Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

BlogTalk Radio – Tonight 8pm (EST)

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Subject(s):Michael and Bruce will be winging it again this week as our broadcast pro is out doing other things. We’ll continue the discussion about the charges of racism flying about (handy flowchart below to figure out if you are or aren’t a racist), we’ll talke about whether we think the Sunday morning program blitz will be effective for Obama, and we’ll bat the subject of the missile defense shield from Poland and the Czech republic around and discuss its ramifications. And if we have time, some ACORN.

As with last week, this week’s “Observations” will only be available on BlogTalk Radio.

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Place your bets: who will be the first to use this talking point concerning Obama and ACORN

With ACORN’s reputation now exploding, the left will try to ensure that the shrapnel doesn’t hit Obama.

This is not a new problem, of course. It came up during the campaign because of ACORN’s vote fraud scandals. The talking point then was “Obama has never worked for ACORN”, which was technically true, but conveniently obscured several associations, including Obama conducting training sessions on leadership for ACORN.

With the new focus on ACORN, I expect this area to get some more examination. With Obama’s new car smell having faded, it might even get more traction this time. Certainly with Obama’s self-declared work as a “community organizer”, many folks who are not paying much attention will just assume that he must have some connection to a group with “Community Organizers” right there in their title. That’s pretty simplistic, and maybe even unfair, but it’s the state of play.

So we’ll probably see a new round of defense of Obama from the left, attempting to distance him from ACORN. Obama is doing his part to help them; I think I detected the beginning of a new talking point in this interview with George Stephanopoulos:

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the funding for ACORN?

OBAMA: You know, if — frankly, it’s not really something I’ve followed closely. I didn’t even know that ACORN was getting a whole lot of federal money.[Emphasis mine]

What a great bit of misdirection! He only has to assert it, with no evidence. Absent someone digging up obscure committee hearings or memos, it will be impossible to disprove.

Of course, one could point out that Obama was a senator when some of those budget bills were passed that sent money to ACORN, which in any rational governmental system means he would have known about the money. However, he’s got the usual excuse that they don’t read what they vote for anyway. That seems to be enough for the sclerotic legacy media, so he probably won’t get challenged on his assertion.

Therefore I’m predicting some leftist will soon use that assertion as a rebuttal to someone asserting a connection between Obama and ACORN. “He doesn’t have anything to do with ACORN. Why, he didn’t even know they got federal money!”

Who will it be, and when? Place your bets.

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Law Of Unintended Consequences Meets “Cash For Clunkers”

Or in the words of almost any economist who knows his business – “I told you so.”

Essentially what has happened is precisely what most of them said would happen – the program, Cash For Clunkers, did nothing more than steal from future sales.

To paraphrase the Reverend Wright – the clunkers are coming home to roost: reports that “September’s light-vehicle sales rate will fall to 8.8 million units . . . the lowest rate in nearly 28 years, tying the worst demand on record. After the cash-for-clunkers program boosted August sales to their first year-over-year increase since October 2007, demand has plunged. In at least the last 33 years, the U.S. seasonally adjusted annual rate has only dropped as low as 8.8 million units once — in December 1981 — with records stretching back to January 1976.”

But fear not – Washington has learned its lesson:

Now NHTSA says that, despite burdening manufacturers with $60 billion in new costs, its new 35.5 mpg fuel mandate will stimulate the economy by boosting auto sales by 65,480 vehicles through 2016 because Washington “expects stronger consumer demand for fuel-efficient models.”

Yup, DC knows economics and it certainly knows the consumer’s mind doesn’t it? Centralized planning has always driven demand. Yessireee. That’s why the Soviet Union is such an economic powerhouse today.


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Quote of the Day

Hillary Clinton, now Secretary of State and once First Lady who championed a failed attempt at government run health care, on the present effort at “reform”:

“It’s interesting that what we are proposing is fundamentally so conservative compared with so many of our friends and allies around the world who do a much better job than we do in covering everybody and in keeping costs down and yet some of the political opposition is so overheated.”

So what can we learn from that? First, the talking about about the opposition being “overheated” has reached all corners of the left. It again proves that if this is “overheated” then history began January 20th, 2009.

More importantly though, it makes the point that whatever is passed by Democrats and called “health care reform” (and something will be passed), it will only be the beginning of deep government intrusion in that segment of the economy. If this is “conservative” you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.


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Media Matters Compares Political Atmosphere With Dallas, 1963

Eric Boehlert destroys whatever shred of credibility he might have ever had in two quick paragraphs:

I’ve been thinking a lot of Kennedy and Dallas as I’ve watched the increasingly violent rhetorical attacks on Obama be unfurled. As Americans yank their kids of class in order to save them from being exposed to the President of the United States who only wanted to urge them to excel in the classroom. And as unvarnished hate and name-calling passed for health care ‘debate’ this summer.

If Boehlert had spent some time in class actually studying about the Kennedy assassination, he might have learned that the guy who is believed to have shot Kennedy was a communist. But of course that’s not important – this is about establishing an assassination scenario in the mind of the reader, who he hopes, is as witless as he is.

He then fully jumps the shark:

The radical right, aided by a GOP Noise Machine that positively dwarfs what existed in 1963, has turned demonizing Obama–making him into a vile object of disgust–into a crusade. It’s a demented national jihad, the likes of which this country has not seen in modern times.

Where in the world was this blowhard the past 8 years? Did he just emerge from a hermetically sealed chamber and a total news blackout?

The absurdity of the original premise is stunning. His apparent ignorance, willing or otherwise, of the history of the past 8 years is appalling. Why would anyone anywhere ever take anything this goof or the organization he works for seriously again?

[HT: Hot Air]


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Visualizing The Exploding Debt

Or, as predicted, taking the rocket sled to debt hell:

This is what America is protesting – at least those with an inkling of what’s going on. The “isn’t he dreamy crowd” – they haven’t a clue or, if they do, just don’t care. They’re the same bunch that call themselves the “reality based community” even while apparently always believing money does indeed grow on trees.

HT: Brown


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Quote of the Day

Lech Wałęsa, former President of Poland had this to say about the Obama announcement that the US was pulling the anti-missile defense system from Poland:

“Americans have always cared only about their interests, and all other [countries] have been used for their purposes. This is another example,” Mr Walesa told TVN24. “[Poles] need to review our view of America, we must first of all take care of our business,” he added.

“I could tell from what I saw, what kind of policies President Obama cultivates,” the former president added. “I simply don’t like this policy, not because this shield was required [in Poland], but [because of] the way we were treated,” he concluded.

Another foreign policy coup. Treating our allies shabbily while sucking up to the Putins and Chavezs of the world.


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Iran, Nukes and Anti-Missile Shields

The IAEA announced, almost simultaneously with the US unilateral withdrawal of its planned eastern European anti-missile shield, that Iran now has the capability and materials to build a nuclear weapon. Why did the IAEA come to that conclusion?

• The IAEA’s assessment that Iran worked on developing a chamber inside a ballistic missile capable of housing a warhead payload “that is quite likely to be nuclear.”

• That Iran engaged in “probable testing” of explosives commonly used to detonate a nuclear warhead — a method known as a “full-scale hemispherical explosively driven shock system.”

• An assessment that Iran worked on developing a system “for initiating a hemispherical high explosive charge” of the kind used to help spark a nuclear blast.

Additionally it noted, “The agency … assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device (an atomic bomb) based on HEU (highly enriched uranium) as the fission fuel.”

And it has enriched enough uranium for fuel that it could be turned into enough weapons grade uranium for a single nuclear weapon.

So we have the capacity for a nuclear weapon and apparently proof, or at least some pretty heavy indications, that Iran has been working assiduously toward developing a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload as well as developing and testing an explosive trigger for such a device.

Obviously this didn’t come as a surprise to the US. Iran’s capability in both missiles and nuclear weapons technology continues to grow.

So excuse me if I don’t buy this “redefinition” of the threat the Obama administration is claiming is better addressed by its focus on short and medium range Iranian missiles. Any defense against missiles is a layered defense. That means you address all possible missile threats.

The fact remains that the only threat to Europe, for whom the Bush-era anti-missile shield was intended, is ballistic missiles. Iran (or Russia) must use them to reach that continent. Iranian short and medium range missiles are not a threat Europe.

The point, of course, is should Iran develop an ICBM, Europe would be defenseless because the systems which are designed for the short and medium range missiles aren’t designed to go after ICBMs.

Or said another way, the proper announcement would have been “the US is adding the missing two layers to the anti-missile defense system, thereby making the system complete.”

Instead we pulled the long-range system. Why?

Well that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it? Most feel it was a capitulation in answer to Russia’s fears of the system. Russia had claimed that the small and supposed defensive system could be turned into offensive system aimed at them. Of course that would require a completely different sort of missile than would have been deployed there, and, probably, a different sort of radar system as well.

Speaking of the radar system, Russia objected to the sophisticated X-band radar saying it would be able to look in 360 degrees and would be monitoring Russian missiles much too closely. Seems a bit absurd to make that claim when Russia knows we have satellites that can read the bumper numbers off their mobile missile launchers at will.

Then there was the claim that the US and Russia had an agreement that US troops and weapons wouldn’t be stationed or deployed in the former Warsaw Pact nations. The US doesn’t seem to remember that, but Russia claims its the case. That certainly can’t be the concern since Obama has said that in the future the new anti-missile systems might be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Obama says his decision was driven by the “unanimous advice” of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Said the man who recommended the deployment of the missile shield to President Bush three years ago:

“Those who say we are scrapping missile defence in Europe are either misinformed or misrepresenting the reality of what we are doing in Europe,” said Robert Gates, US defence secretary.

In a word: nonsense!

Someone please explain the spurious claim that the best missile defense system for Europe – which can only be hit by an Iranian ICBM – is one which targets short and medium range Iranian missiles. It makes absolutely no sense.

It makes no sense until Russia is dragged into the equation. Then it starts to become somewhat clear. This is a risky bet meant to appease Russia while at the same time hoping Iran is unable to develop a long-range nuclear capable missile before its nuclear weapons program can be stopped. It is also clearly a bow to Russia and a part of the Obama administration’s unilateral attempt to “reset” relations with that country. And it is a display of weakness.

What about our allies? How do they feel about this? Well perhaps the best way to answer that is to understand why they were so interested in the anti-missile system promised by the Bush administration:

During negotiations with the Bush administration, Warsaw pushed hard for a missile defence agreement that would reward them with a Patriot short-range air defence unit supported by US troops. In the end, Poland agreed in principle to host the US base during last year’s war between Russia and Georgia, which sparked fears about Russian intentions towards central Europe.

Eastern Europe doesn’t trust Russia as far as they can throw them (a lesson we should have learned as well). The invasion and virtual annexation of two provinces of Georgia underscored Russia intent to dominate what it calls it’s “near abroad” (or Post-Soviet Space). Russia literally thumbed its nose at the US and the rest of the world with its military incursion there. Poland and other former Warsaw pact nations took the lesson for what it was – a declaration that Russia was back and intended to play hardball.

Max Boot reminds us of the last time this sort of thing happened:

That Obama has now bowed to Putin’s demands sends a dangerous signal of irresoluteness and weakness—similar to the signal another young president sent when he met with a Russian leader in Vienna in 1961. Nikita Khrushchev emerged from his summit with John F. Kennedy convinced that the president was “very inexperienced, even immature” and that he could be rolled. We all know the result: the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Except this time we’re playing in Russia’s backyard, not our own. Again, leadership is absent in a very critical area of national security.


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And The Polls Say …

That there was no bounce from the president’s speech and a majority of Americans still oppose the health care reform being offered by the Democrats:

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters nationwide now oppose the health care reform proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That’s the highest level of opposition yet measured and includes 44% who are Strongly Opposed.

Just 43% now favor the proposal, including 24% who Strongly Favor it.

Of course that being said, it is still not precisely clear what all the Democrats are offering. However if it is a collection of what they’ve offered in the 4 bills now circulating, they need to start over. When you have 44% “strongly opposed”, then politically it is time to start rethinking what’s going on.

In fact, what is being offered by Democrats is so bad that a plurality would rather keep what they have than have what is being offered imposed on them per a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll:

More Americans would rather Congress do nothing than pass Obama’s plan: 46 percent to 37 percent of people polled say they prefer the current health care system to the one the president has proposed.

Similarly, more people oppose — 48 percent — the health care reform legislation being considered right now than favor it — 38 percent. While most Democrats — 65 percent — favor the reforms, majorities of Republicans — 79 percent — and independents (55 percent) oppose them.

That tracks very well with the Rasmussen poll cited above. Additionally, the response to this question was telling:

By more than three-to-one, Americans say if they were sick they would rather be covered by a privately-run health insurance plan (62 percent) than a government-run plan (20 percent).

It should be clear by now, even to Democrats, that the majority of Americans do not want a government run monstrosity. Although they do believe that health care needs some reforms, they obviously don’t agree those being proffered are the ones needed.

Time to drop the present mess and start over, looking at reforms which actually do introduce real choice and competition. Neither of those will be found in any choices which increase government control and intrusion. That is the message these polls are sending.


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