Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama and the Power of Words

These are words that move and uplift, that give hope to the hopeless. These words inspired millions of voters nationwide to join the grand experiment called democracy, casting votes for their candidate, their country, their destiny: "More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country, to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values . . . For those who have abandoned hope, we'll restore hope and we'll welcome them into a great national crusade to make America great again!"

So Ronald Reagan proclaimed on July 17, 1980, as he accepted his party's nomination for president at the Republican National Convention in Detroit, Mich. Earlier that day, the New York Times ran a long profile of Reagan on its front page. The author, Howell Raines, lamented that the news media had been unsuccessful in getting Reagan to speak in anything other than "sweeping generalities about economic and military policy." Mr. Raines further noted: "political critics who characterize him as banal and shallow, a mouther of right-wing platitudes, delight in recalling that he co-starred with a chimpanzee in 'Bedtime for Bonzo.'"

Throughout his campaign, Reagan fought off charges that his candidacy was built more on optimism than policies. The charges came from reporters and opponents. John Anderson, a rival in the Republican primary who ran as an independent in the general election, complained that Reagan offered little more than "old platitudes and old generalities."

Conservatives understood that this Reagan-as-a-simpleton view was a caricature (something made even clearer in several recent books, particularly Reagan's own diaries). That his opponents never got this is what led to their undoing. Those critics who giggled about his turn alongside a chimp were considerably less delighted when Reagan won 44 states and 489 electoral votes in November. One Reagan adviser had predicted such a win shortly after Reagan had become the de facto nominee the previous spring. In a memo about the coming general election contest with Jimmy Carter, Richard Whalen wrote Reagan's "secret weapon" was that "Democrats fail to take him very seriously."

Are Republicans making the same mistake with Barack Obama? ... In just the past week, conservative commentators have accused Mr. Obama of speaking in "Sesame Street platitudes," of giving speeches that are "almost content free," of "saying nothing." He has been likened to Chance the Gardner, the clueless mope in Jerzy Koscinski's "Being There," whose banal utterances are taken as brilliant by a gullible political class. Others complain that his campaign is "messianic," too self-aggrandizing and too self-referential....

The assumption behind much of this criticism is that because Mr. Obama gives a good speech he cannot do substance. This is wrong. Mr. Obama has done well in most of the Democratic debates because he has consistently shown himself able to think on his feet. Even on health care, a complicated national issue that should be Mrs. Clinton's strength, Mr. Obama has regularly fought her to a draw by displaying a grasp of the details that rivals hers, and talking about it in ways Americans can understand.

More here



I would like to think something good about Obama -- seeing he could well be next POTUS -- so here is one excerpt that seems to have a point: "The best evidence of Obama's readiness to lead the nation is th e ability with which he has run for president. After all, what is more difficult, complicated, or challenging than getting elected president? What other life experience better illustrates one's qualification to hold the office than a manifest skill in seeking it. For anyone who has ever been elected president, the race that sent them to the White House was the single most important event in their lives and dwarfs any other experience they might have had before running. As we have watched Obama surmount the hurdles that lay in his path, we cannot help but be impressed with his judgment. .... Will he be a good president? If he is half as skillful in serving as he has been in running, he can't miss."

Obama terrorist connection: "The board of a nonprofit organization on which Sen. Barack Obama served as a paid director alongside a confessed domestic terrorist granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns the establishment of Israel as a "catastrophe" and supports intense immigration reform, including providing drivers licenses and education to illegal aliens. The co-founder of the Arab group in question, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, also has held a fundraiser for Obama. Khalidi is a harsh critic of Israel, has made statements supportive of Palestinian terror and reportedly has worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization while it was involved in anti-Western terrorism and was labeled by the State Department as a terror group."

A comment on Obama's latest example of economic ignorance here

The most thorough fisking of the NYT hit-job on McCain that I have seen is here. Another good comment from the same writer: "The flimsy, anonymous claims of the McCain story stand in stark contrast with the paper's burial of a real infidelity scandal, the Paula Jones affair, which broke when Bill Clinton was seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1991. The Times buried or dismissed Jones's claims that she had been propositioned by Clinton when he was governor of Arkansas. (She later reached an out-of-court settlement with Clinton for substantial damages.) It ignored the claims by Juanita Broaddrick that she had been aggressively propositioned by Clinton. It buried the claims by Gennifer Flowers that she had a long-running affair with Clinton when he was governor, a claim supported by corroborating evidence. It disdained the whole saga of Clinton's serial infidelities until the pattern exploded inside the White House with the Monica Lewinsky affair"

Invisible dots left by printers 'breach privacy': "European Union justice watchdogs are concerned that "Big Brother" computer printer technology that allows security agencies to track printed documents might breach privacy laws. Most consumers are unaware that many popular colour laser printers, including those made by Brother, Cannon, Xerox and HP, embed almost invisible tracking dots onto documents, uniquely identifying the machine that printed them. Franco Frattini, European Commissioner for Justice and Security, has launched an investigation after receiving official complaints from Euro-MPs. "To the extent that individuals may be identified through material printed or copied using certain equipment, such processing may give rise to the violation of fundamental human rights, namely the right to privacy and private life," he said. "It also might violate the right to protection of personal data."

Bureaucracy kills: "Fifty years ago, Detroit was the fourth largest city in the United States, with a population of 1.7 million people, and at $8,500 per year, one of the richest cities in terms of per capita income. It was 3.5 times the size of Indianapolis, the 26th largest city, whose income was almost identical on a per capita basis. Today Detroit and Indianapolis are the 11th and 12th largest cities, respectively, with Detroit's population cut in half from 50 years ago (and losing 3,000 people per year this decade), while Indianapolis has grown by 70% during the same time frame. Remarkably, Indianapolis now has a per capita income 50% greater than Detroit's. How did this happen? One answer, according to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, is that Detroit's city government is far larger, more regulation prone, and more bureaucratic than Indianapolis's city government: the ratio of residents to city employees, a key measure of city government productivity, is 50:1 in Detroit, one of the worst in the United States, but is 203:1 in Indianapolis, one of the best. More broadly, the central issue in political economy concerns the optimal delineation of the sphere of government activity versus that ascribed to markets, and in this essay we examine this question from the vantage point of municipalities."

Some articles here and here and here and here on the sub-prime mortgage collapse and why it is a bad idea for government to intervene


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


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