October 17, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 10/17/2008

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
Joe exposes candidates' sharp divisions - John McCain and Barack Obama have starkly different views on taxes, just ask Joe the Plumber. The presidential candidates used Joe Wurzelbacher of Toledo, Ohio, as a prop in their final debate, sparring over how their tax plans seek to generate prosperity and benefit average, hardworking Americans. (READ MORE)

Albright opposes Iraq pullout deadline - Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said Thursday the Iraq war has created damaging consequences for U.S. diplomacy, but Washington should not agree to a specific deadline for withdrawing troops in the midst of conflict - something proposed last year by the candidate she now supports, Sen. Barack Obama. (READ MORE)

Commodity bust, felt by investors, helps consumers - The collapse of commodities that drove oil prices back below $70 a barrel Thursday is reverberating through the world economy from Texas to Timbuktu. (READ MORE)

Economists prescribe deeper deficit - The financial crisis has rocked the economy's foundations, but it also has opened a window of opportunity for the next president. It's an opportunity neither Republican Sen. John McCain nor Democratic Sen. Barack Obama seems ready to seize. (READ MORE)

Housing data to impact stocks opening - NEW YORK (AP) • Wall Street was headed for a sharply lower open Friday after Thursday's strong finish, as nervous investors anticipated gloomy readings on the sagging housing market and consumer sentiment. (READ MORE)

FBI investigates ACORN voter sign-ups - The FBI is investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud across the nation before the presidential election. A senior law enforcement official confirmed the investigation to the Associated Press. (READ MORE)

'Swift Boaters' spending sinks - By this time four years ago, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth had pumped millions of dollars into television advertising, seeking to discredit Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry's military record and making "Swift Boating" part of the political lexicon. (READ MORE)

Obama Makes It Up - In Wednesday night's debate with John McCain, Barack Obama defended his opposition to the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement this way: "The history in Colombia right now is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination, on a fairly consistent basis, and there have not been any prosecutions." Among the many falsehoods in this Presidential campaign, this is one of the worst. (READ MORE)

A Liberal Supermajority - If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants. (READ MORE)

In Downturn, Families Strain to Pay Tuition - With the unemployment rate rising and a recession mentality gripping the country, more families are applying for federal aid for students attending college. (READ MORE)

European Markets Rise After Wall Street Rally - European stocks advanced and Asian markets were mixed after a see-sawing week marked by dramatic swings across the globe, including a late rally Thursday on Wall Street. (READ MORE)

Housing Starts at Slowest Pace Since 1991 - WASHINGTON (AP) — Government data released Friday showed that construction of new homes declined by a bigger-than-expected amount in September as builders cut production to the slowest place since early 1991. (READ MORE)

Banks Are Likely to Hold Tight to Bailout Money - Even as the government moves to plug holes in the nation’s banks, new gaps keep appearing. As two financial giants, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, reported fresh multibillion-dollar losses on Thursday, the industry passed a grim milestone: (READ MORE)

Banks Fail, and So Can Bailouts - Trust is a precious thing, and the banks still don’t have much of it. Not from the public, and not from one another. The government’s latest bailout plan — to invest $250 billion in banks with few strings attached — could help restore that trust. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Cassandra: The Politics of Fear - I woke at 3 a.m. this morning with that feeling again. We've all felt that way: irritated and slightly paranoid. I've been struggling to make sense of this election. In many ways the experience is reminiscent of learning to swim as a small child. Despite my best dog paddle, my head keeps slipping underwater and a feeling of overwhelming weariness, of deadening weight is slowly overtaking my arms and legs. I don't know how long I can keep going through the motions. But my brain tells me if I don't keep moving, my lungs will fill up with water and I will drown. Not a good feeling. But on the other hand, what a relief to stop struggling! Because I am tired of fighting. If only someone would reach down and pull me out of the water. I hate what I see happening to my country. America the beautiful, land that I love. Last night I saw both the best and the worst of this election. (READ MORE)

Matthew Kaminski: The Axelrod Method - A couple Januaries ago, the first African-American governor of Massachusetts took the oath of office on the State House steps. "Change is not always comfortable or convenient or welcome," he declared. "But it is what we hoped for, what we have worked for, what you voted for, and what you shall have." The swearing-in ended an improbable journey for Deval Patrick -- and started a painful lesson in political realities for a rookie executive. His story provides a useful prism to view the current presidential race. The Patrick campaign is the model for Barack Obama's effort, down to the messages of "hope" and "change" and the unofficial Patrick slogan of "Yes, We Can!" The men are friends with similar backgrounds (raised by single mothers, educated at Harvard Law) and electoral appeal (unconventional, "historic" candidacies built around an inspiring personal story). (READ MORE)

Lanny Davis: Hillary Made Obama a Better Candidate - The anti-Hillary Clinton pundits were sounding the theme a few months ago that by staying in the presidential race through June 3, the former first lady was a divisive force that would irreparably harm Barack Obama's chances of capturing the White House. But now Mrs. Clinton's decision to stay in the race until the last primary has been vindicated. Mr. Obama is a stronger candidate today thanks to Mrs. Clinton's pursuit of the Democratic nomination. And, far from being polarizing, she has helped bring the party together more than at any time in recent memory. We know this from Mr. Obama himself. Because she didn't quit until after the primaries were over, his grassroots organization grew stronger across the nation, his fundraising network became more extensive, and his TV and radio advertising from the late fall of 2007 to June 2008 increased favorable recognition of him in many states. These things made him a stronger general election candidate. (READ MORE)

Paul Kennedy: Weak States and Scofflaws Have No Business on the Security Council - As the global financial crisis grinds on, many are unaware that the 192 members of the United Nations General Assembly will today cast a first-stage ballot over which five of their number should replace the outgoing nations as two-year rotating members of the Security Council. Many are also unaware that the likes of Iran, Iceland and Austria are lobbying hard for seats on the Council. Yet this is a matter of some import, and not just to those like myself who feel that we are going to need significant strengthening of our international structures to face the many turmoils of the 21st century. By the U.N.'s rules, a majority of nine votes out of the 15 on the Security Council is required for agreement on procedural matters. On all other matters, such as issues like imposing sanctions or authorizing a peace-enforcement mission, the permanent five have to "concur" (meaning, in practice, not veto)... (READ MORE)

William Poole: Treasury Has No Authority to Coerce the Banks - Last week, the Treasury's Troubled Assets Relief Program was itself in deep trouble, with observers harping on the administrative nightmare it would entail. On Tuesday, Treasury announced its program of direct purchases of bank stock. The capital-infusion program would be voluntary for the banks wanting to raise new capital this way. This approach was the right way to go. It promised to use federal resources in an effective and relatively market-friendly way. But we've since learned from press reports, including in this newspaper, that the program was not quite so voluntary for nine of the nation's largest banks. The day before the government announced its new program, the heads of these banks apparently "volunteered" to sign up the way a soldier is "volunteered" for latrine duty. "Yes sir, sergeant, right away, sir." (READ MORE)

John Stossel: We Don't Need Anyone to Run the World - Imagine you had never seen a skating rink. I tell you, "I'm going to invite 100 people down to strap blades to their feet and race around as they like." You say, "That's insane! Someone must coordinate all those people." Yet we know that the skaters' actions are coordinated, though not through central planning. There are predictable and understandable rules, but within them, people are free. In promoting my interest in avoiding a collision with you, I also promote your interest in avoiding a collision with me. Economics Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek called it spontaneous order. The market system is the leading example. In promoting my interest in gaining through a voluntary exchange with you, I also promote your interest in gaining through voluntary exchange with me. (READ MORE)

John Fund: The Acorn Strategy - A federal appeals court ruled this week that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner must provide county election boards with state voter registration information so they can check the validity of some 666,000 new voter registrations submitted to Ohio officials in recent months. The order, which Ms. Brunner vigorously resisted, will mean county boards will be able to stop counting absentee ballots if the registration linked to them doesn't match the name of a real person listed in government databases. Ms. Brunner's office had argued that the federal Help America Vote Act did not require any such matching, and that delays in processing absentee votes could mean some valid votes wouldn't be counted. Meanwhile, thousands of additional suspect registrations turned in by activist groups like the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn) have surfaced in Ohio. (READ MORE)

James Taranto: White Guilt and John McCain - During last night's debate, moderator Bob Schieffer prompted John McCain to criticize Barack Obama's dubious associations "to his face": "'Mr. Ayers--I don't care about an old washed-up terrorist. But as Sen. Clinton said in her debates with you, we need to know the full extent of that relationship. We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy. The same front outfit organization that your campaign gave $832,000 for "lighting and site selection." So all of these things need to be examined, of course.'" So what about Jeremiah Wright? Months ago, the revelation that Obama's so-called spiritual mentor was a race-baiting anti-American crackpot almost saved the nomination for Hillary Clinton. Yet McCain, unlike Mrs. Clinton, has apparently decided that Wright is off-limits. (READ MORE)

L. Gordon Crovitz: The 1% Panic - The Panic of 2008 is a crisis of trust. Investors don't trust the value of bad debts enough to offer market-clearing prices. Banks don't trust one another to stay in business long enough to do business together. And there's definitely no trust that Washington can avoid creating costly new moral hazards as it attempts to bail out the system. But the most paralyzing loss of trust may be in Wall Street's system itself: How did the smartest people at the best banks running the most sophisticated financial models fail to forecast the collapse of mortgage-related securities? How did this unpredicted collapse devastate the system? And most of all, can we ever again trust the financial models on which value is supposed to be determined? These questions matter because despite the current crisis, modern finance has delivered enormous benefits, from explaining to investors why they should diversify their investments to the creation of mutual and index funds. (READ MORE)

Thomas Frank: My Friend Bill Ayers - "Waving the bloody shirt" was the phrase once used to describe the standard demagogic tactic of the late 19th century, when memories of the Civil War were still vivid and loyalists of both parties could be moved to "vote as they shot." As the years passed and the memories faded, the shirt got gorier, the waving more frantic. In 1896 the Democrats chose William Jennings Bryan as their leader, a man who was born in 1860 and had thus missed the Civil War, but who seemed to threaten the consensus politics of the time. In response, Republican campaign masterminds organized a speaking tour of the Midwest by a handful of surviving Union generals. The veterans advanced through the battleground states in a special train adorned with patriotic bunting, pictures of their candidate, William McKinley, and a sign declaring, "We are Opposed to Anarchy and Repudiation." (READ MORE)

Mike Gallagher: The Audacity of Lies - I understand what it means to fight hard, but fight fair. After a lifetime of making my living offering opinions on the radio, I try and follow that philosophy each and every day. Many of us wear our beliefs on our sleeve. You know where we stand on issues, ideology and politicians. But we don’t lie. We don’t make stuff up out of whole cloth in a desperate attempt to win the argument. We find it repulsive to try and trick people into believing things that aren’t true. And after this week’s third and final presidential debate, I was dumbfounded by the audacity of lies that came from the Democrat candidate on that Hofstra University stage. I know that calling someone – anyone – a liar is a serious charge. But in just one brief period of time, Sen. Obama demonstrated his enthusiasm for outright falsehoods, over and over again. The lies ranged from the silly to the intricate. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: The Left Declares War on Joe the Plumber - Six-term Sen. Joe Biden's got some nerve going after citizen Joe the Plumber. But the entrenched politician from Delaware, who fancies himself the nation's No. 1 Ordinary Joe, had no choice. Obama-Biden simply can't tolerate an outspoken citizen successfully painting the Democratic ticket as socialist overlords. And so a dirty, desperate war against Joe Wurzelbacher is on. The left's political plumbers are attacking the messenger, rummaging through his personal life and predictably wielding the race card once again. It's standard operating procedure for the Obama thug machine. Wurzelbacher, in case you've been in hibernation, is the small-business man from Ohio who questioned Obama about his tax plan during a Toledo campaign swing last weekend. The revealing exchange was caught on tape and broadcast widely across the Internet and TV airwaves. (READ MORE)

Charles Krauthammer: Obama's Betrayed Message - Let me get this straight. A couple of agitated yahoos in a rally of thousands yell something offensive and incendiary, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are not just guilty by association -- with total strangers, mind you -- but worse: guilty according to The New York Times of "race-baiting and xenophobia." But should you bring up Barack Obama's real associations -- 20 years with Jeremiah Wright, working on two foundations and distributing money with William Ayers, citing the raving Michael Pfleger as one who helps him keep his moral compass (Chicago Sun-Times, April 2004) and the long-standing relationship with the left-wing vote-fraud specialist ACORN -- you have crossed the line into illegitimate guilt by association. Moreover, it is tinged with racism. The fact that, when John McCain actually heard one of those nasty things said about Obama, he incurred the boos of his own crowd by insisting that Obama is "a decent person..." (READ MORE)

Dick Morris & Eileen McGann: Obama Shows His Cool, but McCain Draws Blood on Taxes - The short-term impact of the third debate will be to help Barack Obama. But the long-term implications may give McCain a needed boost. Obama looked good, but McCain opened the tax-and-spend issue in a way that might prevail. Obama took the worst that McCain could hand out and came out looking good. McCain was the more aggressive debater, but Obama looked like the better president. The constants of the debate remained. Obama is smoother, prettier, younger and more presidential. But McCain had a feisty appeal, a Truman-esque approach that may resonate in these times of anger and unrest. Obama seemed to rise above the charges and show his reasonableness and ability to inspire confidence. McCain was like a trial lawyer, hammering out his points, but Obama came across with presidential dignity. (READ MORE)

Michael Gerson: The Man Who Stayed - Military success is often rewarded by the opportunity and honor of succeeding -- or failing -- on an even larger stage. By some accounts, Gen. David Petraeus -- savior of Baghdad, deliverer of Anbar -- preferred a quieter European command as his next step toward becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Instead, he was put in charge of Central Command, covering the Wild West of the world, from pirates off the Horn of Africa to Uzbek thugs in South Waziristan. It is the site of two American wars and the home base of the global jihadist revolt. It is also the region from which the next 9/11-style attack on America, if it arrives, is likely to come. When interviewed, Petraeus does not seem like a man under burdens that would make Atlas sweat. His manner is precise and practiced. He hands out charts and graphs on counterinsurgency tactics like Halloween candy, assuming that you are eager to receive them. (READ MORE)

Oliver North: No Debate - Most of the 2,300 young Americans of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit missed all three of this year's presidential debates. They were too busy fighting the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan to watch the first two and en route home to this sprawling coastal Carolina base during this week's give and take. Few of them have had the opportunity to see the man who will be their next commander in chief -- even on television. Though they don't talk much about politics or politicians, there is one thing that they all seem to want -- no matter their age, rank or color of their skin. There's no debate; they want victory. This isn't the first time we've met these Marines. The 24 MEU is built around the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. In August, our Fox News Channel's "War Stories" documentary team was embedded with 1/6 in Afghanistan. Back in 2006, we lived with them in Ramadi, Iraq, when Anbar province was the bloodiest place on the planet. (READ MORE)

Michael Reagan: If the Reagan Era is Dead, Who Killed It? - If you believe Newsweek magazine -- something that usually requires a serious suspension of disbelief -- the Reagan Era is dead. Politico also chimed in, proclaiming the death of the Reagan revolution. Newsweek doesn't go on to tell you who killed the Reagan Era, so I will. It was the Republican Party that demolished the shining city on the hill my father built. It was the Republican Party that was 100 percent responsible for the end of the Reagan Revolution. They forgot who he was; and having forgotten who he was, they stopped following in his footsteps that should have led to smaller, less-intrusive government, and restrained government spending. They are the ones who began to undermine the sturdy foundation my father built. By the way, the same thing happened to Maggie Thatcher in Britain. Her own party was responsible for undermining all the great advances she made towards dismantling the socialist welfare state: (READ MORE)

Kathryn Jean Lopez: The Justice Lets Us Walk Away with a Warning - New York, N.Y. — “Ask not what you can do for yourself or your country but what your country must do for you.” That’s the creed of today, Clarence Thomas worries, in a country of people who were once well-positioned to receive John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” At the time, ours was still a culture with “ears conditioned” to hear such calls to sacrifice and “hearts that did not resist it.” It was a culture, Thomas said, that had an appreciation for “delayed gratification . . . something larger . . . perhaps something transcendent.” Children were raised with admonitions to “Learn to do without.” “Prepare for a rainy day.” And to know that “No one owes you anything.” He aired his concerns for the future of the country he loves on Thursday night at a dinner on the upper East Side of Manhattan hosted by the Manhattan Institute. (READ MORE)

PaleoLithics: People Lie To Pollsters - People lie to researchers and pollsters. For what possible reason? The best way I can explain it is to offer an example. Psychology students set up a booth in a somewhat secluded area and stopped passing pedestrians. The students asked them assorted questions which they really weren’t interested in, then asked the key question, “If you happened along a ten dollar bill laying on the ground, and no one was around, what would you do with it?” The exact percentages escape me now, it is not that important to the point, but a significant portion of the respondents indicated they would attempt to find the person who lost it, or search out a lost and found and turn the money over. The students continued the polling for a few days then removed their booth. The next day they waited until no one was around and dropped a ten dollar bill in the courtyard and hid out of sight, but still able to see what happened. (READ MORE)

Zombie: The Left's Big Blunder - Two campaigns are being waged right now for the presidency of the United States. No, I'm not talking about the Obama campaign and the McCain campaign. I'm talking about the real-world campaign and the meta-campaign. The real-world campaign involves speeches and proposals and facts and scandals and political positions and news events. These details, however, are becoming increasingly irrelevant, and have become subsumed by the meta-campaign, which consists of perceptions, polls, reactions, analyses and summations. Until very recently, elections were decided by real-world facts -- but not anymore. Facts and events in and of themselves are no longer important; what's important is how everyone reacts to them. And how do we find out the public's mood concerning this or that incident? Why, the media tells us, that's how. Or so we've been led to believe. We're all part of the campaign now. Every single one of us. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Media Already Going After Joe The Plumber - Opposition researchers were already on the case yesterday when Joe the Plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher, called Sen. Barack Obama out on his socialist dream of massive redistribution of wealth. So, what have the opposition researchers (and the media) found? Well, Politico claims that Joe isn't registered to vote. I'm sorry to hear that. How does that detract from Joe's cogent observation that Obama's policies are repackaged socialism? It doesn't. You don't have to be a voter to know what socialism will do to your business, your paychecks, and life in general. It will destroy businesses, put a serious crimp in your paycheck, and reduce the quality of life all around you as other businesses suffer similar fates to your own. (READ MORE)

Ace of Spades: “This is a bombshell. We now have undeniable proof that a significant number of fraudulent voters were cast in Democrat primary races for the New Mexico legislature as a result of ACORN’s voter registration fraud." - Press release from the New Mexico GOP: “Fraudulent Votes Cast in New Mexico - Obama’s ACORN Must Be Shut Down Before Election, All Activities Investigated - (Albuquerque, NM) – Public records released in New Mexico today confirm that fraudulent voter registrations are in fact turning into fraudulent votes. ACORN, currently under investigation by the FBI, is now confirmed to be responsible for producing fraudulent voter registrations and illegal votes in New Mexico. An inspection of public records has revealed that illegal votes were cast in New Mexico’s 2008 primary election.” (READ MORE)

Adventures of a Former Detailed Recruiter: Recruiting in the News - I meant to get this done on Tuesday but I forgot. The Army, officially, made its recruiting mission for the year. 101% for the RA and 106% for the USAR. As I'd mentioned last week though, while this fact was reported, it was reported as part of a large narrative about the services, bascially, bribing folks w/ several hundred million dollars in bonus money. Of course I'm yet to hear any correction or clarification on how much of that was for bonuses and how much was for things like the Army College Fund. I won't hold my breath. Now for the next phase in the narrative. With the economy going belly up, now recruiters will no longer be portrayed as people preying on naive young people who don't understand the consquences of their actions. We will now be predators offering money to people who cannot find a job elsewhere because the free markets have failed. Of course it's not untrue what it being reported about how the volunteer military will benefit from economic troubles. (READ MORE)

The Anchoress: Going after Joe the Plumber & America - UPDATED - To my way of thinking, Joe the Plumber - singing the psalm of the common man, and representing the views of the middle class and what we once used to call “the Silent Majority” - has completely terrified the left, the Obama camp and the press. And so…he must be destroyed. So what happens to Mr. Wurzelbacher for expressing his views? Reports in the mainstream media appear claiming that he is unlicensed (even though he doesn’t need one as an employee of a business or as a contractor working on a residence), and that he apparently has a tax lien filed against him. Not to be outdone, the Daily Kos published his home address for all the world to see. Andrew Sullivan is all of a doodah that Joe uses his middle name, btw. Ed Morrissey says there is “a stench of desperation about this”. I agree. (READ MORE)

Baldilocks: Im-Plantation - “Don’t you want to be on the right side of history?” “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history!” Suddenly people who haven’t cracked a history text voluntarily in ages are concerned about being on the “correct” side of history. I’m seeing the phrase “right/wrong side of history” everywhere lately. Of course we know what the topic is: voting for Obama. Months ago I heard the phrase issue out of the mouth of an old boyfriend whom I’ve known for over twenty-five years. He called me because he wanted to hear the actual reasons that I was not supporting Obama without having to read this blog—or at least he claimed to want to hear them. It was a fruitless conversation during which few of my reasons received a full hearing. (Listening was never his strong suit.) The question about the level of my desire to be on the correct side of history is the one useful thing that stuck in my head about the conversation. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: A Call for Some Admiral Restraint - This is really apropos nothing, though it's yet another example of conservatives adopting the destructive, anti-Republican memes of the elitist Left; but it has annoyed me for months now... and I insist that it cease. Immediately. That is an order! The latest miscreant is Ace of Spades, of all people: If I had to guess... John McCain has always been fairly well-off. The son of an admiral isn't hurting. This is especially galling, as Ace of Spades HQ is generally considered a milblog site (even worse, despite getting more hits per day than we get in two months, he doesn't link to Big Lizards). I have no idea whether "Ace" himself is a vet, since I don't even know who he is; still, he should know better. But Ace isn't the first, of course; hundreds, probably thousands of negative stories have referred to John S. McCain the same way: having grown up as "the son of an admiral." The impression is clear: (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Maryland Hotel Becomes Target Of Obamabots - Prince Georges County Maryland is infested with liberals. The county is one of the heavily populated liberal counties in Maryland that ensure Democrats always win. Out of 23 sub divisions, four or five of them are densely populated and liberal so their votes always decide the elections even though the rest of the state votes Republican. Prince Georges is one of those infested areas. The Colony South Hotel made a serious mistake on Sunday night when a marquee was programmed with the words: Country First: McCain/Palin. On Monday morning the moonbats were going to work and saw the sign. They started making phone calls and the hotel, the NAACP (why in hell are they involved) and God knows who else were inundated with calls concerning this affront to their way of life. Threats were made, pulling Democratic events from the hotel was discussed, and by midday the hotel had taken down the offensive words. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Boom and boom - The search for the culprit in the current financial crisis continues. The Washington Post has an article which appears to put the blame on the Clinton Administration for failing to extend regulation into the burgeoning field of derivatives — but really puts the onus not on the Clintons but on financial industry lobbyists and the misguided spirit of a Republican deregulatory mania who led his administration astray. The basic storyline is that a lonely bureaucrat — Brooksley E. Born of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission — wanted to regulate derivatives but was forced back by the ‘Wall Street legends’ Alan Greenspan, Robert E. Rubin and Arthur Levitt Jr. Treachery overcame good intentions and here we are. Efforts to establish the opposite narrative are made by the WSJ, which boldly makes the claim that “the only banking ‘deregulation’ in recent years was that of Fan and Fred.” (READ MORE)

Dr. Sanity: I AM PAT THE DOCTOR - Joe isn't the only one who thinks that the government "spreading his wealth" around is a bad idea. Let's consider the "universal health care' concept for a moment. Here is what happens in the real world when you absolve people of personal responsibility for their health care: “Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched. Gov. Linda Lingle's administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan. ‘People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free,’ said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. ‘I don't believe that was the intent of the program.’” Hawaii is just the latest government entity to discover that many people are perfectly willing (especially when encouraged by the idea that "health care is a right") to let others pay, not only for their own health care, but their children's. (READ MORE)

SFC MAC: There are a lot of Joe Plumbers out There - Pay attention, Democrats: Some of Middle Tennessee’s “Joe the plumbers” missed Wednesday night’s debate, but they know their name and profession made a splash. Joe Wurzelbacher of Ohio was a central figure in the candidates’ arguments about taxing small-business owners — they mentioned “Joe” or “Joe the plumber” more than 20 times. A widely circulated video of him questioning Barack Obama’s tax plan made the plumber a representative of the nation’s ambitious blue-collar workers. “I didn’t watch it, but I’ve been hearing a lot about this plumber,” said a chuckling Joe Brown of Joe B. Sullivan & Sons in Nashville. Brown said he stopped paying attention to the politics because his mind is made up — although he wouldn’t say who he’ll vote for. Joe Schwark, owner of JMS Plumbing in Spring Hill, said he has a general distrust of politicians, but appreciated the recognition of his craft. “Personally, I don’t think either of them is what the country needs,” he said. “But it is what it is.” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Silencing Joe - The union goes after Joe the Plumber. Unlicensed. Owes taxes. Unschooled. Or so Tom Joseph, business manager for Local 50 of the United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics, told the Toledo Blade. Joe the Plumber lit on the Achilles’ heel of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama: Taxes. Obama wants to “spread the wealth around.” And so oppo-research lit on Joe, the nickname for Samuel Joseph Worzelbacher. “This individual has got no schooling, no licenses, he’s never been to a training program, union or non-union, in the United States of America,” the union executive told the Toledo Blade. The license applies to commercial work only, not residential. Oh and Joe the Plumber has a tax lien against him. A rumor had it that he was not registered to vote. he is. But he is a Republican. A-ha! They are after him. And here I thought dissent was patriotic. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Franken gets nasty … again - Anyone following the public career of washed-up comedian, washed-up radio host, and washed-up pundit Al Franken should not be surprised to see him lose his cool in public. Almost predictably, Franken got into Norm Coleman’s face after apparently losing a debate last night in Minnesota. Michael Brodkorb has video, an explanation, and the world’s longest URLs: “Franken, visibly upset, continues to get in Senator Coleman’s face. Franken is seen on film staring Coleman down as he finally recognizes that Mrs. Franken is trying to get his attention. I slowed down the final few second so you can really see Franken’s anger. Please note Franken staring at Coleman at the end. Franken was cleary upset. […] My sources said that Franken was very upset and was speaking with a raised voice. Mrs. Franken reportedly ran on stage to get Franken away from Coleman.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: An Army of Joes - Turns out there’s a lot of them out there. They’re Joes, they’re plumbers, they speak their minds. Not all on the same page about how to unclog that drain, though. Uh oh, Joe the Plumber from Framingham, Mass., better watch out … doesn’t he know mocking Obama is racism? Boston Herald: “Ohio’s ‘Joe the Plumber’ found himself at the center of the tug-of-war between John McCain and Barack Obama in Wednesday night’s presidential debate. In Boston yesterday, plumbers named Joe were divided over which candidate they were pulling for. Joe Aucoin, a plumber in Framingham, said after the debate, he put a toilet bowl in his front yard – ‘and a sign that read, “Joe the plumber thinks this about Obama.”’ ‘My wife was so angry,’ Aucoin told the Herald yesterday.” Joe is emerging as an everyman uber-Palin, tapping into the fundamental Joeness of America … an innocent trap Obama set for himself, when he went out to talk to regular Americans, and was caught telling them how he really feels. “Share the wealth.” Joe, a living, breathing Norman Rockwell painting in our own time, then is set upon by the Obamist press. The Joes of America aren’t going to like that. Obama better watch out. He may find he’s stirred up an army of them. (READ MORE)

GayPatriotWest: Why Are Educated People So Ignorant about Sarah Palin? - Once again I express amazement at what supposedly enlightened people know about Sarah Palin. Here, you have a woman with a record of reform. And all her adversaries know is that she didn’t do well in an interview with Katie Couric, she was a member of the Alaska Independence Party (not true), she wants creationism taught in public schools (again not true) and she tried to have books banned in 1996 (she just inquired about removing them, but never brought up the subject again while Mayor of Wasilla). If we applied their standards for judging Sarah Palin to their preferred presidential candidate, we would see Barack Obama as a man who lacks an American birth certificate, was once a member of a Socialist Party, pals around with America-hating extremists and wants to teach radical ideas to school children while banning books critical of Islam so as not to disparage his Muslim faith. (READ MORE)

Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: Obama -- Still voting present - In the summer of 2005, a bill emerged from the Senate Banking Committee that considerably tightened regulations on Fannie and Freddie, including controls over their capital and their ability to hold portfolios of mortgages or mortgage-backed securities. All the Republicans voted for the bill in committee; all the Democrats voted against it. To get the bill to a vote in the Senate, a few Democratic votes were necessary to limit debate. This was a time for the leadership Sen. Obama says he can offer, but neither he nor any other Democrat stepped forward. Instead, by his own account, Mr. Obama wrote a letter to the Treasury Secretary, allegedly putting himself on record that subprime loans were dangerous and had to be dealt with. This is revealing; if true, it indicates Sen. Obama knew there was a problem with subprime lending - but was unwilling to confront his own party by pressing for legislation to control it. As a demonstration of character and leadership capacity, it bears a strong resemblance to something else in Sen. Obama's past: voting present. (READ MORE)

Heading Right: NO CAMPUS SECURITY FOR CONSERVATIVES! - When leftist professors call for “a million Mogadishus” or defame 9/11 victims as “Little Eichmanns,” campus administrators usually cloak themselves in the iron chains of the First Amendment. “I may not agree with him,” goes the old saw, “but I would defend to the death his right to say it.” However, when campus conservatives merely wish to make their case in a one night speech, the landscape shifts dramatically. David Horowitz spoke at Central Michigan University on Tuesday night as part of the third annual Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, organized at CMU by a student group called Campus Conservatives, the local affiliate of Young America’s Foundation. His topic was “Helping the Enemy to Win: Support for the Jihad on American Campuses,” and his speeches have been magnets for unbalanced left-wingers. A contingent of the Revolutionary Communist Party has followed him cross country, and jihadists attempt to shout him down throughout his speeches. (READ MORE)

McQ: Plumbing the Redistributionist depths - Now that I've had my little rant about the MSM, I have to ask, "does the Joe the Plumber story have legs?" Not in the sense that the MSM is doing everything within its power to discredit the guy. But the fact that the mask momentarily slipped and exposed the true Obama ideology for what it is? James Pethokoukis of US News wonders if perhaps Joe is the purely unintentional October surprise. Of course the left will claim that believing such a thing points to the level of desperation on the right. But elections have turned on stranger and seemingly less significant things. Says Pethokoukis: “A while back I chatted with a University of Chicago professor who was a frequent lunch companion of Obama's. This professor said that Obama was as close to a full-out Marxist as anyone who has ever run for president of the United States.” (READ MORE)

Dan Riehl: The O-Body Count Grows - Bill Clinton went from being thought of as the first black President to actually being accused of racism. Among others, McCain has now faced that charge, as well. Stanley Kurtz and David Fredossa went from being serious journalists and solid researchers to being portrayed as perpetrators of hate and loathsome smear merchants. Sarah Palin, no matter what you may think of her, went from being the nation's most popular governor to being thought of as a mindless boob now parenting a fifth child they won't even accept as her own. Now, via Michelle, the NY Times felt compelled to weigh in on a would be plumber. It's truly sickening to see that just about every on line MSM news site is reveling in taking that man down. Just scroll. Meanwhile, Obama's treasurer - with his own tax liens, it seems - Bill Ayres, Franklin Raines, Jeremiah Wright, James Johnson - Obama himself and others ... are all just fine ethical, upstanding Americans undeserving of any real scrutiny, I guess. (READ MORE)

Lorie Byrd: Closer to Card Check - I've written about the Employee Free Choice Act and card check several times, both here and at Townhall. Jay Tea has written about it as well. I'd be willing to bet that if you ask the first twenty people you talk to today (unless you work in Washington DC) you will be lucky to find one person who knows anything about the issue. That is pretty amazing, really. If the positions were reversed and we were looking at conservatives regaining a level of control they had not had in half a century, I am willing to bet there would be scores of reports in the media about the possible horrors to come (including, of course, the overturning of Roe v. Wade), With a filibuster-proof Democrat majority Senate a real possibility, the issue of card check is getting more and more attention, though mostly in the conservative and new media. The Wall Street Journal has a piece today about some of the things total liberal control of the government would likely bring with it, including card check: (READ MORE)

This Ain’t Hell: “A plumber is the guy he’s fighting for” - Cuffy Miegs put together a video of Obama mocking the profession of plumbing by making the statement “A plumber is the guy he’s fighting for”. Now, to hear Obama over the last 20 months, you’d have though he’d have a little more sympathy for a working man. As many times as I’ve heard him tell crowds how he’s going to “fight” for us little guys, I guess he meant to add “except for plumbers”. Listen to the crowd laughing at Obama’s “plumber” line. Look at the disgusted look on Obama’s face after he delivers it - as if even saying the word plumber is distasteful. All to distract from Obama’s answer that apparently is causing him some discomfort in the polls. I’ve got some plumbing experience because the man my mother married was a plumber and I used to pick up extra money when I was home on leave by working with him when I was home on leave - much more money than I made in the Army. It’s dirty work, long hours and every job seems to be an emergency. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time - As I watched last Wednesday's presidential debate, I found myself nodding when John McCain kept reminding us that as eloquent as Senator Obama is, that is when you have to pay him the most attention -- because that's usually when what he is not saying is the most relevant. McCain chose to bring that up when Obama talked about offshore drilling for oil ("we'll have to look into it" and abortion (how "health of the mother" has been stretched to be meaningless). But there was another time when Obama spoke at length that I found myself listening to what was unsaid: “MCCAIN: ‘I have fought against spending. I have fought against special interests. I have fought for reform. You have to tell me one time when you have stood up with the leaders of your party on one single major issue.’ SCHIEFFER: ‘Barack.’ OBAMA: ‘Well, there's a lot of stuff that was put out there, so let me try to address it. First of all, in terms of standing up to the leaders of my party, the first major bill that I voted on in the Senate was in support of tort reform, which wasn't very popular with trial lawyers, a major constituency in the Democratic Party. I support...’”The question to Senator Obama was "when did you stand up to the LEADERS of your party on a major issue?" (READ MORE)

J. D. Pendry: Angry? Who, me? - Mob mentality? Racist? This I hear from the people who have never had a decent or kind word to say about any African-American who holds conservative views. From this foul-mouthed morally deficient garbage who viciously slanders a pregnant seventeen-year-old girl and her mother, I am now called racist for questioning the character of their chosen one. These people wonder aloud why a mother would not abort a Down syndrome baby. I love these selfless and thoughtful attitudes. This collection of reprobates believes that race and gender counts only if the woman is like Madonna or the man some foul-mouthed Ludacris like thug rapper. I do not like to share much of my private life, but just for the record, I have been one-half of an interracial marriage for going on 36 years. The two men I count as most influential in my 28 years in the Army were a Puerto Rican First Sergeant named Pedro Olivari and a Black Sergeant Major named Jim White. (READ MORE)

Information Dissemination: Blackwater Ready to Fight Pirates - Press release from here: “BLACKWATER WORLDWIDE’S MARITIME OPERATIONS READY TO ASSIST SHIPPING INDUSTRY - As Insurance and Pay Rates Soar for Gulf of Aden-bound Shipments, Blackwater offers Shipping Industry a Solution. Blackwater Worldwide today announced that its 183 foot ship, the McArthur, stands ready to assist the shipping industry as it struggles with the increasing problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and elsewhere.” The US Navy and Royal Navy have both advised shipping companies to protect their ships. The French are already using private contractors for these purposes. This is the next logical step based on those calls. Unless the citizens of the US are ready to push the US Navy to make this a top priority, something that requires political action, this is seen as one of the limited but cost effective ways for the shipping industry to respond. (READ MORE)

American Spectator: Searching for Obama's 95 Percent - HEMPSTEAD. N.Y. -- "We are going to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans," Barack Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, said in the spin room here at Hofstra University following the final debate of the 2008 presidential election. Plouffe was repeating one of the boldest claims made by the Obama campaign. It's a claim that the Wall Street Journal editorial board dubbed "Obama's 95% Illusion," noting that more than a third of Americans don't pay any income taxes, and that what Obama's plan does do is offer a raft of subsidies and government payments to individuals and families that he redefines as "tax cuts." His proposal looks more like a redistribution scheme than an honest effort to reduce taxes -- as he revealed on Monday when he told a now famous Ohio plumber that his plan aimed to "spread the wealth around." (READ MORE)

Meryl Yourish: The anti-Israel bias, cont’d. - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s report on Israel and Hezbullah illustrates perfectly what is wrong with the way that the world looks at any conflict that involves Israel. “‘I therefore reiterate my call on Hezbollah to comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions, and urge all parties which maintain close ties with Hezbollah and have the ability to influence it, in particular Syria and Iran, to support its transformation into a political party proper,’ it said.” This is all well and good. The report calls Hezbollah out for being in violation of two UNSC resolutions (as opposed to Israel, which is in violation of zero UNSC resolutions, in spite of the anti-Israel crowd’s insistence otherwise). But here’s where the logic gets all blown to hell: “Ban also leveled criticism at the remarks made by GOC Northern Command Gadi Eisenkot to the daily Yedioth Ahronoth several weeks ago regarding the Israel Defense Forces’ plans to use ‘disproportionate force’ should war again break out with Lebanon or Hezbollah.” (READ MORE)

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