Thursday, September 18, 2008

Obama calls upon his supporters to "get in [the] face[s]" of those who are skeptical about him:

"I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face," he said.

"And if they tell you that, 'Well, we're not sure where he stands on guns.' I want you to say, 'He believes in the Second Amendment.' If they tell you, 'Well, he's going to raise your taxes,' you say, 'No, he's not, he's going lower them.' You are my ambassadors. You guys are the ones who can make the case."

But what does Obama's belief in the Second Amendment mean?

The Chicago Tribune has a story about the way Obama's campaign is using the internet to get in the faces of radio and TV stations that air the views (either on television shows or through advertisements) of certain critics of Obama.

Meanwhile, the campaign gets in the face of McCain in a Spanish-language ad that combines some (misleadingly out-of-context) quotations from Rush Limbaugh with attacks upon John McCain for having "two faces" on the immigration issue. Limbaugh accuses Obama of "stoking racism."

George Will urges McCain to argue that voters should support him for the sake of divided government. Interestingly, Will also believes that an Obama presidency with a Democratic Congress would lead to the reinstatement of the "fairness doctrine":
The 22nd Amendment will banish the president in January, but Congress will then be even more Democratic than it is now. Does the country really want there to be no check on it? Consider two things that will quickly become law unless McCain is there to veto them or unless -- this is a thin reed on which to depend -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has 40 reliable senators to filibuster them to deserved deaths.

The exquisitely misnamed Employee Free Choice Act would strip from workers their right to secret ballots in unionization elections. Instead, unions could use the "card check" system: Once a majority of a company's employees -- each person confronted one on one by a union organizer in an inherently coercive setting -- sign cards expressing consent, the union would be certified as the bargaining agent for all workers. Proving that the law's purpose is less to improve workers' conditions than to capture dues payers for the unions, the law would forbid employers from discouraging unionization by giving "unilateral" -- not negotiated -- improvements in compensation and working conditions.

Unless McCain is president, the government will reinstate the equally misnamed "fairness doctrine." Until Ronald Reagan eliminated it in 1987, that regulation discouraged freewheeling political programming by the threat of litigation over inherently vague standards of "fairness" in presenting "balanced" political views. In 1980 there were fewer than 100 radio talk shows nationwide. Today there are more than 1,400 stations entirely devoted to talk formats. Liberals, not satisfied with their domination of academia, Hollywood and most of the mainstream media, want to kill talk radio, where liberals have been unable to dent conservatives' dominance.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mickey Kaus draws attention to a pro-"comprehensive" law blog post about the likelihood of "comprehensive reform" during a McCain presidency:
While there are a few areas of agreement between Mr. McCain and Democrats, immigration is the largest issue on which Democrats and McCain agree. While the current Republican Party platform is the most anti-immigrant one in memory, there were news reports that Mr. McCain, who has a long track record of being pro-immigration, tried to make it more immigration-friendly and failed. This is the issue on which he is most likely to stab his party's anti-immigrationist wing in the back both in his political interests and due to his own convictions (Mr. McCain had to fight his party's anti-immigrationists tooth and nail during the Republican primaries). We expect to see almost all of the original McCain-Kennedy bill become law during the first six months of a McCain Presidency. [E.A.]
Mark Krikorian also comments on this analysis.

UPDATE: (via Hot Air) In an interview with Univision, McCain seems to deny voting for any fencing along the southern border and continues to assert his belief in the value of a virtual fence. The interviewer brings up Obama's pledge to immediately introduce "comprehensive immigration reform" if he becomes president (italics added):
-Senator Barack Obama told us in an interview that he would present a comprehensive immigration reform to congress during the first year. Could you match that?

-Sure, I would do it in the first day, but I was the one who led, I was the one who led with Senator (Ted) Kennedy, a great political risk to myself. Senator Obama tried to kill it, because he was doing what the unions wanted. The unions in America do not want a temporary worker program, so Senator Obama came to the floor and had an amendment that would have basically killed immigration reform, because it was a fragile coalition between republicans and democrats. So, don't let Senator Obama get away with saying that he supports comprehensive reform, when he tried to kill it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Though Obama has pressed the Justice Department to investigate his political opponents, DOJ doesn't sound too supportive of the idea. Malkin posts a report on the matter:

The Justice Department does not pursue criminal investigations of contributors to independent political groups, even when they give $1 million or more and even when their money is solicited based on an appeal to support or oppose a candidate, according to DOJ’s top election crimes official.

“You don’t see a whole lot of cases” where DOJ is looking at independent groups, said Craig Donsanto, the veteran director of the Election Crimes Branch in DOJ’s Public Integrity Section.

Donsanto made his comments Sept. 12 at a conference on corporate political activities in Washington, sponsored by the Practising Law Institute.

Asked directly during a panel discussion at the PLI conference whether he would approve of a case against a hypothetical contributor to a Section 527 group who gave a seven-figure donation based on a request to help or harm the prospects of a particular presidential candidate, Donsanto said, “No.

California's 3rd District Court of Appeal has ruled that the California law giving in-state tuition to "illegal aliens" conflicts with federal law. Eugene Volokh excerpts the key section of the ruling:

[T]he most significant issue [in this case] is whether California’s authorization of in-state tuition to illegal aliens violates a federal law, title 8 of the United States Code (U.S.C.) section 1623, which provides as pertinent:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.”

The respondents argue the federal statute is not violated for two reasons:

1. Respondents say in-state tuition is not a “benefit” within the meaning of the federal law. For reasons we shall explain, we conclude in-state tuition, which is some $17,000 per year cheaper than out-of-state tuition at UC, is a “benefit” conferred on illegal aliens within the meaning of the federal law.

2. Respondents argue in-state tuition is not granted “on the basis of residence within a state” as required by federal law. Respondents point to the fact that in-state tuition for illegal aliens is based on a student’s having attended a California high school for three or more years and on the student’s having graduated from a California high school or having attained “the equivalent thereof.” As we shall explain, the three-year attendance requirement at a California high school is a surrogate residence requirement. The vast majority of students who attend a California high school for three years are residents of the state of California. Section 68130.5 thwarts the will of Congress manifest in title 8 U.S.C. section 1623.

This ruling revives a class-action lawsuit brought by out-of-state-residents attending state colleges and universities in California. This ruling can be appealed to the California Supreme Court. More on the lawsuit here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meanwhile, Obama pledges to maintain one policy from the Bush administration:

Obama said to the audience[,] “Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for a president who won’t walk away from comprehensive immigration reform when it becomes politically unpopular.”

Mickey Kaus and Ann Coulter mix it up over which candidate for president is most likely to enact "comprehensive immigration reform." Both McCain and Obama seem thoroughly committed to some form of legalization, but who could make it happen?

Coulter lays out her case (e.a.):
Even assuming McCain were more likely to enact "comprehensive immigration reform" than Obama, the difference is between a 10% chance and a 9.99999% chance.

Meanwhile, Obama is more likely to jump-start Islamic terrorism by rapidly withdrawing from Iraq and insanely sending more troops to Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan. In a few years, it won't matter how many illegals we have -- they'll be forced to convert to Islam like the rest of us.

While McCain says he "got the message" and denies that he would push for amnesty "until the borders are secure," Obama says he would withdraw troops immediately from Iraq here,here, and here ; says he will send more troops to the black hole of Afghanistan here, here, here; and says he will bomb our ally Pakistan here, here, and here.

So to believe that McCain is a bigger threat to America than Obama is, Kausfiles has to take the position that McCain will do what he says he won't (sign an amnesty bill), and Obama won't do what he says he will (withdraw from Iraq, start a disastrous ground war in Afghanistan and attack our allies).

Kaus counters (e.a.):
I'd say the difference is more like a 50% chance of passing a semi-amnesty under McCain, compared with a 20% chance under Obama, who will have lots of other things to do and lots of Dem Congresspeople from swing districts he doesn't want to endanger. Amnesty is irreversible, remember, as will be many of its consequences (e.g., an incentive for more illegal immigration, plus a change in the electorate, creating pressure for further amnesties, etc.). ... Meanwhile I think Obama would, overall, put a damper on world terrorism by automatically and at least temporarily lowering the planet's anti-Americanism quotient, translating into fewer radicalized recruits with less tacit support from their neighbors. (Even John Kerry would have done that.) ... Will Obama want to go down in history as the President who snatched defeat from semi-success in Iraq? It's a worry, I agree! But it was much more of a worry before the perception sank in among voters that the "surge" has succeeded. ...
Mark Krikorian thinks that Kaus is more in the right with these numbers.
One question (on a point I haven't seen discussed too much): how would the Western-type Democratic senators (like McCaskill, Tester, Nelson, Baucus, Dorgan), who were critical in upholding the filibuster against last year's attempt at "CIR," vote for "CIR" under an Obama administration v. a McCain one. Would they back Obama on "CIR" for the sake of party unity during crucial votes? McCaskill in particular has been an early and vocal Obama supporter on the campaign trail...
Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me;
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta!—stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street, or public assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or actress!
Play the old role, the role that is great or small, according as one makes it!
--Walt Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I think this moment qualifies as a media train wreck. A live mic records some private conversation of Mike Murphy, Peggy Noonan, and Chuck Todd. TPM has the video. Here's the transcript:

Peggy Noonan: Yeah.

Mike Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state governor world: Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. I mean, these guys -- this is how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And it's not gonna work. And --

PN: It's over.

MM: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.

CT: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.

PN: Saw Kay this morning.

CT: Yeah, she's never looked comfortable about this --

MM: They're all bummed out.

CT: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

PN: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives --

CT: Yeah they went to a narrative.

MM: I totally agree.

PN: Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and it's not what they're good at, they blow it.

MM: You know what's really the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is no cynicism, and this is cynical.

CT: This is cynical, and as you called it, gimmicky.

MM: Yeah.

How does it damage people? Let me count the ways....It risks unsettling Palin by suggesting that GOP supporters who publicly praise her in fact have deep private doubts about her. It adds significant nuance to Noonan's very supportive column on Palin in today's WSJ.

However, there is an odd turn in their discussion:

CT: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.

PN: Saw Kay this morning.

CT: Yeah, she's never looked comfortable about this --

MM: They're all bummed out.

CT: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

When John Kerry picked John Edwards as his running mate in 2004, did anyone think that his pick was "insulting" to Joe Biden, another male politician with considerably more time in public office than Edwards? (Of course, back in 2000, Tom Daschle was saying that 17 months in the Senate was more than enough "experience" for Edwards to run for president, so maybe Edwards gets some "experience" bonus.)

UPDATE: Noonan clarifies and contextualizes her remarks (e.a.):

When the segment was over and MSNBC was in commercial, Todd, Murphy and I continued our conversation, talking about the Palin choice overall. We were speaking informally, with some passion -- and into live mics. An audio tape of that conversation was sent, how or by whom I don't know, onto the internet. And within three hours I was receiving it from friends far and wide, asking me why I thought the McCain campaign is "over", as it says in the transcript of the conversation. Here I must plead some confusion. In our off-air conversation, I got on the subject of the leaders of the Republican party assuming, now, that whatever the base of the Republican party thinks is what America thinks. I made the case that this is no longer true, that party leaders seem to me stuck in the assumptions of 1988 and 1994, the assumptions that reigned when they were young and coming up. "The first lesson they learned is the one they remember," I said to Todd -- and I'm pretty certain that is a direct quote. But, I argued, that's over, those assumptions are yesterday, the party can no longer assume that its base is utterly in line with the thinking of the American people. And when I said, "It's over!" -- and I said it more than once -- that is what I was referring to. I am pretty certain that is exactly what Todd and Murphy understood I was referring to. In the truncated version of the conversation, on the Web, it appears I am saying the McCain campaign is over. I did not say it, and do not think it. In fact, at an on-the-record press symposium on the campaign on Monday, when all of those on the panel were pressed to predict who would win, I said that I didn't know, but that we just might find "This IS a country for old men." That is, McCain may well win. I do not think the campaign is over, I do not think this is settled, and did not suggest, back to the Todd-Murphy conversation, that "It's over."

However, I did say two things that I haven't said in public, either in speaking or in my writing. One is a vulgar epithet that I wish I could blame on the mood of the moment but cannot. No one else, to my memory, swore. I just blurted. The other, more seriously, is a real criticism that I had not previously made, but only because I hadn't thought of it. And it is connected to a thought I had this morning, Wednesday morning, and wrote to a friend. Here it is. Early this morning I saw Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and as we chatted about the McCain campaign (she thoughtfully and supportively) I looked into her eyes and thought, Why not her? Had she been vetted for the vice presidency, and how did it come about that it was the less experienced Mrs. Palin who was chosen? I didn't ask these questions or mention them, I just thought them. Later in the morning, still pondering this, I thought of something that had happened exactly 20 years before. It was just after the 1988 Republican convention ended. I was on the plane, as a speechwriter, that took Republican presidential nominee George H.W. Bush, and the new vice presidential nominee, Dan Quayle, from New Orleans, the site of the convention, to Indiana. Sitting next to Mr. Quayle was the other senator from that state, Richard Lugar. As we chatted, I thought, "Why him and not him?" Why Mr. Quayle as the choice, and not the more experienced Mr. Lugar? I came to think, in following years, that some of the reason came down to what is now called The Narrative. The story the campaign wishes to tell about itself, and communicate to others. I don't like the idea of The Narrative. I think it is ... a barnyard epithet. And, oddly enough, it is something that Republicans are not very good at, because it's not where they live, it's not what they're about, it's too fancy. To the extent the McCain campaign was thinking in these terms, I don't like that either. I do like Mrs. Palin, because I like the things she espouses. And because, frankly, I met her once and liked her. I suspect, as I say further in here, that her candidacy will be either dramatically successful or a dramatically not; it won't be something in between.

Mickey Kaus does some reporting from the front lines of the Republican convention. McCain ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) still talks favorably about "comprehensive immigration reform":
I asked Sen. Graham how soon, in his first term, President McCain would declare the borders secure (which would let him to move to revive "comprehensive immigration reform"). Graham said "We'll know it when we see it," but emphasized that "comprehensive" reform was "still on the table" and seemed as much of an enthusiast as ever. "He will take that up," Graham predicted.** ... Later, in another WaPo chat, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis mentioned Hispanics as a battleground voter group, arguing that Republicans had to offer them something "other than a deportation center"--which is sort of offensive, when you think about it (as if Hispanic-American voters, who are by definition citizens, are illegals subject to deportation). ... Not just an appeal to ethnic identity politics, but a stereotyping appeal to ethnic identity politics, no? ...
He also notes the attempted political configuration that the McCain camp seems to be trying to offer:
(Remember the apparent formula is: 'McCain + grassroots vs. GOP Congress,' not 'McCain vs. grassroots + GOP Congress'--or, worse, 'McCain + GOP Congress vs. grassroots,' even though the last is more or less the real array of forces on immigration.) ...
The official GOP platform speaks out against "amnesty"--the Democratic platform advocates for some form of legalization--but, of course, the president is not bound by his party's platform.

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Palin. McCain chooses Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Obama team knocks Palin as "the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience." Much of the right seems happy with the choice. The biggest anxiety among McCain supporters would seem to be worries about Palin's "experience" (or lack thereof) and the way that will play in the media; she was just elected as governor in 2006 and is a few years younger than Obama. But they also like her positions on social and cultural issues and her reputation as a reformer. She's also extremely popular in Alaska--a recent poll has her approval rating at 80%.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Obama campaign continues to push to shut down discussion of Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers. In an alert sent to supporters, the campaign attacks National Review writer Stanley Kurtz as a "slimy character assassin" and urges supporters to call a Chicago radio station to complain about giving Kurz air time on a program to discuss his research into the Annenberg Challenge:

--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Obama Action Wire
Date: Wed, Aug 27, 2008
Subject: Chicago: CALL TONIGHT to fight the latest smear

[Name] —

In the next few hours, we have a crucial opportunity to fight one of
the most cynical and offensive smears ever launched against Barack.

Tonight, WGN radio is giving right-wing hatchet man Stanley Kurtz a
forum to air his baseless, fear-mongering terrorist smears. He's
currently scheduled to spend a solid two-hour block from 9:00 to 11:00
p.m. pushing lies, distortions, and manipulations about Barack and
University of Illinois professor William Ayers.

Tell WGN that by providing Kurtz with airtime, they are legitimizing
baseless attacks from a smear-merchant and lowering the standards of
political discourse.

Call into the "Extension 720" show with Milt Rosenberg at (312) 591-7200

(Show airs from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. tonight)

Then report back on your call at

Kurtz has been using his absurd TV appearances in an awkward and
dishonest attempt to play the terrorism card. His current ploy is to
embellish the relationship between Barack and Ayers.

Just last night on Fox News, Kurtz drastically exaggerated Barack's
connection with Ayers by claiming Ayers had recruited Barack to the
board of the Annenberg Challenge. That is completely false and has
been disproved in numerous press accounts.

It is absolutely unacceptable that WGN would give a slimy character
assassin like Kurtz time for his divisive, destructive ranting on our
public airwaves. At the very least, they should offer sane, honest
rebuttal to every one of Kurtz's lies.

Kurtz is scheduled to appear from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. in the Chicago market.

Calling will only take a minute, and it will make a huge difference if
we nip this smear in the bud. Confront Kurtz tonight before this goes
any further:

Please forward this email to everyone you know who can make a call tonight.

Keep fighting the good fight,

Obama Action Wire
Interestingly, it seems as though Milt Rosenberg's show invited the Obama campaign to send a spokesperson to counter Kurtz's claims--to be in the studio for the whole two-hour interview--but the campaign declined. So the show did offer a chance for a "rebuttal." Instead of taking that chance, though, the Obama campaign instead decided to mobilize its supporters to assail the radio station airing this discussion with complaints. Audio of Kurtz's appearance is here.