senator — who rarely leaves anything unsaid — was that the helicopter was “brought down” not by enemy fire but by inclement weather. OK, maybe those outbursts do not reveal Sen. Biden as an airhead, but they do reveal him as a phony. So consider a few more of the senator’s September follies. On Sept. 17, at an appearance in Ohio, Sen. Biden tapped the chest of a reporter (presumably male) and said, “You need to work on your pecs.” Then there was the senator’s interview with Katie Couric. It is Couric, of course, who supposedly revealed Gov. Palin’s intellectual weightlessness, but late in September, she revealed both herself and Sen. Biden to be ignoramuses. While interviewing him on what appeared to be a bus, Couric evoked this response from the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate: “When the stock market crashed (in 1929), Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn’t
just talk about, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.’” Actually, Roosevelt was not president until 1933, and in 1929, there was no “television audience” because there was no television available to consumers. By now, all Biden watchers have had a good laugh at his expense on this one, but the laugh is on Couric, too. Her round, girlish, expressionless face revealed no hint that she was aware of the senator’s botched historical reference.
ed us that he is a plagiarist. In his 1988 presidential bid, he was caught lifting from British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock the Welshman’s biographical treacle, adapting it for an American audience thus: “My ancestors who worked in the coal mines in Northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours.” In Kinnock’s version, his Welsh ancestors “could work eight hours underground and then come up and play football.” This was a dreadful humiliation for Sen. Biden, made all the worse when it was revealed that he had faked his academic record and been accused of plagiarism in law school.
SO SEN. Biden, in one month, reminded us that he is a phony and an airhead, but in September, he also remind-
After being forced out of the 1988 race, the senator, one would have thought, never again would mention his “coal-mining” heritage. Yet Sept. 21, while addressing an audience filled with coal miners in Virginia, he fibbed: “I am a hard coal miner — anthracite coal, Scranton, Pa. That’s where I was born and raised.” He was never a coal miner, and most of his early life was spent in Delaware. AMAZING as it sounds, all the recent pratfalls were committed by the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in but one month. Nonetheless, as we enter October, it is Gov. Palin whom the media deem controversial. __________________________________________ R. EMMETT TYRRELL (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
JOHN MCCAIN: October 14, 2008
Ready to lead? It’s what officers do
e might still win. And then, again, he might not. What matters most, in some sense, is that Capt. John McCain has chosen not to strike his colors. There is enormous potential significance in McCain’s attempt to rise from the inanity and waste of the weeks since the GOP presidential convention. How do we know for sure he’s making the attempt? We can’t for sure. We can’t know anything in this crazy, extraordinary year of 2008. What we can deduce is that he knows what he’s about to get is plow-cleaned the way things are going. He knows, from deep experience, that it’s time to do something, namely, lead. IT’S WHAT officers do. It’s what McCain is in this thing for in the first place — to lead. It’s his last hope — to be seen leading at a time of stress. At Virginia Beach on Monday, McCain acknowledged what Republicans and conservatives have been saying for days. “We have 22 days to go,” he said. “We’re six points down. The national media has written us off.” Well, why not? Hardly had the McCain-Palin campaign launched at the GOP presidential race than it sprang leaks. Soon it was low in the water. As the stock market sagged, then plummeted, the most McCain could find to say was that the chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission should be fired, and that we should all hate greed. The dramatic moment he had intended, or his advisers had intended for him — the sus-
pension of campaigning in order to help solve the financial crisis — was a bust. The attacks on Obama, likewise, flopped. Bill Ayers was a very bad actor in 1970, but who cares about him in 2008? What are you going to do for us, John? Where do you want to go? The Virginia Beach speech wasn’t a bundle of answers. Its strength was tone, attitude. McCain would lead. He was an
Murchison officer, running — he finally seemed to understand — for the role of commanding officer. Commanders get out in front. They say to discouraged troops: Come on, get up, we’re moving. They say: I know what to do, I’ll lead the way. Get up, let’s go. “We’re in a moment of national crisis that will determine our future,” said McCain, acknowledging what everybody else in the country knew. Will we continue to lead the world’s economies, or will we be overtaken? Will the world become safer or more dangerous? ... My answer to you is: Yes, we will lead; yes, we will prosper; yes, we will be safer; yes, we will pass on to our children a better, stronger country.” IT MAY not work in the end. Or it may. The signal factor here is McCain’s evident realization that his strength, in
the name of the political party with which he identifies, isn’t the careful parsing of phrases and programs. His strength is the look that says, here’s what’s wrong, come on, let’s get to work. So up he stands, with just weeks to go before the election, and says, here’s what we do. If not nearly enough at this point, believe and buy in — he has still the chance to leave an important legacy. A McCain wipe out — occasioned by obsession with marginalities rather than penetrating attention to the nation’s economic and security problems — would entrust government for years to a party with no instinct for economic freedom and no eye for discerning easily the difference between friend and foe on the international scene. McCain needs, for various reasons, to give Obama a race for his money. First, because what presidential candidate could relish going down in history as just another Bob Dole, hawking Viagra on television? Second, because scaring even a victorious Obama could slow him down, and also his supporters, as they moved to raise taxes and redefine America’s role in the world. WHAT’S THE program for McCain? The Virginia Beach speech, one can only hope, tips it. The program is to do what John McCain has so often said he wants to do: Lead. __________________________________________ WILLIAM MURCHISON (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
JOE BIDEN: October 9, 2008
Somebody pull the hair plug on this guy
f Sarah Palin had made just one of the wildly inaccurate statements smugly uttered by Sen. Joe Biden in last week’s vice presidential debate, there would have been 3-inch headlines in newspapers across America. (I can almost hear Katie Couric asking me, “Which newspapers?”) These weren’t insignificant errors, such as when Biden said, “Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie’s restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time, and you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years.”
Lebanon.” Hezbollah was never kicked out of Lebanon. He continued: “I said and Barack said, ‘Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.’” This is madness — Lebanon is not a NATO country, nor had any NATO country been attacked by Lebanon. Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn’t picked for the Democrat ticket based on his knowledge of foreign policy. Biden also stoutly denied that Obama ever said he would sit down with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Liberals find it hilarious that McCain can’t use a computer keyboard on account of his war injuries, but Biden is apparently unaware of the Internet, because there are clips all over the Internet of Obama saying exactly that during the CNN/YouTube debate last year. Biden might have remembered that debate since: (1) He was there, and (2) he later attacked Obama’s answer, telling the National Press Club in August 2007: “Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries within the first year I was elected president? Absolutely, positively, no.” And that’s still not all! Obama’s own web site says: “Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.” Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn’t picked for the
IT TURNS out that Katie’s restaurant, where Biden gets his feel for the average American, closed 20 years ago. The only evidence that he spends any time in Home Depot is that it appears that a pipe wrench fell on his head one too many times. Palin would surely have been forced to withdraw from the ticket had she said something like that, but most of Biden’s errors were not trifling mistakes like these. They were lengthy Lyndon LaRouche-like disquisitions that were pure fantasy from beginning to end. For example, Biden said about Hezbollah: “When we kicked — along with France — we kicked Hezbollah out of
Democrat ticket based on his ability to remember well-known facts. BIDEN ALSO gave a long speech at the debate on vice president Dick Cheney’s “dangerous” belief that “he’s part of the legislative branch.” The great constitutional scholar Biden cited Article I of the Constitution as proof that Cheney “works in the executive branch” and has “no authority relative to the Congress.” Biden huffily added: “He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.” Palin would have had to deny that Alaska is a state in the union in order to say something comparably stupid. Article II, not I, describes the executive branch. Someone tell Biden, who is supposed to be a lawyer. Apart from getting the Articles of the Constitution mixed up, what on earth does Biden mean when he says that the vice president “has no authority relative to Congress,” apart from breaking ties? The Constitution makes him president of the senate every day of the week. I realize that Biden may not be able to count to
two, but Article I says the vice president is president of one of the two houses of Congress — the one Biden is in, for crying out loud — which is what you might call “authority relative to Congress.” Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn’t picked for the Democrat ticket based on his knowledge of the Constitution. In one especially hallucinatory answer, Biden authoritatively stated: “With Afghanistan, facts matter, Gwen. ... We spend more money in three weeks on combat in Iraq than we spent on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country.” According to the Congressional Research Service, since 9/11, we’ve spent $172 billion in Afghanistan and $653 billion in Iraq. The most money spent in Iraq came in 2008, when we have been spending less than $3 billion a week. So by Biden’s calculations, we’ve spent only about $9 billion “on the entirety of the last seven years that we have been in Afghanistan building that country.” There isn’t even a “9” in $172 billion. Somebody please tell me that Biden wasn’t picked for the Democrat ticket based on his knowledge of math. In the same answer, Biden went on to claim that “John McCain voted against a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty that every Republican has supported.” The last nuclear test ban treaty the Senate voted on was the one Clinton signed in the ‘90s. As the New York Times editorialized on the Senate vote a few years later: “Last week, Senate Republicans thundered ‘no’ to the nuclear test ban treaty, handing the White House its biggest defeat since health care in 1994.” Forty-nine Republicans voted against the treaty; only four liberal Republicans voted for it. That’s the treaty Biden says “every Republican has supported.” SOMEBODY please tell me that Biden wasn’t picked for the Democrat ticket based on his ability to function as vice president.
__________________________________________ ANN COULTER (c) 2008, Ann Coulter __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
JOE BIDEN: October 15, 2008
The strangely talented Mr. Biden — a poseur
alk about role reversal: Before their vice-presidential debate, Sarah Palin was supposed to be the airhead and Joe Biden the expert. After she stole the show, it was hard to remember he was even there. But there were some things Joe Biden said that stuck. Some unbelievable things. There was a point where they came in such a rush I couldn’t scribble them down fast enough. So I looked at the transcript later to see if I could possibly have heard right. Unfortunately, I had.
the West Bank; that’s the base of the rival Palestinian faction under Abu Abbas, who is still tenuously in control there, thanks to Israeli backing. France and the United States never kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon. Can Barack Obama and Joe Biden have ever proposed, out loud, seriously, sending NATO troops into Lebanon? Like NATO would ever go there. It’s been hard enough keeping NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Didn’t we lose enough Marines (220) in that horrendous bomb blast that destroyed their barracks in Beirut back in 1983? Why go back in there? And what’s this about Hezbollah’s having now become a legitimate part of the government in Lebanon? It’s long been part of the government there, legitimate and illegitimate, and its forces continue to control a large swath of that splintered country. Can you imagine the fun the mainstream media would have had with Sarah Palin if she had managed to cram so many nonfacts into so short a space? Senator Biden made a number of other strange assertions — he’s never at a loss for them — but at least he spaced the others out. It’s not just that some of the things he says aren’t right; they’re not even wrong. They’re just bizarre. But he says them with such assurance, with such easy certainty, with the absolute shamelessness of those who have no idea how off-base they are. There’s one in every coffee shop.
CHECK OUT Senator Biden’s compact history of why this president has been so completely wrong about the Middle East: “He insisted on elections on the West Bank, when I said, and others said, and Barack Obama said, ‘Big mistake. Hamas will win. You’ll legitimize them.’ What happened? Hamas won. When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon — I said and Barack said, ‘Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it. Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately north of Israel. The fact of the matter is, the policy of this administration has been an abject failure.” Huh? What Middle East can Senator Biden have been talking about? The one on Mars? Hamas never won an election on
SARAH PALIN may not know all there is to know about foreign affairs, but at least she knows what she doesn’t know. Senator Biden is a common enough type in American life — someone who strikes the uninformed as well informed. What a poseur. And he gets away with it. He’s routinely described in press reports as “knowledgeable.” With knowledge like that, you don’t need ignorance. On balance, I prefer the plagiarizing Joe Biden who, back in the ‘80s, would on occasion borrow the dramatic life story of some British lord and present it as his own. At least he was caught back then. The moral of the story: Be on guard every time Joe Biden starts a sentence with “The fact of the matter is. ...” Because the odds are, it isn’t. And this is the Seasoned Veteran of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee who’s going to guide Barack Obama through the intricacies of world affairs. Good Lord. Spare us. Lest we forget, this is the same Joe Biden who opposed Ronald Reagan’s policies that ended not only the Cold War but the Soviet Union and the nuclear arms race with it. He opposed the first President Bush’s successful war to liberate Kuwait, but supported George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq — until things grew bleak, when he was ready to give up. At that point he proposed vivisecting Iraq into three different countries — as if Sunni and Shi’a could so easily be separated in a country they’ve shared for centuries. It was a cockamamie idea that might have resulted in the greatest wave of human suffering since India was partitioned in 1947. Senator Biden (and his running mate) then proceeded to oppose the Surge, the successful strategy that John McCain had been urging for some time, and that now has turned the war in Iraq completely around. Not that Joe Biden is prepared to admit how wrong he was about Iraq. And is. But he’s still capable of surprising me. Before the vice-presidential debate, I thought I couldn’t possibly think any less of him. All of which brings me to one Owen Lippert, a senior staff member of Canada’s governing Conservative Party. Or rather he was until the other day, when it was discovered that, in writing a speech a few years back for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he’d plagiarized one given by Australia’s then prime minister, John Howard. Whereupon he had the decency to resign. POOR Mr. Lippert. It doesn’t seem fair. If only he’d been an American, he might have been nominated for vice president of the United States by now. __________________________________________ PAUL GREENBERG (c) 2008, Tribune Media Services __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
RELIGIOUS HISTORY: October 14, 2008
God gets the boot again from Washington
lying under the radar and literally under the ground of congressional bailout meetings were closet Capitol Hill discussions about God and Washington. It seems another revision of America’s religious history has been under way — this time at the $621 million, 580,000-squarefoot Capitol Visitor Center, which will open in a couple of months. Most news media recently were covering Tina Fey and Congress’ foolish financial bailouts; reporter Bob Unruh and WorldNetDaily were virtually alone in exposing this latest divine omission at the U.S. Capitol. This massive and largely underground mus eum of sorts (about three-quarters the size of the Capitol itself) will have exhibition galleries, theaters, a 550-seat cafeteria, gift shops, etc. But one thing absent is equitable representation of our Christian or religious heritage — and there are already several corruptions of it. That is why Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and the 107 other members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus recently sent a petition to the Architect of the Capitol. Their letter details and documents some of the incomplete and inaccurate religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center. Some of the 19 omissions and
inaccuracies also can be seen on a YouTube posting by Sen. Jim DeMint, RS.C., called “War on God.” THANKS TO their passion and diligence, Rep. Forbes’ office recently informed the pubic of some good news: “The Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee ... have acknowledged this important part of our nation’s history and have agreed to correct the omission of historical religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center.” The news release also notes: “The Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee have agreed to the following changes to the Capitol Visitor Center: “That the phrase ‘Our Nation’s Motto’ be removed from the plaque describing the engraving of E Pluribus Unum; “That ‘In God We Trust’ be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center and that the panel describing the engraving include
the proper recognition of this phrase as our national motto; “That the Pledge of Allegiance be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center. “In addition, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration have agreed to the research and development of a permanent religious history display, and have agreed to make every effort to ensure that the display is erected in the Capitol Visitor Center as soon as possible.”
INTERESTINGLY, the next paragraph comes from an e-mail from the office of the Architect of the Capitol (acquired by the chaplain of my organization, who has exposed key religious revisionisms, at www.nationaltreasures. org) in response to a protest regarding the Capitol Visitor Center’s religious omissions. Unfortunately, the e-mail makes it appear to the public as if these religious facts have been included all along, when Rep. Forbes and the 107 other members of the Congressional
CAMPAIGN 2008: October 13, 2008
Gallup polls and the Dow average
or McCain to win this election (which he still can), the furor over the stock market will have to calm down so that popular attention can focus on Barack Obama. For all of the deluge of media that has engulfed the American people, they can only keep one subject on their mind. All media have only one focus at a time. And, if you are in the spotlight, you are almost certain to self-destruct. Follow this election cycle. Between the summer of 2007 and the end of February of 2008, all focus was on Hillary Clinton’s ups and downs. And Obama defeated her decisively. Then in March and April of 2008, Obama was in the focus and the Rev. Wright and the surrounding controversy propelled Hillary to victory. Then, during the summer of 2008, all eyes were on Obama — and McCain gained. In September, McCain was on the griddle. At first, his selection of Sarah Palin let him move ahead. But then his “suspension” of his campaign and subsequent complicity in the bailout package cost him his lead and moved Obama to an advantage just short of double digits.
NOW THE attention should logically shift to Obama. He is way ahead, and McCain is nowhere to be seen. Few give McCain any chance, and the debate is on whether the race is over already. This is, of course, the ideal environment for a McCain surge. All attention would normally focus on the Democrat. But it isn’t. Every American checks the mar-
Morris ket before they check the polls. The ongoing anxiety over the stock market is not only giving more and more people reason to hate the Republicans of Wall Street and their allies in Washington, but it is keeping us from focusing on Obama. If ever the market stabilizes, Americans will be fascinated by the William Ayers-Obama ties and the relationship between Louis Farrakhan and the Democratic nominee. There is increasing
evidence that ACORN is committing voter fraud, registering people over and over again in anticipation of stuffing the ballot box on Election Day. As ACORN gets raided by the FBI, it will hurt Obama. He was general counsel to its Illinois affiliate, and Obama channeled millions to the radical group when he got control over the money Ayers got from the Annenberg Foundation. ALL OF these ties are damning for Obama and will reinforce the doubts that Wright first put in our minds. They will lead people to question Obama’s values and his fitness for the presidency. A man whose spiritual advisor is Wright, whose financial backer is Tony Rezko and whose first major employer was Ayers might not be a good choice for president. But for these associations to loom large enough in our consciousness to impact our vote, the market has to settle down so we can hear the campaign over its din. __________________________________________ DICK MORRIS (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
Prayer Caucus know otherwise, and now you do, too. “References to religion and faith are, in fact, included in the context of several historic exhibits and several religious items appear in the displays. Some examples include Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance in its entirety; a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance and the prayer said at the opening of the current Congress; a copy of the Bible used to administer the oath of office to Senators until 1882; portraits of the first House and Senate chaplains; information about religious services regularly held in the Capitol in the 1800s, and an unaltered display of the U.S. Constitution highlighting the First Amendment which established our country’s right to the freedom of religion.” That’s a good start, but I believe we, the people, need to help keep the pressure on these officials to assure these revisionist rectifications and equitable representation of America’s religious heritage — not just token artifacts. We also must stop the whitewashing of our religious history from taking one more step. We must preserve the fact that our Founders weren’t creating a secular state but a sectarian-free state — and there is a huge difference. With some 15,000 expected guests daily, including thousands of children and students from across America, it is also our duty to safeguard our Capitol’s religious history in the Capitol Visitor Center. That is why I am encouraging Americans to write or call the Architect of the Capitol’s communications officer (firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-228-1793) and also their representatives to voice their opinions. AMERICA’S Founding Fathers wholeheartedly believed in the premise stated in Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” But what would they have thought of a nation that removes God from its heritage, classroom instructions, civic ceremonies, buildings, monuments, historic sites, etc.? I believe the words of Thomas Jefferson are as fitting for religious apostasy as they were for slavery; words that are inscribed upon his memorial in Washington: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.” __________________________________________ CHUCK NORRIS (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
ELECTION DAY: October 12, 2008
A vote for voting on actual Election Day
hat does “Election Day” mean? Once, the answer was obvious: It signified the date — the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November — when Americans came together in public to choose their political leaders and reaffirm their common stake in democratic self-government. But tens of millions of Americans no longer wait until November to vote. In much of the country, voters are permitted to cast their ballots a month or more in advance, either in person at designated early-voting polling places or by mail as “absentees.” Over the course of just a few election cycles, one of our oldest political institutions has been all but overturned. In 1980, notes political scientist John Fortier of the American Enterprise Institute, some four million ballots were cast before Election Day. In 2004, there were 27 million. That number will go even higher this year; there are estimates that as many as onethird of all votes will be “banked” before November. NOT EVERY state has abandoned the communal tradition of Election Day. Massachusetts does not open polling stations early, and voters requesting an absentee ballot must have an excuse for not going to the polls in person. But the momentum, regrettably, is in the other direction. Oregon has done away with polling places entirely; 100 percent of its elections are conducted by mail. Close behind is Washington state, at more than 70 percent. Ohio jumped on the bandwagon for the first time this year, inviting residents to vote as early as Sept. 30 — even letting individuals register to vote and cast a ballot in the same visit if they showed up by Oct. 6. The trend away from a unitary Election Day has long been cheered by those who want voting made more “convenient.” Bill Clinton endorsed early voting during his reelection campaign in 1996. “A lot of people are busy,” he said, “and it’s hard for them to just get there and vote.” BeAbsentee.org, a web site created this year to encourage voting by mail, offers 10 reasons to embrace absentee ballots. Among them: “You have better things to do on Election Day,” “You do not have to stand in line,” and “It might rain on Election Day.” For voters truly unable to make it to the polls on Election Day, due to illness or travel, absentee ballots are a reasonable accommodation. But for most of us, getting to a local polling place once a year is far less onerous than getting to work or to school every day, or to the supermarket once a week. Anyone who can manage to take in an occasional ball game, or go to the movies now and then, or periodically go out to dinner can manage to vote in person on Election Day. ARE SOME citizens so uninterested in political affairs that they won’t bother
to cast a ballot unless they can do it from their living room couch, or are given a month-and-a-half to get around to it? Yes. But what is gained from encouraging such lazy or apathetic people to vote? Especially pernicious is another of BeAbsentee.org’s reasons to vote early: “You can make your decision and move on. Enough with this election already!” In an age of instant gratification and “have-it-your-way” convenience, it may seem unreasonable to expect voters to wait until November to help choose a president, senator, or city councilor. Why not encourage them to vote in October or September — or even
in August, for that matter — if they’ve made up their minds? Here’s why: Because voters who cast early ballots do so without benefit of all the information, analysis, and discussion that bloom in such profusion during the last weeks of an election campaign — the debates, the endorsements, the voter guides, the candidates’ speeches, the heightened media attention. What is significant about Election Day isn’t so much the date itself; it’s the focus that date provides for the process of democratic decision-making. No one thinks jurors should be allowed to render a verdict
before seeing the final witnesses and hearing the closing arguments on each side. Theater critics don’t skip the play’s final act in order to write their review. For the same reason, Americans should vote on the first Tuesday in November, not whenever they’re ready to “move on.” WHAT DOES “Election Day” mean? It used to refer to the pinnacle of our civic religion, the gravely eloquent day when voting in America took place. Now it’s just the day when voting comes to an end. Many changes are for the better, but this isn’t one of them. __________________________________________ JEFF JACOBY (c) 2008, Boston Globe __________________________________________
LEFT AND RIGHT: October 14, 2008
Two irreconcilable Americas
t is time to confront the unhappy fact about our country: There are now two Americas. Not a rich one and a poor one; economic status plays little role in this division. There is a red one and a blue one. For most of my life I have believed, in what I now regard as wishful thinking, that the right and left wings have essentially the same vision for America, that it’s only about ways to get there in which the two sides differ. Right and left share the same ends, I thought. That is not the case. For the most part, right and left differ in their visions of America and that is why they differ on policies. Right and the left do not want the same America. THE LEFT wants America to look as much like Western European countries as possible. The left wants Europe’s quasi-pacifism, cradle-to-grave socialism, egalitarianism and secularism in America. The right wants none of those values to dominate America. The left wants America not only to have a secular government, but to have a secular society. The left feels that if people want to be religious, they should do so at home and in their houses of prayer, but never try to inject their religious values into society. The right wants America to continue to be what it has always been — a Judeo-Christian society with a largely secular government (that is not indifferent to religion). These opposing visions explain, for example, their opposite views concerning nondenominational prayer in school. The left prefers to identify as citizens
of the world. The left fears nationalism in general (this has been true for the European left since World War I), and since the 1960s, the American left has come to fear American nationalism in particular. On the other side, the right identifies first as citizens of America.
Prager The left therefore regards the notion of American exceptionalism as chauvinism; the United Nations and world opinion are regarded as better arbiters of what is good than is America. The right has a low opinion of the U.N.’s moral compass and of world opinion, both of which it sees as having a much poorer record of stopping genocide and other evils than America has. THE LEFT is ambivalent about and often hostile to overt displays of American patriotism. That is why, for example, one is far more likely to find American flags displayed in Orange County, Calif., on national holidays than in liberal neighborhoods in West Los Angeles, Manhattan or San Francisco. The left subscribes to the French Revolution, whose guiding principles were “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” The right subscribes to the American formula, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” The French/European notion of equality is not mentioned. The right re-
jects the French Revolution and does not hold Western Europe as a model. The left does. That alone makes right and left irreconcilable. The left envisions an egalitarian society. The right does not. The left values equality above other values because it yearns for an America in which all people have similar amounts of material possessions. This is what propels the left to advocate laws that would force employers to pay women the same wages they pay men not only for the same job but for “comparable” jobs (as if that is objectively ascertainable). The right values equality in opportunity and strongly believes that all people are created equal, but the right values liberty, a man-woman based family and other values above equality. The left wants a world — and therefore an America — devoid of nuclear weapons. The right wants America to have the best nuclear weapons. The right trusts American might more than universal disarmament. The left wants to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples for the first time in history. The right wants gays to have equal rights, but to keep marriage defined as man-woman. This, too, constitutes an irreconcilable divide. FOR THESE and other reasons, calls for a unity among Americans that transcends left and right are either naive or disingenuous. America will be united only when one of them prevails over the other. The left knows this. Most on the right do not. __________________________________________ DENNIS PRAGER (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
OBAMA CAMPAIGN: October 14, 2008
There’s still time for voters to wake up
trapped to a polygraph on national TV, I would assert quite confidently that I would strongly condemn thuggish and criminal tactics by a candidate I supported. The ends do not justify the means for me and most other conservatives I know. I wish I believed the same were true for liberals, far too many of whom are deliberately turning their backs on the corruption defining Obama’s campaign. It would be bad enough if the Stalinesque stench engulfing the messiah’s campaign were limited merely to its efforts to elect him. But what we fear is that these campaign tactics are of a piece with his policy agenda and his vision for America.
burglars, all protected by an unprecedented mainstream-media cover-up. Democrats tell us they place the highest possible value on the integrity of the election process, yet their uniform response to ACORN’s systematic assault on the voter registration process is unmitigated indifference and denial. They also cavalierly dismiss Obama’s undeniable connection to ACORN, as detailed by Mark Levin at “The Corner” blog on National Review Online. Obama worked for and represented ACORN and has given $800,000 to it from his campaign. Remember how Democrats were ready to hang Republican politicians who might have gone to lunch with lobbyist pariah Jack Abramoff? You want to talk to me about guilt by association? But Obama’s deep associations with corrupt people and organizations don’t so much as flicker the liberal eyebrow. We now know about the investigations of ACORN-related voter registration fraud in 10 states. But have you heard some of the particulars about its nefarious activities in Pennsylvania? The American Spectator’s Jeffrey Lord reports: “‘Between March 23rd and October 1st, various groups, including ACORN, submitted over 252,595 registrations to the Philadelphia County Election Board’ with 57,435 rejected for faulty information. ‘Most of these registrations were submitted by ACORN, and rejected due to fake social security numbers, incor-
SINCERELY intending no melodrama here, it’s hard not to conclude that Obama aims to change America in fundamental ways, the common denominator of which would be to diminish individual liberties, the most distinguishing feature of the unique American system. Sadly, most Obama supporters have no clue what Obama is ultimately about or how his innocuous-sounding ideas could permanently destroy our freedoms. It’s inconceivable that even a low-level Republican candidate could have Obama’s associations and employ his campaign tactics without being driven from the race. And yet we’ve got a man running for the highest office in the land surrounded with anti-American allies and covert election
rect dates of birth, clearly fraudulent signatures, addresses that do not exist, and duplicate registrations. In one case, a man was registered to vote more than 15 times since the Primary election.’” THERE’S NO innocent explanation for any of this in Pennsylvania or for similar ACORN activities in other states. Why aren’t honest Democrats joining Republicans in crying foul? How can they be so willfully blind to these threats to our system? I guarantee that if you ask, they’ll give you their favorite liberal dodge, “Both sides are doing it.” Dream on. Just as alarming as the Obama left’s direct assaults on the electoral process are their totalitarian tactics to chill their opponents’ political speech. Don’t think it’s just Democratic attorneys in St. Louis misus-
ing their power and the law as speechsuppressing weapons. Investor’s Business Daily’s editorial writers bullet point a number of egregious examples. Lawyers for Obama wrote intimidating letters to television and radio stations that aired National Rifle Association ads in Pennsylvania detailing Obama’s anti-gun record. The Obama campaign complained to the Department of Justice when the American Issues Project had the audacity to run an ad tying Obama to violent revolutionary William Ayers, which scared some stations out of airing the spot. Obama’s army of supporters inundated radio station WGN with harassing phone calls and e-mails to disrupt its interviews of conservative writers investigating Obama’s sordid background. This was the Obama campaign’s chosen alternative to sending a representative to debate the conservatives, which they were invited to do. As IBD points out, this is just a glimpse of what’s in store for free conservative speech in an Obama administration, starting with the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine, which is designed to emasculate conservative radio, the last best hope to prevent a full-blown socialist revolution. It is no coincidence that the alarming tactics of the Obama campaign are compatible with Obama’s policy agenda, which he’s promised ACORN a role in crafting. The campaign’s efforts to steal the election, if necessary, and suppress the constitutionally protected expression of its opponents aligns with its plans for government to subsume the health care industry and to use the tax code to punish success and further erode private property, the backbone of liberty. IF I SOUND like an alarmist, then mission accomplished. People better wake up before it’s too late. __________________________________________ DAVID LIMBAUGH (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
BARACK OBAMA: October 13, 2008
Couldn’t pass a routine background investigation
while back, radio talk show host Michael Savage brought up the notion that Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama couldn’t pass a background investigation to become an FBI special agent. He doesn’t know how right he is. Sen. Barack Obama wouldn’t pass a routine government background investigation, not only to become an FBI agent, but a police officer as well. If he were a soldier, his background would preclude him from obtaining a security clearance. He wouldn’t even qualify to be a support person in a federal agency, such as secretary, for that matter. His past cocaine usage disqualifies him from being a DEA agent.
Tony Rezko and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) come to mind. Rezko was just convicted of promoting corruption among Chicago politicians. He helped in the purchase of the senator’s home and was a campaign fund-raiser for Obama. ACORN is being investigated by the feds for systematic voter registration fraud. Not good things. Let’s not forget about Sen. Obama’s pastor and mentor for 20 years, Americahater Rev. Jeremiah Wright. When first questioned about his membership in Wright’s black theology church, Sen. Obama first denied knowing Rev. Wright harbored such negative feelings about the U.S., but after being further pressed, he dismissed the reverend’s conduct as like a “crazy uncle” who lived in the basement. He finally decided that he couldn’t politically afford to stay in the church, and dropped his membership. To keep job applicants honest, many government agencies such as DEA, FBI, CIA and others require them to take a polygraph examination. Do you think Sen. Obama could pass a polygraph when he approves an ad that mocks Sen. John McCain for being unable to send e-mails without mentioning his poorly mended broken arms while in custody of the North Vietnamese which prevents him from manipulating the computer keyboard?
THERE’S another big problem Sen. Obama has: His association and business relationship with Weatherman Underground founder William Ayers, a former domestic terrorist who is still unrepentant for his bombings on U.S. landmarks and police stations. Usually, the company you keep reveals who you really are. Ayers felt then, as he does now, that America is the evil of the world and needs punishing for past and current bad acts. Not many federal agencies would want someone with that kind of chip on his shoulder working for it. Also, Sen. Obama’s association with
He’s not computer illiterate, he’s handicapped! WOULD you want a police officer in your city associating with such people? Not likely. But Obama supporters ignore these associations because they are desperate for a Democrat in the White House. A federal government full-field background investigation would also look for prior inconsistencies, exaggerations and outright lies on an application for employment. I once conducted a background check for an applicant to become a secretary for DEA. She had previously worked for a large police department as a secretary, and left the job to have a child. She was ready to re-enter the
workforce and wanted to work for DEA. She seemed perfect for the job until the background investigation revealed that she lied on her application. She claimed to have 30-semester hours of college in office management, when in reality she attended one day of one class and then dropped out. The fact that she lied was sufficient justification to consider her application no further. After all, if she would lie about that, what else has she lied about? Obviously the woman lacked integrity, which is a vital qualification for any position within the federal government, even a DEA secretary who would have access to all investigative reports. I’d like to conduct Sen. Obama’s background investigation. I’d review his application for the Illinois state bar and see if he mentioned the drug usage that he disclosed in one of his books. If the question about drugs was asked, and he denied it at the time, his integrity is immediately put into question. He revealed it in his book to float a balloon to test his potential as a viable presidential candidate. Admitting it prevented his political opponents from attacking him about it. In fact, in the eyes of many Sen. Obama supporters, using drugs enhances his resume. It’s something they can relate to. PERSONALLY I like my presidents to not associate with known criminals, be drug-free for a lifetime, have unquestioned integrity and be able to pass a simple background investigation.
__________________________________________ GREGORY D. LEE (c) 2008, North Star Writers Group __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
COURTS: October 14, 2008
The end of ‘we the people’ by the courts
nyone desiring a preview of what the federal judiciary would look like under a Barack Obama administration need look no further than a narrow ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court allowing same-sex “marriage.” By a 4-3 margin, the high court deprived Connecticut citizens of the right to limit marriage and, thus, societal approval, to the legal and covenantal relationship between a man and a woman. The ruling cannot be appealed, in keeping with the dictatorial mind-set of the majority.
rate but equal” schools and other public venues. Writing for the majority, Justice Richard N. Palmer revealed his acceptance of the liberal doctrine of a “living Constitution” constantly in need of updating in keeping with the times: “... our understanding of marriage must yield to a more contemporary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitutional protection.” Using such a standard, if
THE COURT majority bought the legal pabulum served up by attorneys for the plaintiffs that denying samesex couples the right to marry is akin to once prevalent laws prohibiting interracial marriage, as well as laws that discriminated against women for certain jobs and relegated blacks to “sepa-
the”`understanding” of the endowed rights of blacks were to devolve to a pre-civil rights-era acceptance of black inferiority, would Justice Palmer argue that blacks would then have to give up their rights in order to serve “contemporary appreciation?” And what else would Justice Palmer and his three col-
leagues allow to be determined by contemporary whim? Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, accused the majority of behaving like “robed masters” and “philosopher kings.” He added, “This is about our right to govern ourselves. It is bigger than gay marriage.” He is correct, of course, but such notions are beginning to fade as more of us either don’t care, or are willing to trade a ruling class — in this case the courts — for individual freedom and the right to shape societal norms and mores from the bottom up, not the top down. Connecticut becomes the third state — Massachusetts and California are the others — to sanction same-sex marriage. California has a measure on its
POLITICAL POWER: October 15, 2008
Political monopoly power The Federalist Papers, written by James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, is the document most frequently referred to when trying to get a feel for the original intent of the framers of the Constitution. One such intention is found in Federalist 56 where Madison says, “...it seems to give the fullest assurance, that a representative for every thirty thousand inhabitants will render the (House of Representatives) both a safe and competent guardian of the interests which will be confided to it.” EXCELLENT research, found at http://www.thirty-thousand.org/index.htm, shows that in 1804 each representative represented about 40,000 people. Today, each representative represents close to 700,000. If we lived up to the vision of our founders, given today’s population, we would have about 7,500 congressmen in the House of Representatives. It turns out that in 1929 Congress passed a bill fixing the number of representatives at 435. Prior to that, the number of congressional districts was increased every 10 years, from 1790 to 1910, except one, after a population census was taken. We might ask what’s so sacrosanct about 435 representatives? Why not 600, or 1,000, or 7,500? Here’s part of the answer and, by the way, I never cease to be amazed by the insight and wisdom of our founders: James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, argued that the smaller the House of Representatives relative to the nation’s population, the
greater is the risk of unethical collusion. He said, “Numerous bodies ... are less subject to venality and corruption. “ In a word, he saw competition in the political arena as the best means for protecting our liberties. If Madison were around today to see today’s venal and corrupt Congress, he’d probably say, “See, I told you so!” IN ADDITION to venality and corruption, restricting the number of representatives confers significant monopoly power
Williams that goes a long way toward explaining the stranglehold the two parties have and the high incumbent success rates. It might also explain the power of vested interest groups to influence congressional decisions. They only have to bribe, cajole or threaten a relatively small number of representatives. Imagine the challenge to a lobbyist, if there were 7,500 representatives, trying to get a majority of 3,813 to vote for this or that special privilege versus having to get only a 218 majority in today’s Congress. Another problem of a small number of congressmen, with large districts, has to do with representing their constituents. How in the world is one congressman to represent the diverse interests and values
of 700,000 people? The practical answer is they don’t and attempt to be all things to all people. Thus, a congressman who takes a principled stand against the federal government exceeding its constitutional authority — whether it be government involvement in education, business welfare and bailouts and $2 trillion dollars worth of other handouts — is not likely to win office. Appealing for the votes in a district of 700,000 is a more difficult challenge than appealing for the votes in a district of 40,000 or 60,000 people. Larger sums must be raised requiring a congressman to be wealthy or raise money from vested interest groups. Who is going to give a congressman money and not expect something special in return? ONE SHOULD not be optimistic about increasing the size of Congress to make it more representative of the American people. There are powerful forces that benefit from the status quo. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lobbyists get Congress to look the other way. Hundreds of other lobbyists get Congress to rig the market, or confer special privileges, to benefit one class of Americans at the expense of another class. I guarantee you that the vested interest groups, who now have a strong grip on Washington, at the detriment of the nation’s well-being, wouldn’t as easily get their way if they had to scrounge for 3,813 votes as opposed to 218.
__________________________________________ WALTER WILLIAMS (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
November ballot, Proposition 8, to reverse a state Supreme Court ruling and preserve marriage between men and women. AN INDICATION that the objectives of the gay rights movement go far beyond what any two individuals wish to do with each other can be seen in what California has tried to impose on heterosexuals wishing to marry. According to Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link web page (www.citizenlink. org/content/A000008385.cfm), some county clerks exchanged the words “bride” and “groom” on marriage licenses for “Party A” and “Party B.” One clerk rejected the application of Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding because they wrote in the traditional designations for themselves. It took a lawsuit by the Coddings, decided in their favor on Oct. 3, for the state to back down on its “Party A” and “Party B” requirement. Couples will now be allowed the “option” to designate themselves however they wish. Under an Obama administration, it is not far-fetched to see the day when liberal federal judges decide that religious organizations must lose their tax exemptions should they refuse to employ homosexuals or others they regard as engaging in deviant behavior. Court challenges against those who believe homosexual behavior is sinful seem to be occurring with greater frequency. According to Citizenlink, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association in New Jersey, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, “lost part of its property tax exemption for refusing to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony to be conducted on its property.” The state is also investigating the organization after it was charged with violating New Jersey’s nondiscrimination statutes. New Jersey has a religious exemption law that is supposed to protect churches and religious organizations, but it hasn’t in this instance, which raises questions about their effectiveness. The aim of the gay rights lobby is to destroy all remnants of biblical values and societal norms. GAY RIGHTS advocates will take their agenda to federal courts as soon as sufficient numbers of liberal judges are there to give them what they want. Watch them vote in overwhelming numbers for Barack Obama. He is their future. This election is, among other things, about the future of the majority and whether we want this country to be shaped by the courts, or by “we the people.”
__________________________________________ CAL THOMAS (c) 2008, Tribune Media Services __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
TAXES: October 9, 2008
In defense of ‘the rich,’ who do pay taxes
o, what do “the rich” pay in federal income taxes? Nothing, right? That, at least, is what most people think. And Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wants to raise the top marginal rate for “the rich” — known in some quarters as “job creators.” A recent poll commissioned by Investor’s Business Daily asked, in effect, “What share do you think the rich pay?” Their findings? Most people are completely clueless about the amount the rich actually do pay. First, the data. The top five percent (those making more than $153,542 — the group whose taxes Obama seeks to raise) pay 60 percent of all federal income taxes. The rich (aka the top one percent of income earners, those making more than $388,806 a year), according to the IRS, pay 40 percent of all federal income taxes. The top one percent’s taxes comprise 17 percent of the federal government’s revenue from all sources, including corporate taxes, excise taxes, social insurance and retirement receipts.
what the rich pay now — both by share of taxes and by tax rate! Thirty percent of American voters pay nothing — zero, zip, nada — in federal income taxes. And, not too surprisingly, compared with taxpaying voters, they are more likely to support spending that benefits them. The majority of the 30 percent who don’t pay federal income taxes agree with Obama’s $65 billion plan to institute taxpayerfunded universal health coverage. But the majority of the 70 percent who pay federal income taxes are opposed to Obama’s health care plan. Non-taxpayers support Obama’s plans for increased tax deductions for lower-income Americans, along with higher overall tax rates levied against middle- and upper-income households. The majority of non-taxpayers (57 percent) also favor raising the individual income-tax rate for those in the highest bracket from 35 percent to 54 percent. And the majority (59 percent) favors raising Social Security taxes by four percent for any individual or business that makes at least $250,000.
NOW, what do people think the rich pay? The IBD/TIPP poll found that 36 percent of those polled thought the rich contribute 10 percent or less of all federal income taxes. Another 15 percent thought the rich pay between 10 and 20 percent, while another 10 percent thought the rich’s share is between 20 and 30 percent. In other words, most people thought the rich pay less — far less — than they actually do. Only 12 percent of those polled thought the rich pay more than 40 percent. Let’s try this another way. A U.S. News & World Report blogger went to the Democratic National Convention in Denver and conducted an informal poll of 24 DNC delegates. He asked them, “What should ‘the rich’ pay in income taxes?” Half the respondents said “25 percent;” 25 percent said “20 percent;” 12 percent said “30 percent;” and another 12 percent said “35 percent.” The average DNC delegate wanted the rich to pay 25.6 percent, which is lower than
OBAMA calls increasing taxes and giving them to the needy a matter of “neighborliness.” Vice presidential running mate Joe Biden calls it a matter of “patriotism.” Yet when it comes to charitable giving, neither Obama (until recently) nor Biden feels sufficiently neighborly or patriotic to donate as much as does the average American household: two percent of their adjusted gross income. Liberal families earn about six percent more than conservative families, yet conservative households donate about 30 percent more to charity than do liberal households. And conservatives give more than just to their own churches and other houses of worship. Conservatives, especially religious conservatives, give far more money and donate more of their time to nonreligious charitable causes than do liberals — especially secular liberals. In 2007, President George W. Bush and his wife had an adjusted gross in-
come of $923,807. They paid $221,635 in taxes, and donated $165,660 to charity — or 18 percent of their income. Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, in 2007, had a taxable income of $3.04 million. And they paid $602,651 in taxes, and donated $166,547 to charity — or 5.5 percent of their income. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, earned between $200,000 and $300,000 a year between 2000 and 2004, and they donated less than one percent to charity. When their income soared to $4.2 million in 2007, their charitable contributions went up to five percent. Joe and Jill Biden, by contrast, made $319,853 and gave $995 to charity in
2007, or 0.3 percent of their income. And that was during the year Biden was running for president. Over the past 10 years, the Bidens earned $2,450,042 and gave $3,690 to charity — or 0.1 percent of their income. SO LET’S sum up. The “compassionate” liberals — at least based on charitable giving — show less compassion than “hardhearted” conservatives. The rich pay more in income taxes than people think. Voters, clueless about the facts, want the rich to pay still more. __________________________________________ LARRY ELDER (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
ANSWER MAN: October 26, 2008
The Answer Man A WATERWAY MISSION 1. What waterway was established as a link between the city of Washington and points west? 2. To what historic construction’s inauguration did states, cities and patriotic societies contribute stones that are 4 feet high, 2 feet long and 18 inches thick? 3. At what educational establishment did George Wythe, America’s first law professor, teach? 4. Name the famed student of George Wythe who described his teacher as “my faithful and beloved mentor.” 5. The most prestigious honor society in the United States was founded in Raleigh’s Tavern in Williamsburg, Va., in 1776. Name it.
6. What former child movie star was defeated in a run for Congress as a Republican candidate in 1967? 7. Name the famed Olympic and professional athlete who was the first elected president of the National Football League (which was then the American Football Association). 8. Name the last U.S. president to have been born in a log cabin. 9. To what community was Mark Twain referring when he called it “the city of magnificent intentions?” 10. “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Who issued this hateful statement: a) George Custer; b) U.S. Grant; c) Robert E, Lee; or d) Philip Sheridan?
Seamans continued on page 19
October 22, 2008
FINANCIAL CRISIS: October 11, 2008
There is a light at the end of the financial crisis
ear and panic have taken over the stock market, the banking system and the economy. It is one of those moments in history when people feel helpless, frustrated and bewildered about what’s going on and why it’s happening. Stocks are being pummeled in ways we haven’t seen in nearly a century, both here and overseas. The Dow Jones is down nearly 20 percent this week, its second worst week since December 1914. The S&P 500 dropped over 20 percent in what looks to be the worst week in the history of that index (going back to 1928). Behind all this, the credit system is completely frozen. Banks are now loathe to lend even to each other in the overnight markets that are so vital to the daily financing of American business. And the profits outlook is deteriorating badly, sparking fears that we may have a deep and prolonged recession. And yet, much good may ultimately come of this terrifying correction.
I COMMEND everyone to read the Wall Street Journal op-ed of Friday written by John Steele Gordon, an eminent financial historian. Gordon writes that there have been financial panics roughly every 20 years throughout American history. He goes all the way back to Alexander Hamilton, who orchestrated the first banking bailout in 1792. From this came a regular money-supply system, a credible U.S. government debt system and something of a disciplined banking system. Gordon hopes that out of the current crisis we get a better system of well-capitalized banks regulated by a more unified government supervisory apparatus. My view is that the panic will pass and long-run American prosperity will continue. This may seem Pollyannaish right now, but I have great confidence that our free-market economy will come
out better, with a strong financial underpinning, when the storm finally ends. Paradoxical as it may be, strong government actions to stabilize banking are necessary to preserve the free-market-economy system. No free-market economy can survive without stable banking and credit. Without readily available credit, entrepreneurs can’t put their new ideas into commercial practice. And without that vital innovation, economic growth suffers. The trick now is to use government levers in smart and efficient ways. Banks need to be recapitalized without punishing current and future shareholders. Henry Paulson is working on this. More than likely, the Treasury man and the G-7 finance ministers are figuring out a plan that will temporarily guarantee all short-term interbank lending in the New York and London money markets.
FINANCIAL CRISIS: October 13, 2008
Ten reasons for stock market plunge
s usual the mainstream media has done a great job of sensationalizing the dramatic drop in the stock market over the last two weeks. As usual, they have done a poor job of reporting many of the reasons it is happening. The emergency financial rescue legislation passed by Congress less than two weeks ago was never intended to be an instant cure for our ailing economy, but some people have criticized the package because it was not. Wake up people! This is not a movie. This is real. HERE ARE 10 factors driving down the domestic stock market: (1) Banks are resetting their lending guidelines. (2) Large companies (Fortune 1000) are revising their fourth-quarter earnings outlook downward. Stockholders are expecting this. (3) Many large companies may suspend their fourth-quarter dividend payout to conserve cash, and they may make sizeable job cuts. (4) Stock portfolio managers are attempting to cut their losses, out of panic and fear of not knowing where the bottom is going to be. (5) Pension fund managers are trying to maximize their cash, because they are trying to sustain pension payments. (6) Small businesses are trying to hang in there until the credit market thaws out before being forced to start laying people off. (7) Details of the emergency $700 bil-
lion (plus tax extenders and pork) rescue package have not been implemented yet. (8) General uncertainty and panic selling are contributing to a downward snowballing effect. (9) Foreign markets are experiencing the same effects, which impacts our domestic markets and vice versa. (10) There is a general negative outlook for 2009 due to the poisonous political tone in Congress, and negativity in the presidential campaigns.
These are just some of the more obvious factors driving the stock market down. Some of the not-so-obvious reasons are risky financial instruments, called derivatives, which are used by financial professionals. OVER-VALUED and bundled mortgage-backed securities are examples of such derivatives, which have backfired and imploded on some lending institutions’ balance sheets. Can we say Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Up until a month ago, most of Main Street America didn’t even know what Fannie and Freddie were, but now they do. And
they are learning more and more about them every day, and the role they have played in setting off the national financial crisis. The stock market will bottom out sooner rather than later, because there is real value in millions of real products and services, which are being produced and provided by real businesses and most importantly, real people. It’s called economic resiliency. Businesses large and small, banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, stock market traders, portfolio managers and investors are all redefining “business as usual.” Lending institutions will start lending again, businesses will readjust their operations, consumers will keep buying stuff, and we will begin to bounce back when a collective calm starts to offset some of the fear and irrational decisions by some people in the financial markets. The U.S. economy has more economic resiliency than any other economy in the world, because of our free markets system, ingenuity, entrepreneurial determination, and the underlying winning will of the American people.
BRITAIN has done this for its High Street banks. But the American and European banks in London are not guaranteed. This is the message of the LIBOR market, which has seized up. As of Friday, the three-month LIBOR dollar rate and its spread against Treasury bills have again increased significantly. This, in turn, is dragging down stocks. In New York, the market for commercial paper issued by banks also has faltered. In fact, financial commercial paper has dropped nearly $160 billion in recent weeks. That’s why the authorities have to step in with a short-term backstop. Other measures to relieve banks of their distressed assets, backstop money-market funds and guarantee all banking deposits will have a positive effect over time, as Paul Volcker noted in the Journal this week. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has essentially moved off its fed funds rate target and is instead focused on injecting huge quantities of new cash into the banking system. The most basic money supply controlled by the Fed is now growing at a 16 percent rate after being nearly flat for 18 months. In the last five weeks, the Fed has injected nearly $700 billion through a variety of lending facilities. This is important. The demand for liquidity during this period of asset and credit deflation cries out for massive new cash supplies from the central bank. Then there’s oil, which is almost forgotten in this panic. The $150 oil shock and elevated prices at the pump are what worsened the credit crunch and hastened the recession. But now oil is about $80 a barrel. When the dust finally clears, lower energy prices will be an important tax-cut, prorecovery factor. Meanwhile, the exchange value of the U.S. dollar is up 16 percent in recent months. That’s an anti-inflationary sign of confidence. And as Gordon writes, hopefully we have learned to stop forcing banks to give mortgages to uncreditworthy customers and to stop encouraging Fannie and Freddie to package these bad loans. I recall the despair that surrounded the S&L/junk-bond credit crunch 20 years ago. Nobody believed prosperity would return for a long time. Commentators on the left wrote about the decline of the U.S. economy and American power. Yet the 1990s witnessed a strong prosperity boom — the free-market model of capitalism triumphed, and the socialist model in Russia and elsewhere collapsed.
WE HAVE been shaken, but not stirred.
YES, the months ahead are going to be tough. But I remain optimistic that our free democracy and free-market economy will survive this crisis, as well.
__________________________________________ HERMAN CAIN (c) 2008, North Star Writers Group __________________________________________
__________________________________________ LARRY KUDLOW (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
16 October 22, 2008
CONSERVATIVE FOCUS: Financial Crisis
Glimmers of hope emerge in financial crisis
s bleak as things look right now, there are reasons to believe we may get through this economic decline sooner than the pessimists’ predictions of one to two years. We’ve been through 10 recessions since the end of the 1940s, and the records tell us they averaged less than 10 months when they lifted national unemployment to an average of 7.6 percent. We’re still a long way from that jobless number. For nearly two years now, the economic forecasters have been saying we’re heading into a recession, and many say we’re in a recession now.
WE ARE likely to be in one in this quarter (July, August and September) because exports, the one economic pillar propping up growth, have fallen as a result of a weakening global economy. Retail sales are flat or worse, and factory orders and construction have fallen sharply on top of the credit and debt catastrophe that has struck banks and Main Street businesses. The definition of a recession is two back-to-back quarters when the economy is not growing. We had one month (last December) of negative growth, but the economy perked up unexpectedly and resumed its growth, despite those who predicted otherwise. We grew at a revised 2.8 percent in the second quarter, largely due to the $1.6 trillion a year in U.S. exports in the global economy — one of those rarely mentioned “fundamentals” in our economy that John McCain was talking about and seemed to upset Barack Obama. So the professional pessimists and pundits who said we were in a recession last year and earlier this year were flat wrong. But even a stopped clock is right at least twice a day, and it looks as if they’ll be right in the last half of this year. But how deep will this recession be and how long will it last? We’re in the endgame of a furious election battle when Democrats are painting as bleak a picture of the economy as they possibly can. Obama likes to make comparisons to the Great Depression in his campaign speeches, which is silly and irresponsible. At the economy’s lowest point in 1932, stocks fell nearly 90 percent. We’re a long way from that kind of deep decline. Then there is another one of those “fundamentals” that McCain was referring to earlier — the incredibly productive American workforce. Unemployment has climbed, and we’ve lost — and will lose — several million jobs this year. But unemployment as of August was 6.1 percent — in sharp contrast to the nine percent to 10.8 percent levels we endured in the early 1970s and 1980s when interest rates and inflation hit double digits. BUT WE have several things going for us in this latest economic decline, and chief among them is Fed Chairman Ben
Bernanke, who wrote the book on what led to the Great Depression. That’s when the Fed tightened the money supply instead of injecting liquidity into the economy’s banking institutions — and then FDR raised taxes. Bernanke and his economic partner Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson aren’t going to make those mistakes. Last week’s half-point interest-rate cut will be followed by others, while the Fed and Treasury continue to make money available to keep the nation’s lending arteries open until we can work our way out of this trouble. In the meantime, the Treasury and the Federal Housing Administration have been pushing to renegotiate subprime
mortgage loans at the rate of 200,000 a month for creditworthy homeowners who are trying to stay in their homes. Then there are the underappreciated Bush tax cuts that have helped make our economy more resilient than it otherwise would have been. They helped us bounce back from the 9/11 terrorist attacks when the economy stopped breathing and recover from one financial breakdown after another, natural disasters and now the subprime mortgage and credit debacle. There are a few other fundamentals at work here that will help us out of this economic hole, like relatively low interest rates, plunging oil prices that are cutting the price of gasoline at the pump, and a
real-estate market that is showing glimmers of a comeback. Pending home sales increased by an unexpected 7.4 percent between July and August, pushing the National Association of Realtors index of pending sales to 93.4 from an upwardly revised reading of 87. That’s the highest number since the summer of 2007, and a sign that homebuyers are returning to the market to take advantage of bargain-basement home prices. NEVERTHELESS, the national mood of gloom and pessimism runs deep as Paulson and his Treasury associate, Neel Kashkari, try to fix this mess. October 9, 2008 __________________________________________ DONALD LAMBRO (c) 2008, United Media Services __________________________________________
Exaggerated demise of capitalism
he gloating didn’t last long. A few weeks ago, German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck proclaimed that “Anglo-Saxon capitalism” is “finished.” Steinbrueck stuck it to the hated Anglo-Saxon capitalists just in time — before he got too distracted by the exigencies of managing a $681 billion program to re-finance distressed German banks. Germany’s second-largest commercial real estate lender, Hypo Real Estate, apparently didn’t realize risky practices during the great credit bubble were inherently un-Germanic. Its loans exceeded its deposit base by 8-1 or more, and the German government had to swoop in with a $67 billion rescue as it neared collapse. THE SAME kind of overleveraging, risky loans, toxic securities and real-estate bubble that has rocked the American financial system infected Europe, which is why European schadenfreude quickly turned to desperate and (until now) poorly coordinated attempts to shore up Europe’s banks. So far, only one country has been taken down by the financial crisis, and that is poor little Iceland, brought to its knees by bank failures. The end of Norse capitalism? The rush to declare the death of the system of sophisticated finance and robust free-market economics pioneered in Britain and exemplified by the United States has many motives. Euro-bureaucrats have always hated its out-of-control dynamism. Democrats here at home pile on in hopes of creating an overweening Euro-style regulatory state, while conservatives proclaim the advent of socialism in shock and horror at the scale of government intervention in this crisis.
The $700 billion bailout bill provides the headline number for a sprawling government response. The Federal Reserve pulled off a coordinated interest-rate cut with other key central banks, made $600 billion available in “swaps lines” to other central banks and began loaning directly to businesses. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has increased its guarantee of deposits from $100,000 to $250,000. A massive guarantee of all interbank lending could be next. All of this isn’t socialism, but emergency measures to preserve credit, the
Lowry lifeblood of capitalism. The Wall Street axiom that “the markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent” applies particularly to banks, which can’t exist without market confidence. The architect of the American economic system, Alexander Hamilton, acted just as aggressively to prop up the banks during a panic in 1792, although on a much smaller scale. In so doing, he saved the U.S. financial revolution that fueled the young country’s economic rise. By the 1820s, the United States caught up to England in per capita output. HAMILTON intuitively understood the rules for handling a panic that were formulated late in the 19th century by British writer Walter Bagehot, editor of the Economist: “The holders of the cash reserve must ... lend to merchants,
to minor bankers, to ‘this man and that man,’ whenever the security is good. In wild periods of alarm, one failure makes many, and the best way to prevent the derivative failures is to arrest the primary failure which causes them.” Financial panics aren’t new — as economic historian John Steele Gordon has noted, they’ve occurred about every 20 years throughout American history. Neither are financial bailouts. The savings and loan and the Long Term Capital Management bailouts didn’t denote the end of American capitalism. If the Treasury and the Fed, along with their counterparts around the globe, have acted quickly and boldly enough, they will have forestalled economic calamity in a way ur-capitalists Hamilton and Bagehot would have approved of. Then, we will still face a sharp recession, but we have weathered those before. We can return swiftly to economic growth, as long as the necessary postcrisis regulatory tuneup doesn’t lurch into suffocating overkill. The daily dose of dire news shouldn’t obscure the fact that open, dynamic capitalism gave us a quarter-century of nearly uninterrupted economic growth. It is the system that most accords with individual freedom and — over the long term — creates the most efficient and productive use of resources. JUST WAIT. We’ll be back, and through gritted teeth, the Europeans will watch the “Anglo-Saxons” rise again. October 13, 2008 __________________________________________ RICH LOWRY (c) 2008, King Features Syndicate __________________________________________
CONSERVATIVE FOCUS: Financial Crisis
October 22, 2008 17
Liquidating the empire: America first “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers.” So Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon advised Herbert Hoover in the Great Crash of ‘29. Hoover did. And the nation liquidated him — and the Republicans. In the Crash of 2008, 40 percent of stock value has vanished, almost $9 trillion. Some $5 trillion in real estate value has disappeared. A recession looms with sweeping layoffs, unemployment compensation surging, and social welfare benefits soaring. America’s first trillion-dollar deficit is at hand. In Fiscal Year 2008 the deficit was $438 billion.
of dollars and U.S. debt — China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Arabs — are reluctant to lend us more. Sovereign wealth funds that plunged billions into U.S. banks have already been burned. Uncle Sam’s VISA card is about to be stamped “Canceled.” The budget is going to have to go under the knife. But what gets cut? Social Security and Medicare are surely exempt. Seniors have already taken a huge hit in their 401(k)s. And as the Democrats are crafting another $150 billion stimulus package for the working poor and middle class, Medicaid and food stamps are untouchable. Interest on the debt cannot be cut. It is going up. Will a Democratic Congress slash unemployment benefits, welfare, education, student loans, veterans benefits — in a recession? No way. Yet, that is almost the entire U.S. budget — except for defense, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and foreign aid. And this is where the axe will eventually fall. It is the American Empire that is going to be liquidated. Retrenchment has begun with Bush’s backing away from confrontations with Axis-of-Evil charter members Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programs, and will likely continue with a negotiated peace in Afghanistan. Gen. Petraeus and Secretary Gates are already talking “reconciliation” with the Taliban.
WITH TAX revenue sinking, we will add to this year’s deficit the $200 to $300 billion needed to wipe the rotten paper off the books of Fannie and Freddie, the $700 billion (plus the $100 billion in add-ons and pork) for the Wall Street bailout, the $85 billion to bail out AIG, and $37 billion more now needed, the $25 billion for GM, Chrysler and Ford, and the hundreds of billions Hank Paulson will need to buy corporate paper and bail out banks to stop the panic. As Americans save nothing, where are the feds going to get the money? Is the Fed going to print it and destroy the dollar and credit rating of the United States? Because the nations whose vaults are full
WE NO longer live in Eisenhower or Reagan’s America. Even the post-Cold War world of George H. W. Bush, where America was a global hegemon, is history. In both relative and real terms, the U.S.A. is a diminished power. Where Ike spent nine percent of GDP on defense, Reagan six percent, we spend four percent. Yet we have two wars bleeding us and many more nations to defend, with commitments in the Baltic, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans we did not have in the Cold War. As U.S. weapons systems are many times more expensive today, we have fewer strategic aircraft and navy ships than Ike or Reagan commanded. Our active-duty army and Marine Corps consist of 700,000 troops, 15 percent women, and a far higher percentage of them support rather than combat troops.
With so few legions, we cannot police the world, and we cannot afford more. Yet, we have a host of newly hostile nations we did not have in 1989. U.S. interests in Latin America are being challenged not only by Cuba, but Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Honduras. Brazil, Argentina and Chile go their own way. Russia is reasserting hegemony in the Caucasus, testing new ICBMs, running bomber probes up to U.S. air space. China, growing at 10 percent as we head into recession, is bristling over U.S. military sales to Taiwan. Iran remains defiant. Pakistan is rife with antiAmericanism and al-Qaida sentiment. The American Empire has become a vast extravagance. With U.S. markets crashing and wealth vanishing, what are we doing with 750 bases and troops in over 100 countries? With a recession of unknown depth and duration looming, why keep borrowing billions from rich Arabs to defend rich Europeans, or billions from China and Japan to hand out in Millennium Challenge Grants to Tanzania and Burkina Faso? America needs a bottom-up review of all strategic commitments dating to a Cold War now over for 20 years. Is it essential to keep 30,000 troops in a South Korea with twice the population and 40 times the wealth of the North? Why are McCain and Obama offering NATO memberships, i.e., war guarantees against Russia, to a Georgia run by a hothead like Mikheil Saakashvili, and a Ukraine, millions of whose people prefer their kinship to Russia to an alliance with us? We must put “country first,” says John McCain. RIGHT YOU are, Senator. Time to look out for America first. October 14, 2008 __________________________________________ PAT BUCHANAN (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
GOVERNMENT OWNERSHIP: October 15, 2008
The price of banking on government
here was instructive value even in the language that the Washington Post and the New York Times used to describe the Monday meeting at which nine large banks agreed to surrender part ownership to the government. In describing how it came about, the Post said, “The government ordered the chief executives of nine prominent banks to attend a meeting yesterday at the imposing offices of the Treasury Department.” In describing the outcome, the Times said, “Bringing together all nine executives and directing them to participate was a way to avoid stigmatizing any one bank that chose to accept the government investment.” THE BANKERS were “ordered” to come to Washington and “directed” to surrender an ownership interest to the state. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson emerged from the meeting looking and talking like Shakespeare’s Macbeth when that woeful character emerged from the room where he had just slain the king of Scotland. “We regret having to take these actions,” said the remorseful former Wall Street banker. “Today’s actions are not what we ever wanted to do, but today’s actions are what we must do to restore confidence to our financial system.” “Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans — me included,” said Paulson. He then went on to explain that the government intended to buy an interest not only in nine big banks but also in hundreds of smaller — financially healthy — banks all across the country. “Today I am announcing that the Treasury will purchase equity stakes in a wide array of banks and thrifts,” Paulson said. “While many banks have suffered significant losses during this period of market turmoil, many others have plenty of capital to get through this period. ... Our goal is to see a wide array of healthy institutions sell preferred shares to the Treasury and raise additional private capital so that they can make more loans to businesses and consumers across the nation.” The New York Times reported that there are about 8,500 smaller banks in the United States and that, according to the American Bankers Association, 95 percent of U.S. banks are well-capitalized. In other words: The government is seeking to buy up shares in healthy, wellrun small businesses all across America so it can get those businesses to behave as the government wants them to behave — which, as Paulson put it, is to “make more loans to businesses and consumers.” BUT ISN’T that how we got into this mess — with the government trying to get
banks to make more loans? Just as one lie leads to another, imprudent government intervention in the free market leads to further imprudent government intervention in the free market. Each step of the way, we are told we have no choice but to do what the government wants us to do. The original transgression that led us to the current crisis was committed by elected officials in Washington who wanted to buy additional incumbency insurance for themselves by saying to voters: We will help you buy a house. They worked to accomplish this through legislation (such as the Community Reinvestment Act) that pressured banks to make riskier loans and through tax-exempt government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which started buying up riskier loans (so the original lenders did not have to carry
the risk) and wrapping them into mortgage-backed securities (which mixed bad loans with good loans). “Because these two companies were chartered by Congress, many believed they were guaranteed by the federal government,” President Bush said when he first announced his plan for a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry. “This allowed them to borrow enormous sums of money, fuel the market for questionable investments, and put our financial system at risk.” Right. Then President Bush did guarantee them. So we have gone from government pressuring banks to make riskier mortgages, to government-sponsored enterprises buying riskier loans from banks to facilitate even more risky lending, to government buying stakes in the banks themselves. “We are acting with unprecedented
speed, taking unprecedented measures that we never thought would be necessary,” Paulson said at the end of his announcement. What will be the next unprecedented measure government officials never thought would be necessary? Having murdered his king and then his friend Banquo, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, abandoning all consideration of right and wrong, decides: “I am in blood / Stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er.” He learns — in the end — he made the wrong decision. AMERICANS have a decision to make, too. Do we want to wade further into government dependency and government intervention in our economy? Or do we want to turn back now to the shores of individual responsibility and freedom? __________________________________________ TERENCE JEFFREY (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
FINANCIAL CRISIS: October 13, 2008
Consequences of the economic crisis
n political terms, it doesn’t really matter what caused the current economic crisis. Nor does it matter that it is worldwide. In a democracy, or at any rate in the United States, the party in power in that situation gets sacked. And maybe it should — after all, in a two-party system, the only choice the voters have if things go wrong is to switch parties. So the Republican Party, which had the misfortune to be in the White House when this blow fell, is going to suffer the consequences on Election Day. It knows this very well and is braced for bad news. The Democrats already control both Houses of Congress, and their margins in both chambers will increase, probably substantially. Obama will beat McCain handily. And the Democratic margins in state houses all over the country will increase. In the long run, however, this won’t spell the End of America. On the contrary, it will simply set up the Republicans for a spirited comeback in the congressional elections of 2010, and quite possibly for a return to the White House in 2012 or 2116.
fore they took over, and can continue to be blamed on the Republicans for a while. In due course, the economy will come back, as it always does, and the political balance will reassert itself. With the Democrats running things, you can bet that government spending will increase, probably substantially, and that will have the temporary exhilarating effect that increased spending always does. The added debt will further cripple the national fisc, but at too much of a remove to be blamed effectively on those who caused it. The U.S. economy will simply shoulder the added burden and soldier on. It’s a serious question whether the world economy, whose poor health has caused this crisis, is well enough understood to enable the major powers to dig their way out of it. There are, of course, economists by the carload who can tell us exactly what the problems are and how to remedy them. But they disagree noisily among themselves, and the truth probably is that any economic process — certainly one as complex as the global economy — is going to experience ups and downs that are beyond the control of any cabal of “experts” that could possibly be assembled.
BUT NOW is the Democrats’ time, and they can be forgiven if they intend to enjoy it. It doesn’t matter that there’s no reason to think the economy will get much better on their watch; the downturn began be-
IF THIS description of the situation is even approximately accurate, the ques-
tion arises whether anything can be done to ameliorate it. Certainly, every effort ought to be made to keep the international economy as healthy as possible, with each nation contributing what it can to the gross world product. This means tamping down international disputes, and — above all — wars. In the world as presently constructed, that obligation must fall primarily on the United States, with the important help of the other responsible major powers. There is no deadlier threat to international peace and stability than the conviction, on the part of some willful national leader, that he can improve his country’s prosperity at the expense of another nation. If that is the case, where are the threats today? We can probably count ourselves lucky that there are none. There is no Nazi Germany bent on expansion, let alone a Soviet Union determined to spread the Communist system and philosophy around the world. Even Communist China, which probably could present the gravest threat in this direction if it were so inclined, seems disposed to concentrate on strengthening itself internally, at least for the time being. So let’s be grateful that the world is relatively stable, for the present. THERE ARE real threats out there, but they are for the future. __________________________________________ WILLIAM RUSHER (c) 2008, United Media Services __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
TERM LIMITS: October 12, 2008
Are term limits a good thing or not?
nimpressed by Charles de Gaulle’s droll observation that the graveyards are full of indispensable men, Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s 108th mayor, has decided that he is indispensable. So the law limiting mayors to two terms must be revised to allow three terms. “It’s not that anyone is indispensable,” said Bloomberg when announcing that the term-limits law, which was enacted by referendum and then reaffirmed by a second referendum, is an intolerable impediment to his continuing as mayor for another four years in what he calls “tough times.” He was referring to Wall Street’s troubles, which will shrink the city government’s revenues. But the times were always in some ways tough for each of Bloomberg’s 107 predecessors.
(which apply to council members) by statute rather than submit the change to a public referendum. To the charge that term limits are undemocratic, the answer, in Palinspeak, is, “You betcha.” That is, they are as undemocratic as, say, the First Amendment, which begins with the most lovely five words in the English language — “Congress shall make no law.” The amendment lists some things that the people’s elected representatives cannot do even if the people want them done, such as abridge freedom of speech, or legislate the establishment of religion. Last month, in a front-page story headlined “Across Country, New Challenges to Term Limits,” the New York Times, which dislikes term limits as heartily as it likes Bloomberg, reported, without even a soupcon of irony, this: “A decade after communities around the country adopted term limits to force entrenched politicians from office, at least two dozen local governments are suffering from a case of buyer’s remorse, with legislative bodies from New York City to Tacoma, Wash., trying to overturn or tweak the laws.” Good grief. These legislative bodies, including state legislatures, are largely filled with politicians eager to become entrenched. And these bodies never did “buy” term limits. Limits were imposed on them.
ADVOCATES of term limits argue neither that political talent is irrelevant nor that it is ubiquitous. Rather, they argue that talent is not so scarce that the benefits of rotation in office must be sacrificed in order to prolong indefinitely a talented person’s tenure in office. And they argue that the benefits of churning the talent pool exceed the costs of limiting tenures. Bloomberg’s supporters say term limits are undemocratic — but also that the City Council should alter the limits
The Times reported gravely that term limits force legislators “to gravitate toward small-bore projects that can be done quickly, rather than anything visionary that would take years to achieve.” Disregard the dubious idea that “visionary” legislatures are desirable, and disregard the fact that term limits always allow legislators to serve for “years” — usually at least six and often eight or more. But consider the Times’ supposedly alarming example of Tacoma Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg. NOW IN her second four-year term, she advocates something that the Times presumably considers visionary and not a bit small-bore — a $2 million pedestrian and bike trail. Ladenburg lamented to the Times that she thinks “this is crazy” because, “If I go away, and it’s not completed, what will happen?” Well, either the trail will be completed or it won’t. Presumably, if the good people of Tacoma want it, it will be, in which case she will not have been indispensable, which will also be true if they do not want it completed. The Times dutifully reported that 37 governors, 15 state legislatures and nine of the 10 most populous cities have term limits, which remain popular with the people who imposed them: “Recent ballot initiatives to alter them, including one in California in February, have failed.” Two amusing arguments against term limits are that political novices are
too susceptible to the wiles of lobbyists, and that term-limited legislators, worrying too much about their next jobs and too little about their current ones, are constantly in campaign mode, thinking of the next election rather than the next generation. The idea that when term limits are absent, these difficulties are absent is refuted by one word: Congress. “MAKE no mistake about it,” said Bloomberg when announcing his intention to revise the law without seeking the permission of the public that enacted it, “I still think term limits are a good thing.” Just not for him, not now, in these “tough times.” Yet again, the political class’ reaction to term limits is a powerful, indeed sufficient argument for them. __________________________________________ GEORGE WILL (c) 2008, Washington Post Writers Group __________________________________________
seamans Seamans from page 14
ANSWERS 1. It’s usually referred to by its initials. It’s the C&O or Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. 2. It’s the Washington Monument. Source: Lisa Rauschart on “Tourist Guide.” 3. Wythe taught at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. 4. Thomas Jefferson studied law under George Wythe. 5. The honor society is Phi Beta Kappa. 6. Shirley Temple lost that House race. 7. It was James Francis “Jim” Thorpe, who was designated as America’s Athlete of the Century by the U.S. House of Representatives. 8. Westerville, Ohio, Answer Maner John W. Reed tells us it was James A. Garfield, our 20th president. 9. Twain was referring to the Nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. 10. This hateful remark came from d) Sheridan. Take “The Answer Man” to work or to school. Challenge your friends for “Bragging Rights.” Send your questions and answers to: The Answer Man, Andy Seamans, Horizon House #603, 1300 Army Navy Dr., Arlington, VA 22202. __________________________________________ ANDY SEAMANS (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
BARACK OBAMA: October 13, 2008
Ayers’ blog: What did he like about Obama?
et’s turn the Obama/Ayers question upside down. I don’t really care why Barack Obama was attracted to Bill Ayers. Obama is attracted to anyone he thinks will help advance his personal ambitions. I’m more interested in why Bill Ayers was attracted to Barack Obama, because once you know how Ayers thinks, you have to wonder about anyone he would go out of his way to support. If you really want to get a sense of Bill Ayers, all you have to do is read his blog. He keeps it more or less up-to-date. He has lots to say about himself, his terrorist past and his association with Barack Obama. He claims in a letter to the New York Times, republished on his blog, that the Times misrepresented his famous “we didn’t do enough” quote in its September 11, 2001 story — suggesting he meant they didn’t do enough to oppose the Vietnam War, not that they didn’t do enough domestic bombing.
It begins literally in the shadow of Hiroshima and comes of age in the killing fields of Southeast Asia. The book criticizes the American obsession with a clean and distant violence, and the culture of thoughtlessness and carelessness that results from it. So he condemns terrorism in general, from start to finish, but when looking for something specific to demonstrate what really burns his butt, chooses to put only America’s deeds in the spotlight. Oh, he does mention the actions of our enemies — it was only four days after 9/11 after all. But unlike American “terrorism,” which only breeds “the culture of thoughtlessness and carelessness,” Ayers sees the potential for good to come from 9/11: “All that we witnessed September 11 — the awful carnage and pain, the heroism of ordinary people — may drive us mad with grief and anger, or it may open us to hope in new ways. Perhaps precisely because we have suffered we can embrace the suffering of others and gather the necessary wisdom to resist the impulse to lash out randomly. The lessons of the anti-war movement of the 60s and 1970s may be more urgent now than ever.” See? When America gets attacked, maybe we’ll find out how the rest of the world feels, and maybe we’ll all start thinking like Bill Ayers. In a story published on Friday by Slate, David Tanenbaum — who, like Obama, worked with Ayers on education issues in Chicago — insists that the Ayers he knew
BUT IN the same paragraph, he claims that he and the rest of the Weather Underground were “remarkably restrained.” You can draw your own conclusions about that, but one thing you can’t escape if you read much of Ayers’s blog is that he doesn’t think very highly of the United States. In this same letter, Ayers describes his 2001 book titled Fugitive Days as “from start to finish a condemnation of terrorism.” And which acts of “terrorism” does he feel compelled to mention as primary examples?
was nothing like the Weather Underground bomber. He wrote poetry, wrote letters to his kid in college and worked to oppose the agenda of people like Bill Bennett and John DiIulio, who wanted to take very violent teen offenders and try them as adults. According to Tanenbaum, this concern for youth was what made him a palatable colleague, not the actions of his past, of which Tanenbaum tells us he was unaware at the time. Fine. Whether your thinking on youth crime is closer to Bennett and DiIulio, or closer to Ayers and Tanenbaum, let’s stipulate that Ayers’s work on this particular issue –—if that’s all you knew of him — doesn’t make an association with him a disqualifier for the presidency. A complete review of all Ayers’s writings — just on his blog alone — leaves no
question that the man has deep antipathy for America’s role in the world and for freemarket capitalism. His antipathy is so great that he even proposes abolishing the American flag and national anthem: “On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed. Is not nationalism – that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder – one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?” I think you can pretty well get the idea what Ayers thinks of America. Fine. He can think that if he wants. Here’s what I want to know: What kind of politician would a guy like this choose to support — not only support, but host a fund-raiser for in his home? Ayers hosted this event for Obama in 1995. It was a time when Obama was looking to emerge on the scene in Chicago politics, and Ayers was sufficiently enthusiastic about Obama to go to the trouble of inviting friends, neighbors and colleagues to meet him and contribute money. Read Ayers’s blog. Look around. Do you get the impression that this is a guy who will just go out of his way to get behind any politician without first ascertaining that they shared the same agenda? Bill Ayers saw something in Barack Obama that made him very enthusiastic about supporting him. He didn’t just put up a yard sign for him. He hosted the fundraiser that introduced him onto the political scene. This man — who thinks America is the primary terrorist in the world, and whose disdain for love of country is so deep that he wants to abolish our flag and national anthem — was convinced he had found a kindred spirit in Barack Obama. Why? __________________________________________ DAN CALABRESE (c) 2008, North Star Writers Group __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
GAY 'MARRIAGE': October 14, 2008
Imposing San Francisco values on first-graders Thank God for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. If, when the dust settles at the ballot box this Nov. 4, California voters definitively repudiate the California Supreme Court’s unjust gay marriage ruling by voting Yes on Proposition 8, Mayor Gavin Newsom will be a big part of the reason why. Even the San Francisco Chronicle acknowledged on Monday that in recent weeks, Mayor Newsom’s role in the gay marriage debate “has turned decidedly unheroic.” “He’s become everyone’s worst nightmare,” said Barbara O’Connor, a professor of political communications at Sacramento State University. GAY MARRIAGE is coming “whether you like it or not,” Mayor Newsom intones in news clips featured
in the first round of Yes-on-Proposition-8 ads, looking unbearably smug and arrogant in dictating the future of marriage for the rest of California from his San Francisco perch. (See the ads for yourself at www.protectmarriage.com.) Public opinion polls showed a dramatic surge in support for Prop 8 after these Yes-onPropostion-8 ads featuring Newsom hit the airwaves. Faced with a dramatic drop in public support once the real potential consequences of gay marriage for parents, public schools, church groups and others are highlighted, gay marriage advocates have responded with a rebuttal ad. (See it at www.noonprop8.com.)
Their allegedly pro-gay marriage message? Labeling the concerns that public schools will teach about gay marriage, if we permit gay marriage to remain the law of the land, as just “lies!” Right. What do gay marriage advocates think public schools should teach about marriage if gay marriage is the law of the land? Could we have a reasonably honest discussion please about what you have in store for California’s first-graders? Instead of standing their ground and defending their moral views, gay marriage advocates are simply pretending to voters that legalizing gay marriage won’t affect anyone else at all.
AMERICAN JEWS: October 9, 2008
Hating the New York Times, Part 573
n honor of the Jewish New Year, which reaches its culmination on Yom Kippur, a solemn day of fasting and repentance that falls this year on Oct. 9, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the open Jew-baiting that is enthusiastically enjoyed by our nation’s leading newspaper. The Oct. 7 edition of the New York Times featured a cheerful article about a video that is circulating on the web called “The Great Schlep.” It stars (if that’s the right word) a comedienne named Sarah Silverman. The Times identifies Silverman as having “created an Internet sensation” back in January with a video that “declared, in the starkest possible language, that she was having a torrid affair with the actor Matt Damon.” That’s New York Times speak. If you look it up, the video is called “I’m F-ing Matt Damon.” Ms. Silverman is all class. But hey, she’s obviously mainstream. Her video won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics. That’s 21st century American popular culture folks. Didn’t “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” win an Oscar? SILVERMAN’S new video is equally sexually vulgar but adds a new dimension. She begins her little romp by offering that if Barack Obama loses the election in November, she plans to blame the Jews (picture of a hooked nose in background). Yes, says Silverman, she’s aware that Jews are the most “liberal, scrappy, civil-rightsey people there are” but some Jews, specifically those in Florida otherwise known as grandma and grandpa, are not planning to vote for Obama because he has a “scary
name.” She then proposes that younger Jews persuade their grandparents to vote for Obama by showing them how much blacks and Jews have in common. They all love “Cadillacs,” and “things and bling and money and jewelry.” Younger Jews can swing the election by threatening not to visit their grandparents unless they pull the lever for The One. The Times finds it charming: “... to Ms. Silverman these provocative comedy bits
Charen are all reflections of a consistent sensibility, one that trusts her audience will know when she is totally kidding and when is only sort of kidding.” And if Barack Obama “emerges victorious on Election Day, with the swing state Florida in his win column, a modicum of credit may be due Sarah Silverman.” As Silverman admits in the Times profile, she isn’t really Jewish. Though she comes from a Jewish background and can pronounce a few Yiddish words, she is not a Jew. “I have no religion. But culturally I can’t escape it. I’m very Jewish.” MAYBE from the point of view of the Times she is. And certainly because she claims Jewish ancestry, she gets a blanket immunity from the charge of anti-Semi-
tism — and apparently from the charge of racism as well. Silverman may think of herself as edgy and new, but she is actually a stereotype herself — the non-Jewish Jew who substitutes liberal politics for religion. For at least a century, large numbers of nominally Jewish Americans have demonstrated far more attachment to liberal politics than to actual Judaism. They declare that Judaism demands social justice, equality, gun control, liberal abortion laws, and an increase in the capital gains tax and they adhere to these tenets, well, religiously. Columnist and radio personality Dennis Prager likes to say that Jews are the most religious people in America — but their religion is not Judaism. (This does not include observant Jews.) Judaism does command social justice of course — just start with the prophets. But normative Judaism is not the Democratic Party at prayer. Abortion, for example, is traditionally forbidden except to save the life of the mother. The Ten Commandments take a dim view of open marriage. Capital punishment is sanctioned for some crimes. And above all, Judaism demands that human beings worship God, not themselves. IT’S A FREE country and secular Jews can believe and say whatever they like. But it is tiresome as well as false for them to parade their liberalism as the authentic expression of a great faith. __________________________________________ MONA CHAREN (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
Marriage is a publicly affirmed status — a shared social ideal — not just a private act. When the government says gay unions are the ideal — exactly the same as husband and wife — a whole lot of people who disagree are going to find life gets a whole lot harder, especially when it comes to raising our children. SO WHAT does Mayor Newsom, the poster boy for arrogance among gay marriage advocates, do in the middle of this campaign to deceive California voters about the real consequences of gay marriage? Why, he presides over a lesbian teacher’s wedding ceremony at City Hall, to which public school children are bused, at taxpayer expense, during school hours. (Newsom claims he wasn’t aware of that fact when he agreed to preside.) That’s right. Taxpayers paid for first-graders to take time from reading, writing and ‘rithmetic to strew rose petals after a lesbian marriage ceremony — no doubt in the belief that there was something educational about witnessing a historic civil rights victory the courts have endorsed as the law of the land. Let me be clear about one thing: I know many, many gay people who have no truck with the arrogance of so many leaders of the gay marriage movement in California (see for example www.gaypatriot.net). I even know some gay people (though not very many) who think marriage means a husband and wife, and that the California solution struck down by the courts — civil unions for gay couples, marriage remains marriage — is common sense, not some kind of gross injustice motivated by seething hatred to gay folks. If Prop 8 loses, expect a lot more public schools to join Mayor Newsom’s crusade to promote gay marriage, “whether you like it or not.” People who think that’s a good thing should have the decency to stand up before California voters and say so, instead of pretending it’s not going to happen. IT ALREADY has. Maggie Gallagher is president of the National Organization for Marriage, which through NOM California has raised almost $2 million to support Prop 8. __________________________________________ MAGGIE GALLAGHER (c) 2008, Universal Press Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
JEWISH VOTE: October 15, 2008
The Jewish case against Barack Obama
arack Obama is the most dangerous candidate for the State of Israel since its creation in 1948. He is not, as Professor Alan Dershowitz recently put it, a “true friend of Israel” any more than Jimmy Carter was. He is certainly not “much better for Israel” than John McCain, as potty-mouthed comic dunce Sarah Silverman put it. Any American Jew who votes for Obama ought to be ashamed of him or herself. He is not in line with a single authentic Jewish principle. (Authentic Judaism, by the way, believes the veracity of the Torah, Oral Torah and Talmud, not bagels, lox, Woody Allen and a copy of the Sunday New York Times.) On abortion, Obama is radically pro-choice. He is radically progay rights, celebrating court-ordered gay marriage in states like California. Authentic Judaism is against abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger, and against homosexual activity altogether.
not support Israel demonstrates a disturbing lack of allegiance to our only democratic ally in the Middle East and a perverse moral relativism that will hurt America, not merely Israel. I do feel, however, that American Jews have a special stake in the State of Israel. Israel does not just represent a family connection for Jews. It represents the ultimate protection for Jews the world over. When Arab nations expelled over 800,000 Jews in the aftermath of the birth of the State of Israel, Israel took the vast majority of them in — as opposed to the Arab nations, which keep Palestinian Arabs in refugee camps to this day. Israel has saved Jews from South America to Russia to Ethiopia. Israel remains the last refuge for all Jews, and a guarantor of their safety, even abroad. The future of Israel, then, matters to all Jews. By all indicators, it does not matter to Barack Obama, as detailed in a YouTube video counterpart to this column, “The Jewish Case Against Barack Obama” (http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=_PDh7s1pjIw). Obama’s foreign policy advisors have been almost uniformly anti-Israel. Samantha Power, one of Obama’s earliest supporters, has suggested that American troops be placed on the ground in Israel to protect Palestinian Arabs against “human rights abuses.” Power was a senior foreign policy ad-
AND THEN there’s Israel. Professor Dershowitz believes that American Jews should not vote based on “which party or which candidates support Israel more enthusiastically. They should vote based on more general considerations about what is best for America, the world and the values that they hold dear.” I largely agree. I believe, however, that any candidate who does
visor to Obama until she was forced to resign after calling Senator Hillary Clinton “a monster” in March 2008. ZBIGNIEW Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor, serves as a foreign policy advisor to Obama. He believes that the Jewish lobby forces America into pro-Israel policy, and he defends Carter’s anti-Semitic book, “Peace, Not Apartheid.” General Merrill McPeak, Obama’s campaign co-chair, agrees with Brzezinski that the Jewish lobby, based in “New York City, Miami,” controls America’s Middle East policy. Robert Malley, who served on President Clinton’s National Security Council, has stated that America ought to simply impose its Middle East solu-
tion on Israel. He served as an advisor to Obama until the media discovered that he was holding regular meetings with Hamas. Obama’s friends, too, are far too anti-Israel for comfort. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor of 20 years, has blamed America’s pro-Israel policy for 9/11. Wright is close with notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, who has proclaimed Obama “the Messiah.” Obama is also friends with former Palestine Liberation Organization spokesman Rashid Khalidi, an ardent foe of the Jewish State. Khalidi held a fundraiser for Obama in 2000. In 2003, he told a Palestinian Arab crowd, “You will not have a better Senator under any circumstances.” Obama himself has demonstrated his ambivalence about Israel. Before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in July 2008, he stated that he supported an undivided Jerusalem. After pressure from Palestinians, he backtracked within 24 hours. He also declares that he will meet the leaders of Iran without preconditions, despite the fact that Iran wishes to turn Israel into radioactive wasteland. Barack Obama is no friend to American Jews. I challenge Professor Dershowitz to a debate, any time, any place, on that question. I would challenge Sarah Silverman as well, but she will undoubtedly ignore the challenge. MOST OF all, I challenge American Jews to hear the true facts about Obama before voting. In Barack Obama, they find a Democrat in the mold of Jimmy Carter, not Harry Truman. Jews — and Americans more broadly — cannot afford another Jimmy Carter. __________________________________________ BEN SHAPIRO (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
MOCKING CHRISTIANITY: October 10, 2008
Fox’s Family Guy’s lying, slacker Jesus
ust like Bill Maher, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is discovering that atheist ridicule of Jesus Christ and Christianity draws nothing but yawns from today’s media elite. If you want an angry media mob, you need merely spit out “Barack Hussein Obama” at a McCain rally and watch the Guardians of Social Taste bring out the torches and pitchforks. But mocking Jesus? Ho hum. On Oct. 5, Fox’s Sunday night cartoon debuted an episode titled “I Dream of Jesus,” a play on “I Dream of Jeannie.” Get it? Jesus is a fairy tale, like a genie in a bottle. The title character, Peter Griffin, wanders into a record shop, where he finds Jesus Christ minding the store. Jesus lies to Peter, trying to deny who he is, until Peter threatens to urinate on the albums of Christian artist Amy Grant. Jesus comes clear on his identity
and explains he came to Earth “just to get away from the family ... my dad just quit smoking, and he’s a little on edge.” What follows is an entire story that chronicles, in rather amazing fashion, how this lying, slacker Jesus is even dumber than Peter, the greatest idiot on animated television today. OUR GUARDIANS of Social Taste would probably shut Family Guy down if it featured Peter Griffin as a demented Buddha, or maybe featured a drunken Mohammed, or God forbid — made fun of Barack Hussein Obama. But Seth MacFarlane hasn’t crossed the Anti-Defamation League, or the Council for American-Islamic Rela-
tions, or Obama’s “Fight the Smears” web page. Millions of parents see TV critics of the major media as a sort of early warning system, alerting them to programming that would be unsuitable for children. So where were the TV critics in the face of this ugly anti-Christian bigotry? No one noticed, not the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Time, Newsweek or NPR. These media outlets probably would enjoy how Seth MacFarlane interrupted his story for a political aside. Peter asks Jesus to take him to the White House, where President Bush is proclaiming, “The American people may have turned against the
TOWN HALL DEBATE: October 9, 2008
Senator Obama, the good soldier Two important questions were asked at Tuesday night’s presidential debate. Fiora from Chicago asked: “What sacrifices will you ask every American to make to help restore the American dream and to get out of the economic morass that we’re now in?” Teresa Finch asked: “How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?” Both questions touched on the new political post-bailout reality: That is, White House hopefuls may promise Americans more government for lower taxes, but the next president is going to have to tell his party and American voters that they can’t keep enjoying something for nothing. Or the next president will just dig the big hole deeper. IN ANSWER to the question on sacrifice, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama berated President Bush for telling Americans, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, not how they must sacrifice, but instead to go out and shop. Then Obama failed to cite a single sacrifice he would suggest. This is the closest Obama came to proposing that Americans give up anything: “There is going to be the need for each and every one of us to start thinking about how we use energy.” He would not say that people actually need to cut back on their energy use, by, say, carpooling or taking transit. Nothing real. Obama basically told Fiora: Go out and shop. For his part, GOP presidential nominee
John McCain did make it clear that Americans would have to sacrifice “some really good projects,” as he would eliminate earmark spending, and not just for extravagant or wasteful pet-spending projects. Also, McCain proposed an across-theboard spending freeze on federal spending — exempting defense, veterans affairs and some other federal expenses. McCain did tell voters that they would have to give up something — not just think about it.
Saunders Some pundits have panned McCain’s call for a commission to reform Social Security and Medicare spending as politically meek. Not fair. McCain bluntly stated during the debate, that reforms would mean, “we are not going to be able to provide the same benefit for present-day workers ... that present-day retirees have today.” Maybe “the old John McCain” would have said more, but the new Barack Obama never says anything people do not want to hear. He criticizes Bush for deficit spending — then promises tax cuts for 95 percent of American households. I HAVE never seen Obama tell people what they’ll have to give up. All of his policies create jobs and lower taxes. In answer to Finch’s question about bucking his own party, McCain should have spoken about
the man whom journalists have covered during this administration — the maverick who bucked Bush on the pork-laden farm bill, the special-interest bonanza energy bill, the underfunded Medicare prescription-drug bill, and who told Bush to boost the level of U.S. troops in Iraq before the surge. Most recently, McCain infuriated Wall Street Republicans when he said he would fire Bush Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox. McCain did talk about his history of crossing the aisle to work with Democrats on campaign-finance reform and climate change. As far as the GOP base is concerned, McCain is too happy to work with Democrats. For his part, Obama never addressed where he would challenge his party, because he never does. According to Congressional Quarterly, Obama votes with his party 96 percent of the time. Now I expect Obama to agree with many Democratic policies — but if he cannot say where he would control spending in the Democratic-led House and the Senate, hold onto your wallets, folks. The Senate could not approve a $700 billion bailout bill to save the U.S. economy without larding it with an additional $110 billion in money the government does not have. IT WOULD be nice to know if Obama has the resolve to curb his party’s excesses. To go by his Nashville performance, he does not.
__________________________________________ DEBRA J. SAUNDERS (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
war, but I answer to a higher power. I answer to the power of Jesus Christ.” Peter jumps in and replies “That’s funny, because I happen to have Jesus Christ right here.” Jesus proclaims, “I heard what you were saying. You know nothing of my work. How you ever got to be president of anything is totally amazing.” Speaking for the show’s creator, Peter then says, “Boy, wouldn’t it be great if life were like this?” PETER INSISTS Jesus shouldn’t merely hang out at the record shop unrecognized. “The world needs you, Jesus. It needs you like a guy who can’t get it up needs a distraction.” Jesus the Slacker then goes on The Tonight Show, becomes famous and lets the fame go to his head. Soon, Jesus Christ is appearing on the MTV Video Music Awards with the Pussycat Dolls, wearing gold chains and sunglasses like a rapper. He jokes to the MTV crowd about the singing group behind him. “It’s a pleasure to be here with you six interchangeable women. Last time I was down here, I only hung out with one whore.” Then Peter watches the news and hears, “Tonight’s top story: Local record shop employee Jesus Christ was found in Mary Kate Olsen’s apartment this morning, face down and unconscious. Police revived and arrested the disoriented Jesus, who was quoted as saying Jews are responsible for all the world’s wars.” This is an obvious slap directed at Mel Gibson, creator of The Passion of The Christ. Jesus calls Peter to bail him out of jail, where our idiot gets to lecture God the Son: “Jesus Christ, look at you. You had it all — money, fame, eternal life — and you blew it. You let it all go to your head.” Jesus says, “I know, Peter. I guess it turns out that I’m just as human as anyone else.” He claims, “This world’s not ready for me yet, and I’m not ready for it. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll come down in another thousand years, when I’m more mature.” IT’S AMAZING that this kind of junk is on national television. McFarlane’s script isn’t exactly engaging the Bible narratives. It sounds exactly like the brain droppings of a school-skipping 12-yearold brat playing by himself in a closet with a plastic action figure. MacFarlane would claim his plot doesn’t demonize Jesus — he merely demystifies him, scrapes off his divinity. The people at Fox Entertainment clearly don’t care one iota about offending the millions of Christians who see Jesus as the central figure in their hopes for eternal salvation. To them, God is just an empty punchline. __________________________________________ BRENT BOZELL (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
FREE SPEECH: October 12, 2008
The coming Barack Obama thugocracy “I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors,” Barack Obama told a crowd in Elko, Nev. “I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face.” Actually, Obama supporters are doing a lot more than getting into people’s faces. They seem determined to shut people up. That’s what Obama supporters, alerted by campaign emails, did when conservative Stanley Kurtz appeared on Milt Rosenberg’s WGN radio program in Chicago. Kurtz had been researching Obama’s relationship with unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers in Chicago Annenberg Challenge papers in the Richard J. Daley Library in Chicago — papers that were closed off to him for some days, apparently at the behest of Obama supporters.
Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce warned citizens that they would bring criminal libel prosecutions against anyone who made statements against Obama that were “false.” I had been under the impression that the Alien and Sedition Acts had gone out of existence in 1801-02. Not so, apparently, in metropolitan St. Louis. Similarly, the Obama campaign called for a criminal investigation of the American Issues Project when it ran ads highlighting Obama’s ties to Ayers. These attempts to shut down political speech have become routine for liberals. Congressional Democrats sought to reimpose the “fairness doctrine” on broadcasters, which until it was repealed in the 1980s required equal time for different points of view. The motive was plain: to shut down the one conservative-leaning communications medium, talk radio. Liberal talk-show hosts have mostly failed to draw audiences, and many liberals can’t abide having citizens hear contrary views. To their credit, some liberal old-timers — like House Appropriations Chairman David Obey — voted against the “fairness doctrine,” in line with their longstanding support of free speech. But you can expect the “fairness doctrine” to get another vote if Barack Obama wins and Democrats increase their congressional majorities.
OBAMA FANS jammed WGN’s phone lines and sent in hundreds of protest emails. The message was clear to anyone who would follow Rosenberg’s example. We will make trouble for you if you let anyone make the case against The One. Other Obama supporters have threatened critics with criminal prosecution. In September, St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St.
CORPORATE liberals have done their share in shutting down anti-liberal speech, too. Saturday Night Live ran a spoof of the financial crisis that skewered Democrats like House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank and liberal contributors Herbert and Marion Sandler, who sold toxic-waste-filled Golden West to Wachovia Bank for $24 billion. Kind of surprising, but not for long. The tape of the broadcast disappeared from NBC’s web site and was replaced with another that omitted the references to Frank and the Sandlers. Evidently NBC and its parent, General Electric, don’t want people to hear speech that attacks liberals. Then there’s the Democrats’ “card check” legislation, which would abol-
ish secret ballot elections in determining whether employees are represented by unions. The unions’ strategy is obvious: Send a few thugs over to employees’ homes — we know where you live — and get them to sign cards that will trigger a union victory without giving employers a chance to be heard. Once upon a time, liberals prided themselves, with considerable reason, as the staunchest defenders of free speech. Union organizers in the 1930s and 1940s made the case that they should have access to employees to speak freely to them, and union leaders like George Meany and Walter Reuther were ardent defenders of the First Amendment. Today’s liberals seem to be taking their marching orders from other quarters. Specifically, from the college and university campuses where administrators, armed with speech codes, have for years been disciplining and subjecting to sensitivity training any students who dare to utter thoughts that liberals find offensive. The campuses that used to pride themselves as zones of free expression are now the least free part of our society. OBAMA supporters who found the campuses congenial and Obama himself, who has chosen to live all his adult life in university communities, seem to find it entirely natural to suppress speech that they don’t like and seem utterly oblivious to claims that this violates the letter and spirit of the First Amendment. In this campaign, we have seen the coming of the Obama thugocracy, suppressing free speech, and we may see its flourishing in the four or eight years ahead.
__________________________________________ MICHAEL BARONE (c) 2008, North Star Writers Group __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
BARACK OBAMA: October 10, 2008
Associations do matter and reveal character
onvicted felon Tony Rezko. Unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. And the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It is hard to think of any presidential candidate before Barack Obama sporting associations with three more execrable characters. Yet let the McCain campaign raise the issue, and the mainstream media begin fulminating about dirty campaigning tinged with racism and McCarthyite guilt by association. But associations are important. They provide a significant insight into character. They are particularly relevant in relation to a potential president as new, unknown, opaque and self-contained as Obama. With the economy overshadowing everything, it may be too late politically to be raising this issue. But that does not make it, as conventional wisdom holds, in any way illegitimate.
ad that included the linking of Obama with Jeremiah Wright. The ad was duly denounced by the New York Times and other deep thinkers as racist. This was patently absurd. Racism is treating people differently and invidiously on the basis of race. Had any white presidential candidate had a close 20-year association with a white preacher overtly spreading race hatred from the pulpit, that candidate would have been not just universally denounced and deemed unfit for office but written out of polite society entirely. Nonetheless, John McCain in his infinite wisdom, and with his overflowing sense of personal rectitude, joined the braying mob in denouncing that perfectly legitimate ad, saying it had no place in any campaign. In doing so, McCain unilaterally disarmed himself, rendering off-limits Obama’s associations, an issue that even Hillary Clinton addressed more than once. Obama’s political career was launched with Ayers giving him a fund-raiser in his living room. If a Republican candidate had launched his political career at the home of an abortion-clinic bomber — even a repentant one — he would not have been able to run for dogcatcher in Podunk. And Ayers shows no remorse. His only regret is that he “didn’t do enough.”
MCCAIN has only himself to blame for the bad timing. He should months ago have begun challenging Obama’s associations, before the economic meltdown allowed the Obama campaign (and the mainstream media, which is to say the same thing) to dismiss the charges as an act of desperation by the trailing candidate. McCain had his chance back in April when the North Carolina Republican Party ran a gubernatorial campaign
WHY ARE these associations important? Do I think Obama is as corrupt as Rezko? Or shares Wright’s angry racism or Ayers’ unreconstructed 1960s radicalism? No. But that does not make these associations irrelevant. They tell us two important things about Obama. First, his cynicism and ruthlessness. He found these men useful, and use them he did. Would you attend a church whose pastor was spreading racial animosity from the pulpit? Would you even shake hands with — let alone serve on two boards with — an unrepentant terrorist, whether he bombed U.S. military installations or abortion clinics? Most Americans would not, on the
grounds of sheer indecency. Yet Obama did, if not out of conviction then out of expediency. He was a young man on the make, an unknown outsider working his way into Chicago politics. He played the game with everyone, without qualms and with obvious success. Obama is not the first politician to rise through a corrupt political machine. But he is one of the rare few to then have the audacity to present himself as a transcendent healer, hovering above and bringing redemption to the “old politics” — of the kind he had enthusiastically embraced in Chicago in the service of his own ambition. Second, and even more disturbing than the cynicism, is the window these associations give on Obama’s core beliefs. He doesn’t share Rev. Wright’s poisonous views of race nor Ayers’ views, past and present, about the evil that is American society. But Obama clearly did not consider these views beyond the pale. For many years he swam easily and without protest in that fetid pond. Until now. Today, on the threshold of the presidency, Obama concedes the odiousness of these associations, which is why he has severed them. But for the years in which he sat in Wright’s pews and shared common purpose on boards with Ayers, Obama considered them a legitimate, indeed unremarkable, part of social discourse. DO YOU? Obama is a man of firstclass intellect and first-class temperament. But his character remains highly suspect. There is a difference between temperament and character. Equanimity is a virtue. Tolerance of the obscene is not. __________________________________________ CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER (c) 2008, Washington Post Writers Group __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
BARACK OBAMA: October 10, 2008
The stealth candidate, concealing his past
emocrats assume Republicans are raising Obama’s many questionable relationships in a desperation effort to salvage the election. You might think this is splitting hairs, but I believe the reason is that these relationships scare the daylights out of us. Conservatives were very much opposed to Bill Clinton for myriad reasons, but with decades in elective office in Arkansas, at least he wasn’t a stealth candidate. Though rumors and mysteries abounded, Clinton was hardly a blank slate who emerged out of nowhere.
The Constitution is only as reliable as the moral fiber of the people from which it derives its power and their commitment to good (and limited) government. That’s why John Adams famously said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” I’m not just worried that Obama will appoint leftist activist judges who will continue to rewrite the Constitution. It’s that he wants to socialize health care, initiate a massive transfer of wealth via the Global Poverty Act and would intervene in foreign conflicts solely for humanitarian reasons when our national interests are not at stake. He obviously regards the tax code as a license to punish wealth and equalize incomes in the name of “fairness” rather than a means to raise revenue for essential government services. Then there’s the pervasive climate of financial fear today and what it portends for the potential usurpation of power by the next president. We’ve seen oil prices rise to panic levels. But oil concerns have been dwarfed by the global financial crisis, which has led Congress to delegate nearly carte blanche authority to the executive branch to navigate through it. The character and ideology of the person who occupies the Oval Office have never been more important. AS IF ALL this weren’t enough to culminate in a perfect storm for the next pres-
OBAMA IS different. He burst onto the political scene and has risen with such alacrity that even many of his supporters don’t have a clue what he’s about or where he would take America. It’s no wonder the conspiracy types are whispering that he’s the Manchurian candidate. It’s not as if he’s embracing his past; it’s more as if he’s concealing it, and for good reason. People have a right to know just how radical this man is because America’s destiny is in the balance. I’ve always been extremely confident that no matter which party is in power, it can only do so much damage in four years because of the ingenious safeguards our Constitution contains to preserve the essential structure of government that maximizes individual liberty. But I admit I’m more concerned today.
ident to transform our system fundamentally, there’s also an alarming atmosphere among many Obama supporters. They follow him in a cultlike trance, having no clue what he stands for or what policy meat he would put on his campaign bones of change and hope once in office. Disturbingly, Obama’s candidacy is inspiring certain youths to perform paramilitary drills in his honor, public officials to threaten criminal prosecution of those who criticize him, and attorneys purporting to be working for his campaign systematically to intimidate local election officials. With this mentality, is there any doubt the Obamaites would try to shut down conservative talk radio with the “Fairness Doctrine?”
Then there’s the ubiquitously corrupt ACORN (under investigation in at least 10 states for possible voter fraud), which is terrorizing the electoral process with such a widespread assault that it truly threatens the integrity of this election. The question is: Where does Obama fit into all of this? Was he a key lawyer for ACORN, as alleged? What about his alliances with anti-American leftist radicals? I disagree with those who’ve said the most important issue concerning the Obama-Ayers connection is Obama’s “judgment.” The very word implies that Obama doesn’t share and never shared Ayers’ views. The crucial question is whether Obama is of like mind with such radicals. National Review Online’s Andy McCarthy reports that when Ayers “was given the opportunity of a lifetime, a $150 million fund to be doled out as seed money for the kind of programs he thought would advance the cause, the guy brought in to run it was Barack Obama — with whom he worked closely on ‘change’ in the schools for five years.” And how about Obama’s membership in the New Party, a radical leftist organization established in 1992 to push the United States into socialism by forcing the Democratic Party to the left, as reported by the American Thinker? Is it not imperative we learn the extent of this relationship and why Obama is trying to cover it up? DOES ANYONE doubt that if any Republican presidential candidate had a small fraction of the questionable alliances Obama has, he already would have been hounded into withdrawing from the race? __________________________________________ DAVID LIMBAUGH (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
NEGATIVE ADVERTISING: October 14, 2008
Negative advertising or pointing out records?
ne of the oldest phenomena of American elections — criticism of one’s opponent — has in recent times been stigmatized by much of the media as “negative advertising.” Is this because the criticism has gotten more vicious or more personal? You might think so, if you were totally ignorant of history, as so many of the graduates of even our elite universities are. Although Grover Cleveland was elected President twice, he had to overcome a major scandal that he had fathered a child out of wedlock, which was considered more of a disgrace then than today. Even giants like Lincoln and Jefferson were called names that neither McCain nor Obama has been called.
WHY THEN is “negative advertising” such a big deal these days? The dirty little secret is this: Liberal candidates have needed to escape their past and pretend that they are not liberals, because so many voters have had it with liberals. In 1988, Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts called himself a “technocrat,” a pragmatic solver of problems, despite a classic liberal track record of big spending, big taxes, and policies that were anti-business and procriminal. When the truth about what he actually did as governor was brought out dur-
ing the Presidential election campaign, the media were duly shocked — not by Dukakis’ record, but by the Republicans’ exposing his record. John Kerry, with a very similar ultra-liberal record, topped off by inflammatory and unsubstantiated attacks on American military men in Vietnam, disdained the whole process of labeling as something unworthy. And the mainstream media closed ranks around him as well, deploring those who labeled Kerry a liberal. Barack Obama is much smoother. Instead of issuing explicit denials, he gives speeches that sound so moderate, so nu-
ACORN: October 15, 2008
Nuts at ACORN could hurt Obama
s Obama lengthens his lead, the Republicans are praying that the election becomes close enough for the Democrats to steal. But, meanwhile, ACORN, the radical community group, is becoming an embarrassment for Obama. It is not as if its shenanigans are likely to tip the result, with the Democrats so far ahead, but as they are raided by the FBI in state after state (11 so far) they are becoming identified as the electoral equivalent of Greenpeace — extremists who will stop at nothing to get their way. What makes ACORN particularly embarrassing for Obama is that he used to be one of them. He served as general counsel for ACORN in Illinois, channeled millions to the organization from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (whose funds he distributed), and has lately spent $800,000 of his campaign money to subsidize the group’s activities. For this emolument, ACORN has registered voters 15 times over, canvassed the graveyards for votes and prepared to commit electoral fraud on a massive scale.
scarce; the Obama/Ayers relationship, whatever it may have been, is clearly in the past. Rezko is facing sentencing in his own corruption case, but isn’t likely to turn on the one man who may acquire the power to pardon him. But, as Election Day approaches and early balloting proceeds in many states, ACORN’s tactics will get more and more media attention. As election
WITH FRIENDS like this, Obama doesn’t need enemies. As their radical activities make headlines every day, Obama’s intimate involvement with these radicals becomes more and more of a political liability. The other Obama scandals have no topical relevance. Rev. Wright no longer spews hatred from the pulpit and has apparently been persuaded to stay away from media interviews. Likewise, William Ayers is making himself
THE RECENT book by Wall Street Journal editor John Fund, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, discusses the prevalence of voter fraud, made newly possible by lax enforcement of laws requiring identification to vote. As Fund indicates, the motor/voter laws have encouraged waves of new voters, many of them ineligible to participate. Let us remember that eight of the 9-11 hijackers were registered to vote!
Morris officials discover ACORN frauds, the association will become more injurious to Obama, particularly when it is his own campaign that is funding many of the fraudulent activities. At the very least, the negative publicity ACORN will attract will paint Obama as a radical with questionable judgment. At the most, it might cause voters to wonder if he is not involved in electoral fraud.
So ACORN is the gift that will keep on giving as its activities attract attention while Election Day nears. But are these McCain attacks on Obama going to work? Clearly they haven’t so far. Obama has lower negatives than McCain and his unfavorable rating has not risen, despite the avalanche of attack advertising to which he has been subjected. Possibly, voters are just inured to the attacks and disregard them. But they are more likely just distracted by the financial meltdown all around them. We have never had a presidential race, since 1944, where the contest was not the most important news in the four weeks before the election. (In 1944, the war overshadowed the election much to the frustration of the Republican candidate Thomas E. Dewey). The candidates seem unable to get a word in edgewise as the financial news dominates. People follow the Dow Jones more than the Gallup, Rasmussen or Zogby polls. IF THE presidential race remains an afterthought, crowded out by the financial news, Obama will waltz into the White House by a comfortable margin. But if the stock market stops its gyrations for a while and no new household name/corporation or bank goes broke, the negatives against Obama will compel attention at last. And then the race may close swiftly and dramatically.
__________________________________________ DICK MORRIS (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
anced and so lofty that even some conservative Republicans go for them. How could anyone believe that such a man is the very opposite of what he claims to be — unless they check out the record of what he has actually done? In words, Obama is a uniter instead of a divider. In deeds, he has spent years promoting polarization. That is what a “community organizer” does, creating a sense of grievance, envy and resentment, in order to mobilize political action to get more of the taxpayers’ money or to force banks to lend to people they don’t consider good risks, as the community organizing group ACORN did. After Barack Obama moved beyond the role of a community organizer, he promoted the same polarization in his other roles. THAT IS what he did when he spent the money of the Woods Fund bankrolling programs to spread the politics of grievance and resentment into the schools. That is what he did when he spent the taxpayers’ money bankrolling the grievance and resentment ideology of Michael Pfleger. When Barack Obama donated $20,000 to Jeremiah Wright, does anyone imagine that he was unaware that Wright was the epitome of grievance, envy and resentment hype? Or were Wright’s sermons too subtle for Obama to pick up that message? How subtle is “God da— America!?” Yet those in the media who deplore “negative advertising” regard it as unseemly to dig up ugly facts instead of sticking to the beautiful rhetoric of an election year. The oft-repeated mantra is that we should stick to the “real issues.” What are called “the real issues” are election-year talking points, while the actual track record of the candidates is treated as a distraction— and somehow an unworthy distraction. Does anyone in real life put more faith in what people say than in what they do? A few gullible people do— and they often get deceived and defrauded big time. Barack Obama has carried electionyear makeovers to a new high, presenting himself a uniter of people, someone reaching across the partisan divide and the racial divide — after decades of promoting polarization in each of his successive roles and each of his choices of political allies. YET THE media treat exposing a fraudulent election-year image as far worse than letting someone acquire the powers of the highest office in the land through sheer deception. __________________________________________ THOMAS SOWELL (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
CAMPAIGN 2008: October 14, 2008
McCain must tell the truth about Obama
he media are piling on against John McCain and some pundits are predicting it’s all over, that Barack Obama has somehow won the election. As the old saying goes, it’s not over until the fat lady sings, and it’s high time for the fat lady to sing about Obama’s scary agenda and the many reasons why it is too risky to elect him President. We need to hear more about ACORN, the special-interest group that would like to steal this election by registering people who are not eligible to vote, such as registering ghost voters in Nevada under the names of the Dallas Cowboys. Obama’s years of close association with ACORN need to be known to the public.
child can speak Spanish.” We need to have further explanations of the hateful attitudes Obama expressed in his autobiography Dreams from My Father. We need further investigation of author Jack Cashill’s evidence that this book was actually ghost-written by William Ayers. The media have carefully crafted the several presidential debates to avoid two issues that are helpful to John McCain and hurtful to Obama: immigration and abortion. Let’s get those issues out on the table. Voters need to know that Obama favors giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. This practice is so unpopular with the voters that it brought down the political career of New York’s recent unlamented Governor Eliot Spitzer and caused the recall of California Governor Gray Davis. The one debate where the abortion issue was discussed was at Saddleback Church where Obama revealed his unacceptable attitude with the stupid statement that a discussion of the personhood of an unborn baby is above his pay grade. What’s really above his pay grade is the job of U.S. President and Commander-inChief. Four-dollar gasoline at the pump and the need for energy independence by drilling for American oil could be the numberone issue in the 2008 election. It should be hammered home to the voters that McCain and Sarah Palin are on the right side of this issue and Obama is wrong.
WE SHOULD hear more about Obama’s political friend William Ayers, the unrepentant bomber and Ward Churchill-type professor, who has a really scary plan to remake the curriculum of public schools in order to turn kids into radical socialists like himself. Obama helped deliver big bucks to Ayers’ radical education project in Chicago. Obama has already introduced one bill in the U.S. Senate called “Positive Behavior for Effective Schools Act,” which would implement Ayers’ social-outcome notions, and another to teach kindergartners Al Gore’s propaganda about climate change. Voters should be reminded that Obama has called for making “sure your
AMERICAN voters need to be told that the current financial crisis was caused by the liberal policies of men who are mostly Democrats. A September 30, 1999, news article in the New York Times explained how Fannie Mae, under its then chairman and Clinton-appointee Franklin D. Raines, took on “significantly more risk” by demanding that the banks give sub-prime mortgages to low-income people who could not afford the houses they were buying. By the end of the Clinton Administration, 44 percent of the loans purchased by Fannie Mae were these risky mortgages. ACORN accelerated this practice by getting unemployed people to demonstrate in bank lobbies, demanding that more mortgages be given to people without adequate credit.
Good U.S. manufacturing jobs were moving overseas years before the current financial crunch. The Clinton Administration globalists, the policies of Clinton’s Wall Street friends such as Robert Rubin, and the trade agreements that discriminate against American workers and products are all part of our current economic distress. The American people should be reminded that everything Barack Obama proposes will require higher taxes. Only tax reduction and the encouragement of good U.S. jobs will promote economic recovery, not tax increases or taxpayer bailouts of the billions lost by avoidable mistakes. State amendments for traditional marriage are repeatedly adopted by the voters. The public should be reminded that Obama opposes these amendments and said he “respects” the outrageous California same-sex marriage decision. The Democratic Platform adds, “We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act.” DOMA is one of the most popular laws ever passed by Congress; it protects us from judges who try to force other states to accept the gay mischief of Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut. The voters should be reminded that Barack Obama is promising all kinds of costly benefits to be paid for by the already burdened taxpayers, such as his bill to implement “the U.S. Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015” and “double” our annual spending for this goal. VOTERS, not polls or pundits, will decide this presidential election. It’s time to make sure the voters have as much information as possible about the candidates. __________________________________________ PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
MEDIA BIAS: October 14, 2008
Mainstream media are looking for love
hatever their other contributions to politics and the nation, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama have been crack for the news business. Across the spectrum, viewership, Internet traffic and readership are way up during this interminable election season. But what happens when it’s over? Will there be enough news to sustain the bounce? And, that persistent obstacle: How can the mainstream media improve their image? These were some of the questions addressed by panelists at a Time Warner media summit here this week — “Politics 2008: The Media Conference for the Election of the President.” The answer may be right under their noses. Sarah Palin.
viewed as being hostile toward Palin. It is possible to be critical of Palin’s lack of qualifications and experience without conveying contempt, but that hasn’t always been the case. Early attacks on Palin’s personal life and family values were perceived as unfair by those who already viewed the media skeptically. To those folks, it is laughable when the media ask themselves, “Are we too elitist?” The answer seems to be implicit in the question. As a self-described spy for Bubba, who moves between home in the rural South and inside the Washington Beltway, I get more than an off-thebus glimpse of the Palin phenomenon. Inside the Beltway, I’ve often felt like Jane Goodall, summoned from the hinterlands to explain the behaviors of the indigenous peoples. We’re not talking disconnect, but worlds apart. Back home at my local grocery checkout counter, most of the other folks in line don’t know or care how Tina Fey totally owns Sarah Palin. They only know that their food costs too much and gas prices are making the trip to work prohibitive. So how do the media win back the trust and respect of this segment of the population? Klein said media folk need to get out of their bubble and find out what people think. Indeed. After George Bush won re-election
LOVE HER or hate her, Palin has done for media ratings what she did for the Republican base. Her debate with Joe Biden was the most-watched cable TV show for viewers ages 18 to 34, according to Jonathan Klein, president of CNN/U.S. Obama has had a similar effect. Jim VandeHei, executive editor of Politico, reported that traffic on politico.com is “exponentially higher” for Palin- and Obama-related stories. Whereas the mainstream media (MSM) are widely viewed as being pro-Obama, the same MSM are
in 2004, few were more baffled than the media. In the South and flyover country, almost no one was surprised. How does that work? TO REMEDY the gap between the two Americans, pundits came up with some novel ideas. One Los Angeles Times writer suggested an exchange program through which families in red and blue America could swap children for a while. The gap has only grown wider in the years since as an ever-expanding new media permits people to ratify their own worldview without straying far afield or tapping into a well of shared information. The result is greater partisan division, greater allegiance to bullet-point
thinking, less mutual understanding. As panelist Peggy Noonan commented, “You lose something in the nation when you’re cut into as many small pieces as America is. There’s no boring old central reality that we can all argue over.” That is surely true. But there is a boring old central reality that characterizes the lives of the many Americans who are not perpetually plugged in. Their narrative may lack a dramatic arc, but their story is familiar and deserves respect. It’s called paying the bills, getting the kids schooled and fed, and trying to keep a rapacious culture at bay. These are the folks who have found light in Sarah Palin and who have been a major part of the Palin frenzy. They will vote the McCain ticket regardless of whether Palin can rattle off Supreme Court cases with which she disagrees. They recognize themselves in her. To them, her lack of polish and knowledge feels like an absence of slickness and glibness. McCain’s hunch that Palin would catapult him into the White House ultimately may prove wrong, but the Palin phenomenon and the mainstream media problem are of a piece. Therein lies the answer to the media’s self-inquiry. CONTEMPT for one’s audience is not a sure way to its heart. Palin’s people feel that contempt and they have identified its source as the enemy.
__________________________________________ KATHLEEN PARKER (c) 2008, Washington Post Writers Group __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
OCTOBER SURPRISES: October 10, 2008
October surprises through the years
e’re now into the 10th month of an election year, and the so-called mainstream media are on the lookout for an “October surprise.” For those too young to remember, the term was coined by the potentates of the press to describe a nonevent: the belief of conspiracy theorists that Ronald Reagan somehow thwarted President Jimmy Carter from achieving the release of 52 American hostages being held in Tehran, Iran, before the 1980 election. It didn’t happen; but that hasn’t slaked the thirst of print and broadcast “journalists” and “commentators” for a sensational event that will sway voters in the month before an election. What many in the media either don’t know or choose not to remember is that October has produced a lot of surprises for Americans.
to start an insurrection. Three days later, Brown was captured by U.S. Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Though he eventually was hanged for treason, John Brown’s “October surprise” led to the election of Abraham Lincoln, secession, the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. On Oct. 8, 1871, a cow in the barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary started what came to be known as the “Great Chicago Fire.” In three days, the fire burned nearly four square miles of the largest city west of Manhattan and left tens of thousands homeless. There was no federal aid offered to survivors for rebuilding. World War I already was four months on when the Ottoman Empire allied with the Central Powers — Germany and Austria-Hungary — in October 1914. But Turkey’s decision to enter the war — and the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 — forever changed the world in which we live. On Oct. 15, 1938, Adolf Hitler surprised the world by ordering German troops to occupy the Sudetenland. Two weeks earlier, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had returned from the infamous Munich Conference and assured “peace for our time.” It was anything but. In October 1939, the Nazis and the Soviets halved and occupied Poland, and by October 1940, Hitler’s Luftwaffe
IT WAS on Oct. 19, 1781, that the success of the American Revolution was assured. That was the day British Gen. Charles Cornwallis surrendered his army to George Washington at Yorktown, Va. Had this “October surprise” not occurred, it’s unlikely that we would be holding presidential and congressional elections next month. John Brown, an abolitionist, raided the U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry, Va., Oct. 16, 1859, killing and wounding more than a dozen people in an effort
was making daylight bombing raids on British cities. DURING October 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of war over nuclear-armed missiles that Nikita Khrushchev had shipped to Cuba. Though President Kennedy talked tough in his Oct. 22 broadcast, he secretly agreed to remove U.S. weapons along the Soviet periphery. Those who believe that this month’s collapse of global financial markets is an unprecedented disaster need to study history. The Great Crash of 1929 — so severe that it makes this year’s meltdown pale in comparison — began Oct. 24. In 1987, Oct. 19 became known as “Black
Monday,” as Wall Street investors watched the market nose-dive 22 percent and lose $500 billion in value in a single trading session — still the biggest oneday loss of value in history. While Sept. 11, 2001, always will be remembered as a day of terror for Americans, October has many more, and all of them cost some of our countrymen their lives. The 23rd of this month is the 25th anniversary of the attack on the U.S. Marine headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon — a radical Islamic suicide attack that killed 241 Americans. In the aftermath of that assault, U.S. troops pulled out of Lebanon. On Oct. 7, 1985, Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and murdered an American passenger, Leon Klinghoffer. Three days later, they were captured in Sicily as they tried to flee aboard an Egyptian aircraft. In announcing the success, President Reagan said, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” Fifteen years ago this month, there was a 19-hour gunfight in Mogadishu, Somalia, which claimed the lives of 18 U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force personnel. During the operation, two U.S. MH-60 helicopters were downed, and Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant was captured. For their courage in trying to save him, Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randy Shughart were awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. Within weeks, President Bill Clinton ordered U.S. forces to withdraw from Somalia. AND AS for that first “October surprise” that wasn’t: The American hostages were released Jan. 20, 1981 — the day of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. He was the man the Iranians didn’t want to fight. __________________________________________ OLIVER NORTH (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
October 22, 2008
IRAQ: October 15, 2008
The next American president’s Iraq War In a month Iraq will be the next president’s war. From the American perspective the next president’s phase of the Iraq War will be twofold. First off, it will be a proxy war with Iran’s tyrannical mullahs. The second “fold” will be even more strategically significant: The next president’s war will measure America’s commitment to defending democracy and promoting genuine international security in the 21st century. The Iraqi perspective differs a shade. Iraq’s war will be yet another Iran-Iraq War, but one where the Iraqis will have an organizational advantage and a significant ideological edge.
IRAQ’S organizational advantage has two components. First and foremost Iraq engages Iran with the U.S. as an active ally — unless the next U.S. president proves feckless and makes the inexcusably stupid mistake of denying Iraq American diplomatic and military support in a crisis. Iraq’s second organizational advantage is its increasingly capable military and more responsive government. The Iraqis point to Operation Charge of the Knights as their first in a series of suc-
cessful security operations signaling their new capabilities and confidence. Launched in late March, Charge of the Knights targeted Shia militias (like Muktada Sadr’s Mahdi Army), criminal gangs, and the “Special Groups” that are really guerrilla bands sponsored by Iran. Follow-on operations have reduced terrorist violence and crime, which senior officials point out are closely linked. U.S. forces are already moving to support roles. This week U.S. Marine Corps
CAMPAIGN 2008: October 9, 2008
Is this as good as McCain bid gets?
ime was, the Baltimore Orioles manager was Earl Weaver, a short, irascible, Napoleonic figure who, when cranky, as he frequently was, would shout at an umpire, “Are you going to get any better or is this it?” With, mercifully, only one debate to go, that is the question about John McCain’s campaign. In the closing days of his 10-year quest for the presidency, McCain finds it galling that Barack Obama is winning the first serious campaign he has ever run against a Republican. Before Tuesday night’s uneventful event, gall was fueling what might be the McCain-Palin campaign’s closing argument. It is less that Obama has bad ideas than that Obama is a bad person. THIS, McCain and his female Sancho Panza say, is demonstrated by bad associations Obama had in Chicago, such as with William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist. But the McCain-Palin charges have come just as the Obama campaign is benefiting from a mass mailing it is not paying for. Many millions of American households are gingerly opening envelopes containing reports of the third-quarter losses in their 401(k) and other retirement accounts — telling each household its portion of the nearly $2 trillion that Americans’ accounts have recently shed. In this context, the McCain-Palin campaign’s attempt to get Americans to focus on Obama’s Chicago associations seem surreal — or, as a British politician once said about criticism he was receiving, “like being savaged by a dead sheep.” Recently Obama noted — perhaps to torment and provoke conservatives — that McCain’s rhetoric about Wall Street’s “greed” and “casino culture” amounted to “talking like Jesse Jackson.” What fun:
one African-American Chicago politician distancing himself from another AfricanAmerican Chicago politician by associating McCain with him. After their enjoyable 2006 congressional elections, Democrats eagerly anticipated that 2008 would provide a second election in which a chaotic Iraq would be at the center of voters’ minds. Today they are glad that has not happened. The success of the surge in Iraq, for which McCain justly claims much credit, is one reason why foreign policy has receded to the margins of the electorate’s mind, thereby diminishing the subject with which McCain is most comfortable and which is
Obama’s largest vulnerability. Tuesday night, McCain, seeking traction in inhospitable economic terrain, said that the $700 billion — perhaps it is $800 billion, or more; one loses track of this fast-moving target — bailout plan is too small. He proposes several hundred billions more for his American Homeownership Resurgence — you cannot have too many surges — Plan. Under it, the government would buy mortgages that homeowners cannot — or perhaps would just rather not — pay, and replace them with cheaper ones. When he proposed this, conservatives participating in MSNBC’s “dial group” wrenched their dials in a wrist-spraining spasm of disapproval. STILL, it may be politically prudent for McCain to throw caution, and billions, to the wind. Obama is competitive
in so many states that President Bush carried in 2004 — including Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Colorado and New Mexico — it is not eccentric to think he could win at least 350 of the 538 electoral votes. If that seems startling, that is only because the 2000 and 2004 elections were won with 271 and 286, respectively. In the 25 elections 1900-1996, the winners averaged 402.6. This, even though the 1900 and 1904 elections — before Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma attained statehood, and before the size of the House was fixed at 435 members in 1911 — allocated only 447 and 476 electoral votes, respectively. The 12 elections from 1912 through 1956, before Hawaiian and Alaskan statehood, allocated only 531. In the 25 twentieth-century elections, only three candidates won with fewer than 300 — McKinley with 292 in 1900, Wilson with 277 in 1916 and Carter with 297 in 1976. President Harry Truman won 303 in 1948 even though Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrat candidacy won 39 that otherwise would have gone to Truman. After John Kennedy won in 1960 with just 303, the average winning total in the next nine elections, up to the 2000 cliffhanger, was 421.4. IN 1987, on the eve of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s third victory, the head of her Conservative Party told a visiting columnist: “Someday, Labour will win an election. Our job is to hold on until they are sane.” Republicans, winners of seven of the last 10 presidential elections, had better hope they have held on long enough. __________________________________________ GEORGE WILL (c) 2008, Washington Post Writers Group __________________________________________
Major General John Kelly, coalition forces commander in Anbar province, said, “There are still 27,000 U.S. troops in the province, but they are on overwatch.” “Overwatch” is military lingo for protecting your friends while they maneuver and fight. At the tactical level, as one soldier moves and exposes himself, another “covers” him (overwatches), prepared to fire a burst from his rifle to suppress enemy troops shooting at the exposed soldier. In Anbar Province, U.S. forces have assumed “operational-level overwatch.” If an Iraqi army commander finds his troops in a tough firefight, he can quickly request help from a U.S. ground unit. At the strategic level, allied nations “cover” one another. Strategic overwatch in the U.S.-Iraq relationship includes deterring Tehran’s mullahs. THE NEXT president will be tested by these robed thugs. The mullahs’ nuclear quest continues and the next president must thwart that quest. The mullahs will make trouble in Lebanon and stir conflicts throughout the Middle East and Central Asia (e.g. Afghanistan and Pakistan). However, Iraq will be the central battle front with Tehran, militarily, diplomatically and morally. Iraq’s emerging democracy presents the mullahs with a complex challenge. Democracy gives Iraq an ideological advantage in its struggle with Iran’s dictatorship. Disgust and discontent has become a way of life inside Iran. The Khomeinist revolution has failed and fossilized as a corrupt theocracy backed by secret police and Revolutionary Guards. The Iranian people look west and see Iraqi Arabs and Kurds seizing a historic opportunity to create their own open, democratic system — and they know the mullahs are the gangsters denying them that opportunity. Moreover, Iraq’s Shia majority offers an “alternative political vision” (i.e., democracy) to Iran’s, and its Hezbollah puppet’s, Shia Islamist authoritarianism. In 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini toppled the Shah of Iran, the Khomeinists had a radical vision propelling them, with the U.S. damned as The Great Satan. Now the Ayatollah’s heirs wage a strategic delaying action, relying on terror at home and abroad to remain in control. The mullahs provide an example of Americaís most common 21st century opponent — a failed clique of violent ideologues with either petrodollar or narcotics income whose chief tools of foreign policy are assassination, terrorism and crime. IT’S WHY the next American president must win his Iraq War. __________________________________________ AUSTIN BAY (c) 2008, Creators Syndicate __________________________________________
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Liberals' selective rage outrage
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 • Volume 23, Number 43 • Hampton, Iowa
Conservative Chronicle Campaign Anger