Week 39/2008 Highlights

Topics in the news that caught my interest during this past week.

Terrorism Continued

Anyone who thinks that the War on Terror is over should take a close look at what happened over in Pakistan.  Almost 60 people dead & over 260 injured after 1300 lbs. of high explosive detonated in front of the Marriot hotel.  From what I understand, this was an attempt by the terrorists to assassinate high ranking Pakistani officials who changed their plans at the last minute.  Obviously, they missed, and lots of innocent people died & are suffering from grievous injuries.  al Queida has supposedly been linked to the bombing.

I hope that the presidential candidates are paying attention to this.  But knowing them, it will just be another sound bite.

Oops!!  China Did It Again

First it was contaminated pet food, then it was counterfeit parts & CDs, lead paint on toys, and now it’s contaminated milk.  Only this time, they did it to themselves.

Not only have Chinese children been affected, but products outside of the Chinese borders have been contaminated.  Products have been pulled internationally.  China promises to punish those responsible, but that is little comfort to those parents whose children have died or been permanently injured by the willful chemical contamination of milk all in the name of greed.

While I do not intentionally make light of this tragedy, when will we sit up & take notice that business with China is not in our best interest in the long run?  If they don’t care about their own people, why do we think that they will take care of us?

The money to be made only goes so far…and it’s hard to spend inside a jail cell.  And speaking of greed…

Who Pays for Wall Street’s Bailout?

Why, the taxpayer, i.e., you!!

Yes, we’ve all heard the reasons for the government wanting to shell out $700 Billion for basically underwriting bad loans, investments, and otherwise propping up horrendous speculations made by executives that paid themselves millions of dollars in compensation while their companies tanked.  There is evidence that some of these companies “cooked” the books to make it appear that the companies were doing well while they weren’t just so the executives could get their multimillion dollar bonuses (isn’t that called fraud?).  And now the house of cards has collapsed, and the government has to step in with financial support to keep the economy from totally failing.

What is also painfully frustrating is that our elected officials in Congress (both Parties, mind you!) took “campaign contributions” from the financial sector to basically relax regulations and change rules to allow greater financial exposure in pursuing greater profits.  Thousands of dollars were paid, and millions of dollars were made.

Here’s what I think should be done:  Those executives that received their bonuses by fraudulent means should have those bonuses confiscated and jailed.  Those Congress-critters that received “campaign contributions” should “donate” five times the amount received from their personal accounts toward the bailout fund and be removed from office.  Yeah, I’m a big fan of accountability, but we all know that very little of the preceding will occur.

Ahmadinejad Visits UN

Yes, Iran’s president visited the UN and basically told everyone that Iran will continued to develop nuclear power.  It doesn’t matter that Iran is sitting on a sea of oil, they must join the nuclear club.  Doesn’t anyone really see that Iran seeks to dominate the Middle East and destroy anyone that gets in their way?

Foreign Policy Qualifications?

The news has been making a big deal about Governor Palin meeting foreign leaders, and how this highlights her inexperience with foreign policy.  Come on!!  She is running for the Vice Presidency, not the Presidency.  And who is running for President on the Democratic ticket that has a rather thin resume on that subject?

The First Presidential Candidate Debate

The first debate between McCain and Obama was on last night.  Will need to see it, but the pundits this morning are calling it a draw.

VP Change Rumor

There is a rumor that Joe Biden will drop out of the election due to health reasons, and be replaced by Hillary Clinton. I wonder if Biden’s doctors have told old Joe that he has terminal foot in mouth disease…

US Wins Ryder Cup!!

Who needs Tiger Woods when Captain Paul Azinger picks six rookies to do the job?  I wish I could have watched it (although I would much rather be playing golf than watching it)…

The Race Isn’t About Race…

…but it has more to do about the character & qualifications of the candidates.  Isn’t that what this election season is really about?  You would think…

But more and more, I’m beginning to pick up subtle but detectible signs that the Liberals are setting themselves up for that wonderful nirvana that Liberals all crave – racial victimhood.

From Dick Meyer at NPR.com:

This polling indicates something else astonishing to the politically plugged in: Many undecided’s haven’t really connected their negative feelings about race to Obama yet. Their view of Obama is unformed, and their negative feelings toward African-Americans could be easily triggered when they finally tune in.

The Obama campaign has been accused of being hunkered down on “the race card,” wishfully thinking 2008 is a normal campaign where the candidate’s race is not a major new variable. They’re said to believe that since all the meta-conditions (terrible economy, pessimistic attitudes about the direction of the nation, country at war, unpopular president) point to a Democratic win, running a tactically sound campaign with a traditional platform and a charismatic candidate is enough to win.

It may be.

But some who have been doing recent research on race believe there is a current of racism that has not been triggered and that is likely to be — perhaps triggered intentionally by Republicans, but also as a natural consequence of the undecided voters finally focusing. And plenty of pundits and advice-givers think Obama is not doing enough to minimize or counter the racial impulses of undecided voters. (I am not convinced there is any way to spin this: What is, is.)

Is this a setup or what?  Who said that all of the undecided voters were going to vote against Obama because of his race?  What about the undecided homeboys that will vote for Obama because they want a brother in the White House and not some old white guy?  Meyer continues:

In a recent column, I said, “If Obama were not black, if he were the same man (man, not woman) in white skin, he would most certainly be far ahead in the polls.” I think this is an uncontroversial assertion: All the models political scientists use to predict presidential elections have the Democrat winning in a rout. But now the polls are tied in a knot. What is the variable that none of the models take into account? Race.

After the column ran, my inbox was besieged by angry missives declaring that I was a half-wit for not understanding that Obama was given the nomination, not because he earned it by getting more votes, but because he was black and got what he didn’t deserve. He was an affirmative action candidate. These were not kind-hearted e-mails.

So now we’re supposed to vote for Obama because all the Presidents before him were white and he needs to be elected to help balance the books?  What ever happened about everyone being colorblind?  Well, I hate to say it, but the Democrats, while professing to be the (colorblind) Party of the People voted this way in the Primaries (again, from Meyer):

In the primaries, Obama did poorly with the kinds of people who tend to be undecided now — and they were Democrats.

In Obama’s home state, Illinois, Obama creamed Clinton by 32 points, but Clinton carried 55 percent of the least educated white voters. In Ohio, Clinton beat Obama by a 57-point margin among less educated white voters. In Missouri, 17 percent of the white voters said race mattered to them and 65 percent of those voters went to Clinton.

Tsk, tsk – And all this time we thought it was the evil Conservatives that were the problem.

But it’s not the Republicans or Conservatives that keep bringing up Obama’s race; it’s fellow Democrats.  From an Investors Business Daily (IBD) editorial:

The supporters of the first post-racial candidate keep bringing it up. Racism is the new refuge of scoundrels. The real issue is not the color of Obama’s skin, but the thickness of it.

For a time, Barack Obama was riding “the chance to make history” train, garnering huge support on that issue alone. Then came the GOP nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, an outlet for disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters and hockey moms, plus a different way to make history.

Once “hope” and “change” had to be defined as more than a podium sign, and Obama had to speak on occasion without a teleprompter, avoiding the joint town hall meetings he promised John McCain, it became apparent that it was not change for the better Obama was offering.

He offered trillions in new taxes and surrender to our enemies abroad. He was a classic liberal, the No. 1 liberal in the U.S. Senate, and that’s a losing argument.

Why do Democrats think McCain has caught up? Speaking in Iowa City, Iowa, on Tuesday, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, another woman Obama did not choose, provided an answer.

“Have any of you noticed that Barack Obama is part African-American?” she asked in response to a question about why the election is so close. “That may be a factor. All the code language, all that doesn’t show up in the polls.”

Liberals, not being able to understand why The One we’ve been waiting for could possibly lose, needed a comforting excuse, and racism provided it.

And incredibly, Obama himself is trying to deal himself a full house full of race cards.  Again, from the IBD editorial:

But if anyone has repeatedly injected race into this campaign, it is Obama.

Meeting with donors in San Francisco on April 6, he famously told them of “small towns in Pennsylvania” and the Midwest beset by job losses in a changing economy. He told of how “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment” to vent their frustrations.

It is Obama who said racism was the reason he could lose.

“Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face,” he said in Springfield, Mo., on July 30.

“So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, ‘he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills.'” Who are “they”?

Indeed, who the Hell are “they”?

Perhaps Liberals should understand that the reason for Obama’s slide in the polls is not race, but is instead highlighted by McCain’s choice for Vice President – Character.  From an earlier post:

The character of the candidate is an issue that is of interest to Americans. After all, the character of the candidate aspiring to the Presidency is important. Would you, the American voter, want a person of poor character leading this country?

Senator Obama fails to realize that character does matter, and that Americans are looking at who he associates with, what he says, and what he does. Associations with people give glimpses into the person’s character, and the people that Senator Obama has around him has not given a stellar endorsement of his choice of friends & associates. Some of the comments that he (and his wife) have made during speeches has not endeared him to his targeted audience. Last, actions and comments over items such not wearing the American flag nor placing his hand over his heart during the playing of the National Anthem calls into question his sincerity of his patriotism.

And what associations does Obama have?  Two that come immediately to mind are his racist hate spouting pastor Jerimiah Wright and his close personal friend the unrepentant Weatherman bomber William Ayers.  Enough has been said here and in other places that have outlined Obama’s relationships with these people that I won’t go into again here.

And even without the damning associations of a couple of America haters, what about his wife’s views on America?  Her “never been proud of America” comment made during two different speeches speaks volumes to me about what dinner and pillow talk is like in that home (and before you Liberal readers scream “foul,” just remember that the media has looked into and attacked both McCain’s and Palin’s spouses and families, so bug off).

One last quote from IBD:

…Martin Luther King once dreamed of a day when people would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Sadly for Barack Obama, that day has arrived.

As far as I’m concerned, I am color and gender blind in the voting booth.  I want the most qualified candidate on the ballot in the office they are running for.  The opinion that I have is that Obama isn’t that person.

Newt Talks About Gov. Sarah Palin and the Left’s Religious Bias

Got an email from the Michigan GOP, and was pointed to this video on Newt Gingrich’s speech before the Family Research Council’s Value Voters Summit.  Video is here and the transcript is here.  It’s pretty eye-opening.

Update:  Here’s a similar article from The American Thinker.

Campaign Promises for the Automotive Industry

Yesterday, Senator John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin made a campaign stop at the Ford Fieldhouse at Grand Rapids Community College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Among the reported promises that were made were:

…the GOP ticket won’t raise taxes, will keep America safe, and will restore Detroit to a pre-eminent place as the hub of the global auto industry.

The last promise is interesting because of the $25 Billion Federal loan package for the automotive industry currently being debated in Congress.  One of the statements that was made during that campaign stop is particularly interesting:

We’re not going to leave the workers here in Michigan hung out to dry while we give billions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street.

Nice thoughts, but are they really going to happen?  Let’s look at the last part first…

As far as what the pundits say, there’s a pretty good chance that the loan package will go through.  The automaker lobbyists are pushing hard, and in this election year, a Democratic controlled Congress will pass the loan, hoping that it will boost Obama’s ratings among Michigan Union members.  And considering that the Government has essentially taken over Fannie May, Freddie Mack, and AIG with billions of taxpayer dollars, what’s a few more dollars to help out an ailing industry in an ailing state that has seen over 315,000 jobs disappear?

The scary part is that some of the banks on Wall Street are backing this loan – JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs own quite a bit of Ford and GM’s debt.  If Ford and GM cannot turn things around and fall flat on their butts, then Chase & Sachs will follow Lehman Brothers down the financial tubes unless the Feds take them over with massive bailouts a la AIG.

Now for the first part – Returning Detroit to “a pre-eminent place as the hub of the global auto industry.”  I’m sorry to say, but no Presidential candidate, Democratic or Republican, can make that promise.

The recovery of the automakers (and of Detroit) depends on nothing less than sound management of the automakers.  While I believe that the automakers have more than a decent chance of turning themselves around, I’m not so sure that it would spill over into Detroit.

The automakers all have decent product either on the design boards or in the process of becoming reality.  Whether any of these products will become hits & saviors of their respective companies is anyone’s guess.  Then there’s the other “dirty” but open secret – all the companies are looking at foreign produced cars wearing their nameplates to help with the current gas-mileage deficient lineup (at least, so they say, until the domestic product catches up).  But while they are catching up, what happens in the meantime?

That is going to be anyone’s guess.  We’ve seen the price of gasoline bounce around on both sides of $4.00/gal, and who knows where it will be in a couple of years when the anticipated $25 Billion Federal loan comes due.  GM is supposed to have its Volt on the showroom floors by 2010, but the pricing is still up in the air.  Ford isn’t quite floundering, but it’s not exactly healthy and exciting either.  And Chrysler’s master may lose patience and cut the company up in pieces to sell off.

Then there’s the other shoe that could drop – Who said that the product that is on the drawing boards is going to pass the corporate laugh test?  I’m sure that GM doesn’t want another Aztec, Ford doesn’t need an Edsel, and Chrysler needs to upgrade its offerings to include better fuel economy.  But who is mandating that any of this product has to come from Detroit and not continue flooding in from elsewhere?  The answer is nobody.

Here’s the bottom line – It all depends on who has what to sell, and how the public reacts with their disposable income.

The amount of available disposable income to the average American is going to be interesting.  The financial markets have been going crazy over the past year as various financial institutions find themselves failing, selling out, or just closing their doors.  And then we have the Democratic candidate for President all but promising higher taxes.  All of this leads to how comfortable does the average consumer feel about their future.  In the age of cutbacks and reorganizations, it is a rare person (outside of those with golden parachutes) that is confident in their long-term future.

In essence, it will be the consumer that will cast their vote on who stays in business and who walks the plank to insolvency.  All the promises of the candidates will not change that fact.