Friday, October 31, 2008

I've got a bridge to sell you

Last year BO was saying that he would not raise taxes on anyone making less than $300,000 a year. Then that number turned to $250,000. Last week he suggested that he might raise taxes for those making $200,000. Then Biden said that the number should be $150,000. Today, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said that Obama was planning a tax cut for those making less than $120,000. The record shows that last year, BO voted to raise taxes on everyone who pays income taxes. That would be $42,500. So we have slid from $300,000 clear down to $42,500.

The problem is that BO has no intention of cutting anyone's taxes. Never has. Never will. To quote Joe Biden, "Mark my words". It won't happen.

Remember Bill Clinton's campaign promise to cut the taxes of middle class taxpayers. It took him about a month in the White House to forget that promise and instead raise taxes on the middle class.

BO has promised a trillion dollars of new spending. Money for this, money for that. Wealth transfers from the productive to the unproductive. Health care for everyone. More money for his buddies in ACORN in thanks for their fraudulent voter registrations to help him get elected. Spending your money is how Democrats increase their power, and power is what this is all about for BO. He is not about to give up power. I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. There is not a single instance from BO's voting record which indicates that he will ever cut tax rates. The idea is diametrically opposed to everything he is as a politician.

So forget the ever-shrinking number and just realize that when BO is President, he will take even more of your hard-earned money to run his government programs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Liberty and tyranny

On April 16, 1864, the founder of the Republican Party, President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of a long and difficult war to rid America of slavery, spoke in Baltimore, Maryland. Here is part of what he had to say.
The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatable things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatable names—liberty and tyranny.

America is at a crossroads where we must decide between liberty and tyranny.

On the one hand, we have BO, a candidate who supports "spreading the wealth around," a euphamism for government confiscation of what you earn and redistribution to someone else who didn't earn it. Lincoln describes this act of doing what you please with the product of other men's labor as tyranny.

On the other hand we have John McCain and Sarah Palin who recognize that when the government gets out of the way and allows you to do as you please with the product of your own labor, that liberty flourishes and prosperity grows so that more people have access to it's benefits.

It really comes down to how we view the purpose of government.

If government is intended to manage every aspect of how we live our lives and regulate the distribution of resources to make sure that every person has an equal amount, if we turn to government as the solution to every problem, we are giving vast, dangerous, and unchecked power to government which must result in tyranny and the squelching of innovation and achievement which is the cornerstone of America's success.

But if the role of government is to protect the basic human rights and liberties which all men receive from God, to assure that all people have equal and unfettered opportunity to achieve all that they can and to prosper from the fruits of their innovations and hard work, we can unleash the engine of capitalism and liberty to create plenty of wealth to be spread around by the free market.

The choice could not be clearer. Which will we choose, America? Liberty or tyranny. We are about to find out.

BO meets Joe the Plumber

"I don't want to punish your success. I want to make sure that everyone behind you gets the same shot at success. I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
-- Barack Hussein Obama

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rugged Terrain

Take a look at these two satellite images. The first one is the mountainous region on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is where Osama bin Laden is thought to be hiding, and where our troops are fighting the Taliban.

The second one is the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

Be sure to thank a member of the United States Armed Forces for taking on the task of finding one guy in that vast, rugged wasteland.

Biden gets it right

The other day Joe Biden made the case against BO almost as effectively as I do. It's good to get confirmation from your opponents.

"Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking."

Consider them marked.

Regardless of which room Joe Biden is in, he is the smartest man in the room. Just ask him and he'll tell you so. Biden was selected for the VP slot specifically to give the BO ticket some foreign policy gravitas, so when this brainiac speaks on foreign policy, we ought to listen. Biden is clearly saying that BO's pathetic weakness on foreign policy will provoke a challenge from Iran or Russia, as these nations take advantage of our new President's weakness, jumping at the opportunity to walk all over the guy.

What would make Biden think that BO is weak on foreign policy? Well, he has said it before. Biden said that Obama "Can be ready but right now I don't believe he is. The Presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training." Perhaps it is because BO stands by his statement that he would meet with rogue dictators without preconditions. Everyone from Hillary to Biden to McCain pointed out what a dangerous mistake that would be, but BO stands by that statement. He said that he would invade Pakistan, one of our most important allies in the War on Terror! He said that Iran is not a serious threat because they are a small country with a military budget just 5% as much as ours. I suppose it didn’t occur to him that the 19 hijackers who attacked us on 9/11 did it with box cutters. How much do those cost? When Russia invaded Georgia, McCain came out immediately and condemned Russia’s actions, called for the world to send a clear message that Russia’s aggression would not be tolerated, and calling for NATO to accept the Ukraine as a member. BO called for both nations to “show restraint” in the weakest response I could imagine. A few days later, he said that the UN should pass a Security Council resolution against Russia’s action. I guess no one told him that Russia has veto power in the UN Security Council. A few days after that, he condemned Russia’s actions, called for the world to send a clear message that Russia’s aggression would not be tolerated, and asked NATO to accept the Ukraine as a member. Then he said that McCain was “shooting from the hip” when he condemned Russia’s action, as if it was reckless to get it right the first time. Does BO really think that it was a virtue to take three tries to come to the same conclusion as McCain? What kind of image does that send to the world?

Biden went on to tell us exactly why we should be concerned about BO's ability to lead the nation:

"We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy." Then Biden described various scenarios involving Russia or Iran. He concluded with this: "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

Is that intended to instill confidence in the guy?

So here's the question: why would we elect someone who's own foreign policy "expert" says is so weak that the world can't wait to exploit him?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Elect Democrats, get less freedom, more taxes

This article talks about Democrat leaders in the US House of Representative who are planning to eliminate the tax shelter for 401k accounts and force all workers to contribute to a Federally guaranteed retirement savings plan.

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support are considering a proposed plan which would end privately owned 401k accounts and instead force all workers into a government-run plan which would pay interest rather than allow for investment in equities.

This is standard Democrat theory. You don't know how to plan and invest for your own retirement, so the government is going to do it for you. Instead of allowing you to invest in stocks, which historically return around 10% over the long term, your money will be invested in the equivalent of Inflation Adjusted Treasury Bills. TIPS are not bad investments for certain purposes, but for long-term investment such as retirement planning, where the time-horizon is forty or fifty years, they are not at all appropriate. But if you look below the surface you can see why this is attractive to Democratic politicians. When I invest in the stock market, I am buying equity in privately-owned companies. I own a small share of thousands of different companies. When they profit, I profit, and when they lose money, so do I. TIPS are government debt instruments. When I invest in a TBill, I am not buying equity in anything. I am loaning money to the government. That is money which Congress can now spend. Politicians would love to get their hands on all that money. But for the long-term good of the nation, investing in corporations which produce a product, employ people, and create wealth is much better than lending the money to the government, who will just spend it.

But the real test comes in comparing the results. Let's take a middle-class wage earner who makes $40,000 per year. Under the current plan, he contributes 5% of his income to his own 401k which is invested in stocks, which we will assume return a real rate of 6%, which is pretty much in line with historical performance. His employer matches half of his contribution. Each year his out-of-pocket cost is $2,086 after tax, and his total contribution is $3,600, including the company match. This is the system that many people have in place today. For comparison, the new system would provide $600 government subsidy in place of the company match, and the 5% mandatory contribution would be $2,000. But don't forget that his contributions are now taxable, so his real out-of-pocket cost after taxes is $2,300, $214 more than under the old plan. By the time they reach full social security retirement age of 67, the 401k balance is $815,429 and the new and improved government-run plan has $250,903. Under the current system he retires with 3 times as much in savings. Well, 3.25 times if you want to be nitpicky. That is the difference between a financially secure retirement and a paycheck to paycheck existence. Pay more, get less. That is the government plan. Trust them. They know what is better for you better than you know yourself.

Another way to look at the difference in outcomes is to compare the standard of living that the savings could support. If you take a 5% withdrawal rate, the 401k nest egg of $815429 would allow you to live on $40,771 per year. The government plan nest egg of $250,903 could only sustain an income of $12,545. The 401k would allow you to maintain your career standard of living, providing the same income you got from your job. The government plan would slash your yearly income from $40,000 to $12,545. Your life style suddenly goes from middle-class to far below the poverty line. You're going to have trouble making mortgage payments, let alone having food to eat. Forget about any extras like entertainment or travel.

The Democrat's argument will be that the stock market is too risky for people to invest their retirement savings in it, and therefore the government is doing people a favor by protecting us from ourselves. Left to our own devices, we would surely gamble away our life savings on the wild risks of capitalism. They will use the current market crash as an example of why the stock market is unsuitable for retirement savings. The truth is that the stock market is the most sensible place to invest money for long-term goals such as retirement. When I started investing for retirement at age 23, I expect all of that money to be invested for forty years. Some of it might be invested for much longer than that. Historical data shows that the longer your time horizon, the more sure thing the stock market is. Over one year or three year periods, it is quite possible that stocks will underperform bonds or TBills. It happens about one in three cases. It is less likely, but still possible, that stocks underperform for five years. Over ten year periods, stocks almost always do better. There is no twenty year period in recorded history where stocks didn't blow away TBills. So when we are talking about forty to sixty years, stocks are a no-brainer slam dunk.

The risk of the stock market can be mitigated by proper use of basic investment principles such as diversification and dollar cost averaging. Modern Portolio Theory tells us how to manage risk by owning index mutual funds covering a wide array of company types. A portfolio containing a mix of domestic and foreign stocks, large and small company stocks, growth and value stocks, and some amount of bonds can produce the same level of return as one individual stock in the S&P500 over a long period with about half the volatility. That is an accomplishment. While Modern Portfolio Theory has been called "rocket science" you don't have to figure it out yourself. Every mutual fund comapany I know offers suggested portfolios, and even provides balanced funds which put a fully diversified portfolio into a single fund. And retirement saving naturally involves small deposits on a regular basis, weekly or monthly when you are paid, which gives you the benefit of dollar cost averaging, because you buy more shares when the market is down, lowering the average cost per share.

So if you elect Democrats, this is what you can expect. More taxes, loss of tax-sheltered retirement options, government taking more control of your life, and government solutions rather than free-market solutions for every problem.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

From each according to his ability, to each according to his need

At a campaign stop in Holland, Ohio last weekend BO had an interesting encounter with Joe Wurzelbacher, now known simply as "Joe the Plumber". The content of their discussion is worthy of our attention, as it demonstrates the problems with Obama's economic proposals. Joe the Plumber brings a human face to the destruction which would be brought about if BO should be elected President.

Joe pointed out that although he does not fit anyone's definition of "rich", BO's proposed tax hike for people making more than $250k would hit him hard. The reason is that Joe runs a small plumbing business which employs 5 people. It is not large enough to make it worthwhile to incorporate, so the revenue the business generates is taxed as ordinary income for Joe. However, from that money he must pay the salary of his five employees and the expenses of running the plumbing business -- vehicles, insurance, parts, etc. What he actually pays himself, money he can spend for his own housing, food, medcial care, clothing, and other living expenses, is far less than $250k. Obama's plan is to bend Joe the Plumber over a barrel and mercilessly rape him. BO justified his plan to Joe, saying "I don't want to punish your success. I want to make sure that everyone behind you gets the same shot at success. I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." Where I come from, that is called Socialism. Anyone who can explain the distinction is welcome to take a shot at it. The distinction will certainly be less than relevant to Joe as the IRS takes a big bite out of his income.

As I explained a few weeks back, anyone who believes BO's claim that he will cut taxes for 95% of all households is smoking something stronger than the "blow" BO experimented with in high school. First and most obvious, 40% of people currently don't pay any Federal Income Tax at all. How can you go any lower than zero? With 60% of the population bearing the entire tax burden, 60% is clearly the upper limit on how many people's taxes can be cut. The truth is that the "tax cuts" BO proposes fall into two categories: eliminating taxes that nobody pays anyway, and adding refundable tax credits that people have to jump through hoops to get. Getting rid the the AMT and making Bush's tax cut permanent are both good ideas which up until now have not happened only because Democrats have blocked Republican efforts to enact them. In fact, BO voted against a bill to eliminate the AMT last year, casting doubt on his claim that he now wants such a measure. The laundry list of refundable tax credits are not actually tax cuts, but rather wealth redistribution spending increases, as you can see when you understand the meaning of the word "refundable". As stated above, government mandated wealth redistrubution is by definition socialist. BO proposes a $500 yearly refundable tax credit to individuals making less than $75,000 and $1000 yearly for couples making less than $150k. BO thinks it is a good idea to rob Peter to pay Paul in standard socialist Democrat fashion. Or in this case, he will rob Joe the Plumber, a hard-working plumber who employs 5 people and creates a significant amount of economic activity, to pay someone who employs no one and does not earn enough to pay a dime of personal Federal income tax.

McCain also wants to spread wealth around, but he wants Joe the Plumber to do it by employing people, creating jobs, producing a valuable product, growing his small business, and creating economic activity, the life blood of the economy. By contrast, BO wants to do it by government mandate, by unleashing every Democrat's favorite attack dog, the IRS on "rich" Joe's overpriviliged wallet. Biden seemed to think that there was virtue in paying higher taxes, saying "It's time to be patriotic time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut." BO even suggested that it was "Christian" to want wealth redistribution. We all believe in patriotism and charity, but you have got to admit that it doesn't mean as much at the barrel of a gun. It is not really charity if it is not voluntary. Try not practicing that brand of patriotism or Christian charity and watch yourself land in jail.

That sells well for the 40% of people who pay no personal income tax, until they figure out that they work for Joe the Plumber, who can now no longer afford to employ them because BO hiked Joe's taxes by $12,500. Sorry, you poor sucker. As you stand in the growing line to claim your Unemployment check, you might take some consolation in BO's assurance that "I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Too bad you can't feed yourself on those choice bits of socialist rhetoric.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Obama fans

I have long said that Obama supporters like him for reasons other than his policy positions. They are fans of the celebrity, not backers of what he stands for. Here is evidence that Obama supporters don't have a clue what his policy positions are, and further support for my position that ignorant people should not vote.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Obama/Wright/Ayres radical agenda

It is becoming increasingly clear that Jeremiah Wright was just the tip of the iceberg of BO's involvement in radical Anti-American hatemongering. Not only did BO savor Wright’s sermons, he used his postion as head of Ayres' Chicago Annenberg Challenge to give legitimacy — and a whole lot of money — to education programs built around the same extremist anti-American ideology preached by Reverend Wright. And guess what? Bill Ayers is still palling around with the same bitterly anti-American Afrocentric ideologues that he and BO were promoting a decade ago. All this is revealed by a bit of digging, combined with a careful study of documents from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, the education foundation BO and Ayers jointly led in the late 1990s.

BO’s tie to Wright is no longer a purely personal question (if it ever was one) about one man’s choice of his pastor. The fact that BO funded extremist Afrocentrists who shared Wright’s anti-Americanism means that this is now a matter of public policy, and therefore an entirely legitimate issue in this campaign.

n the winter of 1996, the Coalition for Improved Education in [Chicago’s] South Shore (CIESS) announced that it had received a $200,000 grant from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. That made CIESS an “external partner,” i.e. a community organization linked to a network of schools within the Chicago public system. This network, named the “South Shore African Village Collaborative” was thoroughly “Afrocentric” in orientation. CIESS’s job was to use a combination of teacher-training, curriculum advice, and community involvement to improve academic performance in the schools it worked with. CIESS would continue to receive large Annenberg grants throughout the 1990s.

The South Shore African Village Collaborative (SSAVC) was very much a part of the Afrocentric “rites of passage movement,” a fringe education crusade of the 1990s. SSAVC schools featured “African-Centered” curricula built around “rites of passage” ceremonies inspired by the puberty rites found in many African societies. In and of themselves, these ceremonies were harmless. Yet the philosophy that accompanied them was not. On the contrary, it was a carbon-copy of Jeremiah Wright’s worldview.

To learn what the rites of passage movement was all about, we can turn to a sympathetic 1992 study published in the Journal of Negro Education by Nsenga Warfield-Coppock. In that article, Warfield-Coppock bemoans the fact that public education in the United States is shaped by “capitalism, competitiveness, racism, sexism and oppression.” According to Warfield-Coppock, these American values “have confused African American people and oriented them toward American definitions of achievement and success and away from traditional African values.” American socialization has “proven to be dysfuntional and genocidal to the African American community,” Warfield-Coppock tells us. The answer is the adolescent rites of passage movement, designed “to provide African American youth with the cultural information and values they would need to counter the potentially detrimental effects of a Eurocentrically oriented society.”

The adolescent rites of passage movement that flowered in the 1990s grew out of the “cultural nationalist” or “Pan-African” thinking popular in radical black circles of the 1960s and 1970s. The attempt to create a virtually separate and intensely anti-American black social world began to take hold in the mid-1980s in small private schools, which carefully guarded the contents of their controversial curricula. Gradually, through external partners like CIESS, the movement spread to a few public schools. Supporters view these programs as “a social and cultural ‘inoculation’ process that facilitates healthy, African-centered development among African American youth and protects them against the ravages of a racist, sexist, capitalist, and oppressive society.”

We know that SSAVC was part of this movement, not only because their Annenberg proposals were filled with Afrocentric themes and references to “rites of passage,” but also because SSAVC’s faculty set up its African-centered curriculum in consultation with some of the most prominent leaders of the “rites of passage movement.” For example, a CIESS teacher conference sponsored a presentation on African-centered curricula by Jacob Carruthers, a particularly controversial Afrocentrist.

Like other leaders of the rites of passage movement, Carruthers teaches that the true birthplace of world civilization was ancient “Kemet” (Egypt), from which Kemetic philosophy supposedly spread to Africa as a whole. Carruthers and his colleagues believe that the values of Kemetic civilization are far superior to the isolating and oppressive, ancient Greek-based values of European and American civilization. Although academic Egyptologists and anthropologists strongly reject these historical claims, Carruthers dismisses critics as part of a white supremacist conspiracy to hide the truth of African superiority.

Carruthers’s key writings are collected in his book, Intellectual Warfare. Reading it is a wild, anti-American ride. In his book, we learn that Carruthers and his like-minded colleagues have formed an organization called the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations (ASCAC), which takes as its mission the need to “dismantle the European intellectual campaign to commit historicide against African peoples.” Carruthers includes “African-Americans” within a group he would define as simply “African.” When forced to describe a black person as “American,” Carruthers uses quotation marks, thus indicating that no black person can be American in any authentic sense. According to Carruthers, “The submission to Western civilization and its most outstanding offspring, American civilization, is, in reality, surrender to white supremacy.”

Carruthers’s goal is to use African-centered education to recreate a separatist universe within America, a kind of state-within-a-state. The rites of passage movement is central to the plan. Carruthers sees enemies on every part of the political spectrum, from conservatives, to liberals, to academic leftists, all of whom reject advocates of Kemetic civilization, like himself, as dangerous and academically irresponsible extremists. Carruthers sees all these groups as deluded captives of white supremacist Eurocentric culture. Therefore the only safe place for Africans living in the United States (i.e. American blacks) is outside the mental boundaries of our ineradicably racist Eurocentric civilization. As Carruthers puts it: “...some of us have chosen to reject the culture of our oppressors and recover our disrupted ancestral culture.” The rites of passage movement is a way to teach young Africans in the United States how to reject America and recover their authentic African heritage.

Carruthers admits that Africans living in America have already been shaped by Western culture, yet compares this Americanization process to rape: “We may not be able to get our virginity back after the rape, but we do not have to marry the rapist....” In other words, American blacks (i.e. Africans) may have been forcibly exposed to American culture, but that doesn’t mean they need to accept it. The better option, says Carruthers, is to separate out and relearn the wisdom of Africa’s original Kemetic culture, embodied in the teachings of the ancient wise man, Ptahhotep (an historical figure traditionally identified as the author of a Fifth Dynasty wisdom book). Anything less than re-Africanization threatens the mental, and even physical, genocide of Africans living in an ineradicably white supremacist United States.

Carruthers is a defender of Leonard Jeffries, professor in the department of black studies at City College in Harlem, infamous for his black supremacist and anti-Semitic views. Jeffries sees whites as oppressive and violent “ice people,” in contrast to peaceful and mutually supportive black “sun people.” The divergence says Jeffries, is attributable to differing levels of melanin in the skin. Jeffries also blames Jews for financing the slave trade. Carruthers defends Jeffries and excoriates the prestigious black academics Carruthers views as traitorous for denouncing their African brother, Jeffries. Carruthers’s vision of the superior and peaceful Kemetic philosophy of Ptahhotep triumphing over Greco-Euro-American-white culture obviously parallels Jeffries’ opposition between ice people and sun people.

More of Carruthers’s education philosophy can be found in his newsletter, The Kemetic Voice. In 1997, for example, at the same time Carruthers was advising SSAVC on how to set up an African-centered curriculum, he praised the decision of New Orleans’ School Board to remove the name of George Washington from an elementary school. Apparently, some officials in New Orleans had decided that nobody who held slaves should have a school named after him. Carruthers touted the name-change as proof that his African-centered perspective was finally having an effect on public policy. At the demise of George Washington School, Carruthers crowed: “These events remind us of how vast the gulf is that separates the Defenders of Western Civilization from the Champions of African Civilization.”

According to Chicago Annenberg Challenge records, Carruthers’s training session on African-centered curricula for SSAVC teachers was a huge hit: “As a consciousness raising session, it received rave reviews, and has prepared the way for the curriculum readiness survey....” These teacher-training workshops were directly funded by the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Another sure sign of the ideological cast of SSAVC’s curriculum can be found in Annenberg documents noting that SSAVC students are taught the wisdom of Ptahhotep. Carruthers’s concerns about “menticide” and “genocide” at the hand of America’s white supremacist system seem to be echoed in an SSAVC document that says: “Our children need to understand the historical context of our struggles for liberation from those forces that seek to destroy us.”

When Jeremiah Wright turned toward African-centered thinking in the late 1980s and early 1990s (the period when, attracted by Wright’s African themes, BO first became a church member), many prominent thinkers from Carruthers’s Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations were invited to speak at Trinity United Church of Christ, Carruthers himself included. We hear echoes of Carruthers’s work in Wright’s distinction between “right brained” Africans and “left brained” Europeans, in Wright’s fears of U.S. government-sponsored genocide against American blacks, and in Wright’s embittered attacks on America’s indelibly white-supremacist history. In Wright’s Trumpet Newsmagazine, as in Carruthers’s own writings, blacks are often referred to as “Africans living in the diaspora” rather than as Americans.

Chicago Annenberg Challenge records also indicate that SSAVC educators invited Asa Hilliard, a pioneer of African-centered curricula and a close colleague of Carruthers, to offer a keynote address at yet another Annenberg-funded teacher training session. Hilliard’s ties to Wright run still deeper than Carruthers’s. A close Wright mentor and friend, Hilliard died in 2007 while on a trip to Kemet (Egypt) with Wright and members of Wright’s congregation. Hillard was scheduled to deliver several lectures to the congregants, and to speak at a meeting of the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilization, which he co-founded with Carruthers and other “African-centered” scholars. On that last trip, Hilliard accepted an appointment to the board of Wright’s new elementary school, Kwame Nkrumah Academy. Speaking of the need for such a school, Wright had earlier said, “We need to educate our children to the reality of white supremacy.” (For more on Wright’s Afrocentric school, see “Jeremiah Wright’s ‘Trumpet.’”)

Wright delivered the eulogy at Hilliard’s memorial service, with prominent members of ASCAC in the audience. To commemorate Hilliard, a special, two-cover double issue of Wright’s Trumpet Newsmagazine was published, with a picture of Hilliard on one side, and a picture of Louis Farrakhan on the other (in celebration of a 2007 award Farrakhan received from Wright). In short, the ties between Wright and Hilliard could hardly have been closer. Clearly, then, Wright’s own educational philosophy was mirrored at the Annenberg-funded SSAVC, which sought out Hilliard’s and Carruthers’s counsel to construct its curriculum.

Perhaps inadvertently, Wright’s eulogy for Hilliard actually established the fringe nature of his favorite African-centered scholars. In his tribute, Wright stressed how intensely “white Egyptologists recoiled at the very notion of everything Asa taught.” As Wright himself made plain, it seems virtually impossible to find respectable scholars of any political stripe who approve of the extremist anti-American version of Afrocentrism promoted by Hilliard and Carruthers.

An important exception to the rule is Bill Ayers himself, who not only worked with BO to fund groups like this at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, but who is still “palling around” with the same folks. Discretely waiting until after the election, Bill Ayers and his wife, and fellow former terrorist, Bernardine Dohrn plan to release a book in 2009 entitled Race Course Against White Supremacy. The book will be published by Third World Press, a press set up by Carruthers and other members of the ASCAC. Representatives of that press were prominently present for Wright’s eulogy at Asa Hilliard’s memorial service. Less than a decade ago, therefore, when it came to education issues, BO, Bill Ayers, and Jeremiah Wright were pretty much on the same page.

Given the precedent of his earlier responses on Ayers and Wright, BO might be inclined to deny personal knowledge of the educational philosophy he was so generously funding. Such a denial would not be convincing. For one thing, we have evidence that in 1995, the same year BO assumed control of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, he publicly rejected “the unrealistic politics of integrationist assimilation,” a stance that clearly resonates with both Wright and Carruthers. (See “No Liberation.”)

And as noted, Wright had invited Carruthers, Hilliard, and like-minded thinkers to address his Trinity congregants. Wright likes to tick off his connections to these prominent Afrocentrists in sermons, and BO would surely have heard of them. Reading over SSAVC’s Annenberg proposals, BO could hardly be ignorant of what they were about. And if by some chance BO overlooked Hilliard’s or Carruthers’s names, SSAVC’s proposals are filled with references to “rites of passage” and “Ptahhotep,” dead giveaways for the anti-American and separatist ideological concoction favored by SSAVC.

We know that BO did read the proposals. Annenberg documents show him commenting on proposal quality. And especially after 1995, when concerns over self-dealing and conflicts of interest forced the Ayers-headed “Collaborative” to distance itself from monetary issues, all funding decisions fell to BO and the board. Significantly, there was dissent within the board. One business leader and experienced grant-smith characterized the quality of most Annenberg proposals as “awful.” (See “The Chicago Annenberg Challenge: The First Three Years,” p. 19.) Yet BO and his very small and divided board kept the money flowing to ideologically extremist groups like the South Shore African Village Collaborative, instead of organizations focused on traditional educational achievement.

As if the content of SSAVC documents wasn’t warning enough, their proposals consistently misspelled “rites of passage” as “rights of passage,” hardly an encouraging sign from a group meant to improve children’s reading skills. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge’s own evaluators acknowledged that Annenberg-aided schools showed no improvement in achievement scores. Evaluators attributed that failure, in part, to the fact that many of Annenberg’s “external partners” had little educational expertise. A group that puts its efforts into Kwanzaa celebrations and half-baked history certainly fits that bill, and goes a long way toward explaining how Ayers and BO managed to waste upwards of $150 million without improving student achievement.

If you will recall the inflammatory Anti-American rhetoric from Jeremiah Wright which was played on the Evening News for weeks in April, you are getting a small taste of what to expect in the next three weeks as video of the SSAVC in action in Chicago surfaces. I expect it to play well as people are exposed to the kinds of programs BO funded as executive of CAC, and are confronted with the choice: is this the kind of thing we want funded with our tax money nationwide?

However he may seek to deny it, all evidence points to the fact that, from his position as board chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, BO knowingly and persistently funded an educational project that shared the extremist and anti-American philosophy of Jeremiah Wright. The Wright affair was no fluke, and Obama's attempt to distance himself from Wright's ideology by claiming to be unaware of Wright's views is losing credibility. It’s time for McCain to say so.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Troopergate" a great opportunity

The so-called Troopergate investigation report, released Friday by a panel in Alaska, is the best thing to happen to the McCain-Palin campaign since the Arizona maverick chose the Alaskan hockey Mom as his running mate.

Republicans should embrace it as a way of telling the story of why government must be reformed. It is the perfect picture of how government bureaucracies shield the incompetent and immoral among them, and waste taxpayer dollars trying to nail concerned citizens who cry 'foul'.

The investigation, dubbed Troopergate in the same imaginative way that every scandal since Watergate has been appended with a 'gate', ostensibly had nothing to do with a State Trooper, but with a member of Gov. Palin's cabinet whom she tried to re-assign to other duties after he refused to get on board with her administration's agenda.

In addition to his budget differences with the Palin administration Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan inexplicably failed to fire state trooper Mike Wooten who had Tasered a 10-year-old boy, drank beer in his squad car and illegally gunned down a moose. Mr. Wooten happens to be the former brother-in-law of Gov. Palin. The investigator, Stephen Branchflower, who earned a $100,000 for his probing, found that the governor failed to restrain her husband from pushing for the trooper's dismissal. This inaction on her part Mr. Branchflower labeled "abuse of power" although his report acknowledged she did nothing wrong in dismissing Mr. Monegan.

Trooper Wooten, by the way, is still Trooper Wooten.

Now, the normal way to handle such a non-scandal in politics would be for McCain-Palin to claim that Gov. Palin was exonerated of wrongdoing in the removal of Mr. Monegan, and to brand the probe as political shenanigans. This, of course, is what the campaign as thus far done.

However, if I were whispering in Sen. McCain's ear, I'd tell him to grab this bull by the horns and give it a shake.

Trooper Wooten's continued presence on the force illustrates the near-impossibility of removing bad apples from government. Even the governor can't get a guy fired who has violated the law and his obligation to uphold it. Think about this: a cop Tasered his own nephew, presumably until the child cried 'Uncle'...and he's still a cop.

Sarah and Todd Palin knew of Mr. Wooten's character since they had first-hand knowledge of his divorce from her sister -- a proceeding the media passively and euphemistically calls 'messy'. The media storyline is that the governor and the 'First Dude', blinded by familial love, tried to bring down Mr. Wooten to get revenge for the pain he caused their sister. The hunting violation, the drinking violation and the electrocution of the child get mentioned in passing, as if these were expected behaviors of law enforcement officials and not significant factors in Mr. Wooten's ongoing qualifications to protect and serve.

Frankly, Trooper Wooten's behavior gives a black eye to the entire Alaska state police force. After all, if such a man is allowed to keep his badge, what other kinds of criminals daily strap on a state-issued sidearm to enforce the law at which they personally scoff. If you were Sarah or Todd Palin, would you not do everything in your power to get this guy fired?

But instead of confiscating his gun and his badge, the state embarks on an investigation of the whistleblowers -- the Palins. The state spends $100,000 of the taxpayer's money to hire an investigator to probe whether the governor abused her power.

Abused her power? Sounds to me like Alaska's chief executive has no power. She can't re-assign a member of her own cabinet without sparking an investigation. She can't even get a low-level state employee fired who has violated his code of conduct and the law at least three times.

And this is just a snapshot of the kind of mediocrity and malfeasance that government fosters and perpetuates.

Anyone with an ordinary sense of justice would conclude that Trooper Wooten should have been removed from the force long ago.

"My friends," Sen. McCain should say, "Sarah Palin and I are going to Washington to end the culture of inside dealing, empire building, incompetence and corruption that takes money from your pocket and makes a mockery of the rule of law. We're not just going to pluck out a few obvious bad apples, we're going to upset the apple cart."

Then Sen. McCain should overtly draw a connection between this case and the current global financial quagmire.

It's this kind of capital crime culture -- infesting capitol buildings from Juneau to Washington D.C. -- that makes it possible for Congress to cause an economic crisis, and then to spend your money on phony investigations in an effort to blame someone else. Meanwhile, the real criminals continue to drive around in tax-funded cars drawing tax-funded paychecks. This, my friends, is abuse of power, and somebody has to stop it before it undermines the foundations of our Constitutional Republic.

The VP does WHAT??

If you are going to run for office, a fundamental requirement would be to know what that office is.

Joe Biden was talking about the job of the VP, and he made it very clear that he doesn't understand what the Constitution says the job of the Vice President is.

Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.

And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.

The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive, and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.

One should be careful when throwing around terms like "Bizarre".

The Constitution is indeed explicit about the role of the Vice President and about which branch of government the Vice President belongs to . Article II of the Constitution addresses the Executive Branch, not Article I. Maybe he should read the Constitution before spouting off foolishness about it. Article II Section 3 Clause 4 EXPLICITLY says that the Vice President is the President of the Senate. Feel free to look it up. That makes Dick Cheney and soon Sarah Palin both a part of the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch. Take that Cheney haters. The notion that the vice president can preside over the Senate only when there is a tie vote is simply wrong. Nor is it true that the only legislative involvement the vice president has is to break tie votes. The vice president is the president of the Senate, where he interprets the rules and can only be overriden by a vote of 60 Senators. In fact, there is a President pro tempore to fill in when the Vice President is absent. Thomas Jefferson spent his time in the Senate writing “A Manual of Parliamentary Practice: for the Use of the Senate of the United States.” In it he said: "Modern vice presidents may show up only when they think tie votes will occur, but that is their choice".

If you listen to the media, you would think that Joe Biden was a brilliant intellect with vast stores of knowledge. At least Sarah Palin can define the job she is asking us to vote her into.

Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and I will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chooses to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.

Strategy vs Tactic

In the first debate, John McCain called BO on his misunderstanding of the term "Tactic" as opposed to "Strategy". It is a distinction that a commander in Chief ought to understand.

A Tactic is a small objective which must be accomplished to support the accomplishment of a larger plan.

A Strategy is an end game, built on where we are, where we want to be, and what it takes to get there.

A Tactical Fighter, like an F-16, makes small, precise strikes on specific targets. A Strategic Bomber like a B-2 carries nuclear weapons for long-range bombing runs, with the purpose of winning the war by inflicting widespread damage and killing huge numbers of citizens.

The Strategy behind the Surge was to weaken the insurgents to the point where they would be willing to sit down and negotiate a political agreement to end the war. Right now, the insurgents, mainly Sunnis who were used to being in power under Saddam, plan to wait until the United States leaves and then overrun the country and take control of the government. They don't want to settle for the minority control in the Iraqi Legislature that they would get based on a vote, so they plan to take total control for themselves. In America when you are the minority party, you make the case to the voters that you should be in charge, and if they agree, you become the majority. In Iraq, if you are the minority party, you kill enough of the majority party to become the majority. We are hoping that they will do it our way rather than their way.

Both Obama and McCain hope that the newly created Democratic government will survive after we leave. BO's plan to make that happen is to tell the insurgents when we are going and then leave the Iraqi government to their mercy. McCain's "Strategy" (yes BO, Strategy, not Tactic) is to use the reinforcements of the troop surge in an anti-insurgent role to weaken the insurgency. Then, when it becomes clear that they no longer are powerful enough to overrun the Iraqi Government, they will be willing to negotiate a political deal which gives them some representation in the Legislature, provided they stop killing people, identify the foreign fighters in Iraq, turn in the insurgents who were planting bombs to be tried for war crimes, and hand over their safe houses and weapons stashes. That is a Strategy for Victory. All BO has is a plan to leave.

Winning makes our country safer and stronger and advances our goals to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East. Leaving makes Iraq the next Afghanistan.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Freudian strip?

Clearly a Freudian Strip.


With three weeks until election day, if any journalist could convince Barack Obama to sit down for an interview away from BO's teleprompter, queue cards, and campaign spokesman/spin controller, here are a few very legitimate questions to ask:

When your lack of executive experience is pointed out today, why don't you point to your six years running Bill Ayres organization, where you administered CAC's distribution of more than $100 million to Chicago public schools?

How did William Ayres come to select you to run CAC?

What guidance did you receive from CAC founder William Ayres on how the money should be distributed?

How much contact did you have with William Ayres in that time frame?

As chairman of the CAC board, did you regularly report your actions to CAC founder, William Ayres?

Why did you omit your involvement with CAC from both of your autobiographies?

How do your statements that your contact with Ayres was distant, brief, and long-past square with spending six years ending in 1999 chairing an organization Ayres founded?

Did you stop running CAC in 1999 because the money ran out, or was it because you suddenly recognized that Ayres was not a good person to associate with?

You have tried to brush aside this issue as "Guilt by association". Given the fact that you were selected by Ayres to direct $50 million to Chicago public schools to advance Ayres political agenda, would it not be more accurate to call that "guilt by agreement?"

Mr. Obama, do you stand behind your 1997 characterization of Bill Ayre's book, A Kind and Just Parent arguing against the very existence of prisons in the United States, comparing our country and its incarceration system to apartheid in South Africa and calling for drastically softer sentences for juvenille murderers as being "a searing and timely account?"

Naturally I don't expect any journalist to pose these questions, or BO to answer them.

The Real Obama/Ayres Connection

This is almost too much to believe, but new information released last week from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge shows that Obama's connection to Weather Underground terrorist William Ayres was much closer and more involved than Obama has admitted. Certainly Ayres was a lot more than "just a guy who lived in my neighborhood."

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge, founded by William Ayres, received a grant of $50 million from billionaire Walter Annenberg to "raise political consciousness" in Chicago's public schools. Ayres hand-picked ACORN "Community Organizer" Barack Hussein Obama to distribute that money. It is interesting to note that BO does not mention this executive experience in either of his auto-biographies. BO doled out the $50 million to his buddies at ACORN, and raised another $60 million from other politically left-leaning civic groups to augment it. ACORN used the money to pair up with public schools to conduct programs with the intent to radicalize the students and politicize them through leftist indoctrination. Academic success didn't count for much, but a school's success in indoctrinating students to ACORN's radical agenda determined how much money the schools got.

Barack Obama and William Ayres had a close collaboration administering the Chicago Annenberg Challenge funds from 1995 until 1999, revealing that their relationship was much more intimate than BO suggested, when he dismissively portrayed it as a passing acquaintance years in the past. In any case, it does prove that Obama was lying when he said that Ayres' only objectionable actions occurred when BO was eight years old and that Obama and Ayres have not worked together closely at any time.

Obama has gone to great lengths to hide the recent collaboration with Ayres on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. The former terrorist was not convicted because of a legal technicality, but Ayres himself admits that he did carry out the bombings of the Pentagon, the home of a New York Supreme Court Justice, and various police stations. On September 11, 2001 he said that he not only does not regret those actions, but "wishes I could have done more." Maybe that explains why Obama did not wish to be openly associated with Ayres. Instead he carried out the activities in secrecy, doling out $100 million to his political backers in Chicago. That, even more than the meeting at Ayres home to launch Obama's political career, propelled Obama into a position to run for Congress.

This seemed too big to be true, but the following people have checked the facts in detail and are staking their journalistic credibility on it:

Dick Morris writing for "The Hill"

Stanley Kurtz in the Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Best question

The best question in last night's debate was when Theresa Finch asked

How can we trust any of you with our money when both parties got -- got us into this global economic crisis?

The answer, of course, is that we can't and should not trust any politician with our money. That's why we should keep as much of it as possible, demand lower taxes, tell government to stop running things they have no Constitutional authority to be involved in, and vote out the bums who keep picking our pockets.

The Magic Number

There is one number which is foremost on the minds of both candidates for President. It is not $700 billion, the amount of the recently-passed bailout of the financial system. Nor is it the budget deficit, the mean time between Biden gaffes, the tax rate, the number of houses John McCain owns, the number of Americans without medical insurance, or the number of months until we leave Iraq.

The number which dominates the thoughts of John McCain and BO is 270.

That is how many electoral votes are required to be elected President. Both campaigns are working the numbers every which way, trying to figure out how to piece together 270 Electoral College votes. 269 is not enough, and 271 is excessive.

"One man, one vote" is a central principle in democracy. You may be wondering how much weight your vote really carries. It seems that John McCain and BO are spending lots of time and advertising dollars in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, and Missouri, while here in Texas we have never seen either candidate. They have not been to California, New York, Illinois, or Arizona lately either. That is because McCain takes our vote for granted while BO has given up on it. The Electoral College (EC) system forces candidates to concentrate on states where the vote appears to be close. So the candidates are pouring money and time into the swing states, where those resources are most likely to pay off.

But the Electoral College tampers with the "one man, one vote" system in a different way.

Small states (when I refer to the "51 states", that includes DC, which counts as a state in the EC even though it is a district) get proportionally more EC votes per capita than larger states. The District of Columbia gets 3 votes in the electoral college decided by 588,292 citizens (I say "citizens" because that is the total population, not just eligible voters or actual voters). Each EC vote represents 196,097 citizens. California gets 55 EC votes decided by 36,553,215 citizens. Each vote represents 664,603 citizens. A vote in DC carries 3.3 times as much weight in the Electoral College as a vote in California.

In the unlikely event of a tie, when both candidates get 269 votes, the House of Representatives elects the President, but each state delegation gets one vote. So Alaska's 683,478 people have exactly as much clout as California's 36,553,215. This has never happened, but my analysis allows for it.

With the Electoral College, the swing states get the bulk of the attention. Without the Electoral College, the large urban areas where the bulk of the population is concentrated would get the majority of the attention. Small states and rural areas would be forgotten. There is no perfect system, but the Electoral College is certainly better than electing a president by popular vote.

It would be almost impossible to eliminate the Electoral College system, because that would require a Constitutional Amendment, which must be ratified by three fourths of the states, or 38 states. The smaller 25 states would lose influence with a popular vote, so they would surely not ratify such an amendment.

My point is not that the Electoral College is bad. I am just saying that it is important to understand how the EC affects the electoral process, and how your vote weighs differently than the vote of someone in some other state.

To quantify this, I did some analysis in which I used Monte Carlo simulation to determine the probability that each state would affect the outcome of the election. Using a state-or-the-art random number generator I assigned each of the 51 states a status either red or blue. Then I summed the electoral votes. If red had a majority, I looked for all the blue states which had enough electoral votes to flip the outcome to blue. I incremented the running tally for those states. If blue had a majority, I did the same for red states. In the case of a tie, every state, red or blue, could affect the outcome. Using a significant amount of computing horsepower, I repeated the process one hundred million times. This is rocket science applied to a real-world problem with world-history-altering ramifications, that you will not find anywhere but on this blog.

The results quantify the difference is the influence of each vote from one state to another. After normalizing the result, the final outcome indicates that one man in some states gets 0.7 votes and in other states gets 2.2 votes simply because of which state he lives in.

There are 26 states which have 7 or fewer electoral votes, making 7 the median influence in the EC. As expected, the normalized weight of a single vote in states with 7 votes is close to 1.0. Iowa, with 7 electoral votes, has a normalized weight of 0.97 per vote, very close to the average weight of the 51 states. Iowa is the only state in the union where one man gets one vote.

Below is the raw data for you to chew on. Column-by-column, an explanation for the data is:

1. The name of the state

2. How many votes that state gets in the EC

3. The state's population according to the most recent census (generally expect the voter turnout to be roughly one third of the population, because the population includes people not eligible to vote and those who simply don't vote, the 2/3 irresponsible, ignorant, apathetic majority. The 1/6 of the population who are under 18 have an excuse for being in this category. The adults... People who are not willing to be informed ought not to vote. It is well known that ignorant people base their voting decisions on which candidate is taller, which candidate as a more pleasing tone of voice, or which candidate is endorsed by Oprah. Thus, ignorant voters vote Democrat ten to one.)

4. The tally for the number of cases in 100 million in which that state altered the outcome of the EC vote.

5. The probability of that state altering the outcome of the EC vote. California changing from red to blue alters the margin of the EC vote by 110 votes, which changes the outcome in 47.5% of the cases. Alaska's 3 votes change the margin by 6 votes, which affects the outcome in only 2.27% of the cases.

6. The "weight" of each vote, or the "per capita" probability that each ballot alters the outcome of the EC vote. This is the probability that your vote is the one which alters the outcome of the election from John McCain to BO, or the probability that if you had voted the other way the other candidate would have won. These numbers are too small, on the order of one in 100 million, to easily understand their significance, so next we have...

7. The normalized weight of each vote. The normalization forces the average vote across the nation to be weighted as 1 vote. Normalized votes with weight more than one have more influence than the average vote. Those with weight less than one have less influence.

(For some reason you will have to scroll WAY down to reach the table)


EC votes




















New York