Dishonest Anti-McCain Ad

What McCain actually said:

Questioner: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for fifty years…

McCain: Maybe a hundred. Make it one hundred. We’ve been in South Korea, we’ve been in Japan for sixty years. We’ve been in South Korea for fifty years or so. That’d be fine with me as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed. Then it’s fine with me. I would hope it would be fine with you if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where Al Qaeda is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day.

What the Democrats want you to believe McCain said:

Questioner: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for fifty years…

McCain: Maybe a hundred. — That’d be fine with me.

The ad created by the Democratic National Committee splices two snippets of McCain’s response together, so all it shows McCain saying is “Maybe a hundred. — That’d be fine with me.” And then it shows footage of American soldiers being blown up by an IED in Iraq. Wow. Talk about taking something out of context. How could one possibly twist somebody’s words into the exact opposite of their intended meaning more blatantly and calculatedly than that? How much more disrespectful could they be to the American soldiers who lost their lives in that incident? Is that what they died for? So their tragic deaths could be shamelessly exploited for political gain in a crudely deceptive smear campaign against an American war hero? I know politics can be dirty, but I’m thoroughly disgusted that the Democrats would stoop so low.

When you point out the dishonesty of the ad, its defenders shrug innocently, like they can’t imagine what’s to be offended about, and insist that the quotes are accurate because McCain literally did say those words. If somebody were to say “I would have no problem killing anybody who went on a shooting spree in an elementary school,” and I quoted them as saying “I would have no problem killing anybody,” would my statement be true? Apparently, by Democrat standards, it would. (At least if the person accused of making that statement was a Republican.)

When someone takes three words out of a sound byte, cuts out the next 26 words, and splices the first three together with the beginning of the next sentence, omitting the remaining 75% of that sentence, can there be any question that the intent is to fabricate a deliberate misrepresentation? Couldn’t one create just about any sound byte one wanted to by finding three word snippets and splicing them together? But, like petulant children caught in a lie, the Democrats insist “Well, he did actually say those words.”

McCain is trying to run a clean campaign. But the Democrat party is already wallowing in the mud and sleaze of dirty, deliberately disingenuous distortions. I can only hope that their lack of integrity and decency backfires, and that independents who might have considered voting Democrat, and even Democrats themselves, will be repelled by the depths to which their party has sunk.

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Published in: on April 30, 2008 at 2:18 pm  Comments (55)  
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Save the Dinosaurs

The environmentalists keep insisting that we must curb our ever-growing demand for more energy. The problem is, in the world in which we live, all forms of progress are dependent on energy. The rate of industrial and technological progress has increased exponentially over the last century. So has the demand for energy. It’s not a coincidence.

We could reduce our energy demands by renouncing progress and going back to doing things the way people did them in the “good old days.” We could give up cars and airplanes and electricity, central heat and air conditioning, computers, etc., slowing any future progress to a the same plodding pace it was a century ago. But in what way would that be a good thing? — Except in that we would use less energy. But is using less energy really intrinsically good? And is it so good that it’s worth giving up all kinds of benefits man has striven to achieve over the last couple of centuries?

Of course, that isn’t what the environmentalists have in mind. They don’t want to completely curtail the use of energy. They just want to control it to make sure it’s only used in acceptable ways for acceptable purposes. The question is, who defines what’s acceptable? — The answer is them, of course.

On a personal level, they want people to use less electricity, less gasoline, less toilet paper, etc. And it’s true that some people do waste a lot of energy. Personally, I abhor waste. I admire efficiency. I would love to see more efficient forms of energy, and I certainly would love to see less gratuitous waste. However, different people define waste differently.

I enjoy driving. I do it for pleasure. If I were confined to my home, or wherever I could propel myself by foot or by bicycle, I wouldn’t be a very happy camper. Sure, I could sit at my desk all day and cruise the Internet, but that uses energy, too. Is there anything truly wrong with driving out into the country, up in the mountains, to enjoy the natural beauty? It isn’t necessary to my survival. So here I am, wasting a limited natural resource for my own selfish gratification. But, somehow, it doesn’t seem to me like an intrinsic evil. I realize I could significantly reduce my carbon footprint by never leaving my house. I could reduce it even more by never getting out of bed. I could reduce it even more by dying. But what exactly is the point?

There’s a lot of research going on in the field of alternative energy. By the time fossil fuels actually do start to run out, I expect at least some of these “new” forms of energy will be viable. Today, they’re even more expensive than fossil fuels. That’s why so few people use them. If they were less expensive, and more practical to use, everybody would be using them already. But there’s still a ways to go before they’re competitive in the marketplace. I’m all for alternative energy. The sooner it becomes viable, the better. But, in the meantime, I’m not going to stop living my life to save the dead dinosaurs for future generations.

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Evil Oil Companies?

Oil companies are evil. We all know that. They make billions of dollars a year. How could anyone make billions of dollars a year and not be evil?

However, the actual dollar amount of profits is not as relevant as the ratio of profit to expense, which includes the costs of research and development as well as the ordinary costs of doing business. Overall, oil companies have a slightly higher than average profit margin, but not nearly as high as some other industries, like pharmaceuticals, banks, financial services, telecom, software, and the food and beverage industries. According to U.S. News & World Report, “if you exclude the financially troubled auto industry from that analysis, the oil industry actually appears less profitable than most manufacturers, which were earning 9.2 cents on every dollar of sales.”

Also, if you look at oil profits over the course of several decades, you’ll observe that it’s a cyclical industry, with booms and busts. The chart below, from, tracks oil industry profits from 1977 to 2004, as well as the gasoline taxes levied by the federal and state governments for each of those years. It’s interesting to note the boom-bust cycle for oil industry profits. The profits in the mid -2000’s are comparable to the profits in the early 1980’s. But, in the two decades between, profits were much lower, sometimes only reaching 20% of the profits during the boom years. The boom years need to cover the bust years in order to keep the industry going.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Energy Information Administration

BTW, who do you think makes more money off of gasoline, — the oil companies or the government? If oil companies are evil for pulling in billions of dollars a year in profits from the oil they produce, the government must be evil incarnate, because the federal and state governments make a lot more money off of gasoline taxes each year than the total profits of all the oil companies combined. Over this 28 year period, the government made more than twice as much money off of gasoline as the oil companies did. (And that doesn’t even take into account the corporate taxes the oil companies paid!)

While many think of the oil industry as evil, we’d all be in a fix if it collapsed. So, it’s in our interest for them to make enough money to keep the oil flowing through boom and bust. If the government allowed them to drill for oil here at home, and build new oil refineries, perhaps the boom and bust periods would even out a little more. If there was more local supply to meet the demand, the price wouldn’t be as high. But, since taxes are based on a percentage of the price at the pump, it’s in the government’s interest to constrict the supply, which artificially elevates the price.

Now the Democrats are proposing an additional windfall tax for the “excessive” profits the oil companies are making. But guess where the money to pay those windfall taxes will come from? It will come right out of your pocket at the pump.

The next time you get pissed off at how much you pay for gasoline, bow your head and thank the government for that. Remember, for every penny of profit you’re giving the oil company, you’re giving the government two. And, while you’re at it, thank the government for subsidizing ethanol production and raising your food prices as well.

Ethanol is more expensive to produce and transport than gasoline, as well as being 20%-30% less efficient, so you’ll find your gas prices increasing even further, while your mileage decreases. We have to pay more for the food we eat so we can also pay more for less efficient fuel. You have the environmental lobby to thank for that bright idea, but don’t forget to thank your Uncle Sam and your state legislatures for making their dream (and our nightmare) come true.

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Daddy Obama Understands

Lately there’s been a little typical sort of political flare-up because I said something that everybody knows is true. …

Oh, is that why there’s been a little typical sort of political flare-up? Because Barack Obama said something everybody knows is true? And what was it again that we all know is true? — Oh yes, it was that the reason the majority of working class Americans don’t support Obama’s policies is because “they get bitter; they cling to guns, or religion, or antipathy to people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Now, some people might feel it’s extremely condescending of an Ivy League millionaire to dismiss the legitimate concerns of a large proportion of American citizens about the erosion of their 2nd amendment rights, the rampant problems associated with illegal immigration, or their deep dedication to religious convictions, as just “a way to explain their frustrations.” But what these cynical critics fail to realize is that Obama wasn’t attacking these poor benighted folks, he was making excuses for their ignorance. He’s actually on their side, don’t you see?

… Which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my home town in Illinois, who are bitter. They are angry. They feel like they’ve been left behind. They feel like nobody’s paying attention to what they’re goin’ through. …

And that explains why they hold onto these ridiculous notions about guns and religion and immigration. It isn’t that these issues are actually important. They’re just expressing their frustration at feeling “left behind,” kind of like little kids who get petulant and sulky when they don’t feel anybody’s paying attention to them.

… So I said, well, you know, when you’re bitter, you turn to what you can count on. So people, they vote about guns. Or they take comfort from their faith, and their family and their community. And they get mad about illegal immigrants who are coming over to this country. Or they get frustrated about how things are changing. That’s a natural response. …

Obama understands. Other, less enlightened, politicians may take these citizens’ concerns at face value and think the problem is that they don’t want to lose their right to own guns, or that they’re concerned about the social and economic impacts of illegal immigration, but Obama knows better. The real problem is that these folks don’t feel like they’re getting enough attention.

Once Obama convinces them he’s paying attention, they’ll realize they don’t really need to own guns (which we all know is not only unnecessary, but dangerous). They’ll no longer need to cling to their archaic religious beliefs (that don’t include racial separatism or anti-American sentiment). They’ll realize that illegal immigration isn’t really a problem because, once we grant them all citizenship, they won’t be illegal anymore. And, not only can the taxpayers absorb the costs of increased immigration, they can no doubt be made to fork over a few entitlements for working class folks, too. (He didn’t actually state this outright, but he did imply that he’d make sure they’re not “left behind” anymore.) As an enlightened Democrat, Obama knows that every problem can be solved by a simple redistribution of wealth. And, once these poor benighted souls understand that there are goodies in the sack for them too, they’ll come around to seeing that daddy Obama really is the candidate for them.

… And, now I didn’t say it as well as I should have, because the truth is that these traditions that are passed on from generation to generation, those are important. That’s what sustains us. But what is absolutely true is that people don’t feel like they’re being listened to. …

And here’s where he pulls the switcheroo, and changes the subject from making excuses for the unenlightened masses to pretending he’s the answer they’re looking for. Because, unlike the other candidates (who are actually addressing the issues about which the voters are expressing concern), Obama is listening to them. — Ironically, he isn’t actually hearing them, but that’s because he already knows the answers. He alone understands that it isn’t really about the issues, but about appeasing their feelings of bitterness and resentment.

… And what we need is a government that is actually paying attention. A government that is fighting for workin’ people, day in and day out. Makin’ sure that we are allowing them to live out the American Dream. And that’s what this campaign is about.

And here’s where he ties it all up with a neat little bow. Obama is the candidate who will deliver the American dream. To the workin’ people. Amen.

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When is a Lie Not a Lie?

The left never seems to tire of reminding us that “Bush lied about Iraq having WMDs!” But was it really a lie? If so, how so? It is an established fact that Iraq had developed and used WMDs previously, against its own citizens, though the left seems to have conveniently forgotten this. In his 1998 State of the Union address, President William J. Clinton said:

Saddam Hussein has spent the better part of this decade, and much of his nation’s wealth, not on providing for the Iraqi people, but on developing nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and the missiles to deliver them.

The only real question was, did Iraq still have stockpiles of WMDs immediately prior to the beginning of the Iraq war? At the time, every major power in the world believed that it did. Even the U.N. believed it. Yet one never hears anybody saying the U.N. lied, or Tony Blair lied, or Jacques Chirac lied. It’s always Bush, and Bush alone, who “lied.”

Even assuming there were no WMDs, if President Bush, like all the other world leaders at the time, given the best evidence available, believed there were WMDs in Iraq, was it a lie for him to say what he believed? If not, the claim that he lied must be based on an assumption that he didn’t actually believe there were WMDs in Iraq. But why would he not have believed it, considering that everybody else did? It’s generally accepted today that the reason Saddam Hussein didn’t allow the U.N. inspections was because he wanted his neighbors to believe that Iraq still had WMDs. Was there ever any reason to conclude that Bush knew the “truth” when everybody else was taken in by Hussein’s bluff? If not, Bush did not lie. He was, at worst, mistaken.

But it’s always easier to predict the past than the future. As history unfolds, it’s starting to look like, not only did Bush not lie, neither was he mistaken. There is new evidence that Iraq did, in fact, have WMDs, which it was systematically transferring to Syria all the while it was stalling the U.N. inspectors. This new evidence corroborates older evidence that was dismissed by the left at the time as too “convenient.” Yet the evidence continues to grow. What will the left say if confronted with incontrovertible evidence that there actually were WMDs in Iraq? Will they apologize to President Bush for the “lies” they’ve been telling about him for the past five years? Or will they flat out refuse to acknowledge the evidence because it doesn’t support their worldview? (My money is on the latter.)

On April 7, 2008, The Jerusalem Post reported:

An upcoming joint US-Israel report on the September 6 IAF strike on a Syrian facility will claim that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein transferred weapons of mass destruction to the country, Channel 2 stated Monday.

In January of 2006, The New York Sun wrote:

The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein’s air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed.

The Iraqi general, Georges Sada, makes the charges in a new book, “Saddam’s Secrets,” released this week.

Even prior to that, in the Fall of 2005, The Middle East Quarterly reported:

Several different intelligence sources raised red flags about suspicious truck convoys from Iraq to Syria in the days, weeks, and months prior to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

These concerns first became public when, on December 23, 2002, Ariel Sharon stated on Israeli television, “Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria.” About three weeks later, Israel’s foreign minister repeated the accusation. The U.S., British, and Australian governments issued similar statements.

Two former United Nations weapon inspectors in Iraq reinforced concerns about illicit transfer of weapon components into Syria in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s fall. Richard Butler viewed overhead imagery and other intelligence suggesting that Iraqis transported some weapons components into Syria. Butler did not think “the Iraqis wanted to give them to Syria, but … just wanted to get them out of the territory, out of the range of our inspections. Syria was prepared to be the custodian of them.” Former Iraq Survey Group head David Kay obtained corroborating information from the interrogation of former Iraqi officials.

The Daily Telegraph reported prior to the 2003 Iraq war that Iraq’s former special security organization and Shawqat arranged for the transfer into Syria of twelve mid-level Iraqi weapons specialists, along with their families and compact disks full of research material on their country’s nuclear initiatives. According to unnamed Western intelligence officials cited in the report, Assad turned around and offered to relocate the scientists to Iran, on the condition that Tehran would share the fruits of their research with Damascus.

So, when is a lie not a lie?

    a) When it’s an honest mistake.
    b) When it’s the truth.

At this point, we don’t know which of the above is the case. But we do know that there is absolutely no evidence that Bush ever actually lied about WMDs in Iraq. So when will the left stop braying that?

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Published in: on April 10, 2008 at 12:07 am  Comments (21)  
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Illegal Immigration: A Supply Side Solution

To arrive at a sound solution to a problem, we need to analyze its root causes. Addressing the causes of a problem ultimately eliminates (or significantly reduces) the problem; addressing the effects is a never-ending battle. As long as the underlying causes remain, the problem will keep reasserting itself, circumventing whatever solutions are implemented.

The border fence addresses the effects of the illegal immigration problem, but not the root cause. To stop illegal immigration, we need to understand why it exists. What is it that attracts illegal aliens to the U.S.? The majority are here for one of the following reasons.

  1. Jobs.
  2. Potential for citizenship.
  3. Entitlements.
  4. Criminal activities.
  5. They’re already here; why leave?

Once the causes have been ascertained, the path to a solution becomes clear. Don’t attract them, and they won’t come.

  1. Jobs. A guest worker program that provides temporary permits for seasonal workers. This not only benefits the guest workers by providing the jobs they seek, but also benefits our economy (see A Free Market Approach to Illegal Immigration), because labor laws, unions, and entitlement programs have undermined the viability of the agricultural labor market for citizens.
  2. Citizenship. No anchor babies. No amnesty. All applicants for citizenship must go through the legal immigration process. No shortcuts or special treatment for those who thumb their noses at it. If anything, illegal entry into the country should disqualify the perpetrator from eligibility for citizenship in the future. We cannot discourage illegal behavior by rewarding it.  
  3. Entitlements. No public assistance to non-citizens (even if they have children). Require proof of citizenship for school enrollment. When an illegal alien turns up in an emergency room, treat them, and then deport them. It would be inhumane to turn them away without treatment, but the fact that a lawbreaker may be ill is no reason to suspend the law.
  4. Crime. Immediate deportation on completion of prison sentence. Capital punishment for capital offenses. Repeat offenders, who have been previously deported, should serve additional time to discourage them from coming back again. (All prisoners who are capable of working should be required to work for their keep in prison.)  
  5. Happenstance. Opportunistic deportation of others. Deport them if and when they come to the attention of the government, for whatever reason.

To eliminate illegal immigration, remove the reasons people come here illegally, and make the consequences outweigh the rewards. It’s cheaper and more effective than a fence. A fence is a “band-aid” solution. If we address the underlying problem, the expensive band-aid won’t be necessary.

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Sometimes Nothing is the Right Thing to Do

I have always been committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.
John McCain

Despite the fact that Senator McCain has said the economy isn’t his strong point, he has a lot stronger grasp of basic economic principles than anybody else running for president, not to mention a lot of other people in Washington who ought to know better.

In addition to the Bear Stearns bailout, since the beginning of the year, the Fed has loaned over $260 billion to banks that got into financial trouble by making bad mortgage loans. The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 is on the horizon, and there’s another bill lined up behind it to extend an additional $300-400 billion in federally guaranteed (that means guaranteed by you and me) mortgages for people who overextended themselves to buy houses that were well beyond their means.

Senator Obama talks about “folks [being] tricked into purchasing loans they can’t afford.” Both Senators Obama and Clinton think we need to kick in a $30 billion dollar emergency housing fund (at taxpayer expense) to help bail out these poor victims, never mind that they’re victims of their own greed and irresponsibility. Senator Clinton also wants to freeze subprime mortgage rates and impose a 90 day moratorium on foreclosures for the poor dears. And, earlier this week, Senator Clinton suggested that perhaps the government should start buying up foreclosed homes. It’s not enough for the government to be in the healthcare business, now she wants to get it into the real estate business, too. (Is there any business Mrs. Clinton doesn’t think the government should be in?)

While Senators Clinton and Obama are leaping over one another trying to come up with more innovative and expensive ways for the government to manipulate the housing market, Senator McCain is quietly saying it isn’t the role of the government to bail out either the banks or the borrowers. The Democrats scoff. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean sneers that McCain is taking “the same hands-off approach that President Bush used to lead us into this crisis.”

What the Democrats fail to understand is the basic principles of economics. (But what else is new?) It was not a “hands off” policy that got us into this mess, but a “hands on” policy of lowering interest rates and expanding FHA, FNMA, and FHLMC financing to encourage unprecedented (and unwarranted) growth in the housing market. The government got us into this situation by meddling in the free market. It isn’t going to get us out by meddling more. What needs to happen is the market needs to find a balance where the demand meets the supply. The only way for that to happen is to let it occur naturally. Yes, it means housing prices will drop. They’re doing that anyway. Yes, it’s painful. But it has to happen.

Federal policies aimed at making it easier for first time home buyers to buy houses before they could actually afford those houses led to an artificially high demand, which artificially inflated prices. People (and financing companies) started playing fast and loose, speculating that the manic spiral in home prices would continue indefinitely. But it couldn’t. Supply increased to meet demand, interest rates went up, people who overextended themselves couldn’t meet their payments and started defaulting, demand fell off just as supply was peaking, and the market was oversaturated. Now it has to correct.

The laws of economics weren’t made up by economists, any more than the laws of physics were made up by physicists. These “laws” are based on observation and analysis of naturally occurring phenomena. They can’t be changed or wished away. Imbalances do occur but, over time, they correct themselves. The housing market is self-correcting now. It will eventually reach equilibrium. Any measures that attempt to forestall that will only postpone the inevitable. A problem deferred is not a problem solved.

The Democrats insist that the government can’t just stand by and do nothing. Something bad is happening. We must do something! Anything! They have no idea how to solve the problem, because the problem can’t be solved by more government meddling, and government meddling is the only thing they know how to do. But, since they can think of nothing more embarrassing than standing around doing nothing, they’re leaping over each other trying desperately to show us that they will do something. (Not nothing, like Senator McCain.) And what they’ll do is what they always do. When they see a problem, they throw money at it. Your money. My money. Everybody’s money. Unfortunately, that won’t solve the problem. Because, sometimes, nothing is the right thing to do.

The Democratic response, as usual, is like a parent with a spoiled child. They think it’s their job as parent to prevent their child from ever experiencing any pain, so they go to any lengths to shield it from the consequences of its own actions. But a child who never faces consequences never learns. Sometimes pain is necessary, especially when it’s a natural consequence of irrational behavior.

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