Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Celebrities that Lean to the Right

Interesting slideshow on WCBSTV.Com entitled “Celebs Who Lean To The Right”. Take a peek. It’s worth it.

Any surprises here for you? I was surprised to see Susan Lucci. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t have been. She’s not only the “Queen of Daytime TV”, she’s probably the smartest person in it, as well.

For How Many Years…?

Interesting article.

Geologist Dr. David Gee, chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress, currently at Uppsala University in Sweden asks, “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?”
That’s a vital question for Americans to ask. Once laws are written, they are very difficult, if not impossible, to repeal. If a time would ever come when the permafrost returns to northern U.S., as far south as New Jersey as it once did, it’s not inconceivable that Congress, caught in the grip of the global warming zealots, would keep all the laws on the books they wrote in the name of fighting global warming.

As they say, read the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Can We Declare Victory in Iraq Now?

James Robbins at The Corner asks that question and it’s a good one. As he points out (emphasis mine):

The number of daily attacks in Iraq has fallen almost 95% from levels a year ago. Also of note, the murder rate in Iraq in November was 0.9 per 100,000 people. That is lower than the rate from before Saddam was overthrown. For those keeping score, the 2007 murder rate in the US was 5.9 per 100,000. Can we declare victory yet?

It's Been A While...

...since I've posted here. I have to apologize for that. I've been quite busy with project work and projects around the house. Also, I admit that I suffered from lack of enthusiasm to post much once the financial market meltdown occurred and it became obvious that no Republican could win in 2008.

However, I'm ready to get started on 2009, and I'll make a few statements on how this blog is going to function over the next few years.

First, I hope that President Barack Obama (D-USA) is an incredibly successful President. In fact, I hope he’s the most successful President ever. Unlike some of my more liberal counterparts over the last 8 years, I’m not going to wish him or the country ill just to satisfy my own desires for vengeance or conservative revivals.

Second, I’m not going to resort to ridiculous name-calling as we’ve seen elsewhere “Smirking Chimp”, “Bushitler”, etc. (Although I may occasionally call our VP “Clueless Joe”, just because that one is too easy and too good to resist—and I’m a “Shoeless Joe Jackson” fan.)

Third, I will point out when the new administration does things I agree with and when I disagree. I expect there to be far more of the latter than the former, but perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Fourth, I will continue to push for GOP 2.0, and a new Republican Revolution (with Republicans who remember what it means to be conservative).

Fifth, I’m going to try to avoid swinging at pitches in the dirt. If I go after Mr. Obama on something, I want it to have substance. Hopefully this blog won’t get mired in pointless non-controversies like the Valerie Plame affair (I expect to have very little to say about Blagojevich).

On a final note, I just want to say Merry Christmas to all, and I hope the holiday season finds you well and that the new year brings good tidings to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2611

2611.

That's the number of days since the last successful terrorist attack on American soil.

Tell me you believed that possible on September 12, 2001. Tell me taking the fight to the terrorists hasn't worked. Tell me that Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) way of fighting terrorists is better. Tell me there's any candidate to vote for other than Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

Tell me any of those things, and I'll tell you my response.

2611.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

25 Years Ago Today

25 years ago today, October 23, 1983, modern suicide bombing was invented. The U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon was attacked by a suicide bomber, killing 241 Americans, including 220 Marines, 18 from the Navy, and 3 from the Army. Two minutes later, there was a similar (obviously coordinated) bombing at the French 1st Parachute Infantry Regiment barracks, killing 58 French paratroopers.

This was the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II (2,500 in one day) and the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States military since the 243 killed on January 31, 1968, the first day of the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. The attack remains the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II.[8]

It is believed that the terrorists responsible were backed by Iran and Syria, much like the suicide bombers we meet in Iraq today. Iran is our enemy, and has been for 30 years now, when the Carter administration turned its back on the Shah.

Terrorism matters. Iran matters. Think about what happened 25 years ago today and what happened on September 11, 2001 when you're drinking your Slurpee and watching W. Think about them on November 4 when you're in that voting booth and think about which candidate wants to fight against Islamic terrorism and which one wants to "hope for change". Hope is a good thing, but hoping that Iran is going to change until and unless forced to do so, is insane.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Candidates and Civil Liberties - The Final Grades

This is the thirty-fourth and final post in my series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties. This is the most comprehensive investigation into these issues available on the web. This is not hubris or arrogance talking. I have literally combed through hundreds of speeches, thousands of newspaper articles, and thousands of internet resources to get this information. If there was anything better, or even anywhere nearly as good, I would've found it.

As I said in my original post in this series:

I read in a couple places that Libertarians support Barack Obama (D-IL) over John McCain (R-AZ) for President by a pretty hefty margin (53% to 38%). And while I question the validity of this poll for several reasons, at least one well-known Libertarian mulls an Obama endorsement.

Of course, Glenn Reynolds was kidding about the endorsement, and I was pretty sure he was, but it still piqued my curiosity. I wanted to find out which candidate really is "better" from a Libertarian perspective.

In the process I've learned much that I didn't know about both Obama and McCain. Some of what I learned about each was good, and some was bad. I've also learned how little I remember from my high school civics classes, and definitely have received a crash course in the U.S. Constitution and it's Amendments. Finally, I've learned that I'm not nearly as close to being a libertarian as I thought. There were many things I came up with that I tried to grade from a libertarian perspective, but that perspective was totally the opposite of my own.

It's taken me over two months to comb through all this information and write up my findings. I could write a book on this subject now. Some might say that I have already. :)

It's worth pointing out that I'm not a Constitutional lawyer, or a lawyer of any kind. Nor am I an economist. I have tried to look at things from a layman's perspective, and if I have misinterpreted any concept or any candidate's position on that concept, the fault is entirely mine.

So, where do the candidates stand?

Here are the individual results.


Obama McCain
First Amendment F D-
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-
Sixth Amendment B B
Seventh Amendment C C
Eighth Amendment C B
Eleventh Amendment B+ B-
Thirteenth Amendment D+ B+
Fourteenth Amendment D+ C+
Fifteenth Amendment B B
Nineteenth Amendment B B
Twenty-First Amendment A- A-
Twenty-Third Amendment A- B
Twenty-Fourth Amendment B B
Twenty-Sixth Amendment B B
Taxes D B-
Abortion A+ D
National ID F F
Voter ID A+ F
Card Check F A+
Legalization of Drugs D+ F
Gay Rights A- D
Hate Crime Legislation F C
Growth of Government F A-
Property Rights B- A
Sovereign Rights C- B-
Ninth Amendment B- B
Tenth Amendment F D-

Now, before I can assign final grades, I need to discuss weightings. While each and every one of these rights are important, I doubt many people would weight "Card Check" the same as the First Amendment. So, I needed to come up with a way of "fairly" weight each an every grade.

Here's where we get to the most subjective part of this process. While I've tried to be as objective as possible while assigning grades, certainly the way I weight the individual items might be far different than how you would. I have a solution to that problem, which I'll discuss later.

The first thing I did was break the items up into groups. Here are the groups I ended up with.

Right Group Name
First Amendment Freedom of Speech
Second Amendment Guns
Third-Eighth Amendments "Other" Protected Rights (BoR)
Ninth-Tenth Amendments "Catch All" Protected Rights (BoR)
Eleventh, Twenty-First, Twenty-Third Amendment "Other" Amended Rights
Thirteenth-Fourteenth Amendments Abolition of Slavery
Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-Fourth, Twenty-Sixth Amendments Voting Rights
Taxes Taxes
Abortion, National ID, Voter ID, Card Check, Legalization of Drugs, Gay Rights, Hate Crime Legislation, Property Rights, Sovereign Rights "Other" Non-Amended Rights
Small Government Small Government

Once I had the groups, then I needed to assign weights to each group. Here's what I came up with.

Group Name Weighting
Freedom of Speech 3
Guns 3
"Other" Protected Rights (BoR) 2
"Catch All" Protected Rights (BoR) 2
"Other" Amended Rights 1
Abolition of Slavery 3
Voting Rights 2
Taxes 1
"Other" Non-Amended Rights 1
Small Government 1

So, the three most important things to me are Freedom of Speech, Guns, and Abolition of Slavery, each with weight 3. Right behind them are Voting Rights, The "Catch All" Protected Bill of Rights (9th-10th amendments) and the "Other" protected rights from the Bill of Rights, which have weight 2. The rest of the items each have a weighting of 1.

You may not agree with these weightings. I don't expect you to, frankly. I didn't "cook the books" though. These are the weightings I came up with before I ever started working on this series.

There's one final piece to the puzzle. I had to assign a numeric value to the letter grades, so I that I could do the necessary averaging. I used percentages and the numbers are below. I assigned a low end and a high end for each grade value, and the midpoint value is a calculated average of the low and high. For F, I artificially set the midpoint to 50. This was a decision I made which I admit is entirely subjective. What should an F be? 0? 59? 29.5 (midpoint of 0-59)? You can make arguments for any of these values. I chose 50 because I wanted to separate it quite clearly from D-, but not give too much of a penalty for one. This value is completely arbitrary and I admit it.

Grade Low End High End Midpoint Value
A+ 98 100 99
A 93 97 95
A- 90 92 91
B+ 87 89 88
B 83 86 84.5
B- 80 82 81
C+ 77 79 78
C 73 76 74.5
C- 70 72 71
D+ 67 69 68
D 63 66 64.5
D- 60 62 61
F 50 50 50

Note that setting the low and high end for F to 50 does not mean that 50 is the only legal value for F. Anything sub-60 is an F.

Enough on process. I'm sure you're all on pins-and-needles wondering what the final grades came out to be.

Well, here they are (scores in parentheses).

Obama: D+ (67)

McCain: C (76)

Advantage: McCain. (Note that I commented previously that McCain's First Amendment grade now appears to me to be too low. Raising it to a D+ raises his score by one point to a 77, which is a C+ rather than a C.)

As I mentioned earlier, there's a high degree of subjectivity in how the final grades are calculated. And, while I believe that I was fairly objective in the individual scores, you may disagree with one or more of those as well. I wanted to make it possible for you to adjust individual scores to your beliefs and the weightings as well to give your own final grades.

To that end, I have created a spreadsheet that has all my calculations and uploaded it here. You can download it and adjust the grades and weightings to your pleasure. Enjoy. I created the spreadsheet in Excel 2007, but saved it in the 97-2003 format. I have tested it in OpenCalc 2.4 as well. Cells that are highlighted are calculated values. Don't change those.

I have one final note. I've been asked several times about third party candidates. Let me be blunt. It took an enormous amount of my time to track down all this information on the two major candidates. I don't have the time to do every single candidate out there. In addition, the amount of information available for the third party candidates is orders of magnitude less. So, in my opinion, such an exercise for a candidate or candidates that have no chance of winning would be a complete waste of my time. If someone else wants to do the research work, I'll be happy to add their findings, but I'm not about to put any more work into this than I already have.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Candidates and Taxes

This is the nineteenth post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) plans regarding taxation.

What?  You don't think taxes have anything to do with civil liberty?  Think again.

If you live in a nation with a 0% income tax rate, you're absolutely free. You work for yourself and your family, and while your efforts may support another, you are not owned by them and your job is not owned by them. On the other hand, if you live in a nation with a 100% income tax rate, you are a slave to the government. You work for it and not for yourself.

Where your nation falls on that line determines your freedom. The closer to 0%, the more free you are, and the closer to 100%, the more like a slave you are.

So, where do the candidates stand on this issue?

As always, we'll start with Obama.

Obama wants to end the Bush tax cuts.

It is true that I would roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans back to the level they were under Bill Clinton, when I don't remember rich people feeling oppressed.

Obama plans to raise the capital gains tax.

Sen. Barack Obama’s, D-Ill., top economic advisors announced on Thursday that he is seeking to raise the capital gains tax rate from 15 percent to 20 percent for those Americans making more than $250,000 per year.

Obama plans to bring back the "marriage penalty".

That's why his plan would not raise any taxes on couples making less than $250,000 a year, nor on any single person with income under $200,000

And that's not entirely true as the following chart shows:

Notice that the effective marginal rates go up even at income levels of $30,000 per year.

What accounts for the higher rates? First, Obama expands the maximum child and dependent care credit for families with one young child from $1,050 to $1,500 and phases down the credit over a longer income range, from $30,000 to $58,000. Throughout this income range, the credit is phasing out at a rate of $30 per $1,000 of income, thus raising the effective tax rate by 3 percentage points. Obama also makes certain credits refundable, which introduces a tax penalty of 10 percent or 15 percent, depending on the income bracket.

Obama wants to subject higher incomes to the payroll tax for Social Security:

Senator Obama got specific today. He’d now subject earnings above $250,000 to payroll tax.

The effect of this would be raise the marginal rate for the highest bracket to 60%.

The top 35% marginal income tax rate rises to 39.6%; adding the state income tax, the Medicare tax, the effect of the deduction phase-out and Mr. Obama's new Social Security tax (of up to 12.4%) increases the total combined marginal tax rate on additional labor earnings (or small business income) from 44.6% to a whopping 62.8%. People respond to what they get to keep after tax, which the Obama plan reduces from 55.4 cents on the dollar to 37.2 cents -- a reduction of one-third in the after-tax wage!

Obama wants to raise corporate taxes (remember--corporations don't pay taxes, you do!):

Obama proposes funding the tax cuts by closing corporate loopholes, cracking down on international tax havens and increasing the dividend-and-capital-gains tax for the wealthy, he said.

I've discussed Obama's plans for "windfall profits" taxes previously.

Obama wants to mostly repeal the estate tax, although this is at odds with what he's said his entire career:

Sen. Obama proposes a $3.5 million exclusion in 2009 and thereafter, with a top rate at 45%. His plan will "fully repeal the estate tax for 99.7% of households," says Jason Furman, Sen. Obama's economic policy director. "He would add certainty and stability to the tax code by making the 2009 estate tax parameters permanent, exempting estates of up to $7 million for a married couple," Mr. Furman says. The Obama plan "retains the estate tax for the top 0.3% of estates in order to restore fairness to the tax system, helping to pay for a tax cut for 95% of workers and their families."

Obama's plan will lower taxes for some groups, but on the whole it's a gigantic tax increase.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers pointed to an analysis by the non-partisan Annenberg Political Fact Check that found that the gross tax increase would amount to $103.3 billion in 2011, the largest single-year tax increase since World War II. The Annenberg study pointed out, however, that "most economists" prefer to measure tax changes as a percentage of gross national product, in which case it would be the fifth largest increase since 1943.

Yippee.  Only the fifth largest since 1943, and the study doesn't consider non-renewal of the Bush tax cuts as a tax increase.  That might be true if Obama was running for President of Fantasyland, but he's not.  He's running for President of the United States, and here, getting rid of a tax cut is a tax increase.

So, how does McCain look?

McCain wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, even though he originally voted against them.

McCain has simply seen the light and now understands the power that business tax relief has to spur economic growth and innovation. Said J.D. Foster, a former Bush White House and Treasury tax policy expert, now at the Heritage Foundation: "It's logical that he wouldn't be repeating the arguments he made then. We all learn from experience."

Or maybe it's political necessity.  But, I digress.

McCain wants to keep the capital gains tax at its current 15% level.

McCain has pledged to keep the capital gains rate at 15 percent,

McCain has always opposed the "marriage penalty".

Wishes to eliminate marriage penalty and supports marriage tax credits.

McCain has said that he won't raise payroll taxes, but he's also said nothing's off the table.

“He (Obama) wants to raise Social Security taxes,” McCain said, again looking down at his notes. “I want to fix the system without raising taxes.”

...when asked specifically if payroll tax increases were on the table — that “there is nothing that’s off the table. I have my positions, and I’ll articulate them. But nothing’s off the table.”

Take from that what you will.

McCain wants to lower corporate taxes.

Republican White House candidate John McCain will promise on Tuesday to lower corporate tax rates if he wins the U.S. presidency and ease the tax burden on middle-class workers to help revive the faltering economy.

McCain is against "windfall profits taxes" on Big Oil, although he may have been in favor of it previously.

Republican Sen. John McCain criticized Sen. Barack Obama's call for a windfall profits tax on the oil industry on Tuesday, despite leaving the door open to the same idea last month.

McCain's plan generally lowers taxes across the board:

Under John McCain's plan, the rich would pay much less than they do now, the poor and middle-class would pay a bit less

Before I deliver the grades, I feel it necessary to comment on a couple things. First of all, I deliberately did not address the economy or the deficit. I wasn't trying to determine which tax plan was better for America, but merely determine which candidate was generally in favor of lowering taxes and which generally in favor of increasing them.  As for the deficit and the economy, I've seen criticisms of both plans, so maybe that means they're both bad.

Another problem with this post, is that unlike my more recent posts, there was a huge amount of information available, and not always consistent.  Both candidates have changed their views on this subject during the campaign season, so I've tried to get the most recent articles.  Obama released a new tax plan this week, that doesn't raise taxes nearly as much as his previous plan did.  If I'd done this post last week, my Obama section would've been even more critical, I think.

Despite the changes in opinions of both candidates on specifics, their general viewpoints have not changed.  Obama is in favor of higher taxes. There's little doubt that Obama's plan will increase the tax burden on most taxpayers in America (note that I said most taxpayers, not most Americans).  McCain, on the other hand is less easy to define, but, in general, has supported lowering taxes, or at least keeping them where they are.

Grades:

Obama: D. His newest tax plan brings him up from an F, frankly. I'm tempted to make this a D-, but it is true that most of his tax increases hit a small percentage of Americans. I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt because I'm in that small percentage. That graph above makes me very nervous, though, and it should make you nervous too.

McCain: B-. This would be at least a solid B if he were more consistent (or a solid D if he were more consistently bad, I suppose), but his "current" views on the Bush tax cuts, and capital gains taxes push him up.

Taxes: Advantage McCain

Results so far:
  Obama McCain
First Amendment C- D-
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-
Sixth Amendment B B
Seventh Amendment C C
Eighth Amendment C B
Eleventh Amendment B+ B-
Thirteenth Amendment D+ B+
Fourteenth Amendment D+ C+
Fifteenth Amendment B B
Nineteenth Amendment B B
Twenty-First Amendment A- A-
Twenty-Third Amendment A- B
Twenty-Fourth Amendment B B
Twenty-Sixth Amendment B B
Taxes D B-

 

UPDATE: I've been criticized for not taking into account this report from the "non-partisan" Tax Policy Center. Well, first, either there has never been a good tax plan from a Republican, or this "non-partisan" group is tilted very far to the left. I've watched them for years, and they've never once had anything good to say about a Republican plan that I recall. Second, I think there are several things that the report doesn't take into account. I've stated before that corporate taxes are merely hidden taxes on common citizens and Obama's going to raise corporate taxes. Third, they assume while McCain's plan "could" increase economic growth, that the resulting economic growth would not reduce the deficit. Finally, and following up on that same thought, both plans will increase the deficit pretty significantly unless additional revenue (from economic growth) appears somewhere, and McCain's plan is the only one of the two likely to promote economic growth. Therefore, I think Obama is making promises he can't keep.

History is also against Obama, having voted to increase taxes 94 times. Yes, I know this FactCheck.Org article says that count is incorrect.  I think the FactCheck.Org article is, at best, written by someone who is hopelessly confused.  According to FactCheck, the RNC counts multiple votes on the same bill as having voted multiple times. Wow.  How else would they be counted? Also, FactCheck tells us that the RNC counts voting against tax cuts as a vote for a tax increase.  Shocking. The FactCheck article needs to be fact-checked. As written, it's bunk.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Despicable Lie

That's the title of a new ad from Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). I'll discuss the ad in a minute, but first some historical perspective.

First, a reminder of what I originally said about Obama and his position on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA).

On a general campaign note, the Obama camp better have a plan for dealing with his stance on the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act. At some point, a 527 is going to release an ad claiming that Obama supports infanticide. It's inevitable. I am sure he doesn't, but hyperbole works in campaign ads, and they don't have to be true to be effective.

If you don't recall, BAIPA is a law designed to protect children who survive abortions. This bill passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate, but was opposed, not once, but four times by Obama while in the Illinois State Senate.

Well, the issue has been mostly kept under wraps by old media, but it has surfaced a time or two. A second ad from a 527 called BornAliveTruth.org on the subject was released last week. This ad features a 31 year old woman named Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor.

 

The Obama campaign has apparently come up with a response plan. Anyone who brings up his position on this is a liar. He started this back in August:

Well and because they have not been telling the truth. And I hate to say that people are lying, but here's a situation where folks are lying. I have said repeatedly that I would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill that everybody supported - which was to say --that you should provide assistance to any infant that was born - even if it was as a consequence of an induced abortion. That was not the bill that was presented at the state level. What that bill also was doing was trying to undermine Roe vs. Wade. By the way, we also had a bill, a law already in place in Illinois that insured life saving treatment was given to infants.

Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, his campaign revealed who exactly was the liar the very next day:

Indeed, Mr. Obama appeared to misstate his position in the CBN interview on Saturday when he said the federal version he supported "was not the bill that was presented at the state level."

His campaign yesterday acknowledged that he had voted against an identical bill in the state Senate, and a spokesman, Hari Sevugan, said the senator and other lawmakers had concerns that even as worded, the legislation could have undermined existing Illinois abortion law. Those concerns did not exist for the federal bill, because there is no federal abortion law.

In 2005, the campaign noted, a "Born Alive" bill passed the Illinois Legislature after another clause had been added that explicitly stated that the legislation would have no effect on existing state abortion laws.

Told of the campaign's explanation, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, Douglas Johnson, was dubious. "These are newly manufactured and highly implausible excuses," he said. "There is no way that the bill would have had any effect on any method of abortion." Mr. Johnson said the version Mr. Obama voted down clearly applied only to fetuses that emerged from the womb alive.

FactCheck agrees:

But Obama's claim is wrong. In fact, by the time the HHS Committee voted on the bill, it did contain language identical to the federal act.

[...]

He told Brody that the federal bill "was not the bill that was presented at the state level." That's technically true; though the "neutrality clause" was identical in the federal and state bills, there were other minor wording differences elsewhere. But the Obama campaign statement says that "Illinois And Federal Born Alive Infant Protection Acts Did Not Include Exactly The Same Language." That's true for the earlier versions that Obama voted against. In the case of SB 1082, as it was amended just before being killed, it’s false.

And the continuation of their dishonest plan? This ad, called "Despicable Lie"

 

The ad's well titled. I assume the part about "I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message" is true, but I'm not sure any of the rest of it is.

First, given his own campaign antics the last week, calling Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) attacks "the sleaziest ads ever" is "truly vile" on Obama's part.

Second, the ad in question isn't a McCain ad. And Obama knows it.

Third, as has been verified ad nauseum now, Obama did vote against the BAIPA act that passed 98-0 in the U.S. Senate. The ad he's attacking is true. His response is the "despicable lie".

Here's what Obama had to say arguing in opposition to protecting abortion survivors:

“Essentially adding an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision…

Or, as Mona Charen so aptly puts it:

Barack Obama is a charming and intelligent man. But there is no other way to interpret his position on BAIPA than this: A woman who chooses an abortion is entitled to a dead child no matter what. That is an abortion extremist.

As Glenn Reynolds would say, "Ouch."

Gianna Jessen responds:

Mr. Obama is clearly blinded by political ambition given his attack on me this week. All I asked of him was to do the right thing: support medical care and protection for babies who survive abortion – as I did 31 years ago. He voted against such protection and care four times even though the U.S. Senate voted 98-0 in favor of a bill identical to the one Obama opposed. In the words of his own false and misleading ad, his position is downright vile. Mr. Obama said at the recent Saddleback Forum that the question of when babies should get human rights was above his pay grade. Such vacillation and cowardice would have left me to die if his policies were in place when I was born. Thank God they were not.

I'm sure the Obama campaign will respond with yet another despicable lie.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Obama Campaign Continues to Trample Upon the First Amendment

This is the thirty-third post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

In this post, I am forced, once again, to re-examine Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) respect for the First Amendment.

Earlier, in this post, I lowered his grade from a C- to a D-. Here's what I said at the time.

In this example, we have one man attempting to use an arm of the federal government to shut down the voice of someone that's speaking out against him. This is exactly the kind of abuse of power that the founders were trying to prevent.

Due to these events, I'm forced to revisit Senator Obama's grade on the First Amendment and lower it. I am lowering it from C- to D-. I'm strongly tempted to give him an F, but I'm resisting on the feeling that I may be having somewhat of a knee-jerk reaction here. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, a benefit that I really don't think he deserves.

I discussed his campaign's continued trampling on the First Amendment also here, where I discussed his campaign's e-mails sent out to supporters to shut down the voice of Stanley Kurtz, a journalist investigating Obama's ties to terrorist Bill Ayers.

This is utterly despicable. The Obama campaign's response to criticism is to shut it down? Is this the kind of heavy-handed treatment we can expect from an Obama Presidency?

I didn't lower his grade again at that point, although I strongly considered it. What I decided to do was to wait. I told myself that if team Obama attacked the First Amendment once more, I would lower their grade to an F. It took a few weeks, but they didn't disappoint.

Much of Barack Obama's political success can be traced to a database listing contact information for millions of people, a tool that has proved invaluable in raising record sums of money and organizing a national volunteer network.
Now Obama's presidential campaign is increasingly using the list to beat back media messages it does not like, calling on supporters to flood radio and television stations when those opposed to him run anti-Obama ads or appear on talk shows.
It did so as recently as Monday night, when it orchestrated a massive stream of complaints on the phone lines of Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM in Chicago when the radio station hosted author David Freddoso, who has written a controversial book about the Illinois Democrat.

As Jim Treacher says:

Having listened to the previous Milt Rosenberg show with Stanley Kurtz that got "Action-Wired" (which is available here), I can tell you what this translates to:

"We'll provide a page of talking points for you to spout at the host and his guest. Just read it from your screen. Unfortunately, we're unable to provide you with the necessary brainpower to keep up when the host asks you to explain the reasoning behind 'your' opinion, or poses any other question that isn't found in our script.

"But that isn't the point anyway. We just want to tie up their phone lines with thousands of angry calls, both to intimidate them and to prevent people with legitimate questions from getting through. Yes We Can... Shout Down All Blasphemers."

Frankly, I'm stunned that he can get away with this. I'm trying to imagine the reaction to President Richard Nixon (R-USA) sending out a call in 1973 to his supporters urging them to silence the voices of Woodward and Bernstein.

This is absolutely atrocious. If he's elected, is this how we'll see criticism of him and his policies handled? When there's a scandal involving the Executive branch, will he attempt to silence the investigators this way?

Anyway, his grade on the First Amendment has been officially lowered to an F.

Sadly, I'm starting also to realize that Senator John McCain's grade on this is far too low. I have him at a D-, and there's really no comparison between him and Obama on this issue. McCain should probably be a D+, but I'll leave it be for now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Candidates and the Tenth Amendment

This is the thirty-second post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views pertaining to the Tenth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. This is the sister post to the one on the Ninth Amendment.

This will be the last post in the series that looks at the candidates records. The next and final post merely summarizes the preceding thirty-two posts and assigns a final grade.

Here's the text of the Tenth Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

States Rights. Didn't we fight a war over this?

Anyway, neither Obama or McCain do very well in a discussion of states rights. Obama never remembers the Tenth Amendment, and McCain only seems to remember it when convenient.

Obama:

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on abortion.

Obama is probably the closest thing there is to an "all abortion, all the time" candidate. He is a co-sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on National IDs.

Unfortunately, both Obama and McCain supported the "REAL ID" act. REAL ID isn't quite a National ID, but the difference is minimal.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Voter IDs.

I led the opposition to photo identification requirements for voting.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Card Check.

I support this bill because in order to restore a sense of shared prosperity and security, we need to help working Americans exercise their right to organize under a fair and free process and bargain for their fair share of the wealth our country creates.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Gay Rights.

Employment Non-Discrimination:
Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes it should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gay & Lesbian Adoption:

Barack Obama believes gays and lesbians should have the same rights to adopt children as heterosexuals.

He's on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Hate Crime Legislation.

Barack Obama co-sponsored legislation to expand federal hate crimes laws to include crimes perpetrated because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

He's definitely on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment on Growth of Government. His health care plan, energy plan, and education plan trample all over the Tenth Amendment. He's never met a federal spending program he didn't like.

But it's not just these items. A look at his Blueprint for Change shows that he favors larger, more intrusive federal government in every decision he makes. The Tenth Amendment isn't merely forgotten by Barack Obama, but literally destroyed.

Unfortunately, McCain isn't a whole lot better. I think this is part of the "Senate" disease. It also shows how much we screwed up creating the Seventeenth Amendment. Prior to ratification of the Seventeenth, Senators represented the states, and would hopefully stand up more for states rights. Now they represent the "people", and everything the Senate does is designed to extend their power and control over the "people" under the guise of assistance and compassion.

Anyway, McCain only remembers the Tenth Amendment where convenient.

Despite having nearly the opposite beliefs on abortion as Obama, he also falls on the wrong side of the Tenth Amendment. He would like to see Roe overturned, but has never mentioned (that I can find) turning such decisions over to the states.

He's pretty much the same as Obama on National IDs, and is therefore wrong, just like Obama.

For Card Check, it's difficult to say. He opposes the bill, but without invoking the Tenth as a reason.

On Voter IDs, Gay Rights, and Hate Crime Legislation, he's on the correct side of the Tenth Amendment. He correctly believes that these things are for the states to decide.

On Growth of Government, he's, if not good, at least a whole lot better than Obama. He definitely wants to reign in the growth of the federal government. That can only be a boon to states rights.

However, pretty much everything our Congress puts up for vote these days violates the Tenth Amendment in one way or another. The Constitution gives very few powers to the federal government, and yet we have a zillion different agencies and departments, many of which have received McCain's support. I'm looking for the Department of Homeland Security in the Constitution, and I don't see it. I don't see how one could look at the Constitution and support things like No Child Left Behind, either.

Grades:

Obama: F.

McCain: D-. Really, I wish I had an F+. D- seems too high a grade, but there is some difference between him and Obama. Just not much.

Tenth Amendment: Advantage McCain

Results so far:

Obama McCain
First Amendment F
D-
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-
Sixth Amendment B B
Seventh Amendment C C
Eighth Amendment C B
Eleventh Amendment B+ B-
Thirteenth Amendment D+ B+
Fourteenth Amendment D+ C+
Fifteenth Amendment B B
Nineteenth Amendment B B
Twenty-First Amendment A- A-
Twenty-Third Amendment A- B
Twenty-Fourth Amendment B B
Twenty-Sixth Amendment B B
Taxes D B-
Abortion A+ D
National ID F F
Voter ID A+ F
Card Check F A+
Legalization of Drugs D+ F
Gay Rights A- D
Hate Crime Legislation F C
Growth of Government F A-
Property Rights B- A
Sovereign Rights C- B-
Ninth Amendment B- B
Tenth Amendment F D-

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Maybe the Democrats Are Correct About Sarah Palin

Maybe she is on the ticket for only one reason.

No, it's not because she's a woman.

Nor is it because she's not a woman.

Nor is it because she hasn't had an abortion.

Maybe she's on the ticket to act as "live bait" to Democrats.

Maybe Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was sitting around thinking to himself one day and this is what he thought. 

"Hey, I'm having no luck pointing out Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) lack of experience. The message isn't getting out.

Maybe if I put Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) on the ticket, the Democrats will talk about her experience and that will give me the opening I need to talk about his.

I'm also not having much luck going after his lack of reformer credentials. She has some reformer creds on that whole 'bridge to nowhere' thing. If I put her on the ticket, maybe they'll go after that and then I can point out that they never voted against it, even to help victims of Katrina.

Maybe by putting a woman on the ticket, I can get the liberals and the media to use sexist attacks against her, and move more women to my side.

Maybe by putting someone relatively unknown on the ticket, the media will go overboard trying to 'vet' her, and turn into an  'attack machine' with false smears, thus discrediting any future attacks, no matter how valid.

Maybe she can turn the Obama campaign's focus to her and get them off message and forget that they're running against me."

Of course, it probably didn't really happen that way. After all, it'd be pretty silly for anyone to think those things. Most of those "traps" are so obvious that you'd have to be a fool to walk into them.

The Candidates and the Ninth Amendment

This is the thirty-first post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views pertaining to the Ninth Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Both the Ninth and the Tenth Amendments are sometimes referred to as "the forgotten Amendments". Conservatives tend to forget about the Ninth more often and liberals tend to forget about the Tenth. I think many people regard the two amendments as in opposition to each other. But it's my opinion that they form a powerful tandem when viewed together.

I'm going to do one post on each, but I want to go over the text of both and what they mean together, first.

Here's the text of the Ninth Amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

And here's the text of the Tenth Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Before we get to analysis, I want to look at the purpose behind the Ninth. Originally, when the Bill of Rights was proposed, many of the Founding Fathers argued that such a document was unnecessary, and in fact, harmful. They felt that to put forth a list of rights of the people was to imply that these rights were granted by the government and not inalienable. They also felt that by listing these rights, an implication was made that other rights didn't exist.

Our founders were proven correct. How often do you hear people discuss the rights they've been given or granted by the Bill of Rights? Often. Even our illustrious news people make this mistake often. The Bill of Rights is set up to guard rights you already have, not grant new ones.

Now, why do I bring up both the Ninth and Tenth together? Here's an example. If you've been following along and paying attention to the items that discussed voting rights, you may have noticed that there is no protected enumerated right to vote in Presidential elections. The Ninth Amendment tells us that just because such a right isn't listed, doesn't mean we don't have it. But, the Tenth Amendment tells us that the States themselves have the power to deny or protect this right as they choose. States rights was a big item for our founders. It's only recently that this country has been called "the United States of America". In the founders time it was "these United States of America". That's an important difference.

So, how do we analyze how the candidates feel about these amendments? Well, in the case of the Ninth, we should look at whether the candidate feels that there's some non-enumerated right that does not exist and should be denied. The Tenth is easier. We just look for usurpation of state powers by the federal government.

My explanation of how to analyze the Ninth probably doesn't make much sense. Another example might help. You will often hear that issues such as abortion rights, gay rights, and privacy rights are protected by the Ninth Amendment. In my opinion that's only half right. The Ninth merely says that a person may have those rights. The Tenth Amendment says that such decisions are left to the states or the people.

So, if a candidate says that there's no federal right to gay marriage and that means that gays can't marry, he's attacking the Ninth Amendment. But if that candidate says that there's no federal right to gay marriage, and that the states themselves need to make that decision, he's not attacking the Ninth Amendment. On the other hand, if the candidate says that by virtue of the Ninth Amendment, there is a federal right to gay marriage, he's attacking the Tenth Amendment.

So, now we see how liberals and conservatives view these differently. Liberals forget all about the Tenth Amendment and want to use the Ninth Amendment to invent new rights out of whole cloth. While conservatives want to pretend that the Ninth Amendment doesn't exist and say that none of these rights exist.

This applies even more so to the various lefty and righty blogs out there where you see claims that various rights are guaranteed by virtue of the Ninth, or that these rights have no constitutional basis whatsoever.

I've left these two amendments for the last topics to be covered in hopes that I would discover information along the way that would tell me how the candidates feel about them. I was not as successful as I'd hoped.

Out of all the things that I covered, only one appears to be in direct conflict with the Ninth Amendment, and that's Obama's views on Card Check. Even this one is tenuous, because you could certainly argue that the right to secret ballot in union elections has nothing to do with any level of the government, state or federal. McCain gets a pass on Abortion Rights, Gay Rights, and Legalization of Drugs because he remembers to invoke the Tenth Amendment when discussing these issues. Not that either candidate does particularly well on the Tenth, as we will see.

Grades:

Obama: B-. We start at B because there's little info that Obama even realizes that such an amendment exists, and dock him once for Card Check.

McCain: B. He gets to keep his B because he's on the right side on Card Check.

Ninth Amendment: Advantage McCain

Results so far:
Obama McCain
First Amendment F D-
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-
Sixth Amendment B B
Seventh Amendment C C
Eighth Amendment C B
Eleventh Amendment B+ B-
Thirteenth Amendment D+ B+
Fourteenth Amendment D+ C+
Fifteenth Amendment B B
Nineteenth Amendment B B
Twenty-First Amendment A- A-
Twenty-Third Amendment A- B
Twenty-Fourth Amendment B B
Twenty-Sixth Amendment B B
Taxes D B-
Abortion A+ D
National ID F F
Voter ID A+ F
Card Check F A+
Legalization of Drugs D+ F
Gay Rights A- D
Hate Crime Legislation F C
Growth of Government F A-
Property Rights B- A
Sovereign Rights C- B-
Ninth Amendment B- B

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's 12:16 PM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

12:16 PM

US airspace is clear of aircraft except for military and emergency flights. Only a few transoceanic flights are still landing in Canada.

Where were you?

2,996 souls were lost on that day, including 343 of New York's Bravest and New York's Finest who gave their lives trying to save others.

Oh, where was I during all of this? In a meeting. No one bothered to interrupt the meeting to mention what was happening. After the meeting, I walked out to my car, somehow managing not to talk to a single person. I got in the car and drove home for lunch, without turning on the radio. I got home, made myself a sandwich, sat down at about 12:05 PM, turned on the TV and discovered that the world had changed while I wasn't looking. Rudy Giuliani has said it best, many times (paraphrasing). "We learned on September 11, 2001 that we were at war. The other side had known they were at war for quite some time, but we didn't know it."

There's a very poignant picture on the NY Times website from 9/11/2006, with the caption "The Hole in the City's Heart"

Where were you?

On September 12, we all promised ourselves that we'd never forget the events of that day. Have you kept that promise?

The times and events listed here are a very small excerpt of what's available at the Cooperative Research History Commons. The whole thing is well worth a read, if you have the time (it's very long).

Where were you?

"Freedom and Fear are at War." - U.S. President George W. Bush

"This is a battle with only one outcome: our victory, not theirs." - UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

It's 10:28 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:28 AM

The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses. It was hit by Flight 11 at 8:46, 102 minutes earlier.

It's 10:06 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

10:06 AM

United Airlines Flight 93 crashes into an empty field just north of the Somerset County Airport, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, 124 miles or 15 minutes from Washington, D.C.

It's 9:59 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:59 AM

The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses. It was hit by Flight 175 at 9:03 A.M., 57 minutes earlier.

It's 9:57 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:57 AM

Two groups of passengers (one containing Tom Burnett who has been on the phone with his wife, and one containing Todd Beamer who has been on the phone with a Verizon representative) apparently working independently attempt to to regain control of United Airlines Flight 93. Todd Beamer leaves his phone connected and at about this time is heard to say "Let's Roll."

It's 9:45 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:45 AM

Ben Sliney, FAA’s National Operations Manager, orders the entire nationwide air traffic system shut down. All flights at US airports are stopped. Around 3,950 flights are still in the air. Sliney makes the decision without consulting FAA head Jane Garvey, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, or other bosses, but they quickly approve his actions. It’s Sliney’s first day on the job.

My sister-in-law is stranded in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (yes, I know...not a terribly bad place to be stranded, all things considered) after her flight lands safely there, but all outbound flights are canceled.

It's 9:37 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:37 AM

American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. Approximately 125 people on the ground are later determined killed or missing.

It's 9:03 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

9:03 AM

United Airlines Flight 175 hits the South Tower of the World Trade Center (Tower Two). Seismic records pinpoint the time at six seconds before 9:03 a.m. (rounded to 9:03 a.m.).

It's 8:46 AM September 11, 2001 - Where Are You?

8:46 AM

American Airlines Flight 11 Hits the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Two minutes later CNN would break off a commercial with live news on this. Carol Lin says, “This just in. You are looking at ... obviously a very disturbing live shot there—that is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.” CNN then switches to Sean Murtagh, the network’s vice president of finance, who says in a live telephone interview, “I just witnessed a plane that appeared to be cruising at a slightly lower than normal altitude over New York City. And it appears to have crashed into—I don’t know which tower it is—but it hit directly in the middle of one of the World Trade Center towers. It was a jet, maybe a two-engine jet, maybe a 737 ... a large passenger commercial jet ... It was teetering back and forth, wing-tip to wing-tip, and it looks like it has crashed into—probably, twenty stories from the top of the World Trade Center—maybe the eightieth to eighty-fifth floor. There is smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center.”

Video (requires Windows Media Player)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Battleground States - 09/10

I haven't done an update in the last couple of weeks, because it's silly to look at the electoral college map or the polls during the conventions. It's probably still too soon after the Republican convention to look, but I really don't want to wait another week.

Here's the current standings with difference since August 22 in parentheses:

  • Michigan (17): Democrat last 4 elections, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) currently leads by 1 pt. (-6)
  • Indiana (11): Republican last 4 elections, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) by 2 (-5).
  • Ohio (20): Picked winner in last 4 elections, McCain by 7. (+3)
  • Missouri (11): Picked winner in last 4 elections, McCain by 7.
  • Pennsylvania (21): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama by 2. (-3)
  • Iowa (7):Picked Winner in 3 of last 4 (had Gore in 2000), Obama by 15. (+9)
  • Virginia (13): Republican last 4 elections, McCain by 2. (+2)
  • Florida (27): Picked Winner in last 3 elections, currently tied (-3 McCain).
  • Colorado (9): Republican last 3 elections, Obama by 3. (+6)
  • New Mexico (5): Picked Winner in 3 of last 4 (had Gore in 2000), McCain by 2. (+7)
  • Montana (3): Republican last 3 elections, McCain by 11.  (+10)
  • North Dakota (3): Republican last 4 elections, McCain by 14. (+11)
  • Nevada (5): Picked winner last 4 elections, Obama by 5. (+8)
  • Minnesota (10): Democrat last 4 elections, Obama by 12. (+9)
  • New Hampshire (4): Democrat three of last 4 elections (had Bush in 2000), Obama by 1.
  • North Carolina (15): Republican last 4 elections, McCain by 20. (+17)

Bellwether states (EV totals in parentheses):

McCain: OH, NM, MO (36)
Obama: IA, NV (12)

Battleground EV Totals (diff since August 15 in parentheses): McCain 81 (-23), Obama 73 ( +9), Tied: 27 (+14)

Rest of map: McCain 157, Obama 200

Totals: McCain 238, Obama 273

The numbers reflect the difficulties in the polls right now. I have problems believing the poll #'s in MI, IN, IA, NM, MT, MN, and NC. I'd hope that in the next week or so we can get new polls in all of those states and might have a better idea of where things stand.

As I've said many times now, it's still Obama's race to lose.  If he can hold all of these, he wins. And a win without FL would be impressive.

McCain must pick up FL and flip CO.

One of my comments from last time is interesting:

[Obama's] done well as the "rock star", and not so well as the "presumed winner". It remains to be seen how he does in a tight race. Remember that he didn't do very well down the stretch in the Democratic primaries.

Based on the behavior of his campaign the last couple pf weeks, I think we can answer that so far with "not well".  But he's still polling well, so that's really all that matters.

I said this last time about McCain:

I still say that for McCain to win, he has to pick up all of FL, IN, MO, OH, NV, and VA, which seems a tall order. Right now he leads in five of those and the sixth is too close to call. Obama has many ways to win, but in general, he just needs to pick up one of those six states.

I didn't include CO in that list, because I really didn't realize how well Obama was doing there, or perhaps I underestimated the bump he'd get from having his convention there. CO needs to be added to the list. As a matter of fact, I now feel slightly more confident that McCain will pick up IN, MO, OH, and VA, which means that what's left on the table is CO, FL, and NV. I keep pointing out that McCain really should be leading by bigger margins in FL, and I keep expecting that to happen. There have been some polls showing some movement there, but the current latest has it back to a tie race. Once again, McCain is left hoping that's the outlier  and that movement is heading his direction.  I just don't know. Assuming it is, McCain must win CO and NV. And news is looking worse and worse for him in CO.

One thing that bears pointing out is that there has been a significant closing in the last month or so in the gap between people calling themselves Democrats and those calling themselves Republicans. And this tightening is pre-Palin. For most of the year, this gap has been in the double-digit territory.  Rasmussen has it down to 5.7 at the end of August, and USAToday/Gallup's recent poll has it at 1. Gallup seems a little low to me, but Rasmussen might actually be high. Very few of the state polls currently recognize this tightening, which could cause a fundamental shift in the electoral picture. I don't think we'll see many state polls taking that into account before the end of September.

The Candidates and Sovereign Rights

This is the thirtieth post in an ongoing series regarding the major Presidential candidates and their views on civil liberties.

This post is about Senator John McCain's (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama's (D-IL) views on our rights as a sovereign nation.

This is a milestone post, and one I was starting to think I'd never reach. The end is near. After this one, I return to the Bill of Rights, and finally do the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, and then a summary post, and we're finally to the end.

Now, on to sovereign rights. This one is a little more nebulous. I don't expect either candidate to come out and say anything like "On my first day in office, I'm going to turn over control of our government to the United Nations." But, you can get indications of how they feel about our sovereignty.

Now first to Obama:

He doesn't start out well.

We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK

He co-sponsored the Global Poverty Act.

A nice-sounding bill called the "Global Poverty Act," sponsored by Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama, is up for a Senate vote on Thursday and could result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States. The bill, which has the support of many liberal religious groups, makes levels of U.S. foreign aid spending subservient to the dictates of the United Nations.

Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has not endorsed either Senator Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. But on Thursday, February 14, he is trying to rush Obama's "Global Poverty Act" (S.2433) through his committee. The legislation would commit the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid, which amounts to a phenomenal 13-year total of $845 billion over and above what the U.S. already spends.

There's actually quite a bit about Obama and this topic, but almost all of it comes down to this bill and his statement about SUVs.

Oh, he does appear to support the "Law of the Sea Treaty" (discussed below in the McCain section)

And now to McCain.

As far as I can tell, he has taken no position on the Global Poverty Act.

He apparently does envision a de-emphasized role of the UN, however, since he has proposed a "League of Democracies"

He's been both for an against the "Law of the Sea Treaty", which

[...] creates an independent source of revenue for the United Nations, is now pending in the Senate, of which McCain is a member. This is not an obscure or irrelevant issue for him. He could have a big impact on the fate of this treaty, which he has described as providing “a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world’s oceans and seas” and serving “as an umbrella convention under which rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources are established.”

Grades on this one are difficult. It's clear that Obama favors turning over more of our sovereignty to the UN, but it's not clear exactly how much. And for McCain, it's even worse. He's made very conflicting statements about the UN and the U.S's role there.

There's a good article on both of the candidates here, but from a sovereign rights perspective, I have to say that their conclusions are exactly backwards.

Obama: C-. I could argue this one a bit higher, but also a bit lower.

McCain: B-. This grade is more based upon Obama's grade than anything else. While his statements have been conflicting, it's apparent that he doesn't envision the UN having as big a role the U.S. as Obama does.

Sovereign Rights: Advantage McCain

Results so far:
  Obama McCain
First Amendment F D-
Second Amendment D- C-
Third Amendment B B
Fourth Amendment D+ D+
Fifth Amendment D+ B-
Sixth Amendment B B
Seventh Amendment C C
Eighth Amendment C B
Eleventh Amendment B+ B-
Thirteenth Amendment D+ B+
Fourteenth Amendment D+ C+
Fifteenth Amendment B B
Nineteenth Amendment B B
Twenty-First Amendment A- A-
Twenty-Third Amendment A- B
Twenty-Fourth Amendment B B
Twenty-Sixth Amendment B B
Taxes D B-
Abortion A+ D
National ID F F
Voter ID A+ F
Card Check F A+
Legalization of Drugs D+ F
Gay Rights A- D
Hate Crime Legislation F C
Growth of Government F A-
Property Rights B- A
Sovereign Rights C- B-

UPDATE: Obama's First Amendment grade lowered to F as documented in this post.

New And Noteworthy

What’s Going On?

Well, I really have missed doing my September 11 timeline. My daughters have asked about that, and I want them to understand it a little bet...

All The Best