Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Did The Media Keep Voters Ignorant?

Not So Smart After All: Liberals Look Down On Conservatives But What Do They Know?, Jack Kelly, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 23, 2008.

Liberals think of themselves as being a good deal smarter than conservatives are. An example is this e-mail I received after last week's column:

"Mass support behind the conservative movement in America comes mostly from lower middle class voters, many of whom are poorly educated and inarticulate. The perfect example is feelings about Sarah Palin. The base of the Republican Party loves her, precisely because she mispronounces words, speaks ungrammatically, displays poor grasp of complex ideas ... and has a spotty, undistinguished educational background. In other words, she reflects the Republican Party's base ... as a mass movement it reflects stupidity and ignorance."

A Zogby poll released last week casts doubt on the notion it's conservatives who reflect stupidity and ignorance. Mr. Zogby asked a dozen questions of 512 Obama supporters, 55 percent of whom have college degrees.

• 94 percent correctly identified Sarah Palin as the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter;

• 87 percent identified Ms. Palin as the candidate who said she "could see Russia from her house;"

• 86 percent identified Ms. Palin as the candidate associated with a $150,000 wardrobe purchased by her political party;

• 81 percent chose John McCain as the candidate who was unable to identify the number of houses he owned;

• 81 percent knew it was Barack Obama who said the government should redistribute the wealth;

• 53 percent knew it was Joe Biden who predicted that Mr. Obama would be tested by a generated international crisis during his first six months as president;

• 44 percent knew that it was Mr. Obama who started his political career in the home of two former members of the Weather Underground;

• 43 percent knew that Democrats controlled both the House and Senate;

• 28 percent knew it was Mr. Biden who had to quit an earlier campaign for president because he plagiarized a speech;

• 23 percent knew it was Mr. Obama who claimed to have campaigned in 57 states;

• 17 percent knew that it was Mr. Obama who won his first election by getting all of his opponents removed from the ballot;

• 12 percent knew it was Mr. Obama who said his energy policies likely would bankrupt the coal industry.

Only 46 percent of the Obama supporters were able to answer half or more of the questions correctly.

Apart from the appallingly low percentage of Obama supporters who could answer the basic civics question of which party controls Congress, the results reflect more what the news media chose to emphasize in their reporting than the awareness of respondents.

What the news media chose to emphasize was trivia, slanted against the Republicans in general, Ms. Palin in particular, not all of which was true. (Ms. Palin never said she "could see Russia from her house." That quote came from Tina Fey, who impersonated her on "Saturday Night Live.")

That Sen. Obama said his energy policy would bankrupt the coal industry is rather more important than Ms. Palin's wardrobe, but if the news media chose not to report it (and most did not), then the Obama supporters polled can't be blamed for not knowing it.

The poll was commissioned by conservative documentary filmmaker John Ziegler ("The Path to 9/11"). Random post-election interviews he'd done with a dozen Obama supporters indicated a deplorable lack of knowledge, and he wanted to see how widespread it was.

Liberals assert that if McCain-Palin supporters were asked the same questions, they'd display a comparable level of ignorance. Mr. Ziegler has a wager for them. If a liberal commissions the same poll of McCain supporters and they do not score significantly better than the Obama supporters did, then Mr. Ziegler will pay the cost of the poll. But if McCain-Palin supporters do significantly better, then the liberal must reimburse Mr. Ziegler for the cost of the original poll. I doubt Mr. Ziegler will get any takers.

Text Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette November 23, 2008

Image Source: PBS.org

Has Obama Turned The Page Backwards? Is This Bill Clinton's Third Term?

Past and Future, William Greider, The Nation, November 24, 2008

A year ago, when Barack Obama said it was time to turn the page, his campaign declaration seemed to promise a fresh start for Washington. I, for one, failed to foresee Obama would turn the page backward. The president-elect's lineup for key governing positions has opted for continuity, not change. Virtually all of his leading appointments are restoring the Clinton presidency, only without Mr. Bill. In some important ways, Obama's selections seem designed to sustain the failing policies of George W. Bush.

Let us stipulate that these are all honorable people, smart and experienced veterans of Washington combat. But they represent the Democratic party that mainly sees itself as managerial--making government work better. The long era of conservative dominance has taught them to keep their distance from big reform ideas that promise fundamental change of the system. Their operating style is incremental and cautiously practical. They conscientiously avoid (or actively block) propositions that sound too liberal or radical. Alas, Obama is coming to power at a critical moment when incrementalism is irrelevant. The system is in collapse. Financial chaos won't wait for patient deliberations.

Events have confronted Obama with a fearful symmetry between past and present, illustrated by his choice of economic advisers. On Friday, we learned that Timothy Geithner, president of the New York Federal Reserve, would become his new treasury secretary and Larry Summers, who held the same position in the Clinton administration, would be the White House overseer of economic policy. On Monday, Geithner was busy executing the government's massive rescue of Citicorp--the very banking behemoth that Geithner and Summers helped to create back in the Clinton years, along with Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin, Clinton's economics guru. Now Rubin is himself a Citicorp executive and his bank is now being saved by his old protégé (Geithner) with the taxpayers' money.

The connections go way beyond irony. They raise very serious questions about where the new president intends to lead and whether he has the nerve to break from the weak and haphazard strategy of the Bush administration. It has dumped piles of public money on the largest financial institutions and demanded little or nothing in return, hoping for the best. Geithner has been a central player in the deal-making, from Bear Stearns to AIG to Citi. The strategy has not only failed, it has arguably made things worse as savvy market players saw through the contradictions and rushed out to dump more bank stocks.

On Wall Street, Geithner is known as a highly competent technocrat, well versed in the financial complexities. But he has also been seen as a weak and compliant regulator of Wall Street firms, someone who did not seem the storm coming. Occasionally, Geithner would anguish publicly about the accumulating time bombs like credit derivatives and urge bankers to do something, but he did not use his supervisory powers to compel action. In bailout negotiations with Wall Street titans, Geithner and the Federal Reserve were spun around like a top more than once.

No wonder the stock markets rallied explosively when they heard Geithner would be their new boss in Washington. They think he is their guy. Summers may be a brilliant economist--everyone says so--but he, too, is a club member in good standing and now manages a huge hedge fund while he advises Obama. The president-elect needs to get a "second opinion"--someone from outside the financial club who can explain the flaws in the rescue strategy preached by Bush's treasury secretary Henry Paulson and Tim Geithner at the New York Fed.

Their approach has clearly been designed to preserve what's left of the Wall Street establishment and maintain the supremacy of the largest financial firms while the taxpayers pick up their losses. That model has failed and too many smart people know why. The bailouts have been too little too late and aimed at an impossible objective--persuading private capital investors to believe in the phony assurances proffered by the bankers. AIG, the insurance giant taken over by the feds, has turned into a bloody hemorrhage. Citigroup will be another and may soon be joined by other major banks demanding the same favorable terms. Wasting more public money on insolvent mastodons is the least of it. The real scandal is it doesn't work. It can't work because the black hole is too large even for Washington to fill. Government should take over the failing institutions or force them into bankruptcy, break them up and sell them off or mercifully relieve everyone, including the taxpayers.

Stock markets rallied again with the salvage of Citigroup. But not everyone in Wall Street was cheering. Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics, the bank monitoring firm that has repeatedly been right about the banks when the government officials were wrong, had harsh words for the deal. "Pretending that Citi is going to be a going concern I think is silly," Whalen said. "We should be thinking about breaking this company up and redistributing the assets into stronger hands."

Will Timothy Geithner or Larry Summers advise the next president to face reality and throw in the towel? One hopes so, because Whalen warns: "By embracing Geithner, President-elect Obama is endorsing the ill-advised scheme to support AIG directed by Hank Paulson et al at Goldman Sachs and executed by Tim Geithner.... This scheme to stay AIG's resolution cannot possibly work and, when it does collapse, Barack Obama and his administration will wear the blame."

Barack Obama is too smart and perceptive to let this happen to his yet-unborn presidency. Maybe he should find out what Whalen knows.

Text Source: The Nation, November 24, 2008

Photo Source: realclearpolitics.com

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Obama Deserting His Socialist Progressive Base?

Barack Obama, Honeymoon Killer? The Clintonites In His Cabinet, Forgiveness For Lieberman, The Creeping signs Of Centrism -- Progressives Aren't Ready To Panic, Yet, Mike Madden, Novembe, 24, 2008, News.Salon.com |

One of the first things Barack Obama did after winning the election two weeks ago was put an old-school political brawler in charge of his White House. Next, he saved Joe Lieberman. Then, he met with John McCain, and asked Hillary Clinton to run his State Department. For good measure, he's also apparently weighing whether to keep George W. Bush's Defense secretary, Robert Gates, on at the Pentagon.

This is the guy Republicans called a socialist, maybe a Marxist, and National Journal said was the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate? McCain aides were saying on Election Night that their own polling showed 60 percent of the country thought Obama was a liberal (and many voted for him anyway). Barely two weeks into the transition, that number might already be dropping fast.

In fact, in his appointments, and in what can be divined of his foreign policy, there are loud echoes of the last Democratic administration, and also of that lady he beat in the primaries, the one the netroots didn't like very much. Certainly, some of Obama's supporters are getting a little nervous about what this all presages about an Obama White House. "The list [of disappointments] is getting awfully long," wrote the blogger bmaz at Firedoglake. "Almost as long as Barack Obama's arm that he used to take our money and efforts to get himself elected. All we have seen is the short arm he has used to punch us in the face and collect street cred with villagers for having done so." Open Left's Chris Bowers wrote on Friday that he felt "incredibly frustrated ... [W]hy isn't there a single member of Obama's cabinet who will be advising him from the left?" Even Pat Buchanan -- not exactly the world's most liberal guy -- apparently thinks Obama needs to throw a bone to progressives after the start the transition is off to.

But so far, the Obama administration is shaping up to be more or less exactly what Obama always said he was, in between the "hope" and "change" rhetoric: pragmatic, consensus-oriented and interested in getting things done. That's not necessarily what a lot of Democrats want him to be, though. Obama was bound to disappoint his supporters; think of the transition as the road map for how it's going to happen. And know that it won't come as a surprise to the president-elect himself; in 2006, in "The Audacity of Hope," he wrote that people tend to "project their own views" on him, and recognized what could happen as a result: "As such I am bound to disappoint some, if not all of them."

"This has been the pattern for him historically -- the left falls in love with him because of his eloquent oratory and his, I think, genuine sense of mission to help people who are less fortunate," said biographer David Mendell. "But he has legislated from somewhere in the middle, and then once he gets into a general election campaign, he tends to squirt that direction even farther. He'll irritate people on both sides -- except the right expects him to be a Democrat, and the far left expects him to be one of them. And he's consistently disappointed the far left."

To date, the president-elect's most notable difference of opinion with his supporters is probably on the subject of Joe Lieberman. He seems to have escaped blame for the Democratic failure to punish Lieberman last week, though Senate Democrats would certainly have been tougher on the Connecticut senator had Obama not intervened on his behalf. Harry Reid, instead, is becoming the fall guy for the slap on the wrist Lieberman received. That's either evidence of denial on the part of many Obama fans, or a sign that, among liberals, Obama has far more goodwill to burn than Reid has. Blogger and author (and Salon contributor) David Sirota blames long-standing Democratic habits and not Obama for Lieberman's escape from punishment. "The Democratic leadership [on Capitol Hill] has decided that the way it is going to govern, it is going to essentially triangulate aggressively against its own party," said. "I actually don't think Obama in his policy positions he's taken since the election -- I don't think he's actually done that. It's possible that congressional leaders are actually fearing that Obama will be far more legislatively aggressive than them."

But the big sticking point for many of Obama's intra-party critics is the strong strain of Clintonism running through appointments. They can lay the failure to banish Lieberman at Harry Reid's feet but they can't rewrite the résumés of people like Rahm Emanuel.

"You could have had an administration with a sprinkling of Clinton people, it would have been fine," said Robert Kuttner, co-editor of the American Prospect and a distinguished senior fellow at Demos, a liberal think tank (and a longtime critic of Bill Clinton's centrist economic policies). "But when so many of the top people are holdovers, and he's promoting change, you have to say, wait a minute." Republicans are hoping to exploit any disconnect between Obama and his supporters -- the Republican National Committee has been sending reporters e-mail blasts of background research on each potential Cabinet pick, pointing out how many are Washington insiders with long ties to the Clinton administration or to other parts of the city's establishment.

The list of Clinton alums in the transition or the administration starts with Hillary Clinton, who is reportedly set to take over at State, then goes to Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, transition co-chairman (and Clinton White House chief of staff) John Podesta and plenty of lower-level aides. Eric Holder, whom Obama will reportedly nominate as attorney general, was a deputy at the Justice Department under Clinton. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is likely to be named Commerce secretary soon, had several Clinton administration jobs (though he endorsed Obama after dropping out of the presidential race himself). Clinton's former Treasury secretary, Lawrence Summers, will be a senior White House economic advisor and nearly got his old job back -- which progressives are particularly alarmed about. "Appointing someone who helped get us into this mess with what he fought for is a really bad idea," said Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future. (New York Federal Reserve branch head Tim Geithner will be named the new Treasury secretary-designate on Monday; he's worked closely with much of the Clinton-era economic team in the past.)

Some antiwar activists are also starting to wonder what happened to the Obama who first rose to prominence in the Iowa caucuses because he opposed the war. "Obama always really used to his advantage the fact that he did not support the Iraq war in the beginning, and that was a key argument that he used to discredit Hillary Clinton, and something that he was able to tout to his benefit," said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War. "People put all this hope into getting Obama elected -- the reasons were much deeper. They didn't just want to get him elected, but they want to see real change." Add in Clinton, at State, and Vice President-elect Joe Biden, and Obama would be getting foreign policy and military advice from a lot of people who supported the Iraq war. And then there are people who are rumored to be under consideration who worked for someone far more hated on the left than Hillary Clinton. If Bush's secretary of defense, Robert Gates, sticks around, how will that play with the base? How about John Brennan, who worked at the CIA earlier in the Bush administration and whom Obama is rumored to like for a top intelligence job (either at CIA or as director of national intelligence)? The Brennan rumor is already proving divisive because of his support for torture.

Still, even critics are sanguine about some of Obama's picks. Obama doesn't have much choice except to turn to ex-Clinton aides in many jobs; there aren't many Democrats who are ready to take relatively senior positions who've worked in government but didn't work for Clinton.

"It hasn't surprised me that he's chosen stars from the Clinton bench, because that's the bench we have," said Borosage, who -- aside from the return of Summers to a national role -- mostly likes the direction of the transition so far. "Many of the appointments strike me as terrific, in the sense of serious people who will try to get things done."

That does seem to be the main factor motivating what the transition team is doing so far. Every public statement from Obama, Podesta and Emanuel has emphasized a desire to hit the ground running on Jan. 20; progressives may not love some of the names Obama is appointing to these jobs, but they still like what he says he wants the appointees to do once in office. Working in Chicago, Obama aides never spent much time during the campaign worrying about what Democrats back in D.C. were saying about their strategy, and so far, the transition team seems to be taking a similar approach. Emanuel, after meeting with Senate Republicans on Thursday, sounded more bipartisan and magnanimous than he ever has before. "The challenges for the country are large," he told reporters. "The problems we face are of a serious magnitude. There is enough area and enough goodwill for ideas from both parties to solve those challenges."

Obama aides seem to have settled on a pretty blunt message for supporters who don't like the appointments he's making: Obama's in charge -- calm down. "People need to understand one thing," senior advisor David Axelrod told ABC News' "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday. "There's one person who's going to be in charge of American foreign policy, and there's one person who's going to be in charge of American economic policy. And that's Barack Obama."

For now, any grumbling is at a low enough volume that it doesn't have Obama staffers worried; even Kuttner said some of the people who might raise eyebrows as Clintonites (like Holder, and incoming White House counsel Greg Craig) endorsed Obama in the primary campaign, representing a clear break. On Capitol Hill, Democrats say they're mostly impressed with the transition operation so far -- there's been hardly any infighting, the leaks of names appear to be deliberate and no one hears a peep about people who weren't picked. Obama's ban on lobbyists in the transition means plenty of Hill staffers are working to put together the new administration, which is a sure way to set lawmakers at ease, and many progressive interest groups already had relationships with the people doing the day-to-day work at the transition.

Still, sometime next year, if the White House proposes something that really gets under the skin of liberal activists, no one will be able to say they couldn't see it coming. It's one thing to build a coalition of progressives and sweep to the Oval Office on the heels of record disapproval for the current occupant. As Obama and his supporters are finding out already, it's a whole other thing to govern.

Text Source: News.Salon.Com November 24, 2008

Image Source: antsinpants.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Do Obama Voters Know About Current Events?

Go to YouTube.com for recorded invterviews with Obama-Biden voters at polls on election day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

White Guilt? Who Inflicted That On Whites?

The End of White Guilt, National Black Republican Association, November 16, 2008.

White Guilt Emancipation Declaration
We, black American citizens of the United States of American and of the National Black Republican Association, do hereby declare that our fellow white American citizens are now, henceforth and forever more free of White Guilt.

This freedom from White Guilt was duly earned by the election of Barack Hussein Obama, a black man, to be our president by a majority of white Americans based solely on the color of his skin.

Freedom is not free, and we trust that the price paid for this freedom from White Guilt is worth the sacrifice, since Obama is a socialist who does not share the values of average Americans and will use the office of the presidency to turn America into a failed socialist nation.

Granted this November 4, 2008 - the day Barack Hussein Obama was elected as the first black president and the first socialist president of the United States of America.

Source: News Blaze and Black Republican Association

Did White Guilt Elect Obama? If So, Does It Matter? If It Didn't Does It Matter?

White Guilt Is Dead, Tom Adkins, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 17, 2008.

There's a massive silver lining in those magical clouds that lofted Barack Obama to the Presidency. Now, without a shred of intellectually legitimate opposition, I can loudly proclaim to America: The Era of White Guilt is over!

Look at my fellow conservatives! There they go, glumly shuffling along, depressed by the election aftermath. Not me. I'm virtually euphoric.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not thrilled with America's flirtation with neo-socialism.. But there's a massive silver lining in those magical clouds that lofted Barack Obama to the Presidency. For today, without a shred of intellectually legitimate opposition, I can loudly proclaim to America: The Era of White Guilt is over.

This seemingly impossible event occurred because the vast majority of white Americans didn't give a fluff about skin color, and enthusiastically pulled the voting lever for a black man. Not just any black man. A very liberal black man who spent his early career race-hustling banks, praying in a racist church for 20 years, and actively worked with America-hating domestic terrorists. Wow! Some resume! Yet they made Barack Obama their leader. Therefore, as of November 4th, 2008, white guilt is dead.

For over a century, the millstone of white guilt hung around our necks, retribution for slave-owning predecessors. In the 60s, American liberals began yanking that millstone while sticking a fork in the eye of black Americans, exacerbating the racial divide to extort a socialist solution. But if a black man can become President, exactly what significant barrier is left? The election of Barack Obama absolutely destroys the entire validation of liberal white guilt. The dragon is hereby slain.

So today, I'm feeling a little "uppity," if you will. From this day forward, my tolerance level for having my skin color hustled is now exactly ZERO. And it's time to clean house. No more Reverend Wright's "God Damn America," Al Sharpton's Church of Perpetual Victimization, or Jesse Jackson's rainbow racism. Cornell West? You're a fraud. Go home. All those "black studies" programs that taught kids to hate whitey? You must now thank Whitey. And I want that on the final.

Congressional Black Caucus? Irrelevant. Maxine Waters? Shut up. ACORN? Outlawed. Black Panthers? Go home and pet your kitty. Black separatists? Find another nation that offers better dreams. Go ahead. I'm waiting.

Gangsta rappers? Start praising America. Begin with the Pledge of Allegiance. And please, no more ebonics. Speak English, and who knows where you might end up? Oh, yeah, pull up your pants. Your underwear is showing. You look stupid.

Black Fraternities? Seek diversity. Race card? It’s now the joker. Miss Black America? Get in line with all the other lovely ladies. Reparations? Paid.

To those Eurosnots who forged entire careers hating America? I'm still waiting for the first black French President.

And let me offer an equal opportunity whupping. I've always despised lazy white people. Now, I can talk smack about lazy black people. You're poor because you quit school, did drugs, had three kids with three different fathers, and refuse to work. So when you plop your Colt 45-swilling, Oprah watchin' butt on the couch and complain "Da Man is keepin' me down," allow me to inform you: Da Man is now black. You have no excuses.

No more quotas. No more handouts. No more stealing my money because someone's great-great-great-great grandparents suffered actual pain and misery at the hands of people I have no relation to, and personally revile.

It's time to toss that massive, obsolete race-hustle machine upon the heap of the other stupid 60s ideas. Drag it over there, by wife swapping, next to dope-smoking. Plenty of room right between free love and cop-killing. Careful, don't trip on streaking. There ya go, don't be gentle. Just dump it. Wash your hands. It's filthy.

In fact, Obama's ascension created a gargantuan irony. How can you sell class envy and American unfairness when you and your black wife went to Ivy League schools, got high-paying jobs, became millionaires, bought a mansion, and got elected President? How unfair is that??? Now, Like a delicious O'Henry tale, Obama's spread-the-wealth campaign rendered itself moot by it's own victory! America is officially a meritocracy. Obama's election has validated American conservatism!

So, listen carefully … Wham!!!

That's the sound of my foot kicking the door shut on the era of white guilt. The rites have been muttered, the carcass lowered, dirt shoveled, and tombstone erected. White guilt is dead and buried.

However, despite my glee, there's apparently one small, rabid bastion of American racism remaining. Black Americans voted 96% for Barack Obama. Hmmm. In a color-blind world, shouldn't that be 50-50? Tonight, every black person should ask forgiveness for their apparent racism and prejudice towards white people. Maybe it's time to start spreading the guilt around.

Note: This originally appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Text Source: WebCommentary.com
Image Source: Focus News

Is Obama Making Socialist Progressives Happy?

Obama Throws No Bones to Progressive Base, Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive, November 19, 2008

When is Obama going to appoint someone who reflects the progressive base that brought him to the White House? He won the crucial Iowa caucuses on the strength of his anti-Iraq War stance, and many progressive peace and justice activists worked hard for him against John McCain. So why in the world is he choosing Hillary Clinton to be Secretary of State when she was one of the loudest hawks on Iraq and threatened to obliterate 75 million Iranians? And it’s not just Hillary.

Obama’s OMB pick, Peter Orzag, is a Clintonite disciple of Robert Rubin.
Obama’s AG pick, Eric Holder, is a Clintonite who represented Chiquita Bananas.

And Larry Summers’s name is still being bandied about for Treasury, even though Summers, while Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, forced the deregulation of our financial markets and imposed disaster capitalism on Russia. Worse still, heading Obama’s transition team on intelligence matters are two former deputies to George Tenet, of all people. (See Amy Goodman’s great story about this on Democracy Now!)

Look, there are a lot of talented progressives who could be in an Obama cabinet. Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel Prize-winner in economics and a critic of corporate globalization. He should be Treasury Secretary. Senator Russ Feingold is a champion of civil liberties. He should be Attorney General. Robert Greenstein is head of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He would make a much better OMB director. Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, would be a tremendous Secretary of Labor. And if Obama really wanted change, if he really wanted to honor progressives who backed him early on and then did the grunt work against McCain, he’d nominate Dennis Kucinich as Secretary of State.

That sure would indicate a welcome departure from empire as usual. But at this point, progressives are getting absolutely nothing from Obama.

Text Source: The Progressive Magazine
Image Source: Judiciary Report

Monday, November 17, 2008

Did Obama Outspend McCain Two To One? Is Campaign Finance Reform Dead?

The $639 Million Loophole: Obama's Riches, and the Humiliation of Campaign Reformers, Opinion, Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2008.

We're fresh off the most expensive election cycle in history, in which the winning candidate raised record amounts of money while opting out of the campaign finance limits. With victory in hand, Barack Obama's allies now want to return to the alleged virtues of public money. If there was ever a demonstration of the folly and hypocrisy of campaign finance reform, this would be it.

The GOP is using this demonstration to make another constitutional challenge to McCain-Feingold, and we're glad to see it. That's the upshot of two lawsuits filed Thursday by the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C. and Louisiana, challenging campaign finance restrictions including the 2002 McCain-Feingold law. The rules were intended to limit the influence of money in politics, but we now have the proof of three election cycles showing they haven't. Instead they have made election money less transparent, restricted political speech, and helped create a cottage industry of election lawyers and shadowy political groups.

In Washington, the RNC is challenging McCain-Feingold's ban on national parties raising and spending money for state races -- the so-called soft money that is not subject to federal contribution limits. The Louisiana suit will also challenge rules that limit groups from coordinating their message with candidates. Lifting the restrictions would mean national parties could lend a hand raising state money in important statewide races, like next year's elections for Governor in Virginia and New Jersey.

According to the RNC complaint, banning the use of soft money in state-level races is unconstitutional because it doesn't meet the standard of being "unambiguously related" to the election of a federal candidate, the standard that the Supreme Court first set out in Buckley v. Valeo. All voters have a First Amendment right to contribute to candidates, whether they do so as individuals or through organized groups -- and they will always find ways to do that.

President-elect Obama should now be counted among those who understand the principle. To his credit, he managed to raise $639 million, roughly as much as President Bush and John Kerry spent combined in 2004 -- from big bundlers as well as small donations. Mr. McCain also broke records for fundraising with over $350 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But in a moment of poetic justice, the Republican felt yoked to the public financing system he championed, capping his general-election spending at $84 million, a piddling amount next to Mr. Obama's pile of cash. Mr. McCain's campaign manager recently said the Republican was outspent by some $100 million in the final week; this is a main reason Mr. Obama was able to make more states competitive than either Mr. Kerry or Al Gore could.

As they usually do when Democrats run through the loopholes, campaign reformers were uncharacteristically quiet while Mr. Obama raked in the dough. But with the election over, they've suddenly got their mojo back. Within days of November 4, seven "reform" outfits were demanding more disclosure requirements for bundlers and raising the amount of taxpayer funding that would have been available to Mr. Obama if, ahem, he hadn't chosen not to accept taxpayer funds.

Like writers at the Nation magazine who claim that socialism hasn't failed because it hasn't really been tried, the thinkers who gave us the post-Watergate campaign reforms and then McCain-Feingold continue to insist that "The way Washington works is not going to change until we fundamentally change the nation's campaign finance laws."

How Mr. Obama and his Justice Department weigh in will be worth watching. Is he going to delegitimize his own election by lending his Administration's voice to the idea that money is evil and public financing the only true path to salvation? The President-elect has ceremonially banned lobbyists from his transition team, but there's apparently no such hex on the fat cats who helped stuff his campaign war chest. His campaign bundlers have already reached the inner sanctum. Bloomberg reports that of the 12 members of Mr. Obama's transition advisory board, five raised at least $50,000 for the campaign coffers.

If the election showed anything, it's that the answer isn't layering more regulations and limits on top of the ones that have already failed. The better road is starting to strip some of them away -- a task that will ultimately fall to the Supreme Court. The Roberts Court blinked last year when offered a chance to overturn McConnell v. FEC and restore the First Amendment right to free political speech. Let's hope it gets another opportunity.

Text Source: Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2008.

Who Voted For Obama? Did Just Enough Republicans Stay Home?

Where's Obama's 'mandate'?, Ralph R. Reiland, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Monday, November 17, 2008.

Now that the facts are in, it's clear that the pro-Obama mainstream media continued to get it wrong right through election night. Watching CNN's Wolf Blitzer add up the numbers on that night, you'd get the idea that a massive turnout of dramatically energized and newly liberal voters had produced an Obama landslide. In fact, despite the pictures of four-hour lines at the polls, American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate reports that voter turnout in this year's election was the same in percentage terms as it was four years ago --- or at most had risen by less than 1 percent.

"Between 60.7 percent and 61.7 percent of the 208.3 million eligible voters cast ballots this year, compared with 60.6 percent of those eligible in 2004," reports Curtis Gans, the director of the university's center. In both years, in short, some 40 percent of those eligible to vote didn't show up at the polls, with Republicans, in particular, taking a none-of-the-above stance this year and staying home. "A downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls seemed to be the primary explanation for the lower than predicted turnout," states the American University report. "Compared to 2004, Republican turnout declined by 1.3 percentage points to 28.7 percent."

Jennifer Marsico, a writer/researcher with the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project, explains the impact of those Republican nonvoters: "Mr. Obama got about 40,000 fewer votes in Ohio than John Kerry got four years ago. Obama carried the state where Kerry did not because Republicans stayed home." And the reported Obama "landslide," as compared with George W. Bush allegedly just squeaking into the White House? Obama received 52 percent of the popular vote, 1 point more than Bush's 51 percent re-election win over John Kerry in 2004.

Similarly, there appears to be virtually no change among the nation's voters this year in their center-right ideological self-identification, according to exit polls conducted by the Edison/Mitofsky National Election Pool. This year, 34 percent called themselves conservative, unchanged from the 2004 election; 22 percent were liberal, up 1 point from 2004's 21 percent; and 44 percent called themselves moderate, down 1 point from 45 percent in 2004.

With party preference by race, there was also no major change this year. In 2000, according to CNN's exit polling, Al Gore got 41 percent of the white vote. In 2004, likewise, John Kerry got 41 percent of the white vote. This year, Barack Obama received an estimated 44 percent of the white vote. The last Democrat candidate for president to win a majority of the white vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964, following the Kennedy assassination. Conversely, the black vote goes overwhelmingly and more lopsidedly to Democrat presidential candidates, with Gore, Kerry and Obama, respectively, getting 95 percent, 93 percent and 95 percent of the black vote, according to CBS News.

And so, what's the change? Not much. What's the mandate? Nothing.

With no ideological realignment, there's no call from the public for turning America into a European welfare state or beating our swords into plowshares; no go-ahead for Obama to push America's coal plants into bankruptcy or to put a lid on the expansion of nuclear power and oil drilling by way of excessive regulatory hurdles; no public demand for federal agents to pick up the guns or shut down talk radio; no call for the expansion of government or the redistribution of wealth; no public call to put federal bureaucrats in charge of the health-care decisions of patients and physicians; and no call for the nation to buckle under to the union bosses and enact a card-check bill that would effectively deprive workers of private-ballot votes in unionization drives.

On the card-check legislation, a proposed payback to organized labor for their more than $100 million in spending in support of Obama and Democrat congressional candidates, Obama should ask himself why the level of unionization in the nation's private sector has collapsed to 7 percent and how General Motors -- even after its upcoming multibillion-dollar bailout -- can be expected to compete against Toyota when their labor costs, respectively, are $73 per hour and $48 per hour.

What the public wants from Washington is better management, not jerks to the Left and continued payoffs to political contributors.

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur. He can be reached at rrreiland@aol.com.

Text Source: Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Image Source; Radioactive Liberty

Friday, November 14, 2008

Did Obama Say He Would Establish A Civilian National Security Force Inside the U.S?

Here is the link to the July 2, 2008 Obama speech in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The segment about the civilian national security force is between minutes 15 and 17.

The official transcript was released and published before the speech was given and it is at the Wall Street Journal.com .

The official transcript does not have the 'civilian national security force' statement in it.
The 'civilian national security force' statement was an adlib.

Media Bias: How Is News Created?

MSNBC Retracts False Palin Story; Others Duped, David Bauder, AP Television News, November 12, 2008.

MSNBC was the victim of a hoax when it reported that an adviser to John McCain had identified himself as the source of an embarrassing story about former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the network said Wednesday. David Shuster, an anchor for the cable news network, said on air Monday that Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, had come forth and identified himself as the source of a Fox News Channel story saying Palin had mistakenly believed Africa was a country instead of a continent.

Eisenstadt identifies himself on a blog as a senior fellow at the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy. Yet neither he nor the institute exist; each is part of a hoax dreamed up by a filmmaker named Eitan Gorlin and his partner, Dan Mirvish, the New York Times reported Wednesday. The Eisenstadt claim had mistakenly been delivered to Shuster by a producer and was used in a political discussion Monday afternoon, MSNBC said. "The story was not properly vetted and should not have made air," said Jeremy Gaines, network spokesman. "We recognized the error almost immediately and ran a correction on air within minutes."

Gaines told the Times that someone in the network's newsroom had presumed the information solid because it was passed along in an e-mail from a colleague. The hoax was limited to the identity of the source in the story about Palin — not the Fox News story itself. While Palin has denied that she mistook Africa for a country, the veracity of that report was not put in question by the revelation that Eisenstadt is a phony. Eisenstadt's "work" had been quoted and debunked before. The Huffington Post said it had cited Eisenstadt in July on a story regarding the Hilton family and McCain.

Among the other victims were political blogs for the Los Angeles Times and The New Republic, each of which referenced false material from Eisenstadt's blog. And in July, Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones magazine blogged an item about Eisenstadt speaking on Iraqi television about a casino in Baghdad's "Green Zone." Stein later realized he'd been had. "Kudos to the inventor of this whole thing," Stein wrote. "My only consolation is that if I had as much time on my hands as he clearly does, I probably would have figured this out and saved myself a fair amount of embarrassment."

Text Source: Yahoo News

Image Source: hats.cafepress.com/.../278634957

Media Bias: Why Lie When Others Will Do It For You?

A Senior Fellow At the Institute of Nonexistence, Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times, November 13, 2008.

It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent. Who would say such a thing?

On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes. And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times. Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say?

“That’s a really good question,” one of the two, Eitan Gorlin, said with a laugh. (For what it’s worth, another reporter for The New York Times is an acquaintance of Mr. Gorlin and vouches for his identity, and Mr. Gorlin is indeed “Mr. Eisenstadt” in those videos. He and his partner in deception, Dan Mirvish, have entries on the Internet Movie Database, imdb.com. But still. ...)
The pranksters behind Eisenstadt acknowledge that he was not, through them, the anonymous source of the Palin leak. He just claimed falsely that he was the leaker--and they say they have no reason to cast doubt on the original story. For its part, Fox News Channel continues to stand behind its story.

Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish say the blame lies not with them but with shoddiness in the traditional news media and especially the blogosphere. “With the 24-hour news cycle they rush into anything they can find,” said Mr. Mirvish, 40. Mr. Gorlin, 39, argued that Eisenstadt was no more of a joke than half the bloggers or political commentators on the Internet or television.
An MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, explained the network’s misstep by saying someone in the newsroom received the Palin item in an e-mail message from a colleague and assumed it had been checked out. “It had not been vetted,” he said. “It should not have made air.”

But most of Eisenstadt’s victims have been bloggers, a reflection of the sloppy speed at which any tidbit, no matter how specious, can bounce around the Internet. And they fell for the fake material despite ample warnings online about Eisenstadt, including the work of one blogger who spent months chasing the illusion around cyberspace, trying to debunk it.

The hoax began a year ago with short videos of a parking valet character, who Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish said was the original idea for a TV series. Soon there were videos showing him driving a car while spouting offensive, opinionated nonsense in praise of Rudolph W. Giuliani. Those videos attracted tens of thousands of Internet hits and a bit of news media attention.
When Mr. Giuliani dropped out of the presidential race, the character morphed into Eisenstadt, a parody of a blowhard cable news commentator.

Mr. Gorlin said they chose the name because “all the neocons in the Bush administration had Jewish last names and Christian first names.” Eisenstadt became an adviser to Senator John McCain and got a blog, updated occasionally with comments claiming insider knowledge, and other bloggers began quoting and linking to it. It mixed weird-but-true items with false ones that were plausible, if just barely. The inventors fabricated the Harding Institute, named for one of the most scorned presidents, and made Eisenstadt a senior fellow.

It didn’t hurt that a man named Michael Eisenstadt is a real expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and is quoted in the mainstream media. The real Mr. Eisenstadt said in an interview that he was only dimly aware of the fake one, and that his main concern was that people understood that “I had nothing to do with this.” Before long Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish had produced a short documentary on Martin Eisenstadt, supposedly for the BBC, posted in several parts on YouTube.

In June they produced what appeared to be an interview with Eisenstadt on Iraqi television promoting construction of a casino in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Then they sent out a news release in which he apologized. Outraged Iraqi bloggers protested the casino idea. Among the Americans who took that bait was Jonathan Stein, a reporter for Mother Jones. A few hours later Mr. Stein put up a post on the magazine’s political blog, with the title “Hoax Alert: Bizarre ‘McCain Adviser’ Too Good to Be True,” and explained how he had been fooled. In July, after the McCain campaign compared Senator Barack Obama to Paris Hilton, the Eisenstadt blog said “the phone was burning off the hook” at McCain headquarters, with angry calls from Ms. Hilton’s grandfather and others. A Los Angeles Times political blog, among others, retold the story, citing Eisenstadt by name and linking to his blog.

Last month Eisenstadt blogged that Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, Joe the Plumber, was closely related to Charles Keating, the disgraced former savings and loan chief. It wasn’t true, but other bloggers ran with it. Among those taken in by Monday’s confession about the Palin Africa report was The New Republic’s political blog. Later the magazine posted this atop the entry: “Oy — this would appear to be a hoax. Apologies.” But the truth was out for all to see long before the big-name take-downs. For months sourcewatch.org has identified Martin Eisenstadt as a hoax. When Mr. Stein was the victim, he blogged that “there was enough info on the Web that I should have sussed this thing out.”

And then there is William K. Wolfrum, a blogger who has played Javert to Eisenstadt’s Valjean, tracking the hoaxster across cyberspace and repeatedly debunking his claims. Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Mirvish praised his tenacity, adding that the news media could learn something from him. “As if there isn’t enough misinformation on this election, it was shocking to see so much time wasted on things that didn’t exist,” Mr. Wolfrum said in an interview. And how can we know that Mr. Wolfrum is real and not part of the hoax? Long pause. “Yeah, that’s a tough one.”

Text Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/13/arts/television/13hoax.html?em=&pagewanted=print

Image Source: civilexpression.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Did Obama Buy The Presidency?

Obama Accepting Untraceable Donations: Contributions Reviewed After Deposits, Matthew Mosk, Washington Post Staff, Wednesday, October 29, 2008.

Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is allowing donors to use largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor's identity, campaign officials confirmed.

Faced with a huge influx of donations over the Internet, the campaign has also chosen not to use basic security measures to prevent potentially illegal or anonymous contributions from flowing into its accounts, aides acknowledged. Instead, the campaign is scrutinizing its books for improper donations after the money has been deposited. The Obama organization said its extensive review has ensured that the campaign has refunded any improper contributions, and noted that Federal Election Commission rules do not require front-end screening of donations.

In recent weeks, questionable contributions have created headaches for Obama's accounting team as it has tried to explain why campaign finance filings have included itemized donations from individuals using fake names, such as Es Esh or Doodad Pro. Those revelations prompted conservative bloggers to further test Obama's finance vetting by giving money using the kind of prepaid cards that can be bought at a drugstore and cannot be traced to a donor. The problem with such cards, campaign finance lawyers said, is that they make it impossible to tell whether foreign nationals, donors who have exceeded the limits, government contractors or others who are barred from giving to a federal campaign are making contributions.

"They have opened the floodgates to all this money coming in," said Sean Cairncross, chief counsel to the Republican National Committee. "I think they've made the determination that whatever money they have to refund on the back end doesn't outweigh the benefit of taking all this money upfront." The Obama campaign has shattered presidential fundraising records, in part by capitalizing on the ease of online giving. Of the $150 million the senator from Illinois raised in September, nearly $100 million came in over the Internet.

Lawyers for the Obama operation said yesterday that their "extensive back-end review" has carefully scrubbed contributions to prevent illegal money from entering the operation's war chest. "I'm pretty sure if I took my error rate and matched it against any other campaign or comparable nonprofit, you'd find we're doing very well," said Robert Bauer, a lawyer for the campaign. "I have not seen the McCain compliance staff ascending to heaven on a cloud." The Obama team's disclosures came in response to questions from The Washington Post about the case of Mary T. Biskup, a retired insurance manager from Manchester, Mo., who turned up on Obama's FEC reports as having donated $174,800 to the campaign. Contributors are limited to giving $2,300 for the general election.

Biskup, who had scores of Obama contributions attributed to her, said in an interview that she never donated to the candidate. "That's an error," she said. Moreover, she added, her credit card was never billed for the donations, meaning someone appropriated her name and made the contributions with another card. When asked whether the campaign takes steps to verify whether a donor's name matches the name on the credit card used to make a payment, Obama's campaign replied in an e-mail: "Name-matching is not a standard check conducted or made available in the credit card processing industry. We believe Visa and MasterCard do not even have the ability to do this.

"Instead, the campaign does a rigorous comprehensive analysis of online contributions on the back end of the transaction to determine whether a contribution is legitimate." Juan Proaño, whose technology firm handled online contributions for John Edwards's presidential primary campaign, and for John F. Kerry's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee in 2004, said it is possible to require donors' names and addresses to match those on their credit card accounts. But, he said, some campaigns are reluctant to impose that extra layer of security.

"Honestly, you want to have the least amount of hurdles in processing contributions quickly," Proaño said. Sen. John McCain's campaign has also had questionable donations slip through. Dan Pfeiffer, Obama's communication's director, said that "no organization can fully insulate itself from these problems. The McCain campaign has accepted contributions from fraudulent contributors like 'A for You,' 'Adorable Manabat,' 'The Gun Shop,' and 'Jesus II' and hundreds of anonymous donors."

But R. Rebecca Donatelli, who handles online contributions for the McCain operation and the RNC, said security measures have been standard in the GOP nominee's fundraising efforts throughout the campaign. She said she was "flabbergasted" to learn that the Obama campaign accepts prepaid cards. "Yes, a gift card would go through the same process as a regular credit card and be subject to our same back-end review," the Obama campaign said in its response to questions about the use of such cards.

Campaign finance lawyers said there is a long history of debate within the FEC about how to ensure that donors use their own credit cards. lection lawyer Brett Kappel said the FEC has never grappled with the question of cash cards. "The whole system is set up for them to accept the payment, then determine whether it is legal or not. And if it's not, send it back. That's what the statute requires," he said.

Text Source: Washington Post, October 29, 2008.

Image Source: Pat Dollard

Illegal Contributions Collected By Obama Website

France Sends Money To Obama.Com

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Did The Washington Post Embrace Obama, Ignore Biden, Pat McCain On The Back and Attack Palin?

An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage, Deborah Howell, Washington Post, November 9, 2008

The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.

My assistant, Jean Hwang, and I have been examining Post coverage since Nov. 11 last year on issues, voters, fundraising, the candidates' backgrounds and horse-race stories on tactics, strategy and consultants. We also have looked at photos and Page 1 stories since Obama captured the nomination June 4. Numbers don't tell you everything, but they give you a sense of The Post's priorities.

The count was lopsided, with 1,295 horse-race stories and 594 issues stories. The Post was deficient in stories that reported more than the two candidates trading jabs; readers needed articles, going back to the primaries, comparing their positions with outside experts' views. There were no broad stories on energy or science policy, and there were few on religion issues.

Bill Hamilton, assistant managing editor for politics, said, "There are a lot of things I wish we'd been able to do in covering this campaign, but we had to make choices about what we felt we were uniquely able to provide our audiences both in Washington and on the Web. I don't at all discount the importance of issues, but we had a larger purpose, to convey and explain a campaign that our own David Broder described as the most exciting he has ever covered, a narrative that unfolded until the very end. I think our staff rose to the occasion."

The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces (58) about McCain than there were about Obama (32), and Obama got the editorial board's endorsement. The Post has several conservative columnists, but not all were gung-ho about McCain.

Stories and photos about Obama in the news pages outnumbered those devoted to McCain. Post reporters, photographers and editors -- like most of the national news media -- found the candidacy of Obama, the first African American major-party nominee, more newsworthy and historic. Journalists love the new; McCain, 25 years older than Obama, was already well known and had more scars from his longer career in politics.

The number of Obama stories since Nov. 11 was 946, compared with McCain's 786. Both had hard-fought primary campaigns, but Obama's battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton was longer, and the numbers reflect that. McCain clinched the GOP nomination on March 4, and Obama won his on June 4. From then to Election Day, the tally was Obama, 626 stories, and McCain, 584. Obama was on the front page 176 times, McCain, 144 times; 41 stories featured both.

Our survey results are comparable to figures for the national news media from a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. It found that from June 9, when Clinton dropped out of the race, until Nov. 2, 66 percent of the campaign stories were about Obama compared with 53 percent for McCain; some stories featured both. The project also calculated that in that time, 57 percent of the stories were about the horse race and 13 percent were about issues.

Counting from June 4, Obama was in 311 Post photos and McCain in 282. Obama led in most categories. Obama led 133 to 121 in pictures more than three columns wide, 178 to 161 in smaller pictures, and 164 to 133 in color photos. In black and white photos, the nominees were about even, with McCain at 149 and Obama at 147. On Page 1, they were even at 26 each. Post photo and news editors were surprised by my first count on Aug. 3, which showed a much wider disparity, and made a more conscious effort at balance afterward.

Some readers complain that coverage is too poll-driven. They're right, but it's not going to change. The Post's polling was on the mark, and in some cases ahead of the curve, in focusing on independent voters, racial attitudes, low-wage voters, the shift of African Americans' support from Clinton to Obama and the rising importance of economic issues. The Post and its polling partner ABC News include 50 to 60 issues questions in every survey instead of just horse-race questions, so public attitudes were plumbed as well.

The Post had a hard-working team on the campaign. Special praise goes to Dan Balz, the best, most level-headed, incisive political reporter and analyst in newspapers. His stories and "Dan Balz's Take" on washingtonpost.com were fair, penetrating and on the mark. His mentor, David S. Broder, was as sharp as ever.

Michael Dobbs, the Fact Checker, also deserves praise for parsing campaign rhetoric for the overblown or just flat wrong. Howard Kurtz's Ad Watch was a sharp reality check. The Post's biographical pieces, especially the first ones -- McCain by Michael Leahy and Obama by David Maraniss -- were compelling. Maraniss demystified Obama's growing-up years; the piece on his mother and grandparents was a great read. Leahy's first piece on McCain's father and grandfather, both admirals, told me where McCain got his maverick ways as a kid -- right from the two old men.

But Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got, especially of his undergraduate years, his start in Chicago and his relationship with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who was convicted this year of influence-peddling in Chicago. The Post did nothing on Obama's acknowledged drug use as a teenager.

The Post had good coverage of voters, mainly by Krissah Williams Thompson and Kevin Merida. Anne Hull's stories from Florida, Michigan and Liberty University, and Wil Haygood's story from central Montana brought readers into voters' lives. Jose Antonio Vargas's pieces about campaigns and the Internet were standouts.

One gaping hole in coverage involved Joe Biden, Obama's running mate. When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission. However, I do not agree with those readers who thought The Post did only hatchet jobs on her. There were several good stories on her, the best on page 1 by Sally Jenkins on how Palin grew up in Alaska.

In early coverage, I wasn't a big fan of the long-running series called "The Gurus" on consultants and important people in the campaigns. The Post has always prided itself on its political coverage, and profiles of the top dogs were probably well read by political junkies. But I thought the series was of no practical use to readers. While there were some interesting pieces in The Frontrunners series, none of them told me anything about where the candidates stood on any issue.

Text Source: Washington Post, November 9 2008

Image Source: robial.net

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Out of $668 Million, How Much Is Left? Do The Clintons Get Their Primary Bills Paid?

Obama Spent $250 Million On TV Ads In Election, Greg Gordon, McClatchy Newspapers , November 5, 2008

Flush with a tidal wave of campaign donations, Barack Obama spent $250 million on television ads in his presidential campaign, outflanking John McCain and the Republican Party by as much as $80 million, a leading political ad-monitoring firm said. Obama took full advantage of his decision, which McCain criticized, to become the first presidential candidate to forgo public financing for the general election campaign, despite an earlier pledge to limit himself to $84.1 million in federal funds.

Beginning in early June, he amassed about $364 million for the fall campaign, Federal Election Commission records show. Obama's campaign reports already show that he raised a record-shattering $668 million since entering the race last year, with some donations yet to be disclosed. He had enough cash to "play hunches" and make expensive TV advertising forays in long-held Republican states, including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Virginia, said Evan Tracey, president of the Virginia-based Campaign Media Analysis Group.

Obama's campaign even advertised in Alaska before Republican rival McCain picked its governor, Sarah Palin, as his running mate, he said. "At the end of the day, he was able to make this race all on Republican turf, and he was able to do it by applying leverage via these dollars," Tracey said. On Tuesday, Obama captured half a dozen states that Bush won in 2004: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia. Two others, Missouri and North Carolina, remained too close to call on Wednesday.

Obama spent roughly $31 million on TV networks, resurrecting an option that had been "more or less given up for dead in presidential politics," and using it for half-hour infomercials. His ad spending smashed President Bush's 2004 record of $188 million on TV ads, Tracey said, even though Bush began advertising for the fall campaign in March of that year, three months earlier.

The Obama campaign made large TV buys in cities such as Chicago, whose stations beam into northwest Indiana, and in Washington, where they reach northern Virginia, helping him capture the state. Obama held net TV advertising advantages over McCain of $1.6 million in Denver, $2.6 million in Charlotte, N.C., $8.9 million in Miami, $7 million in Tampa, Fla., and $1.7 million in Chicago, Tracey said. The campaign spent $1.7 million on Chicago stations, though only 13 percent of their viewers live in Indiana.

In contrast, McCain spent more than $100 million in private donations over the summer, but was limited to $84.1 million in public money beginning in early September. The Republican National Committee narrowed the gap, amassing more than $200 million to assist McCain. Tracey said that McCain's campaign spent about $135 million on TV ads, and the RNC kicked in more than $40 million for coordinated or independently produced pro-McCain or anti-Obama television ads. Harder to measure is how much the TV ad wars affected the outcome.

Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, said he thinks that "the fundamentals of the election year were so favorable to Democrats that Obama would have won even if McCain had outspent him." However, he said that Obama's extra cash might have helped him "expand his Electoral College map and add some . . . votes in very closely contested places like Indiana and North Carolina," building a margin that "gives the new president the feel of a mandate."

Tracey said he suspects that Obama's prime reason for rejecting public financing — a model he repeatedly endorsed in the past — out of fear that he would face an onslaught of damaging attack ads from outside groups, as Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts did from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth when he challenged Bush in 2004. Tracey and Sabato agreed, however, that Obama's decision takes away any incentive for congressional Democrats to pass legislation strengthening the public financing law.

Tracey said that any Republican seeking to challenge Obama in four years "will have to look in the mirror and ask the question, 'Can I raise $600 million?'" Sabato predicted that federal funding "will remain as a safety net founder funded 'populist' candidates," but won't be an option for those who want a serious chance of winning.

Text Source: McClatchy News Service

Image Source: The Infuriated Faggot

Is Obama The Head Of A Movement? A Political Party? A Nation?

Obama: Radical Moderate, Christopher Caldwell, Financial Times, November 7 2008.

“Obama is absolutely brilliant,” the televangelist, Pat Robertson told CNN the day after Tuesday’s election. “He can be one of the great presidents of the United States if he doesn’t get pulled too far off of centre.” Mr Robertson is the living symbol of the alliance between fire-and-brimstone religiosity and the Republican party over the past three decades. When, with no detectable irony, he describes Barack Obama as a potential giant of American statesmanship, it is evident that John McCain’s bid to paint Mr Obama as a dangerous radical failed.

Mr Obama appealed to an unusual breadth of the US electorate in novel ways. Has the public changed its views? Or has Mr Obama simply brought a superb new political product to market? It is the latter. According to exit polls done by Edison Media Research, voter self-identification is virtually unchanged since the last election. Fewer than a quarter (22 per cent) describe themselves as liberal. More than a third (34 per cent) are conservative. The rest (44 per cent) are moderates.

More from this columnist - Dec-03The first order of business for Mr Obama is to figure out why he did so much better among this centre-right electorate than his predecessors did. He won among Catholics, who had begun giving Republican candidates majorities in the early 1990s. His 11-point victory in Pennsylvania was built around wooing moderate Republicans in metropolitan Philadelphia. He won several states in the south because white people liked him better than John Kerry or Al Gore.

But we should not exaggerate. Mr Obama’s appeal is not universal. Only 10 per cent of Democrats voted for Mr McCain and only 9 per cent of Republicans voted for Mr Obama. Mr Obama won this election in the centre and without centrist voters his great mandate will collapse like a house of cards. His position is structurally similar to the one Ronald Reagan faced in 1980. Reagan’s political challenge was to separate sympathisers outside his party (such as trade unionists, who were to be protected and wooed) from irreconcilables (such as public-service unionists, who were to be confronted and, if necessary, destroyed). Reagan built his presidency on Reagan Democrats, not on rural anti-abortion activists. His invocations of Franklin Roosevelt as a model were almost constant.

Mr Obama’s tribute to Abraham Lincoln at his victory speech in Chicago should be understood as a similar invitation: “Let’s remember,” Mr Obama said, “that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.”

Mr Obama’s appointment of Rahm Emanuel, a long-time aide to Bill Clinton, to be his White House chief of staff is a savvy choice that will tick a lot of people off. Mr Emanuel will be not only a force multiplier for a Democratic majority that has grown by 19 seats, but also – and more importantly – a brake on that majority. Republicans dislike him because they associate him with the Clinton White House and his sharp-elbowed leadership of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Democratic purists distrust him because he is a “New Democrat” in the Bill Clinton mould. Here, too, there is a Reagan parallel. The moment when it became clear that Reagan would leave his own ultras out in the cold was when he chose as chief of staff James Baker III, a member of the inner circle of his top primary rival, George H.W. Bush. The Baker choice was a sign that Reagan would govern mostly as the head of a nation, partly as the head of a party and only occasionally as the head of a movement.

There is not any “movement” on the left to match in intellectual seriousness the conservative one that brought Reagan to power. But there is a lot of pent-up desire for programmatic change in the hardline or utopian part of Mr Obama’s base. Their issues hardly came up in the election, although there is a desire to pretend that they did. When Mr McCain tried to tar Mr Obama as “Barack the Redistributor”, the Obama camp (correctly) described these as desperation tactics US voters would ignore. But those same attacks are now being reframed as a serious policy discussion. “Obama,” writes columnist Paul Krugman, “proudly stood up for progressive values and the superiority of progressive policies”.

Well, sometimes he did but more often he did not. While he opposed a California referendum to block gay marriage, which was passed partly on the strength of black voters that Mr Obama himself had brought to the polls, he also opposed gay marriage itself. He remembered, perhaps, that Mr Kerry would have been elected president in 2004 were it not for his party’s (and his state’s) association with the issue. Nor did Mr Obama stress gun control and abortion the way Democrats used to.

You could see what was best and most effective about Mr Obama’s approach in his primary debates against Hillary Clinton, particularly when they touched on healthcare. Mrs Clinton wanted to rethink the system from the ground up and even boasted of this as a virtue in every debate. She tried to hammer Mr Obama on the grounds that his own plan was not “universal”. Each time she used that word she lost swing voters. Mr Obama proposed retaining the many parts of the US system that are the best in the world. His most effective general-election advertisements were simple ones that promised voters in Virginia, Ohio and elsewhere that if they liked their employer-provided healthcare, they could keep it. Americans understand Mr Obama’s legislative inclinations have been on the left. But the Senate is not the presidency. The presidency is more about temperament than ideology and, in temperament, Mr Obama is a moderate. This may be the most novel thing about him.

The writer is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard

Text Source: Financial Times

Image Source: Mr. Fish

Was The New Yorker's Support "taken for granted, like the other woman who will always be waiting for the phone to ring"?

The First Night of the Age of Obama, George Packer, The New Yorker, November 7, 2008.

Obama gave his first post-election press conference this afternoon. It’s been weeks since his last one. Many people accepted this long silence as the price of an election in its home stretch (and don’t forget that Palin, after being picked by McCain, never gave one at all, perhaps sensing that at least one reporter was bound to ask her to explain the difference between a country and a continent). One of the clichés of the campaign is that the press was “in the tank” for Obama (a phrase I inexplicably neglected to put on my linguistic death list, though “tank” is there, as in “the McCain-Palin ticket tanked”). And like most clichés, it had a considerable amount of truth, for reasons that are not hard to understand.

But the reverse wasn’t true: the Obama campaign was not “in the tank” for the press. In my limited experience, and in what I’ve heard from the more extensive experience of other reporters, editors, fact-checkers, etc., the Obama press operation made the current White House look like the early days of the Straight Talk Express. Friendlier than Bush’s, maybe, but tighter—as tight as a poker player who’s just been raised. No fact was too incontrovertible, no judgment too safe, no quotation too anodyne, to be questioned, challenged, changed, taken off the record, manipulated, denied, and finally denounced by the super-disciplined members of the Obama message team on the imperative mission of shaping the campaign narrative in their favor. Working for an Obama-friendly publication like this one didn’t help in the least. If anything, it meant we could be taken for granted, like the other woman who will always be waiting for the phone to ring.

So what? The strategy worked, didn’t it?

As of November 4th, it worked brilliantly. But what about after January 20th? Since the Clinton years, this has been the era of the permanent campaign, with the line between running for election and running the country practically erased. Bush took Karl Rove into the White House, turned policy into an arm of politics, and governed the same way he campaigned: treat the press as an out-of-favor interest group, control the message at all cost, repeat it incessantly regardless of changing facts, admit no mistakes, show no uncertainty, reward loyalists, and ignore critics or else, if necessary, destroy them. This approach to what’s known as strategic communications won Bush two elections; it also helped destroy his Presidency. Campaigning and governing are not the same. They are closer to being opposites.

In Iraq, Paul Bremer had a strategic-communications adviser named Dan Senor, who had come out of the world of Republican political operatives (a world he returned to after his year in Baghdad). Senor controlled the message coming out of the Republican Palace with all the determination of an Ari Fleischer. The message was: Iraq is on the road to democracy. Meanwhile, outside the Green Zone, the country was going up in flames. As a result, by May of 2004 no one believed what was coming out of Senor’s daily briefings. They had turned into the Iraq equivalent of the Five O’Clock Follies in Saigon.

It was worse than a simple breakdown of trust. The problem with strategic communications is that the White House that lives by it slowly becomes incapable of dealing with reality. When bad news comes, the impulse is to deny it, and that impulse turns into a mental habit. Eventually, those in power are the last to figure out the truth (in this sense, Katrina was a direct result of the kind of mentality that had already led to disaster in Iraq). The Administration can’t answer the arguments of its critics because it has long since stopped listening to them. It finds itself increasingly isolated, not just from potential supporters, but from the truth.

While researching my piece on the new liberalism in next week’s issue, I read H. W. Brands’s new biography of Roosevelt, “Traitor to His Class.” There’s a section that describes F.D.R.’s press conferences: twice weekly, beginning in the first week of his Presidency, with dozens of reporters crowded into the Oval Office and ground rules that allowed for a surprising degree of candor (though Roosevelt was a masterful manipulator of the press, in part because they were grateful for the access).

President Obama won’t go that far—no modern President would. But I hope he’ll live up to his Election Night promise to listen especially well to his critics, including in the press. He should make himself and his aides more, not less, available to reporters than they’ve been. Not just because I belong to that particular interest group and it would be the democratic thing to do. It’s because I want him to succeed.

George Packer writes about foreign affairs, politics, and books.

Text and Image Source: New Yorker November 7, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Did Obama Smear? Alot? More Than The Other Candidate?

Presidential Candidates' Television Ads Most Negative In History, ScienceDaily, University of Missouri-Columbia, November 1, 2008.

The 2008 presidential campaign, as reflected in candidates' television spots, has been one of the most negative campaigns in history. A University of Missouri professor analyzed this year's candidates' television spots, including last night's 30-minute ad by Sen. Barack Obama and found that only one other campaign matched this level of negativity.

William Benoit, professor of communication in the College of Arts and Science, found that in television spots from 1952-2004, candidates averaged 40 percent attacks in their ad statements. In this year's race, the statements in Obama's ads were 68 percent negative compared to 62 percent for Sen. John McCain.

"The only campaign in history that matches this level of negativity was in the first ever presidential TV spot campaign when Dwight Eisenhower had negative attacks in 69 percent of his ad statements," Benoit said. In last night's historic 30-minute ad by Obama, Benoit found the ad to be more positive with only 18 percent attacks, and it never mentioned McCain or President Bush by name. The only time Bush was mentioned in Obama's 30-minute ad was once when Obama alluded to "eight years of failed policies."

The current presidential campaign ads were closer to past ads in their topics. In recent television ads from the two presidential candidates, 61 percent of Obama's statements were about policy and 39 percent character. McCain's spots were 54 percent policy and 46 percent character. Historically, presidential ads discussed policy in 62 percent of statements and character in 38 percent. Obama's 30-minute ad discussed 55 percent policy and 45 percent character.

Benoit's findings are based on analysis of 76 Obama ads and 65 McCain spots; ads sponsored solely by the Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee or other groups were not included. Benoit has written several books on political campaigns, including Communication in Political Campaigns (2007). He has a Web page devoted to political campaigns: http://politicalcampaigns.missouri.edu/
Adapted from materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Text Source: University of Missouri-Columbia (2008, November 1). Presidential Candidates' Television Ads Most Negative In History. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Does Obama Offers No New Approach To Governing?

A Portion of opinion piece from GOP Viewpoint: We Got The Thumping We Deserve, Rod Dreher, posted on NPR website.

Unlike Ronald Reagan in 1980, though, Obama didn't run on an ideologically distinct platform — which makes it hard to claim his victory as a mandate for a new era of vigorous liberalism.

Think about it: the most left-wing presidential candidate since George McGovern ran on tax cuts! Yes, he was against the war, but he did not campaign on taking U.S. foreign policy in a dramatic new direction — he has been as hawkish as John McCain on Russia, for example — nor did he stump for bold new social initiatives. Nor did he propose an audacious new philosophical approach to governing, unless you consider basic competence to be revolutionary (on the other hand, given the Bush administration's record, I concede the point).

This election represents not an affirmative embrace of neoliberalism but rather a repudiation of the Republican Party and a certain kind of conservatism. It's important for the left to recognize this in order to avoid the temptation to overreach in the heady Democratic days to come. One-party government didn't work out so well for the Republicans during the Bush years — and going further back, Bill Clinton's misreading of the meaning of his 1992 victory caused him to make several key political errors that Democrats paid dearly for in the 1994 midterm election. To be sure, Obama has an opening now to move the country to the left, but it's not clear that that's where we want to go.

Rod Dreher is a columnist and online editorial page editor for The Dallas Morning News and writes the Crunchy Con blog for Beliefnet.com.

Text Source: Several paragraphs of longer NPR column

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Does Obama Hide His Agenda?

Obama's Agenda: Reality vs. Rhetoric, Editorial, The Union Leader, Manchester, New Hampshire, November 4, 2008.

Barack Obama portrays himself as a moderate politician. He is not. He has strayed from his carefully scripted storyline just enough to give Americans a glimpse of what he would really do if elevated, after only four years in the U.S. Senate, to the most powerful position in the history of the world.

---In January, Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle that under an Obama administration if anyone tries to build a new coal-fired power plant, "it will bankrupt them ... ." What if America needs new coal plants in the short term before "green" technologies are as plentiful and as cheap? Too bad. If you think energy prices are high now, wait until Obama eliminates all but the most expensive options.

---In 2001, Obama told Chicago Public Radio that the Supreme Court didn't go far enough to "bring about redistributive change." He meant that he thinks the federal government ought to reorder society to his liking by force. It must take money and privilege from those whom the people in power don't like and give it to those they do like. (Sound familiar?) To Obama, government is not a guarantor of equal opportunity, but a guarantor of equal outcomes. It is a tool with which society must be reshaped, whether society likes it or not.

---On July 17, Obama said of Supreme Court justices, "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges." The law be damned, says Obama, the judicial branch should side with people based on their social status. That is the very definition of tyranny.

---On Oct. 15, Obama told Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher to his face that he would take Wurzelbacher's money and "spread the wealth around." Obama doesn't see Joe the Plumber as a working man trying to make it, an individual who has a right to his own earnings. Obama sees Joe, and each successful American, as merely a source of revenue for his own redistributionist agenda. What we earn is by right (because it's "fair") his to take from us and dole out to those he deems more worthy.

---On Friday, Obama called people who don't want the government to take more of their money "selfish," just as Joe Biden said on Sept. 18 that it was "patriotic" to pay higher taxes. We soon might have the government attacking as unpatriotic anyone who resists the confiscation and redistribution of wealth.

This is Barack Obama's agenda in his own words. You can choose to believe in empty slogans. But "hope" and "change" cannot be passed into law. The laws Obama has said he would give us will create the most radically left-wing government since the 1930s, and possibly in our nation's history. As Thomas Sowell explains in his column below, that would be a disaster of historic proportions.

Change? Yes. Sure. But not on this scale, not on these terms. We need to improve our government. We do not need to have it engage in a massive restructuring of the social order to better reflect the personal preferences of those in power.

Text Source: The Union Leader.com

Graphic Source
: Michael Ramierz, Investors Daily