Thursday, July 31, 2008

What goes up: the race tightens up

After a bounce and a nine-point lead for Obama from his world tour, the race is now even: Obama 45% McCain 44%.

UPDATE: Now it's really tied, 44%-44%. I know it's a daily poll and a week is forever in politics, but with an unpopular president, an unpopular war, a weak economy -- you'd think Obama, like Dukakis and Kerry at this point, would be leading by double digits.

Maybe the sentiment expressed in McCain's ads is finding traction (see "The One", posted above).

Obama and the race card

Glenn Reynolds has a roundup of news and opinion about the "post-racial" candidate knocking down racist strawmen.

His campaign denies that it thinks McCain is using Obama's race against him. But based on his stump speeches yesterday, the candidate sure seems to think so. (As is becoming all too common, Obama has it both ways: he can say it, and his campaign can deny he meant it: consistently that's becoming the ironic "Change We Can Believe In").

Changing the subject to race helps Obama avoid answering questions about his lack of any real experience that qualifies him to serve as president and sets up his opponents as stereotypical boogeymen. He's clever, and gives a great speech. But never in my memory has a candidate with such a thin resume been so arrogant about what he has to offer the world. And he seems to meet any criticism with race baiting -- while claiming to take the high road.

Not new politics. Old Chicago politics.

UPDATE: Roger Kimball asks "transcending" while "descending"?

UPDATE: Obama's campaign now concedes his "dollar bill" comment referred to his race. Yeah, duh!

Monday, July 28, 2008

BYU #1 "Stone Cold Sober" - 9 years in a row

The DesNews has the story here. Cheers, BYU!

Why Europeans love Obama

Victor Davis Hanson over at Pajamas Media counts the ways.

#5 on the list (and the "final irony"):
5) Obama reassures Europeans that they, not American right-wingers, “won” the classical debates of the 1990s over economics, foreign policy, and government. He is a world citizen, who buys into human-created massive global warming, wind and solar over nuclear and clean coal, high taxes, and cradle-to-grave entitlements, and resentments of the rich. There is a certain European “We told you so” that comes with his election. In short, we elect a world citizen with a European view, and put behind us the embarrassments of a Texan or cowboy actor.

The final irony?

The hated George Bush is still around; Chirac, Schroeder, Villapin et al. are history. Iraq is secure. Iran is becoming isolated. North Korea supposedly is denuked. And America is reassuring a jittery Europe that we will stick by them in a world of bullying Russians and Chinese.
Read them all here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Speaking truth to the "audicity of hopelessness": McCain's Denver speech today

Senator McCain spoke to a military audience in Denver today. Here's part of what he said:
Eighteen months ago, America faced a crisis as profound as any in our history. Iraq was in flames, torn apart by violence that was escaping our control. Al Qaeda was succeeding in what Osama bin Laden called the central front in their war against us. The mullahs in Iran waited for America's humiliation in Iraq, and the resulting increase in their influence. Thousands of Iraqis died violently every month. American casualties were mounting. We were on the brink of a disastrous defeat just a little more than five years after the attacks of September 11, and America faced a profound choice. Would we accept defeat and leave Iraq and our strategic position in the Middle East in ruins, risking a wider war in the near future? Or would we summon our resolve, deploy additional forces, and change our failed strategy? Senator Obama and I also faced a decision, which amounted to a real-time test for a future commander-in-chief. America passed that test. I believe my judgment passed that test. And I believe Senator Obama's failed.

We both knew the politically safe choice was to support some form of retreat. All the polls said the "surge" was unpopular. Many pundits, experts and policymakers opposed it and advocated withdrawing our troops and accepting the consequences. I chose to support the new counterinsurgency strategy backed by additional troops -- which I had advocated since 2003, after my first trip to Iraq. Many observers said my position would end my hopes of becoming president. I said I would rather lose a campaign than see America lose a war. My choice was not smart politics. It didn't test well in focus groups. It ignored all the polls. It also didn't matter. The country I love had one final chance to succeed in Iraq. The new strategy was it. So I supported it. Today, the effects of the new strategy are obvious. The surge has succeeded, and we are, at long last, finally winning this war.

Senator Obama made a different choice. He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn't just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued to predict the failure of our troops. As our soldiers and Marines prepared to move into Baghdad neighborhoods and Anbari villages, Senator Obama predicted that their efforts would make the sectarian violence in Iraq worse, not better.

And as our troops took the fight to the enemy, Senator Obama tried to cut off funding for them. He was one of only 14 senators to vote against the emergency funding in May 2007 that supported our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He would choose to lose in Iraq in hopes of winning in Afghanistan. But had his position been adopted, we would have lost both wars.

Three weeks after Senator Obama voted to deny funding for our troops in the field, General Ray Odierno launched the first major combat operations of the surge. Senator Obama declared defeat one month later: "My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now." His assessment was popular at the time. But it couldn't have been more wrong.

By November 2007, the success of the surge was becoming apparent. Attacks on Coalition forces had dropped almost 60 percent from pre-surge levels. American casualties had fallen by more than half. Iraqi civilian deaths had fallen by more than two-thirds. But Senator Obama ignored the new and encouraging reality. "Not only have we not seen improvements," he said, "but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there."

If Senator Obama had prevailed, American forces would have had to retreat under fire. The Iraqi Army would have collapsed. Civilian casualties would have increased dramatically. Al Qaeda would have killed the Sunni sheikhs who had begun to cooperate with us, and the "Sunni Awakening" would have been strangled at birth. Al Qaeda fighters would have safe havens, from where they could train Iraqis and foreigners, and turn Iraq into a base for launching attacks on Americans elsewhere. Civil war, genocide and wider conflict would have been likely.

Above all, America would have been humiliated and weakened. Our military, strained by years of sacrifice, would have suffered a demoralizing defeat. Our enemies around the globe would have been emboldened. Terrorists would have seen our defeat as evidence America lacked the resolve to defeat them. As Iraq descended into chaos, other countries in the Middle East would have come to the aid of their favored factions, and the entire region might have erupted in war. Every American diplomat, American military commander, and American leader would have been forced to speak and act from a position of weakness.

Senator Obama told the American people what he thought you wanted to hear. I told you the truth. From the early days of this war, I feared the administration was pursuing a mistaken strategy, and I said so. I went to Iraq many times, and heard all the phony explanations about how we were winning. I knew we were failing, and I told that to an administration that did not want to hear it. I pushed for the strategy that is now succeeding before most people even admitted that there was a problem.

Fortunately, Senator Obama failed, not our military. We rejected the audacity of hopelessness, and we were right. Violence in Iraq fell to such low levels for such a long time that Senator Obama, detecting the success he never believed possible, falsely claimed that he had always predicted it. There have been almost no sectarian killings in Baghdad for more than 13 weeks. American casualties are at the lowest levels recorded in this war. The Iraqi Army is stronger and fighting harder. The Iraqi Government has met most of the benchmarks for political progress we demanded of them, and the nation's largest Sunni party recently rejoined the government. In Iraq, we are no longer on the doorstep of defeat, but on the road to victory.

Senator Obama said this week that even knowing what he knows today that he still would have opposed the surge. In retrospect, given the opportunity to choose between failure and success, he chooses failure. I cannot conceive of a Commander in Chief making that choice. (Emphasis added)
Me either. Read the whole thing.

End of the affair: Obama and the press

Gabriel Sherman writes in The New Republic that Obama and the press have broken up.

How many hearts must be broken?

Here's McCain's "Obama Love" spot.

"Do you feel that thrill running up your leg yet?"


Miami Dolphins - 4 LDS players served missions

Nice story in the Miami Herald about returned LDS missionaries John Beck, John Denny, Shawn Murphy, and Kelly Poppinga:
''People always talk about testing yourself to find out what you're made of,'' Beck said. '[Dolphins] Coach [Tony] Sparano talks about, `I want to find out what this team is made of, I want to put challenges in your face to see how you're going to react.' Those of us guys who have been on missions, that's a difficult time. It's not easy. It's kind of like training camp for two years.''

Said Murphy, a guard, ``It's two years where you put your life on hold and help out with the church and spiritual things. Also, in the community, you walk around and try to help people out. You try to spend two years in service of other people instead of yourself.''

Taking WALL-E very seriously

Gennady Stolyarov II writes:
WALL-E is an assault on modern civilization, borne of deep economic and historical ignorance. The film shamefully betrays the efforts of countless heroic individuals who have raised humanity out of the muck of barbarism. Its antitechnological, anticapitalist message needs to be exposed and countered by all thinking individuals.
In contrast, I thought it was a fairly amusing cartoon (nothing too serious) and another example of Pixar magic.

Hat tip, Jed, for sharing the movie, dinner, and this interesting essay.

Why no outrage?

James Grant writes in the WSJ that Wall Street's damaging recklessness has been met with near-silence.
Huey Long ... once compared John D. Rockefeller to the fat guy who ruins a good barbecue by taking too much. Wall Street habitually takes too much. It would not be so bad if the inevitable bout of indigestion were its alone to bear. The trouble is that, in a world so heavily leveraged as this one, we all get a stomach ache. Not that anyone seems to be complaining this election season.
Read the whole thing.

Hat tip, to the dispenser of tasty odd bit morsels tonight, once again: Jed.

Messages cities send

Programmer Paul Graham leans toward Cambridge (Mass.) as a city that sends the message: you should be smarter. Look in the windows of the homes in Palo Alto and you will see the blue glow of TVs. Look in the windows in Cambridge, and you will see inviting books.

Read the whole thing.

Again, as for all of tonight's links (so far), hat tip to Jed. A tasty collection of odd bits, indeed!

Cognitive surplus: the post-TV world, and what will we do with the time

An interesting speech by Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organization. Hat tip, once more, to Jed.

Parallels between our current economic times and the Great Depression

MIT professor Phillip Greenspun lays down some parallels. Again, hat tip to Jed.

He ventured forth to bring light to the world

Who says you can't make fun of the false messiah? Our brothers across the sea venture forth with biting satire. Hat tip to Jed.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why can't Obama admit the obvious? The surge worked

So opines USA TODAY - and they note the irony that Obama is himself currently pushing for a surge in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

NYT and the MSM in the tank for Obama

Investors Business Daily opines:
If you doubt the media are in the tank for Obama, doubt no more. The refusal of the New York Times to print McCain's op-ed on Obama after an Obama piece was published has nothing to do with editorial judgment and everything to do with protecting the media's heartthrob.
The "newspaper of record" doesn't want John McCain's views on Iraq to go on the record, at least not while Barack Obama is on his magical media tour. The truth about Obama is unfit to print?
What Mr. McCain said (correctly) is that Obama has admitted he would not have done what it took to win the war, even with the benefit of hindsight. Hmm.

Read McCain's entire editorial piece here (Matt Drudge posted it in its entirety -- and he likely has more readers now than the NYT...).

And now WaPo editorializes about Mr. O's "eccentric strategic vision" on Iraq and a troop withdrawal, and suggests that his "antiwar stance" has "blinded him" to reality.

The bloom is off the rose. Like his current World Tour itself, all that's left is evanescence.

But The Candidate has an explanation:
This is a comedy classic:
Couric: Two more questions. You said not too long ago that Jerusalem should remain undivided. And then you backtracked on that statement. Does that play into the argument that some believe that someone more experienced would not have made that kind of mistake?

Obama: Well … if you look at what happened, there was no shift in policy or backtracking in policy. We just had phrased it poorly in the speech. That has happened and will happen to every politician. You're not always gonna hit your mark in terms of how you phrase your policies.
(Emphasis added) As Tom McGuire explains, Obama's policy hadn't changed. We just have to learn to ignore the words coming out of his mouth.

Our next President!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Humanizing al Qaeda, Demonizing the Bush Team

WSJ columnist William McGurn:
It's a tribute to our society that even amid a terrible war we are capable of seeing the humanity of an enemy raised and trained to hate and kill us. Some of us are still waiting for that same presumption of humanity to be extended to the good men and women doing their imperfect best to keep us safe.
Read the whole thing.

And see also Isaiah 5:20.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Obama's World Tour: Ozymandias hits the road

Krauthammer once more takes Obama's measure -- and finds it wanting:
Americans are beginning to notice Obama's elevated opinion of himself. There's nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?
For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?

We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when "our planet began to heal." As I recall -- I'm no expert on this [Note: Krauthammer is Jewish] -- Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.


Read the whole thing.

My allusion to Ozymandias? The title of a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Regrets: Obama Over Easy

Luke Boggs highlights Obama's easy turnaround from decision to regret and wonders if voters will have reasons to regret voting for him.

I regret I only have one vote to give to his opponent. (Since I don't live in Chicago ...).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Man of Seasonal Principles

As opposed to "A Man for All Seasons".

Perhaps more "the artful dodger."

Krauthammer flays Obama -- again.

Question: can charisma alone win?

We shall see.

Congressional Approval Rating in Single Digits

Glenn Reynolds:

WORST CONGRESS EVER: "Remember when only 14% approved of the job Congress is doing? A year later, only 9% do." The Pelosi/Reid leadership team is taking Congress places it's never been before!

UPDATE: So why are the Republicans running scared, and why aren't they going after the "new Democratic Congress" hammer-and-tongs? Beats me. Because they're idiots, I guess.

Indeed. Or maybe (shock of all shocks) the "conventional wisdom" is wrong that the Dems are set for big gains in both houses. I'd say, judging from the ouster of 6-term (R Utah) Congressman Chris Cannon, that incumbents from both parties are in trouble.

Iraq wants a timetable for US withdrawal = victory or defeat?

Glenn Reynolds sides with victory:

IRAQ WANTS A WITHDRAWAL TIMETABLE? They're talking 2011. Tell 'em "sure." There's probably a fair-sized haggling component here, but it doesn't matter: If they want us to leave, we should say "no problem." Saddam's gone, the insurgency's back is broken, and while big U.S. bases in the area might be a stabilizing force in the region, they might not. Leaving because the elected Iraqi government asks us to is winning, not turning tail and ensuring defeat, which is what we would have done had we listened to Obama, the Iraq Study Group, et al. a couple of years ago.

Of course, ideally we'd leave via Tehran and Riyadh . . . .

UPDATE: Obama seizes on Iraqi calls for timetable. Of course. The wind is blowing.

But Obama has vowed for months to unconditionally withdraw U.S. troops after becoming president (i.e., concede defeat), while McCain said he supported bringing the troops home only after victory, even if that position cost him the presidency.

Which guy do I want to vote for? The opportunist who says, in effect, "Oops! We won: wait for me, I'm your leader!", or the man who stands for principle even when it could cost him politically?

UPDATE: WaPo takes Obama to task for "foolish consistency". The basis for his pledge to unilaterally withdraw U.S. troops in 16 months was that America had failed in Iraq, and now (apparently) the basis is that we have succeeded.

Apparently history has now caught up with his great idea.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Kerry's Judgment

Bill Hobbs notes the sweet irony:

For Him Before He Was Against Him

John Kerry says that John McCain lacks the good judgment necessary to be president. Four years ago, Kerry wanted McCain to be his vice president. Oh, and McCain was right on the war, as it is becoming blindingly obvious to all but the most rabid partisans.

Last year, when everyone from John Kerry to Barack Obama was braying loudly that that the "surge" was doomed to fail, and when McCain was zooming toward oblivion in the polls, McCain declared his support for the surge, saying he "would rather win the war and lose the election."

That certainly sounds more presidential than Kerry's boast that he voted for funding the troops before voting against funding them. So you can understand why Kerry is bitterly lashing out at McCain - Kerry's a loser with, dare I say it, bad judgment."