Friday, October 17, 2008

Rabble Rousing

Judging from Biden's performance on the campaign trail, it seems the "Senator Government" sobriquet should be joined by "Senator Meltdown" for the running mate. Who's erratic now? In any case, the treatment of poor schmo Joe the Plumber has been despicable. As someone called in to the radio today, how come we know more about Joe/Samuel in 24 hours than we do about Obama in 2 years?

You see, Joe's crime is to have dreams and the audacity to think he can reach them without 3 bureaucrats, 4 lawsuits, and 2 unions- ohmigosh! without liberal largess. Biden's withering contempt for the man is a positive development. Hopefully, it will open the eyes of those of us in the great unwashed, neither ivy league graduates nor inner city denizens, to how they really see us. More importantly, the "spread the wealth around" answer should be an eyeopener for those who believe the moderate tone of OB's rhetoric.

Making It Real

So often when non Cubans, whether well-meaning or fellow traveler, make sweeping statements about the island, they do so in generalities and abstractions. Please note the following post from a new blog, a first person testimony of life after the revolution. Here's an excerpt:

One year sometime in the seventies, during election time, my mom, who was a rebel, decided to go visit her sister in a neighboring town. She said she wasn't about to participate in a election with just one candidate. It was a nice try, but not successful. Our CDR watch found out from the neighbors we were and went all the way to her sister's house to pick us up so she could vote. We had no choice, but to get in the car and my mom reluctantly voted for the one and only candidate-Fidel Castro.

H/T Jose at Cubanology

Thursday, October 16, 2008

They Just Don't Get It

After the debate last night, I was anticipating the political commentary. It should have been safe. After all, I was watching Fox. I've had to seek refuge there, because of the incredibly disgusting lack of objectivity of the other "mainstream media." At least there I know what I'm getting, theoretically, at least.

Anyway, so there I am waiting for the post mortem to a debate in which I was sure McCain had done remarkably well, waiting for the reference to the line that sent me to the computer to post, when it was one depressing critique after another. Even Frank Luntz's "independents" gave the debate to Obama. Stop! Did these people watch the same debate I did? Huh? So I give up on the TV and have my sanity restored at Pumpkin Seeds and Townhall where others shared my impressions. Aah.

And today, Joe the Plumber is all over the TV. Of course, they're already starting to savage him. He's not really a plumber. His name isn't Joe. Even one commentator on Brit Hume's show stated that Joe's taxes would not be raised, that Joe would be better off with OB's plan.

He would buy the company with an SBA loan. If he stayed under the 200 thousand mark, he would pay no capital gains; and if he hired someone, he'd get a tax break. Notice the intrusion of the government here. All of this is put into perspective by Joe himself.

Joe is on TV. He is the salt of the earth American, "flabbergasted" but unphased by all the media attention, calling it his "fifteen minutes of fame." In his own way, he makes a strong case. He was brought up to work hard and get a bit more from his family, not have it given away by someone else. If he feels like giving it away, fine. Let others work 10 and12 hour days for years to get their own slice of the pie. And those tax increases are going to trickle down to him. These things don't "trickle up." Sounds right to me.

The Obama camp's reaction is tin-eared. Both the man who would be president and his sidekick had a bit of fun, snickering at a "plumber" who makes a quarter million dollars. Wink, wink, nod, nod. No, they're not elitist. The only people who matter are people who reside in their mainly urban, sophisticated circles, and the pathetic victims of their governmental munificence. Their personal generosity seems to stem from giving away someone else's money. Biden has given less to charity than I have. Do I hear 1 percent? Gimme a break!

The reaction of the the political pundits also demonstrates a lack of sensitivity. As Bernie Goldberg once noted, these people all travel in the same circles. So help me, there ought to be a "man on the street beat" at media outlets with the requirement that the reporter live among the working or middle class.

I have a sneaking suspicion that all is not what it seems. Perhaps it is the phenomenon Ann Coulter describes in this week's column. The "Who, me, a Republican?" effect. As I watched four of the "undecideds" declare for Obama, I asked myself how many were afraid to acknowledge that they would opt for McCain. I observe that the today the polls are tightening. Food for thought.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Interrupt this Blog to Give You the Line of the Evening

Listening to the debate, where the line of the evening is "If you wanted to run against George Bush, you should have run four years ago." I was actually disappointed by Obama's comeback.

National Book Award Finalists Named

Included in the group are two names with which readers of this blog will be familiar. First off, there is Rachel Kushner and Telex from Cuba, an intriguing book. I'm glad to see my opinion seconded. Ditto with Peter Matthiessen's reworking of his Everglades trilogy, Shadow Country,
a sentimental favorite of mine. Article here.

What McCain Needs to Say: Part 2

My friends (you know he's gonna say it), the American people are faced with a choice not between two candidates, but two philosophies. One- that of my opponent- holds that government should exist in loco parentis, so that it should take care of its citizens from the cradle to the grave. Like children you are not competent to make decisions about housing and healthcare, energy consumption and how you are going to spend your money for yourselves. Such a view means that like a parent, the government will determine what it deems good for you and enforce it. It punishes success and rewards dysfunction.

Senator Obama, who has a lifetime pattern of surrounding himself with people who dislike America all the while he was availing himself of all it had to offer, speaks of America as if it is irretrievably broken, as if it is a third world failed state. This is his vision. His change is not any kind of reform. The Senator seeks no less than to change the American system as we know it. Take his much vaunted healthcare, another massive entitlement program. Our system is flawed, yes. But is the answer really to take away choice? To force small businesses, many of which are suffering greatly and are barely making ends meet, to insure themselves. Now Senator Obama says the government will give you 50 percent. That's all well and good, but where is the other 50 percent coming from?

And his tax proposals. The Senator knows that truly wealthy people will find loopholes he hasn't even dreamed of. The brunt will fall on people who have studied and/or worked their hearts out for decades. Nowhere in his calculations are local taxes. At present, many of these people pay 50 percent of their income in taxes. Think about that: they work an entire half year without making a single cent. Where is the incentive to become a doctor, or lawyer, or small business owner? Now my opponent maintains that 95 percent of American taxpayers will get a tax cut. Since 40 percent do not pay taxes, what does this mean? Many who do not pay receive checks from the government. So is this increased subsidy another version of welfare? It is certainly income redistribution.

And what about the big corporations? Our corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world. Raising it will lead to increased outsourcing and job loss. Many corporations no longer manufacture in the United States. They export their customer service overseas. Why wouldn't they move to say, Ireland, which has an 11 percent corporate tax rate? The truth is that at a time when we need every job we can get, we need those very corporations. The opposition has repeatedly jeered that the "trickle down" effect doesn't work. Well, I ask you, have you ever seen anything "trickle up"?

Yes, we have difficulties. But it is not our overarching philosophy of freedom and opportunity that is broken. It is the very government Senator Obama would empower that is broken. Think about it, my friends. Yes there are many, deep problems in our economy, much caused by the twin evils of government intrusion into the private sector where it doesn't belong and lax enforcement of the regulations where it does. Think of the congressional leadership. Is this what you want for America?

Now I believe deeply in the promise of America. I have fought for it. And I will continue to fight the excesses and corruption of big government. I will reform our financial system. But I will fix what is broken, not insinuate a revolution in the sheep's clothing of "change." I seek reform; my opponent seeks a mandate to change the system.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Cuban Model

Ran across an interesting tidbit today. Seems Namibia is donating the equivalent of a million dollars to the castro relief fund. How sad are the straits to which Cuba has been reduced? The required propaganda motifs make an appearance in the article/press release: the big, bad embargo; the marvelously efficient machinery of evacuation, etc. But then, what can you expect from the usual cheering section of allAfrica?

I was reminded, though, of an article I came across recently on that website which advocated "learning from Cuba." My first thought was pobrecitos, poor fools. Haven't they gotten enough "bloody instruction"? But I was wrong. Although his view of the Cuban regime is the source for some dramatic irony, he does make a valid point:

At the same time, Cuba has invested heavily in ensuring the rest of the world sees the injustice of America's policy towards Havana; from supporting terrorists, barring US tourism to that country to blocking companies that want to from even buying a banana from the island.

In some 100 countries across the world, people have established various official solidarity organisations and pressure groups that lobby their home governments to press the US to change its policy towards Cuba as well as to simply educate the indigenous populations on what is happening on that island and how shameful Washington's behaviour is.

Zimbabwe has a Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Society and a Free the Cuban 5 Committee (which lobbies for the release of five Cuban patriots who are being unjustly kept in American jails), and this is something that one will find in many countries across the globe.

The point is that Cuba has created a foreign policy that is geared towards fighting the illegal sanctions that it has had to live with for nearly half a century now.

More importantly, they have not only moulded such a foreign policy, but they have invested heavily in it in terms of both financial and human resources.

Staff at Cuban embassies and consulates all over Southern Africa -- and this is likely the case across the world -- are known to be extremely proactive in defence of their revolution and in spreading the word to the people of their host countries so that they are fully aware of what is going on.

That is why America has found it hard to sell the lie that Cde Fidel Castro presided over an evil system and his brother Cde Raul is the new great Satan overseeing a diabolic communist administration that enjoys imprisoning people and executing them for expressing a contrary view.

That is why since 1992 -- and without fail this will be the 17th consecutive time -- the world has overwhelmingly voted for a lifting of America's illegal sanctions regime.

I had to boldface that particular paragraph. It demonstrates the accuracy of his claim, namely Cuba has effectively marketed its thugocracy and set a shining example for others of like mind.

Cross posted at Babalublog

Monday, October 13, 2008

Some Parallels for a Monday

The Sound of Silence. On Townhall, David Limbaugh calls Obama, "The Stealth Candidate," raising the idea that it wasn't just "association" with Ayers. Rather as Melanie Phillips points out in this most excellent piece in the Mail, it was "participation." It is sad that it takes a foreigner to point out the Barackian reality in a cogent, well-written column.

The Nature of Responsibility. At the New York Post, Kirsten Powers makes the most excellent point that Americans helped bring us to this economic pass by living well beyond our means. Where's the outrage now?

The Divine of Domesticity. In a change of pace, here's an interesting read from Nathan Jeffay about Judaism and the holidays. I post it, because as someone with a lone Jewish relative, I have often been struck by the beauty of religious observance in the home. It makes the divine more immediate, somehow.

The March of Progress. At the Times(UK), we are informed by a leading geneticist that evolution has hit a dead end of sorts. The engine of change has apparently been stifled by our social mores and the advances in curbing infant mortality, or some such. It's pretty interesting stuff.

The Kindness of Strangers. I'll leave you with a human interest story. In Port Orange, Florida, an apparent operator malfunction at an amusement park ride left a mother entangled 40 feet up, clutching onto her toddler. All is well, as the crowd caught the little girl. Read it here.