Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fisking The Speech

The italicized parts are the released text of the Obama Acceptance Speech. The rest is me.

To Chairman Dean and my great friend Dick Durbin; and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation;

With profound gratitude and great humility,
The first part I believe, the second – not so much.

I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

Let me express my thanks to the historic slate of candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and especially the one who traveled the farthest - a champion for working Americans and an inspiration to my daughters and to yours — Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Clinton, who last night made the case for change as only he can make it; to Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service; and to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the finest statesmen of our time, a man at ease with everyone from world leaders to the conductors on the Amtrak train he still takes home every night.

To the love of my life, our next First Lady, Michelle Obama, and to Sasha and Malia - I love you so much, and I'm so proud of all of you.

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story - of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren't well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.
Which is why his mother moved to Indonesia. Ahem.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart - that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.
One American family? The one where half the members pay 1% of the bill for the family expenses, and you want them to pay even less? I would like this unity thing if I got a free ride, too.

That's why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women - students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors — found the courage to keep it alive.

We meet at one of those defining moments - a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.
Yes, it is threatened. With some luck, we can defeat you in November and keep moving down the road.

Tonight, more Americans are out of work
than when?

and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet.
What part of ‘housing bubble’ does he not get? Makes you wonder if he would be bemoaning the fall of dot-com stocks if this was 2000, and blaming the President for that.

More of you have cars you can't afford to drive, credit card bills you can't afford to pay, and tuition that's beyond your reach.
I’m here to bail you out of your prior bad decisions!

These challenges are not all of government's making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.
Scapegoating the President is fun, but tell me, Senator – which of your legislative efforts to fix this situation has he veoted?

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.
Phil Gramm used pithier language and said the same thing, only to be pilloried

This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.
name and address? Is this like Al Gore’s “lady picking up cans” story?

This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he's worked on for twenty years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.
Name and address? I know this is probably real, but to be honest the factory was either going to close or get shipped overseas. Did his union rep explain why the inability to get a contract meant the corporation made that decision, or just cuss management?

We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets
Always homelessness rears its ugly head when there is an election. Because the GOP is all about kicking people out of their homes.

and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.
Um, who built it underwater? Did the federal government have responsibility for the levees or did the state? I know the answer to that question, Senator – do you? Do you care?

Tonight, I say to the American people, to Democrats and Republicans and Independents across this great land - enough! This moment - this election - is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive. Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."
Wow, a 70s family drama reference. It’s no wonder he’s considered a rhetorical master. I will repair to the lab to see if I can work in a Waltons reference while you keep reading.

Now let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.
Again, Senator – in your several months of aggregate national legislative experience before running for President, when did President Bush slap you down? Call you stupid? Veto legislation? See, the difference is that Bush voted with McCain – because McCain shaped legislation while he was a Senator, and you did not.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives - on health care and education and the economy - Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made "great progress" under this President.
That’s because he knows about economics better than you, Senator. Bush inherited an economy in recession and pulled it out with tax cuts that the financial markets welcomed, tax cuts that made your constituents better able to afford the Kool-Aid you expect them to have drunk at this point. Where did your world-record fund-raising come from, Mr. Obama, if we’re living in a Dickensian dystopia?

He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.
3.3% growth last quarter, and 4.7% unemployment. That’s pretty strong. It’s the kind of record you bragged about just a few minutes ago when talking about former President Clinton, you tool.

And when one of his chief advisors - the man who wrote his economic plan - was talking about the anxiety Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a "mental recession," and that we've become, and I quote, "a nation of whiners."
Nothing that you have said to this point has disproven Dr. Gramm, Senator Obama.

A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made.
Been there done that. It’s called pride in your work, Senator. You would know that if you’d ever had anything approaching a real job, other than the few years you worked at that law firm.

Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know.
Um, do you think that maybe they’re not the whiners Phil Gramm was talking about? *points finger at you & your party*

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year?
Maybe because he didn’t have a number ready, or maybe he was thinking of your supporters?

How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans?
Because those 100 million Americans don’t pay income taxes anyway? Because he was in the government during the last windfall profits tax and saw how useless it was? I’m just riffing here Senator, but they’re reasonable answers to stupid questions, which is a feat in and of itself

How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?
Gamble? Like the Federal Benefit Plan you have right now, that is massively outperforming Social Security? Oh wait, that’s for you. I forgot.

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

For over two decades, he's subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy - give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.
How about “Take less from the productive people and they’ll continue to produce”? Does it escape your knowledge, Senator, that tax receipts are already at an all-time historic high and yet that’s still not enough for you? What about the last 28 years of economic and tax history do you need me to explain to you, Senator?

In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is - you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps - even if you don't have boots. You're on your own.

Well it's time for them to own their failure. It's time for us to change America.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.
More and more people dependent on the government. Got it.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put a little extra money away at the end of each month so you can someday watch your child receive her college diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President - when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.
I’d be curious about those numbers, particularly the income ones. Nice to see them claiming credit for the personal computer/internet boom, a one-in-a-lifetime boost to productivity and corporate finance, and something entirely unrelated to any single Clinton policy or program. Or was it the Midnight Basketball that made the difference, Senator Obama?

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job - an economy that honors the dignity of work.
Given the importance the Democrats placed on extending unemployment benefits, there is apparently great regard for the dignity of not working. And please, let me pause and wipe away tears while the Democrat regulation-hound lectures Republicans about the ease of starting a business.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great - a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.
You lost me there. I couldn’t hear you over the roaring vagueness in your speech.

Because in the faces of those young veterans who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, I see my grandfather, who signed up after Pearl Harbor, marched in Patton's Army, and was rewarded by a grateful nation with the chance to go to college on the GI Bill.
Still there. Next question?

In the face of that young student who sleeps just three hours before working the night shift, I think about my mom, who raised my sister and me on her own while she worked and earned her degree; who once turned to food stamps but was still able to send us to the best schools in the country with the help of student loans and scholarships.
Been there done that with loans and scholarships. Your point?

When I listen to another worker tell me that his factory has shut down, I remember all those men and women on the South Side of Chicago who I stood by and fought for two decades ago after the local steel plant closed.
You know, that was just like 20 years ago, and why haven’t we seen ONE of those people in an advertisement on your behalf? Was it because your organizing efforts were as effective as the Chicago Annenberg Challenge? It’s neat that you tried to help people, but that’s like me claiming credit for trying to be a plumber. If the pipes don’t work, then how much of a plumber am I really? Oh, and we’re talking about Chicago – can we talk about Tony Rezko now?

And when I hear a woman talk about the difficulties of starting her own business, I think about my grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle-management, despite years of being passed over for promotions because she was a woman.
Can I get an ‘Amen’ from Hillary Clinton, who you passed on for VP?

She's the one who taught me about hard work. She's the one who put off buying a new car or a new dress for herself so that I could have a better life.
So basically, she did what any parent has done. I’m sorry, but this qualifies you to be President how? And isn’t she the racist one you used as a prop earlier this year?

She poured everything she had into me. And although she can no longer travel, I know that she's watching tonight, and that tonight is her night as well.

I don't know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine. These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on their behalf that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as President of the United States.

What is that promise?

It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.
This means absolutely nothing.

It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.
What rules are those, Senator? One of the rules I can think of is that consumers generally prefer lower prices, and if companies don’t give them that they won’t be companies for long. American workers or not. Are you planning to repeal this one? Because if you are, I would look at repealing gravity and friction next. We could get much better gas mileage without so much friction, you know.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems,
Stop here and you could still get a job in the GOP

but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves
Gaaah! You blew it. If you go beyond defense you’ve blown it completely

- protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.
Don’t even get me started on the BS about spending more on education. We spend a FORTUNE and get crappy results overall. Talk to the teachers’ unions, not the government.

Our government should work for us, not against us.
Like investigating and filing criminal charges against the American Issues Project? That’s working for you, anyway

It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.
But see, you say opportunity but you mean outcome. Do you know that these are different things?

That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
Is this in the Constitution? Because I don’t seem to remember it is. It sounds Biblical, more than Constitutional – but don’t your buddies believe that Biblical and Constitutional are two different things?

That's the promise we need to keep. That's the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.

Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.
Sure. Flat tax, $50,000 automatic exemption. Or FAIR Tax. Why do I get the sense that you’re thinking uber-progressive here, Barack?

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.
And watch those companies go out of business. Awesome investment.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will cut taxes - cut taxes - for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.
No, let’s soak the people who would otherwise do the investing. Progressive tax policy just doesn’t work, no matter how much you think it should. The people with the money just move it, Obama. They’re not rich because they’re lucky, they’re rich because they’re smarter than you.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
Right. Pipe dream, so to speak. We’ll do it by paying $10 a gallon for gasoline and walking a lot more. Moron.

Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars,
marginal effect on oil consumption, people just drive more
no to investments in renewable energy
they’re a stupid investment when oil is $25 a barrel or less
, no to renewable fuels
Do you get it that ‘no to renewable fuels’ is, by and large, ‘yes to food’? Or did your buddies at Archer Daniels Midland tell you different?
And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Senator McCain took office
And we can AFFORD IT, otherwise we wouldn’t do so. Maybe if we could drill on ANWR – but then again, McCain’s not for that either. He is for drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf and for oil shale – neither of which blow up your skirt.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.
Yes, so let’s stop that gap, Senator. Moron.

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.
Been doing it since 1956 or so, Barack. Where’s that legislation to help your buddies at the nuclear power corporation Exelon, or is running for President more important than doing something in the Senate?
I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars.
Finally, a car salesman. A much better calling for you in any event. ‘I Hope you’ll Change your mind and buy this Chevy!’
And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy - wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels
Note: any time he says “Invest” what he means is “Borrow from the Chinese and invest”, that’s what happens when you’re running a deficit
; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.
How many jobs will be lost in the conventional fuels industry, which will be taxed out of existence, is not mentioned here.

America, now is not the time for small plans.

Now is the time to finally meet our moral obligation to provide every child a world-class education
Yes, but what about the stupid ones? I assure you, they’re out there.
, because it will take nothing less to compete in the global economy. Michelle and I are only here tonight because we were given a chance at an education. And I will not settle for an America where some kids don't have that chance. I'll invest in early childhood education
Marginal results at best
. I'll recruit an army of new teachers
Probably from the coal workers and auto workers you’ll put out of a job
, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support.
For this to happen it has to happen in the home? Are you going to pay each kid $25 for an A and $10 for a B, Daddy?
And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability.
I believe this was called No Child Left Behind. Ask your Teacher buddies about it, they hate it. Good luck with that. Here’s an idea – how about vouchers? Wildly popular in the Black community, but apparently not in the DNC. Ah well
And we will keep our promise to every young American - if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.
Community or country – A GI Bill without the GI part. Impressive! What, now Habitat for Humanity has a GI Bill?

Now is the time to finally keep the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every single American.
When was this a promise?
If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums.
It also removes warts.
If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.
FMLA ring any bells? Thought you praised Clinton for that. Hey buddy – I’m self-employed and I don’t have sick days or family leave. You gonna send me a check?

Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses;
OK, this is reasonable. But it’s also likely way too late. Fewer people are getting defined-benefit pensions these days.
and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.
By stealing from current ones!

And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.
If they have the same jobs with the same amount of experience they do. Anything else is redistribution, pandering to feminists and, in essence, a tax on having testicles. I’m sorry, that’s the truth.

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I've laid out how I'll pay for every dime - by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don't help America grow. But I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.
Right. We’ll see how the public sector unions handle that, assuming you get the chance to do it. Right now you can promise anything you want because AFSCME knows you’ll never do it.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America's promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our "intellectual and moral strength." Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can't replace parents; that government can't turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.
Nice to hear this, but one paragraph in a speech this long really isn’t emphasizing it, Senator. Maybe we’ll hear more from you on the stump about this. Probably not.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility - that's the essence of America's promise.

And just as we keep our keep our promise to the next generation here at home, so must we keep America's promise abroad. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have.

For while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war
a meaningless gesture
, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face.
None of which have come to pass.
When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights.
You argued to invade a sovereign, nuclear –armed nation, Mr. Diplomacy. You have also made arguments that show no understanding of or grasp of the tenuous logistical situation that a large American force in Afghanistan would enjoy. Please, be quiet.
John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.
Lame. Just how many wars are you willing to start? Do you think this is a good time to invade Pakistan, with a corrupt and borderline-crazy person taking over the Presidency from Musharraf? Oh, that’s right, you don’t need foreign policy help. My bad.

And today, as my call for a time frame to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush Administration
Although there are quotes that make you against that before you were for it. You don’t even grasp the difference between leaving when you’re losing and leaving after you’ve won, so your statements aren’t really that impressive, Barack.
, even after we learned that Iraq has a $79 billion surplus while we're wallowing in deficits, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.
And you stand alone in your desire to steal the Iraqis’ lunch money in return for protection. Is this what you learned on the playground at the Punahou School?

That's not the judgment we need. That won't keep America safe. We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.
After your New Deal economics spiel, I love this comment. Grasping at your rear end with both hands more properly describes your position with regard to foreign policy.

You don't defeat a terrorist network that operates in eighty countries by occupying Iraq.
No. You just humiliate it and the Muslim world does the rest. Stop reading your own press and read about the major shakeup in Al Qaeda and its declining popularity
You don't protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington.
You might want to write this one down, because you’ll be hearing it pretty often from people like me when you win and then do nothing.
You can't truly stand up for Georgia when you've strained our oldest alliances.
Our oldest alliances are on our side, tool. And they’re only rhetorically on our side, because they won’t fight in any event.
If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice - but it is not the change we need.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don't tell me that Democrats won't defend this country.
Well, you’re the party of McGovern and Carter, too, so don’t dislocate your shoulder patting yourself on the back.
Don't tell me that Democrats won't keep us safe.
*cough* FirstWTCbombingin1993KhobarTowersNairobiMogadishuDarEsSaalamUSSCole*cough* Sorry. I thought he said something stupid there for a minute.
The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans - have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.
Pfft. Nobody ever liked us unless we were sending money.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.
GWB said this, too. Circumstances happened to make it otherwise.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
By starting a war with Pakistan, got it.
I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts.
And with you cancelling the Future Combat Systems, they had better be really really small conflicts. We hope.
But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.
Blue Sky! I got hot Blue Sky here, who wants to buy some! Cause everybody knows is was tough direct diplomacy that won the Cold War the first time…
I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.
Rebuilding our moral standing means becoming cowards on par with the cowards whose opinion of our moral standing you consider important. Not worth it.

These are the policies I will pursue. And in the weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain.
All three times, not the dozen or so he proposed.

But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.
If you had a record to run on, we could talk about something else. As it is…

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.
Is anyone else a little put off by Obama wrapping himself in the sacrifices made by others for things he opposes, sacrifices that have led to successes he does not acknowledge? I think I’m going to hurl, really. This is offensive.

So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.
Ooh. A crushing blow. Lame,

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past.
So elect me king. That’s not too old, is it?
For part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose - our sense of higher purpose.
Bush Derangement Syndrome apparently has nothing to do with this. People call for the murder of the President all the time, really, it’s not that odd.
And that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.
Most of us agree on the evil of infanticide -- except for you. When you were a state Senator you opposed a law that was virtually identical to language that passed unopposed in the House and Senate that would protect children born alive during abortion attempts. Give me a break, Senator.
The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.
False choice. We also know how you voted on gun control and your support for banning handguns, please just cut it out.
I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination.
Who is he trying to please here? The visit-gay-partners-in-the-hospital lobby? I'm sure they're on the roof with this one.
Passions fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child
Take the anchor baby back home. Problem solved, false choice averted!
or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers.
They won't be illegal once you give them amnesty, will they? Again, problem solved! Knocking them out at a fast clip now.
This too is part of America's promise - the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.
Homily alert! Homily alert!

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values.
Well, you haven't proven me wrong yet, so...
And that's to be expected. Because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters
This from a guy that was introduced by Mr. Scare, Al Gore? Puh-leeze.
. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

You make a big election about small things.

And you know what - it's worked before.
Thank goodness. President Dukakis, anyone?
Because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government. When Washington doesn't work, all its promises seem empty.
This is because its promises are empty. It’s a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy that you are going to, if anything, expand over another 17% or so of the economy by taking over health care. Please stop pretending you believe this, unless you’re really that much of a statist. If so, I’m sure Canada or France or Belgium would be happy to have you, and I’d be happy to be rid of you.
If your hopes have been dashed again and again, then it's best to stop hoping, and settle for what you already know.
My main hope is for less government intervention. I’m thinking if you win I should prepare for disappointment.

I get it. I realize that I am not the likeliest candidate for this office. I don't fit the typical pedigree, and I haven't spent my career in the halls of Washington.

But I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you.
Heh. Totally wrong. It’s more about you than it is about anything else, at this point. Which, if you’re a narcissist, is kind of the point.

For eighteen long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington.
Good line, actually. It would be better had you not already gone to Washington, and changed nothing.
Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.

America, this is one of those moments.

I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming.
It got here in 2004. But it hasn’t done anything. I understand why he’s ignoring this point, but it’s still an important point.
Because I've seen it. Because I've lived it. I've seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work.
With federal money. Hmm. Where does that come from? You & me & a billion Chinese.
I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.

And I've seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they'd pick up a Democratic ballot, but did.
Heh. I did! Voted for your opponent, too.
I've seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb,
Again with the soldiers. Are those the ones you wouldn’t visit when you were in Germany, or other soldiers. It’s nice that you can pass on their good faith, but it’s unseemly to use it to in some way justify why you should be President when you don’t appreciate what they do or acknowledge the success of things like the Surge.
in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours - a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

And it is that promise that forty five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln's Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream.

The men and women who gathered there could've heard many things. They could've heard words of anger and discord. They could've been told to succumb to the fear and frustration of so many dreams deferred.

But what the people heard instead - people of every creed and color, from every walk of life - is that in America, our destiny is inextricably linked. That together, our dreams can be one.

"We cannot walk alone," the preacher cried. "And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back."

America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise - that American promise - and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
I didn’t know that the Scripture spoke of the ‘hope we confess’ being your election as President. Wow. The things you learn. He is the Obamessiah!

Thank you, God Bless you, and and God Bless the United States of America.

Ouch, another one

Another web video direct hit from the McCain folks:

The last spokesman is probably the most pertinent.

For all that McCain is allegedly out of the loop with the whole Internet thing, his campaign is remarkably efficient at getting out devastating YouTube (or in this case, responses. The Obama camp is not responding well in this regard, despite their alleged tech savvy.

Though, in the case of the Bill Ayers/Chicago Annenberg Challenge controversy, they are responding with calls for the Justice Department to investigate the American Issues Project, a group running an ad pointing out who Obama associates with. They are also sending letters to TV station owners threatening their FCC licenses. Nice heavy-handed tactics for the lovers of the First Amendment. I find it amazing that the political left is called on their authoritarian roots by Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism, and then goes out and attempts to use the apparatus of the state to suppress speech. Here's the ad, judge for yourself:

They are also calling on their legions of fans to attack WGN, a big radio station in Chicago, for even having Stanely Kurtz of the National Review on the show to discuss the Annenberg Challnege documents. Kurtz was invited to speak because of a controversy regarding the CAC records, records he was originally promised he could see (something like 70 linear feet of documentation), then told he could not. The collection was held at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) library, and it's worth noting that Bill Ayers is a professor in the education department at UIC. Those records will be released this Tuesday -- whether they've been sanitized in the interim is another question.

Just as a recap, the Annenberg Challenge was a large donation from the Annenberg family to improve schools across the United States. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge got a big pile of money ($49 million) in 1993 to improve Chicago schools, and Obama was first Chairman and then on the board of one arm (fiscal and fundraising for matching grants) of the CAC, with Bill Ayers on the board for the policy arm. The CAC spent its money, upwards of $100 million counting matching funds and Annenberg money, for what its own later study decided was no net effect. This is the sum of Obama's executive experience, and "abject failure" is pretty much on-target. For a longer exploration of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Global Labor and Politics has an extensive writeup.

It is likely that Barack Obama was somewhat less than truthful when referring to former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers as "a guy who lives in my neighborhood". The fact that an up-and-coming politician would choose to associate with an unrepentant terrorist is questionable in and of itself, and really with BHO all we have to go on in assessing him as a candidate is his words, his judgment, and the things he's done -- and there are very few things in the third category.

The push-back on the Ayers story is impressive, and it leads one to believe that where there is a fire crew, there is a fire. Bill Ayers tried to destroy public buildings, and yet it's Stanley Kurtz that get the "assassin" moniker. Others have observed that if Obama had denounced Ayers as strongly as his campaign has denounced Stanley Kurtz there would be no issue.

Going to be interesting to see what comes from those documents. If there is anything there, it will put the Obama campaign on the back foot at a time when they really need to regain momentum.

Oh, and the other dude I didn't mention for the McCain veepstakes is Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota. He's pretty high up in the conventional pick category.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In Honor of the DNC

Saw this at the economics blog Chicago Boyz and had to pass it along. Bob Hope for the win!

Man, was Biden a not-good choice. Obama was kind of betwixt and between with Hillary as a VP -- he's more likely to win in a couple of months with her, but the payback would be four years (at least) with her in the White House, with Bill, hanging out in the VP's office with a cup of coffee and telling "...well, when I was President" stories to anyone who would listen. If he wanted to win, and bolster his numbers with women, he should have picked Hillary.

As it is, he went with Joe Biden, from the Electoral College powerhouse Delaware, who has much to offer. A lot of what he has to offer is a legacy of misstatements that make George W. Bush look like Oscar Wilde, including a couple of lines about his new boss, interpreted as crypto-racist by some earlier in the Democratic Primary process:

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

I seem to remember Trent Lott getting pilloried for making comments that some interpreted as racist, and here Joe gets a pass in part because of his known habit of talking until he says something stupid. Not only does he get a pass, he gets promoted to he head of the class, over guys like Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, either of whom could have probably taken Virginia into the blue-state column in November. Instead, we get Joe Biden, who allegedly is a master of "retail politics", converting people one-on-one to his point of view, as in this appeal for the subcontinental Indian vote:

In case you missed it, the punchline is this:

"I've had a great relationship. In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking,"

Why this is a bad choice is that Obama's selling point is Change -- he's not like the old-style politicians. This is true, at least as far as him not having much in the way of experience or accomplishments like all the other old-style politicians. Apparently the 'Change' thing has been wearing thin, so Obama hired himself one of the oldest of the old-style politicians, who's been in the Senate since Obama was in seventh grade, more or less. To my mind, this is changing horses in midstream, it will be interesting to see how this is spun in Obama's speech on the final night of the convention. He's dynamic! He's bold! He's new! But don't worry, he's hired an Old Guy in case you're nervous about the dynamic, bold or new parts. Like I said before -- specificity is like poison for Barack Obama's political career at this point.

There has not been much in the way of warm reaction to this from any quarter, other than the GOP. The daily Gallup McCain-Obama poll is a statistical dead heat, down from a +9 Obama lead. There is not even a convention bounce yet, much less a VP pick bounce. I would say this does not bode well, and it leads to another criticism of Obama by the Clinton supporters that does seem to have some legs -- can't close the deal.

If Obama walks away from the convention still in a dead heat, I would say that bodes very ill for him in the coming weeks. Typically the GOP closes the gap toward the end of the electoral season, if the Democrat isn't ahead by the end of their convention history suggests that they will not make it up in the last few weeks.

Now that Obama has flipped his hole card, there is some ability for McCain to make a choice that accentuates the differences. McCain already has gravitas, he doesn't need to bring an old hand on deck to reassure Middle America. He gets the liberty of a partial stunt pick, and the obvious choice would be Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska......were it not for an evolving maybe-scandal relating to a state trooper who was married to a Palin relative, the now-fired Commissioner of Public Safety, and whether or not the Governor's Office tried to get the ex-relative fired. I would say that puts her out of contention for this year.

The more converntional female pick might be Kay Bailey Hutcheson, the conservative Texas Senator. She's got more experience than the Democratic candidate, including several positions in Texas state government, and she's telegenic. The less-conventional female candidate would be Meg Whitman, who led the growth of eBay and who is one of McCain's economics advisors. Her resume is probably better than anyone else in the field of candidates from the standpoint of leadership and experience.

Meg Whitman

On the male side, the big three I hear discussed are Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal (current first-term Louisiana governor) and Eric Cantor (a US Representative from Virginia). I kind of like Mitt, he's not a bad choice. He's probably conservative enough for most conservatives and has a good executive resume, again -- better than the Democratic Presidential candidate's resume.

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal, if he doesn't get picked this year will be a definite choice in 2012 if he can do well at the state level. He's younger than Obama, a Rhodes Scholar who came back to Louisiana to help fix the adopted state he loves, plus he's Indian-American and I would love to see him make a Dunkin Donuts crack during the VP debate. Jindal is a conservative Catholic who's pro-life, pro-guns, articulate and can be counted on to make Joe Biden look stupid, which is a plus -- but he is young and relatively inexperienced, though I predict good things from him. Cantor I don't know so much about, but apparently if you want a conservative who is smart and can help you keep VA in the red-state category, he's your guy.

Eric Cantor

Lieberman -- well, not a horrible choice, but to a certain extent you're trading your conservative base (who will come out to vote if you treat them nice) for independents who may or may not get off the couch to acknowledge your 'Maverickness'. Lieberman is avowedly pro-choice, even if the does get the War on Terror right, and it's questionable how much he'd help you with conservative Democrats. Connecticut is a questionable Electoral College prize, as well.

Well, I'm sure Bill Clinton will give a great speech and Joe Biden has been fitted with the electrical shock device to prevent him getting off-topic. I won't be watching the convention, but enjoy if you do. My favorite new controversy is the "Temple of Gloom" built at Invesco Field as a backdrop for Obama's speech:

When told that Obama would emerge from a "temple", an unnamed McCain staffer gave my favorite one-liner so far: "Is this from The Onion?"

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Shack! and The Wonder Twins

No, I'm not talking about the book, 'The Shack', though from what I hear the first four chapters are gut-wrenching but everybody should read it, even though I haven't.

'Shack' is a term that pilots use when they drop a bomb on a target and hit dead-center. It's a term one of my partners in my radiology group uses with some authenticity since he's a former Air Force Flight Surgeon. And it's also the term one former Navy Aviator who happens to be the GOP nominee for President would be familiar with, and might have used when he saw this ad his campaign put together:

It's only 74 seconds long, but it's 74 more seconds of truth than you'll get from any average 74 seconds of network news coverage this morning, or this evening.

I disagree with Barack Obama on a lot of things. More than that, it's the Obamessiah complex his devoted followers (the Obamatons) display that really sticks in my craw, and I'm glad McCain's campaign finally called him on it. If you look up the term "cypher" in the dictionary, Barack Obama's picture should be next to the political subdefinition, if there is one.

Shelby Steele has gone into this effect in detail, that Obama is a vessel for unfulfilled wants and needs in some segments of our national populace, and that as a vessel he cannot become too specific. Like Bruce Lee said about Jeet Kun Do, he is like water -- taking the form of whatever container he finds himself placed into. His policy positions meander like a stream, even doubling back on themselves to create oxbow lakes of forgetfulness that the media lovingly dries with the blazing fire of their devotion. NAFTA? I was for it before I was against it, when I was in Ohio. Capital punishment? Totally inappropriate when I was a state Senator and lecturer in constitutional law, but when I need to win in Louisiana it's fine and dandy to string up child rapists. The list goes on. And on.

While the concept of the Wonder Twins transformative abilities (the ability to Change, if you will) was interesting, what they could actually do was something else. The Wonder Twins had theoretical promise but in execution they became a running joke, even to children. Shape of...a cocker spaniel! Form of...a slurpee! They were among the more useful Superfriends if you needed a sheet of ice for a pratfall, or a mouse to retrieve a key for a prison cell but ultimately their special ability was borderline useless.

The problem with being like water, and with being a figure rather than a leader, is that at some point you're going to have to solidify around a position or two, like one of the Wonder Twins from the old Superfriends cartoon series becoming an ice sculpture. And since art is subjective, some people who like your concept will disagree with the execution, and be rather iffy on the particular form you take even if they bought into the concept to begin with. Having a super-power is great, but don't expect legions of fans if your super-power turns out to be lame. Obama's appeal cannot but diminish as the things people project upon his deliberately nebulous persona are found to not fit the specifics that the election process will require.

Besides promising change, you have to deliver. When someone comes along and asks me to believe them that they are a change agent, it would be helpful to see their portfolio of change. It would be similar to me telling you I am a superb painter and describing the beautiful painting I would create for you, full of vivid color, dynamic movement and inspirational fire, if only you'll pay me an astronomical sum up front.

This is the crux of my problem with Obama. He looks great on stage, he's telegenic, has a great voice. He speaks well, and runs a teleprompter the way Stevie Ray Vaughn ran a guitar. If elected he will likely not display the apparent eloquitionary ineptness that characterizes George W. Bush, of whose speeches Tucker Carlson famously was reminded of "a drunk crossing an icy street". But really, do we elect Presidents to give speeches? If so, Alec Baldwin would be President For Life.

I prefer to elect Presidents based on what they want to do and what they believe. When they're coy about those things, or show that they don't really have any guiding principles by changing policies like others change socks, I am not convinced. And when, as the McCain piece points out, the centerpiece of their campaign is their personality and presence, rather than their positions and beliefs, they're not going to sway me and in the longer run (i.e., the next few months) I believe the 'Elect me because I'm Me' ploy will weaken.

Meanwhile, I'm glad the McCain campaign has discovered the wonderful power of humor. Of the two candidates, it's pretty clear McCain takes himself less seriously, though in truth there is a bit of self-mocking sarcasm and grandiosity in some of Obama's statements. He should know, though, that McCain's best weapons are Obama's own words, and vice-versa. This ad is just one example of having them served back at the utterer. It remains to be seen whether Obama's campaign will let this lie. The worst possible response would be anger, as it would only further inflate the pomposity that the ad seeks to puncture.

I also find it interesting that the first post-racial candidate, who wants to open a dialogue about race, is supported by people who are extremely quick to pronounce any criticism as racism. Wouldn't you think that the supporters of a candidate who is ostensibly trying to put race behind him would quit crying 'RACISM!' every time there is an effective campaign ad? I wonder how well that method of stifling criticsm and deflecting observations will play internationally if Obama becomes President? Will Ahmedinejad be labeled a racist because Obama asked him stop the Iranian nuclear program and he doesn't? Even if Obama can leave racism behind personally, and I hope he can, it would be a tragedy if the synchophants who trail him into the White House in 2009 brought Political Correctness in as national and foreign policy.

We went to Europe last week for a cruise/continuing medical education thing. Some pictures and a trip report later.