Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mark Sanford's Road Back By Brendan Miniter


August 17, 2008

Gov. Mark Sanford didn't actually say "dude" when we met recently at the Hyatt in New York City. But the South Carolina Republican did ask, "Have you seen my video on YouTube?"

[Marshal (Mark) Sanford]

The governor was waiting at the Hyatt without a politician's usual retinue and we walked over to the hotel's restaurant, only to find it was closed. "Let's make our way inside anyway and sit until someone yells at us," he said. The YouTube video was his speech at the South Carolina GOP convention in May, in which he laid out why the Republican Party has found itself in the minority in Washington. In it, he says: "The crisis of what's happened in Washington, D.C. is born not because of the rank-and-file not knowing what they believe, but because of its political leadership, at times, being completely disconnected from the core beliefs of what the party is all about."

"An optimist would say" the party has productively used these past two years in the political wilderness to learn from its mistakes, he tells me now. "But there's not a lot of room for optimism" in the party's performance so far. One way of looking at the GOP, he adds, is as "nothing more than a brand" -- a brand that was badly eroded in the last few years through reckless spending and undisciplined politics.

But he's also quick to add that the solution is not some charismatic Obama-like newcomer to buff up the party's image. A salesman who knows his product and believes in his product, he says, is always more effective than one who is all flash and no substance. Though Mr. Sanford annoyed some in the McCain camp by standing by a pledge to remain neutral in the South Carolina primary, his name was still touted as a veep possibility. The South Carolina press once again played taps for his hopes after he was widely seen flubbing a question from CNN's Wolf Blitzer about differences between Mr. McCain and President Bush on economics -- though we met him not long before his CNN performance and noticed that he seemed exhausted. (Maybe the lesson is that he should just get more sleep.)

In any case, the popular governor -- a strong supporter of school choice, low taxes, spending restraint and economic growth -- is an attractive up-and-comer who understands what the modern GOP stands for. You can see his video here. Mr. McCain would do well to check it out too before making his choice.

-- Brendan Miniter

Joe Hallett: Portman will be McCain's running mate -- or I'll eat my hat


Sunday, August 10, 2008 3:15 AM

The best part of being a sports commentator would be that people expect you to be full of it at least half the time.

Think about all the times Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso have picked the wrong team to win on ESPN's College GameDay. Or when radio's Mike & Mike -- as in Greenberg and Golic -- screw up their NFL Sunday picks. After some gentle razzing, fans of their shows still like them and everybody moves on. No grudges.

That's not how it works in politics. People really get mad at political pundits and even come to loathe them (think MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox's Bill O'Reilly). I know this, too, by reading my e-mail on Mondays.

By now, readers of this column realize that some of the predictions published here must have been drawn from informed sources and some from uninformed souses. When they've been right, few readers say attaboy; when they've been wrong, many say I'm an idiot.

So send a little love when the following turns out to be true: Republican John McCain will select Rob Portman as his running mate.

Rob who? That question underpins a dichotomous aspect of a Portman veep candidacy. Portman is from Ohio and McCain needs to win Ohio to become president. But not many people outside the Cincinnati area know Portman, so his ability to deliver the state for McCain is questionable.

Then again, 30 minutes after McCain picks Portman, every Buckeye will know that there could be an Ohioan in the White House, enhancing McCain's chances of winning the state. Portman, a five-term former congressman, is especially popular in Republican-rich southwestern Ohio, where McCain will need to maximize his vote against Democrat Barack Obama.

Working against Portman is his closeness to the Bush family. He served in various capacities in President Bush 41's administration and remains close to the patriarch and his wife, Barbara. Bush 43 plucked Portman out of Congress to be his budget director and then U.S. trade representative. Given 43's profound unpopularity, Portman's closeness to the president could be a liability for McCain.

But I think the damage would be negligible. Certainly, having Portman on the ticket would provide a bit more fodder for Obama's portrayal of a McCain presidency as a Bush third term. That attack will continue, however, regardless of whether Portman is the running mate, and voters will either buy it or not.

Portman's productivity and reputation for bipartisanship in the House made him popular with members from both parties. His impressive resume (don't hold the University of Michigan law degree against him) qualifies him for veep consideration. His economic expertise would supplement a McCain weakness.

"The first test for vice president is, could he be president? And Rob Portman passes that test with flying colors," said former Sen. Mike DeWine, McCain's Ohio chairman. "He is very strong on domestic issues due to his experience and the different positions he's held and it certainly would help in Ohio having an Ohio vice president on the ticket."

Republican Gov. John Bricker in 1944 was the last Ohioan to run for vice president. He helped Thomas E. Dewey carry the state, although Franklin D. Roosevelt went on to be re-elected.

If successful, McCain would be 72 when inaugurated, the nation's oldest elected president. Portman is 52, handsome, has an attractive family and is untainted by misbehavior. He is a less-than-inspiring orator but exudes trustworthiness.

McCain needs help with the Republican conservative base of voters, and Portman is one of their darlings. He also is a prolific fundraiser, close to the national GOP's Cincinnati political sugar daddies, especially businessman Mercer Reynolds and the Lind-ner family.

More than anything, McCain will choose a running mate he likes to be around. His comfort with Portman was evident last month when I rode the campaign bus with them from Downtown to a fundraiser at the New Albany home of Leslie H. Wexner.

Remember where you read it: Portman will be McCain's running mate.

If that prediction is wrong, pretend I'm Kirk Herbstreit.

Joe Hallett is senior editor at The Dispatch.

NFLPA head Gene Upshaw dead at 63 of cancer

NFLPA head Gene Upshaw dead at 63 of cancer

By DAVE GOLDBERG, AP Football Writer
1 hour, 24 minutes ago

AP - Aug 21, 9:51 am EDT NFL Gallery NEW YORK (AP)—Gene Upshaw, the Hall of Fame guard who during a quarter century as union head helped get NFL players free agency and the riches that came with it, has died. He was 63.

Upshaw died Wednesday night at his home in Lake Tahoe, Calif., of pancreatic cancer, which was diagnosed only last Sunday, the NFL Players Association said Thursday. His wife Terri and sons Eugene Jr., Justin and Daniel were by his side.

“Gene Upshaw did everything with great dignity, pride, and conviction,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.

“He was the rare individual who earned his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame both for his accomplishments on the field and for his leadership of the players off the field. He fought hard for the players and always kept his focus on what was best for the game. His leadership played a crucial role in taking the NFL and its players to new heights.”

News of Upshaw’s death first came through a Clear Channel Online report that appeared on several radio Web sites.

Upshaw died only two days after the union announced he would hold a briefing on labor negotiations before the Sept. 4 season opener between Washington and the New York Giants.

His outstanding 15-season playing career was entirely with the Oakland Raiders and included two Super Bowl wins and seven Pro Bowl appearances. Upshaw’s biography was posted on the front page of the Hall of Fame Web site Thursday along with his enshrinement speech from 1987.

In 1983, he became executive director of the players’ association and guided it through the 1987 strike that led to replacement football. By 1989, the players had a limited form of freedom, called Plan B, and in 1993, free agency and a salary cap were instituted.

Since then, the players have prospered so much that NFL owners recently opted out of the latest labor contract, which was negotiated two years ago by Upshaw and then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Upshaw was criticized by some for not being tough enough in talks with Tagliabue, a close friend of the union head. He also was blamed by many older veterans for not dealing sufficiently with their health concerns.

But the salary cap for this season is $116 million and the players are making close to 60 percent of the 32 teams’ total revenues, as specified in the 2006 agreement. In all, the players will be paid $4.5 billion this year, according to owners.

Upshaw recently became more aggressive in his dealings with the owners and Tagliabue’s successor, Roger Goodell. Owners opted out of the collective bargaining agreement, which means a season without a salary cap in 2010. Upshaw declared the cap would disappear for good should there be no new deal by March 2010.

“I’m not going to sell the players on a cap again,” Upshaw said. “Once we go through the cap, why should we agree to it again?”

NFL officials claimed players are getting a disproportionate amount of the revenue. Upshaw’s supporters said management’s viewpoint indicates he did his job well.

The players called a strike in 1987—leading to games with replacements— and it wasn’t until 1993 that labor peace was reached with a breakthrough seven-year contract. It included free agency and a salary cap. Almost ever since, player salaries have spiraled up along with revenue from television and marketing deals made by the league.

The NFLPA also has its own marketing arm, Players Inc., established in 1994, that has grown into a multimillion dollar operation.

Upshaw also negotiated the first-ever union agreement for Arena Football League players.

“He was a tough negotiator but always reasonable and respectful with the ultimate goal of growing the game,” said the league’s acting commissioner, Ed Policy.

Frequently listed as one of the most powerful men in U.S. sports, Upshaw was drafted in the first round by Oakland in 1967 out of Texas A&I—hardly a football factory. He was an NAIA All-American at center, tackle and end, but was switched to left guard by the Raiders.

And that’s where he stayed through a magnificent career that included 10 conference championship games as well as the Super Bowl victories.

AP Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.

As U.S. Economic Problems Loom, House, Senate Sweat the Small Stuff


Members of Congress Love a Good Resolution;

Watermelons and Undertakers Fit the Bill

August 19, 2008; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- The 110th Congress, whose term officially ends in January, hasn't passed any spending bills or attacked high gasoline prices. But it has used its powers to celebrate watermelons and to decree the origins of the word "baseball."

[ Watermelon]

Barring a burst of legislative activity after Labor Day, this group of 535 men and women will have accomplished a rare feat. In two decades of record keeping, no sitting Congress has passed fewer public laws at this point in the session -- 294 so far -- than this one. That's not to say they've been idle. On the flip side, no Congress in the same 20 years has been so prolific when it comes to proposing resolutions -- more than 1,900, according to a tally by the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense.

With the mostly symbolic measures, Congress has saluted such milestones as the Idaho Potato Commission's 70th anniversary and recognized soil as an "essential natural resource." As legislation on gasoline prices, tax fixes and predatory lending languish, Congress has designated May 5-9 as National Substitute Teacher Recognition Week, and set July 28 as the Day of the American Cowboy.

The resolutions, which generally don't carry the force of law, can originate in either the House or Senate. However, some types of resolutions establish the federal budget, authorize the president to go to war, or condemn actions such as the genocide in Darfur. Even among the 294 laws passed thus far, many were symbolic in nature. Many of the post offices named by this Congress honor servicemen and -women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the 435-member House, fully one-quarter of the workweek is typically devoted to debating and passing symbolic measures.

Watermelon Month

Democratic Rep. Charlie Wilson of Ohio, a fourth-generation undertaker, sponsored a National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, whose home state of Georgia has 24,000 acres planted in watermelon, pushed a resolution establishing July as National Watermelon Month.

[Saxby Chambliss]

"As Mark Twain once said, 'When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.' I encourage my colleagues to join me in acknowledging the wisdom of Mark Twain by supporting this resolution," Sen. Chambliss said on the Senate floor. The only problem: July is about 14 days late for a Watermelon Month. The crops come in in mid June.

Democrats say the 294 public laws represent a solid record of achievement. Since the party took control of Congress in 2007, they've led passage of the largest expansion in college aid in 60 years, increased the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, and extended unemployment benefits. They passed the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Congress has passed a $168 billion economic-stimulus package, a housing-rescue package providing as much as $300 billion to refinance mortgages for people in danger of losing their homes, and the most sweeping product-safety legislation in a generation.

"We also recognize that we have more to do, and we will do so, both in the remaining weeks of this year's Congress and next year when we will have expanded Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate, working with President Barack Obama," says Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California.

Congress, which won't return to session until September, has yet to pass any 2009 appropriations bills, even though funding the federal budget is its official function. Before leaving town for summer break in August, lawmakers failed to establish August as Heat Stroke Awareness Month, blowing the deadline to make it official.

When Democrats won control of Congress in 2006, Republicans were eager to tar them as "do nothing," an echo of Democrat Harry Truman's successful 1948 presidential campaign during which he railed against the "Do Nothing Congress" led by Republicans.

"The Democrats in charge of this Congress have been heavy on fluff and light on substance," says Republican leader Rep. John Boehner of Ohio. "Resolutions are fine but why aren't we also passing legislation to lower gas prices? What about health-care reform and runaway entitlement spending?"

In fact, the second-fewest number of public laws passed over the 20-year review was during the 104th Congress -- when Republicans were newly in control, with a Democratic president. Resolutions, however, are usually popular on both sides of the aisle.

Perpetual Motion

Critics still complain that Congress uses resolutions to pad its legislative record.

"Resolutions are a perpetual motion machine," says Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "Not only do you create Heat Stroke Awareness Month, every year after that you recognize the importance of Heat Stroke Awareness Month. You never move on to substantive legislation."

Occasionally, resolutions stir debate that veers close to substance. In late June, House members gathered on the floor to debate a resolution establishing Pittsfield, Mass., once and for all, as home to the earliest known reference to the word "baseball."

Democratic Rep. John Olver of Massachusetts, the bill's author, rose to stake Pittsfield's claim, based on the recent discovery of a 1791 Pittsfield law banning "Wicket, Cricket, Baseball, Football, Cat, Fives or any other game or games with balls" near the town's new meetinghouse.

"Even back in 1791, youths were already breaking windows playing America's favorite national pastime," Rep. Olver said. "With that, the first mention of baseball was penned into history."

Rep. Virginia Foxx, Republican of North Carolina whose resolution recognizing America's Christmas-tree industry remains mired in committee, said that "the origins of baseball [have] been the subject of debate and controversy." Yet she agreed that the "Broken Window Bylaw" gave Pittsfield the honor.

Write to Elizabeth Williamson at

Democrats Offer Lesson in Misleading on Taxes


Commentary by Kevin Hassett

Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Last week, the Government
Accountability Office released a report that revealed why
Washington is so broken: Democratic politicians too often act
like U.S. businesses are the enemy.

The report had the unassuming title of ``Comparison of the Reported Tax Liabilities of Foreign- and U.S.-Controlled Corporations, 1998-2005.'' It is hard to imagine that such a dry topic could set off a firestorm, but it did.

The problem was the first chart in the report. It showed that 60 percent to 70 percent of companies in the U.S. pay no taxes. That led to an Associated Press story with the startling headline, ``Most Companies in U.S. Avoid Federal Income Taxes,'' and to a frenzy of business bashing by leading Democrats.

Byron Dorgan, the Democratic senator from North Dakota, said in a statement, ``It's shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country.'' House Speaker Nancy Pelosi piled on, arguing that the data revealed a
fundamental unfairness in the U.S. system, and called for reform.

``When two-thirds of corporations pay no taxes,'' Pelosi said, ``American workers are forced to pay too much in taxes even as they cope with rising prices and falling wages.''

The study seemed to play right into the Democratic us-against-them playbook. Evil corporations rake in the cash and then play dirty tricks to avoid taxes. That leaves the little guy with the bill for our government.

The problem is, the study showed no such thing.

No Profit, No Tax

First, while it is true that 60 percent to 70 percent of companies in the study paid no tax in a given year, there was a big qualification. The study focused on an Internal Revenue Service tax database that included millions and millions of companies. The vast majority of firms in the study were tiny mom- and-pop enterprises.

Why did the tiny mom-and-pop enterprises pay no taxes? Because they didn't make any money! The study reported that was the reason about 80 percent of the firms in the sample avoided taxes in a given year. How terrible of them.

If the GAO issued a report that added together data for nine hot dog stands and General Electric Co., and found that 90 percent of companies didn't pay any tax, it would be a harmless and silly thing to do. But if the Democrats then rush to the microphones and insinuate to the general public that 90 percent of companies are tax dodgers, the stakes change.

How can it be that so many small businesses made no money? Companies tended to have no profits because they had large deductions including wages. Hot dog vendors can pay themselves a wage, in which case they have no profits but pay wage taxes, or
they can take their money in profits, in which case they pay profits tax. The data suggest they tend to do the former.

Double Taxation

Most of them do this for a simple reason: we still have double taxation of dividends. If you are a hot dog vendor in the top tax bracket and you pay yourself $100, then you pay $35 in taxes. If you keep it as profit and then pay it to yourself as a dividend, you pay a $35 corporate tax, and then a 15 percent dividend tax on top of it. Why would anyone choose the latter? To do so would be to pay more taxes voluntarily.

For big corporations, the story is different, and utterly inconsistent with the Democratic screed. The study found that about 75 percent of large companies (those with sales above $50 million) paid taxes in 2005, about typical for recent U.S.
history. And those that didn't pay taxes in 2005 did so earlier, so almost no companies went through the sample period without paying taxes. The latter is, again, typical.

News Hole

In other words, there was virtually no news in the study. But that didn't stop the Democrats, and that's what is so disturbing. Democratic politicians misused and misrepresented the results of this modest GAO study to bash America's corporations and call for sweeping ``reforms.'' If they will do so in response to this minor document, one can only conclude that they will do
so on the flimsiest of excuses.

Leaders of the Democratic Party are so eager to portray American business as villainous that they will twist and distort facts in order justify even more punitive taxes than we already have.

The truth is, of course, that we are all in it together. Workers will have better jobs if the U.S. is a more attractive climate for corporations. That means we need to reduce corporate taxes, not increase them.

And that is why Washington is so broken. You can't split the difference when one side is so egregiously wrong.

(Kevin Hassett, director of economic-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, is a Bloomberg News columnist. He is an adviser to Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona in his bid for the 2008 presidential nomination. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Kevin Hassett at

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Obama's "evolving" position on Palestinians


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Apparently Obama used to be more sympathetic to the Palestinian position.

Why more Jews won't be voting Democrat this year By Jennifer Rubin


Jul. 1, 2008

Defenders of Barack Obama, and sometimes Obama himself, seem frustrated that some American Jews refuse to assume their traditional role of support for the Democratic presidential nominee. The Obama defenders are irked that not all Jews accept at face value Obama's expressions of devotion to Israel and commitment to her security.

Why can't these contrarians just take Obama at his word (he is a Zionist, he really is, they insist)? The answer is "1973."

But the explanation starts in 2008. Many Jewish Obama doubters are convinced that Israel faces a true existential threat unlike any in 35 years. From nation states like Iran, which threaten to destroy Israel, to Hizbullah and Hamas terrorists, Israel may in the next decade be pushed to the brink of its existence. Israel's failure to defeat Hizbullah in 2006 demonstrated the limits of Israel's historic military advantage.

With the spread of nuclear weapons and other deadly technologies a second Holocaust - that is, the annihilation of a substantial portion of world Jewry - is not out of the realm of imagination.

THESE OBAMA skeptics recall a similar time, 1973, when Israel also faced extermination. Prime minister Golda Meir had miscalculated Anwar Sadat's willingness to go to war and decided against a first strike against Egypt. The Arab nations attacked in October 1973, and within days Israel was facing defeat.

The Israelis went to president Richard Nixon with a request for a massive infusion of arms. The Defense and State Departments squabbled. Our European allies, who feared an oil embargo (and would refuse us bases to refuel our planes), inveighed against it, and the Soviets blustered. Many on Nixon's staff wanted to deny the request, or offer only token assistance. Don't antagonize the Arab states, they counseled.

Nixon persisted and, according to some accounts, doubled the amount of aid Israel had requested. Riding herd on the bureaucrats, Nixon repeatedly intervened to push the transports along. Informed about a dispute regarding the type of air transportation, Nixon at one point exclaimed in frustration: "Tell them to send everything that can fly." Over the course of a month US airplanes conducted 815 sorties with over 27,900 tons of materiel.

Israel was saved due to this massive infusion of military aid. Meir referred to Nixon with enormous affection for the rest of her life. Nixon, despised by many in the US, was hailed as a hero in Israel. And Nixon (who had garnered a minority of the Jewish vote in 1972) received little or no political benefit at home for his trouble, leaving office the following year.

SO WHAT does this have to do with Obama? The Obama skeptics do not for a moment believe that Obama, in the face of domestic and international pressure similar to what Nixon faced, would rise to the occasion at a critical moment in Israel's history and "tell them to send everything that can fly."

In every significant interaction in Obama's adult life with those who distain and vilify Israel - from Rashid Khalidi to Reverend Jeremiah Wright to Louis Farrakhan - Obama has demonstrated passive resignation and indifference.

He did not stand up to his friend Khalidi, the Palestinian activist, professor and former Palestinian spokesman whom Obama honored at a farewell dinner, and object to Palestinian invectives that Israel was an apartheid state. He did not recoil, until Wright insulted him at the National Press Club, from Wright when he learned that Wright considered Israel a "dirty word" and postulated that Israel had invented an "ethnic bomb."

He did not heed (or was oblivious to) public pleas from Jewish organizations to avoid the Million Man March that Farrakhan organized; nor did he years later leave his church when it honored Farrakhan. It took a hateful rant from another wide-eyed preacher against Hillary Clinton, just when Obama needed to cool intra-party animosities, to do that.

AND IF any further proof were needed, Obama's actions with regard to the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, the measure to classify the Iranian National Guard as a terrorist organization, should settle the question of Obama's intestinal fortitude when it comes to Israel. An issue presented itself: a choice between, on the one hand, taking a stance against Israel's most vile enemy, Iran, and, on the other, appeasing the far Left of his own party.

Obama chose to satisfy the crowd and opposed the amendment. The amendment would have been "saber rattling" and unduly provocative, Obama argued at the time. Senators Dick Durbin, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton and three quarters of the US Senate voted for the amendment.

Once his nomination was secured, Obama told those assembled at the AIPAC convention that he supported classification of the Iranian National Guard as a terrorist organization, a move he well understood was important to Israel's security and to AIPAC's members. Yet under just a smidgen of political pressure during the primary race, he had not been able to muster the will to support a modest measure which inured to Israel's benefit.

IS THERE anything in all this to suggest that in a potential crisis, when much of the world would be pressuring him to let Israel die, Obama would push all the naysayers aside and demand to "send them everything that can fly"? There is not a shred of evidence to suggest that he would be beyond persuasion when it came down to Israel's survival. In fact, all the available evidence indicates that the opposite is true.

That does not mean Obama will not carry the majority of the Jewish vote. Jews are overwhelmingly Democratic, and it is certainly the case that for many American Jews the secular liberal agenda takes precedence over everything else in presidential politics.

For these voters, then, "1973" is not uppermost in their minds. Their devotion to liberalism is controlling, and for their own peace of mind they are willing to accept Obama's generic expressions of warm feelings toward Israel.

Indeed the temptation to believe in Obama's bland promises of support for Israel is a tempting one for liberal Jews. If they can convince themselves that he will be "fine on Israel," no conflict arises between their liberal impulses and their concern for Israel. The urge to believe is a powerful thing, especially when the alternative is an intellectual or moral quandary.

It is also the case that some American Jews simply do not believe Israel is in peril, or that "1973" is remotely relevant. They imagine Iran is merely spouting nonsense, that Hizbullah and Hamas lack the organization or competence to threaten Israel's survival, and that Israel will muddle along indefinitely.

BUT SOME Jews are incapable of deluding themselves that Obama would be the most resolute candidate in defending Israel. In quiet moments of contemplation and in noisy debates with family members and friends, they worry about the tenuous nature of Israel's existence and the dangers which lurk from within and outside Israel's borders. These Jews cannot imagine a world without Israel and could not countenance election of a president who, in Israel's moment of peril, could well falter.

And that is why these obstinate Obama skeptics, some even after a lifetime of Democratic voting, will not pull the lever for him. For them some things rank higher than even the top items on the liberal political agenda. The risk is, in their minds, too great that when Israel needs help the most, Obama will buckle and Israel will be crushed.

Many, albeit not all and likely not even most, American Jews will therefore decline to vote for Obama. They know that if the majority of their co-religionists had their way and George McGovern, rather than Richard Nixon, had been in the White House in 1973, Israel might not have survived.

A few barbs from their fellow congregants, amazed they would not vote for a Democrat for president, are a small burden to bear as they cast their vote for the candidate who - they are certain - when the chips are down, will send everything that can fly.

The writer blogs at Commentary Magazine's CONTENTIONS Web site and is a regular contributor to Weekly Standard, New York Observer, Human Events, American Spectator and other print and online publications. She lives in Northern Virginia.

Sen. Joe Lieberman to speak at GOP convention

Sen. Joe Lieberman to speak at GOP convention

By ANDREW MIGA, Associated Press Writer
33 minutes ago

Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party's vice presidential candidate in 2000 and now an independent who is one of John McCain's strongest supporters, will speak at the Republican National Convention, an official said.

Lieberman will deliver a speech when Republicans gather in St. Paul, Minn., to nominate McCain for president, a party official told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The official requested anonymity because a formal announcement had yet to be made.

Lieberman's office declined to comment.

Lieberman, 66, caucuses with Senate Democrats. The four-term senator has angered many Democrats with his strong support for the Iraq war and for backing McCain's bid for the White House. He is considered a potential McCain running mate.

Four years ago, former Sen. Zell Miller, a Georgia Democrat, praised President Bush and mocked the Democratic ticket as weak on defense in a speech at the GOP's national convention.

As Al Gore's running mate in 2000, Lieberman became the first Jewish vice presidential nominee. His campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 failed.

After a surprising loss to Ned Lamont in Connecticut's 2006 Senate primary, Lieberman defied Democratic leaders and ran as an independent in the general election. Top Democrats backed Lamont, a political newcomer, and Lieberman won support from the GOP, including his friend McCain.

Lieberman tends to vote with Democrats on most issues and is a longtime supporter of abortion rights, a stance that would rankle conservatives if he were McCain's running mate.

Not only has Lieberman campaigned for McCain, he has criticized Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Senate Democrats have been tolerant of his political straddling because he holds their slim political majority in his hands.

Lieberman departed Tuesday for a trip to the Republic of Georgia, Poland and the Ukraine. He is expected to return to Washington on Thursday night.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Obama's Rapid Response Backfires


By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Election '08: Barack Obama's fierce attack on Jerome Corsi's best-selling book, "The Obama Nation," has backfired. He has been forced to confirm things he'd hoped would stay buried.

Read More: Election 2008

Obama, for example, for the first time has acknowledged that the mysterious "Frank" in his 1995 autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," is in fact Communist Party USA member Frank Marshall Davis, who during the height of the Cold War was investigated by both the FBI and Congress as a pawn of Moscow.

As we've noted, the late Davis was Obama's early mentor with whom he shared whiskey and rage while growing up in Hawaii. The militant black poet influenced the young Obama's decision to become a pro-labor community organizer and agitator in his hometown of Chicago.

Corsi writes about Davis in his critical new book, "The Obama Nation," which has hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. In an unusual 40-page rebuttal posted on his campaign Web site, Obama tries to smear the entire book as a "series of lies."

Only, Corsi's book is basically a critique of Obama's own first book, "Dreams From My Father," written in 1995. It finds hole after hole in the narrative. Dates don't add up. Stories don't square with reality. Identities of central characters like Davis are hidden from view.

In his angrily worded report, Obama attempts to play down the influence Corsi says Davis had on him. But he doesn't dispute anything the book documents about Davis' un-American activities with the Soviets.

Instead, Obama takes issue with Corsi claiming Davis' angry poems provided "a voice for Obama's black rage." He calls it a "lie."

In fact, Obama's own words appear to support the claim. On Page 171 of "Dreams," Obama flies into a fit over chronic black poverty in Chicago's South Side, blaming whites who took flight to the crime-free suburbs and took jobs with them. He's overcome by the same black rage Davis radiated in his Waikiki bungalow years earlier.

Obama took to heart Davis' advice to "keep your eyes open" to signs of institutional racism. He became race-conscious like never before. He admits he never "let it go," even when he could see that overt racism was a thing of the past.

But that wasn't even the point Corsi was making in his section on Davis, which he subtitled "Obama's Communist Mentor." The issue of black rage was a side point. The main point is Davis' communist influence, something voters have a right to know more about.

Obama in his rebuttal leaves that point completely unaddressed. He doesn't want to go there — for obvious reasons.

Obama's rapid response to Corsi's alleged "swift-boating" backfires again in the same report when he defends his wife, Michelle, against the charge that she was influenced by another black Marxist revolutionist, Stokely Carmichael, in formulating her Princeton thesis on black separatism.

Again, Obama calls it a "lie." But turning to Page 139 of his memoir, "Dreams," we find that he himself was inspired by Carmichael, a civil rights leader turned militant black nationalist. Changing his name to Kwame Toure, Carmichael wrote a book on "Black Power" that propounds an explicitly socialist, Pan-African vision.

While living in New York, Obama says he was in "search of some inspiration" one day and "went to hear Kwame Toure, formerly Stokely Carmichael of SNCC and Black Power fame, speak at Columbia." He clearly knew the background of the source for his inspiration that day.

"At the entrance to the auditorium, two women, one black, one Asian, were selling Marxist literature and arguing with each other about Trotsky's place in history," he wrote, describing the scene. "Inside, Toure was proposing a program to establish economic ties between Africa and Harlem that would circumvent white capitalist imperialism."

Obama, who has family in Kenya, is proposing his own bailout of Africa.

Obama wants to run from this radical past, but his first memoir — written long before he had serious White House aspirations — is a peek into his soul. "Dreams" has become more of a nightmare, and he may just come to regret ever writing it.

Pending Announcement...McCain's Running Mate Rob Portman


Rob Portman


John McCain with former Rep. Rob Portman, right, at a campaign event in Cincinnati. (Associated Press)

Rob Portman has done plenty of training for the vice presidential debates, but this year he might get the Republican talking points. After standing in as George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s debate-prep opponents in 2000 and 2004, Portman, 52 years old, may see prime-time this year in the vice presidential debate Oct. 2. Largely unknown outside his district, the former representative’s credibility as potential number two has been bolstered by nearly 20 years in national politics, high marks from the Washington Beltway crowd and the good fortune to call Ohio home.

For a low-visibility politician, Portman has seen plenty of the federal government, running the Office of Legislative Affairs for the first President Bush and the serving as U.S. trade representative and budget director for the second, in addition to a dozen years in Congress. His experience with federal budgets from both the legislative and executive sides has established his economic expertise, and his work on foreign trade has burnished his diplomatic credentials. All that, and he just broke the half-century mark, making him the rare vice-presidential contender who could bring both youth and experience to McCain’s side. On social issues meanwhile, Portman has put together a record conservative enough for the party base while generally avoiding the bitterness of the culture wars. The result has been plaudits from pundits like David Brooks and kind words from Democratic leaders like Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer, even as Portman has often been a point man for the Bush administration’s agenda in Congress.

Portman’s associations with the current administration, however, while on the Hill and in the Cabinet, may be too much of a liability for a Republican candidate trying to distance himself from Bush’s record unpopularity. Portman’s hometown paper has called him “a talking head for the Bush agenda,” and you can expect that line three dozen times before nightfall on the day he’s announced to the ticket. Also, while Ohio is a must-win state for McCain, Portman’s name recognition drops precipitously outside of the second congressional district — to “maybe 12 percent” statewide, in the words of one Republican booster. Familiarity with Nafta and Cafta, meanwhile, registers a lot closer to 100.

Bio Brief:

  • Age: 52

  • Job: Former congressman

  • From: Ohio

  • Education: Dartmouth, 1979; University of Michigan Law, 1984

  • Experience: Lawyer, 1984-89; President’s Office of Legislative Affairs, 1989-91; House of Representatives, 1993-2005; U.S. Trade Representative, 2005-06; President’s Budget Director, 2006-07.

  • Political interests: Fiscal discipline, foreign trade

  • Endorsed McCain: Feb. 26

  • Pros: Budget expertise, diverse federal experience, Ohio (Ohio…) (Ohio…)

  • Cons: Bush administration ties, foreign trade background, Rob who?
  • Monday, August 18, 2008

    Obama, the Muslim Thing, And Why It Matters by Pamela Geller


    01/09/08, 7:16 PM

    He knows the stakes involved.

    The thing is, you can't be a leader and not know what Islam means. The average Joe pumping gas on Route 66 - okay, not on top of the issue. But there is no way you can be running for President and not know the hell being wreaked on the free and not-so-free world by Islamic jihad.
    That said, Barack Obama went to a madrassa in Jakarta. A madrassa in a Muslim country. Whether he was devout or secular, he knows what was taught. He knows what is in the Koran. Even if he is ambiguous, he knows the stakes involved. His father was a

    Every Muslim who left Islam is very definitive about leaving and why.

    Muslim who took three wives (without divorcing). His stepfather and close members of his family are devout Muslims. Not an unimportant influence.

    Every Muslim who left Islam is very definitive about leaving and why. They are quite vocal - Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Walid Shoebat, Elijah Abraham, etc. If he left Islam, Obama must have very definite thoughts about it. He has to, he practiced Islam. That is not benign; it's big. And even if, as inferred by big media, it was not big to him, then he can still appreciate how important it is knowing what he knows about Islam and apostasy.

    Obama would have had to make a decision to reject Islam. When did he make that decision? How? Why the silence? Why the reluctance to talk about it?

    Apostasy is punishable by death in Islam. Have there been calls for Obama's death? If not, why not? Islam gives no free passes.

    Obama's posture on this is hard to define or understand, because it is a critical issue.

    Transitional issues facing this nation and the world at large - the world at war, creeping sharia, the perversion of the rights of free men, individuals, women, etc., hang in the balance on the make up of the next president of the United States. The stakes could not be higher domestically.

    On foreign policy, Europe has laid down. The political elites have capitulated to Islamists and to multiculturalists. Suicide. It seems unclear that they could hold up their end even if America did the heavy lifting.

    As far as Israel is concerned, if Obama makes it to the big house, Israel is screwed. Finished.Obama's church and Jew-hating pastor, Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., makes that evident. Israel will be on its own.

    Perhaps that is necessary, though, because it seems they have relinquished their sovereignty to the US and they expect the US to guarantee their security. Ain't never

    If Obama makes it to the big house, Israel is screwed.

    gonna' happen. No country, ever, should abdicate its role in protecting and defending itself. Ehud Olmert is on a one-way trip to nowhere. So maybe tough love is necessary, because this relationship is hurting Israel.

    The recent revelations of Obama's ties to Raila Odinga in Kenya are disconcerting as well, because Odinga is behind the terrible violence in his country. It was he who instigated bloody riots and killing after he lost the election. Obama's bias for his fellow Luo was so blatant that a Kenyan government spokesman denounced Obama during his visit as Raila's "stooge." And while there are few angels in Kenya, Odinga is the source of great unrest and turmoil; and the MOU he signed with the Muslim Council to institute sharia is a foreshadowing of a dark fate for Kenya. (A Jacksonian picked up on my previous post on this and wrote a lengthy, well-researched piece on the politics and back story on Odinga.) Just how quickly will Kenya go Islamic?

    We must be allowed to ask these questions. I do not embrace change for the sake of change - the impossible new buzzword on the campaign trail. Jimmy Carter was the dark horse, the new unknown, and he was an unmitigated disaster. The worst, most damaging president in US history, in my opinion.

    This could be even worse. And so, I implore my fellow Americans to question, question, question. The potential damage to this country is incalculable. These are dangerous times, my friends; reckless and capricious intellectual laziness will have disastrous consequences.

    The emes.

    Pamela Geller is the former associate publisher of the New York Observer and the founder of the "Atlas Shrugs" website.

    Jewish Dem donor joins McCain team By Alexander Bolton


    Posted: 06/10/08 07:30 PM [ET]

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is attracting elite Jewish Democratic donors who backed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and are concerned about Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) stance toward Israel, say McCain backers who are organizing the effort to court Democrats.

    McCain has already had several fundraising events with Jewish Democrats in Washington and Florida, say his supporters.

    He also has the backing of Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), who made history as the first Jewish vice presidential candidate and has recently raised questions about Obama’s foreign policy vision for the Middle East.

    Stephen Muss, the Florida developer, is the biggest Democratic donor and fundraiser to pledge his support for McCain and the Republican National Committee, said a GOP official. Muss has given tens of thousands of dollars to help Democratic candidates in recent years, including $80,000 to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and CQ MoneyLine.

    Muss did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.

    “Many Jewish Democrats are sensing there is such an existential threat to Israel that you have to vote for an individual who strongly supports the U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), chairman of the GOP’s Jewish Victory Coalition.

    Cantor said McCain held a fundraising breakfast with Republican and Democratic Jewish donors last week at the Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C.

    “The playing field is wide open for John McCain as far as attracting Jewish support,” he said.

    Cantor said Muss would help bring more Jewish Democratic donors in South Florida over to McCain.

    “He’s an influential player,” said Cantor. “From my knowledge of his influence in South Florida, that’s significant.”

    Brian Ballard, a prominent McCain fundraiser, said that several major Jewish Democratic donors have said they will join McCain’s camp.

    “There are Bill Clinton folks who for the last three to six months we’ve been pushing to get involved,” said Ballard in an interview last week, referring to former President Bill Clinton. “In Florida there are a lot of people not happy with Obama’s stance with regards to Israel and regards to Cuba. We’re starting to see some significant people come over.

    “Democrats who are traditional large Democratic givers are coming over to our side,” said Ballard.

    Jewish support is especially important in Florida, a crucial swing state where Obama trails McCain in recent polls. Jewish voters make up about 5 percent of the electorate in that state. Florida’s Jewish community is also a lucrative source of political fundraising.

    Jewish Democrats are concerned about Obama’s stance toward Israel, and many big donors from this group supported Clinton. McCain has moved aggressively in recent days to win their allegiance since Clinton dropped her White House bid.

    “Her dropping out was huge in terms of potential for crossover voting and crossover support,” said Cantor.

    Jewish Democrats are concerned about Obama for several reasons. While stumping in Iowa last year, Obama told Democratic activists, “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.”

    Some Jewish voters interpreted the statement as a sign that Obama would be overly sympathetic to the Palestinian side in future peace negotiations with Israel. And some are concerned about a senior Obama adviser’s comments regarding the influence of American Jews on foreign policy. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, the former Air Force chief of staff, told the Portland Oregonian newspaper in 2003 that the political influence of the Jewish community had hampered efforts to negotiate peace in the Middle East.

    Obama has also caused some alarm among Jewish Democrats by pledging to negotiate with leaders of nations that have taken hostile stances against Israel, such as Syria and Iran.

    The growing sympathy of Jewish Democrats toward McCain is epitomized by Lieberman, a self-described independent Democrat from Connecticut.

    Lieberman has launched a new bipartisan grassroots group, Citizens for McCain, to attract Democrats and independent voters to the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

    Lieberman could become a potent weapon for Republicans seeking to pick off Jewish Democrats. As the Democratic Party’s former vice presidential nominee and a former Democratic candidate for president, Lieberman is assumed to have an expansive list of Jewish Democratic donors from around the country.

    “Joe Lieberman supporting McCain has gone a long way with the Democratic Jewish community,” said Stu Sandler, deputy executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

    “People across the board have had trouble with Obama’s stances and some of the people he’s had around him,” said Sandler, citing McPeak.

    Sandler said that McCain met with a group of 60 Jewish leaders, including “a handful” of Clinton supporters, before a conference hosted in Washington last week by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

    McCain held a fundraiser with Jewish donors on Friday in Key Biscayne, Fla. Before the main event, McCain met with a roomful of Jewish Democratic donors to discuss Israel and other issues important to them.

    As many as two dozen Jewish Democrats who attended the meeting gave money to McCain’s campaign at the fundraiser, which raised about $500,000, said a source close to the event’s organizers.

    Prominent Democratic fundraisers, however, say they have not encountered Clinton donors who are planning to defect to McCain.

    “I’ve talked to a lot of people in the past couple of days and I have not spoken to anybody who was supporting Hillary Clinton and who has indicated any likelihood of supporting McCain,” said Steve Grossman, a former co-chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a former chairman of AIPAC, who raised tens of thousands of dollars for Clinton this election cycle.

    Obama under fire for comment on Palestinians


    Iowa Democrat calls presidential hopeful’s remark ‘deeply troubling’

    Associated Press
    updated 3:16 p.m. ET, Thurs., March. 15, 2007

    Obama under fire for Palestinian comments
    March 15: Barack Obama is under fire for telling an Iowa Jewish group that "no one's suffering more than Palestinians. MSNBC-TV’s Chris Jansing and Chicago Tribune’s James Warren discuss.

    DES MOINES, Iowa - A prominent Iowa Democrat says he is troubled by Sen. Barack Obama’s comment about the Palestinians and pressed the Democratic presidential candidate to clarify his remarks.

    Obama, speaking to a small group of Democratic activists in Muscatine on Sunday, was quoted in the Des Moines Register as saying, “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.”

    David Adelman wrote a letter Tuesday to Obama calling the comment “deeply troubling.” Adelman is a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which lobbies in support of a strong relationship between the United States and Israel, and the Greater Des Moines Jewish Federation.

    Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama, said the senator’s comments were consistent with his previous statements.

    “Senator Obama has always said that the security of Israel should be America’s starting point in the Middle East,” Vietor said. “As he stated in his speech (at AIPAC) and again in Iowa, he also believes that in the end, the Palestinian people are suffering from the Hamas-led government’s refusal to renounce terrorism and join as a real partner in the peace process.”

    Adelman, a Des Moines attorney, is a politically active Democrat and works as a lobbyist, but he said he has not yet made a choice on whom he will support in 2008.

    Palin's Gas Pipeline Isn't Hot Air


    By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 4:20 PM PT

    Energy: As congressional Democrats dither on a vote for oil drilling, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has pushed through a gas pipeline project to bring new supply and price relief to the lower 48.

    Read More: Energy

    On Aug. 1, the same day the call for a vote on drilling began on the House floor, the Alaska state Senate approved a package of measures to license a new natural gas pipeline. House Bill 3001 lets Palin award the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act license to TransCanada Alaska, a pipeline builder that cast a winning bid of five.

    The legislature had been trying for 30 years to authorize something like this and, up until now, had blown it. Palin got it through. Getting it off the ground, the state says, will be the biggest construction project in U.S. history.

    Palin considers the $26 billion project her biggest accomplishment as governor. "It was not easy," she told IBD. "Alaska has been hoping and dreaming for a natural gas pipeline for decades. What it took was getting off the dime and creating a competitive market in Alaska."

    View larger image
    The 1,715-mile gas line would stretch from Alaska's North Slope to Fairbanks and down to Alberta, Canada. Then it would take existing gas lines to Idaho. In 10 years, Palin says, the lower 48 states would receive 4.5 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. By 2030, according to Energy Department estimates, Alaska's annual natgas production would quintuple to 2 trillion cubic feet.

    Minus a pipeline, Alaska's abundant gas largely ends up pumped back into the ground to be used to pressurize oil fields and aid in extraction. With oil production in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay region declining and Congress continuing to drag its feet on new oil drilling, one of the few things Alaska can do is sell some of the gas now.

    The new supply could bring price relief to anyone who uses home heating, electricity, farm fertilizers or manufactured goods in the U.S. "Not only is this economical for all players involved; it's wildly needed," said Palin.

    The pipeline does spark controversy. Two of Alaska's biggest three oil producers, BP and ConocoPhillips, think the state is too involved. They are working on a gas line project of their own called Denali.

    At first glance, it would seem the more gas lines, the merrier. But neither Palin nor BP/ConocoPhillips thinks more than one multibillion dollar gas line will be profitable, based on what's known of Alaska's resources. So both sides think the projects may eventually merge.

    BP/Conoco argues that its gas line will be more efficient, but Palin's project has something a little different — political viability, something that could smooth the path to production at a time when activist lawsuits and protests gum up production as badly as Congress does.

    Although a package of state goodies demanded by various constituencies could add costs, it also could be a trade-off to actually getting the project off the ground.

    Palin justified it this way: "We wanted this in a competitive environment and asked companies what they could offer Alaska. Alaska is going to lay down the law (and) say, 'If you want to build this line, here is what Alaska must have: protection for the environment, in-state use of resources, jobs for Alaskans.' "

    The job isn't done, but Palin isn't going on vacation.

    "We still have so much to do — to break ground, to build," she said. "We'll keep ramping up oil production, educating Congress to allow ANWR to be tapped and to prove we can ethically and responsibly drill so Alaska can produce for everyone. Alaska should be the head, not the tail, to the energy solution."

    Small wonder, then, that Alaska has one popular governor. If only congressional Democrats could also get off the dime.