Sunday, August 31, 2008

Big Barry's First Amendment Follies

People who dislike George Bush routinely refer to him and the Republicans as "fascist." A fascist, however, generally finds a way to shut his critics up. Thus, if Bush truly were a fascist, Michael Moore would have mysteriously choked on a chicken wing years ago, Cindy Sheehan would have been denied re-entry into the country after playing huggybear with Chavez, and Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Kucinich would have been named ambassadors to remote tiny island nations (or, in Denny's case, maybe Uranus), where their bleating would go unheard. Instead, Bush allows these people to rail against him -- openly, publicly, viciously -- and often does not dignify their nonsense with a response.

Meanwhile, many of the Bush-is-a-fascist! crowd support Senator Barack Obama for president. Either they have not noticed -- or do not care -- that Senator Obama appears to have rather low regard for the First Amendment:

Pressuring television stations to refrain from airing ads unfavorable to his political prospects? Check.

Invoking prosecutorial power to shut down public criticism of him? Check.

Suddenly, and inexplicably, closing off access to public information that might prove harmful to him? Check.

Shouting down his opposition, not by reasoned debate but by getting his people ot scream louder than the other side? Check.

Refusing to debate his opposition? Check. Check. And check again.

Falsely painting his opposition as uninformed smear merchants, or perhaps, racist? Check. And check.

Are you getting the point? We're not allowed to ask questions about Obama's past, about his associations with known bad guys, about anything on which Saint Barry himself hasn't put his seal of approval. More here, here, and here.

Pay attention: this is important. It is not President Bush, nor the Republicans, who are trying to quash speech. It is Obama, and the Democrats, who would curb dissenting (read: conservative) political speech, curtail our freedoms, have us march in ideological lockstep, and punish those who refuse to go along.

BENEDICK ADDS: This is an appropriate place to remind everyone that the Democrats are preparing to re-institute the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" -- which is simply a thinly-veiled effort to roll back the wild success of conservative talk radio. Liberals tried to compete, and failed. Plan B is to simply shut down the opposition. Who are the fascists, exactly?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It Begins

John McCain and Sarah Palin kick off their campaign tour with a stop this afternoon in Washington, PA -- about 8 miles down the road from where I work. But for the prescheduled celebration of my wonderful sister's birthday, I'd be there in a heartbeat. (Family trumps political geekhood.)

Fortunately, the intrepid Puck and Mr. Goodfellow will be checking it out -- progeny in tow -- and I trust Puck will report back with details later this weekend. Plus, Mr. G is quite the photographer, so I anticipate we'll be able to post some snapshots of the festivities.

I should point out -- anecdotally -- that several acquaintances of mine who are not political junkies (and who have been talking about likely voting for Obama) are blown away by Palin and (they claim) now seriously motivated to vote for McCain-Palin.

PUCK REPORTS IN, C. 10:43 P.M.: That was fun. First time in my life I've ever been to a political rally, and it was ... interesting. Lots of older people (including many, many veterans, bless them), but a surprising number of younger people, even teens, as well. Seems not all the young people have been taken in by the Obama sham, thank goodness. Lots of country music, which probably had as much to do with the venue (Washington, PA is so close to West Virginia, if you listen closely you can hear the banjos dueling) as it did the political party, but it was good country, and not unenjoyable.

I saw a small group of protestors early on, and they were young, almost exclusively female (there was maybe one guy in the bunch), generally unkempt (but it was a practiced type of unkempt -- they wanted you to know they'd really worked at it, I think), and all were loudly boasting their pro-choice bona fides and openly mocking the group of very patriotic people they'd passed on the way in. "God, that stuff makes me sick," one girl with a pink shirt bearing the title "RADICAL FEMINIST!" complained.

I wanted to tell her to get a life, but I was too busy watching my two year old daughter (carrying her first American flag) try to catch a butterfly.

I'd say I got the better end of that deal.

Lynn Swann was there and was his typical classy, smooth, graceful self. What a guy. Tom Ridge was there (I shook his hand on the way out!). Not a fabulous talker. But a good, solid man. The Straight Talk Express entered the stadium to the theme music from "The Natural," which always gets me. I was weepy. McCain looked good; Palin looked fabulous. She gave pretty much the same speech as she did yesterday, and I liked it even more this time. I like what she said about politicians needing to have "a servant's heart." I think that's exactly right.

One thing you could not miss was the excitement over the VP pick. I can't tell you how many times I heard someone say that he or she'd been lukewarm on the race until yesterday's announcement. People were very excited to see McCain, but they went absolutely nuts when they saw and heard Sarah Palin. She's got a lot to live up to. And she knows it. And she's handling it beautifully.

I'm also proud to report that my two-year old Piglet was an absolute angel. And that's saying something, as we got there at 1:15, waited in line for an hour and a half, and then sat in the stands for two and a half hours before the Straight Talk Express made its appearance. Folks, that is a looooong time for a two-year old who has missed her nap. It is an even longer time for a mommy of a two year old who has missed her nap. It is longer still when said mommy is 4 1/2 months pregnant with Puckling the Second. Throw in the hottest day we've had in two months and you have the makings of a potentially miserable situation. But miraculously, it wasn't. Only downside: I could really go for a cold beer right now. Alas.

Mr. G took over 100 photos, the best of which we'll post tomorrow. Until then, this is Puck, your intrepid campaign reporter, signing off.

The Palin Pick


I couldn't be more pleased about Senator McCain's choice of running mate. For the first time since McCain clinched the nomination, I'm actually looking forward to voting for him.

Because, in fact, while I've spent a lot of time talking about Senator Obama's flaws, many ideas McCain has supported are, to my mind, terribly misguided: amnesty for illegal immigrants, for one; campaign finance, for another. Indeed, one of the great ironies of this election season is that, while Barack Obama claims he's the guy who can reach across the aisle and unite the parties (and says McCain would be another four years of Bush), McCain is the one with the long record of abandoning his party to make nice with the other side, while Obama has the most liberal voting record in the Senate and votes with his party some 95% of the time.

But McCain's pick of Sarah Palin was brilliant. Not just politically, although it was that -- she's a woman (hey there, Hillary supporters!), she's a conservative (nice to see you again, party base!), she's the furthest thing from a D.C. political animal one could imagine (I'm looking at you, Joe Biden), and she won't scare off the evangelicals or the middle class folks who just want to see a normal person who understands normal people problems on the ticket for once (sorry Mitt -- you've got great hair, and you'll make a great Treasury Secretary, but Joe Sixpack you ain't).

As governor of Alaska, she's well-versed in the issue of drilling (indeed, she might be able to educate McCain about what ANWR is really like); she's commander in chief of her state's National Guard -- and, living next door to Russia, is not inclined to underestimate the threat that country poses; she said, "Thanks, but no thanks" to the bridge to nowhere, perhaps the most infamous pork-barrel project in history (by the way, Obama voted for it); and in less than a decade, she has triumphed over the highly corrupt, good-old-boy network in Alaska, taking on not one but two of the most popular politicians in her state's history -- and trouncing them both.

And she did it all while marrying her high school sweetheart, raising a family of five kids, and helping her husband on his commercial fishing boat on weekends. Are you impressed yet?

On top of all that: she's a babe. I know this because Mr. Goodfellow chortled his way through dinner last night, exchanging text messages with Benedick about "the VPILF." (By the way, I coined that acronym. You're welcome.)

A great pick, and one that has inspired the McCain campaign, disgruntled conservatives, and maybe even a few million undecided women.

As for me, for the first time this election season, I'm all in. To borrow a phrase from one of America's darkest hours: Let's roll.

Barack Obama's Odyssey

As told by Iowahawk. Better than either one of Barry's autobiographies!

Do enjoy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Caption Contest


I'll go first.

McCain: I am a genius.

Or . . .

McCain: Hot wife; hot running mate . . . I knew karma would take care of me eventually.

PUCK SUGGESTS: "Dear Senator Obama, I'll see you your Joey Hairplugs and raise you one smokin' babe. Love & kisses, JSM. P.S. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA."

Firsts

1. The GOP nominates a woman for VP.

2. Benedick makes a donation to a political campaign.

After having the better part of the day to ruminate on it, and having watched Palin's speech, I am so fired up right now. So's the entire party. And so are disaffected Hillary supporters.

Genius day for McCain.

Oh, and it's now official -- American history will be made this year, no matter who wins. We'll either have our first black president or first female vice-president. America, take a bow.

Here's Part Two of the Video Below (watch the other one first)

McCain Picks Alaska Governor Sarah Palin As VP, Part 1 of 2

Sarah Palin introduces herself to America. She's got it, folks. Charismatic, sincere . . . I'll say it . . . hot. She's a libertarian/conservative. Her approval rating in Alaska is somewhere around 80%. She's not going to get pushed around by Joe Biden. Middle America is gonna love her.

Distracted

That's me, this morning, anticipating McCain's noonish announcement of his VP pick. The eleventh-hour rumors are all over the place. Pawlenty's reportedly NOT it. There was a big Palin buzz early this morning, but ABC is reporting she's still in Alaska (not in Dayton, where the press conference is to be held). But ABC could be wrong. Is Romeny still the favorite? Hard to tell. Is Meg Whitman in the picture? Who knows.

Kudos to McCain's campaign for keeping the secret so well and for creating such buzz. Had it leaked last night, it would have looked like an attempt to intrude on Obama's big night.

I know Puck is equally distracted. Whoever McCain picks, we'll have more to say. If it's Romney, expect Puck to vent a bit.

UPDATE: Heh. Over at National Review's Campaign Spot, Jim Geraghty shares my awe, calling McCain's veep operation a "Counter-Intelligence Triumph." Says Geraghty, "[m]aybe a guy that can keep his running mate choice this secret would, as president, keep national security secrets off the NYTimes' front page."

UPDATE [10:24 a.m.]: CNBC is reporting that it's Palin. However, it cites an anonymous source, and -- given the deft misdirection engineered by the McCain camp so far -- this could simply be another head-fake.

UPDATE [10:33 a.m.] Puck's hopes are now officially up about Palin. I can just see her bouncing up and down in her office. If it turns out to be Romney, I think Puck's going to need counseling.

UPDATE [10:46] CNN and Fox News are both confirming it. It's Palin. The band is already playing in Dayton, and the press conference will begin shortly. I'm more exciting than wary, but there's real downside to this pick. More analysis later. I expect Puck and I will end up in a point-counterpoint on this.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Vaseline

Obama is good at at slathering it on. In his speech, I mean.

But we all know what that portends. The vaseline.

(Those of us who earn money, that is.)

Pure Class

Respect shown; respect earned.

Jimmy Carter Remains An Ass

Power Line has the details:
The ever-gracious Jimmy Carter has accused John McCain of "milking every possible drop of advantage" from his time served as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Carter was referring to McCain's references to that time in the Saddleback event. But that event called on McCain and Obama to talk about personal matters, not just policy, and Carter didn't cite any specific instance where he thought McCain's reference to his POW days was inappropriate or inapt.
Isn't it yet time for Carter to join his good buddy, Yasser Arafat?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Angst

Maureen Dowd, everyone's favorite bitter-Ice-Queen-who-can't-attract-a-man and NYT columnist/liberal scold has a delightful, hand-wringing piece in this morning's edition: High Anxiety in the Mile High City.

Dowd bemoans the ongoing Clinton-Obama rift and the tension with which it has infused the convention:
After [Hillary's speech last night], some of her supporters began crying, as they were interviewed by reporters, saying that her speech had proved that she would make a better president than Obama. And, as one said, she would only give him “two months” to prove himself.

Ed Rendell, the governor of Pennsylvania, compared Obama to the passive-aggressive Adlai Stevenson and told The Washington Post that Obama gives six-minute answers and “is not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with.”

At a meeting of the Democratic women’s caucus Tuesday, 74-year-old Carol Anderson of Vancouver, Wash., a former Hillary volunteer, stood in the back of the room in a Hillary T-shirt and hat signed by Hillary and “Nobama” button and booed every time any of the women speakers mentioned Obama’s name.
Summing up the sniping and second-guessing that seems unsquelchable, Dowd quotes an unnamed pol: “'I’m telling you, man,' said one top Democrat, 'it’s something about our party, the shtetl mentality.'”

I'm not even sure I know what that means. I know what a shtetl is (a small Jewish village, typically in Eastern Europe prior to 1900). Were shtetls known for throwing potentially easy elections away with silly intra-party back-biting and exalting platitudes and celebrity over substance? Really?

The First Amendment, Obama-Style

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech unless such speech shall call into question the hopeychangeywonderfulness of Our Lord and Savior Barack Obama, in which case you better shut your mouth, Mister, if you know what's good for you...."

Barack Obama. Using the might of the Justice Department to prosecute funders of perfectly legal, perfectly truthful ads about his past. Change you can believe in.

Via Malkin.

BENEDICK ADDS: This is just great. Obama doesn't want to go after domestic or foreign terrorists, but he wants a federal prosecution of his political opponents. Change you can believe in!

Pelosi To Normal People: "Drop Dead!"

Actually, her exact words to protestors at the DNC rallying for increased drilling on our own shores were, "Can we drill your brains?"

Not content to demonstrate that she lacks the wit and charm most seven-year olds have developed, she then lied to the press, suggesting that drilling in the U.S. would lower the price of gas "a couple cents in 10 years." This, of course, is hogwash: President Bush's rescinding of the executive order banning offshore drilling resulted in the price of gas dropping nearly $20 a barrel in one week.

The Democrats would do a better job of convincing me they were all about the little guy, as they claim to be, if they didn't speak to the little guy with such blatant contempt.

BENEDICK ADDS: Pelosi also has distinguished herself by repeating, emphatically and on many occasions, that natural gas is a great alternative to fossil fuels. One would think that the Speaker of the House, who has taken it upon herself to promulgate on energy issues, would at some point become aware that natural gas is a fossil fuel. Facts? Meh.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DNC Day 1

As promised, I didn't watch.

Michelle Obama is receiving high praise -- even from prominent conservative commentators -- on her speech. Too bad every positive thing she said about America is contradicted by her earlier remarks that America is "downright mean" and that she was never been proud to be an American until her husband became a presidential candidate. But, millions are now watching on TV, so she'll simply pretend she doesn't view this country as a fundamentally evil, racist oligarchy. And liberals will either believe her because they want to believe her, or they'll smile in the understanding that she's lying -- because they share her dim view of their nation.

Ted Kennedy also showed up to speak. Not so much Mary Jo Kopechne.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Welcome to the Democrat National Convention!

These people vote . . . Democrat. (The guy in the bandana is a plant from Michelle Malkin.)

Back To It

Hiatus over.

1. Biden. I agree that the choice evidences the Obama campaign's realization that McCain's (meritorious) attacks on Obama's inexperience are having an effect on the electorate. Does picking Biden solve the problem? Maybe. He's a lot of things -- including, as Puck pointed out, a blowhard with a penchant for letting his mouth terrorize the neighborhood every time he lets it off its leash -- but he's also familiar, charismatic, and likeable. Heck, I like the guy, even if I disagree with his politics. I depart from the GOP consensus. I think it's a good pick for Obama (though choosing Hillary would have absolutely locked up the election for him, so thank goodness that didn't happen).

2. The Democrats' Convention. It's this week. I doubt I'll be able to bring myself to watch any of the speeches. I'm sure the folks at The Corner will do it for me and distill them. Mostly I'll just be interested to see what kind of bounce Obama gets in the polls come this weekend (there's always a post-convention bounce). If it's five points or less, the Obama folks will be disappointed. Oh, and the other thing I'll look forward to is the sideshow. Kooky lefties love to protest their own conventions (they can't resist news cameras). Should be fun.

3. You don't care, but I'm really excited about my fantasy football team this year. After shoring up the RB position by drafting Frank Gore in the 1st round to go with my (subpar) keeper, Willis McGahee, I snagged Drew Brees late in the 2nd round, then went Torry Holt, Greg Jennings, and Lee Evans in Rounds 3-5 for a solid WR corps. In the next four rounds, I added depth at RB (Lendale White (6)) and WR (Isaac Bruce (8) and Bernard Berrian (9)), and picked up my starting TE, an aging but still reliable Tony Gonzalez (7). In Round 10, I wisely added Ray Rice as a handcuff for McGahee, whose health and starter status are in doubt right now. DeShaun Jackson (Philly's starting slot receiver) became my sixth and final WR in the 11th round. By Round 12, the run on defenses was well underway, so I made my only homer pick of the draft and grabbed the Steelers. John Kitna became by backup QB at 13. In the 14th, I snagged Chris Perry, who I believe will become the starting RB for the Bengals at some point early in the season -- huge value there, an absolute steal. At 15 and 16, I backed up T-Gonz with Randy McMichael and selected Browns' kicker Phil Dawson.

Looking at the other teams in my league, I'd put myself in the top half. But what do I know. I've never won our league, and we've been at it for about seven years. But I was so fired up to get Brees. I think he's going to be my difference-maker.

4. Priest organizes beauty pageant for nuns. I have no comment. Just thought you all should see this.

Biden? All that for friggin' Biden?

Early last week, Democrat presidential nominee and self-proclaimed guy whose election will slow the rising of the seas and begin the heaing of the sick told reporters that he had picked his VP, but wasn't going to say who it was until the end of the week. The buildup to the announcement was ridiculous -- kind of like what those of us who loved Star Wars as a kid felt during the buildup to The Phantom Menace. Even I -- who wouldn't vote for Obama if he named Jesus Christ himself as his VP (and wouldn't it be like Senator Hopeandchange to put the Son of God below him on the ticket?) -- couldn't help being drawn into it. Just who was good enough to stand next to the Messiah?

Now, I feel pretty much like I felt after watching The Phantom Menace. Which, if memory serves, was: That's it? Really? Really? All this buildup...for that? Are you kidding me?

Upon reflection, I think it's a great pick ... for those of us who want to see Senator Obama lose in November. Joe Biden is, like his running mate, a talker who wants people to think that he's as smart as he thinks he is. (Indeed, he's not afraid to exaggerate his supposed smarts if need be.) But, like most guys who talk too much, he inevitably tends to wander off and say something monumentally stupid: like threatening publicly to "screw" a union, or suggesting immediately after 9/11 that we write Iran a check for a couple hundred million dollars -- as a show of good faith.

As Goldstein recalls, Biden's mouthiness got him in trouble during the primary, when he referred to Obama as a "clean, articulate black man" (suggesting...what?). If John McCain had said such a thing, well, you can just imagine the uproar. But Biden's a Democrat, so he couldn't possibly be a racist. (Pay no attention to that Senator Byrd behind the curtain.)

More substantively, the pick demonstrates that all that Hope and Change talk we were hearing from Obama was just that: talk. Joe Biden's been working in Washington since he was 29 years old. For decades. Not so much change there. And remember how about Obama didn't need any foreign policy experience, because he had such good judgment? Well, Biden -- a longtime Foreign Relations Committee guy -- was clearly brought in to shore up Barry's less than stellar credentials. All in all, the pick confirms the Republican's critiques of Senator Obama. Which means that Team Obama is nervous. And that gives me comfort.

I think Jonah Goldberg's years-old description of Biden is as good as it gets, so I include it here:

And there's the case for Biden himself. He says interesting things, from time to time. I think he makes a fair point here and there. He was correct, for example, that Congress needed to have a real debate over the war. I think he has some obvious verbal intelligence. But, again, what's fascinating — and what might be distracting some folks from seeing his underlying-yet-occassional smarts — is that he lets his ego and vanity get in the way. The man loves his voice so much, you'd expect him to be following it around in a grey Buick, in defiance of restraining order, as it walks home from school. He seems to think his teeth are some kind of hypnotic punctuation marks which can momentarily disorient the listener and absolve him from any of Western civilization's usual imperatives to stop talking. Listening to him speechify is like playing an intellectual game of whack-a-mole where every now and then the fuzzy head of a good point pops up from the tundra but before you can pin it down, he starts talking about how he went to the store and saw a squirrel on the way and it was brown which brings to mind Brown v. Board of Ed which most people don't understand because [TEETH FLASH] he taught Brown in his law school course and [TEETH FLASH] Mr. Chairman I'm going to get right to it and besides these aren't the droids you're looking for....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wow

Misty May-treanor and Kerri Walsh had just won the gold medal in olympic beach volleyball. And they were determined to issue a very important, heartfelt "Thank You." It made me smile. All around Media Land, reactions will differ from mine.

That's Some Serious Change

The Obama campaign decided to hold The Anointed One's acceptance speech in an outdoor stadium, ostensibly so a large number of supporters can attend, free of charge. At least, that's what the campaign's been telling everyone.

Except, that's not entirely true. Rather, it's not at all true. The campaign has actually been running a secret, underground sale of the tickets for $1000 apiece to big-time party donors. A couple of those donors are seething about it. And so they leaked it to the Denver CBS affiliate. Oops!



Change you can believe in.

Global Warming Update

2008 is the coolest in more than five years.

Discuss.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Checking In

I know I've been MIA. And that's going to continue for most of the week. I was back in scenic Montgomery, Alabama last week for a court conference, and I'll be in St. Louis this week on business. After which, I'll be moseying over to a remote lakehouse for the weekend with the other nine members of my fantasy football league. We put this league together about seven years ago. I'm pretty sure I've never finished better than fourth.

Puck may check in as well, depending on her schedule. In the meantime, I highly recommend clicking regularly over to Protein Wisdom, where Jeff Goldstein (who's put together a string of extended absences from his brilliant blog) seems to have rediscovered the love. Also, this is a great time to get familiar with Iowa Hawk, if you aren't already. Brilliant satire (his pieces on the Russian invasion of Georgia are gems), and the upcoming conventions should provide great fodder for his brutal wit.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What A President Looks Like

Shortly after September 11, 2001, David Letterman invited then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani to his show. Letterman introduced him thusly (I paraphrase, but I remember this well): "In the first couple of days after the attack, he was the face of this country, the leader of this country, and we all looked to him to see what we would do next." And in my opinion, Letterman was right -- it was not until President Bush went to New York and stood on the smoldering remains of our World Trade Center, listening to the firefighters chanting "USA, USA!" and encouraging them with his bullhorn, that he began visibly to emerge as our Commander in Chief.

Right now, something very similar is happening with John McCain. Benedick has blogged about the Russian atrocities in Georgia. To his credit, President Bush has toughened his initial, unfortunately mealy-mouthed stance: our C-17s are delivering food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies, and our navy will soon be delivering more necessities by sea; Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is overseas now, and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates is on his way. Rice is there to make sure that Europe doesn't go wobbly in Georgia's defense, and Gates will head up our humanitarian mission.

But it is John McCain who is speaking most firmly, and most eloquently, about the rights of the free and independent Georgian people and how critical it is that we in the West stand up for their fledgling democracy. From the beginning, as Benedick wrote, he has hit exactly the right note. He continues to do so, with this editorial in the Wall Street Journal today:

As Russian tanks and troops moved through the Roki Tunnel and across the internationally recognized border into Georgia, the Russian government stated that it was acting only to protect Ossetians. Yet regime change in Georgia appears to be the true Russian objective.

***

Russian claims of humanitarian motives were further belied by a bombing campaign that encompassed the whole of Georgia, destroying military bases, apartment buildings and other infrastructure, and leaving innocent civilians wounded and killed. ...

Despite a French-brokered cease-fire -- which worryingly does not refer to Georgia's territorial integrity -- Russian attacks have continued. There are credible reports of civilian killings and even ethnic cleansing as Russian troops move deeper into Georgian territory.

Moscow's foreign minister revealed at least part of his government's aim when he stated that "Mr. Saakashvili" -- the democratically elected president of Georgia -- "can no longer be our partner. It would be better if he went." Russia thereby demonstrated why its neighbors so ardently seek NATO membership.

In the wake of this crisis, there are the stirrings of a new trans-Atlantic consensus about the way we should approach Russia and its neighbors. The leaders of Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Latvia flew to Tbilisi to demonstrate their support for Georgia, and to condemn Russian aggression. The French president traveled to Moscow in an attempt to end the fighting. The British foreign minister hinted of a G-8 without Russia, and the British opposition leader explicitly called for Russia to be suspended from the grouping.

The world has learned at great cost the price of allowing aggression against free nations to go unchecked. A cease-fire that holds is a vital first step, but only one. With our allies, we now must stand in united purpose to persuade the Russian government to end violence permanently and withdraw its troops from Georgia. International monitors must gain immediate access to war-torn areas in order to avert an even greater humanitarian disaster, and we should ensure that emergency aid lifted by air and sea is delivered.

We should work toward the establishment of an independent, international peacekeeping force in the separatist regions, and stand ready to help our Georgian partners put their country back together. This will entail reviewing anew our relations with both Georgia and Russia. As the NATO secretary general has said, Georgia remains in line for alliance membership, and I hope NATO will move ahead with a membership track for both Georgia and Ukraine.

At the same time, we must make clear to Russia's leaders that the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world require their respect for the values, stability and peace of that world. The U.S. has cancelled a planned joint military exercise with Russia, an important step in this direction.


Exactly right. Now, as I mentioned to Benedick in an e-mail yesterday, it's a heck of a lot easier for John McCain to say these things than it would be for President Bush. Senator McCain has the luxury of not (yet) being the Leader of the Free World: his words can't yet run the risk of inciting further Russian aggression. But there can be no doubt: McCain understands what Russia is up to, knows what the implications are for a free and democratic Eastern Europe, and gets that we cannot back down from this challenge.

Does Senator Obama understand these things? I don't know. He's on vacation, so we haven't heard too much from him. But what little he has said doesn't give me a whole lot of faith in his ability to stand up to the world's bad guys. And there are many of them.

There are a lot of things about John McCain's politics that I don't like. But he has impressed me greatly in his quick, pointed, and dead-on response to the crisis in Georgia.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

That's Entertainment

It seems every four years I geek out on the Olympics even more than the last time around. The games got underway in China this weekend, and -- true to form -- I found myself consumed by it. I watched at least some of the following: basketball, soccer, beach and indoor volleyball, rowing, boxing, swimming, diving, gymnastics, handball, water polo, weightlifting, shooting, tennis, fencing, and cycling. And I'm probably leave something out.

For me, it's largely a matter of patriotism. I take great pride in American athletes who compete for their country. And the Olympics always produces moments of unforgettable drama.

For me, the highlights of the Beijing '08 Games so far have been:

(1) Michael Phelps' bid to break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics. This is probably the most hyped story in this year's Games (for Americans, at least), and rightly so. Phelps is competing in an insane eight events, which -- including preliminary rounds and semi-finals -- often means swimming two or three races a day, sometimes less than an hour apart. So far he's a perfect three-for-three.

(2) Watching the U.S. men defeat the favored French in the men's 4X100 freestyle relay. This was considered to be the most likely stumbling block in Phelps' quest for gold. The French boasted a string of victories and were anchored by the world-record holder. The day before the race, the French captain was quoted as saying, "We will smash the Americans. It's what we came here to do." Apparently, the French don't understand the motivational power of what we in the States call "Bulletin Board Material." Although the French built a commanding lead in the second and third legs of the race, U.S. Olympic veteran Jason Lezak closed a seemingly impossible gap in the last 25 meters and edged out the favorites by .08 seconds. It was truly the most exciting race I've ever seen. And a delicious thumb in the eye to France.

(3) The "Redeem Team." The U.S. has long dominated men's basketball, largely because it's an American sport and particularly since the competition was opened up to NBA pros. But the Americans have sputtered in the last couple of Olympics, particularly in 2004 in Athens, when the they settled for bronze despite fielding an NBA All-Star roster. This year, the Americans are trying to redeem themselves, and they got off to a solid start Sunday, defeating the Chinese 101-70 in opening-round play. There will be tougher games ahead, but any team that can put Kobe Bryant and LeBron James on the court together should find a way to win, and entertain in the process.

(4) China. Yes, it's an authoritarian police state. But it's a beautiful authoritarian police state with a rich culture, and the typically camera-shy Chinese are giving the world an unprecedented glimpse into their world. Who knows whether there will be any positive after-effects for Chinese liberty. Probably not in the short term. But I'm enjoying the opportunity to see a lot more of a country I know little about, even if I need to keep reminding myself that everything I see has been carefully stage-managed by the aforementioned authoritarian police state.

If you haven't started watching, start tonight. Phelps will be back in the pool for two finals this evening -- the 200 butterfly (an event he has owned since he was 16 years old) and the 4X200 freestyle relay. The swimming events are mostly held in the Beijing mornings, and therefore broadcast live to prime-time U.S. audiences, thanks to an even 12-hour time difference. It may be history in the making.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dangerously Stupid

This weekend, while most of us were watching the Olympics (something about which I hope to blog tomorrow), Russia attacked and invaded the sovereign, democratic, and American-allied Republic of Georgia. Russia has sunk Georgian ships, bombed Georgian infrastructure, and killed thousands of Georgian citizens.

This is a big deal.

John McCain immediately issued a statement decrying the Russian aggression and urging an end to the invasion.

Here's the scary part: Barack Obama came out with a statement that adopted the position of Russia's PR apparatchiks.

No, I'm not kidding.

Of course, he later backpedaled, as he does on every issue of any importance. It's a pattern: Say something outrageously stupid and wrong, get shellacked for it, reverse position, deny having taken the initial position. Power Line has carefully followed this important story throughout the weekend, here, here, here, and here.

I repeat: This is a big deal. Please read Power Line's coverage.

This man is NOT equipped to be our president. He is dangerously vapid, and arrogant without cause.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

More Good News

So oil prices are down, and the stock market is rebounding. Now, the Financial Times reports, the U.S. dollar is surging against the Euro.

Democrats will still endeavor to convince you we're in a recession.

Friday, August 08, 2008

It's Official

John Edwards has admitted to the affair.

The entire mainstream media can now stop pretending this story doesn't exist.

"Some Pipsqueak on the Kooky Left"

That's the apt description Republican political strategist Chris LaCivita applies to Tom Matzzie, formerly of MoveOn.org, who has just launched a new liberal activism program.

Here's Matzzie's plan: Send threatening letters to citizens who make contributions to conservative causes and candidates to try to scare them into dropping their financial support. The threats will include "legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives."

A few things strike me as noteworthy here. First, it's a spectacularly stupid idea. As LaCivita notes, conservative donors who receive letters from this schmuck are more likely to write bigger checks than they are to hide under their beds.

Second, this effort has not only drawn approving coverage from the New York Times, but has attracted the involvement of mainstream Democrats, including Hillary Clinton's research director.

Third, what does this say about the state of liberal politics? It says: If you disagree with us, and if you express dissent, we will punish you. I don't think the tactic will be effective, but isn't it a little creepy that the self-proclaimed defenders of freedom and tolerance are undertaking such an effort? It has, I believe Jonah Goldberg would agree, a decidedly fascistic odor.

Finally, this is not the first time I've mentioned Matzzie on this blog. I went to high school with him, and when I see what a big deal he's become on the political left it simply reaffirms my judgment of the political left. This guy is and always has been an intellectual lightweight and a buffoon. That he has risen to prominence among liberals tells me a lot about liberals.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Petraeus Speaks

Over at Pajamas Media, Austin Bay has posted the transcript of a very long interview of General David Petraeus. In it, the general provides a wealth of information about the state of the Iraq effort. This bit is something I hadn't realized:

We have, in fact, put considerable emphasis on how Al-Qaeda, in Iraq, generates resources. And they do it, again, like a mafia does, that we would be familiar with. It’s through extortion of successful businesses; extortion of money for protection rackets, or what have you; insisting that a cell phone business, for example, give them a cut of their profits or they’ll blow the cell phones down — cell phone towers down; taking a cut out of the cement business, the real estate business, the financial businesses, and so forth.
Read it all.

Congrats

A hearty congratulations is in order for our very own Puck, who won a federal appeal yesterday. I won't get into the details of the case because the court's decision is a published opinion, and I'm wary of impinging on Puck's anonymity. But I think it's safe to report that it was a pro bono case in which Puck represented an individual whose due process rights had been encroached upon, and Puck's victory -- including the fact that the written opinion is published and precedential -- is a big deal.

Well played, M'Lady.

Your Democratic Congress At Work . . . Or Not

The issue of this political season is not Iraq, it's energy. More specifically, the issue is whether to alleviate high energy prices now and in the future by a combined approach of permitting increased U.S. drilling and developing alternative energy sources. Republicans (McCain included) favor this approach. Congressional Republicans have crafted a bill that would put this idea into action. A sufficient number of Democrats support the bill that it would pass if put to a vote.

Which is why Speaker Pelosi has used obscure procedural rules to prevent a vote on the bill. Pelosi stymied and stonewalled until the time came for the customary Congressional recess. When the Democrats went home, Republicans in the House stayed and continued to discuss the issue on the House floor.

So Nancy Pelosi, your Speaker of the House, had the microphones and lights shut off.

Republicans aren't giving up. Power Line has posted video of a press conference held yesterday that featured an array of GOP Congressional leaders, as well as former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Among them is Adam Putnam, a representative from Florida, whom I'd never heard of before. I'm impressed. Here's the video:



By the way, while Republicans (and some Democrats) continue to press for a comprehensive new energy plan, Nancy Pelosi is on tour promoting her new girl-power book. (It's not going very well.)

Too Much To Hope For

Some Hillary backers are apparently not going away quietly and are, in fact, pushing to hold a vote at the Dem convention.
Even if she has no chance of winning, given Obama's overall lead in the delegate count, such a vote would mark a symbolic confirmation of the nearly 18 million primary votes won by Clinton during her battle for the nomination.

But other pro-Clinton groups such as PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) claim that she could still win the nomination if enough Obama delegates can be persuaded to switch sides at the Denver convention, and are lobbying to that end.

Delicious though such chaos would be, I think this has about a 1% chance of happening.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Much Better Idea

Today's rumor is that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will not be McCain's Veep choice, but rather that Jindal will deliver the keynote speech at the GOP convention. Which, if true, is great news and a very wise decision.

Recall that it was his keynote speech at the 2004 Democrat National Convention that made "Barack Obama" a household name. And look at him now.

More Pennsylvania Political Shenanigans -- GUESS WHO

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A former state lawmaker and an aide avoided jail time by pleading guilty yesterday to forging signatures, including a dead person's, on nominating petitions for the 2006 primary. Linda Bebko-Jones, 62, and her former chief of staff Mary B. Fiolek, 60, were both sentenced in Dauphin County to 12 months' probation and fined $1,500.

Each pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges -- forging and submitting false signatures and criminal conspiracy. All other charges were dismissed.

Ms. Bebko-Jones and Ms. Fiolek admitted creating numerous bogus signatures on at least three different nomination petitions that were attested to as authentic and filed with elections officials. Prosecutors said a witness told them that names were drawn from the Erie phone book and Ms. Bebko-Jones' personal address book.

The grand jury heard evidence that people whose names appeared on her petition denied signing it, and one supposed signatory had been dead for six years.

Ms. Bebko-Jones, an Erie County Democrat first elected in 1992, abruptly withdrew from a bid for re-election two years ago after a challenger raised doubts about the validity of her signatures.
Who's shocked? Me neither.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Periodic Report On The State of The Liberal Mind

So, I talked to my brother on Sunday. Good egg, that one. He's one of the smartest people I know, in many respects (like graduating college with a 4.0 and a double major in philosophy and political science; and then graduating from Harvard Law School).

Alas, he's also a liberal of the non-classical variety. He's of a mind that Bush is Evil, that Palestinian terrorists are freedom fighters, and that higher taxes yield a stronger economy. We don't discuss politics very often, because such conversations generally devolve rapidly into him calling me stupid.

Which is disappointing for a number of reasons, really. First of all, despite being really bright, he's not terribly well informed on issues of public policy, so his condescension springs from a well of relative ignorance. Second, I hate to see him suffer from the all-too-common inability of liberals to discuss political matters without resorting immediately to the basest of emotions.

Well, we argued Sunday for over an hour. And I have to report the following, which I learned from my brother, as representative of the liberal American mindset:

1. "John McCain is a horrible, horrible person." No facts or evidence need be adduced to support this.

2. Michelle Obama is not angry, is not a scold, has never accused America of being a "downright mean" country, and has never stated that she wasn't proud of her country in her adult life until her husband started to receive public adulation.

3. Black Liberation Theology, the sect of Christianity to which Obama devoted himself and his family for 20 years, has not a whiff of racial separatism about it; Jeremiah Wright's famous comments (e.g., about AIDS, Jews, and chickens coming home to roost) were all taken out of context, and Barack Obama skipped church whenever such remarks were delivered.

4. Jimmy Carter's economic policies were not injurious to the U.S. economy.

5. The purpose of the U.S. Supreme Court is to make policy.

I weep.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

He Was Against It Before he Was For It

There is no principle to which Barack Obama adheres that is more important than attaining political power. The latest: He's ostensibly pulled a complete 180 on offshore drilling.

Which is his real position? Does it matter?