Did Obama Just Lose The Election?
It's lost in the Veep hype for now. Down the stretch that won't be the case. After he is softened up and a growing number of Americans are given reasons for concern over Obama's Leftism - there's this and some pertinent facts on China below.
"Their ports, their train systems, their airports are vastly superior to us now, which means if you are a corporation deciding where to do business you're starting to think, "Beijing looks like a pretty good option. Why aren't we doing the same thing?"
Obama is either incredibly naive, terribly misinformed, a communist, just flat out dumb or all of the above to be caught on tape making a statement like that. I can just imagine the voice over now. It wouldn't even require half of this:
"In all this activity it greatly helps to have a secretive planning bureaucracy and a government that brooks little dissent. In Britain it took as long to conduct a public inquiry into the proposed construction of Heathrow's Terminal Five as it took to build Beijing's new airport terminal from scratch.
There was no consultation with the public on the terminal. Nor was there any public debate about the construction of Beijing's third runway, notwithstanding the noise pollution already suffered by thousands of nearby residents.
Chinese official Xu Li said, Once a plan is made, it is executed. "Democracy", she says, "sacrifices efficiency."
For Beijing's airport expansion, 15 villages were flattened and 10,000 residents resettled. They were barred from unemployment benefits and other welfare privileges though their farmland had been grabbed. Officials threatened them with violence if they refused to leave.
The World Bank says that roads are sometimes built only to convert countryside into revenue-generating urban land. Combined with a lack of adequate public transport, Beijing's polluted air and congested streets, to which 1,000 cars are added daily, are evidence of the problem.
Chinese official Xu Li said, Once a plan is made, it is executed. "Democracy", she says, "sacrifices efficiency."
The government wants to build a new mag Lev train line. Residents along the route are fearful of noise and radiation from the trains.
Complaints still abound about the way things work. Highways-both expressways and other intercity roads-are studded with traffic-slowing toll booths. China reportedly has 70% of the world's tolled roads and its tolls are the highest in the world (using exchange rates adjusted according to currencies' purchasing power). To cut costs, lorries routinely overload. This helps to make the roads among the most dangerous in the world (89,000 deaths in 2006 by official reckoning; the actual number may be much higher). And it pushes up the cost of maintaining them.
Chinese official Xu Li said, Once a plan is made, it is executed. "Democracy", she says, "sacrifices efficiency."
In China, many laborers are lucky to make the equivalent of $8,000 a year. And for that they often work 16 hour days, seven days a week. And Barack Obama wants America to be more like China? You are kidding me, right? Well, it is change, I guess. But does Barack Obama really represent the kind of change that America wants? Or maybe he and some of his radical friends should simply move to Beijing.
Biden's career provides grist for McCain's mill
In August 2007, three men who later became entangled in a Mississippi bribery scheme raised money for Sen. Joe Biden's run for president. A month later, two of the three were overheard in a phone call recorded by the FBI discussing federal legislation and a prospective meeting with Biden's brother, Jim. It's unclear whether any meeting ever occurred or whether legislation was ever discussed, so the episode may mean little - except as an example of the potential political vulnerabilities that Barack Obama's running mate brings to the Democratic ticket. Longtime politicians always bring baggage to a campaign, and Biden is no exception.
Among the other grist he may provide for John McCain's mill:
-The allegation of plagiarism that drove Biden from the 1988 presidential race.
-The history of Biden's son, Hunter, as a Washington lobbyist. Since 2002, the firm Hunter Biden co-founded has represented a major constituent of Joe Biden's, the University of Delaware, which has collected millions in federal funding.
-Donations to Biden's campaigns totaling more than $200,000 in the past two decades from Delaware-based MBNA, the credit card company, and a similar amount from trial lawyers, including Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, one of the three men implicated in the Mississippi bribery scheme.
Since 1989, lawyers and law firms have contributed $6.5 million to Biden, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan private group that tracks money in politics.
Responding on Biden's first day as Obama's running mate, a spokesman called the Delaware senator the "change we need after eight years of failed policies that favored special interests at the expense of our families under George Bush and John McCain." "Joe Biden is the genuine article who has brought change to Washington without being changed by Washington," said David Wade, a spokesman for the vice presidential nominee-in-waiting. The candidate, said Wade, has voted against drug companies, big oil and HMOs.
Among the problems the Obama-Biden campaign faces is some of Biden's recent political rhetoric in which he tears down Obama. One Biden moment from the Democratic primaries that promises to be a Republican favorite: Biden's comment a year ago that he didn't think Obama was ready to be president.
Biden's speaking style may resonate with many Americans, but his mouth has also gotten him trouble over the years. He brilliantly and humorously skewered Rudy Giuliani, saying, "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11. I mean, there's nothing else."
But Biden spoke without thinking when he called Obama "clean" and said that customers cannot go into 7-Elevens unless they have a slight Indian accent. Biden offers explanations, but they probably won't deter McCain's supporters. By clean, Biden says he meant fresh and new. By Indian accent, he says he meant the vibrant Indian-American community in Delaware.
On the plagiarism issue, Biden correctly attributed lines in one of his speeches to former British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock on some occasions, but not at an Iowa State Fair debate where Biden was videotaped. In political campaigns, no black mark is too old to dredge up - again. Biden admitted back in 1987 that he had committed plagiarism while a freshman at Syracuse University law school and that he occasionally used other people's words in his speeches without giving credit.
More recently, the Mississippi fundraiser and the FBI-taped phone call are the kind of information Obama's opponents can make use of if they want to, despite the ambiguity of the circumstances. Biden has returned at least $7,500 in campaign contributions from the three men and their families.
The overheard conversation between attorney Timothy Balducci and former Mississippi State Auditor Steve Patterson was recorded in September 2007 while the FBI was investigating a bribery scheme that toppled Scruggs, Mississippi's most prominent lawyer. Balducci tells Patterson at one point in the cryptic conversation that he was told "we really need to push on the Senate bill" and "get your man in line in the House if this comes out of the Senate," according to the transcript.
On the tape, Balducci says he had spoken by phone to Jim Biden, Sen. Biden's brother, "and we're gonna meet the Bidens around noon," according to the transcript. Balducci said they would "meet with the black farmers at three." Around the time of the tape-recorded call, Biden and other lawmakers, including Obama, were pushing legislation to give thousands of black farmers a chance to seek compensation if they were denied loans or crop subsidies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because of their race. In December 2007, the Senate passed a farm bill that included language to help the farmers seek compensation if they missed out on an earlier settlement with the Agriculture Department in 1999.
Patterson's attorney, Hiram Eastland Jr., says that Patterson did not have any conversations with Joe Biden about any of the black farmers and that Patterson "never asked Jim Biden to work on anything." Eastland said Patterson may have had limited conversation with Jim Biden because Patterson and Balducci were trying to open a consulting firm in Washington.
Joe Biden's Record on the Issues
In case you didn't know, Joe Biden, like Barack Obama, hails from the left wing of the Democrat Party. Biden has been a reliable vote for the open borders lobby, staunchly pro-choice, anti-gun and sorry on fiscal issues. After losing in 2000 and 2004 with mixed north-south tickets, the Democrats have apparently decided, in their infinite wisdom, that the key to victory is to leave off the conservative hayseeds this time and go with two left-wing yankees.
That might make sense if not for the fact that the only two times the Dems have won in the last 7 presidential races, it was with a pair of conservative southerners. Ah, well. Whatcha gonna do? On to Joe Biden's record...
Biden on Immigration and Border Enforcement:
Biden's recent ratings from pro-enforcement and border security groups reflect an open-borders, anti-enforcement record (certain ratings may be numeric equivalents of letter grades):Biden on Gun Control:
Like Obama, Biden is a gun grabber through and through. He is, after all, the guy who recently boasted proudly about being "the guy who wrote the Assault Weapons Ban." His recent ratings from Gun Owners of America are as follows (certain ratings may be numeric equivalents of letter grades):Biden on Fiscal Policy:
Biden's ratings from Citizens Against Government Waste from 2001-2005 were as follows: 15%, 0%, 33%, 21%, 17%.Biden on the Right to Life:
Biden's ratings from Club for Growth were 1% in 2006 and 17% in 2007.
The National Right to Life Committee rated Joe Biden 0% over the 2001-2002 and 2005-2006 terms.
The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) has been much more generous. Biden racked up solid 100% ratings from NARAL in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Obama's rivals pick at Clinton's scars
John McCain's Republican White House campaign today tried to whip up a backlash over Barack Obama's rejection of Hillary Clinton as his running mate, saying Senator Obama had been too weak to pick her. A hard-hitting McCain political advertisement picked at the still raw wounds of the Democratic primary duel, arguing that Senator Clinton had been passed over for "speaking the truth" about Senator Obama's political agenda. "The truth hurt, and Obama didn't like it," said the ad, issued a day after the presumptive Democratic nominee chose veteran senator and foreign policy expert Joseph Biden as his No.2.
Former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani waded into the fray on Senator McCain's behalf, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention here, which party leaders hope will fuse splits between the Obama and Clinton factions. "Senator Obama has made a choice more out of weakness than strength," Mr Giuliani said on the ABC show, This Week. "The strong choice would have been Hillary Clinton, the obvious choice would have been Hillary Clinton. "She had 50 per cent of the Democratic vote. Obama has 50 per cent of the Democratic vote, you almost have to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid her as the vice-presidential pick of the party."
Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who Senator McCain is mulling as a possible Republican vice-presidential pick, also critiqued the selection of Washington insider Senator Biden, saying it was an "overcompensation" by Senator Obama. "Where's the change?" Gov Pawlenty asked on a conference call, suggesting the inexperienced Senator Obama had made a damaging admission that he needed a mentor.
Obama aides insisted there would be no backlash from the Clinton camp on the decision to pass over the former first lady. Top strategist David Axelrod said Senator Obama had a "high regard" for Senator Clinton, despite the fact she was reportedly not even vetted for the vice-presidential spot on the Democratic ticket. "She's going to be an important - an important voice in this campaign," Mr Axelrod told ABC. "But (Obama) felt that Senator Biden would be the best fit for him at this time." Obama strategist Robert Gibbs insisted on Fox that "everybody was on board" the Democratic bandwagon, and the media were going to be driven "crazy" by a show of unity at the convention.
Another finalist in the Democratic vice-presidential stakes, Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia, also played down the idea of a rift despite opinion polls showing some Clinton supporters were still holding out. "They're going to be won over by the Clintons' appearance this week and what they say," Gov Kaine said on Fox News Sunday. Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Senator Obama had called Senator Clinton on Saturday but declined to say if the conversation was set up to tell her she was not in the running to be his No.2. "They speak on a regular basis," Ms Psaki said, as Senator Obama attended a Lutheran church service in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, adding that the Illinois senator also chatted by telephone with former president Bill Clinton on Friday.
Just hours after Senator Obama named Senator Biden, the former first lady praised Senator Biden as an "exceptionally strong, experienced leader". Senator Clinton is due to address the convention on Thursday, and her name will be symbolically put forward for nomination along with Senator Obama's, as a nod to the millions of voters who backed her in the Democratic primary.
The convention comes as polls show that many Clinton voters are still undecided about whether to vote for Senator Obama or Senator McCain in November's election. A Washington Post ABC poll today found 20 per cent of those who voted for Senator Clinton now favour Senator McCain, underlining questions about the Democratic candidate's appeal to some core, blue-collar Democrats. Last week, a Wall Street Journal poll found only half of Senator Clinton's voters said they would definitely vote for Senato rObama in November. One in five said they would pick Senator McCain.
Tensions boil between Obama-Clinton camps
As Democrats arrived here Sunday for a convention intended to promote party unity, mistrust and resentments continued to boil among top associates of presumptive nominee Barack Obama and his defeated rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton. One flashpoint is the assigned speech topic for former president Bill Clinton, who is scheduled to speak Wednesday night, when the convention theme is "Securing America's Future." The night's speakers will argue that Obama would be a more effective commander in chief than his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
The former president is disappointed, associates said, because he is eager to speak about the economy and more broadly about Democratic ideas - emphasizing the contrast between the Bush years and his own record in the 1990s. This is an especially sore point for Bill Clinton, people close to him say, because among many grievances he has about the campaign Obama waged against his wife is a belief that the candidate poor-mouthed the political and policy successes of his two terms.
Some senior Democrats close to Obama, meanwhile, made clear in not-for-attribution comments that they were equally irked at the Clinton operation. Nearly three months after Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the nomination contest, these Obama partisans complained, her team continues to act like she and Bill Clinton hold leverage.
After a period earlier this month when the two sides were working collegially over strategy, scheduling, and other convention logistics, things turned scratchy again in recent days. Some senior Obama supporters are irritated at how they perceive the Clintons fanned - or at a minimum failed to douse - stories that she was not even vetted as a possible vice presidential nominee. This is because she told Obama she preferred not to go through the rigorous process of document production unless she was really a serious contender, an Obama associate noted.
One senior Obama supporter said the Clinton associates negotiating on her behalf act like "Japanese soldiers in the South Pacific still fighting after the war is over." A prominent Obama backer said some of Clinton's lieutentants negotiating with the Obama team are "bitter enders" who presume that, rather than the Clintons reconciling themselves to Obama's victory, it is up to Obama to accommodate them.
In fact, some senior veterans of Clinton's presidential campaign do believe this. "He has not fully reconciled," said one political operative close to the Clintons, "and he has not demonstrated that he accepts the Clintons and the Clinton wing of the party." While the Clintons have a relatively easy job in Denver - to deliver gracious speeches and accept what are likely to be loud cheers from their supporters - it is "Obama who has the heavy lifting" this week, this aide said. This is because large numbers of Clinton backers - 30 percent in a recent ABC/Washington Post poll - are still not backing Obama over McCain.
The peevishness on both sides and the volume of behind-the-scenes catcalls are noteworthy because both the Clinton and Obama teams had resolved in pre-convention talks that it was overwhelmingly in the interests of both sides to get along. Obama spokesman Bill Burton dimissed the chatter about Bill Clinton's speech time and subject as meaningless scuttlebutt. "This is the sort of story cooked up just to feed cable producers. Not an issue," Burton said.
But it is an issue to some people in the Clinton orbit - precisely because they know how closely every public word from either Bill Clinton or Hillary Clinton will be scrutinized. Matt McKenna, a spokesman for Bill Clinton, said his boss "looks forward to making the case that Barack Obama is the best candidate to restore America's standing in the world."
While Bill Clinton remains angry about how he and his wife were treated by both Obama backers and the news media - and he is particularly resentful at what he sees as unfair allegations that he tried to exploit racial divisions for political advantage - he has made the decision that he will put forward a positive face for Obama's benefit at Denver. It is harder to do that when the topic is foreign policy and national security, which lends itself to restrained, rather than boisterous, partisan rhetoric. "That puts him in a terrible bind, because you can't give a ringing endorsement when you're talking about foreign policy," a longtime Clinton adviser said. "Obviously, the hard thing to talk about with Obama is commander in chief, of all his many talents. "You don't rah-rah about commander in chief. You rah-rah about hope and change and a new party and all that. So no matter what he does, somebody will find fault with it."
Hillary Clinton, who associates said seems more at peace with the results of the nomination battle than her husband, is treating her speech preparation as an all-hands-on-deck exercise, bringing back longtime aides who worked with her during the White House years and in her Senate office. Jim Kennedy, a veteran Clinton press hand and now an executive at Sony studios, was recalled to work on a speech draft, as was former White House speechwriter Lissa Muscatine, according to Clinton associates.
Many of Hillary Clinton's negotiations with the Obama team, aides said, have been led by former White House lawyer Cheryl Mills - a fiercely loyal associate of the Clintons who is known for her relentless and sometimes combative advocacy on their behalf. Another longtime associate, former White House chief of staff John Podesta, said he has little doubt that Hillary Clinton will easily meet her political challenge in Denver. He predicted that her supporters will "blow the roof" off the convention center with cheers for her, and that she will in turn make a rousing appeal for Obama.
Podesta, the founder of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, said Bill Clinton's challenge is harder. "I think he's got a high bar because he needs to show enthusiasm, and the press will be looking for any stray remark as a sign that he doesn't fully support" the Obama campaign, Podesta said, adding, "It's a bar he'll get over."
Paul Begala, a former operative who has spoken to both Clintons in recent weeks, agreed. He said the former president, whatever mixed feelings remain from the primaries, will work to elect Obama because, "It's killing him to watch what has happened over the past eight years. It's been torture to watch the slow unraveling of so much of what his administration achieved."
Big Bang Biden?
Barack Obama has often been accused of being too full of himself, of looking in the mirror and seeing not simply a future president but a profile for the next carving on Mount Rushmore. His infatuation with himself, seemingly buying into the myth of Barack as The One, the new Messiah, has been fueled by rhetoric such as the unfortunate example I quoted recently (here), where, referring in a speech to his impending nomination, he stated that he was
absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick, and good jobs for the jobless. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal....
But now I wonder if there might not be more going on here than an individual ego on steroids. In his Saturday speech in Springfield, newly anointed veep candidate Joe Biden said that the next president will have
an incredible opportunity, incredible opportunity, not only to change the direction of America, but literally, literally to change the direction of the world.
Halting the rise of the oceans, healing the planet, "literally, literally [changing] the direction of the world"? I know political rhetoric is often inflated, promising more than can be delivered, and self-confidence is a good thing, but doesn't seeing one's self and one's party as agents of a transformation approaching the Big Bang (or maybe another Ice Age) reflect a level of hubris that should cause us some concern?
This hubristic view that the Democrats are on a mission from God, or somewhere else, to save or at least redirect the planet is not limited to Obama and Biden but seems to pervade the party. Note this from ABC News yesterday:
ABC News' Teddy Davis and Arnab Datta report: Speaking to reporters in Denver, Colo., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Sen. Joe Biden's Saturday crack about his wife having a doctorate degree.
"You know what," said Pelosi "I'm going to tell you something: lighten up folks. We have a planet to save." "If Sen. Biden thinks that his wife is gorgeous, that's a-okay with me," she added.
Pelosi's "lighten up" remark and statement of planetary purpose came in response to a reporter's question about how some of Sen. Hillary Clinton's disgruntled former female supporters would feel about Sen. Barack Obama's new running mate jokingly referring to his wife's advanced degree as "a problem."
I would say that it's Pelosi and her mission to save the planet from the evil Republicans who should lighten up, except that I'm not sure she can get any lighter.
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