John Kass in Chicago Tribune. Follow the link at the end to watch the SNL sketch.
As Barack Obama was applauded for blowing his nose during a stump speech in Texas the other day, Hillary Clinton should have realized something important:
Forget the “Saturday Night Live” references about media bias, Sen. Clinton. It’s over.
When a presidential candidate is applauded for nose-blowing, what’s left to discuss?
Clearly, the media fawning over Barack irritates the Clintons, who must remember Bill playing his saxophone, being asked by excited young people whether he preferred boxers or briefs, as old President George H.W. Bush was cast as the evil Mr. Burns who didn’t know the price of a gallon of milk and didn’t care.
Lest you think Barack’s nose-blowing is fantasy, it was reported in the Tribune’s political blog,The Swamp, and elsewhere, by responsible journalists.
Obama’s nasal passages clogged. He blew his nose with gusto. And received a round of applause.
What would this tell anthropologists from another planet if they were trying to understand us?
That after months and months of the American political media writing the Obama campaign narrative so it sounds like “The Song of Solomon,” the candidate has become inevitable.
He blows his nose, and somebody must say — “Look, he’s not afraid to blow his nose as a leader seeking change, transcending the old, bitter politics of the past, so we may work together as one nation, under Barack.”
Surely, his followers searched the ground for his tissue, ready to fight like dogs for the bits, and the lucky ones will no doubt press the torn pieces as mementos into scrapbooks, to gaze upon years from now, when they themselves become geezers, too weakened by unbridled taxation and socialized medicine to prevent their children from voting conservative.
Asked the first question at their debate the other day, she dared to ridicule political media types, and unwittingly mimicked a nervous, angry caricature of herself from “Saturday Night Live.”
“In the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time — and I don’t mind,” Clinton admonished debate moderator Brian Williams of NBC. “… If you saw ‘Saturday Night Live’ last Saturday, maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow.”
If you haven’t seen the SNL bit, you can see part of it at least on the Web at chicagotribune.com/debate.
Posted by Jim Bass under Obama
Friday, February 29, 2008 at 3:36 pm
Stunning. Click the photo to see it full size. View his portfolio here.
Posted by Jim Bass under Photography
Friday, February 29, 2008 at 10:16 am
I am often baffled by the resistance of conservatives to drug-policy reform, but encouraged by the willingness of many to reassess their views once they have heard the evidence. Conservatives who oppose the expansion of federal power cannot look approvingly on the growth of the federal drug-enforcement bureaucracy and federal efforts to coerce states into adopting federally formulated drug policies.
Those who focus on the victimization of Americans by predatory criminals can hardly support our massive diversion of law-enforcement resources to apprehending and imprisoning nonviolent vice merchants and consumers. Those concerned with over-regulation can hardly countenance our current handling of methadone, our refusal to allow over-the-counter sale of sterile syringes, our prohibition of medical marijuana.
Posted by Jim Bass under Drugs
Friday, February 29, 2008 at 10:06 am
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on Thursday that Iran was the world’s “number one” power, as he launched a bitter new assault on domestic critics he accused of siding with the enemy.
“Everybody has understood that Iran is the number one power in the world,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech to families who lost loved ones in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
“Today the name of Iran means a firm punch in the teeth of the powerful and it puts them in their place,” he added in the address broadcast live on state television.
Posted by Jim Bass under Iran
Friday, February 29, 2008 at 10:01 am
Obama has big plans for micro-managing the US economy, as evidenced by his Patriot Employer Bill.
…Obama’s proposal would designate certain companies as “patriot employers” and favor them over other, presumably not so patriotic, businesses.
The legislation takes four pages to define “patriotic” companies as those that: “pay at least 60 percent of each employee’s health care premiums”; have a position of “neutrality in employee [union] organizing drives”; “maintain or increase the number of full-time workers in the United States relative to the number of full-time workers outside of the United States”; pay a salary to each employee “not less than an amount equal to the federal poverty level”; and provide a pension plan.
In other words, a patriotic employer is one which fulfills the fondest Big Labor agenda, regardless of the competitive implications. The proposal ignores the marketplace reality that businesses hire a work force they can afford to pay and still make money. Coercing companies into raising wages and benefits above market rates may only lead to fewer workers getting hired in the first place.
So we’d be less competitive abroad. But that ain’t all…
Under Mr. Obama’s plan, “patriot employers” qualify for a 1% tax credit on their profits. To finance this tax break, American companies with subsidiaries abroad would have to pay the U.S. corporate tax on profits earned abroad, rather than the corporate tax of the host country where they are earned. Since the U.S. corporate tax rate is 35%, while most of the world has a lower rate, this amounts to a big tax increase on earnings owned abroad.
Put another way, U.S. companies would suddenly have to pay a higher tax rate than their Chinese, Japanese and European competitors. According to research by Peter Merrill, an international tax expert at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, this change would “raise the cost of capital of U.S. multinationals and cause them to lose market share to foreign rivals.” Apparently Mr. Obama believes that by making U.S. companies less profitable and less competitive world-wide, they will somehow be able to create more jobs in America.
Obama needs to progress with his thinking.
He has it backwards: The offshore activities of U.S. companies tend to increase rather than reduce domestic business. A 2005 National Bureau of Economic Research study by economists from Harvard and the University of Michigan found that more foreign investment by U.S. companies leads to greater domestic investment, and that U.S. firms’ hiring of more offshore workers is positively, not negatively, associated with the number of American workers they hire.
That’s in part because often what is produced overseas by subsidiaries are component parts to final, higher-value-added products manufactured here.
Too subtle for liberals, sorry.
Posted by Jim Bass under Obama
Friday, February 29, 2008 at 9:35 am
A 42-year-old woman was injured when what authorities called a stash of “homemade fireworks” stored inside her oven exploded.
Tracy Shimkus, of West Holly Avenue, suffered injuries to her face, hand and stomach after she allegedly attempted to turn on the stove and it exploded Monday afternoon, police said.
Posted by Jim Bass under Fun Stuff
Friday, February 29, 2008 at 9:23 am
The conventional wisdom instructs that the rise of women in corporate America in the latter half of the 20th century was due to the implementation of anti-discrimination laws championed by the feminist movement. In reality, a greater proportion of American women held high-level occupations in the first half of the 20th century. What gives? Thomas Sowell sets the record straight on this and other male–female employment fallacies.
Posted by Jim Bass under Economics
Friday, February 29, 2008 at 9:19 am
…and doesn’t even realize it. Wow.
Posted by Jim Bass under Clintons
Friday, February 29, 2008 at 9:14 am
Iraqpundit has a few words for Obama:
Obama, campaigning in Ohio, responded. “I do know that al Qaeda is in Iraq,” he said, which is good to know since he had left that point ambiguous. He then added his intended zinger. “I have some news for John McCain,” he said. “There was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.”
Wait a minute. There’s a lot more to that story, isn’t there? In fact, it’s the rest of that story that is at the center of this election. Yes, after the U.S. overthrew the Baathists, AQI challenged the U.S. in Iraq, attempting to foment a civil war by a barbaric campaign of murder. Then, after a lengthy period of bloodletting and sectarian violence, the Sunnis turned against AQI, the U.S. employed an effective counter-insurgency strategy, and the major Shiite militia stopped killing Sunni civilians. AQI has been humiliated, and its standing in the Muslim world has plummeted.
Obama knows all this, doesn’t he? He must, because he recently trivialized it all as a mere “tactical victory.” (I know that he’s aware that his promised withdrawal could lead to genocidal violence, because he has said he is indifferent to potential genocide.) Anyway, if Obama agrees that al-Qaeda is already in Iraq, and if he is aware of recent military successes against AQI, then the obvious question at the center of the election is, what now? Obama’s answer seems to be, let’s get out, but if the situation becomes what I already know it is, let’s resume military action to stop it. Huh?
Given the centrality of Iraq to the election and to his own campaign, Obama has been amazingly incoherent on the subject. “[W]e should continue to strike al-Qaeda targets” in Iraq, Obama told the crowd in Ohio on Wednesday. But if striking such targets is important, why promise to withdraw the U.S. forces that are doing the striking? If an AQI “base” in Iraq is a threat to U.S. interests, why trivialize and promise to abandon a successful strategy that is working against AQI?
Either the struggle in Iraq matters or it doesn’t. And if it does, as Obama’s own statements seem to suggest, why abandon the struggle while you are succeeding, with the back-up promise to recommence it later, when the enemy has had a chance to regroup? What sense does any of this make?
Posted by Jim Bass under Iraq
Friday, February 29, 2008 at 9:10 am
Fewer than half of American teenagers who were asked basic history and literature questions in a phone survey knew when the Civil War was fought, and one in four said Columbus sailed to the New World some time after 1750, not in 1492.The survey results, released on Tuesday, demonstrate that a significant proportion of teenagers live in “stunning ignorance” of history and literature, said the group that commissioned it, Common Core.
Guess who’s fault that is? Yep.
The group says President Bush’s education law, No Child Left Behind, has impoverished public school curriculums by holding schools accountable for student scores on annual tests in reading and mathematics, but in no other subjects.
So, making schools prove that their students can read and do simple math impoverishes them to the point they can’t teach history? Just who is being dumb?
Posted by Jim Bass under Education
Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 9:33 am
On March 4, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments over the constitutionality of Proposition 22’s denial of same-sex couples’ right to marry. In less than three months’ time, if the Supreme Court responds to the arguments by saying “I do,” California could have legalized same-sex marriage — joining Massachusetts as the only other state to offer gay couples equal standing with their heterosexual counterparts under the law.
I care very little about the issue of gay marriage, but I dislike dishonest arguments. Claiming that gay marriage is a civil rights issue is bogus — a gay man and I have identical marriage rights under California. Both of us can marry women but not men.
Gays, in fact, argue for special treatment, not equal treatment.
Posted by Jim Bass under Culture
Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 9:25 am
A 16-foot python stalked a family dog for days before swallowing the pet whole in front of horrified children in the Australian tropics, animal experts said Wednesday.
The boy and girl, ages 5 and 7, watched as the scrub python devoured their silky terrier-Chihuahua crossbreed Monday at their home near Kuranda in Queensland state.
Stuart Douglas, owner of the Australian Venom Zoo in Kuranda, said scrub pythons typically eat wild animals such as wallabies, a smaller relative of the kangaroo, but sometimes turn to pets in urban areas.
“It actively stalked the dog for a number of days,” Douglas said.
“The family that owned the dog had actually seen it in the dog’s bed, which was a sign it was out to get it,” he added.
Posted by Jim Bass under Uncategorized
Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 9:15 am
Sen. Barack Obama retorted to John McCain (item below) thusly:
“I have some news for John McCain, and that is there was no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.”
Cute comeback, but the Senate voted to liberate Iraq 77-23. In an election, such lopsided votes are called landslides.
But Obama voices a position common on the left: the Iraq war created new terrorists. This is certainly an arguable position, but ultimately unknowable. Did Omar in Damascus drop his plans to become a plumber and take up jihad because Saddam was toppled?
Say there’s a cohort of young Muslim men predisposed to radical jihad. The US invades and they now have ready-made targets upon which to focus their energies. Instead of plotting to blow up western targets in the west, they plot to destroy western targets in the Middle East.
Is that bad for America? Europe?
Finally, the Left seems oblivious to the psychological benefits of defeating an enemy. Osama bin Laden famously decried the US as a paper tiger after watching us run from fights. Now, it’s Osama hiding in a cave watching news accounts of how Al Qaeda in Iraq is being pulverized by the combined forces of the US and the Iraqis.
How does this play for potential jihadis? Again, that’s unknowable. But it’s likely that Omar’s friends who stayed behind realize their pal is dead, that maybe his cause was a bit nutty and that maybe life is worth living.
Posted by Jim Bass under Iraq
Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 9:09 am
GOP presidential candidate John McCain mocked Democrat Barack Obama today for saying he’d take action as president “if al-Qaida is forming a base in Iraq.”
McCain told a crowd in Tyler, Texas “I have some news. Al-Qaida is in Iraq. It’s called ‘al-Qaida in Iraq.’”
McCain said he didn’t watch Obama and Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton debate last night in Cleveland. But he said he was relayed Obama’s response when asked if as president he’d reserve the right to send U.S. troops back into Iraq to quell an insurrection or civil war.
Odd question for a Democrat. The words “civil war” to Democrats are the ready excuse to quit and run home.
Posted by Jim Bass under McCain
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 5:33 pm
The Onion is hilarious.
Posted by Jim Bass under Satire
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 11:17 am
From The Corner:
I’m devastated to report that our dear friend, mentor, leader, and founder William F. Buckley Jr., died overnight in his study in Stamford, Connecticut.
After year of illness, he died while at work; if he had been given a choice on how to depart this world, I suspect that would have been exactly it. At home, still devoted to the war of ideas.
As you might expect, we’ll have much more to say here and in NR in the coming days and weeks and months. For now: Thank you, Bill. God bless you, now with your dear Pat. Our deepest condolences to Christopher and the rest of the Buckley family. And our fervent prayer that we continue to do WFB’s life’s work justice.
Posted by Jim Bass under Conservatism
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 9:18 am
The nation’s drive toward alternative fuels carries a danger many communities have been to slow to recognize: Ethanol fires are harder to put out than gasoline ones and require a special type of firefighting foam.
Many fire departments don’t have the foam, or don’t have enough of it, or are not well-trained to apply it. This foam is also more expensive than conventional foam.
“It is not unusual to find a fire department that is still just prepared to deal with traditional flammable liquids,” said Ed Plaugherspokesman for the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Water doesn’t put out ethanol fires, and the foam that has been used since the 1960s to smother ordinary gasoline blazes doesn’t work well against the grain-alcohol fuel.
Wrecks involving ordinary cars and trucks are not the major concern. They carry modest amounts of fuel, and it is typically a low-concentration, 10percent blend of ethanol and gasoline. A large amount of conventional foam can extinguish such fires.
The real danger involves tanker trucks and railcars rolling out of the Corn Belt with huge quantities of 85 or 95 percent ethanol destined for parts of the country unaccustomed to dealing with it.
Posted by Jim Bass under Green Scare/Climatism
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 9:11 am
When a great American company offers a medicine that lengthens the lives of hundreds of millions of people, you might think politicians would say thank you. Instead they say: How dare you advertise it.
Pfizer has just been pressured by Congress into dropping its main ad campaign for the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, arguably the most popular medicine in the world and with very good reason.
Lipitor can lower the deadly artery-clogging substance by as much as 60% and, when combined with regular exercise and a low-fat diet, prevents heart attacks and sudden deaths.
Companies who do so much for so many deserve plaudits. But liberal politicians never rest in their search for corporate villains, and so they have demonized the pharmaceutical industry, just as they have an oil and gas industry that spends billions developing new technologies to reach crude and natural gas deposits that were inaccessible only a few years ago.
Just as Congress’ big shots have no appreciation for how “Big Oil” can cut our dependence on oil-rich enemy countries, they’re equally ungrateful for how “Big Pharma” cures and manages disease.
In his research on productivity and health care for the National Bureau of Economic Research, Columbia business professor Frank R. Lichtenberg found a direct connection between new drug approvals and rapidly increased longevity.
Lichtenberg reckons the average new drug approval adds a total of 1.2 million years to the lives of current and future generations. With it costing the pharmaceutical industry about $500 million to bring a new drug to market, Lichtenberg extrapolated that the “cost per life-year gained is $424″ — just a fraction of the economic value of a single year of a person’s life of $150,000, cited by Lichtenberg based on calculations by University of Chicago economics professors Kevin M. Murphy and Robert H. Topel.
Drug manufacturers such as Pfizer have been performing such incalculably valuable services to Americans and the rest of the world for generations.
It may have been the disorganized Alexander Fleming who won the Nobel Prize for accidentally discovering penicillin in 1928. But he actually failed to recognize its importance and abandoned his discovery. Pfizer, with its expertise in fermentation, mass produced the new wonder drug in response to an appeal from the U.S. government, saving multitudes of Allied forces in World War II.
Posted by Jim Bass under Big Government
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 8:58 am
..for a collection of juicy Wednesday links including evidence the snows of Kilimanjaro are back and the right way to frame the healthcare debate.
Posted by Jim Bass under Uncategorized
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 8:55 am
We live in a time when film directors seem awfully nervous, making movies with senseless camera movements and twitchy editing.
David Gordon Green is one young filmmaker who has not been infected by the jitters. He understands that a well-composed image can be dynamic by itself. (Imagine visiting the Louvre and having someone jiggle the canvases to make the masterpieces come alive.)
So far, I’ve seen three of Green’s movies, and every one established a mood that grabbed me right away. Like Terence Malick’s movies, Green finds great locations, and with cinematographer Tim Orr, creates visuals and elicits quiet performances that draw you in, rather than scream at you. He’s a confident artist.
Check out George Washington, Undertow and All the Real Girls. Snow Angels is next on my list.
Despite such a short indie career, Green is being feted in LA this week.
AFTER years of cutting his teeth in independent film, David Gordon Green is one of the big boys now. The youthful 32-year-old writer and director, who still happens to wear braces, says he no longer gets carded at bars. But his newfound maturity pales in comparison to the thrill of being invited to host his own three-night film retrospective this week at American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre in HollywoodEgyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
“My reaction? I would use the word ‘flabbergasted,’ ” says Green, adding that the tribute “seems a little bizarre and backward, but it’s quite an honor.”
Audiences might not immediately recognize the wispy, shaggy-haired Southerner as the budding film legend they’ve come to see, when his latest effort, “Snow Angels,” a bleak small-town drama featuring Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell, premieres Thursday night. Beckinsale, who plays a single mother struggling to keep her life on track after her daughter disappears, recalls that before she met Green, “I was warned that I might think he was the production assistant because he looks 13 years old.”
Despite his unassuming air, Green has carved out a niche for himself in Hollywood as a master raconteur with an ear for lyrical dialogue and an eye for authentically American milieus. “If you can categorize filmmakers in a music way, David is a folk director,” says Beckinsale, one of his biggest fans. “He’s a magpie, but he doesn’t go for the shiny things — he goes for the busted tin can and the three-legged dog. I describe him as being like one of those Simon and Garfunkel songs that has all these little odd, interesting, quirky objects and details set to this amazing tune.”
Posted by Jim Bass under Movies
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 2:46 pm
Now that Mexico is officially describing Cuba’s newly retired President Fidel Castro as an ”outstanding figure,” the Brazilian president calls him a ”mythical” leader and the world media are doing verbal pirouettes to avoid calling him a dictator, it’s a good time to take a dispassionate look at Castro’s record.
One wonders, were Mexico and Brazil engaging in subtle word games? After all, Hitler was “outstanding” in the sense that he stood out.
And mythical? Well, yes, gullible saps like Jimmy Carter, Danny Glover and Oliver Stone have bought the romantic myth of the progressive commandante.
Will he be remembered as a well-meaning strongman who raised health and education standards? Or will he go down in history as a selfish tyrant who clung to power for half a century and left his country poorer than ever?
A joke I heard on the streets of Havana in the late 1980s said that the Cuban revolution’s three biggest achievements were health, education and national sovereignty, and its three biggest failures were breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Maybe so. But the Castro government’s list of shortcomings has grown substantially since.
For fairness’ sake, let’s not dwell on reports that the Cuban government considers unfair, such as Forbes magazine’s estimate that Fidel Castro has a $900 million fortune, or the New Jersey-based Cuban Archive ”Truth and Memory” report, which says it has documented 4,073 Castro regime executions and 3,001 ”extra-judicial” killings since 1959.
And let’s set aside for a moment the undisputable fact that Castro has been — by any dictionary’s definition — a dictator, and that nearly 20 percent of the island’s population has left the country since he took power.
If we just look at the Cuban government’s favorite ranking, the 2008 United Nations Human Development Index, which ranks countries around the world with special emphasis on their health and education standards, Cuba ranks sixth in Latin America, behind Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica and the Bahamas.
You’d have to be blind to not recognize the disaster of present day Cuba. Havana looks like it hasn’t had a coat of paint since Batista. Of course, it’s tough to paint walls that are crumbling and when you make $12 a month.
Compare the fate of Cubans who stayed in the island versus those who fled to Miami. In Miami, the “minority” Cubans are not an underclass, but prosperous.
Consider it an experiment in economics: put one group under the thumb of a dictator (the control group). Let another bloom under a nation of laws and economic freedom.
The difference is obvious to everyone but leftist academics and other assorted fools.
Posted by Jim Bass under Loony Left
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 9:02 am
Canada’s National Post:
Snow cover over North America and much of Siberia, Mongolia and China is greater than at any time since 1966.
The U.S. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported that many American cities and towns suffered record cold temperatures in January and early February. According to the NCDC, the average temperature in January “was -0.3 F cooler than the 1901-2000 (20th century) average.”
China is surviving its most brutal winter in a century. Temperatures in the normally balmy south were so low for so long that some middle-sized cities went days and even weeks without electricity because once power lines had toppled it was too cold or too icy to repair them.
There have been so many snow and ice storms in Ontario and Quebec in the past two months that the real estate market has felt the pinch as home buyers have stayed home rather than venturing out looking for new houses.
In just the first two weeks of February, Toronto received 70 cm of snow, smashing the record of 66.6 cm for the entire month set back in the pre-SUV, pre-Kyoto, pre-carbon footprint days of 1950.
And remember the Arctic Sea ice? The ice we were told so hysterically last fall had melted to its “lowest levels on record? Never mind that those records only date back as far as 1972 and that there is anthropological and geological evidence of much greater melts in the past.
The ice is back.
Gilles Langis, a senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa, says the Arctic winter has been so severe the ice has not only recovered, it is actually 10 to 20 cm thicker in many places than at this time last year.
OK, so one winter does not a climate make. It would be premature to claim an Ice Age is looming just because we have had one of our most brutal winters in decades.
But if environmentalists and environment reporters can run around shrieking about the manmade destruction of the natural order every time a robin shows up on Georgian Bay two weeks early, then it is at least fair game to use this winter’s weather stories to wonder whether the alarmist are being a tad premature.
And it’s not just anecdotal evidence that is piling up against the climate-change dogma.
According to Robert Toggweiler of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University and Joellen Russell, assistant professor of biogeochemical dynamics at the University of Arizona — two prominent climate modellers — the computer models that show polar ice-melt cooling the oceans, stopping the circulation of warm equatorial water to northern latitudes and triggering another Ice Age (a la the movie The Day After Tomorrow) are all wrong.
“We missed what was right in front of our eyes,” says Prof. Russell. It’s not ice melt but rather wind circulation that drives ocean currents northward from the tropics. Climate models until now have not properly accounted for the wind’s effects on ocean circulation, so researchers have compensated by over-emphasizing the role of manmade warming on polar ice melt.
Posted by Jim Bass under Green Scare/Climatism
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 8:42 am
The convictions in London of would-be terrorists are accompanied by warnings against minimizing the early attempts by terrorists-in-the-making to get organized:
A senior counter-terrorism source said: “There has always been the danger of trivialising what these people were doing. They were engaged in paramilitary training for terrorism, they talked repeatedly of fighting and killing non-believers and they rejected Muslims who did not follow their path.
“They posed a huge danger to young impressionable people who could have been lured into terrorism.”
This sort of trivialising of the threat has happened repeatedly in the U.S. by people intent on making a political case against the Bush Adminstration.
The refusal of the Obama-Pelosi Democrats to reauthorize FISA surveillance authorities is the ultimate trivialization of terror. The fall campaign will largely turn on whether a majority of Americans are willing to listen to Obama, Pelosi Reid and the rest who want us to believe that the ’90s are back, and 9/11 a distant, one-time tragedy.
Posted by Jim Bass under Terrorism
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 8:30 am
…in case you missed it. He’s not so slick anymore. Tempus fugit.
Posted by Jim Bass under Slick Willie
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 8:27 am
…the current vogueish advice among [political consultants] is: Go after your opponent’s strengths. So in the first volley of what feels like the general election campaign, Barack Obama has attacked John McCain for being too close to lobbyists. His assault is part of this week’s Democratic chorus: McCain isn’t really the anti-special interest reformer he pretends to be. He’s more tainted than his reputation suggests.
Well, anything is worth trying, I suppose, but there is the little problem of his record. McCain has fought one battle after another against lobbyists and special interests. And while I don’t have space to describe all his tussles, or even the lesser ones like his fight with the agricultural lobby against sugar subsidies, I thought that, amidst all these charges, it might be worth noting some of the McCain highlights from the past dozen years.
In 1996, McCain was one of five senators, and the only Republican, to vote against the Telecommunications Act. He did it because he believed the act gave away too much to the telecommunications companies, and protected them from true competition. He noted that AT&T alone gave $780,000 to Republicans and $456,000 to Democrats in the year leading up to the vote.
In 1998, McCain championed anti-smoking legislation that faced furious opposition from the tobacco lobby. McCain guided the legislation through the Senate Commerce Committee on a 19-1 vote, but then the tobacco companies struck back. They hired 200 lobbyists and spent $40 million in advertising (three times as much as the Harry and Louise health care reform ads). Many of the ads attacked McCain by name, accusing him of becoming a big government liberal. After weeks of bitter debate, the bill died on the Senate floor.
In 2000, McCain ran for president and reiterated his longstanding opposition to ethanol subsidies. Though it crippled his chances in Iowa, he argued that ethanol was a wasteful giveaway. A recent study in the journal Science has shown that when you take all impacts into consideration, ethanol consumption increases greenhouse gas emissions compared with regular gasoline. Unlike, say, Barack Obama, McCain still opposes ethanol subsidies.
Posted by Jim Bass under McCain
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 8:24 am
She’s losing and she knows it. So she plays the Muslim card…
With a week to go until the Texas and Ohio primaries, stressed Clinton staffers circulated a photo over the weekend of a “dressed” Barack Obama.
The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat frontrunner fitted as a Somali Elder, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya. The senator was on a five-country tour of Africa.
…and gets sarcastic.
On Sunday, before a rally of several thousand, she added a heavy dose of sarcasm.
“Now I could stand up here and say, let’s get everybody together, let’s get unified the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing,” she said, to a smattering of giggles. “And everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect.”
She added: “But I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and make the special interests disappear.”
That special interest thing is laughable in any context. The Democrats are in thrall to organized labor, a gigantic special interest. And how about tort lawyers? See Hear No Evil, below.
Ralph Alter sees the Clintons in terms of the Pink Panther, as bumblers:
Twelve short months ago, the media were awe-stricken over the prospect of the Clinton sharks circling the other Democrat nominees. Now even the mainstream media types are slapping their thighs and foreheads, guffawing at the wacky antics of the Pink Clintons. One imagines Mark Penn blustering like Chief Inspector Dreyfus, driven insane by the bumbling of his nominee and her sycophants. This is especially true now that word is out that Penn has lent millions to Hillary’s campaign. How do you like the chances of Penn collecting on that note?
Perhaps what made Inspector Clouseau most captivating was his incredible knack for survival, despite his near total incompetence. Often it is just dumb luck that rescues Clouseau, as he bends over to tie a shoelace and the assassin’s bomb flies over his head. Perhaps the right wing fantasies of Hillary as master Machiavellian manipulator are wrong, and the Clintons have ducked Whitewater, endless Bimbo eruptions, impeachment, and the failure to apprehend bin Laden out of sheer comic chance. Two words: Sandy Burglar. (Talk about a Pink Panther scene: Berger wandering out of the National Archives with documents protruding from his collar and socks and fly is something even Blake Edwards could not imagine.)
Posted by Jim Bass under Clintons
Monday, February 25, 2008 at 9:25 am
In western Kenya, a Kellogg MBA is using ‘microequity’ to improve the lives of local farmers.
Andrew Youn was not happy about the passion fruit. The electric green ovules hung on the vine, each the size of a child’s fist. Not yet ripe, the fruits showed bumps and brown spots, suggesting they hadn’t been properly watered. They grew on vertical vines hanging off a larger stem strung about six feet above the ground. Some of the untrimmed leaves scraped the dirt, forming a staircase for soil-borne diseases. In a greenhouse a few kilometers away, 50,000 small plants awaited grafting and planting.
Youn visited several vineyards on a magnificent day in January, and the problems were always the same. He was good-natured but firm as he explained to farmers, through a translator, the need to trim the vines. One farmer, a woman in a headscarf standing on the red-brown soil, seemed to agree. Youn, a Yale University graduate from Minnesota, wasn’t intimidating. At 29, he’s skinny and wears T-shirts and sandals with socks. But in this corner of western Kenya people listen to him. He’s the guy who’s making them money.
A former consultant, Youn is the founder and head of One Acre Fund, a two-year-old nonprofit which aims to link the poorest farmers—those with one acre of land or less—to commercial markets. The concept of microfinance gained international attention in 2006 when its chief pioneer, Muhammad Yunus, won a Nobel Prize. It is practiced by a diverse group of organizations, ranging from huge banks to small NGOs such as One Acre. Each has its own approach but believes, at bottom, that providing capital to the world’s poorest people will create millions of new entrepreneurs.
Posted by Jim Bass under Africa
Monday, February 25, 2008 at 9:15 am
Victor Davis Hanson:
One wonders how the United States has come to the brink of nominating and probably electing someone with almost no experience as either an executive or national legislator, replete with ratings and rankings that suggest he will be about the most liberal Presidential candidate since George McGovern.
1.Spending. The Republicans spent a fortune between 2001-5, at rates far above inflation to fund new federal programs at a time of war. No vetoes, no remorse. The ensuing deficits then discredited the wonderful effect of the tax cuts that brought in more revenue, but today are somehow blamed for the shortfall.
2.The Half-measure. Conservatives did not articulate what we sought in Iraq. They did not give the public some historical perspectives about the cost versus the benefits of a stable constitutional Iraq. The looting, the pullback from Fallujah, the escape of Sadr, etc. were half-measures when double measures were needed, while no counter-narratives to “Bush Lied, Thousands Died” were offered. So now we are in the situation where a supposedly “failed” and “worst” something will be looked back within ten years as a heroic feat of arms in fostering a constitutional government in the heart of the ancient caliphate, after removing Saddam and defeating al Qaeda, and at a cumulative cost that in past wars might have been exceeded by single campaigns.
The Obama Message
I’ve now listened to almost every Democratic debate, watched at least three long Obama speeches on C-Span, and read his website. There are two messages I distill from all that.
One, he is an extremely good speaker, quick and humorous, perhaps the best natural orator and politician we’ve seen since Ronald Reagan and JFK—far better than Bill Clinton, inasmuch he rarely loses his temper or pouts on camera. So far, in Clinton fashion, he has not started shaking his finger.
I note in passing he almost never receives hostile questions. His debates have been limited to those with like-thinking liberal Democrats,. His political races were against other liberals or a weak conservative. And in general the press has bent over backwards to be considerate. Bottom line: we have no idea how he will react when crossed, although Hillary’s dig about his plagiarism in the Texas debate made him squeamish and moan.
Two is the message. Early last year, Obama started out as the post-racial candidate, a sort of liberal version of Condoleezza Rice or Colin Powell. His handlers even worried whether he would solidify his African-American base (“not black enough?”) given Hillary’s liberal credentials, apparently sure-thing candidacy, and Bill’s honorific title as the first “black” President.
But sometime by December, the Obama candidacy had transmogrified, as his wife and Oprah, in style and substance, vouched for his African-American fides—and suddenly 90% of the black vote was unexpectedly won in many primaries. If his worry in the cauldron of Chicago politics was that he was too “white”, suddenly those fears were assuaged in the current election.
Second, at about the same time the hope and change message began to morph as well into a prophetic, near messianic sermon along the self-righteous lines of something like, “You, America, have a final chance to show that you are still good, after all, by voting for a brilliant African-American charismatic leader. If you don’t, then you are captive to race, and we were right all along about your America.”
Posted by Jim Bass under GOP
Monday, February 25, 2008 at 9:13 am
Posted by Jim Bass under Obama
Sunday, February 24, 2008 at 8:10 pm
Posted by Jim Bass under Mideast
Sunday, February 24, 2008 at 7:57 pm
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