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Remember when John McCain rattled his saber after Georgia attacked Russian-controlled turf in 2008? Aren’t you sad he didn’t get elected and thus we haven’t even come close to getting into a war with Russia?

Well, he’s back, pounding the war drums as usual. The AP reports:

BENGHAZI, Libya – U.S. Sen. John McCain called for increased military support for Libya’s rebels Friday, including weapons, training and stepped-up airstrikes, in a full-throated endorsement of the opposition in its fight to oust Moammar Gadhafi. … 

At a news conference in the rebels’ stronghold of Benghazi ini eastern Libya, McCain said he did not believe that the United States should send in ground troops, but it should be much more involved in the air campaign and “facilitate” the arming and training of the rebels — much as it armed the mujahedeen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Upside of Afghanistan: Fall of the Soviet Empire. Downside of Afghanistan: 9/11.

But what’s the upside of Libya? Fall of the Libyan Empire?

“We need to urgently step up the NATO air campaign to protect Libyan civilians, especially in Misrata,” he said. “We desperately need more close air support and strike assets.” 

McCain applauded the Obama administration’s decision to use the drones “so we can better identify Gadhafi’s forces as they seek to conceal themselves in civilian areas.” 

McCain urged the use of combat aircraft more suited for engaging targets in urban areas, such as A-10 Thunderbolts, which are anti-tank planes, and AC-130 gunships, outfitted with heavy weaponry, including cannons, rockets and machine guns.

Death from Above! The only thing that could be more awesome would be to equip the AC-130 gunships with big-ass loudspeakers playing “Highway to Hell” while they turn some Libyan oil refinery into a giant fireball.

… All nations should recognize the opposition’s Transitional National Council as the legitimate voice of the Libyan people, McCain said, and provide it with “every appropriate means of assistance,” including “command and control support, battlefield intelligence, training and weapons.” 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration disagreed with McCain’s call for recognition of the rebels’ political leadership. “We think it’s for the people of Libya to decide who the head of their country is, not for the United States to do that,” Carney said aboard Air Force One as President Barack Obama returned to Washington from California. …

Some in the West have raised the possibility that Islamic militants may be among the rebels, but McCain said he did not see any evidence of that. 

“I have met these brave fighters and they are not al-Qaida,” he said. “To the contrary, they are Libyan patriots who want to liberate their nation. 

“They are my heroes,” he said. 

Some of these heroic rebels have hit speeds upwards of 100 mph while fleeing Gaddafi’s crack mercenaries from Burkina Faso. You gotta be brave to drive that fast on those roads.

However, McCain cautioned that the situation could change if there is a deadlock on the battlefield. “I do worry that if there is a stalemate here, that it could open the door to radical Islamic fundamentalism because of the frustration that thousands and thousands of young people would feel as they are deprived from participating in democracy in the united Libya.”

Well, that’s reassuring.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: McCain 
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From “McCain Rebukes Hispanic Voters” by Kirk Victor in the National Journal, via Larry Auster:

John McCain sounds angry and frustrated that, despite the risks he took in pushing immigration reform, Hispanic voters flocked to Democrat Barack Obama in last year’s presidential contest. McCain’s raw emotions burst forth recently as he heatedly told Hispanic business leaders that they should now look to Obama, not him, to take the lead on immigration.

The meeting in the Capitol’s Strom Thurmond Room on March 11 was a Republican effort led by Sens. McCain of Arizona, John Thune of South Dakota, and Mel Martinez of Florida to reach out to Hispanics. But two people who attended the session say they were taken aback by McCain’s anger.

What began as a collegial airing of views abruptly changed when McCain spoke about immigration” … He was angry,” one source said. “He was over the top. In some cases, he rolled his eyes a lot. There were portions of the meeting where he was just staring at the ceiling, and he wasn’t even listening to us. We came out of the meeting really upset.”

McCain’s message was obvious, the source continued: After bucking his party on immigration, he had no sympathy for Hispanics who are dissatisfied with President Obama’s pace on the issue. “He threw out [the words] ‘You people — you people made your choice. You made your choice during the election,’ ” the source said. “It was almost as if [he was saying] ‘You’re cut off!’ We felt very uncomfortable when we walked away from the meeting because of that.”

In 2006 and 2007, McCain was a leader on immigration, but his efforts ran aground largely because his legislation included what many Republicans derisively characterized as “amnesty,” a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants if they took a series of steps to earn legal status.

Having stuck his neck out in the past, McCain apparently is in no mood to do so again for an ethnic group he seems to view as ungrateful. … Asked on the show whether he would work with Obama on the issue, McCain said, “At any time, I stand ready. But the president has to lead.” …

[Sen.] Martinez, who is Hispanic, continued, “John is John. Sometimes when he talks, he talks forcefully. He wasn’t ranting or raving or anything. I have seen John rant and rave. I don’t think this was one of those moments.”

This almost sounds like Martinez is talking about Dodger slugger Manny Ramirez (“That’s just Manny being Manny”), who is a lot of fun, but not what most people consider Presidential Timber.

But one person’s straight talk is another person’s vitriol. “My hands were shaking,” one source said. “I was nervous as no-end.” The senator’s comments went on for several minutes at least. And by the end of the meeting, another participant, who had supported McCain in last year’s presidential election, was so shaken by the display of temper that he decided it is good that McCain isn’t in the White House.

McCain has become irate over immigration legislation before. During negotiations over a bill two years ago, he was so enraged by the comments of Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that he got in Cornyn’s face and said, “F– you!” …

Going forward, some of McCain’s allies question whether Obama will be willing to lead on immigration, especially given what they saw as his failure to take risks to advance immigration reform when he was a senator. “He was AWOL most of the time,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said of Obama in an interview in July. “I learned a lot about Obama on immigration, and it wasn’t good. I learned that to talk about bipartisan change and to stick by a bipartisan deal are two different things. He came by several times, more [for] the photo ops. The only time he came by, he wanted to re-litigate something that had already been decided.”

Asked recently whether he would be surprised that McCain’s feelings about Hispanic voters and immigration legislation sound very raw, Graham, who also took risks in backing the legislation, which was very unpopular in South Carolina, said: “John understands politics. But he is a human being, like all of us, and it is disappointing because he really was the driving force on the Republican side… to produce a bill that would solve this problem. And the groups that were cheering him on were gone when he needed them.”

Hispanics gave Obama a whopping 67 percent of their votes, more than double the 31 percent they gave to McCain. A former colleague of McCain’s, Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who opposed immigration reform, told National Journal, “John risked a lot to go out there and do what he did. They basically turned their back on him, a guy who had done a lot more for them than Barack Obama ever would. So I can understand his anger, but I also know that John doesn’t get over things easily.” …

Remind me again how the Republican Party came to nominate this guy for President?

By the way, I’ve been explaining for nine years that amnesty is not the royal road to Hispanic voters’ hearts. With the exception of the Cubans and the born-agains, they tend to be natural Democrats for both tax-and-spend and racial reasons. But why should anybody listen to a crazed extremist like me when the statesmanlike Sen. McCain is assuring you of the exact opposite? Who you gonna believe, a wild-eyed nut like me with all my hatefacts and hatestats and hategraphs, or a thoughtful, judicious cross between Pericles and King Solomon like Sen. McCain?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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From Time, “The Anti-Obama Ad Campaign that Never Happened:”

“My favorite ad of the campaign was as simple as it could be,” [McCain advertising director Fred] Davis said. “And it started out something like, ‘Long before the world knew of John McCain or Barack Obama, one of them spent five years in a hellhole because he refused early release to honor his fellow prisoners, while the other one wouldn’t walk out of a church after 20 years of the guy spewing hatred towards America.’ And the last line was, ‘Character matters, especially when no one is listening.’ ” The ad never ran, however, because McCain ruled the topic of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the preacher of Obama’s Chicago church, out of bounds shortly after he locked up the Republican nomination.

Good advertising men are almost always mischiefmakers at heart, the sort who don’t mind a little confrontation and who revel in a bit of controversy. And so Davis is wistful at the missed opportunities of the McCain campaign. “I made a list once, which no one will ever see, of all the reasons that my hands were tied on this campaign,” he says. “And I’ve never had a list this long.” One of his biggest struggles, Davis says, was to come up with negative spots against a historic, groundbreaking candidate without stepping on taboos. “One of the big hands that I felt was tied behind my back was [that] so many things — like [Obama's record on] crime — you would logically do were perceived as ‘Oh, we can’t do that. That was playing the race card,’ ” he says, adding that the campaign created a whole series of crime attacks against Obama that were never aired. “Reverend Wright? ‘Oh, can’t do that; they’ll say we are playing the race card.’ [William] Ayers? For the longest time, ‘Oh, can’t do that. We’re playing the race card.’ “

Davis says that concern about race played a major role in the entire aesthetic of McCain’s ads. The photographs of Obama that the ads used, for instance, which often showed Obama elongated and smiling, were carefully selected, he recalls. “We chose them with only one thing in mind, and that is to not make them bad pictures because bad pictures would be seen as racist,” Davis says. “How many shots in their ads did they use a John McCain [photo] looking decent and smiling?” He says the campaign also agonized over the music in the ads, paying special care not to play drum-heavy tracks that could be seen as an African tribal reference. “We were held to a totally different standard,” he says.

Nevertheless, the McCain campaign was unable to escape the charge that it was playing the race card. An Associated Press analysis called the campaign’s invocations of the once violent 1960s radical Ayers “racially tinged” because they evoked the word terrorist. McCain was also accused of playing on race for running an ad that highlighted Obama’s relationship with Franklin Raines, a former executive at Fannie Mae who is black. Says Davis: “I never saw anybody play the race card but the Obama campaign.”

Well, imagine that! McCain castrated his own campaign, and yet the media still worked themselves into a hate-filled frenzy about Republican racists. Who could have guessed that would happen?

Also, I realize McCain is a “straight-shooter” and all that, but just maybe McCain should have mentioned to GOP voters during the primaries that if Obama ended up his opponent, he intended to more or less throw the election. I mean, I understand the voters are supposed to be kept in the dark as much as possible, but perhaps he could have let slip that he was going to take a dive in the general election, and just wanted the nomination to stroke his vanity.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: McCain 
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So, why did McCain do best, relative to George W. Bush in 2004, in states like #1. Tennessee, #3. Arkansas, #5 Oklahoma, #7 West Virginia, #9 Kentucky, and #10 Alabama?

Here’s a map by counties, with counties where McCain improved relative to GWB in 2004 the most shown in reddest red.

Before reading onward, can you figure out why this pattern exists?


The pattern should be quite obvious to anybody who has read David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed on the four types of Brits in America.

Spoiler Alert:

John McCain, a pugnacious Scots-Irishman, did best in counties full of pugnacious Scots-Irishmen.

Tennessee, home of Andy Jackson, was the state where McCain improved on Bush’s vote the most.

(The other four states in McCain’s Most Improved Top Ten are driven by obvious special factors: #2 Louisiana by the decline in number of blacks due to the hurricane; #4 Alaska by Palin’s status as a Favorite Daughter; #6 Massachusetts by favorite son John F. Kerry no longer being on the ballot; and #9 Arizona by McCain being a Favorite Son.)

Think how amazing that is. According to Fischer, the main Scots-Irish immigration was finished a couple of hundred years ago. And yet, this heritage lives on in voting behavior eight or more generations later.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: 2008 Election, McCain 
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As you may have noticed, John McCain hasn’t had any kind of theme to his campaign. He can’t go after Obama on what Obama is vulnerable on because that’s all tied into race, so Obama gets a free pass on that.

What John McCain should have done in this race is embrace his Grumpy Old Manness and run as the we’ve-got-to-live-within-our-means candidate. Run against the whole Debt Debauch, the no-money-down culture, the get rich quick attitude. Run against Bush’s campaign against down payments.

Don’t run in favor of “regulation,” run in favor of “thrift” and “prudence,” on old fashioned non-ideologue conservatism.

Embrace his old scandal. Talk about how you let a donor get you involved in the S&L bad loan scandal in the 1980s, and that was shameful and humiliating and you learned a big lesson from that.

Talk about how your opponent just wants to take your money and use it to expand the number of government employees in his political base, social workers. And we can’t afford that.

Of course, there would have been a big walk the walk problem with McCain, since he doesn’t seem very thrifty himself. For example, he’d probably have what you’d call a gambling problem if he didn’t have a rich wife. Like John Kerry, he’s a good catch who used his attractiveness to women to land a rich wife. (Not a bad strategy, by the way.)

And I imagine McCain wasn’t actually against all this stuff back when it was going on. Nobody who was anybody was.

But at least this would have given him a theme.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: 2008 Election, McCain 
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From my review in The American Conservative of the Jonathan Demme movie:

The movie’s better half stars a charismatic Anne Hathaway … as Kym, an attentionaholic part-time model turned full-time drug addict who is furloughed from a posh rehab clinic for her sister’s wedding. Exactly as her levelheaded sister Rachel dreads, Kym’s self-destructive antics enthrall the multicultural throngs crowding the grounds of their father’s Connecticut estate to prepare for Rachel’s big day on which the Reform rabbi is to marry her to a tall, gentlemanly black man from Hawaii.

The highlight of the ceremony is the groom singing his bride a Neil Young ballad. White liberals critics have gone nuts over “Rachel” because the interracial marriage reminds them of a certain black Hawaiian’s promise that promoting “mutual understanding” is “in my DNA.” I fear, though, that even electing Obama President won’t get many black guys to understand the appeal of whiny Canadian folk rockers from the Sixties.

First-time screenwriter Jenny Lumet named the groom “Sidney.” She is presumably referencing both Sidney Poitier in Stanley Kramer’s 1967 interracial marriage movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” and her father, Sidney Lumet, director of 1957′s “Twelve Angry Men,” one of Kramer’s successors as a liberal warhorse. …

Still, a more entertaining screenplay could be written about the star’s off-screen misadventures. Hathaway was in the news in June when the FBI hauled away her suave Italian boyfriend, Raffaello Follieri. Outfitted with clerical cassocks and a claim to be the Vatican’s chief financial officer, Follieri had wormed his way into a $100 million deal with Bill Clinton and Ron Burkle to sell off Roman Catholic churches in America to pay for sex scandal settlements. On a rented yacht in Montenegro, the bipartisan cute couple also hosted the 70th birthday party of John McCain.

An equally entertaining movie could be made about the real-life Lumet sisters (who are granddaughters of famed jazz vocalist and beauty Lena Horne). When their dad received his Lifetime Achievement Oscar in 2005, screenwriter Jenny, the sensibly dressed old-fashioned leftist, had the global television spotlight stolen from her by the startling new cleavage of her sister Amy, a would-be model and 1992 National Review contributor (“Baby Cons of America, unite: You have nothing to lose but your parents’ guilt.”)

Now, Jenny / Rachel has taken sibling rivalry to a new level.

Here’s some more material I uncovered. Amy Lumet, who was married to writer P.J. O’Rourke back around then, began her 1992 National Review essay:

A VERY polite gentle man in New York asked me this fall if I was planning to vote for Bill Clinton. Talk about insulting! I pointed to my John McCain hat–”I’m a Republican,” I said. The gentleman told me that, in his experience, cute young things tended to be liberal. We need to prove him wrong in a major way.

According to Washington Post gossip columnist Lloyd Grove, Amy worked for McCain in the Senate, but I don’t have any corroboration of that, although the opening line of her NR essay suggest that. Wikipedia says O’Rourke and Amy Lumet were married 1990-1993. Was Lumet working for McCain during this period?

And here is a picture of the two sisters (with Mrs. Ozzy Osbourne in the middle)

Above is a popular picture of the two sisters sitting side-by-side at the Academy Awards while their Dad, Sidney Lumet, received his lifetime achievement award. Well, actually, the most commonly available screen capture on the Internet is a picture of just one and a half sisters, because Jenny, the screenwriter of “Rachel Getting Married,” normally gets cropped in half because the kind of guys who post screen captures on the Internet only have eyes for her sister Amy.

By the way, P.J. O’Rourke, Amy’s ex-husband, wrote this Spring in the Weekly Standard about a visit he recently paid to an aircraft carrier:

I was there to get a journalistic hook–a tailhook, as it were–for a preconceived idea. I wanted to say something about Senator John McCain…. Some say John McCain’s character was formed in a North Vietnamese prison. I say those people should take a gander at what John chose to do–voluntarily. Being a carrier pilot requires aptitude, intelligence, skill, knowledge, discernment, and courage of a kind rarely found anywhere but in a poem of Homer’s or a half gallon of Dewar’s. …

I can speak to John’s honor, duty, valor, patriotism, etc., but I’m not sure how well his self-discipline would have fared if he’d been on an aircraft carrier with more than 500 beautiful women sailors the way I was. At least John likes women, which is more than we can say about Hillary’s attitude toward, for instance, the women in Bill’s life, who at this point may constitute nearly the majority of the “women’s vote.”

I wish P.J. all the luck in the world in his battle with cancer.

In other, but still somehow related news, Oprah Winfrey is planning to make a biopic about the Lumet sisters’ still living grandma, Lena Horne. Alicia “AK-47″ Keys is slated to star..

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: McCain, Movies 
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Is he as great a candidate as the media has been telling us for the last decade he would be?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: McCain 
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For my American Conservative review, I’m doing background research on the new Jonathan Demme movie “Rachel Getting Married,” which is about sibling rivalry between two sisters, the sensible one who is getting married (to a gentlemanly black man from Hawaii … hmmhmm … sounds familiar …) and the sexy irresponsible one (played by Anne Hathaway) who shows up to steal the spotlight from the bride. So, I start Googling on participants in the movie like the star Anne Hathaway and screenwriter Jenny Lumet to find out who her real life sister is. And … holy moly, this is the funniest chain of Google connections I’ve ever seen, total high comedy synchronicity. It’s like what Mickey Kaus calls The Undernews all rolled up in one.

If you’ve got the time, try Googling on various combinations of:

Anne Hathaway

Raffaello Follieri

Bill Clinton

Ron Burkle


John McCain

Jenny Lumet

Sydney Lumet

Lena Horne

Amy Lumet

National Review

I pointed to my John McCain hat

P.J. O’Rourke

Weekly Standard

500 beautiful women sailors

John McCain

There are actually two separate stories here, with McCain being the only common element in them. He does seem to get around.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: McCain, Movies 
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From “McCain Plans Fiercer Strategy Against Obama” in the Washington Post:

Two other top Republicans said the new ads are likely to hammer the senator from Illinois on his connections to convicted Chicago developer Antoin “Tony” Rezko and former radical William Ayres, whom the McCain campaign regularly calls a domestic terrorist because of his acts of violence against the U.S. government in the 1960s.

But not all that fierce:

The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. appears to be off limits after McCain condemned the North Carolina Republican Party in April for an ad that linked Obama to his former pastor, saying, “Unfortunately, all I can do is, in as visible a way as possible, disassociate myself from that kind of campaigning.”

Wright is ten times as important a figure in Obama’s life as Rezko, and 100 times as important as Ayers. But Wright is off limits because he’s black. I figured that’s what would happen back in February.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: 2008 Election, McCain 
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A couple of weeks back, I suggested that Obama mention that he plays poker while McCain likes to roll the dice, poker being a game of skill while craps is, well, a crapshoot. Earlier this week,

I read the other day that Senator McCain likes to gamble. He likes to roll those dice. And that’s okay. I enjoy a little friendly game of poker myself every now and then.

But one thing I know is this — we can’t afford to gamble on four more years of the same disastrous economic policies we’ve had for the last eight.

I know that when Senator McCain says he wants to bring the same kind of deregulation to our health care system that he helped bring to our banking system — his words — well, that’s a bet we can’t afford. We can’t afford to roll the dice by privatizing Social Security, and wagering the nest egg of millions of Americans on Wall Street. We can’t afford to gamble on more of the same trickle down philosophy that showers tax breaks on big corporations and the wealthiest few. We’ve tried that. It doesn’t work.

Sen. Barack Obama

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: 2008 Election, McCain, Obama 
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John McCain, who either will or won’t debate Barack Obama on Friday night, announced Thursday evening that he has accepted the resignation of campaign manager Rick Davis, after revelations that Davis was accepting payola from Freddie Mac, and that his campaign tactics this week have been masterminded by Don King and the ghost of Bobby Fischer.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: 2008 Election, McCain 
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What’s the deal with McCain suspending his campaign?

Greg Cochran suggests, in the mode of Robert Heinlein’s Double Star, it’s because the actor who will serve as his double on the campaign trail until McCain gets over some undisclosed medical problem hasn’t quite recovered from his appearance-altering plastic surgery yet. Of course, in Double Star the elderly politician never recovers, so the 40-something ham actor winds up living an extra 30 years of the statesman’s life for him as Prime Minister of the Solar System.

Perhaps when the surprisingly spry UN General Secretary John McCain celebrates his 100th birthday in office, historians will begin to wonder why Kevin Spacey’s film career ended so abruptly in the fall of 2008.

But here’s my favorite, from david in the comments section:

“Or he’s having second thoughts: who wants to be president of a bankrupt country that’s soon to disintegrate?

“‘I have seen the future, and I quit.’”

To be serious, though, I could imagine that McCain might have had some medical bad news and might want a few days to get second opinions and consider his options. That happened to me a dozen years ago and it doesn’t leave you in the mood for public dispay. If so, I wish him all the luck in the world.

Does anybody know what the Republican Party’s contingency plan is if a nominee has to drop out late in the race?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: 2008 Election, McCain 
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On the blog, Peter Brimelow suggests:

Obama and the Democrats can easily break this [Palin] momentum. All Obama has to do is ask John McCain (who, despite appearances, is still the GOP presidential nominee) to pledge, in the spirit of the bipartisanshipthat McCain was going on about Thursday night, that they will both work together for amnesty in the next Congress, regardless of which of them goes to the White House and which of them remains in the U.S. Senate.

McCain would be really stuck. He can’t refuse because (a) he really wants an amnesty and was fanatically committed to the Kennedy-Bush version; (b) he actually believes all this innumerate nonsense about the Hispanic vote.

But he can’t agree because that will utterly dispel the delusions of his desperate base.


Obama could specifically offer McCain an agreement in which they both pledge to work together to pass in 2009 the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (S. 1033), which was proposed by John McCain.

Obama could say something like,

“The comprehensive immigration reform bill that Senator McCain wrote with Senator Kennedy is not entirely to my taste, but I’m willing to put up with the parts of Senator McCain’s amnesty plan that I don’t like so that we can be sure something finally gets done. After all, I have to admit that Senator McCain has worked far harder over the last four years to provide amnesty to illegal aliens than I have. Therefore, to break the logjam in Washington, I’ll offer to take his word for it that the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill is the right approach to amnesty. Clearly, Senator McCain is the expert on amnesty, not me. Giving amnesty to illegal aliens undoubtedly means more to him than, to be frank, amnesty means to me, so I’m willing, if he’s willing, to pledge to pass his illegal immigrant legalization bill, which — did I mention? — he wrote.”

If McCain replies that he’s no longer for his bill, Obama could say with a puzzled look on his face, “Oh, so you were for it before you were against it? I see …” and nod his head slowly, while scratching his chin, furrowing his brow and biting his lip in a thoughtful manner. Then, suddenly (and, preferably, with Franklin Roosevelt’s Mid-Atlantic accent), “But, aren’t we talking about your own bill? If it is a bad bill, why did you propose it? If it is a good bill, why are you against it?”

FDR could have gone on in this disingenuously ingenuous vein for weeks, having a grand old time at his rival’s expense while the Republican base’s enthusiasm for its nominee collapses, but, somehow, I don’t think Obama can bring himself to play dumb, even to get elected President.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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During McCain’s convention speech, Google sent lots of inquirers to this seven month old blog posting of mine that answers the question that, apparently, was on a lot of Americans’ minds tonight.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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A couple of writers for Slate get it (almost) about how the Palins are the exemplars of my theory of Affordable Family Formation:

Working-Class Hero: How the Palins’ enviable blue-collar lifestyle could help the McCain campaign.
By Adriaan Lanni and Wesley Kelman

But the pregnancy (which could help swing voters identify with Palin) threatens to obscure a seductive and misleading subtext in Palin’s biography that may play a key role in the election: the way she embodies the hope of a blue-collar life without economic insecurity.

Actually, the 18-year-old fiance looks quite capable of doing a man’s work and earning a man’s pay in the Alaskan economy. I have no idea if he, personally, will turn out to be a decent provider, but he’s got a strong back in a place where that’s worth something.

Palin’s background reminded us of an Alaskan we met several years ago. We had just moved to Anchorage for a temporary job in the state court system and struck up an illuminating conversation with a bricklayer while on a hike outside town. He made a surprising amount of money—he had moved to Alaska because its wages were so high. He also had enviable stretches of leisure: He worked long shifts during the short construction season, then spent all fall and winter riding his “snowmachine” (Alaskan for snowmobile), panning for gold—yes, people still do that there—and hunting and fishing. He exuded optimism; his life was good and he knew it, and there was no resentment of yuppies like us.

Palin’s family, warts and all, has some of the same features. Husband Todd’s two jobs—commercial fisherman and oil production manager on the North Slope—required little formal education and provide ample time off. Yet they pay extremely well. If you include the permanent fund dividend that Alaska distributes to its residents as a way of sharing oil tax revenues, the family made about $100,000 last year, not counting Sarah’s $125,000 salary as governor.

Mr. Palin’s income alone would put the Palins at about the same level as many well-educated, white-collar workers we knew in Anchorage. It is also enough money to enjoy a quality of life that is, at least to a certain taste, superior to what is enjoyed almost anywhere else, either in cities or in the countryside. Like the bricklayer, the Palins can hunt and fish in a place of legendary abundance. Their hometown may be a dingy Anchorage exurb, but it has cheap, plentiful land bordering a vast and beautiful wilderness, which is crisscrossed by Todd (the “Iron Dog” champion) and the Palin children all winter. (By comparison, in the Northeast many leisure activities are brutally segregated by income: Martha’s Vineyard vs. the Poconos, the Jersey Shore vs. the Hamptons.)

This free and easy life is radically different from the desperate existences depicted in Barack Obama’s speeches. The main policy thrust of Obama’s acceptance speech (and of both Clinton speeches) was that middle-class families, and particularly blue-collar families like the Palins, are in crisis because of stagnant wages, unemployment, foreign competition, and growing inequality. But these problems, which are a statistical fact, seem a world away from the Palin family.

This disjunction between the good life for many Alaskans and the not-so-good life for working-class families elsewhere suggests several strategies for the McCain campaign. Palin certainly has more credibility than McCain to attack Democrats’ economic policies. More subtly, Palin embodies a notion that Republicans can create a society like Alaska—where the culture has a heavy working-class influence, state taxes are nonexistent, economic prospects are good for people regardless of formal education, and bricklayers can make the same money as urban lawyers (and have more fun in their spare time).

While Democratic policy tries to help blue-collar workers by making it easier for them to attend college and get office jobs—that is, by encouraging them to cease to be blue-collar—Palin’s Alaskan story offers hope from within the blue-collar culture. She validates the goodness of life in rural America because she has embraced a particularly exotic, turbocharged version of this life. Her biography, bound to be emphasized by Republicans, thus makes a powerful appeal to one of the country’s most decisive constituencies.

The rub, of course, is that however genuine it may be, Palin’s family life may not be possible outside Alaska.

The bottom line is supply of land vs. supply of labor. That’s always been America’s big advantage, but John McCain, of course, will never get it. Ben Franklin did get it, way back in 1751:

“For People increase in Proportion to the Number of Marriages, and that is greater in Proportion to the Ease and Convenience of supporting a Family. When Families can be easily supported, more Persons marry, and earlier in Life. … Europe is generally full settled with Husbandmen, Manufacturers, &c. and therefore cannot now much increase in People. … Land being thus plenty in America, and so cheap as that a labouring Man, that understands Husbandry, can in a short Time save Money enough to purchase a Piece of new Land sufficient for a Plantation, whereon he may subsist a Family; such are not afraid to marry… Hence Marriages in America are more general, and more generally early, than in Europe.”

Franklin then pointed out the policy implication of this simple logic: don’t flood the country with foreigners. McCain will never, ever figure that out.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Robert Novak (who, I thought, was retired) is reporting that John McCain really, truly wants to pick Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman as his vice president:

Reports of strong support within John McCain’s presidential campaign for Independent Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman as the Republican candidate for vice president are not a fairy tale. Influential McCain backers, plus McCain himself, would pick the pro-choice liberal from Connecticut if they thought they could get away with it.

Meanwhile Karl Rove tries to get him to take boring old Mitt Romney, and tried to talk Lieberman into withdrawing his name. Fox News says:

“a well-placed Lieberman source told FOX News that Rove did call Lieberman toward the end of last week and said something to the effect of: I love you, but I think it would be a disaster if you were chosen as vice president. According to the source, Rove said, “You should call McCain and tell him that,” to which Lieberman laughed. Lieberman did not call McCain, the source said.”

Come on, John, don’t be a wimp and merely pick Lieberman. Go all the way! Follow your heart. Show the world that the Republican Party of the United States of America now stands for one thing and only one thing:

Pick Netanyahu.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: 2008 Election, McCain 
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The AP reports:

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama and John McCain agree on Frank Sinatra.

The two presidential candidates offered widely different top 10 favorite songs to Blender magazine but shared the same appreciation for Ol’ Blue Eyes. Obama chose “You’d Be So Easy to Love,” while McCain liked “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”

In the September issue, on sale nationwide Tuesday, the candidates delivered their list.

McCain prefers ABBA’s disco classic “Dancing Queen.” Obama favors the hip-hop jam “Ready or Not” by the Fugees.

Obama, the Illinois Democrat, chose Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” as his No. 2 pick after the Fugees. Songs “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter” and Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” rounded out his leading five.

Other artists on Obama’s list were Kanye West, U2 and Aretha Franklin. The contender also gave a nod to and his Internet sensation, “Yes We Can,” which was written for Obama.

ABBA made McCain’s list twice. “Take A Chance On Me” came in third among the Arizona Republican’s picks. Rocker Roy Orbison’s “Blue Bayou” ranked second. Country singer Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December” and Dooley Wilson’s “As Time Goes By” were in his top five.

McCain also selected songs from the Beach Boys, Louis Armstrong, Neil Diamond and The Platters.

“Dancing Queen” isn’t my favorite song of all time, but, man, is it ever great. I recall going to a concert decades ago of some critics’ favorite like Peter Tosh or Gang of Four, and when it was over, the concert hall put on “Dancing Queen” as the most Top 40 hit imaginable to clear everybody out pronto. For the next few days, I couldn’t remember any songs by the esteemed band I’d seen and I couldn’t get “Dancing Queen” out of my head.

Also, Frank Sinatra’s version of Cole Porter’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” is perfection. And I was watching “Casablanca” last year, and after a half hour or so, I was thinking, “This isn’t really as good as I remember.” Then, boom, they start the song up. “As Time Goes By” makes “Casablanca” “Casablanca.”

In contrast, Obama’s list seems finicky, pretentious, and political. “Gimme Shelter” is the intellectual’s favorite Rolling Stones song, but there are lots of more fun ones, like “Get Off My Cloud,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Honky-Tonk Women,” and (by commenter’s reminder) “Brown Sugar.” (I don’t think Mrs. Obama would approve of that one.) “What’s Going On” is nice, but critics rave over it because it’s politically leftist, unlike 99.9% of the great songs of the 1964-1971 era.

It’s quite funny, actually, how there’s so little in the way of leftist lyrics in rock songs from the Sixties and early Seventies. It drives critics crazy. When it comes to politics, you tend to get Lafferite (“Taxman” and “Ball of Confusion”) or anti-radical (“Revolution,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Streetfighting Man,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and a bunch of Kinks songs). “Fortunate Son” is a great song, but it’s pure redneck populism. Bob Dylan, the critics’ hero, actually wrecked the one leftist musical form, folk, first by taking it introspective and away from picket-line singalongs, then dumping it for electric guitar rock.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: McCain 
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You may wonder about why John McCain has been so wild about getting us into a new Cold War with Russia in general, and into what could turn into a shooting war with them over Georgia in particular. I mean, other than the fact that he’s John McCain … The Washington Post reports:

Sen. John McCain‘s top foreign policy adviser prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia and then helped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic.

The day of the call, a lobbying firm partly owned by the adviser, Randy Scheunemann, signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington.

The McCain campaign said Georgia’s lobbying contract with Orion Strategies had no bearing on the candidate’s decision to speak with President Mikheil Saakashvili and did not influence his statement. “The Embassy of Georgia requested the call,” said campaign spokesman Brian Rogers.

But ethics experts have raised concerns about former lobbyists for foreign governments providing advice to presidential candidates about those same countries. “The question is, who is the client? Is the adviser loyal to income from a foreign client, or is he loyal to the candidate he is working for now?” said James Thurber, a lobbying expert at American University. “It’s dangerous if you’re getting advice from people who are very close to countries on one side or another of a conflict.”

At the time of McCain’s call, Scheunemann had formally ceased his own lobbying work for Georgia, according to federal disclosure reports. But he was still part of Orion Strategies, which had only two lobbyists, himself and Mike Mitchell.

Scheunemann remained with the firm for another month, until May 15, when the McCain campaign imposed a tough new anti-lobbyist policy and he was required to separate himself from the company.

Rogers said Scheunemann “receives no compensation of any type from Orion Strategies and has not since May 15, 2008.” Scheunemann declined to be interviewed for this story.

As a private lobbyist trying to influence lawmakers and Bush administration staffers, Scheunemann at times relied on his access to McCain in his work for foreign clients on Capitol Hill. He and his partner reported 71 phone conversations and meetings with McCain and his top advisers since 2004 on behalf of foreign clients, including Georgia, according to forms they filed with the Justice Department.

The contacts often focused on Georgia’s aspirations to join NATO and on legislative proposals, including a measure co-sponsored by McCain that supported Georgia’s position on South Ossetia, one of the Georgian regions taken over by Russia this weekend.

Another measure lobbied by Orion and co-sponsored by McCain, the NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2006, would have authorized a $10 million grant for Georgia.

For months while McCain’s presidential campaign was gearing up, Scheunemann held dual roles, advising the candidate on foreign policy while working as Georgia’s lobbyist. Between Jan. 1, 2007, and May 15, 2008, the campaign paid Scheunemann nearly $70,000 to provide foreign policy advice. During the same period, the government of Georgia paid his firm $290,000 in lobbying fees.

Since 2004, Orion has collected $800,000 from the government of Georgia.

Since Orion consists of two guys, that’s basically $400k that the Republic of Georgia put into the pocket of McCain’s top foreign policy adviser.

You know, these ex-Soviet Union folks must snicker at how cheap it is to buy American politicians. The Exile had a column once about how politicians in the ex-Soviet region expect to wind up with hundreds of millions of dollars in London real estate, while American politicians get bought for peanuts (e.g., $90,000 in cold cash in the icebox).

My view is that we should treat Americans who have been registered agents for foreign governments the way we treat mob lawyers — as a necessary part of the system, but, in return for the money, they permanently disqualify themselves for important roles in government, other than maybe Mayor of Las Vegas. But nobody else seems to think that way.

By the way, this guy Scheunemann was in deep with Ahmad Chalabi, and now he’s got a shot at being, what, National Security Adviser? How many times do you have to screw up in Washington before your act wears thin?

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq, McCain 
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A long time ago in Chicago, I used to work with a guy named Karl Denninger, who was the company’s Internet wizard — this was around 1992, before almost anybody had heard of the Internet. Yet, Karl built us a large, reliable Internet system for managing our national network. In hindsight, it’s obvious that what we should have done was give up on the product we we’re trying to sell, and just gone into the nascent Internet business, utilizing Karl’s expertise.

Anyway, Karl has a financial blog now called Market Ticker, with lots of good stuff on it. Here’s an old one:

The following ought to raise alarms among voters – or perhaps not, given how silly we all are as Americans when it comes to personal financial management:

“Senators John McCain and Barack Obama released their Senate financial disclosure statements on Friday, revealing that Mr. McCain and his wife had at least $225,000 in credit card debt….

The bulk of the McCains’ obligations stemmed from a pair of American Express credit cards that are held in Cindy McCain’s name. According to the disclosure reports, which present information on debts in a range rather than providing a precise figure, Mrs. McCain owed $100,000 to $250,000 on each card.

Another charge card, held by what was described as a “dependent child,” had also accumulated debts of $15,000 to $50,000. In addition, a credit card held jointly by the couple was carrying $10,000 to $15,000 in debt, the filing indicated, at a stiff 25.99 percent interest rate. “

Good God.

At least $225,000 in revolving debt, with at least some of it carrying “subprime” rates? By the way, that $225,000 is the minimum – it could be as high as $565,000, but the Senate does not require exact disclosure – just ranges.

The McCains are paying 25.99% interest rate on $10,000 or more???

Unlike Karl, I’m a lousy personal financial manager, but even I know enough to do what it takes to never have a balance outstanding on my credit cards at the end of the month. But the Republican Presidential nominee doesn’t seem to know that.

UPDATE: Well, I may have made some dubious assumptions here. I assumed that to run up hundreds of thousands on your credit card you’d have to roll over the few thousand you spend each month for month after month, paying interest after each month. Big mistake!

Assume, instead, that Cindy McCain spends a few hundreds thousand per month using her credit cards, which she pays off on, say, the 3rd of the month, right on time. And the form asks her for her financial situation on the first of the month. Well, then she puts down that she owes a ton of money on her credit cards, but she still pays it off right away and avoids interest fees.

I don’t know what the real situation is with the McCain’s, but I shouldn’t analogize from the finances of people I know to the McCains, who operate in a whole different realm.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: McCain 
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My new column is up: “Obama hands McCain the quota issue. Will he use it?” It’s about Ward Connerly’s anti-racial preferences initiatives in three states including John McCain’s Arizona. Obama opposes them, but today McCain finally said he supported them.

Here’s an excerpt:

When asked whether his daughters should benefit from affirmative action, Obama routinely makes a head fake in the direction of supporting adding class-based preferences to the mix.

But he’s not serious about this.

Nobody has ever adequately explained how class-based quotas would actually work, since class is a hazier concept than race. What class was Obama as a young man? For that matter, what class was McCain as a youth? Economically, McCain wasn’t particularly well off, but within his caste, he was a prince of the finest blood—the son and grandson of admirals.

Moreover, you can intentionally lower your kid’s class through your bad behavior. You can write the cartoon caption: Harvard.”

Finally, Obama knows perfectly well that his closest friends in Chicago’s black corporate business elite benefit hugely from affirmative action. The plain truth is that, the farther up the social ladder a black person is born, the more money affirmative action puts into his pocket.

Consider Obama’s friend John W. Rogers Jr., founder of Ariel Capital Management, who manages eleven-figures worth of Other People’s Money. Obama knows Rogers through his brother-in-law Craig Robinson, who was Rogers’s teammate on the 1979 Princeton basketball team.

I’ve followed Rogers’ career since the early 1990s. He’s a smart, cautious, responsible investor.

But let’s not kid ourselves: Rogers profits from minority set-asides“—quotas. To take one of many examples, Black Enterprise reported in 2000:

Rainbow/PUSH Coalition‘s Wall Street Project has set up several minority-owned money management firms for a big payday.

The Rainbow/PUSH Coalition is, of course, the shakedown racket run by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

What’s the human connection between John W. Rogers and Jesse Jackson? Well, let’s see … Rogers’s old teammate and former employee Craig Robinson has a sister who used to be named Michelle Robinson. Long ago, Michelle was Rev. Jackson’s babysitter. She became a lifelong friend of the Rev.’s daughter Santita Jackson, who is the godmother of the first daughter born to Michelle Robinson Obama.

Are you starting to see how it all fits together?

John W. Rogers is not a poor kid from the streets who needed a break. He’s the scion of perhaps the most upper crust black family in Chicago. His father was a judge. His mother, Jewel Stradford Rogers LaFontant Mankarious, was a third generation Oberlin graduate who served as Deputy Solicitor General in the Nixon Administration and Ambassador-at-Large in the first Bush administration. Rogers’s mom was on the boards of directors of Mobil, Equitable Life, TWA, Revlon, Harte-Hanks, Hanes, and Bendix.

To see why affirmative action benefits blue-blooded blacks like Rogers most, think about it from, say, Raytheon’s perspective. Jesse Jackson has badgered us into establishing a racial quota for our pension fund management. Okay, fine, we can afford a quota, just as long as the quotees don’t lose all our money. So, are we going to hand millions over to some guys we never heard of operating out of a storefront on the West Side? No, we’re going to find somebody who seems trustworthy, like this guy Rogers, whose mother was on all those boards of directors.


(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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