Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama and Selfishness

This is exactly the kind of comment that makes me cringe at an Obama presidency.

There are two pieces of this comment that demonstrate to me that Obama is still, at heart, quite socialistic in his views.

The point is, though, that -- and it’s not just charity, it’s not just that
I want to help the middle class and working people who are trying to get in the
middle class -- it’s that when we actually make sure that everybody’s got a shot
– when young people can all go to college, when everybody’s got decent health
care, when everybody’s got a little more money at the end of the month – then
guess what? Everybody starts spending that money..

This kind of commentary echoes the debate exchange about whether health care is a right or a responsibility. Obama clearly thinks everybody has a right to perfect health care and a college education, and while this sounds like a wonderful idea on its face, it shows his lack of understanding about what a "right" is. Both health care and education demand the resources of other people - the time of doctors and teachers, medical and educational supplies, etc. The rights we normally talk about as "rights", such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. are rights specifically because they largely do not place demands on the freedoms of others. But Obama's rights do. You can construct numerous scenarios where Obama's right to health care conflicts with other, in my mind, more basic rights of other individuals. [I'm a little shocked that I have not seen one commentary comparing Obama's "right" answer to the health care to McCain's "responsibility" answer. It was a good, fundamental, philisophical question, and the absence of discussion on it in the MSM says quite a bit about the state of the MSM.]

"John McCain and Sarah Palin they call this socialistic," Obama continued. "You
know I don’t know when, when they decided they wanted to make a virtue out of

Actually John and Sarah have it right. It is socialistic. First of all, you can't have "charity" when there is a state mandate. Charity supposes a choice. You choose to be generous in helping someone else in need. When the state or any other entity mandates a decision, generosity goes right out the window. Obama thinks the state can be generous, but it can't. It's not a human being. All the state can do is mandate that money must go from person X to person Y.

His definition of selfishness is the converse. It is now selfish to make your own decision about what you want to do with the money you earn. We can have all the discussions we want about the morality of earning certain amounts of money and how we spend that money, but do we really want to surrender those choices to the state? Someone mentioned earlier that Obama is not anti-liberty, but if you believe the idea of liberty includes economic liberty, this is by definition anti-liberty.

My comments above aren't exactly revolutionary. All of these same arguments exist in the philisophical texts that are the basis of our constitutional, free market system, and Obama, for all his shininess as a candidate, doesn't seem to share the same philosophy. For all the histrionics I have heard from the right, those commentators who suggest an Obama presidency might lead to permanent structural changes to the U.S system might not actually be all that hysterical in their fears.

For some reason this all reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson, so with your indulgence...

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their
own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of
labor and bread it has earned -- this is the sum of good government.

If this is truly the "sum of good government", then what Obama is suggesting strikes me as the sum of bad government.

Fair and balanced

I am shocked. Shocked.

Westward Ho!

About to jump on a plane to El Paso. Taking the eldest child to watch Rice take on UTEP. So the Tomb will be quite this weekend. But I hope the rest of you keep it going. Banter!

Great Points About Candidate's Questionable Commie Ties

I too am worried about a candidate who pals around with socialists. In this case, Mr. McCain has been seen cavorting with a hot little number from Alaska, the most socialist state in America (her words). Ms. Palin is not one who simply may or may not have joined a group which ascribes to these views; instead, she ran her state on this very Marxist platform and bragged about extracting an extra $1,200 from the capitalist oil companies to pay to every do-nothing citizen. From the few to the many; redistribute that wealth. Especially if it makes you extremely popular among the consituents. (I believe GB cited her massive popularity in AK as a pro-leadership tenet.) I might add that Alaska can see Russia from its backyard, and her husband has joined secessionist causes. No doubt so she could then take Alaska literally to the left and join Commie Russia. The point is, there has always been a redistribution of wealth in America's system. Let's not drink the Kool-Aid that Obama is alarmingly red when the candidates proposals are truly not that different. Despite the above actions of Governor Palin, I actually do not believe McCain/Palin are socialist.

Maybe Obama is less pragmatic than I give him credit for, but I don't think so. I'm voting with my eyes wide open, (but in no means am I holding my nose). Jeez, think about the last two elections. This has been a God send election (if one assumes McCain is closer to old form than version 2008).

Response to earlier GB response- I in no way meant to exculpate regular Joe America's greed from the economic crisis...they will also always try to game the system. Everyone expects that, but my point is these folks were abusing, in a sense, a massive deregulation in the loosening of lending parameters. I think it was selfish and short term thinking on a micro level, but it was not nefarious; it it was 'legal' and allowed, who are they to understand the macro repercussions? Besides, they get their punishment, i.e., they now get to go through foreclosure. Don't believe the hype; they are not getting bailed out (which is proper and correct). My comment with Wall Street was not directed at the amount of the Wall Street bonuses (although those are figuratively criminal), it is that the incentives to reach these amounts fostered selfishness over the health and welfare of the corporation. The internal checks and balances were ignored or disgregarded. This sacrificed shareholders, yes, but in the tragedy of the commons, it then sacrificed the entire US economy. These people knew better and could not truly have felt they were helping out their company's core strength, and thus, they were morally criminal. Its been a decade since I took Corporations law, but I did pretty well. I also spent an afternoon with a securities attorney a few weeks ago who pretty much assured me that most of the actions taken could lead to civil liability, if not criminal liability. That worked out well for the Enron shareholders. Point being, everyone games the system, but the Masters of the Universe are smarter in that they avoid punishment and their gaming results in massively larger rewards. Didn't Greenspan pretty much say this was what he missed with his policies? BTW- first, you defend Palin's credentials and then Wall Street morality. You are on a devil's advocate roll, baby.


I mentioned the pension problem before. Mish has a good post worth your time. This is going to be an epic political battle as the public starts to understand the implications of these problems...


Courtesy of the Senate Democratic Communications Center (so make of it what you will).


December 28, 2002: A study by Federal Reserve economists reported homeowners taking advantage of falling interest rates and rising home values to extract $131.6 billion via mortgage refinancings in 2001 and early 2002, while consumers spent some of the money, they saved or invested more of it, according to a study published in the Federal Reserve Bulletin. Homeowners spent an estimated $20.7 billion of the cash for personal items such as cars, vacations or medical services, the study said. [Chicago Tribune, 12/28/02]

May 2002: Senator Sarbanes introduces the Predatory Lending Consumer Protection Act of 2002. [S. 2438]

November 2003: Senator Sarbanes, introduces the Predatory Lending Consumer Protection Act of 2003. [S. 1928]

February 23, 2004: Instead of heeding warnings, Federal Reserve leadership promotes non-traditional mortgages over fixed rate products in a speech to the Credit Union National Association annual conference. "American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage.the traditional fixed-rate mortgage may be an expensive method of financing a home." [Remarks By Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, 2/23/04]

October 8, 2003: Bush administration objected to a proposal to have an independent regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be an independent unit of Treasury, much like financial regulators housed in the agency that oversee banks and thrifts. The Bush administration also objected to a proposal to have the Department of Housing and Urban Development have oversight over the companies' business activities. The independence provision has broad support from committee Democrats and Republicans. The HUD provision was pushed mostly by Democrats but had been accepted by Oxley and Baker as a compromise needed to move the bill forward. [Washington Post, 10/8/03]

February 24, 2004: At a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Norman Rice, President and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle questioned having low-income Americans use ARM's to finance their homes. In addition, Senator Sarbanes questioned the Federal Reserve's promotion of alternative mortgage products over traditional fixed rate mortgages:

* Norman Rice: "Particularly if you're talking about serving an underserved constituency. Adjustable rate mortgages for a low income constituency is a nightmare."

* Senator Sarbanes: "[The Federal Reserve] is pushing adjustable rate mortgages.and throwing this risk back on the consumer." [Senate Banking Committee Transcript, 2/25/04]

June 30, 2004: After encouraging the use of non-traditional mortgages, many of which re-set with rising interest rates, the Federal Reserve begins to raise rates-17 consecutive, 25 basis point increases that take the Federal Reserve Funds rate from a 46-year low of 1 percent in June 2004 to 5.25 percent in June 2006. [Market News International, 4/29/08]

October 26, 2005: House of Representatives passed regulation reforming the GSE's. The bill passed the House 331-90 (Republicans: 209-15; Democrats: 122-74), and would have given the new regulator broad authority over setting capital requirements and limiting portfolio size. Senate Democrats picked that bill up and offered it, but the Administration opposed that legislation. According to Mr. Oxley, the White House gave Congress and the GSE reform legislation "a one-finger salute."

* "We missed a golden opportunity that would have avoided a lot of the problems we're facing now, if we hadn't had such a firm ideological position at the White House and the Treasury and the Fed," Mr. Oxley says." [Financial Times, 9/11/08]

February 7, 2007: Federal banking regulators released their voluntary Guidance on Nontraditional Mortgage Products for mortgage lenders. However, the guidance did not apply to subprime mortgages. [Senate Banking Committee Transcipt, Prepared Statement of Martin Eakes, 2/7/07]

March 22, 2007: Senator Dodd laid out how the Federal Reserve was responsible for the "perfect storm" sweeping over American homeowners. At a Banking committee hearing Dodd said, "By May of 2005, the press was reporting that economists were warning about the risks of these new mortgages. In June of that year, Chairman Greenspan was talking about "froth" in the mortgage market and testified before the Joint Economic Committee that he was troubled by the surge in exotic mortgages." [Senate Banking Committee Transcript, 3/22/07]

August 6, 2007: At a White House morning press briefing, in response to a question whether the housing market is correcting or in crisis, President Bush says that the economy is stable: "[I]t looks we're headed for a soft landing." [Remarks By President Bush, 8/9/07]

November 15, 2007: Senator Reid asked unanimous consent to pass the FHA Modernization Act, but Republicans objected. [Congressional Record, 11/15/08]

December 4, 2007: In response to a question about whether the Administration was too slow to recognize the subprime problem, President Bush said: "We've been working on this since August." [Remarks By President Bush, 12/4/07]

December 6, 2007: Senator Reid asked unanimous consent to pass the FHA Modernization Act, but Republicans objected. [Congressional Record, 12/6/08]

October 4, 2007: At a news conference on Wednesday, House and Senate Democrats outlined a plan to help low- and middle-income families keep their homes." [New York Times, 10/04/07]

January 9, 2008: The Federal Reserve finally proposes rule pursuant to the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act, to combat abusive and deceptive lending practices. Congress passed the law in 1994. [Federal Reserve System, 1/9/08; Public Law No: 103-325]

February 14, 2008: Senate Democrats announce The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 which would keep families facing foreclosure in their homes, help other families avoid foreclosures in the future, and help communities already harmed by foreclosure to recover. [HR 3221, 2008]

February 26, 2008: After Senate Democrats introduce The Foreclosure Prevention Act, White House issues a veto threat and Senate Republicans block consideration of the bill. [Statement of Administration Policy, 2/26/08; Senate Vote #35, HR 3221]

February 28, 2008: Senate Republicans blocked consideration of the Foreclosure Prevention Act. The bill provided $10 billion in bond authority to refinance subprime loans, $4 billion in grants for the rehabilitation of foreclosed homes and tax relief for struggling homebuilders. The bill also included a provision that would allow bankruptcy courts to modify the terms of a mortgage on a primary residence that could have helped 600,000 families stay in their homes. [Senate Vote #35, HR 3221; CRS Summary; Finance Committee Press Release, 2/15/08; Center for Responsible Lending]

March 14, 2008: Federal Reserve and JP Morgan Chase Bailed Out Bear Stearns. "On the verge of a collapse that could have shaken the very foundations of the U.S. financial system, investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. was bailed out Friday by a rival and the federal government. The near-miss raised new alarm about the credit crisis -- and whether other big firms might be in jeopardy." [AP, 3/15/08]

April 1, 2008: Republicans Stall Housing Bill. Republicans force cloture vote on motion to proceed to energy bill. [Senate Vote 86, HR 3221, 4/1/08]

June 19, 2008: After measure is reported by the Senate banking committee, White House issues a veto threat against the Federal Housing Finance Regulatory Reform Act of 2008, which includes GSEs reform, on the grounds that the bill provides $4 billion in grants to communities struggling with foreclosed properties. [Statement of Administration Policy, 1/19/08]

June 24, 2008: Republicans Stall Housing Bill. Republicans forced Democrats to file cloture on the motion to concur in the House amendment to the Housing bill. [Senate Vote 155, HR 3221, 6/24/08]

June 25, 2008: 79 Senators vote to pass the bipartisan housing bill while some Republican Senators announce they would use procedural maneuvers to delay final passage until after the July 4th recess. "Sens. Jim DeMint and John Ensign both said they were willing to run out the clock on a major housing bill.'I don't intend to allow any unanimous consents to shorten the debate time on the housing bill,' DeMint said." [Roll Call, 6/26/08]

July 7, 2008: Republican Senators force a procedural vote in order to further delay the passage of the comprehensive housing bill. [Senate Vote #163, HR 3221, 7/10/08]

July 10, 2008: Several Republican Senators force another procedural vote in order to delay passage of the housing bill. (Senate Vote #170, HR 3221, 7/10/08) "By a vote of 84-12 Thursday, the Senate cleared away the last procedural hurdle hindering the measure in that chamber, but lingering objections by a GOP critic pushed off passage until Friday." [AP, 7/11/08]

July 11, 2008: White House spokeswoman Dana Perino renews veto threat against the housing bill. [AP, 7/11/08]

April 10: 2008: Senate Democrats Passed the Foreclosure Prevention Act. The bill provided tax breaks for those buying foreclosed homes, overhaul of the FHA mortgage insurance program, $4 billion to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed homes, $100 million for housing counseling and relief for veterans returning from war facing foreclosure. [Senate Vote 96, HR 3221]

May 20, 2008: Senate Banking Committee passes bipartisan housing bill. The bill, passed out of committee on a vote of 19-2, includes major efforts to help prevent the rising number of foreclosures, to create more affordable housing for Americans, and to strengthen the regulation of the GSEs in order to reduce risk and improve their role in the housing finance system. [CQ Committee Coverage, 5/20/08]

July 11, 2008: Alarmed by the growing financial stress at the nation's two largest mortgage finance companies, senior Bush administration officials consider a plan to have the government take over Fannie Mae and/or Freddie Mac and place them in a conservatorship if their problems worsen. [New York Times, 7/11/08]

July 15, 2008: Bush says he opposes bailouts for private companies, "In terms of private enterprises, no, I don't think the government ought to be involved with bailing out companies. I think the government ought to create the conditions so that companies can survive. And I've listed four. And one of the things I'm deeply troubled about is people who feel like it's okay to raise taxes during these times. And it would be a huge mistake to raise taxes right now." [Remarks By President Bush, 7/15/08 ]

July 26, 2008: Senate passes the Housing and Economic Recovery Act by a vote of 72-13.

July 23, 2008: White House drops veto threat based on Secretary Paulson's request for GSE authority. "The legislation, unveiled in March, sped to approval after lawmakers added a plan proposed July 13 by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that lets him back up Fannie and Freddie..The change prompted Bush to drop a veto threat." [Bloomberg, 7/27/08]

July 25, 2008: Republicans stall housing bill. Republicans force cloture vote on the motion to concur to the House amendments to the Housing bill. [Senate Vote 185, HR 3221, 7/25/08]

Tiger Stripes

I've heard everybody's reasons for voting for Obama, and I can't blame people for doing so. As I have said multiple times, he is a rare combination of inspiration, intelligence, and charisma, and he could be a truly great president.

But I still can't vote for him, and my reasoning reminds me of that old canard about a tiger being unable to change its stripes.

Obama has been documented to be the most liberal member of the Senate. While the individual details of his associations with Ayers and Rev. Wright and others are not the big scandals Fox News and others would have you believe, where there is smoke, there is at least a flame. I firmly believe as a younger man Obama was very left-wing in his thinking, and while his campaign rhetoric is certainly more moderate, I have seen no real evidence that he has abandoned this core leftist view of the world. I think his campaign has been a marketing creation, a poll-tested facade that has told us very little about Obama's core political philosophy.

McCain, on the other hand, has been all over the map this campaign, and his occasional pandering to the evangelist right has been disgusting. He bears the scars of his thrashing by GWB, and I think he has tried to structure his campaign to (wrongly) learn from the lessons of that campaign. But I think behind all the campaign maneuvering, he is still the same man he has been for most of his life. I was a McCain fan for years, and although I have been thoroughly unimpressed with his campaign, I think he is still the same man he was, the man Aztec referenced in his article.

Since it is starting to look like a foregone conclusion that Obama is going to triumph, I am hoping I am wrong on all of this. A tiger can't change his stripes, but he can cover them up for a while. If Obama 08 is actually the same guy as Obama 88, I am quite worried about the damage he and a compliant Democratic Congress can create.


I started re-reading the DFW article myself.  This passage just blew me away:

"So who wouldn't fall all over themselves for a top politician who actually seemed to talk to you like you were a person, an intelligent adult worthy of respect? A politician who all of a sudden out of nowhere comes on TV as this total long-shot candidate and says that Washington is paralyzed, that everybody there's been bought off, and that the only way to really "return government to the people" the way all the other candidates claim they want to do is to outlaw huge unreported political contributions from corporations and lobbies and PACs ... all of which are obvious truths that everybody knows but no recent politician's had the stones to say. Who wouldn't cheer, hearing stuff like this, especially from a guy we know chose to sit in a dark box for four years instead of violate a Code? Even in A.D. 2000, who among us is so cynical that he doesn't have some good old corny American hope way down deep in his heart, lying dormant like a spinster's ardor, not dead but just waiting for the Right Guy to give it to? That John S. McCain III opposed making Martin Luther King's birthday a holiday, or that he thinks clear-cut logging is good for America, or that he feels our present gun laws are not clinically insane — this stuff counts for nothing with these Town Hall crowds, all on their feet, cheering their own ability to finally really fucking cheer."

My bold.

Coffee Break

At GB's request, I tender two very long articles for everyone's consideration.

The first one is David Foster Wallace's 2000 Rolling Stone article about spending a week on the Straight Talk Express (I would start at the bottom with the glossary).  It resonates for a couple of reasons.  Foremost, I'm still incredibly sad that DFW is gone and we'll never have another one of his novels or journalism pieces like this one. Say what you will about his fiction, but his non-fiction is breathtaking.  But the article also provides a ghostly image of the candidate that was in 2000 and maybe could have or should have been in 2008.

Compare that article with Sunday's The NYT Magazine article by Robert Draper about McCain's current run.  The loss in South Carolina to Bush and the loss of Mike Murphy as chief campaign strategist made for a very different candidate.  McCain dumped his prior themes of service and duty in favor of Rove-style attack politics.  Rather than fight from the high ground, he chose to mix it up in the rough and tumble trenches and sacrificed part of his image in the process.  Just look at the toll it took on his net favorables. 

Bush's Legacy

This article is an excerpt from a book by Naomi Wolf, who may be a bit batty, but presents an interesting perspective on the depth of depravity to which the current administration has been willing to delve and some interesting parallels to other examples of unhealthy concentrations of power.

I honestly don't think that there has ever been as disastrous an administration as the Bush-Cheney shredding of the bedrock principles of the Constitution. Buchanan was probably the closest (whistled past the cemetery as we headed toward Civil War), Woodrow Wilson (WWI and wicked racist) was no good, Nixon (price and wage controls and Watergate) horrendous, and Carter (Iran-hostage crisis, gas lines, etc) was simply overmatched.

None of these guys can hold a candle to the Bushies. His father, for whom I voted in 1992, can't really be proud of him, can he?

Now we are presented with a less educated, less experienced more "fringe" (Alaska is just wierd and AOG end-timers are at least as kooky as the Mormons or Scientologists, if not more) VP candidate. I think I read something that compared W to Cicero when faced with Palin as the alternative. I echo YGG's point that her selection by McCain was probably the last little shred of fig-leaf falling away from the bresaola of a once decent man. A pure pander to the religious wingnuts who hijacked the Republican party in 1994. These people controlled Congress for 12 of the last 14 years and the White House for the last eight. Why are they so angry? Those folks in the video from Nevada were a little scary. That "hate face" reminded me of footage from the integration of Central High in Little Rock or of Ole Miss. Scary, scary, scary. Hoss, care to illuminate us as to where the hate comes from?

I also would be very interested to see a third party emerge that was libertarian on social issues, pro-business without being held hostage by oligarchical corporations, provided some measure of safety net for those on a bad run, and invested in education and infrastructure. I think the old Republican party (think Nelson Rockefeller or Lincoln Chaffee) was pretty close, but the current zealotry on that side of the aisle would almost certainly tag them as traitors.

Bit rambly today. Two days of celebrating the Phillies World Series Championship has perhaps inhibited synapse-firing.

GammaBoy Coffee Break 2

This column echoes my personal reactions to Obama's comments about deregulation. I had a "you can't be serious" moment, when he started blaming our woes on deregulation. While it no doubt plays well with voters who get to wave their pitchforks at the Wall Street elite, Obama's pitches about deregulation just aren't factually correct.

Which also brings me to comment on YGG's following bit...

"what Wall Street did was flat out morally criminal, and it would have been legally criminal if our Congress and Executive Branch had integrity and/or balls"

When it comes to the Wall Streeters who "profited improperly", I have to say I am tired of that particular bit of campaign rhetoric. There were no doubt Wall Street characters who took home bonuses they probably didn't deserve, but the securities laws are actually pretty good, and misconduct is prosecuted, especially if it is significant. One could argue that Wall Streeters have been paid too much for their work, and I wouldn't disagree with that, but up until the recent Treasury injections, these were purely private companies with private shareholders and private customers. The only people being screwed by gigantic bonuses were shareholders.

On the other hand, there was such enormous fraud by two-bit mortgage brokers, appraisers, home buyers, and other characters it is unbelievable. These people essentially stole from banks, investors, and pension funds, but not a single one of them will likely be prosecuted and they outnumber Wall Street criminals 1000 to 1. The moral corruption you speak of was widespread. Of course, candidates don't get elected by blaming people for their own greed and stupidity, so Wall Street has become the scapegoat now, just as Big Oil was the scapegoat earlier this year.

Everybody games the system, whether it is the millionaire with the tax shelter, the regular guy moving around credit card balances or drawing down all his credit before declaring bankruptcy, or the corporations sending in lobbyists to legislate tax breaks. Bigger government and a more active Fed - a bigger system - just creates the opportunity for more gaming and corruption.

McCain's Mountain of a Problem

Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight on the significance of early voting in Colorado, NV, and NM.


via The Plank by Nate Silver on 10/31/08

Our model does not make any specific adjustments for early voting, but it is presenting a major problem for John McCain in three states in the Mountain West region, where Barack Obama has a huge fraction of his vote locked in.

In the wee hours of this morning, Public Policy Polling released data from Colorado and New Mexico. The toplines are strong for Obama, giving him leads of 10 and 17 points, respectively in those states. What's worse for McCain, however, is that PPP estimates that nearly two-thirds of Coloradans have already cast their ballots, as have 55-60 percent of New Mexicans, with large majorities of those votes going to Barack Obama. This is backed up to some extent by Michael McDonald's turnout statistics. In Colorado, the state had already processed approximately 1.3 million ballots as of Thursday, around 60 percent of the total 2004 turnout. In Bernalillo County (Albuquerque), New Mexico (statewide figures are not available), 145,000 ballots had been cast as of Wednesday, equaling 55 percent of 2004's total.

Should New Mexico and Colorado become safe Obama states, McCain's only realistic path to victory runs through Pennsylvania. Even if McCain were to win the Keystone, however -- say that Philadelphia remains in a collective stupor from the Phillies' win and that there is some sort of Bradley Effect in the Alleghanies -- Obama has a pretty decent firewall in the form of Virginia and Nevada, which had already achieved 53 percent of its 2004 voting totals as of Wednesday, and where Democrats have a 23-point edge in ballots cast so far in Las Vegas's Clark County (and perhaps more impressively, a 15-point advantage in Reno's Washoe County, a traditionally Republican area). The Kerry states less Pennsylvania, but plus Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Iowa and Virginia, total 270 electoral votes: an ugly, nail-biter of a win for Obama, but still one that would get him to 1600 Pennsylvania all the same.

--Nate Silver 


Things you can do from here:


Aztec Tomb persuading a McCain supporter

Reminiscent of our famous Perot "debate"

Thriller on iTunes for $4.99

Do yourself a favor and download Michael Jackson's Thriller (Video Edition) album from iTunes. It's only $4.99, but it stands the test of time. Quincy Jones laid down a masterpiece. And it includes the video, just in time for Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Reason Magazine 2008 Presidential Poll

Reason polled its editors and a few other random people.  Bob Barr and Obama were the big winners.

So Gamaboy: between the endorsements of a handful of editors of a libertarian magazine and the editors of The Economist, you still can't come around to supporting Hopey? 

Going with my gut: Obama

I have already voted. In the critical Florida battleground. For Barack Obama. While holding my nose.

It was a tough call for me, not least because I consider a Florida vote to be more influential than most others. In my mind, McCain lost it more than Obama won it. His self-destruction included his early, cynical decision to court the religious right despite his prior rejection of it; the failure to put forth a coherent vision for America beyond earmark reductions; and the Sarah Palin decision. It seems these were decisions made by political realities pertaining to the Republican party and its ever-demanding, socially conservative base. I cannot and will not ever agree with people who see the world like they do. Unfortunately, none of this has to do with my main political desire to see a limited federal government and business-friendly, pie-expanding policies. But it has never been clear to me that McCain would fight for these either. It is my sincere hope that the Republican party bifurcate fiscal conservatives from the social right wing. These strange bedfellows have not served America well.

Obama is a risk, perhaps a big one. He could potentially damage our economy severely--above and beyond Bush/Cheney's greatest hits ("deficits don't matter?!?"). And I lay awake at night fearing a world in which he, Pelosi, Reid, Frank, et al. are pulling the strings with no recourse. However, there is something about the man that appeals to my gut. I agree with his cultural views. He is calm, cool, collected and, yes, "presidential."* He is inspiring. He is pro-intellectual, pro-science, and pro-common sense. He positively transforms the image of America in the eyes of the world. He could single-handedly transform race relations in this country (or at least put Jackson/Sharpton out of business). I respect very few people more than Colin Powell and few publications more than the Economist; he has their vote.

It's too bad that our country has gotten so out of whack that we have to resort to hoping for a messiah-like figure to come in and save the day. Time was when the actual person in the presidency didn't matter so much because the ingenious system of shared power and checks-and-balances ensured that the most enlightened ideas won the debate and the popular vote. To me there are structural problems with our interpretation of the Constitution and monetary policy that are leading us off the cliff. Obama or McCain are not going to fix the problem. To those of you Obamatons out there, expect a let-down, a winner's curse. Let's hope he, and we, can rise above it and get our collective groove back.

* One might call him the "Jason Campbell of politicians": brown, inexperienced, calm, very few mistakes, a winner, (potentially) at the helm in Washington.

Universal Coverage is not Universal Care

One arrow in the McCain Campaign's spacious quiver of scare tactics is calling Obama's health care plan "socialized medicine."   The claim is false and misleading.

Obama's plan is a step towards providing universal health insurance.  Under this plan people who already have health insurance get to keep it.  They can continue to see their doctor and have access to the same resources allowed by their insurance plan.

What the Obama plan does is expand existing health insurace pools (like the one used for Federal employees) to cover those currently without insurance. 

This is not a single payer plan, nor is it a nationalized HMO.  And I know POs hate billing, coding, and low reimbursment rates but how is collecting some money not better than collecting none at all?

Tampa = Mohawk

Matt Grothe's got a nice one:

Joe Maddon and the Rays took the plunge:

The evidence is clear: Tampa is the capital of the mohawk and, by extension, the worst place ever.

In related news, Chevy is bringing back the Camaro for 2010. Sales should be strong in Tampa.

Life Imitates the Onion from 1999

Why We Must Stop Barack Hussein Obama

From Today's Wall Street Journal.... By:Daniel Henninger

The most basic explanation for why Barack Obama may win next Tuesday is that voters want economic deliverance. The standard fix for this in politics everywhere is to crowbar the old party out and patch in the other one. It is true as well that the historic nature of the nation's first African-American candidacy would play a big role.

Push past the historic candidacy, however, and one sees something even larger at stake in this vote. One sees what Joe (The Plumber) Wurzelbacher saw. The real "change" being put to a vote for the American people in 2008 is not simply a break from the economic policies of "the past eight years" but with the American economic philosophy of the past 200 years. This election is about a long-term change in America's idea of itself.

I don't agree with the argument that an Obama-Pelosi-Reid government is a one-off, that good old nonideological American pragmatism will temper their ambitions. Not true. With this election, the U.S. is at a philosophical tipping point.
The goal of Sen. Obama and the modern, "progressive" Democratic Party is to move the U.S. in the direction of Western Europe, the so-called German model and its "social market economy." Under this notion, business is highly regulated, as it would be in the next Congress under Democratic House committee chairmen Markey, Frank and Waxman. Business is allowed to create "wealth" so long as its utility is not primarily to create new jobs or economic growth but to support a deep welfare system.

The political planets are aligned to make this achievable. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, prominent Democrats, European leaders in France and Germany and more U.S. newspaper articles than one can count have said that the crisis proves the need to permanently tame the American "free-market" model. P.O.W. Alan Greenspan is broadcasting confessions. The question is: Are the American people of a mind to throw in the towel on the system that got them here?
This would be a historic shift, one post-Vietnam Democrats have been trying to achieve since their failed fight with Ronald Reagan's "Cowboy Capitalism."
Of course Cowboy Capitalism built the country. More than any previous nation in history, the United States made its way forward on a 200-year wave of upwardly mobile, profit-seeking merchants, tradesmen, craftsmen and workers. They blew out of New England and New York, rolled across the wildernesses of the Central States, pushed across a tough Western frontier and banged into San Francisco and Los Angeles, leaving in their path city after city of vast wealth.
The U.S. emerged a superpower, and the tool of that ascent was simple -- the pursuit of economic growth. Now China, India and Brazil, embracing high-growth Cowboy Capitalism, are doing what we did, only their cities are bigger.
Now comes Barack Obama, standing at the head of a progressive Democratic Party, his right hand rising to say, "Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be for-profit cowboys. It's time to spread the wealth around."
What this implies, undeniably, is that the United States would move away from running with the high GDP, high-growth nations rising today as economic and political powers and move over to retire with the low-growth economies we displaced -- old Europe.
As noted in a 2006 World Bank report, spending in Europe on social-protection programs averages 19% of GDP (85% of it on social insurance programs), compared to 9% of GDP in the U.S. The Obama proposals send the U.S. inexorably and permanently toward European levels of social protection. This isn't an "agenda." It's a final temptation.
In partial detail:
Obama's federalized medical insurance system starts the transition away from private medical care and toward Obama's endlessly promised "universal health care." This has always been the sine qua non of planting a true, managed-market economy in the U.S.
Obama's refundable tax credits are direct cash transfers from the federal government. This would place some 48% of Americans, nearly half, out of the income tax system. More than a tax proposal, this is a deep philosophical shift, an American version of being "on the dole."
His stated intent to renegotiate free-trade agreements such as Nafta is a philosophical shift. It abandons the tradition of a hyper-competitive America dating back to the Industrial Revolution, toward a protected, domestic workforce, as in Western Europe. The Democratic proposal to eliminate private union votes -- "card check" -- ensures the spread of a static, Euro-style workforce.
Eliminating the ceiling on payroll taxes changes Social Security from an insurance to a welfare program. Obama's tax credits requires performing government-identified activities, the essence of a "directed economy."
All this would transform the animating American idea -- away from creation and toward protection.
Many voters -- progressive Democrats, the asset-safe rich, academics and college students -- regard this as where America should go. They explicitly want America's great natural energies transferred away from unwieldy economic competition and toward social construction. They want the U.S. to reduce its "footprint" in the world. Monies saved by stepping down from superpower status can be reprogrammed into "investments" (a favorite Obama word) in a vast Euro-style hammock of social protection programs.
One wishes John McCain had been better able to make clear what the truly "historic" meaning of Tuesday's vote is. Once it's done, it's done.

Already drank your coffee

This morning.  At your mom's house.  The only stuff I won't read is Mother Jones and The Nation.  I even have a correspondence with the Managing Editor of The National Review and The VP of News at Fox.  Don't assume I don't read this stuff because I read it daily for reality checks, analysis, and the sense of moral superiority it usually confers.

And if you don't use Google Reader, start.  I subscribe to the Corner feed, which tips me off to all of the most important conservative articles of the day.  It also keeps me wired into the latest attacks on Obama, which is why I am generally dismissive of Hoss' and Gamma Boys criticisms.  I know all the attacks, and some of them, frankly may stick.  You guys just haven't hit on them yet.

YGB Corn Bread Break

Gamma's link makes the same points the Esquire article does. Obama is more of a blank slate than McCain, but McCain version 2008 is far more troubling. GB, you kind of defended Palin and then pointed out VP is irrelevant, but you have yet to address my main question. What does that choice say about McCain? I view it as rash and confirming that he has either veered from his core principles or is willing to sacrifice such to win. Further, rashly made, it turned out to be a poor decision when she became a punchline. I was open minded about Palin, but after a few weeks, I was extremely disappointed. I'm not the only one. Esquire's endorsement is fairer; Obama has not grabbed a specific message and shouted it from the rooftops, but he need not. However, he is not the completely blank slate your article pretends. For example, he has set forth a comprehensive tax plan that most experts have noted is pretty similar to McCains. If people think he is a liar who will pull that plan and go commie red, then make that point, but engaging in the same "ambiguous" attacks seems like pots calling kettles black.

As for your article, I find the following absurd: "America was the party of liberty, whereas Europe was the party of equality. Just in the nick of time for the Obama candidacy, the American faith in liberty began to crack." The white working class's faith, (and Obama's economic principles), are not "anti-liberty." Further, no one's faith in liberty was cracked. Much of the gov't side of the mess was poor judgment. However, what Wall Street did was flat out morally criminal, and it would have been legally criminal if our Congress and Executive Branch had integrity and/or balls. Punishing criminal behavior is not anti-liberty, and frankly, I think Obama has shown more integrity and less likelihood of allowing such "Masters of the Universe" to profit improperly moving forward. McCain himself would be against it, but McCain v. 2.0 may not have the power to avoid such compromises.

The article also assumes Obama is anti-hard work or will instill policies that promote such. (Will a 2% difference in a graduated income tax at the highest level convince CEO's to resign and accept posts at $249,000? Let's keep it in perspective.) There is nothing in O-man's bio to suggest this. I love how he is characterized as "A creature of universities and churches and nonprofit institutions." What the hell does that mean? If he had gone to Wall Street after excelling at Harvard, he would be okay, but instead he volunteered. Also, it would have been better if his parents had paid for Harvard instead of getting in there on his own merits. Bush is this author's paragon (except he failed at business except when Dad's friends kept bailing him out.) I read Obama as promoting a meritocracy, and like they say about corn bread, ain't nothing wrong about that.

Gamma Boy Coffee Break 1

First off, congrats to the Phils and Restless Native. Good on ya!

As for politics and economics, I am guessing that you are like me and tend to gravitate to sources of info that reflect your own leanings. I am more likely to read the WSJ than the NYT, for example, and not just because I am in finance. This kind of behavior does tend to risk a distorted view of the world, so I would like to suggest the idea of "coffee breaks" - the posting of one or two articles a day that people of the opposite political persuasion ought to read, even if it infuriates them to do so. I would love everyone to participate, but especially Aztec, since he's probably my polar opposite in lot of politics, and since I rarely spend time on Slate or, I probably miss some valuable discussion.

Anyway, here is my post for the day. It echoes a lot of the concerns I was trying to speak to about Obama, albeit in a much more articulate fashion.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An interactive chart of where you tax dollars go

Just got done with my run.  My Nike+ monitor tells me I was doing 9 minute miles.  I ran 6 minute miles in college.  Why bother?

Anyhoooo.  Here is a ridiculous  interactive chart that graphically illustrates how federal tax dollars are spent.  It provides hours of family fun.'s NFL Power Rankings: Completely Irresponsible

This is poppycock. The Cowboys jump from 15 to 8 after a hideous 13-9 win at home over Tampa Bay in which they rack up 192 yards of total offense. And the Cardinals, who beat the Cowboys a few weeks ago, drop from 8 to 13 after losing a tight game on the road to the new #3 team in the rankings, Carolina. And Denver moves up three spots from 18 to 15 after a bye week. Granted, these rankings are meaningless because the NFL has playoffs. Even so, is negligent by failing to uphold its journalistic standards and deserves censure from Football Nation. And the Redskins should be #3.


Overall, I thought it was well done.  Structuring it around five middle class families lets voters know what his priorities are.  It provided a little personal background for those who still aren't quite sure if he was raised by Indonesian or domestic terrorists.  And it laid out the basic elements of his plan for America.

But I got to tell you, I'm thrilled to be voting for this guy.  In my mind, his story exemplifies, embodies if you will, the American dream.  Hearing him speak provides me with hope for the future of America.  I really want my children to grow up in an America with a man like Barak Obama as president. 
Some of these writers for this blue collar mag called Esquire are pretty good. This guy does a damn fine job crystallizing many of my feelings (don't agree with everything he writes, but most) and he provide a chance for to practice embedding. Definitely a worthwhile read.

GammaBoy is No Lil' Saint; YGG is La La and I'm Outta Here!

VP is extremely important. The VP is in charge of the Senate, Gammaboy, or hadn't you heard?

Look, don't turn this into an elitist, Ivy-league blue-blood coastal condescension thing. I don't give a damn where she went to school or lives; if she is tabbed as VP and has weeks to bone up without giving interviews, she should be able to answer the softballs lobbed at her much better than she did. We made the mistake of excepting such skills in exchange for innate leadership with Bush, and look what it got us. I find her eloquence and intelligence to be less than Bush's. Further, since its tough to argue, I guess we would have to agree to disagree as to whether she is an innate leader. Suffice it to say, if we're stranded on the island, I'm not giving her the conch, (by conch, I mean shell and am alluding to Lord of the Flies; other interpretations of conch may lead to alternate answers from me.)

Finally, I don't believe her Alaskan heritage represents a fierce libertarian streak; you cannot be a true libertarian and have most of her social views. Whenever a GOPer screams for gov't to get out of our economic lives but dig deeper into our social lives, I am highly cynical that there are rich lobbyists whispering into that person's ear and influencing the "economic" view just as there are influential lobbyists whispering on the social issues. McCain was a true exception in this regard.

I was not looking for a defense of Palin, which was half hearted and disappointingly played the, "you don't get it if you're not a Joe Six Pack card." I'm looking for how and why McCain made that choice in your opinion. I guess if you believe she is one of the best, then that explains why it didn't phase you in the context of a McCain presidency. The point is, do you believe McCain had no better choices than Palin? Do you believe he fully vetted her and all the others and said, "This is the best; the absolute cream of the GOP crop! And she stands for all I believe in to boot." Or do you think he made a rash decision for electioneering reasons? Not only am I disappointed that he did not choose on principle but rather expediency, but the decision proved very poor from a campaigning POV now that Palin has become a punchline. (Exhibit A- Me and all the other Lexington conservatives.) Thus, in my opinion, he showed both a lack of principle and poor decisionmaking. Hence, he lost me and several others.

Since you used the phrase, "You got served." I took the liberty of IMDBing the appropriate response from the now classic movie of the same name.

David: Y'all just mad. Because today, you suckers got served. Served. Served. Served! Served! [crowd takes up chant]
La La Vasquez: Oh my God! Oh my God! The Lil Saints have won $50,000! I'm La La! I'm out of here! Peace, y'all!

I couldn't have said it better myself. OK, I have no idea what that means, but hopefully you get the point.

Why I am Voting for Obama

I was at Game 4 of the World Series in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday and had a chance to reflect on why I am voting for Obama. You may ask, "Is Native obsessed with Obama? Does he eat, drink and sleep Obama? Are the Phillies really the best team in the history of baseball?" These are all valid questions, and the answers are, in order: Maybe a little, Not really, and Quite Likely.

I am not obsessed with Obama but I am with the Phillies. As I walked along the concourse in the second-most balkanized city in America I found myself people-watching. You had your typical Main Line suburbanites in their Phil's jerseys accessorized nicely with a red Kate Spade bag and some really cute Manolo pumps. You had your big-hair Jersey girls. You had your Northeast Irish, Micked-out to the nines with their crew cuts, multiple earrings (on the men) and their IBEW Local 949 tattoo. You had your typical South Philly Guineas, with their flat-brimmed hats with the stickers still on, their too-tight clothes and their gum-smacking girlfriends. You had your West Philly "Democrats" to round out the Philadelphia Proper crowd.

I also saw a Sikh with a Phillies turban (soon to be available at the Majestic Store) and a Hasid in the full topcoat and black regalia with his son and grandson wearing their jerseys.

All of these people who would happily kick the shit out of each other on any given day had come together to celebrate the Phillies and were high-fiving their way through an hour-and-a-half rain delay and some pretty chilly temperatures. I got a little choked up as I tend to believe that this melting pot of peoples and cultures is what sets the US apart from basically all other countries. I believe fervently that this, our diversity paired with our ability to come together to make common cause, is our greatest strength.

Right there may be where you picked up on where I am going with this. You can pooh-pooh the "rhetoric" of Hope and of Obama's "eloquence", and you can call me naive or allege that this is all fluff. I don't particularly care because I think this point is pretty important and is pretty core to who we are, or perhaps, who we should want to be. I think the folks who are discounting Obama's ability to bring us together, much as the Phillies run for their second ever World Series title is bringing together people with some pretty diverse ideas and backgrounds, are either jaded, or something darker, in their outlook.

Again, for those dead-set against an Obama presidency, for whatever reason, vote your conscience. I'll be voting mine and a cold, wet night at Citizens Bank Park reminded me why.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gamma Boy Owns Yo Gabba Gabba

Actually, I don't, but since you called me out, I figured I'd better headline my post with equal and opposite vigor.

As for Palin, when it comes to voting, I just don't put much value in the VP position. In fact, I am always a bit surprised that people get as excited about VP picks as they do.

Take Gore/Lieberman, for example. I like Joe Lieberman and thought he would have been a fine president, but I wasn't a fan of Gore, and I never would have voted for Gore regardless of his VP. But I admit there is a difference between voting for a ticket because of the VP and not voting for a ticket because of the VP. A great VP alone shouldn't attract a reasonable voter to support a poor presidential candidate, but perhaps a reasonable voter should hesitate to support a presidential candidate if the VP is particularly weak.

Even if that's the case, I don't find Palin that repulsive. Sure she's a bit of a hick, but she is also the most popular governor in America, an independent thinker who has shown a rare willingness among politicians to battle her own party, and the rare person who actually has bona fide leadership capabilities (Biden, for example, has much more experience and knowledge, but I think his innate leadership abilities pale in comparison to Palin's).

Is she ready to be president? Hell, no. But she's not running for president. Most likely, her first term will be a collage of winning photo-ops, which until Cheney's advent, was the primary responsibility of VPs. That scenario, of course, requires me to hope that McCain can keep his ticker a-tocking long enough for her to at least get a basic level of knowledge necessary to complement her leadership instincts.

One other thing that bothers me about the abuse Palin has received. I think there is an enormous amount of condescension from people on the coasts for anyone who has not come up through the "proper" schools and who does not live the "proper" lifestyle. You can hear the snickers as people mention her checkered college education, her affinity for hunting, and her husband's sports.

I've heard plenty of cocktail snark about Palin, but my personal experience is that there is almost no correlation between actual leadership ability and the quality of one's schools and upbringing. If anything, I think there is a negative correlation. Most of our politicians have blue blood pedigrees, most of our Wall Street leaders have terrific resumes, and most of our journalists have come up through traditional channels. Thank God we have such sterling individuals leading our government, our banks, and our media. Without their brilliance these institutions might be dysfunctional.

Palin is very rough around the edges, but she is a natural leader. I wouldn't support her for president, but she isn't weak enough to disqualify my voting for the ticket. As Biden will have virtually no effect on my thoughts on voting for Obama, Palin has no effect on my consideration of McCain.

Yo Gabba Gabba, you got served!

Yo Gabba Gabba Calls Out Gamma Boy

I optimistically view Obama as Clinton with values. I hope he'll tack to the middle on the economy and remain pragmatic. I think he is too smart to do anything else. Literally... he is a very smart person who listens to smart people, and I believe he recognizes the wisest choice. I think this will cause him to follow the proper path and not the expedient path.

Very good article from Lexington; it epitomizes my thoughts and concerns. Notably, the article repeats the Palin problem as the point where most conservatives jumped ship to Obama. This is me, and I have now asked you in two posts and one e-mail to explain how "Palin" didn't phase you much. You sound like Palin responding to the difficult Couric question of what she reads; just explain yourself and be done with it. With all my respect of O-man, I was still with McCain until he picked Palin; that is when I realized he was placing himself in an untenable position from which to govern. (And God forbid he die....)

Your second article complains about rash decisionmaking being bad for the economy. You contend McCain the campaigner is different than McCain the governor, but where there is smoke, there is fire. McCain's campaign has been anything but steady whereas Obama has been pretty damn cool. Counterarguments that Obama has benefitted from the lead and a free pass from MSM are unacceptable; how the hell did this guy get in that position but by always saying the right thing and taking the high road? I'm not a big Quindlen fan, but she makes valid points on this issue at

I do appreciate McCain's decency to ignore his advisers and not play the Rev. Wright race card (although the decision may also relate to some of McCain's crazy religious backers too), but I think that relationship provides an interesting prism from which to view Obama. Obama was certainly closer to Rev. Wright than the New Party or Ayres; does anyone honestly believe Obama subscribes to some of the craziness Wright preached? Or are you like me and believe that, Obama listened to that fiery rhetoric craziness, listened to his conservative Harvard buddies' views on race, and filtered the nuggets of truth from both into a brilliant, seminal speech. Is there any reason he can't do the same with respect to economics? Now, I'm not saying he is Solomon revisited; I'm just saying I now see that more in him than I see it in McCain, especially post-Palin. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe Obama takes over and creates a socialistic state that enslaves white people, but I get a different vibe...

Monday, October 27, 2008



I completely agree that Obama has shown a willingness to listen to other experts, and if he is elected, I will be cheering for him as much as anyone. I just can't vote for him on the basis that, whatever his willingness to listen to outside opinions, I think his whole mindset is one of distrust for dispersed market forces and a belief that the first and best solution to any problem involves government planning and/or interference. I believe the exact opposite, and I think if he tries to implement his vision in the current fiscal environment, we are going to have an Argentina experience. McCain is probably not much better, and I don't think he has Obama'a innate intelligence, but he at least values freedom over equity. Events are virtually guaranteed to overtake the best-laid plans of both candidates, so if you are voting on the basis of a health-care plan or a tax plan [or an environmental plan], you are wasting your time. You have to fall back on the core political philosophy of the candidate, and under that litmus, I can't back Obama.

That said, Lexington has an interesting take on conservatives supporting Obama. Worth a read. I certainly agree with sentiments about libertarians and the Republican party - part of me hopes the Republicans get completely destroyed this round. The party could use a few years in the wilderness reexamining exactly what it stands for.

Another short but excellent column worth your time is this one from Art Laffer, creator of the famous (or for liberals, infamous) Laffer Curve. He talks about some of the basic economics, which seem obvious but also seem to always get lost in the political discussions. He also has some plaudits for Bill Clinton.

The Clinton experience gives me some hope for Obama. They both share a pragmatic streak, and when it came down to making policy, Clinton took on his party and championed some relatively conservative policies. Besides the hints of pragmatism, though, I don't see any evidence in Obama's past that he would take on his own party or to suggest his economic ideas have ever traveled outside the fences of left-wing orthodoxy. So I have some hope, but not much.

Redistribution By Any Other Name Is American

What is with all the fascination with the words "redistribution of wealth?" If you use those words, you're socialist, but if you say we need to tax those more well off to pay for services of those less fortunate, you pragmatically recognize the present state of society. C'mon, let it go. Analyze the nuts and bolts of Obama's tax plan- he spells much of it out. Does it tax more than I'd like? Yes. I'd love to be taxed at 0%. But I trust him more than most others to make the right decisions. He is not going to go commie-red socialist.

Maybe I am naive, but I don't care if he did fraternize with New Party socialists. We're not HUAC. By every description I've read, Obama's key strength is an ability-- actually a need -- to listen to every angle from the left to the right before reaching a decision. Bush was supposed have this same skill, and he boasted about it in 2000. It turned out he lacked this skill in spades. His sheer, ridiculous willingness to ignore all but one or two viewpoints condemned this country to some of the worst decisionmaking in history.

New Party - hardly BS

The New Party allegations can only be completely glossed over if you are looking at Obama through Rose colored glasses. At the very least, Gammaboy's article show Obama's willingness to associate with yet another questionable group in the hopes of gaining something. Anyone who has no socialist views/ambitions would have stayed far clear of a New Party photoshoot. Obama will pander to anyone to advance his political career... until it is no longer politically advantageous. See Reverend Wright - hang out at his church when it serves a purpose, then drop him like a bad habit when he makes you look bad. Obama was "all about" ACORN, until ACORN was shown to be a completely corrupt, fraudulent organization. Then he minimizes his association. Nice.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Party BS

Legitimate media outlets have given the New Party allegations just as much play as they deserve.  Just go back and look at the Chicago County registrars record and contemporaneous news accounts and it is clear that Obama was always a Democratic Party member and candidate.

There is absolutely zero evidence that Obama was ever sought New Party support, dollars, or endorsement.  Of course, these little details haven't stopped The National Review and Fox News from giving the stories play.  Just remember, these are the same media outlets that pounced on the "Obama is a closet Muslim" stories months ago, and look at how newsworthy (and factual) those stories ended up being.

So far GammaBoy is 0-2 on examples of Obama being untrustworthy.  Out of the many policy-related reasons you could find to not vote for the guy, it's just odd that you would fixate on such a poorly founded meme. 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Clusterfuck nation

I have mentioned this blog before, but I hadn't read it in a couple weeks, so I just went back and read the last two posts (he seems to post every Monday), and I think Kunstler has the right idea about the next wave, although I hold out hope that it will not end up as apocayptically as he proposes.

My current premise is that the U.S. government will default on some portion of its debt in 2009. The amount of debt that the government is creating right now both to roll over old debt and fund new spending is mind-numblingly large, and from what I can tell, unsustainable.

Fortunately, for the federal government, our debt is denominated in dollars. Most debt defaults by foreign governments have happened because their debt was denominated in dollars, and as their currency crashed, the debt level in the local currency exploded. We will not have that problem, which means that rather than defaulting on the debt, the US government can print money. This would avoid a debt default, but would create a major inflation problem. Some commentators are talking about hyperinflation. I don't know if that is the case, but it is really a matter of degree - are we screwed or royally screwed?

The government's debt has exceeded a level that can ever be repaid in real dollars - it is either default or repayment in inflated dollars. Like the pension discussion below, inflation is much more palatable from a political perspective, and I would expect that to be the "solution".

Personally, I would prefer to see our government just declare outright default on all foreign-held debt. Apologize to the world for our profligacy, give em a little whocoodanode shrug, and wipe the slate clean. That would destroy economies around the world, infuriate all sorts of people, and probably lead to civil unrest and wars in some countries. We would go down in history as history's biggest deadbeats and would screw over millions of innocent people, but I think it would be less painful for US citizens than any of the alternatives. A ton of fictional wealth has evaporated, and the only thing governments can do now is divvy up the losses. Since the US government's primary responsibility is the welfare of it citizens and not that of those of the rest of the world, as ruthless as it would be, it is probably the best decision.

Moreover, we hold a trump card. We still have the world's strongest military by a long-shot, and while we might be ultimately responsible for creating this financial mess, there isn't much other countries can do to us without risk of retaliation.

Writing this just reminded me of a tidbit from our past (besides Machiavelli). The rant in the middle pretty much sums up the previous paragraph.

Crash Less Likely?

Perhaps only with a brand new truck. The headline number in this story is so shocking, I had to relink to CR in case you guys didn't click on the link on the right.

When you dig into the numbers, it is not as bad as the headline number due to the inclusion of cancellations of previous orders, but regardless, almost every economic indicator like this is in nosedive mode.

One effect of this crisis of which I have heard very little discussion is the question of pensions. Even before this crisis, most pensions were underfunded, meaning there were not enough assets in the pension fund to meet all the expected future payments to pensioners. Companies and the government got around this problem by increasing the expected returns of the assets - so instead of expecting to earn 6% on average in the future, some companies increased expected earnings to, say, 8% to offset the shortage of assets.

Now even the more conservative 6% looks way too optimistic. Many of the instruments that are now trading for pennies on the dollar were the same instruments that were supposed to be funding pensions.

There is almost no way that pensions are going to be able to pay out as expected. Either payouts will need to be reduced or the government will need to step in and "create" the additional money. The latter option is much more politically palatable, since people do not like seeing their wages garnisheed, but unfortunately, any money created will be more than offset by the inflation it creates. Either way, many soon-to-be-retirees who have assumed that their pensions are an iron-clad promise of a certain retirement lifestyle are about to have a very rude wake-up call.

My mom falls into this category, and I am now beginning the process of trying to gently wake her up to the possibility that the pension that she has always assumed would support her in retirement may, in fact, be much less assured than she assumed.

Unfortunately, there is an inevitable tendency towards denial, or worse, a desire to shoot the messenger. But mathematics is not open to negotiation, and right now, the numbers are brutal.

Irrelevant Distractions versus Real Concerns

I find all the discussion of political supporter behavior to be a major distraction. And irrelevant. So there some are hard-core bigots at McCain rallies, and there are clearly some delusional (and self-mutilating) lunatics supporting McCain. BFD.

I saw this same behavior when Ron Paul was still in the running. Commentators would lock on to the behavior and views of a handful of supporters, and then tar the candidate because the supporter supported him. But this is a completely false argument (there is actually a philosophical/rhetorical term for this kind of false attack, but I can't remember what it is).

It is safe to say that both Obama and McCain have their own set of delusional, nasty, and obsessive supporters. Their actions should have no bearing on anyone's decision.

But when the candidate himself has done something of significance, it ought to be news. If you remember, I mentioned that I was worried that Obama was a wolf in sheep's clothing. Documented reports on his political background just reaffirm those fears.

I still find it disappointing, if not all that shocking, that the media has not dug into Obama's history in Chicago nearly as assiduously as they raked up details from Palin's past. I'm not a fan of Palin and think she was a pretty weak VP choice, but when I compare the mauling she has taken in the media versus the near-worship that the media offers Obama, you simply cannot convince me the media is not completely in the tank for Obama.

Ashely Todd: Cheapest Halloween Costume Ever

Priceless reacts to the Ashley Todd hoax from the always reliable Free Republic comments board:

  • ACORN WORKER NO DOUBT,trying to make headlines for Obama to have a talking point.
  • Did I hear correctly that was (is) a Ron Paul supporter?
  • "The amount of suckers for this story on FR was scary."
  • Indeed, we had folks who were convinced that the rioting had started. Sad.
  • My guess is she saw how "Joe the Plumber" was doing well with his new found fame and this was her way to do the same, clearly though, she is a democrat and used thier hand book whereas Joe is your typical hard working American.
  • This B!tch may have just sank the McCain campaign. Lock her up!!!
  • Drudge is the one who should have known better- he dragged us into this with his blood red headline about the "mutiliation" of a "20 year old woman." Of course that will get our outrage going …. now it will be harder for us to run Rev. Wright ads because everyone will scream "oh look, the nasty Republicans are appealing to racism again." Thanks for nothing, Drudge.
  • She just flushed McCain's campaign down the toilet.
  • It's really simple - find out if she ever worked for when she worked for Ron Paul. Bingo, then she's THEIR nut, not ours! We have enough of our own without having to borrow from others…
  • IMO, for the sake of the good reputation of FR, we should act prudently. Our knee jerk hysteria likens us to the mob-mentality of the out-of-control liberals.
  • Exactly something an idiotic liberal coward would do. bet if you look close enough she's an obama supporter.
  • Check her voting record … see if she is a Democrat who signed onto the McCain campaign just to pull this stunt off … these people will stop at nothing to get barry elected
  • If she's a fake, bet she's also an Obama plant. Perhaps her black (she said the perp was a black man) boyfriend, and fellow Obama supporter, actually acted as her attacker -even going soo far as to cut her up (sacrifice her "looks" to "The One") with a backwards "B" (the ebonics version?) for " 'Bama " or "Barack".
  • perhaps she'll encore by yelling "KILL HIM" at rallies across America. NICELY DONE, SLOB!
  • One thing is certain: muckraking homosexual Matt Drudge has Judased conservatives and Republicans yet again. Don't just erase his site from your bookmarks — friends don't let friends link to the damaging Drudge Report.

McCain Supporter at Henderson, NV Rally: Arabs Are Dirty People

Sorry, but the video won't embed.

Entertaining (Partisan) Distraction

Friday, October 24, 2008

Limit down

A happy morning thought for KP...

Wake up, pour yourself a warm, cozy cup of joe, give your pajama bottoms a good scratching, pet the dog, and casually flip on CNBC.

See that S&P futures are limit down.

Drop cup of joe, shit your bottoms, kick the dog, and casually load the shotgun.

Wait for the zombies to come.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Staunch Republican Criticizes GOP (so it must be true.)

First, Ender's Game was great, and so were many of OSC's other series, which I could not get enough of as a high schooler. But I was shocked to hear him described as a Dem. Not throwing stones either way, but the two things I knew about him personally were he was a staunch mormon and he wrote endless articles praising Bush and the Iraq/Afghan wars. I find it impossible to believe he is a "Democrat." Still, its a nice tactic; if that article is written by K. Rove, you dismiss it out of hand, but when written by a card carrying Dem, you say, "Wow, it must be true." In short, it is pretty silly to call yourself a Democrat when almost all social and political views you seem to hold support the current Republican party; however, I suppose it does provide your criticisms with enormous credibility.

Second, does one honestly think the lack of regulatory oversight was due to the left charging liberals fighting hard to get poor folks homes? Those poor lobbyists making millions on these deals were very concerned and tried hard to stop their profits for the good of the country, but one can never overcome the massive, powerful force of the poor. Damn the poor and their powerful lobby.

More Rationale for Progressive Taxes


Source: Center for American Progress

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Evidence that the MSM is in the Tank for Walnuts

If the MSM is so biased, why didn't we hear about these blunders 24/7?

Card Knows Nothing About the Credit Crisis

This Card fellow repeats the canard that lending money to "poor people" somehow caused the financial crisis and then proceeds to blame Obama for failing to preventing it.

It's all total BS.  He should stick to writing pre-pubescent geek jerk off sci-fi. 

The truth is the Democrats pushed for their own regulatory oversight bill around the same time, but neither side was able to come to terms.  Ultimately, portions of the Dem proposal made is way into the Economic Recovery Plan and Housing bills.

Of course, it would be very inconvenient for McCard to acknowledge that the MSM has failed to follow up on any of McCain's links to Freddie and Frannie.  McCain's own chief of staff is a Freddie Mac lobbyist hired specifically to influence McCain.  Where's the so called liberal MSM now?

Untimately, McCard loses all credibility when he faults the MSM for waiting for the National Freaking Enquirer to confirm its Edwards story when it is doing the exact same thing with the National Enquirer's mulitple stories regarding Sahra Palin's own extramarital affair. 

Get that weak ass shit out of here. 

McCain Defends "Socialism"

It's Confirmed

Nate Silver at was right. An internal Intrade investigation has revealed that someone has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to prop up McCain's numbers on the Intrade political futures market. 

Distrust of the MSM

In my post about my distrust of Obama, I included the following in my laundry list of distrusts.

I distrust him because the media loves him, and they haven't dared attack on him much of anything.

I stumbled on the following editorial article from Orson Scott Card, who incidentally, wrote one of my favorite sci-fi books of all time. The link to it is here, but at the risk of violating some kind of consent rules (and therefore illicitly sharing this with all 10 readers of this blog), I am copying the whole thing below.

Please take five minutes and read this.

Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?
By Orson Scott Card

Editor's note: Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism.

An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America:

I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

The goal of this rule change was to help the poor — which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house — along with their credit rating.

They end up worse off than before.

This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)

Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?

I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."

Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.

As Thomas Sowell points out in a essay entitled "Do Facts Matter?" (] ): "Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury."

These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.

Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!

What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?

Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.

And after Freddie Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing.

If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.

But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign — because that campaign had sought his advice — you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign.

You would never tolerate such weasely nit-picking from a Republican.

If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.

If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.

There are precedents. Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that misapprehension — so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link. (Along the way, you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a connection.)

If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as hard to correct that false impression.

Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.

But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth — even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.

Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means . That's how trust is earned.

Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time — and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.

Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter — while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.

So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?

Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?

You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.

That's where you are right now.

It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.

If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.

Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.

You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.

This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.

If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe — and vote as if — President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.

If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats — including Barack Obama — and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans — then you are not journalists by any standard.

You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a news paper in our city.

Damn he would have been a good president

My man RP was on CNN. Looks like some of the networks are starting to take him seriously. Little late, jackasses.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Economic Ignorance

I've noticed a lot of economic ignorance in the political campaigns of late. Obama blames our problems on a lack of regulation. This is a popular (perhaps populist) campaign theme, but utterly misguided. McCain, on the other hand, wants to buy up mortgages, which is frankly an even worse idea than anything Obama has proposed.

To understand the real causes of the economic bust upon us, take five minutes and read this. Also, if you have not yet done so, acquaint yourself with Mish's website (wisely linked on the left by the KP Commish).

Sadly, you will not hear any of the real reasons for our woes from either campaign or from the media. Much easier to rail against greedy bankers and bad regulation. Why let the truth distract from a good talking point?

Obama and the Loony Left

One reason that an Obama election scares me is that it opens the door to power for hard-core leftists like this (I have excerpted the article below, but you may want to read it first to get a full taste). In fairness to Obama, I don't know that he subscribes to any of MacKinnon's ideas, but she certainly seems to think he does.

This article also touches our earlier argument about equality. So I want to dig into it.

On first blush, as with many leftist ideas, it is hard for any reasonable humanist to disagree with the author. I completely believe in equality of the sexes and believe that where discrimination is evident, the government has a role in promoting equality. But MacKinnon's article demonstrates the difficulty in terms like "equality" and "discrimination." Let's take a closer look.

Women are at a crossroads in our struggle for legal equality as a means to social equality. Having women in politics matters, but it is crucial to have the policies women need. At this moment we risk losing ground gained, but we also have the opportunity to advance. At stake in this presidential election are the
federal courts.

Despite inroads, women's status remains characterized by sex-based poverty and impunity for sexual abuse from childhood on. The next president will appoint scores of lower court federal judges who will have the last word in most cases. One, perhaps three, justices may be named to a Supreme Court that in recent years has decided many cases of importance to women by just one vote. Equality can be promoted in employment, education, reproductive rights and in ending violence against women -- or not.

The equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution is stalled. The fate of affirmative-action programs that have helped open doors for qualified women of all races may be vulnerable. The scope of Congress's power to legislate -- key to what a majority of Congress can accomplish for all our people -- has become uncertain.

MacKinnon begins the article with three paragraphs of unsupported puff. She blindly insists on the existence of "sex-based poverty" and "impunity for sexual abuse". This is a cheap rhetorical tactic, suggesting that if you dare to disagree with her definition of equality, you must be a supporter of sex-based poverty (whatever that is) and sexual abuse.

Existing laws essential for women's economic survival have often been regressively interpreted. Women on average remain poorer than men, largely because of unequal pay. Recently, the Supreme Court held in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc. that plaintiffs must sue as of the first unequal paycheck, when they might not even know that their pay is unequal. Barack Obama supports restoring the rule, followed for decades, that allows suit for all the wage discrimination as of the last discriminatory paycheck. John McCain opposed this in the Senate.

Her conclusion strikes me as completely wrong. Much of the Ledbetter decision
had to with the way the law was written. The law might be faulty, but the court is supposed to
enforce the law, not reinterpret it - she said as much in her opening paragraphs concerning "scope of Congress's power to legislate". Apparently she wants to overrule Congress when it suits her, but stick with Congress's mandate when it doesn't. And a note to the lawyers on KP - I am not one, so don't go cuckoo about this paragraph and my response. My real concern is the next paragraph.

In addition, for reasons largely not of their own making, most women work in job categories that are paid less than men, yet are equally productive. Courts have not interpreted existing laws to guarantee equal pay for work of equal value. Comparable worth -- paying women what their work is actually worth -- would wipe out more of the pay gap, and hence women's poverty, than any single economic step.

This is where she gets truly scary. Apparently, MacKinnon would have a court decree what type of work merits what type of pay. If I read her correctly, she is not merely suggesting that identical jobs merit identical pay, but that jobs considered to be of equivalent productivity merit equal pay. Merely stating that "identical jobs merit identical pay" might deserve some consideration, but it could only apply to those few jobs that are so structured and limited in scope that duties and quality of work are precisely fixed. MacKinnon wants to go further and create an arbitrary productivity metric. There is no such thing nor is any such thing objectively possible. It would become a purely subjective exercise. The free market, private enterprise, and individual liberty would be replaced by the whims of a judge.

Cases under Title IX of the education amendments of 1972 have guaranteed equal access to education for women and girls. But full realization of these rights remains before the courts, as does recognizing combined discrimination (such as race and sex together), and the myriad rights lesbian women need. Gender bias in the legal system restricts women's access to justice, making expanding legal aid and victim services as crucial an issue for women as any that exists. Gender
justice calls for far more than the conventional equality approach that treats
likes alike.

This paragraph highlights another behavior I find typical of the far left - the use of euphemistic terms that sounds inarguably positive but has little intrinsic value besides labeling. What the hell is "gender justice"? MacKinnon doesn't even begin to define it, along with a "myriad" of other terms she fails to define. For the purposes of a fanatic like MacKinnon, the exact meaning is unnecessary. You are either for gender justice or against gender justice. You're not against justice are you?

Should a federal Equal Rights Amendment be enacted, and the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDW) be ratified, as the Democratic platform calls for, these egalitarian laws -- potentially addressing women's issues ranging across pay, divorce, rape, sex trafficking, stereotyping and health care -- would be interpreted in court.

If Congress and the states grant women explicit constitutional equality and an end to discrimination -- far more likely under Mr. Obama's leadership than Mr. McCain's -- federal judges will hold in their hands women's hopes for equality for generations to come.

Two thoughts here. One, why do women need "explicit constitutional equality"? They are protected just like any other American already. Existing discrimination strikes me as a failure to enforce existing laws rather than a constitutional issue. Two, like many other ideas on the left, MacKinnon's every idea invites the government deeper and deeper into your personal life and decision-making. I always find it strange that the left goes berserk over the idea of the government monitoring your phone calls or intruding on your sexual freedom, but the left is perfectly happy with the government stepping into monitor your thoughts and speech - God forbid you unfairly "stereotype" somebody.

I'm not going to discuss MacKinnon's abortion arguments. Abortion is its own moral morass, and one largely divorced from the more general feminist arguments she puts forward above. So let's hear her conclusion.

Neither presidential candidate has taken a position on all of these issues. But the decision, in Mr. Obama's words, on "what kind of America our daughters will grow up in" could not be more urgent. At stake is nothing less than whether women will be, finally, equal.

Actually, what is at stake here is whether we will allow our basic freedoms to be stripped from us by zealots like MacKinnon. Camus said, "The welfare of the people has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience." MacKinnon is just another tyrant-in-waiting, eager to destroy the freedoms of others in order to shape the world as she would see fit. Let's hope that the America our daughters (and sons) grow up in is far removed from the visions of MacKinnon and her ilk.