Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Question that Dared Not Be Asked.

Is it in Hillary Clinton's political interest for Barack Obama to win election in November?
Operation Backtrack Begins.

Barack Obama addressed AIPAC last week, and talked real tough on Iran (emphasis added):

"My presidency will strengthen our hand as we restore our standing. Our willingness to pursue diplomacy will make it easier to mobilize others to join our cause. If Iran fails to change course when presented with this choice by the United States, it will be clear - to the people of Iran, and to the world - that the Iranian regime is the author of its own isolation. That will strengthen our hand with Russia and China as we insist on stronger sanctions in the Security Council. And we should work with Europe, Japan and the Gulf states to find every avenue outside the UN to isolate the Iranian regime - from cutting off loan guarantees and expanding financial sanctions, to banning the export of refined petroleum to Iran, to boycotting firms associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which has rightly been labeled a terrorist organization."

He also declared that the use of military force in dealing with Iran was not off the table, in either dealimg with a threat against Israel or preventing Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon. Yet last year when the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment to HR1585 (Defense Appropriations) came to a vote, which stated:

" (b) Sense of Senate.--It is the sense of the Senate--
(1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;
(2) that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi'a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq;
(3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;
(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;
that the United States should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, as established under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and initiated under Executive Order 13224; and
(6) that the Department of the Treasury should act with all possible expediency to complete the listing of those entities targeted under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747 adopted unanimously on December 23, 2006 and March 24, 2007, respectively

Mr. Obama opposed the amendment (which was cosponsored by McCain), based on a lame claim that it greases the skids to attack Iran (for example, see Marc Ambinder's analysis). Please - it's plain language that lays out what B.O. later pledged in front of AIPAC. So what does he really believe?

Friday, June 06, 2008

McCain on the Economy: The Gas Tax Holiday.

We've dissected Mr. Obama's "plan" for the economy, let us now turn to what John McCain is proposing for helping the economy. The first topic is relief for increased fuel prices by a "holiday" on gasoline diesel fuel taxes. This has been much criticized by the Obamaniacs as "not an economic plan". Of course it isn't a central point to an economic plan, but it's something tangible that can be done immediately to provide some relief: a three-month suspension of the 18-cent Federal gasoline tax, and a similar suspension of the 24-cent diesel tax.

For a two-car family, a three-month tax suspension would save folks about $100. It's a not lot of money, just an inextravagant trip to the grocery store. But another important savings is that for commericial trucking: the suspension of the federal tax on diesel is equivalent to a 5% improvement in fuel economy for a large commerical truck. This is significant to trucking companies, who transport 70% of goods to the market. The Tulsa World has recently discussed the impact of fuel costs on these companies; for example, a reduction of fuel costs of 5% would save a company with a fleet of 1500 trucks around $400K in a three-month period. This relief will slow the rising costs of food and products to consumers. It is not the principal point to McCain's plan, but it is not inconsequential.

It's interesting to note that in spite of the Dem's claims for wanting to help average Americans, they have decided that it is more important to keep raking in $65M a day from the gasoline tax - which can then be redistributed for political patronage than give the average Joe a hundred-buck break on gas.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Meaningless Gesture.

Obamism has declared that the DNC shall no longer eat from the Tree of the Lobbyist. Well, not quite: from the AP story:

Obama's ban on lobbyists money is not ironclad. He does accept money from lobbyists who do not do business with the federal government and he also accepts money from spouses and family members of lobbyists. He has had unpaid advisers with federal lobbying clients, and some campaign officials also previously had lobbying jobs.

The new fundraising policy is not expected to hurt the party's fundraising ability because lobbyists and PACs do not constitute a major source of money.

In other words, the proclamation means nothing. Nor will he accept contributions from Tralfamadorians.
E Pluribus Pluribus.

Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal comments on the legacy of forty years of identity politics in the Democratic Party. In particular, the Democrat's white liberal ruling elite had accomodated the Balkanization of the party, as long as it delivered the votes of the inner cities to their candidates. Henninger suggests that under Obamism things will not get better.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What's in the Box? Part I: The Economy.

The Left has bought the Obama Mystery Box, so let's see what's in it. We start with Obama's vision for intervening in the free market...I mean "investing in America's future". Now, the proposed plans of presidential candidates are usually worth less than the paper they are printed on, nevertheless, here are the highlights of his plan on the economy, from the Obama website:

The Problems -

  • no real wage growth
  • inflation in necessities, health care, housing costs, and college education
  • historically low savings rate
  • "tax cuts for wealthy instead of the middle class"
The Solutions -

  • Taxes: $1000 tax cuts for "working families" - i.e. Bush Stimulus II, simplify tax filings for "middle class Americans", uh...that's it on taxes, folks.
  • Trade: "fight for fair trade", oppose CAFTA, enforce labor and environment standards, use WTO to stop subsidies and import barriers, amend NAFTA, displaced worker training...well, good luck with all of that.
  • Tech: more money for R&D, more money for education, training, and "workforce development", money for alternative energy and automakers, more money for youth jobs, and more money for many other things.
  • Labor: support more expansive labor organization, increase minimum wage (which means higher labor contract wage baselines).
  • Homeownership: 10% "universal mortgage credit" (huh?), crack down on crooked lendors (and borrowers?), better disclosure, create forclosure rescue fund. Credit card reform , expand small consumer loans, wipe out bankruptcies caused by medical expenses. Is your wallet feeling lighter?
  • "Work - Family Balance": expand family leave to small businesses, money to expand paid leave, more money for afterschool programs, expand child and dependent care tax credit, "protect against caregiver discrimination", expand flex-time work programs.

The "plan" is a mish-mosh of noble-sounding platitudes with a generous helping of pledges to Democrat interest-groups - which means lots of increased spending. Nor is there discussion as to how "The Plan" specifically addresses "The Problems".

And the Senator's experience on this issue? He has to reach back to his state senate record in order to produce sufficient padding of accomplishment for his resume on the economy.