Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wake Up and Smell the Coffers!

Thoughts on "Obama's Broken Promise Show"

Tonight, if you watched it, Obama aired a "feel good" 30-minute infomercial that cost by itself more money than McCain will spend on ads in the final week of his come-from-behind race. In any other year, Obama's long TV spot may have made an impression, but this year, frankly, watching this show was not unlike watching the same fluff that nearly every network has been producing on Obama's behalf for months--at no cost to his overflowing stash of cash.

The 30-minute spot was supposed to "close the deal," and I half expected the smooth salesman to end with, "Vote before midnight tonight and I'll throw in an extra set of steak knives for free." But instead, he promised the same freebies to every household making under $200,000. Wait a minute... Last week the figure was $250,000, and yesterday Biden said the figure was $150,000. (We'll be seeing less of Mr. Gaff in the days ahead.) I wonder what figure the Dems will settle on once the voters get their steak knives?

[Update: Friday, two days later, Governor Richardson says "Obama's plan kicks in at $120,000. Listen to this clip from Friday night. Watch all the way to when the Obama spokesperson concedes that the number does keep changing and ought to go down to $45,000. Back to the original post...]

The show's opening was full of heartland appeal emphasizing Obama's "Kansas roots," which, had he ever actually lived there, bare no resemblance to the rich Chicago dirt from which this liberal grew. [Senator, my wife is from Kansas. I was wed in Kansas. I've worked in Kansas. Kansans are a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Kansan. You may be many things from many places but claiming roots in the geographic center of America because of your mother's childhood before you were born is like Liza Minelli claiming she's from Oz.]

True, tonight's footage wrapped Reverend Wright's benchwarmer in the flag he was reluctant to wear a year ago, but if we've learned anything about this politician in that year it's that he can temporarily set aside personally-held views to please a target audience. It is his political shapeshifting to win over voter-groups (while still holding but downplaying his troubling influential ties) that is most disturbing to some skeptics in the crowds and listeners who once bought his words. Here is the truest message of tonight's show:

Every minute of air-time underscored and indeed foreshadowed how quickly Obama makes and breaks promises when it serves his purposes. Hat tip to CNN's Cambell Brown for having the courage last night to remind voters of Obama's broken promise that made tonight's show possible.

America, wake up and smell the coffers!

To voters like me, the promise mentioned in the following 2-minutes holds far more hope than anything Obama bought and sold tonight.

20 comments below...

Monday, October 27, 2008

If the Shoe Drops, Wear It...With Style

Folks, this is newly-found audio confirming Obama's belief in "spreading the wealth around" which he said two weeks ago, and which Joe Biden said a couple days ago was not what Obama meant, but he did mean it. It was not a slip of the tongue. It reflects a deeply held view and possibly his intentions for future redistribution, taking money from people who have more than he thinks they need and giving it to those, in his words, who benefited from the Civil Rights Movement but came short of benefiting from "redistributed wealth."

In other words, to Obama taxes are not a way for self-governed people to collect money needed to operate government; taxes are also a means by which the federal government can take from those who "have" and give to those who "have not." Or as Karl Marx said it, "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs." How will redistribution happen? Easy. By giving even more "tax refunds" to people who don't pay taxes at all. It's called the EITC, and how to collect this unearned money is explained by Acorn in a newsletter at this link. That link explains the millions of uncollected dollars of "redistributed wealth" in Virginia alone, and this is BEFORE Obama's new plans. Under Obama, it's been estimated that 60 Billion in new "redistributed EITC wealth" will be dispensed annually to people who pay no taxes.

Yes, the same ACORN that tells its constituency how too maximize their entitlements through the EITC in their newsletter is the same ACORN Obama paid over $800,000 to during the 2008 primaries to help "get out the vote" for him, the same ACORN associated with voter fraud, that submitted 1.3 million new voters registrations 400,000 of them were invalid fraudulent, including the type of fraud in this video and the one below (added overnight Tuesday):

But since ACORN's nationwide voter registration fraud has been addressed by the media, let's move back to this current audio tape that has not.

These statements by Obama should prompt a discussion of the ideas expressed in this radio interview, which was conducted during his closest (and then very current) ties with "thinkers" like Bill Ayers who share such views. Those circles of influence represent a back-door approach to "socialism." Obama knows the unpopularity of that word, but he should at least admit that his notion of federal REDISTRIBUTION fits the bill. I'm confident that, if asked to explain these statements, he will smooth it all out for us, but will it even come up? And if so, does America know how to discuss basic differences in ideology and where they eventually lead? It may very well be that America is eager for bigger government and greater dependence, but let's at least talk about it first.

UPDATE Thursday evening three days later: Here's what I mean by THE SHOE, THE DROP, and WEARING IT WITH STYLE. Obama not only laughs at the notion that his ideology reflects socialism more than it does the free enterprise system that built this country, he calls people who disagree with him on the topic SELFISH.

[Hat tip to SQ in the comments section above.]

I asked a week ago ..."if a shoe drops in a media news room and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" A few days before, newly found footage of Nation of Islam leader, Farrakahn, proclimed Obama as Messiah. Not a sound in the newsrooms. Then last week, Biden gave his "dooms day" remarks, and the media swept that long speech under the rug. I think this audio tape is another "shoe." In his own thoughtful voice, Obama is explaining a past wrong that he thinks can still be righted. The "we need to redistribute wealth" shoe has dropped again. Now listen with me to see if it makes a sound.

While you're listening, see if this story about a lynched Sarah Palin in Hollywood gets any "double standard" notice. Regardless of who's in the noose, "hate crimes" are not allowed under "free speech," but it's only Sarah Palin so the liberals will just laugh.

Now watch this updated video link here [posted by the LA Times Tuesday. Will it hit the networks as it would if it were about Obama?]. The new video directly mentions the double standard, but the Palin-hating crowd simply doesn't care and the police say "Hey, relax, it's Halloween." Which of course, may make it tempting (God forbid) for someone to test the double standard by putting a similar display up across the street with the Democrat candidate, but this, of course, would cause mayhem in L.A and from sea to shining sea, the same kind of mayhem we can expect if "Dewey Defeats Truman" is held up by McCain Wednesday morning. You tell me which side will handle defeat more civilly. [UPDATE Thursday, two days later: Two arrested for hanging an Obama effigy in Kentucky. The West Hollywood display of Palin suddenly disappeared... no arrests were made. I'm glad both despicable statements were removed. Doubel standard or not, may such hateful stupidity never rise again.]

I know even some of my liberal friends may wince at the blatant double standard that helped usher in the "age of Obama" (to borrow from debate moderator, Gwen Ifil's book title). Here is a rare positive take on this lynched woman written by the previous editor of MS. Magazine. I am more impressed and amazed by Governor Palin's thick skin every day. Everything she stands for raises the hackles on liberals' necks, but she remains as steadfast and gracious as any public figure I've ever seen.

Update: Monday PM "The Obama campaign is responding by sending around a report from Politico in which Cass Sunstein, a Harvard law professor who is advising Obama, downplays the remarks as law professor-speak." Oh, he was just talking the way professors do with students about "ideas" and such. Professors do that. And when he recently said it to Joe the Plumber, he must have felt like he was a professor again. The McCain camp had this to say, "...his basic goal is taking money away from people who work for it and giving it to people who Barack Obama believes deserve it. Europeans call it socialism, Americans call it welfare, and Barack Obama calls it change."

What's that bump under the rug? Just another shoe that dropped in a newsroom... "Never mind, Mr. President, we'll get that for you. Just forget it even came up. Shame on them rascally Republicans for quoting you."

UPDATE Tuesday evening: This Op-Ed in the Washington Times may help prompt the kind of discussion the notions of "spreading the wealth" and "redistribution" deserve. Here are some of Wesley Pruden's thoughts:

"The interview explains a lot, beginning with the destroy Joe the Plumber and shut down discussion of the implications of what the candidate said....Mr. Obama is a gifted politician, with the smarts to understand that this could be the "game-changer" that leaves his campaign, almost picture-perfect until now, in ruins. He understands that he has to fly under the radar for now. That's why his campaign apparatus moves swiftly to dismiss questions about the Obama paper trail, such as it is, and to crush anyone bold and foolish enough to inquire into the real Barack Obama.
Joe the Plumber learned the hard way what happens to such questioners, and when a television reporter in Florida asked Joe Biden whether his running mate is a Marxist economist, good old Joe, usually eager to talk about everything, acted as if the interviewer had accused him of serial killing or child molesting. Some things just aren't to be talked about, not now. Not Barack Obama's radical notions about redistributing the wealth - which is, after all, the essence of Marxism. Not about how he intends to replace fundamental American values with values that most Americans, if they knew about them, would regard as alien and hostile.... To redistribute wealth, you first have to confiscate it from those who earned it with hard work, and the way to do that is with confiscatory taxes. Then you give it to those who didn't earn it....He clearly thinks the Constitution was a "tragedy," that the men who wrote it were not the revolutionary heroes plain Americans regard them to be, and their work must be corrected by the surviving radicals of the '60s and their progeny. Anyone who listens to this interview...understands why Michelle Obama was never proud of her country until she thought the opportunity was at hand to destroy the country to save it, and why Barack Obama could spend 20 years comfortably listening to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright exhort God to damn America."

Hearing Obama's veiw of the Supreme Court, is there any doubt as to the kind of activism he will promote as he fills the many Federal Court vacancies the Democrats have forced to go unfilled for 8 years? If... and I'm still saying "IF" he is elected.

Meanwhile watch the wave of messianic inevitability wash over the earth. As I said a few weeks ago, it seems as if Obama is not running for President of the United States but for President of the World. What are the implications of borrowing the words from "The Lord's Prayer" in this Kenyan raggae hit, "Obama Be Thy Name"?

7 good comments below...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Moving on from the "Unsettling Politics" for now

My apologies for getting side-tracked for two weeks on politics. It only happens to me every four years. I do care deeply about the past, present, and future of our country. As you can tell if you read here much, I like things to be slow and steady. I like checks and balances. I don’t mind change, but I think the burden of proof is always on change. Amid all this Bush bashing, we forget that he have overseen seven years with no terrorist attacks on the home front. Will that hold true? Biden sounds pretty "dooms day" about Obama's first six months. Compare that to this statement a few months ago. Obama's plans will raise our taxes (he says they won't). I agree with Charles Krauthammer here, and yet the momentum has not turned McCain's way thus far.

Acorn is collecting hundreds of thousands of fraudulent voter registrations in swing states; Obama is up in every poll; he has every major network fawning over him and endorsements from about 3/4 of the national papers; MSNBC is the worst. and in the remaining days, he’ll be obscenely out-spending McCain 4 to 1 (due to his breaking the "public funding" pledge he and McCain agreed to when the race began). The outcome is hyped so inevitably toward Obama that there are concerns of riots if other polls hold true and he loses. I dread the thought of having no "checks and ballances" for four years, with the old news media so obviously in the tank for Obama, with Democratic Senate leader, Harry Reid, and Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and with the most liberal President ever in the White House, and opposing voices muted by changes none of us have fully imagined. Some very important.

Joe Biden babbles a gaffe a day and the media doesn't bat an eye, Obama has "gagged" him for fear of more "rhetorical flourishes." Meanwhile, despite non-stop belittling coverage, Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin is sharper and more popular than ever. Maybe it's because she hasn't lost her poise no matter how rudely she is treated by the press, Hollywood, and the fowl-mouthed funny elite.

Joe Biden on the other hand, got just one taste of this kind of treatment and shot back at a reporter, "I don't know who's writing your questions," Biden so disliked West's line of questioning that the Obama campaign canceled a WFTV interview with Jill Biden, the candidate's wife. [He banned another TV station for the same reason.] The letter read: "This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election," wrote Laura K. McGinnis, Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign. Ahhhh, poor Joe. Palin is more gracious than he is under fire, and if you listen to the last question of the interview you'll see him completely lie about what he said to fundraisers about an orchestrated international crisis designed just to test this young inexperienced man if he is elected. "Stick with us because his decision, at first, won't seem to be the right one." What was Joe talking about? Never mind. He already lied it away.

Something tells me a shoe or two is poised to drop, but if a shoe drops in a media news room and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? [e.g.The Biden quote, which came after this post, was a size 13 boot, but it didn't make a sound beyond Fox conservative radio. Each network bought the lie that he did not say what he said, and yet there was the tape, the shoe, right there in the newsroom. Listen to this dooms day clip that went away. See what I mean?]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

When I Changed My Mind:
The Very Varying Elect in the Remaining Days
[Written Wednesday evening with links and updates added since.]

I hope to write a story chapter this weekend, but at the moment I'm sitting in my living room tweaking some thoughts from Monday and Tuesday night.

Whether Obama is at a podium or just walking through a neighborhood greeting gushing fans, his self confidence cannot be contained. He seems to have hit his stride. In fact, when he's feeling especially cool, the stride becomes a strut. [Photo taken same day as "Joe the Plumber."]

Three hours until the debate. I'm not expecting a game changer--none of the debates have been game changers--but since this whole election season has been couched in CHANGE, in this pause before the last debate, I'll explain when one voter changed his mind.

The first time I saw him was the week before Labor Day of 2004. I remember the moment because the television I was watching was in the guest room of a camp where our high school had gone for its annual retreat. The Democratic Convention’s keynote address was well underway when I clicked the remote. The screen flickered on, and there he was. Who was this guy? I’d never seen him before, but I liked what I was hearing and was surprised, to be honest, that the words were coming from a Democrat. There was talk of patriotism; family values; Biblical phraseology; and even the promise to always send enough troops to win a war. Such talk was not coming from their candidate, John Kerry. This must be how Dems felt when they watched the televised political debut of Ronald Reagan in 1964.

My wife Julie stepped into the room, and I said, “Listen to this guy. He’s great." And with little thought, I added, "Now here is a Democrat who's going to be President someday. Remember this moment. Someday he'll be our first black President.” It was a sheer gut-level prediction based solely on his ability to win me, a Republican, with woven thoughts that struck a chord. For most of my career, I had taught speech at both the college and high school level. I had studied every major oration in American history and had memorized major passages from many of them. I knew a good speech when I heard it--in fact, portions of historic passages were in the speech I was hearing--but this was not only an exceptional speech, it was an exceptional speaker. The cadence, the tone, the winning smile rang true with clear eyes set on a lofty mark.

"Who is he?" Julie asked.
"I don't know. I just turned it on, and there he was, but sit here and listen with me. The signs say Obama."

She sat with me at the end of the bed (there was no chair in the room) and listened through the end of
the speech. Take a moment to listen to that link; imagine us listening; and you'll know why she asked again, "Who is he?"

When we finally heard his first and last name spoken, even the commentators were not sure how to pronounce it, but it struck no more prejudice in us than did the fact that he was African-American. This man and his speech seemed to transcend race, and for a moment I could imagine a world where thinking people were equally willing to look beyond the surface to the content of our national heart.

Obama easily won his Illinois seat in the U.S. Senate, but after the election season, I watched less news, and about a year passed before I heard the name again. Still the media was mispronouncing it. Even Ted Kennedy
got mixed up and called him Osama Bin Laden. CNN did the same. They both felt bad. I used to get his two names switched. Was he Obama Burack or Burack Obama? Eventually we learned his middle name was Hussein, Ouch! As names go that's as big a handicap as "Adolf." But I didn't hold it against him and kept watching.

I remembered his speech. I remembered what I had told my wife about his future prospects, and though I never dreamt he would make his move for the White House before completing half of his first term as a junior senator, he was convinced this was his "moment in time" to rise up and spur us on to CHANGE. I knew almost nothing about him, but I was listening.

If you've been reading at POI for a while, you may remember that back in February and March, I had begun a series called "Words Fitly Spoken." In those posts I was looking at the primary season through the pillars of Greek Rhetoric: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos (personal appeal, emotional appeal, and logical appeal). My partiality to Obama as a communicator is obvious in
this post; and this one on Ethos, and this post that includes his entire speech on race.

The news story in the screen below aired last year when Obama was far behind Hillary in the polls. When you hear Obama's criticism of "the religious right," you may wrongly conclude it was this moment when my opinion began to change.
[Click "REFRESH" to stop video clips.]

In the above clip Obama said, “Somewhere along the way, faith ... started being used to drive us apart. Faith got hi-jacked [by] the Christian right who have been all to eager to exploit what divides us..." it did not offend me. Like the "red-sate, blue-state" line of his 2004 speech, I looked for the truth in it. My Christian Right views had not changed, but I agreed: there was sometimes a tone set by "the right" that did not serve our purposes in a Christ-like way.

So when did I change my mind? Well, you can practically see the moment in the archives. It was soon after Obama's "right words" had a head-on collision with the Wright words.

On the weekend when I was writing the next post in the "Words Fitly Spoken" series on Pathos (which deals with a speaker's ability to use, control, and elicit emotion) several video clips of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright hit the web and the airwaves. At first I gave the man the benefit of the doubt as is indicated in this post about Pathos, but as you can see in that post, I was suddenly struck by a sense of betrayal.

How could Obama have said without blinking that “Faith got hi-jacked [by] the Christian Right who have been all to eager to exploit what divides us..." while sitting under this man's tutelage for 20 years? It would be six weeks before Obama would separate from the man he considered his spiritual leader for 20 years, the man who coined Obama's phrase "The Audacity of Hope," the man he greatly admired who was "like an uncle to him." the man who introduced him to "Black Liberation Theology/Christianity" explained in the second half of this video. The more I heard Wright's harsh racially-charged rhetoric the more phony Obama's words about unifying became.

It took a few weeks to settle in with me, but Obama's words did not match his record. This was blatant hypocracy [a word I made up meaning the hypocrisy typical in fallen man's democracy]. Obama's charge against the "Christian right" was a case of the pot calling the kettle white.

Worse yet, Obama then did two things that we've now seen are a pattern with him. First, was denial. He masked reality by claiming "he didn't know the person was like that." Second, he turned the tables on those who dare have concerns. The problem was not his past alliances but rather the prejudices of people wanting to know more about them. It was then I stopped listening to his eloquence and began examining his character and the truthfulness of what he says about his past and his plans for the future.

When a candidate is so young and his political career so new, it's important to look at each rung of the ladder he's climbed so quickly and to know what wall that ladder is leaning on, and who's holding it at the base. In a televised interview, Rev. Wright explained that in order to understand his preaching you must understand "liberation theology" (not to be confused with Cone's "Black Liberation Theology")An honest look at the major influences on Obama's life and the people who helped him rise to power leaves little doubt as to why Obama is the most left-leaning man in the Senate. I dare say he is not only far left, but some of the ideas he has launched are set on a socialistic trajectory. Socialism is not a pejorative term, many people in Europe, Chicago academia, and Obama's recently erased circles prefer socialism to Capitalism, but let's call it what it is as we discuss these matters in the remaining days.

Be warned however: if you question the political bent of Obama and his mentors, and if you speak out, you may be called a closet racist. The post before this triggered an interesting discussion. If you had your TV on at all last weekend and this week, you heard that ugly charge coming from different voices as if on cue. It's a tactic not untried but untrue. [See, I told you so. This article came out six days later. Review the definition of socialism and see if "share the wealth" is not more accurate than "code for black." How do we discuss anything intelligently when the liberals boil every difference of opinion down to race?]

It's a terrible thing it is to be called a racist simply because you disagree with someone whose skin is a slightly different shade. And what proof is offered by these accusers of "racism"? One or two whackos in the bleachers or the fact that some people "Booo" at the thought of a liberal who continues to minimize his alliances with questionable people or the fact that they don't like the socialistic direction he may map out for this country. I don't like booing myself, but I'll concede that in most cases it’s usually not hatred; it's home crowd feedback.

You want to see hatred? Just a month ago Manhattan congressman Charlie Rangel (charged with not paying over $10,000 in back taxes just last month) called Palin “disabled” and his clarification clearly indicates he meant “mentally retarded.” With leadership like that in Manhattan, it's no wonder that these Obama supporters in Manhattan behave so rudely:

Here's another report of vicious Obama supporters in NYC. Hatred is hatred, Folks. It's a visceral reminder of man's fallen nature, but "racism" is a unique kind of hatred; it's both a sin and a weapon that cuts both ways, making it hard to tell whether the accused or the accuser is most guilty of its guile.

When politicians accuse others of "racism" it's supposed to shut them up or help explain sinister outcomes or defeat caused by other factors. But since the past week has focused on countless false charges of racism thrown by the media and Democrats alike at anyone not on Obama's bandwagon, let's set the record straight and say there has been plenty of hatred shown by Obama supporters. Some might even call it rage. [Check out that last link.]
Seen enough? For the sake of the remaining days can we all agree that hatred must be called out, whether it's leveled against Obama or McCain or Palin or even the scoundrels in congress. Hatred in the end, clouds the good judgment needed when we step into the voting booth or listen to the ideas behind all the smooth talk of politicians.

Speaking of smooth talk. It's time for the debate....

Part II: Written after the debate.

Well, no major gaffs either way. McCain was McCain and Obama was Obama. McCain set up a few good jabs but didn't follow through with the punch. I'm not sure why. If he is hoping the media will see the "opening," do some research, and deliver a coup de grĂ¢ce, he should know better. For instance, McCain raised Obama's broken promise to play by the same public funding rules both had agree to. As soon a Obama became a money-magnet super star, he decided to break his promise, resulting in mountains of cash to spend four times the amount McCain is on advertising. John set up the punch, but Obama shifted to "negativity," verbally deflecting the more damaging blow of his broken promise.
When it comes to words, Obama wins, but I spent six months impressed with his words and no longer take his currency at face value; I examine instead the ideas behind them; and that's why I have no choice but to stick with McCain/Palin. Sure, I wish they were as articulate in expressing what should never change about this great country, as Obama has been in selling "change" of the common sense that made it great. But I'll take a track record I can trust over words that I can't. (e.g. Listen again to his 2004 speech. He talked "hawkish" about sending in the number of troops it takes to win the war, then voted against the surge and acted surprised when it worked.")

Some say the winner of the debate was Joe the Plumber, a man who was out throwing the football with his son last Sunday when Obama happened to walk down his street. Click screen below to see how that exchange began and ended. [Sorry about the graphics and unrelated footage added by the Youtube user.]

Poor Joe the Plumber. He doesn't know what he's in for. As he endures his "fifteen minutes of fame" if what he says hurts Obama in any way, the press and Dems will eat him alive. He'll be sorry he ever dared ask such a common sense question.

Like Joe the Plumber, I am one of the vast middle class Obama promises to help when he “spreads the wealth,” but it goes against how I was raised. I don't feel entitled to someone else's wealth. Who's going to build all the businesses and shops and oil rigs and car plants and windmills everyone is talking about if not "those making over $250,000 a year." I say let them keep their hard-earned money and pay a fair rate of tax; let them invest in America's future. I'll earn my own way and live life according to my own means and dreams. Here is the first clip about Joe Plumber from the debate. Here is the second time he came up.

Joe the Plumber was on several radio and TV shows Thursday. He's a real guy, un-coached, un-vetted, unsolicited; he asked only a hypothetical question, but they will find a way to dig up dirt, talk to co-workers, see if he’s done anything wrong or said anything politically incorrect, etc. Anything to discredit him within 24 hours. I don't know this man, but watch with me as Joe the Plumber gets smeared into oblivion before the weekend. It's already starting.

Added early Friday morning: I was hoping I'd be wrong, but here's one of many articles discrediting Joe the Plumber, knocking him from his stump and back to a sump pump. He wasn't lying; he was asking a hypothetical question based on his "dream" of someday owning his own shop, growing the business, hiring employees (i.e. creating jobs), and grossing over $250,000 without being taxed more for taking the entrepreneurial risk. The true news story was not about this hypothetical question--it was that Obama used the words spread the wealth, a tenet of socialism that no viable candidate has ever come right out and said. Shutting up "Joe" fits Obama's pattern of shifting from the implications of his words to an indictment of the source that dared question them. [As John McCain pointed out the day after I wrote this, but the "Joe" effect continues to play out positively. A week later, Joe still has traction. Read end of this article.]

UPDATE two weeks later: What Joe the Plumber went through became much worse than I predicted that first night we heard his name. The opposition political machine, with the help of hundreds of media outlets, set out to destroy him, violating laws in ways reminiscent of the KGB in Russia, but they messed with the wrong plumber. It only strengthened Joe's resolve to go from the sump pump and out on the stump. The whole experience helped millions of observers imagine not only the dangers of "spread the wealth" but the kind of oppression we can expect in the "age of Obama" for those who don't drink his Kool-aid.

Here is another point to keep in mind: as we all know, income taxes are a form of taking money not "giving money." The income tax was not ratified until 1913. "The withholding tax on wages was introduced in 1943 and was instrumental in increasing the number of taxpayers to 60 million and tax collections to $43 billion by 1945." The government now collects two trillion each year. Here is the current progressive tax table that John McCain advocates leaving alone.

Obama continually repeats that McCain is "giving more to the rich." Not true. He's simply suggesting we leave the rates alone because it's a bad time to take more away from the very businesses and investors we're counting on to boost our GDP and create the new jobs of the alternative energy industry. This transition will require capital. Have we already given up on that concept?

By the way, don't believe Obama's statistics about most small business not being affected by his tax hike. He is including millions of spare-time, second-income, home-based businesses such as Avon ladies, Amway friends, or Antique hobbyists who rent a stall at a show. I owned a licensed small business back in my videographer days. Nothing wrong with those endeavors, but they double-dip the work force and rarely represent full-time jobs. Nearly 56% of all "small business" income comes from the 2% of "larger" small businesses that do get hit by Obama's plan (including farms, franchise owners, store fronts, and yes plumbing and heating shops--you know, the backbone of local employment and GDP).

Obama's spreading the wealth means taking even more money from people in the upper tax brackets and supposedly "giving it" to the working class (but remember, he isn't really "giving" us anything--just taking less away through taxes. The money we keep was already ours.). There is one constituency that he truly will be giving more money to: the millions already getting the EITC who pay no taxes at all yet get "entitlement" tax refunds. [Explained by Acorn in a newsletter at this link.] That's what he means by "Spread the wealth." It was not a slip of the tongue, not just a Robin Hood appeal to the middle class; it reflects Obama's first step toward a more government-dependent America in which millions of voters leave their hand out after turning in their ballot.

14 comments below

On a Ligher Note:
This just in... Thursday 10:30 PM

On a lighter note, you've got to hear John McCain speaking at the Al Smith dinner tonight in Manhattan. Parts 1 and 2 follow:

Part 2: Notice the awkward look on Obama's face when McCain reminds the room filled primarily with Catholics that he is proud to be an ally with them in the protection of the unborn.


Here is a review of some other laughs from this week:

Speaking of funny things, Edward Luce wrote a piece the day after this dinner called "Will a funny thing happen on the way to Washington?" In it he says,

“…conventional wisdom is often wrong. For a start, as any property analyst can attest, it tends to be self-affirming. The media has leapt on recent polls that show Mr Obama with double-digit margins. But until Friday, when the conservative Drudge Report led on the much narrower two-point lead that Gallup gave Mr Obama, those polls that have not hinted at a landslide have been downplayed. And there have been quite a few. The RealClear Politics website’s average of polls, which gives Mr Obama a lead of 6.8 per cent over Mr McCain, offers a better guide to the situation. It compares to John Kerry’s lead just a few weeks before he lost the 2004 election to Mr Bush. It is also slightly lower than Mr Obama’s lead over Hillary Clinton shortly before she bested him – and the media – in the New Hampshire primary at the start of the year.”

And with that poignant and amusing prelude to the remaining days of the race, I'll step aside from the subject of politics for a while and return to my "Unsettled" chapters.
Hope to post one this weekend.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Old, Older and Even Ancient News

That Won't Likely Make the Headlines
I wrote the first half of this post early this morning and the second half later this evening. The first TV screen below is video footage from a few months ago now seen for the first time. We know of Obama's long relationship with the Reverend Wright and his friends, Father Michael Pfleger and Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. Voters understand that liberals need to appear moderate to be politically palatable. We know why Obama must feign distance from these early influences on in his life. We know, too, that these two stories will get brief mention if any in the main-stream media, but watch with me this weekend to see if instead some negative McCain/Palin story doesn't get more press. See if these two developments aren't swept aside like every other bump in Obama's road to the White House.

When you consider the closing paragraphs of the previous post and the civil but cautious discussion in the comments that followed it. This clip sheds new light on a concern many people quietly share--not about race, no way, Obama's race is one of his most appealing factors in my and many of my friends' opinions--nor is it about "guilt by association." No, there is something much deeper that is very disturbing: it's this messiah complex, this sense that Obama is not running for President of the United States but for President of the World... that's is the gut level discomfort that a growing number of people sense but can't explain. The feeling becomes even more visceral as the global nature of the current crisis becomes understood, and as Obama begins to
orchestrate his role and please his followers in a new world order.
Now watch the video (if it doesn't get pulled from Youtube) and imagine for a moment that anything remotely like this had just been caught on a camera not in Chicago but up in Alaska about Sarah Palin. How would the media treat that?

Oprah used similar language in her endorsements of "the one."

And now on to the other concern raised in the previous post: Obama's connections to Bill Ayers. That's him there standing on the American flag in a photo taken in 2001 for Chicago Magazine. You may recall it was Hillary Clinton who first brought this man up to Obama's face during the primaries. I believe it was what the Clinton machine new about this man and truth about his ties to Obama's Chicago political career that made Hillary stay in the race so long, waiting for the shoe to drop, the shoe that she said made Obama "unelectable."

Well, the truth about Ayer's ties to Obama has been trying to raise its head like a "Whack-a-mole" at Chucky Cheese's, but the media keeps whacking it down in the hole as if to say, "Hey, our candidate said he barely knows the guy and we know he wouldn't lie so we're going to whack that truth-mole down every time it raises its head."

Then this past weekend the New York Times wrote a small article about Ayers in hopes of raising and dismissing the issue for the final time. The McCain-Palin ticket started talking about the Times piece, and how does Obama respond? With an honest explanation? Nope, they released an on-line Keating Five documentary (professionally made weeks ago but held for this moment) as if to say, “'You’ve got your troubles; I’ve got mine.' If you bring up my long connections to a former but unrepentant domestic terrorist who is still a radical communist trampler of traditional American values, I'll remind everyone that 20 years ago you were found innocent of charges that stuck to the four other Democrats involved in the Keating S & L mess of the '80s. One of those Dems, John Glenn, now serves on my campaign team. I'll remind everyone that your proven innocence followed Senate hearings and in-depth discovery and reporting of the media and mud-slinging by the Dems in control of both houses, the same parties that now sweep my ties to Aires under the rug.” No, he didn't say that. Instead he went on the air with Charles Gibson and told the same lame "he's just a guy in the neighborhood--I was only 8 at the time" smoke screen. And Gibson bought it... again.

But finally, a network beyond Fox is paying attention. A couple nights ago, CNN released this report.

You may be saying, "Who cares, Tom. So he has political ties to a man who was photographed standing on an American flag just a few years ago for a Chicago magazine? (Not when Obama was 8 but when he was 40.) So Obama's political career started in that man's home. So what if they sat on small boards together through his Chicago career. So what if Ayers secured millions of dollars for Obama to spend on pet projects connected to radical groups in Chicago. Who cares?"

I do for one, and I think millions of other un-polled voters will, too. To me the issue is not about whether Obama espouses Ayer's terrorist past--who would--it's about the fact that he espouses his more recent attitudes about education and "activism.". Obama spent over 100 million on "education reform" with Ayers. I think we need to know about those programs, but he's not talking because he knows they "flopped" and are so far from what mainstream America would consider a proper use of money, he dare not let his "Ayers years" be known. Truth is Obama benefited from their professional and political relationship for many years, yet he now tries to pass him off as Mr. Rogers... just a guy in the neighborhood.

There's a pattern here. There's another "guy" in Obama's newer Chicago neighborhood (2005). He helped occupy Obama when he first came to Chicago: Tony Rezko, his long-time cohort who lives across the street from the house he helped Obama purchase. [He's not there now, but he will be once he's out of prison]. One story here and another story. Hillary talked about it but was ignored). The more we know about those who groomed him for their purposes, and those who indoctrinated him for 20 years... the more we see Obama distancing himself (to feign electability) from the very people who made him what he is.

Let me bring all this discussion to the thread of these posts about my father's influence on my teen years. When a man is raised without a father, this does not disqualify him for anything in life, but it does make it all the more important to see what kind of men shaped his life and help mentor him along. What kind of men gave "a leg up" if you will. As Aesop says, “A man is known by the company he keeps.”

Sure the economic meltdown is hitting us all, but as we decide who to put our trust in to fix it, what will we hear about all weekend? Troopergate! As if it's equally newsworthy to the concerns alluded to in links above. I've heard three different reports so far tonight about Palin's "abuse of power," but beyond the false headline, the stories tell us that Alaska's Governor Palin was found innocent of the bogus charge her Democratic opposition trumped up. Yes, they officially admitted that she did not wrongfully dismiss anyone in her cabinet, BUT since after all this hoopla they figured they had to sling some sort of mud, they tacked on an accusation that she abused her power by not using the authority of her office to stop a citizen (her husband) from expressing concerns about a rougue state trooper who was reported twice for drinking while driving his patrol car, shot a moose out of season, tasered his step son, and threatened to put a bullet in his father-in-law (the governor's father) if he came over during a domestic dispute. Whoa, hold the presses! Citizen files repeated concerns about an unlawful, drunken law officer.

So again I'll ask the question: if footage and facts one-tenth as damaging as the ignored Obama stories above were discovered about Sarah Palin, what would all the networks be talking non-stop?
Which only goes to prove... It's good to be the chosen one.

The chapter about Dad's Bridge is on its way!

21 comments below...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thoughts on Home Ownership

And the Conflicting Ideals of Freedom and Equality

Whether it's buying a ready-made 3-bedroom ranch in the suburbs or "settling" some land in the country, the privilege of home ownership is not universally shared around the world. I'm not saying similar things do not happen elsewhere. We know the hill tribes of Northern Thailand carve villages into the hillside wherever they go. But they do not "own" that remote land, they simply occupy it until the ever-changing Thai government decides what to do with them.

In communist countries for much of the 20th Century the thought of buying a piece of property and making it home was unheard of. The government attempted to provide "equal" housing for all its workers, and since everyone worked for the State, home ownership was not needed. Slightly further back in time, there were various cast systems where "lords" (from which we get the term "land lord") allowed peasants to exist on their land--for a price or share of their crop.

In some respects, American history is the story of personal land ownership slowly moving westward from sea to shining sea. It wasn't always pretty. At first, explorers came at the pleasure of kings to expand wealth and empires. Then, after the Revolution, ownership was associated with slavery on southern plantations, and elsewhere there was all that "we were here first" stuff to settle with the Native Americans. See what I mean? There were some ugly lessons to learn along the way.

But by the end of the Civil War the plot line begins to turn to themes romantically depicted in works like "Far and Away" and "Little House on the Prairie." For over a hundred years, home ownership has been realized by more Americans per capita than any other country in history. Farm couples and factory workers alike can save their pennies for someday, and when they've saved enough money or earned enough "good credit" to borrow from a bank, they can buy a "starter home" or the land on which to build a dream.

Lately, the term “affordable housing” has risen to the ranks of words like freedom and equality. Ironically, "freedom" and "equality" are conflicting ideals. The "freer" man is to pursue happiness the sooner he becomes less "equal" with those around him, because freedom allows each individual to rise above his current position; it allows for both self-improvement and self pity; it allows one man to build a tire factory, another man to sell rope, and yet another man to put up a tire swing. All three enterprises can be profitable in different ways, but the last one will likely put less in the bank.

Freedom begins at equality but allows excelling. It begins at an even starting line without guaranteeing a tie. For instance, when Ray Kroc decided to start the McDonalds franchise in 1955, his idea was to excel--to be more than equal to--other hamburger joints in America. The same holds true for athletes and athletic teams. Show me the team that strives merely to be equal to its competition, where winning doesn't matter or improve contracts, and I'll show you some happy bench warmers.
The ideal and responsibility to love our neighbor and treat all men equally will never change, but "created equal," as Jefferson put it, is a starting point not a material outcome. Each of us is free to strive toward the risks and rewards of self improvement even if it means we may be unequal in the end. That is the essence of freedom and its flaws, when they arise, rest in fallen human nature.
Governments should ensure that all starting lines are equal, but when they change starting lines to "equalize" outcomes, it underscores the conflict between the ideals of freedom and equality. In the name of "fairness," they become as unfair as referees who bend the rules of the game or overlook disqualifications, in order to even the score. Enduring such games inevitably leads to apathy and/or anarchy.
[A month later this op-ed piece confirmed the above thoughts.]
What has this to do with home ownership? Land and home ownership is part of the "pursuit of happiness" that Jefferson described in the Declaration of Independence. It is not an entitlement. It's not even a right. It must be earned; risks must be personalized if the potential gain means anything at all.

When the government gets into the “land lord business” through giant "Federally-controlled-publicly-traded" lenders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when they bend the rules, overlook disqualifications, and basically suspend common sense about human nature, the dream of home ownership can become a nightmare for the homeowners who actually play by the rules, buying only homes they can afford, and faithfully making the monthly payments. When the government motivates lending agencies to make sub-prime loans to borrowers with bad credit or who have not yet demonstrated the ability to save money, when they pay multi-million-dollar bonuses to CEOs for peddling those bad loans, when those leaders walk away pointing their fingers at those who tried to sound the alarm, why should anyone be surprised when foreclosure signs start springing up like plastic flamingos in front yards everywhere?
Regardless of how you're voting this fall, Folks, if we hope to change this mess, we must first take a good look at how we got here and who’s most likely to prevent it from ever happening again.

In this excellent article by Thomas Sowell [right] he asks Do Facts Matter? Here are the video clips that support Sowell's findings. Here is a similar report. This must-see clip from 2005 shows the connection between liberal good intentions and their shortsighted practices. As you may recall, the Feds bailed out those two failed mortgage giants (150 Billion Dollars) two weeks before the $700,000,000,000 bail-out last week. While I'm not a fan of Bill O'Reilly and question the theatrics of his anger in this exchange, listen closely to what Barney Frank says in the first clip. He does say the "prospects going forward are very solid" and then later says he never said it. He also acts as if he and Dodd and Maxine Waters did not continually mock concerns and block legislation for years. There are only a handful of "stars" in Hollywood who dare to support McCain. Yesterday Jon Voight asks the press to do its job in telling the history of this Fanny Mae/Freddie Mac mess.

I say these things not to be political, not to point fingers, but to explain the fundamental financial flaw that brought us to this point. It was not so much a failure of true "free market" policy. It was years of the "refs" changing the rules and overlooking disqualifications to the tune of billions of dollars in bad loans. True, greed was at the heart of it, but not all of the greed was on Wall Street. Sowell said, "Franklin Raines made $90 million while he was head of Fannie Mae and mismanaging that institution into crisis. Who in Congress defended Franklin Raines? Liberal Democrats, including Maxine Waters and the Congressional Black Caucus, at least one of whom referred to the "lynching" of Raines, as if it was racist to hold him to the same standard as white CEOs." I wince at including that quote, but it helps explain why so many are slow to talk about this subject. The only thing worse than racism is when it is falsely charged.
Believe it or not this very current topic ties directly in to this story I’ve been telling.
My father was a hard-working middle class guy. The chapters you’ve read thus far and those yet to come, are about a man and his family who didn’t live beyond their means. This story from barn to house takes seven years, because Dad was so opposed to debt that he “paid as he went” with every one of these projects. Eventually when we get to the part about building the house, he never took out a mortgage, and it took three years to finish the house AFTER WE MOVED INTO THE BASEMENT to live. During that time, he also scraped together enough to pay half the college bill for four kids. (We paid the other half ourselves with the money we’d saved and earned working our summers and holding jobs on campus.)
So when I fondly revisit the hard work in these chapters, I am again thankful for the values and world view I picked up from Dad along the way, and I'm reminded that in this imperfect, broken world the cure is sometimes worse than the sickness. Not all change is good.
I have written favorably about some of the qualities of both candidates in the past, I have friends on both bandwagons, but over time I've seen something that has made my choice clear. The best of leaders can inspire individuals to excel in their freedom regardless of elections; they elevate American ideals and disassociate with those who do not. [Follow-up link. Here's another and another. And this one from Time Magazine that puts it in a simple question. Explained here.] Leaders value this republic/democracy because to "empower" people is a greater good than being put "in power." They are humbled by their influence and do not strut or cock the head as if to charm a hen from its nest.
When you consider history and how quickly things mushroom when throngs of partisan people, fraudulent hired hands, blind judges ignoring voter fraud, vulgar celebrities, marching youth, global enchantment, and singing children put all their hope in "the one" man who will "change the world," you begin to wonder if this electrified but polarized electorate will have the civil composure to accept either outcome on November 4th. You begin to wonder if we'll recognize in four years this nation that on its worst day is still the first choice that millions of onlookers would love to call home.
WSL in the comment section has directed our attention to this non-partisan article that echoes many of these thoughts about freedom and the America that will "pass" if we don't realize what we're about to lose. I've not read Joe before, but I like this article:
"The Truth on the Bailout" by Joe Soucheray.
Coming soon: Chapter 8: Dad's Bridge
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