Monday, June 30, 2008

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Let’s see if I have the details right: Retired Gen. Wesley Clark is a Democrat who has been a candidate for his party’s nomination for president, and who presumably wants his party’s presumptive nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, to win in November. Does that sound about right?

If so, consider the following report of Clark’s television appearance last Sunday:

"In the matters of national security policy making, it's a matter of understanding risk," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "It's a matter of gauging your opponents and it's a matter of being held accountable. John McCain's never done any of that in his official positions. I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war.

"He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee and he has traveled all over the world, but he hasn't held executive responsibility," Clark said. "That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded—that wasn't a wartime squadron."

Moderator Bob Schieffer, who raised the issue by citing similar remarks Clark has made previously, noted that Obama hadn't had those experiences nor had he ridden in a fighter plane and been shot down. "Well, I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president," Clark replied.

Note to Gen. Clark: Wes, ol’ boy, when you are trying to score points for your candidate by attacking the qualifications of his opponent, it really isn’t smart to say that a man that is widely regarded as a war hero, who was shot down and held captive by the enemy for five years is not qualified to be Commander-in-Chief because he only commanded a non-conflict-involved squadron, and served on the Armed Services Committee in the U.S. Senate. That is bad form, Wes. Especially when your candidate has never even been in the military, let alone fought in a war, and has barely gotten his feet wet in the Senate.

The Obama campaign and his supporters like Wesley Clark are the best friends John McCain has.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

To Drill, or Not to Drill

You have likely heard the phrase “we can’t drill our way out of high oil prices” more than any human being deserves. No one seriously suggests that drilling for domestic oil reserves is a short-term solution to high gasoline prices, but the fact remains that more crude oil on the market is the solution to high gasoline prices.

Ultimately, we will solve the parallel problems of high oil prices, our dependence on foreign oil, and environmental concerns by developing non-petroleum-based “clean” energy and more efficient vehicles, but like domestic drilling, clean energy sources and more efficient vehicles aren’t quick fixes; they will take years to implement at a level that will make a difference.

We need to move ahead with both initiatives: Focus resources on clean energy sources and start drilling now. Even though it will take some time before new drilling begins to yield substantial results, we should start drilling as quickly as possible to increase the amount of domestic oil. The oil industry says is possible to reap benefits from some reserves in a year or two, while the most ardent opponents claim it will take 10 years. Either way, the news that the United States is starting a determined effort to harvest its own oil reserves will, if nothing else, put OPEC and other oil producing countries on notice, and that will yield positive results, perhaps even a reduction in the price of oil. At worst we will add to the oil supply more quickly than if we continue to sit on our thumbs, as the Democrat-controlled Congress and the environmental lobby want us to do, and like we have done because of them for the last two decades.

Until we can make the transition to other types of energy, we need to produce as much of our own oil as possible as soon a possible. More crude oil is the critical element in solving the problem of high gasoline prices.

Increasing the domestic supply by five or ten percent a few years from now cannot help but improve the demand-supply situation, which is what is driving up prices.

Americans have grown increasingly dependent upon government to solve their problems for them, and one of the questions that Americans are asking the two presumptive nominees for President is: What are you going to do about the price of gasoline? Democrat Barack Obama opposes drilling for domestic oil, and proposes measures centered on the environment. Republican John McCain also is sensitive to environmental concerns, but understands that we must start drilling our own oil, even though he is opposed to drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), although he may yield to public demands on that issue.

According to a recent survey, just less than 60 percent of the American people agree that we should be drilling to recover our oil reserves, and this figure represents not only a majority of all those polled, but also a majority of each of four sub-groups: Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives. Now, if Congress will only listen to the will of the people and lift the ban so that oil companies can drill in the Gulf, off the coasts and in ANWR, we will have access to substantial amounts of oil.

By far the most promising source of domestic oil, however, can be found in shale deposits in the Rocky Mountains. But here, too, as with other domestic reserves, Congress has prohibited drilling. One large deposit in the Green River Basin that stretches through Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming is estimated to hold 800 billion barrels of oil, as much as the U.S. imports in a century.

The current prohibitions on domestic drilling are based upon environmental concerns, however, we cannot let unfounded fears of environmental doom prevent us from acting in our own best interest. Technology and drilling techniques have improved greatly over the years, and there hasn’t been an oil-related accident for a long time, even when hurricanes Katrina and Rita pounded drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico three years ago. Furthermore, concerns over damage to or destruction of the pristine nature of ANWR are overblown. ANWR is a place where nobody goes and that nobody sees, which is not to suggest that it should not be protected. But when you consider that it is an area about the size of South Carolina—a little more than 19 million acres—and the size of the drilling site is only about 2,000 acres, even if there was environmental damage it would be contained in a tiny fraction of the total of ANWR. A pretty good analogy is that the size of the drilling site compared to the entire vastness of ANWR is like a postage stamp in the middle of a football field, about .0001 percent of all of ANWR. From this small footprint we could produce around 10 billion barrels of oil.

Opening ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling for domestic reserves will put much more oil on the world market, helping to meet the growing demand. Opponents of drilling, however, say that before oil companies drill in other areas where known reserves exist that they should be developing more of the 42 million acres of federal lands and the 38 million acres offshore that are already under lease. But such an argument assumes that there is oil in the leased acreage, and that is tremendously uncertain. The truth is that many of those acres under lease have no oil on them, and the only way oil companies know there is oil is to drill and hope they find some. They understandably want to put their resources where there is the greatest chance of finding oil, and everyone who uses petroleum products ought to share that desire.

Congress ought to have the good sense to get out of the way and let the experts, the oil companies, decide where the best chances of finding oil lie, and let them go after it. Political considerations will no doubt carry more weight than common sense, however.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Great Seal of Obama

Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign recently revealed an Obama seal that bore a striking resemblance to the Great Seal of the United States, one of the revered symbols of our country. A substantial negative reaction ensued.

Two possibilities come to mind to explain how this occurred: First, campaign staff, perhaps including Obama, thought it would be creative to use this graphic symbol to suggest Obama’s eventual election to the highest office in the land. Perhaps they thought it might function as a subliminal message to voters. Second, Obama and/or his campaign had no clue that many Americans would be offended at this misuse of a cherished national symbol, and boldly displayed it.

My guess: This is yet another sign that Obama is out in left field when it comes to understanding the majority of the American people. It reflects his attitude, much like the comment that people in Pennsylvania and the Midwest retreat to their guns and religion when they are unhappy: "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Barack Obama seems to be caught off guard and surprised fairly often when things that obviously must seem right and normal to him are so strongly rejected by so many. The first of these was the angry reaction to the idiotic ranting of Jeremiah Wright, his pastor of more than 20 years, whose anti-America and racist remarks that have no place coming from a church pulpit became public. Perhaps Rev. Wright forgot that churches enjoy tax-exempt status, and are thus supposed to be non-political.

Some term Obama “elitist” or “arrogant.” Perhaps he is one or both of those. Clearly, the man is grossly out of touch with the people of the nation he hopes to lead. The problem with Barack Obama is that he doesn’t think like “one of us.”

The United States cannot afford to elect Barack Obama, and then wait while he learns all of the things through on-the-job-training that he ought to already know. That includes not only how the majority of Americans think about things and their cultural preferences, but also basic economic theory, some common sense on our military presence in Iraq, healthcare, and a long list of other critical issues.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Something to Get Your Weekend Started Off Right

Maybe you've seen the AIG commercials with the laughing babies? Or not? They are pretty funny.

Here's one that not in the commercials.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Who Pays for Your Government?

Reposted from a few days ago, with slight changes.

Depending upon whom you ask, we either pay too much, or too little to support a government that is either too large or not large enough.

Conservatives want a smaller government requiring less tax revenue to support it, using the private sector to satisfy most of the needs of society, and a government that does only what people cannot do for themselves, such as providing for the national defense.

Liberals generally prefer to solve problems through government programs, rather than relying on the American people to do what is needed through private sector initiatives. This latter approach requires a larger federal bureaucracy that demands higher taxes to support it.

Over the 221 years since the U.S. Constitution was adopted our government has grown into a gargantuan tangle of agencies and departments that the Founders would not recognize, and in fact could never even have imagined. This monstrous government costs a staggering $2.63 trillion ($2,630,000,000,000) for the upcoming 2009 fiscal year. The late Senator Everett Dirksen is noted for commenting, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.” The federal budget is by his estimation much more than “real money,” given that we are talking about trillions, which are a thousand times more than billions. A trillion is such a large number that people have difficulty comprehending just how much money that is.

Realizing that our government costs $2.63 trillion might give some of us reason to doubt that we are getting our money’s worth, and of course the real problem is that somehow we have to pay for all of that government. Today, there are more than 304 million American citizens. When you do the math, each American’s share of the 2009 federal budget is in the neighborhood of $8,600.

Whether you believe that the government is too large and is too involved in our daily lives, or whether you think we need more federal programs that do even more for the people, $2.63 trillion dollars—or $8,600 per person—seems like a terrible burden for American to bear.

The United States tax system is set up so that people at the lower end of the earnings scale pay less than those who earn more, and quite a few pay no taxes at all. Americans are taxed on their adjusted gross income (AGI) according to a system of six tax brackets ranging from 10 percent to 35 percent. Actual tax computations defy an easy explanation, but in simple terms a person in the lowest bracket pays about 10 percent of his of her AGI to the government, and a person in the highest bracket pays about 35 percent of his or her AGI.

Under this system, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (69 million people) paid just 3.1 percent of the total tax bill in 2005. Those people had an AGI of $30,881 a year or less, and were in either the 10 percent or the 15 percent tax bracket. On average, those people paid $1,167 in taxes, well below their share. For every person that is excused from paying all or part of their share of the tax burden by virtue of their income level, someone else has to pay more than their share.

In 2005, the top one percent of taxpayers, those making $364,657 or more, paid 9.4 percent of all taxes. The top one percent consists of just 1,380,000 people, and this relatively small group paid three times more taxes than the 69 million people comprising the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers. This group is in the 35 percent tax bracket, paying more than one-third of their AGI to support the government.

If you had AGI of $103,912 or more, you are in the top 10 percent of wage earners, and that group pays 70 percent of all federal income taxes. There are 13,800,000 people in the top 10 percent of taxpayers.

According to the Tax Foundation, “despite the charges of critics that the tax cuts enacted in 2001, 2003 and 2004 favored the ‘rich,’ these cuts actually reduced the tax burden of low- and middle-income taxpayers and shifted the tax burden onto wealthier taxpayers.” Tax Foundation economists estimate that “for tax year 2004, a record 42.5 million Americans who filed a tax return (approximately one-third of the returns filed) had no tax liability after they took advantage of their credits and deductions.”

In America today we have a class of people who pay no income taxes at all that is increasing in size, and a class of people who are bearing the lion’s share of the tax burden that is shrinking. What is wrong with this picture?

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Government Gone Over the Edge

Just in case there is anyone in the world that does not know how foolish the U.S. Congress can be, watch this.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Apology To The Arab World

Mike S. Adams
June 14, 2004

Author’s Note: the following editorial contains mildly offensive language. Given the subject matter, the author is sorry that it does not contain highly offensive language.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. The pictures of those “abused” prisoners have been plastered all over the front pages of papers around the country. Some of my conservative friends have interpreted the excessive coverage as proof that papers like the New York Times are actually rooting against America in its current war on terror. Even those who aren’t willing to go that far say that such coverage is helping the enemy to recruit a new generation of terrorists to inflict harm upon our troops.

Despite these views, I have decided to make a formal public apology to the entire Arab world in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib. It is my hope that the following apology will help bring some clarity to the situation and, who knows, maybe even lasting world peace:

Dear Arabs,

I am truly sorry that Americans decided to take up arms and sacrifice their own youth in the defense of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, and the first Gulf War. After we clear up this mess in Iraq, we will refrain from any such activity in the future.

I am truly sorry that I did not hear any of you call for an apology from Muslim extremists after 911. After all, the hijackers were all Arabs.

I am truly sorry that Arabs have to live in squalor under savage dictatorships throughout the Middle East. I am also sorry that the “leaders” of these nations drive their citizens into poverty by keeping all of the wealth in the hands of a select few.

I am also sorry that these governments intentionally breed hate for the U.S. in their religious schools while American schools do the exact opposite.

I am sorry that Yasir Arafat has been kicked out of every Arab country and has attached his name to the Palestinian “cause.” I am also sorry that no other Arab country will offer nearly as much support to Arafat as we offer to them.

I am sorry that the U.S. has continued to serve as the biggest financial supporter of poverty stricken Arab nations while wealthy Arab leaders blame the U.S. for all of their problems.

I am sorry that left-wing media elites would Rather (pun intended) not talk about any of this, thereby perpetuating your anger towards us. It’s probably really bad for your blood pressure. I am also sorry that most of you lack the medical resources to measure your blood pressure. And, of course, I’m sorry that few of you have indoor plumbing. That’s bad for your health, too.

I am sorry that the U.N. cheated so many poor people in Iraq out of their “food for oil” money so they could get rich while the tortured, raped, and poverty-stricken citizens of Iraq suffered under Saddam Hussein.

I am sorry that some Arab governments pay the families of homicide bombers after their children are blown to pieces in pursuit of Arafat’s “cause.”

I am sorry that these homicide bombers have as little regard for babies as the local office of Planned Parenthood.

I am sorry that so many people are unable to differentiate between the gang rape rooms and mass graves of Saddam Hussein on the one hand, and the conditions of Abu Ghraib on the other.

I am sorry that our prison guards do not show the same restraint that Arabs show when their brothers in arms are killed. By the way, you shouldn’t be sorry about that.

I am sorry that foreign trained terrorists are trying to seize control of Iraq and return it to a terrorist state. I am sorry we have not yet dropped at least 100 Daisy cutters on Fallujah in order to stop that effort.

I am also sorry that cleaning up the mess in Iraq is taking so long. It only took Saddam Hussein about 30 years to accomplish all he did in the realm of human rights. Come to think of it, that’s about ten years less than the duration of our War on Poverty in the U.S. Come to think of it, I’m sorry we haven’t sent all of our gang bangers from South Central Los Angeles to Fallujah.

I am sorry that every time the terrorists hide, it just happens to be inside a “Holy Site.”

I am sorry that Muslim extremists have not yet apologized for the U.S.S. Cole, the embassy bombings, and for flying a plane into the World Trade Center, which collapsed in part on Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which is one of our Holy Sites.

I am sorry that we have not taken a portion of the diet of Michael Moore and shipped it to one of your starving villages in the Middle East. You need it Moore (pun intended) than he does.

I am sorry that your only supporters are professors, journalists, and other assorted Leftists who also support homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, partial birth abortion, and everything that you abhor in this world. I am sorry that everyone else in America is against you.

Finally, I am sorry that I am going to have to end this apology by asking you to kiss the right side of my conservative butt. I’m probably just having a bad day.

For that I am truly sorry.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Supreme Court Sides with Enemy Combatants

In what may be the worst decision in recent memory, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay may challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. The court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the constitutional rights of prisoners.

At least one Republican vows to try to overturn it. Lindsay Graham calls the ruling, "irresponsible and outrageous."

Graham was too easy on the Court; the decision is outright stupid.

Can you imagine German, Italian or Japanese prisoners of war being given this unprecedented access to the civilian justice system? In those days, if you were fortunate enough to be captured instead of killed, you waited until the end of the conflict to learn your fate. Today, five Justices seem to think it is cruel and unusual punishment to treat the enemy like the enemy.

Enemies of the United States who are not citizens of the United States have no Constitutional rights, and combatants in the terror war are not eligible for protection under the Geneva Conventions.

Tim Russert Dead at 58

NBC's Tim Russert died of an apparent heart attack Friday afternoon at the network's Washington newsroom. That’s a shame. Russert, a Democrat and a moderate liberal, was about as fair and objective a reporter as any these days, and more importantly, was a nice and decent guy with a firm set of values.

Everyone Will Agree with This

Love her or hate her, Ann Coulter certainly does offer “interesting” opinions. Here’s a piece of her latest column guaranteed to raise an eyebrow:

I generally don't write columns about the manifestly obvious, but, yes, the man responsible for keeping Americans safe from another terrorist attack on American soil for nearly seven years now will go down in history as one of America's greatest presidents.

Produce one person who believed, on Sept. 12, 2001, that there would not be another attack for seven years, and I'll consider downgrading Bush from "Great" to "Really Good."

Monday, June 09, 2008

Been Warm Lately

Here it is the beginning of June, not even summer yet, and in Nature’s Air Conditioned City, temperatures have ranged from the mid-80s to over 90, depending upon where in the area you are. A nearby town was said to have hit 102 today. Frankly, I doubt that, but I don’t doubt that some thermometer somewhere may have read 102.

In Nature’s Air Conditioned City temperatures in the upper 80s and above are unusual, so unusual that in the 40s the Chamber of Commerce began offering free lemonade the day after the temperature reached 90 degrees. There were pretty girls clad in shorts serving the tasty ade, and it was quite an event, given its rarity. Particularly when the official temperature upon which the decision to serve lemonade is determined at the airport, which is on a mountain top away from the warmer asphalt and concrete of the downtown area, and usually a few degrees cooler there.

Over the last several years, it has become more frequent, no doubt due to manmade global warming.

Today, the car thermometer read 93 at work, which is due in part to the fact that my car was sitting in the sun. When I got home, which is at a higher elevation, the car read only 91, still in the sun. The porch thermometer read a cooler 88. Officially at the airport today, it was 88, a record for this day set in 1966.

Temperatures in this range are unusual at any time of the year for our little burg, but nearly unheard of in June, especially for this many days in a row. If we get that high at all, it is in late July and August.

Well, I’m not complaining, especially remembering the chilly days of winter, and remembering my buddy Buffalo’s stories of Friendly, Frozen Manitoba.

It was the first evening we have been out on the deck, one of my favorite places at home. I had to stain the deck, or about half of it, before we could use it. It is very pleasant, even if a little warm.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Thinking About endorsements

How should we evaluate the endorsements a candidate receives? Both Barack Obama and John McCain have been criticized for being endorsed by certain controversial people. In looking to see who has endorsed whom, I found that Barack Obama has been endorsed by or has the support of more controversial people than has John McCain, and I say that with the caveat that how one determines who is controversial and who isn’t is to some degree subjective.

That said, here are those whom I consider controversial that have endorsed or given their support to Obama: British MP and Saddam lover George Galloway, rapper 50 Cent, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, filmmaker Michael Moore, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and convicted terrorist and professor William Ayers.

Here are those whom I consider controversial that have endorsed or given their support to McCain: radical ministers John Hagee and Ron Parsley, Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman, President George Bush, and former UN Ambassador John Bolton. I did a Google search honestly looking for as many controversial people as Google could find for McCain, and these are all I found. But how many are on each list really isn’t all that important for the purpose of this column.

It is true that a candidate cannot prevent some less-than-ideal person from endorsing him or her, but it doesn’t mean that the endorsee agrees with the views of the endorser. So, if Barack Obama gets the endorsement of, for example, Louis Farrakhan, that doesn’t mean that Obama agrees with Farrakhan. And, if John Hagee endorses John McCain, it doesn’t mean that McCain agrees with the views espoused by Hagee.

Those endorsements do tell us something, however, and they should not be ignored just because they do not constitute a direct link between the parties. They tell us that there is something about the candidate that appealed to the endorser, and perhaps that is more important. When you examine the people who have endorsed the candidates, you might ask, “why does John Hagee, a Christian minister with weird ideas about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, think McCain is the right person to be President of the United States?” And, “why does Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a racist and anti-Semite, think Obama is the right person to be President of the United States?”

Hagee has been condemned for such comments as this one: “I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.” That comment, and others by Hagee are clearly outside the mainstream of thought in America.

Farrakhan has created a litany of anti-Jewish and racist comments that are legend; he has called whites “blue eyed devils” and Jews “bloodsuckers” that controlled the slave trade. Like Hagee, Farrakhan is outside the mainstream of American thought.

I find many of these people’s ideas undesirable, on both sides. I don’t agree with the approach to Christianity of either Hagee or Parsley, but Bush and Bolton are okay with me. Hagee and Parsley have some strange ideas, but they aren’t racists, or America-haters, or former terrorists, or communists. On Obama’s side, I disagree strongly with the views of Galloway (Socialist/Communist and Saddam sympathizer), Ortega (Socialist), 50 Cent (rap is mostly poison, and isn’t very musical, to boot), Farrakhan (racist/anti-Semite), Ayers (former terrorist and radical Lefty), and Moore (radical Lefty and dishonest in his work). Even though it is possible that Obama does not agree with anything that any of them believe or say, the fact that these people see something beneficial in Obama is troubling. I don’t see the same sort of thing in the McCain endorsers.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

“Bushisms” and Other Such Peculiarities

President George W. Bush has been roundly criticized and ridiculed for his verbal and oratorical boo-boos. And truth be told, Mr. Bush makes a good many of them. Some of his remarks are really not so much wrong as they are merely unusual, outside the commonly accepted norm. A good example of this is his coining of the word “misremembered,” a term that is certainly unusual, but which makes perfect sense. An example of his bad speech habits is his mispronunciation of the word “nuclear,” coming out “nucular.”

These errors from Mr. Bush are regularly cited and recited, to excess, as if there is no other source of political humor, and are used as evidence of an IQ on the short side of 100. “How can a man this dumb be the President of the United States,” goes a common rhetorical question? After all, no other candidate or elected office-holder has ever been so “out of it” since Dan “potatoe” Quayle. Right?

Well, no, not exactly.

Evidence abounds that another well-known politician has his own problems with details, sometimes important details. The difference is that where every gaff of George Bush, the real and the merely desired ones, gets exposure on late night TV, on YouTube, in blogs that have nothing more substantive to offer, in many other popular venues seeking to spawn a few giggles, and others clearly intended to ridicule a president disliked by his political enemies, others escape the close scrutiny Mr. Bush garners.

Herewith a litany of gaffs from another prominent political figure:

Just in the last few days, in Sunrise, Florida, he said, “How's it going, Sunshine?”

He did the same thing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, calling it “Sioux City.”

In Oregon, he said of his long campaign, “I’ve been in fifty-seven states, I think, one left to go.”

If you haven’t yet figured out from whom these gaffs have emanated—would it be fair to label him an “idiot” as George Bush was for such things?—see if this helps:

He claimed “I'm not very well known in [Kentucky ] ... Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it's not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle.” But the mystery pol’s home state of Illinois is more than “near” Kentucky; it borders the state.

Yep, you guessed it: this prolific gaffer is none other that media darling Barack Obama.

In New Mexico, Obama commented: “On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes—and I see many of them in the audience here today—our sense of patriotism is particularly strong.” Fallen heroes in the audience? Have they, like Jesus, been resurrected?

No doubt Obama apologists and blind followers are more than willing to write these off and explain them away as mere slips of the tongue, or “sleep-deprived” booboos on details upon which the fate of the free world does not hinge. However, some of these gaffes occurred on more serious matters, things upon which important matters do hinge

Moving to the Middle East, Obama told a Missouri audience that our military’s Arabic translators in Iraq are needed in Afghanistan: “We only have a certain number of them and if they are all in Iraq, then it’s harder for us to use them in Afghanistan,” he said. Note to Obama: Afghans don’t speak Arabic, as anyone who thinks he’s presidential material ought to know.

The would-be president told the Orlando Sentinel recently that he would meet with Cesar Chavez to discuss “the fermentation of anti-American sentiment in Latin America, his support of FARC in Colombia and other issues he would want to talk about.” But prior to that in Miami, Obama suggested that any country supporting the Marxist guerillas of FARC should suffer “regional isolation.” Obama advisers spun themselves dizzy trying to figure out to somehow reconcile these opposing statements. Obama apparently possesses talents allowing him to meet with Chavez and isolate him at the same time.

And Obama has his own set of, shall we say, “misremembered events”: In Selma, Alabama, he claimed that the spirit of hope derived from the civil rights protests in Selma in 1965 inspired his birth. His parents must have had extra-sensory powers; Obama was born in 1961. He also falsely claimed that the Kennedys funded his Kenyan father’s trip to America in 1959.

But Barack Obama is no George Bush, and because he isn’t George Bush, he escapes the close and necessary scrutiny the American media is obligated to provide for all serious candidates for our nation’s highest office. If George Bush’s gaffes signal an intelligence level unsuitable for the presidency, do the gaffes of Barack Obama not signal the same thing?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

When Strategy Backfires

Only an intentional, purposeful, well planned effort could have produced something more bizarre than the astonishing screw-up that is the Democratic Party’s season of primary elections and caucuses. Such a magnificent calamity is difficult to imagine, let alone to create.

Is it difficult to believe that in dreaming up a plan that became such a horrific nightmare that no one on the Democratic National Committee actually asked the most important question, a question that should always be asked before someone does something: What might go wrong with this idea?

Had someone asked that question, perhaps the answer—that one or more states wouldn’t follow the rules and would move their primary forward—might have occurred to somebody? And the next question might also have occurred to someone: if that happens, what if some of the candidates campaign in those states, and others don’t?

Apparently, Democrats make Party rules the same way they make law: they don’t think very far down the road after they get a brainstorm. Whatever the cause, the fiasco that occurred Saturday as the DNC tried to make sense out of the senseless mess that it made of presidential primaries must have been truly painful. Reports from the scene reveal a meeting that started out badly, and got uglier as time passed. One report noted: “But then, about nine hours into the seemingly interminable gathering, the crowd turned nasty and the appearance of civility, along with any hopes for party unity, never quite returned.”

How could it have been otherwise?

Can you fault Hillary Clinton for campaigning in Florida and Michigan, even though those states didn’t follow the DNC’s rules? Can you fault Barack Obama for not campaigning, knowing that Florida and Michigan didn’t follow the rules? Having held primaries in Florida and Michigan where Democrats dutifully expressed their preference, how could the DNC simply ignore those votes? They couldn’t, of course. But how on Earth could there be some fair and equitable resolution to this mess? The answer to that is, there can’t be. And that is precisely what occurred Saturday: an unsatisfactory result was reached, because it could not be otherwise. Barack Obama is the beneficiary of all of this chaos, and Clinton supporters are outraged. Some of them have even threatened to vote for John McCain, as expressed by Pennsylvanian Betty Jean King, who told reporters: "If it's not Hillary, I'm voting for McCain. Seventeen million people voted for Hillary and I'm telling you many of them are going to defect."

So much for party unity.

With this enormous chasm in the Democrat Party, and the inherent weaknesses of its leading man, one wonders how the Democrats can possibly prevail in November.