Friday, July 18, 2008

Obama lies about oil

An Obama ad says he has a "fast track alternative" to imported oil. Actually, it's a 10-year proposal with no guarantees


Obama released a national ad saying he has "fast-track alternatives" to imported oil. On closer examination, those turn out to be his proposal to spend $150 billion over the coming decade on energy research. Ten years doesn't sound all that "fast" to us, and there's no guarantee that the research will result in less oil being imported.


Sen. Barack Obama's campaign released the ad and said it would run on national cable TV networks starting July 17. According to the news release, the 30-second spot "underscores Barack Obama's understanding of national security in a new century." Perhaps so. Much of what it says is accurate enough, but on one point we find that it strains the truth and could easily give viewers a false impression.

As an example of Obama's supposed grasp of 21st-century security threats, the ad says he has "fast-track alternatives so we stop spending billions on oil from hostile nations." Pictured on screen are images of whirling windmills generating electricity, a solar array against a blue sky, and a couple of white-coated lab workers, one of them peering into a microscope.

The campaign says the ad is referring to Obama's long-standing proposal to spend $150 billion over 10 years for research into alternative energy - "to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial-scale renewable energy, invest in low-emissions coal plants, and begin the transition to a new digital electricity grid."

Spending that money may well be a good idea, but it's not our place to judge. We do object to describing a decade-long program, which in all probability could not even begin until sometime in late 2009, as a "fast track" to anything.

We also point out that even over the long term there can be no guarantee that just spending more for research will produce the sort of new fuels, vehicles or other breakthroughs that would actually reverse the growth of oil imports. Keep in mind that the U.S. imported the equivalent of 13.4 million barrels of oil per day last year, up nearly 17 percent from just five years earlier and 32 percent higher than in 1997. This is a huge problem that has been getting worse for a long time. Reversing it will not be "fast" or painless.

We repeat: We're not knocking Obama's 10-year plan. We cited it in our July 9 article as the reason that a Republican National Committee ad was wrong to say that Obama has "no new solutions" to the energy problem. We're not endorsing Obama's plan either. We are saying Obama is stretching the truth to call this decade-long program a "fast-track" alternative or to say that "we [will] stop spending billions on oil from hostile nations" as a result.


Just one of the things Obama doesn't understand

Obama Doesn't Understand Role of Joint Chiefs: Will MSM Take Note?

A couple days ago at the gym, listening to a Hugh Hewitt podcast and perhaps not paying as much attention as I should have while pedaling away, I heard Hugh mention that Barack Obama doesn't understand the role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What was Hugh referring to? As the British would say: the penny just dropped. A few minutes ago, CNN's Situation Room played a clip of Obama saying this about his plan for Iraq:
BARACK OBAMA: I'm going to call in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and give them a new mission, and that is to bring the war in Iraq to a close. We are going to get out.

There's only one problem. The Joint Chiefs of Staff does not have operational command of U.S. military forces. That authority resides in the commanders of the various Unified Combatant Commands. CENTCOM is the command with responsibility for Iraq [and 26 other countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan]. Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed Pres. Bush's appointment of Gen. David Petraeus as CENTCOM commander. Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno is the new US commander for Iraq, replacing Gen. Petraeus. Those are the people, along with the Secretary of Defense, to whom the orders Obama spoke of would be issued.


More a flip than a flip flop

From Australia to London to almost all points in between, if there are two things people know about Barack Obama, one of them is that he recently has changed his positions on abortion, gun control, capital punishment, FISA laws, the status of Jerusalem, faith-based federal programs, public financing of his campaign, welfare, NAFTA and free trade, the surge in Iraq, and his commitment to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his Trinity Church, among other public policies.

But it is said by his supporters -- and readily acknowledged by most public commentators -- that this is what candidates for president routinely do. If Republicans, they run to the right in the primary and run to the center in the general election. If Democrats, they run to the left in the primary and then to the center in the general. This is the policy version of the cynical Clinton defense: Everybody does it (although there is no evidence that any other president in history copulated a young White House intern). But we all know about the run to the center in presidential general elections.

Who can forget Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign, when he came out for tax cuts, lower social spending and more military spending in the primary, only to back away from those policies in the general election when he famously said: "I got a little rhetorically over-excited during the primary. On closer examination, President Carter seems to have built up our defenses sufficiently. We will have to see about those tax cuts; we may need the revenues for more social spending."

Or what about the 1968 campaign, when Nixon ran on a law-and-order platform in the primary, condemning hippies, riots and the rising urban crime. Then, in the general election that fall, all the networks covered Nixon's extraordinary visit to death row at San Quentin prison, after which Dick Nixon explained, his eyes red from heartfelt tears (though some people say it was from squinting at the cross tabulations of his polls that showed he couldn't carry Pennsylvania without carrying liberal Montgomery County), that by talking with the men on death row, he realized that capital punishment wasn't the answer; more spending on early education programs was needed. He then claimed he had a secret plan to outspend Hubert Humphrey on urban renewal.

For one last example, consider George McGovern's 1972 campaign. He, of course, ran a powerful primary battle to end the war in Vietnam. On the floor of the Senate, he proclaimed: "Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman or a senator or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam because it is not our blood that is being shed."

And then in September, he went to Vietnam to consult with the generals. Upon his return, he pivoted to the center. He announced: "Well, leaving may not be practical. The generals tell me just another 200,000 troops and we can win this thing. So what the heck; let's go for a victory, as all of the independent voters and most conservative blue-collar Democrats want. I may be progressive, but I'm practical. If I want to win this election, I've got to promise to win the war."

Of course, none of those things happened in past presidential elections. While some past presidential candidates may have emphasized more moderate parts of their agendas in the fall (although many, such as Reagan and McGovern, never even did that), I would appreciate Obama supporters (or others) bringing to my attention examples of straight-out reversals of one major position after another, such as Obama has executed recently.

I am not aware of anything remotely comparable to Sen. Obama's recent reversals of positions. To my knowledge, it is without moral precedent in modern American presidential elections. It is an act of political cynicism, compounded in its audacity by Sen. Obama's explicit claim to being above politics as usual.

This election season is getting interesting. Obama seems to have opened himself up to Dr. Samuel Johnson's famous admonition: "Be not too hasty to trust or admire the teachers of virtue; they discourse like angels, but they live like men."


Obama's NAACP Speech

Sen. Obama's speech before the NAACP convention has been receiving widespread praise for forthrightly addressing hot button topics: he told the crowd that black parents need to turn off the TV, put away the video games, attend parent-teacher conferences, and help their children with their homework. The AP described the speech as "stirring."

Not quite. By their measure, the AP presumably would declare an Obama speech on eating your vegetables and flossing daily "stirring."

Obama's comments were a welcome bit of common sense, but ultimately underwhelming. Had Obama's speech addressed the issue of, say, the prolific black abortion rate - that would be worthy of notice, especially at a time when, as William McGurn noted in yesterday's WSJ, a group of black pro-lifers were protesting the convention. To raise the issue would've required Obama to tackle two of the most volatile topics in American politics, the intersection of which is generally considered off-limits in public discourse (In fact , the U.S.Commission on Civil Rights, which has an impressively expansive mandate to address all policies and practices related to disparities on the basis of race, sex, and other protected classes, is specifically prohibited by statute from addressing any disparities related to abortion).

McGurn notes that black women are nearly five times as likely as whites to have an abortion. Almost half of all black pregnancies end in abortion. Whatever one's views on abortion, those numbers aren't something to celebrate. Raising the issue and urging solutions to lower the numbers would require a bit more political courage than telling people to do their homework. But there's little evidence in Obama's political career of doing anything other than the expedient.


Understanding Jackson's Just Released Comment

TVNewser breaks more in the matter of Hot Mic comments made by Jesse Jackson via Fox News. While the "N" word will get the attention, the actual gist of Jackson's comment reveals that, like many others, Jackson believes Obama to be an elitist.
Barack...he's talking down to black people...telling n-s how to behave.

Jackson is actually projecting the attitude that many black people are somehow less than onto Obama, in other words, that he is treating them like niggers in terms of how he is approaching certain factions of the black community.

If that spells any potential trouble for Obama, it is in the area of black voter turnout in the Fall. If many in the black community begin to perceive Obama as someone who thinks he is somehow better than them, they could conclude he's no better than the average white guy and stay home.

Whether or not that sense of Obama is widespread within the black community, or just a product of Jackson's jealousy remains to be seen. But it is interesting to note that Jackson echoes the "elitist" attack on Obama, usually reserved for Right-wing pundits. I guess they've pegged Obama right in this case. Don't look for that to become a cartoon on the cover of The New Yorker anytime soon.


Some Good News For Liberals

Post below recycled from Discriminations. See the original for links

In the past week or so Obamaphiles have been dismayed to see their (messiah) candidate's lead in the polls diminish dramatically. (See Rasmussen daily tracking polls here.) Most observers attribute this decline to a highly publicized series of rapid flip-flops on major issues, nicely summarized by Dick Morris here:

After vowing to eschew private fundraising and take public financing, he has now refused public money.

Once he threatened to filibuster a bill to protect telephone companies from liability for their cooperation with national security wiretaps; now he has voted for the legislation.

Turning his back on a lifetime of support for gun control, he now recognizes a Second Amendment right to bear arms in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

Formerly, he told the Israeli lobby that he favored an undivided Jerusalem. Now he says he didn't mean it.

From a 100 percent pro-choice position, he now has migrated to expressing doubts about allowing partial-birth abortions.

For the first time, he now speaks highly of using church-based institutions to deliver public services to the poor.

Having based his entire campaign on withdrawal from Iraq, he now pledges to consult with the military first.

During the primary, he backed merit pay for teachers -- but before the union a few weeks ago, he opposed it.

After specifically saying in the primaries that he disagreed with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-N.Y.) proposal to impose Social Security taxes on income over $200,000 and wanted to tax all income, he has now adopted the Clinton position.

Some Obama supporters reply that there have been no flip-flops, that accusations of flip-flopping are just more noise from the Republican "attack machine." Others acknowledge they did occur but insist that's a Good Thing, because the new, more popular positions will make Obama more electable. Obama himself characteristically denies any change (these alleged changes are not, I suppose, changes we can believe in), saying in effect that his positions have been misinterpreted, taken out of context, etc., and that his recent statements have simply been more nuanced explanations of what he has been saying all along.

But, liberals, take heart! All is not bleak on the liberal landscape. On the one issue that most concerns us here, Obama has been steadfast, unwaffling, and consistent: just as he always has, he continues to support governments and private entities dispensing benefits and burdens to individuals based on their race, ethnicity, or sex.

True, there is a certain tension between Obama's rigid support for racial preference policies and his occasional rhetorical nods to a post-racial America that, like his earlier bi-racial self, is neither black not white, etc. But since he has never opposed any racial preference policy and has re-iterated his longstanding opposition to state initiatives that would require states to treat their citizens without regard to race, most people now recognize that rhetoric for what it is: rhetoric.


When Obama's lofty rhetoric falls to earth, it conflicts not only with the policies he supports but also with what he says when he's not speaking in rhetorical flourishes. As I've noted a number of times, such as here, here, and here, when Obama answers questions about affirmative action what he says is usually "a textbook model of waffling obfuscation."


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