Friday, June 27, 2008

Programming Note

Posting may be light in the upcoming days.

Beginning today we will be beginning a two week family vacation that begins with this drive (alluded to in this post):

Greensboro, NC to Driggs, ID

How long of a drive is that, you ask?

11,520 bottles of beer on the wall.

Or, more conventionally, 2,100 miles. It's 32 hours driving time according to Google Maps -- but the GPS cuts a couple hours off of that.

We will be checking in and posting over the next two weeks -- and while we cannot predict with certainty how often -- we won't be completly out of pocket. Though we assure you we won't be in any hurry to get to breaking news quickly.

Instead, the blogging may take the form of more personal material. Pictures of the scenery, the bonfires, the fireworks, maybe a hot air balloon or two, the 4th of July parade in downtown Victor, ID, Grand Targhee Resort and Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Or we may just take the whole two weeks off.

Who knows? We don't.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Committing Busicide

Via HotAir, Governor Bill Richardson seems a bit off the message of the Obamagospel. Not only does he encourage more drilling (though he does leave the wiggle room regarding offshore and ANWR), he also says we need to get away from corn-based ethanol.

But Obama likes corn. Obama loves corn. He just can't get enough corn.

Captain Ed seems befuddled that an Obama supporter such as Richardson, a man who has VP aspirations, would stray this far off message. In fact, the Captain went so far as to title his post, "Richardson tosses himself under the Obama bus?"

Now, some may view such a scene as the work of the man who, as Jim Geraghty once described him, "spat out gaffes like a Pez dispenser".

Uh, no. Not this time.

This was the cool and calculating act of a man deliberately tossing himself under the bus.

Wouldn't you?

It's a no brainer.

And yes, follow the links for the obligatory pictures.

WTF?

License plates are the new front in the culture wars. While South Carolina and Florida are contemplating Christian license plates, North Carolina caters to an entirely different target market:

RALEIGH -- Thanks to some text message-savvy grandchildren, North Carolina drivers whose license plates have the potentially offensive "WTF" letter combination can replace the tags for free.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Tuesday the state Division of Motor Vehicles has notified nearly 10,000 holders of license plates with the letter combination.

Officials learned last year the common acronym stands for a vulgar phrase in e-mail and cell phone text messages.

The DMV recently realized the same letters appeared on the sample license plate on its own Web site. Officials are trying to remove the plate from the site.

DMV officials got word of the plates last July when a 60-year-old technology teacher from Fayetteville complained about the plate after her teenage grandchildren clued her in.

The article doesn’t say, but only thing we can come up with is “Why The Frown?” – but we are reasonably certain that’s not what the acronym stands for.

OK, fine, we’ll come clean. We know what it stands for.

And yes, we’ll come fully clean about our dirty minds. A couple of years ago we sat with a neighbor trying to input “potentially offensive” acronyms and abbreviations into the page on the NC DMV website where you can order personalized license plates. Our neighbor was registering his motorcycle and wanted to see if he could get something, well, “potentially offensive” for it.

Despite the snafu with the "WTF" plates, we can happily report that the web site provided adequate protection against our evil machinations.


MORE: No. This was not the neighbor whose tree was struck by lightning.



Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When the abstract rubber meets the concrete road

Dean Barnett has penned one of those, “why didn’t I think of that?” articles in the Weekly Standard. In it he points out that politicians (and pundits such as himself) do not personally feel the pain at the pump to the level that most Americans do, because to them, driving often and/or over substantial distances is only an abstract concept.

Dean describes his driving habits this way:

I live just outside of Boston. On most days, my morning commute consists of trundling from my bedroom to the den where my laptop awaits. When I get ambitious or antsy, I run out to Starbucks for a latte or Whole Foods for some provisions. The Starbucks is about 300 yards from my house. Sometimes I walk it! But even when I don't walk, I don't use much gas. The Whole Foods is a couple of miles from my house; that I never walk, but my fuel consumption is minimal. My principal leisure activity is heading off to the golf course. That's four miles away. Every now and then I take a more ambitious journey, but as you can see I have a carbon footprint that would make me eligible for an "Al Gore Responsible Steward of the Environment" prize. And I haven't even had to put phoney-baloney solar panels on my house to display my environmental purity.

My minimal amount of driving means I fill up my gas tank on average a little more than once a month. With a 12-13 gallon purchase per fill-up, I'm dropping about $50 each time I visit my pal Eric at the neighborhood service station. So the sharp increase from $2 a gallon to $4 a gallon costs me a grand total of roughly $25 per month. To date, I have found this burden bearable.

Though we might be tempted to dwell on the revelation that Dean is a Starbucks-latte-sippin’, Whole-Foods-arugula-lovin’ pundit, let’s press on.

After briefly describing Obama’s driving situation as being somewhat similar to his (in that he lives in a big city), Dean then makes this observation:

But there's an entire country that exists outside greater Boston and Hyde Park, Chicago.

Dean then uses the experience of a recent golf trip to eastern Colorado as his example.

He should have asked us.

We had been working on a post to help explain how the cost of gas is affecting our family – and we were going to use an upcoming road trip to show how in 2005 it would have cost us $370 in gas, but now it will cost us nearly $700 (yes, a long, cross-country trip we are making by choice – and to which we bitterly joyfully cling, no matter the price of gas – to go spend a couple of weeks with family).

But this article gives us an idea for a different approach. And at the risk of incurring the wrath of Senator Obama and his disciples, we will use Michelle to help us illustrate the point.

Michelle Obama has famously stated:

“We spend between the two kids, on extracurriculars outside the classroom, we’re spending about $10,000 a year on piano and dance and sports supplements. And summer programs… Do you know what summer camp costs?”

For our purposes here, we will assume that the cost of transporting the kiddos to and from these extracurriculars is included in the ten grand.

And for our purposes, let’s assume Michelle drives average of 10 miles per day for an average of 5 days per week, a total of 50 miles each week transporting the peanuts to and from these extracurriculars.

Finally for our purposes, let’s assume that $10,000 was the cost in 2007, and assume a 3% annual inflation in non-gas related costs, but a constant participation across the years in the same extracurriculars.

Now. Let’s take our family. We too have extracurriculars for our two precious chicken nuggets. Between them we have swim lessons, golf lessons, gymnastics and soccer. Oh, and no summer camp (oh, we hear you Michelle, it is expensive! And we haven't even written one best-selling memoir, let alone two like your husband). We go the cheaper route of touring the Vacation Bible School Circuit with neighbors, classmates and teammates. The back of the envelope calculation bring us to $1,200 a year for these extracurriculars for the little angels, before gas.

Ah, gas. Yes, we don’t live in a big city. We live past the outskirts of a medium-sized city. Because it is part of our neighborhood’s name, friends refer to us as living in the “Woods”, as in practically out in the woods in cabins – where our in-town friends are surprised to learn that we have running water and electricity. When we head in toward town to go to these extracurriculars, we stock up on survival provisions, should anything happen to us on the way or on our return. Having looked up the mileage from our house to the various venues of the extracurriculars for the little darlins, it comes to a rough average of 150 miles per week (just the extracurriculars, not going to school, or work or the store or other errands or stops).

So, if we look at the overall cost of giving our munchkins the proper participation in extracurriculars to put them on the path to prevail in life – and the impact of rising gas costs over the past five years, how do we compare with the Obamas?

Let’s make that a more graphical depiction of the change we’ve not been waiting for, charting the percentage rise in cost versus 2004 as the starting point:

Now, an 18% rise over the past five years in the overall cost of extracurriculars is nothing to sneeze at (You know, this conversation isn’t helping Michelle’s kids).

But I’m certain that that 18% rise goes nearly unfelt in the Obama household when compared to the 55% rise in ours.

In fact, the price of gas has not moved very much as a percentage of the Obamas overall extracurriculars spending. For us, on the other hand, it now costs more to drive the punkins to their extracurriculars than it does for them to participate in them.

And yet, we couldn’t be in a better place – surrounded by wonderful neighbors, our kids going to fantastic schools, in a church home filled with people who love and take care of each other. We wouldn’t move for the world.

The price of gas could double from here, and we would consider ourselves blessed beyond measure.

But there are certainly those for whom an 18% increase in the cost of providing extracurricular activities for their children would prove debilitating, and even moreso a 56% increase.

Dean makes this point regarding Obama’s ability to understand (or willingness to act on) this situation:

The fact that our pundit class can't imagine how most of the country lives is hardly surprising. But Barack Obama is another story. He's running for president of the United States, not king of Hyde Park. If he wins, he'll be leader of all the people, not just the ones who live in cities and for whom their cars are luxuries. It shows a shocking lack of imagination that he can't deduce how painful hyper-expensive gasoline is for most Americans. Either that, or his enthusiasm for $4 a gallon gas evidences a callous indifference.

We have the necessary supply of imagination to supply our answer to that choice.

Both.

--------------------------

The gas cost was calculated taking the total miles per week x 52 / 20 mpg x the average price of gas in roughly June of each year:

2004: $1.85
2005: $2.20
2006: $2.75
2007: $2.95
2008: $4.05



Fewer chickens in every pot and fewer cars in every garage

From Real Clear Politics…in response to McCain acknowledging that drilling for oil offshore would not provide immediate relief, but that there would be some psychological relief that would be good, Obama called him on “psychological relief” gimmick, and claimed the mantle of true relief giver with this:

Well the American people ... need real relief that will help them fill up their tanks and put food on their table. They need a long-term energy strategy that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil by investing in the renewable sources of energy that represent the future. That's what they need."

Did you follow that?

The American people need relief to help them fill their tanks and feed their families.

OK, I’m all for it! Now, let’s get to work. What are we going to do to provide real relief, Senator Obama?

A long-term energy strategy that invests in renewable energy of the future.

So, that puts gas in our tank and food on our table how?

Because, and forgive us for our impudence but, you do want to provide real relief now, don’t you Senator?

Oh, wait… (h/t Geraghty)

But to encourage a transition toward alternatives, Obama favors legislation that would make fossil fuel more expensive. Doesn't that mean more pain to come under an Obama presidency? "There is no doubt that in the short term, adapting to this new energy economy is going to carry some costs." But, he adds, citing the coal industry's ability to adapt to stop acid rain in the 1980s, "I would never underestimate the power of American innovation."

So, Obama is willing to say the American people need real relief – he’s just not willing to do anything to provide it.

Obama wants our gas tanks empty and our dinner tables sparse.

Got it, thanks.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Obama is full of it

Chances are you think that Obama is running against John McCain. But according to Obama, back when he was just starting his campaign, that's not the case:

Over the next year of a primary and the next two years leading to the election of the next president, the campaigns...(APPLAUSE)... the campaigns shouldn't be about making each other look bad, they should be about figuring out how we can all do some good for this precious country of ours. (APPLAUSE)

That's our mission.

And in this mission, our rivals won't be one another, and I would assert it won't even be the other party. It's going to be cynicism that we're fighting against.

Very well. Cynicism. So how's he doing?

What do you call it when Obama rails about NAFTA in the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries, has an advisor who tells Canadian officials that it’s just campaign rhetoric which Obama forcefully denies, then come the general election, Obama admits in regards to NAFTA that sometimes campaign rhetoric gets overheated and amplified? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama pledges that he would hold face-to-face presidential level meetings with leaders such as Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il without pre-conditions, but then walks back that pledge with a level of nuance requiring thousand word essays to understand? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama says he could no more disown his pastor of 20+ years than he could the entire black community – only to disown him a few weeks later when the pastor becomes more electoral trouble than he’s worth? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama, in that same defense of his pastor, says he could no more disown him than he could his own white grandmother, because she was at times prejudiced, and when questioned on it, claims that she’s just a typical white person? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama agrees that Reverend Wright is a legitimate political issue, but when McCain agrees that many voters would agree with Obama, he has his campaign attack McCain for being divisive and distracting? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama raises money in San Francisco by describing small-town Pennsylvanians as people who have become bitter and who cling to guns and religion and anti-immigrant sentiment? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama distorts McCain’s 100 years in Iraq comments – from the original intent of 100 years of military presence in a pacified Iraq into saying McCain favored 100 more years war? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama, confronted about this distortion, actually claims that he is right by citing YouTube, when YouTube proves him absolutely wrong? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama claims that any Republican invocation of Osama bin Laden or Islamist terrorists represents the "politics of fear", yet never misses an opportunity to say that Bush has failed to capture or kill Osama? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama, asked about not wearing a flag pin, claims that he stopped wearing it because it was a substitute for real patriotism, but then starts wearing it again as he campaigns in places where such patriotism could get him some votes? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama spends nearly the entirety of his political career benefiting from the patronage of Antonin Rezko, but when Rezko is convicted of corruption, claims that the convicted felon is not the man he knew? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama has worked closely with William Ayers, serving on boards with him in Chicago, but then when questions about Ayers' past as a domestic terrorist heat up, passes him off as just his neighbor, and draws an equivalence between him Republican Senator Tom Coburn? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama, faced with campaign missteps, blames it on staffers...over a dozen times? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama blasts Hillary for ties to the mortgage industry and Countrywide Financial in particular, yet then goes and hires Jim Johnson, who benefited from a VIP loan from Countrywide's President, to be his Vice Presidential candidate vetter? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama, faced with questions about his choice of Johnson to provide perhaps the single most important task of his campaign, says that he is tangential, unpaid and therefore not even working for him? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama says repeatedly that he does not take money from oil companies, when it is illegal for companies to donate directly to a federal candidate? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama uses the line about oil companies to present himself free of any ties to the oil industry, yet he has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from executives and employees of oil companies? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama decries the influence of special interests, yet has helped secure tax breaks for pharmaceutical companies? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama rails against Washington lobbyists, then hires them, sends current lobbyists a fundraising letter and takes money from recent lobbyists or family members of current lobbyists. Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama says he will meet McCain anytime, anywhere to debate, but when McCain suggests 10 town hall debates, Obama counters with just one town hall...on July 4th? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama tells AIPAC that Jerusalem must remain undivided one day, then backtracks when Palestinians object the next, then sends out an advisor to explain his mistake as a sign of great intelligence and nuance? Cynicism.

What do you call it when in Obama's first general election campaign ad, he claims to have “extended health care to wounded troops who had been neglected”, when in reality he didn't even vote on the bill cited in the ad, and the bill itself did little or nothing to extend health care to wounded troops, neglected or otherwise? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama promises to accept public funding of his presidential campaign, only to break that promise when he proves himself capable of out-raising the amount of money public funding could provide him? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama explains his decision to opt out of public funding in the campaign as necessary because of evil Republicans? Cynicism.

What do you call it when Obama launches the pre-emptive race card, declaring McCain and the GOP as sure to employ racism in the campaign? Cynicism.

And yes, that is just scratching the surface. His upcoming visit to Iraq, his refusal to meet with General Petraeus, his shifting positions on the Iraq war timed for political expedience (or financial benefit of pal Rezko?) his opposition to drilling because any benefits are years in the future, his flip flop on FISA, his willingness to trot Michelle out for campaign speeches yet demand no one even quote or question her, his double-standard on his middle name, etc, etc, etc.

But the most cynical thing of all, the one thing that places him far above any other cynical politician is back where he began -- pretending he was running against cynicism, while practicing it at a pace to which few could even hope to aspire.

When Obama says he's fighting against cynicism he's lying. Obama is fighting with cynicism.

Obama and cynicism? He's full of it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Duck and cover II

It was just last month that we narrowly avoided a tornado.

It was just a few hours ago that we narrowly missed being struck by lightning:

No. That is not us in the picture, nor is that our house. It is across the street, though.

MORE: No one was injured, and the tree that was struck hit no houses. You can barely make out a house in the background behind the tree. The family who lives in the house to the right of that one was on their back patio when the lightning struck. They describe the strike as the tree simply exploding. Also, "toothpick splinters" from the tree the length of a javelin and the width of a grown man's arm were found implanted in the ground up to a hundred feet away.

The road to "hell of a" is paved

The administration's foreign policies has alienated allies and emboldened Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

A quote about President Bush from Obama?

Or a quote about Obama from Europe?

Let's take a look at this Washington Post article by Glenn Kessler today:

European officials are increasingly concerned that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign pledge to begin direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program without preconditions could potentially rupture U.S. relations with key European allies early in a potential Obama administration.

The U.N. Security Council has passed four resolutions demanding that Iran stop enriching uranium, each time highlighting the offer of financial and diplomatic incentives from a European-led coalition if Tehran suspends enrichment, a route to producing fuel for nuclear weapons. But Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he would make such suspension a topic for discussion with Iran, rather than a precondition for any negotiations to take place.

European officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they are wary of giving up a demand that has been so enshrined in U.N. resolutions, particularly without any corresponding concessions by Iran. [...]

"Dropping a unanimous Security Council condition would simply be interpreted by Iran and America's allies as unconditional surrender, and America's friends would view this as confirmation of America's basic unreliability," said Fran├žois Heisbourg, a Paris-based military analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "A hell of a way to start a presidential term."

The road to "hell of a" is paved with no preconditions.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Power to the people

Let’s devote some energy to this Jake Tapper report from earlier this week:

Last night in Detroit, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, assailed the process by which the 2005 Senate energy bill -- helmed by Vice President Cheney -- was created.

“When Bush assigned Cheney to create energy policy, he met with the environmental groups once, the renewable energy groups once, he met with the oil and gas companies 40 times," Obama said.

"Washington has become so dominated by the powerful, by the well-connected, that the voices of the American people are no longer heard.”


Riiiiiiiight. Those oil and gas companies are so overwhelmingly powerful, compared to the environmental groups.

Why the outer continental shelf is just teeming with oil rigs. Right?

Oh...

Huh, for such an all-powerful industry, with the weight of Dick Cheney himself behind it, those oil and gas companies sure show a disturbing level of impotency in getting to the oil.

OK, let’s read that last sentence again:

"Washington has become so dominated by the powerful, by the well-connected, that the voices of the American people are no longer heard.”

Well. If we actually listen to the voices of the American people, what are they saying these days? You are interested in actually listening, rather than just talking about listening, right, Senator Obama?

Two out of every three voices of the American people are saying drill:

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey—conducted before McCain announced his intentions on the issue--finds that 67% of voters believe that drilling should be allowed off the coasts of California, Florida and other states. Only 18% disagree and 15% are undecided.

Why won’t you listen to the voices of the American people, Senator Obama?

We’ll state the reason, since you likely aren't even listening to the question.

You have become dominated by the powerful, by the well-connected, and you have no intention of listening to the voices of the American people.

The oil and gas companies care more about Americans than Barack Obama.



MORE: Fred Barnes points out some more people-powered voices on drilling:

Not many polls bring good news to Republicans, but a new survey by John Zogby certainly has. Zogby found that 74 percent of likely voters favor drilling for oil and gas offshore in coastal waters. Here’s the breakdown of those who support drilling: 90 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of Democrats, and 75 percent of independents. Not bad, and it gets better. A quarter of the likely voters said they’d be more likely to vote for John McCain if they knew he backed offshore drilling for oil and gas, which he does.

If Obama cared to listen.

What we have here is a failure to negotiate

Let it not be said that we here at TheVIMH are anti-conservation. As an example, we are going to reduce, reuse and recycle!

Because this post’s beginning turns out to be repeatingly reuseful, we recycle it here to reduce the sweat and tears necessary to put a new post together:

Obama has oft repeated the words of John F. Kennedy, “let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate”.

And while the quote is specifically referencing foreign policy, surely there is at least some parallel to this campaign.

That post dealt with Obama negotiating with Hillary.

But now that she has been properly disposed of, Obama has some negotiating to do with McCain, right?

Well, we’ve seen the fervor with which he negotiates with McCain over the debates.

And now we see Obama’s zeal for negotiation is itself negotiable:

Senator Barack Obama's announcement Thursday that he would finance his campaign with private contributions was the final step of a slow walk away from public financing that began almost as soon as his campaign started 17 months ago.

Obama said he'd pursue public financing "aggressively." He committed to it in a written questionnaire. He even said, repeatedly, that he would meet personally with Senator John McCain to discuss a deal.

Instead, his campaign never even asked the Republican's aides for a meeting on the subject. And Obama, both campaigns said, never asked for a face-to-face meeting with McCain.

Now, it would be unfair of us to claim that it is fear that kept Obama from negotiating with McCain on public financing. Indeed, it is Obama who holds the position of strength here – his amazing money-raising operation pretty much demands that he opt out of public financing to maintain a clear advantage his campaign has over that of McCain’s.

But it would be unfair of Obama to claim that he represents anything other than a craven, power-hungry politician for whom the end of achieving that power will justify any means, including lying to his opponent and to the American people.

And since we are fully convinced that Obama will continue to claim his new-politics, post-partisan hopechange title, unfairly, we feel fully unconstrained by any need to be fair ourselves.

So. Why did Obama fail to sit down with John McCain and negotiate the issue of public financing for the two campaigns in this election?

Because he’s chicken.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Unilateral undivided gaffes

A couple of stories from the Obama campaign recently illustrate one of Obama's greatest weaknesses. His inability to admit mistake.

First, Obama went before AIPAC and told the audience of his committment to an undivided Jerusalem, but then immediately had to backtrack when Palestinians objected.

Now his campaign comes out to tell us:

Democrat Barack Obama misused a "code word" in Middle East politics when he said Jerusalem should be Israel's "undivided" capital but that does not mean he is naive on foreign policy, a top adviser said on Tuesday.

Addressing a pro-Israel lobby group this month, the Democratic White House hopeful said: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

The comment angered Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of a future state. "He has closed all doors to peace," Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said after the June 4 speech. Obama later said Palestinians and Israelis had to negotiate the status of the city, in line with long-held U.S. presidential policy.

Daniel Kurtzer, who advises Obama on the Middle East, said Tuesday at the Israel Policy Forum that Obama's comment stemmed from "a picture in his mind of Jerusalem before 1967 with barbed wires and minefields and demilitarized zones."

Second, Obama campaigned hard in the primaries against Hillary to out-anti-NAFTA her. Now? Not so anti. Obama has given an interview to Forturne Magazine to try and walk back his prior position:

In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

"Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake," despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

Does that mean his rhetoric was overheated and amplified? "Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don't exempt myself," he answered.

I just can't figure out why Obama can't simply admit the true nature of his mistake and move on.

He clearly intended to say that NAFTA must remain undivided, and that he would unilaterally open up Jerusalem for negotiation.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

PSA: Don't Drink and Drive

So normally a really, really good sale on beer is something for which we lustily cheer. And while that is certainly the case in this case for the price of the case of beer pictured below, we feel we must issue the following Public Service Announcement:

Don't Drink and Drive

Price of Case of Beer:...................$10.99
Number of beers per case:...............24
Fluid ounces per beer:..........__........12
Fluid ounces per case:..............._....288
Price per ounce:...........................$0.0382
Fluid ounces per gallon:.................. 128

Price of Beer per Gallon:...$4.88



Price of Gas per Gallon:..>..$4.89


Don't Drink and Drive.
Just Drink. Don't Drive.
It's Cheaper.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just what bloggers need

Training in professionalism by professional journalists:

Training helps bloggers hone professionalism

Non-journalists entering the world of blogs, online feedback forums, online videos and news Web sites provide information that newspapers and other media can't or don't. But many are now turning to professional journalists for help with dilemmas they're facing: When is something libelous? What's the difference between opinion and news? And how do you find public documents?

About a dozen would-be reporters navigated the basics of journalism at a recent training offered by the Society of Professional Journalists in Chicago. [emphasis added]

Wait. Are bloggers really clamouring for professional journalists of all people to teach them these things? (and aside from making a buck or two off of "nitwits", are professional journalists really interested in helping bloggers hone skills that might send them down the river?)

Of course, we admit that it tickles us to no end imagining Keith Olbermann leading a session titled, "Reporting the news on election night and not letting opinions get in the way"

We're confident in saying that we're confident that these folks leading these seminars are no Keith Olbermanns. But still.

Well. We suppose it's not likely that we're part of their target audience anyway.

Or are we?

The group plans similar seminars this month in Greensboro, N.C., and Los Angeles.

Party at our house after the training session!

See you there!





AND IN ALL SERIOUSNESS: We mourn the passing of a true professional journalist who knew the difference between opinion and news, Tim Russert.


Missed it by that much

So, Obama doesn’t want to do the 10 town halls McCain had proposed. Obama wants just one. And then a few other more traditional debates.

We’ll take partial credit for getting that right.

But we’ll have to admit getting one part wrong. Even though we could hide it because the details came out before we had a chance to finish our post:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday rejected Republican rival John McCain's proposal for 10 joint town-hall appearances, offering instead to have just one on the July 4 holiday.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said he offered to meet McCain in five joint appearances between now and the Nov. 4 election. But only one of those was a town-hall meeting, plus three traditional debates and an in-depth debate on foreign policy.

The McCain campaign said Obama's offer was to hold the single town hall on Independence Day — which likely would have resulted in less attention while Americans are on holiday. McCain told reporters traveling with him in New Jersey that was "a very disappointing response."

We were going to predict Labor Day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Issue the challenge, make him visit

Maybe we’re seeing some movement in the “challenge McCain to visit ANWR” theme started here?

Rich Lowry has put up a couple “from a reader” posts about a McCain visit on the Corner, here and here.

And Glenn Reynolds refers to McCain visiting ANWR, here.

We suggested Newt Gingrich issue the challenge, because of his Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less. campaign.

Or perhaps a milder form could be an invitation by Governor Sarah Palin or Senator Lisa Murkowski to visit the area?

One more note. Though in yesterday’s town hall, McCain reiterated his line likening drilling in ANWR to drilling in the Grand Canyon, remember that in his January blogger conference call he also included the Everglades in that formulation. Makes sense that he did, since the Florida primary was coming up, of course.

And speaking of the Everglades, this is from last Wednesday:

ORLANDO -- John McCain, who will venture into the Everglades for the first time as a presidential candidate Friday, on Thursday [...]

Visiting the Everglades is a rite of passage for politicians shoring up their environmental credentials in the nation's largest swing state.

OK. Well it’s time to make visiting ANWR the new rite of passage for politicians shoring up their "lower gas prices" credentials and "reduce our dependence on foreign oil" credentials, especially if they insist that drilling in ANWR would be no different than drilling in the Grand Canyon or the Everglades.

Issue the challenge, make him visit.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Candidates’ wives in the spotlight


Reuters on Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain. You can click the link to read the whole thing, you can read our rundown in this post, or if you are in a rush, go ahead and skip to the bottom for the bottom line.

It’s your call!

THE RUNDOWN..........

THEIR STYLE: “both [are] known for an elegant sense of style, lending glamour to their husbands' campaigns.”

Michelle Obama: “…was praised by style writers for the violet sheath dress she wore to her husband's Democratic nomination victory rally and has been compared to former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.”

Cindy McCain: “…posed in size zero jeans for the latest issue of Vogue”

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL:
Michelle: “The strong-minded Obama exudes confidence and is an accomplished public speaker.”

Cindy: “…is reserved and seems far less comfortable in the limelight when she campaigns with her husband, who is 18 years her senior ...

THEIR BACKGROUND, EDUCATION AND CAREER:
Michelle: “…is a Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer raised by blue-collar parents on the working-class South Side of Chicago ... she juggled a job as a hospital executive with raising two young daughters and lending support to her 46-year-old husband's political aspirations.”

Cindy: “...is a former rodeo queen and cheerleader who holds a master's degree in special education from the University of Southern California. She grew up in a wealthy family in Phoenix and is heiress to Hensley & Co, one of the largest U.S. distributors for brewing giant Anheuser-Busch.”

THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THEIR HUSBANDS:
Michelle: “..it appears that throughout their married life, she and her husband have been very much equals ... Her image as an equal partner was on display with the celebratory fist-bump the Obamas shared on the night he clinched the nomination last week.

Cindy: “...[her] deferential manner puts her in the company of more traditional first ladies such as Nancy Reagan and Laura Bush. ... [she] has her own version of the "Nancy Reagan stare," the adoring gaze that the former first lady perfected.”

CRITICISM:
Michelle: “some pundits” say she criticizes her husband too much … “In one comment seized upon by conservative Internet bloggers ... led critics to accuse her of being unpatriotic”

Cindy: “…she refused to release her tax returns critics said her lack of transparency was at odds with her husband's message of openness in government. McCain eventually relented.” ... she had an “...addiction in the early 1990s to painkillers...which she at first kept secret from her husband and family.” ... and she had a “...stroke that nearly killed her four years ago.”


THE BOTTOM LINE..........

Michelle Obama is a stylish, hip, smart, strong-minded, confident, hard-working, career-and-family-juggling woman who is equal to her husband, but who may sometimes be a bit outspoken giving ammunition to her critics.

Cindy McCain is a rail-thin, awkward, deferential, privileged, silver-spooned heiress, and a former druggie who has a history of near deadly health problems.

OK, it’s not quite that bad. It’s not not bad, though.


A visit is worth more than 37 words

One of the more memorable events in the campaign so far has been the back and forth on Iraq between Obama and McCain. As it heated up and people began to pick up that Obama has not been to Iraq in over two years and has never had a one-on-one meeting with General Petraeus – McCain seized the moment and proposed a joint trip between the two. It was a politically savvy move, aimed at highlighting McCain’s multiple visits to Iraq and framing Obama as out of touch with the situation there.

Now, how about a replay. On a different issue. With a different set of characters. McCain would still be involved, but on the other side of the challenge.

When McCain was asked on a blogger conference call in January about drilling in ANWR, he responded:

As far as ANWR is concerned, I don’t want to drill in the Grand Canyon, and I don’t want to drill in the Everglades. This is one of the most pristine and beautiful parts of the world.

Has McCain been to ANWR? When was the last time?

Seven years ago, Jonah Goldberg wrote this article detailing his experience in visiting ANWR. It is hard to fathom how McCain would view drilling in ANWR as being anything remotely comparable to drilling in the Grand Canyon or the Everglades.

What if someone were to challenge McCain to visit ANWR, like McCain challenged Obama to visit Iraq? Someone with enough prominence to be noticed and someone who McCain would be hard pressed to ignore.

We nominate Newt Gingrich.

Bring Jonah along, too. He’s a good photographer.

MORE: Interestingly enough, the person who asked McCain that question on the blogger conference call in January is now deputy communications director for the McCain campaign, Michael Goldfarb.

Bring him too!



QUESTION THE TIMING! (Or Timing the Question?) Stephen Spruill reports from a town hall meeting on the campaign trail on the Corner:

I'm with McCain at a town hall meeting in Philadelphia today where the senator was asked for his position on drilling in ANWR and elsewhere. He wasn't happy the subject came up. "I knew I should have ended this [before that question]," he said.

He said that he opposed drilling in ANWR for the same reason that he "would not drill in the Grand Canyon... I believe this area should be kept pristine." (Proposed oil and gas exploration in ANWR would only affect 2,000 of its 19 million acres, or 0.01 percent.)

Seriously, we put this post up at 11:43am – and then Spruill reports the re-use of the Grand Canyon quote by McCain at 1:02pm?

Eerie.



AND FINALLY: Thank you Mr. Spruill for the Corner link! As a show of my appreciation, I am recommending to the powers that be that you be allowed to accompany Mssrs. McCain, Gingrich, Goldberg and Goldfarb to ANWR.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

McCain is hot

3 out of 5 Playboy Playmates prefer John McCain for president.

Oh, and it is SFW – it’s not Playboy.

But it is HuffPo so it may be NSF something.

Off the charts on the favorability rating

Mickey Kaus has the money quote on the Jim Johnson story.

First for the brief recap – Jim Johnson has been tapped by Obama to lead his VP selection committee. Johnson is the former head of Fannie Mae, which had a number of problems under his leadership. While at Fannie Mae, Johnson availed himself of a “friends of Angelo” program from Countrywide Financial in taking out a series of mortgages (Angelo Mozilo was the CEO of Countrywide). Countrywide has been an integral player in the subprime lending meltdown – and Mozilo a target of Obama criticism.

OK, and where does that leave us?

With an Obama hypocrisy distraction moment, of course. That is, the Obama campaign made this accusation of Hillary (remember her?), from the WaPo, the money quote:

"Obama aides also said Clinton is in no position to stiffen oversight after taking contributions from mortgage industry lobbyists, including funds from representatives of Countrywide, which has been at the center of the mortgage meltdown. 'If we're really going to crack down on the practices that caused the credit and housing crises, we're going to need a leader who doesn't owe these industries any favors,' campaign manager David Plouffe said."

Yes another distraction.

In fact, the whole Obama campaign is just a never ending string of self-inflicted distractions.

Though we may not (able to quantify the not non-existent favors Obama owes "these industries", one thing is certain - Obama does his own campaign no favors with the people chooses to surround himself with.



CLARIFICATION: No, no, no. We don’t mean the campaign staffers. We are with Jake Tapper, the staffers are ok folks. It’s his friends that are the liability. Staffers aren’t friends – they’re scapegoats-in-waiting. Obama does do himself a favor by finding such people (“unfailingly competent and polite, courteous and efficient” in Tapper’s words) who are willing to be sacrificed in service to the cause.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Reading is Fundamental

Obama was in state today to "hammer" McCain on economic policy as he kicks of his two week "call McCain Bush" tour.

As we assiduously avoid comment on the content of the speech, this little nugget stood out from the AP article of the event:

Obama offered no new policies in his speech, which he read from teleprompters.

Is this what we have come to? Having to note, each time Obama speaks, whether or not he is reading from a teleprompter?

This is a distraction!

But oh so fun.

Obama’s not especially interested

If Obama is for this:

* Expose Special Interest Tax Breaks to Public Scrutiny: Barack Obama will ensure that any tax breaks for corporate recipients — or tax earmarks — are also publicly available on the Internet in an easily searchable format. […]

* Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.

And if Obama is against this:

"Instead of having all of us pay our fair share, we've got over $1 trillion worth of loopholes in the corporate tax code," he said. "This isn't the invisible hand of the market at work. It's the successful work of special interests."

And if Obama is critical of this:

“George Bush and his friends in Congress have given billions in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them,”

And since he’s probably too busy campaigning to actually vote on many bills these days, we can surely at least count on his strong opposition to this bill and the tactics being used to pass it (h/t American Thinker):

As early as this coming week, Senate Democrats could try to bypass the usual committee process and rush to the floor a tax bill that contains, buried in textual obscurity, a payoff to the class-action plaintiffs' attorneys who contribute millions of dollars to their campaigns. The bill previously passed the House without the usual notice to the Treasury Department for an official analysis of its provisions. The rush to judgment in both chambers of Congress, otherwise known as cramming it down opponents' throats, is objectionable. The trial-lawyer tax break is appalling. Together, they are an outrage.

The lawyers' payoff was slipped into a large bill with all sorts of other provisions such as extensions of a tax credit for research and development and of an optional deduction for individuals for their state sales tax payments. While those provisions would extend current law, the lawyers' payoff would change long-existing policy that already made good sense. At an estimated cost to the Treasury of $1.575 billion, the provision would encourage class-action plaintiff lawyers to file dubious long-shot, big-money cases. It does so simply by letting the attorneys deduct fees and expenses up-front. Existing law rightly treats such expenses as loans to their clients, to be repaid from ultimate awards if they win or deducted on their income reports at case's end if they lose.

A bill that proposes to give a special interest group who represents some of the richest Americans a big tax break, by rushing the bill through without normal procedures being followed and without adequate debate being allowed?

The Obama of campaign trail rhetoric would denounce, reject and object to such a thing.

But the Obama of Senate career actions will remain predictably silent. He’s not especially interested in frustrating the efforts of special interests where they line up with his ideology and line his campaign coffers.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Obama's sacrosanctifications

Obama before AIPAC, June 4:

Let me be clear. Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive, and that allows them to prosper — but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.

Good thing Obama is clear. C-L-E-A-R. Got it?

Well, not everyone got it...

"This statement is totally rejected," Abbas told reporters in Ramallah.

"The whole world knows that holy Jerusalem was occupied in 1967 and we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state."

Well, Obama was C-L-E-A-R, right? I mean, when Obama says something, when Obama declares it as sacroscant, you can take it to the...

R-I-G-H-T....

Obama quickly backtracked today in an interview with CNN.

"Well, obviously, it's going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations," Obama said when asked whether Palestinians had no future claim to the city.

Obama said "as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute" a division of the city. "And I think that it is smart for us to -- to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city."

Oh, yeah, Obama forgot to mention that "sacrosanct" didn't apply to "practical" matters.

Sure. Obama's sacrosanctifications are impratical.

We agree!



MORE: To be clear, yes, there are obviously also problems with "contiguous and cohesive" as it relates to a Palestinian state -- I am not addressing those here -- but, you can go to American Thinker for those to be addressed.

Obama’s relationships

John at Powerline points us to Obama’s reaction to the news the Tony Rezko has been convicted:

I’m saddened by today’s verdict. This isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew, but now he has been convicted by a jury on multiple charges that once again shine a spotlight on the need for reform.

From here John muses:

I could swear I've heard it somewhere before. Sure enough--the racist, anti-American Rev. Wright whom we've all seen on video wasn't the Rev. Wright whom Obama knew for 20 years, either. And the outrageously bigoted Father Pfleger wasn't the Pfleger whom Obama assiduously supported with earmarks--another form of political corruption.

Obama seems to suffer from a singular inability to "know" his most intimate associates.

While I certainly do not disagree – let’s take it even further. Obama seems to get nearly all of the important relationships exactly backward. Obama treats those who either are or should be enemies as friends and those who either are or should be friends as enemies. Obama draws praise from those who either are or should be enemies and condemnation from those who either are or should be friends.

Obama’s Friends:
Tony "Convicted Felon" Rezko
Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright
Michael "America is the greatest sin against God" Phleger
James "We don't have slave masters. We got mayors" Meeks
Bill "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough" Ayers

Obama’s Foreign Supporters:
Hamas (since withdrawn?)
Fidel Castro
FARC

Enemies Obama Wants to Meet With:
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Kim Jong Il
Hugo Chavez

Allies Obama Wants to Piss Off:
Canada
Columbia
Pakistan
NATO

And Allies He Wants to Abandon:
Iraq

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Let's get ready for the debates

In my article on American Thinker I wrote:

Obama's strategy has been to orient the campaign around his greatest strength and advantage -- who could deliver the best speech -- and away from his greatest weakness -- his poor ability to answer questions about how he would deliver on any of its promises.

Not an earth-breaking-ground-shattering observation, I know. But I reproduce it here to set up the latest in earth-breaking-ground-shattering general election debate discussions between McCain and Obama.

McCain says, let’s do town halls!

Well, that’s not a surprise. McCain wants to steer the debates in the direction of the least scripted, least structured format possible. Get Obama away from the teleprompter and you have a chance at one of his classic gaffes. Confront him with specific questions without time limits and buzzers and you have a chance to expose the vapidity of his platitudes.

Obama says, great idea! In fact, let’s do it like Lincoln-Douglas debates!

Yes, well...the thing about the Lincoln-Douglas debates?

Each debate had this format: one candidate spoke for an hour, then the other candidate spoke for an hour and a half, and then the first candidate was allowed a half hour "rejoinder." The candidates alternated speaking first. As the incumbent, Douglas spoke first in four of the debates.

Well, imagine that. Obama is trying to “orient the [debates] around his greatest strength and advantage – who could deliver the best speech.”

(h/t Redstate)



Please leave a message after the beep (UPDATED)

Obama has oft repeated the words of John F. Kennedy, “let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate”.

And while the quote is specifically referencing foreign policy, surely there is at least some parallel to this campaign.

There is obviously a lot for Obama to negotiate now with Hillary – how and when (and if??!!?) she will exit, will she be the VP candidate, is there some cabinet post for her, a Supreme Court nomination?

So without fear and without preconditions, though certainly with much preparation, Obama reached out to Hillary last night to begin the process (via Contentions):

Mr. Obama called Mrs. Clinton late Tuesday evening to congratulate her, but aides said he left a message because he could not reach her.

But, she had better things to do than to take his call. Usually the loser calls the winner. Usually the loser is looking to ingratiate himself with the winner. Usually the winner has something the loser wants, and the loser is angling for a way to get it.

But here? Not so much.

Obama has won the nomination – yet Hillary has secured all the leverage in the relationship.

Huh – now if we were to take this scenario and apply it back to foreign policy...



YOU CAN QUESTION THE TIMING: That last link was to an interview of John Bolton by Hugh Hewitt in which Bolton said of Obama:

I think the, we haven’t plumbed the depths of that ignorance yet

That was a response to Hugh’s question about whether Obama has been vetted in terms of his foreign policy experience. Hugh followed up:

HH: Now you have spent way too many hours across the table from North Koreans and Iranians. How tough are they? What will they make of Odalai Bama, the kid from Chicago?

JB: Well, I think they will make hash of him and his advisors, too.

That was my point. If Hillary can make a hash of Obama in negotiating her end to the race – just imagine what those in Iran and North Korea will do.

And then – as if on cue – John Bolton publishes an article in the LA Times today on just this topic. I can neither confirm nor deny that I pull the strings on such things, but feel free to Question The Timing, if you wish.

Barack Obama's willingness to meet with the leaders of rogue states such as Iran and North Korea "without preconditions" is a naive and dangerous approach to dealing with the hard men who run pariah states. It will be an important and legitimate issue for policy debate during the remainder of the presidential campaign.

Read the whole thing.

A toast

This past weekend, we went with friends to a nice brewpub downtown called Natty Greene's. The fish and chips had a definite southern twist -- as in catfish -- and was delicious. As always, Natty's serves great beer. And as always, I took great delight in partaking in, well, let's just say that it was more than one.


I started with the Buckshot, a staple of their lineup. And then...I saw it on the board. One of their seasonal beers that I simply had to have.


Unfortunately, they don't list it on the website. So let's let Google help us out here in finding a description of the beer.


From Google we find BeerAdvocate.com:



...flavors are toasty and lighty sweet upfront with a pretty sharp lactic-like bite in the finish its very crisp and refreshing on the palate.


Yup. It's uncanny -- the beer tasted just like it's namesake.



A toast!


minuteman




Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Counterintuitive not-so-conventional wisdom

From the NY Times, an idea so crazy, it just might work be necessary! (via Hot Air headlines)

As Mr. Obama stands poised to claim the crown of presumptive Democratic nominee, he is, gingerly, fitting himself with the cloth of a partisan Democrat despite having long proclaimed himself above such politics. That his shift in tone was inevitable and necessary, particularly as Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, slashes at Mr. Obama as weak on Iran and terrorism, does not entirely diminish the cognitive dissonance.

Silly me. All this time I thought the primary was the time to burnish your burning partisan cred – then, having locked up the nomination and the base of your party, you move to the center to win moderates and independents.

But then again, Obama may have lost the partisan Democratic vote – that is, outside the black vote, the youth vote and the upscale coastal elite vote.

Oh and the anti-American vote. He has that one locked up, too, both here and abroad.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Which one of these quotes…

…is not like the other…which one of these quotes just doesn’t belong…

“The government…wants us to sing ‘God bless America’. No, no, no, God Damn America!

"I also believe that America is the greatest sin against God."

"Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of the United States has come and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started."

Well. The first two of those quotes actually hail from Obama supporters (though the feeling is no longer mutual). While that last one only sounds like the first two – it’s actually Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Any similarities can be explained away by ... well ... you see it really is a matter of ...

Eh, I got nothing (It's the NDD, naturally).

And I deeply denounce any suggestion that Obama would be drawn to that kind of language and those kind of sentiments. Even more I deeply, deeply denounce the idea that Obama would reach out to such a person in search of a spiritual mentor. He has clearly demonstrated his unwillingness to tolerate that kind of attitude and rhetoric.

Afterall a man can only put up with so much of that stuff. In Obama's case only a scant 20 years of it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Obama Way of Ending Divisiveness

I have an article up on American Thinker today:

It begins:


When Barack Obama says he wants to end the divisiveness in politics, I believe him. When Obama says he wants to bring about unity, I believe him. When Obama says he wants to work for a new politics free from bitter partisanship, I believe him. When Obama says he wants to have vigorous debate, a robust discussion or a national dialogue to bring this about, I believe him -- to be lying.

Well. My first time writing an entire article, rather than just a blog post at AT. Please go to American Thinker to read the whole thing.