Friday, December 5, 2008

Time for Franken to give it up.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has several thousand of the challenged ballots in the Franken-Coleman recount, and you can go through each of them, see who challenged it and why, and vote on them. I just spent some time looking through them and it is fascinating. First of all the law is clear in Minnesota, if the intent of the voter is clear the vote counts, even if the voter doesn't follow the directions. So if some moron circle's Coleman's name or draws a new bubble next to Franken and fills it in, these votes count. The other rule is if the voter writes his name on the ballot, it is invalid. With these simple rules one quickly realizes at least 95% of the challenges are ridiculous, the ballot is absolutely clear. Although both sides have made some absurd challenges, in the sample I voted on there were more from Franken that I found beyond abusrd. One guy started to fill in Franken than put an X through it, put Coleman in the write in slot and wrote next to it "I really want to vote for Coleman", but Franken challenged it as not clear intent. Many of the challenges have a completely filled in solid circle next to one candidate and a stray scratch somewhere else. The canvassing board should be able to cruise through these ballots.

Meanwhile the hand recount has increased Coleman's lead from 200-300 votes to 687 at its conclusion. There's no way Franken is going to make this up among the challenged ballots, it's time for both sides to withdraw the hundred of frivilous challenges and wrap this up. Al, you lost, time to get over it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day- Why am I teaching today?

In the choice of academic holidays, a University inevitably makes selections that reflect its values as an institution and the composition of its student body (for example we get the two major fall Jewish holidays off at my school). Tight academic calendars usually preclude getting all the holidays off, indeed getting all the national holidays off is unheard of. What annoys me year after year is the disrespect shown to Veteran's Day and President's Day, and the elevation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to sacrosanct status. I did a quick Google search and discovered that Harvard is the only school among the eight Ivy League institutions to cancel classes for Veteran's day. Seven of the eight (not Cornell) have no classes on MLK day. Don't even ask about President's Day.

It does no disrespect to the legacy of King to remark that his importance pales in comparison to that of our presidents, or even to that of Washington or Lincoln, who seem to have been stripped of their individual holidays. It does no disrespect to say the combined sacrifice of millions of veterans is of greater significance that the remarkable sacrifice of one man. It's time classes be cancelled on Veteran's Day and, if necessary, scheduled on MLK Day.

Veteran's Day

Thank you to all the veterans and current active duty military for the incredible sacrifice you make to defend us and our freedoms every day, both at home and around the world.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NY Times-traitors again, but in an instructive way

I've lost count of the number of times the NY Times has published classified information that may threaten the safety of our soldiers. Today's story is not as egregious as some in the past, as it in theory only reports on past operations,. The story discusses a 2004 classified executive order, signed by Rumsfeld and authorized by Bush, which allows special forces to conduct military operations in 15 to 20 countries in order to fight Al Qaeda terrorists. Apparently the traitor who leaks this news to the Times has confirmed for them at least a dozen operations which were carried out under this order.

These are just the kind of operations I want my government carrying out. We will never know how many attacks have been thwarted by these operations, and by our more public operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but our safety for the last 7+ years suggests they have been successful. Will President Obama immediately reverse this executive order? I hope and pray not, but I fear the worst. Hopefully a reporter will actually ask him to comment.

And on another matter, these type of leaks are completely unacceptable. I hope the administration in its waning months will use whatever means it has to discover the source and punish the leakers to the full extent possible under the law. Leaking details of top secret military operations during wartime should be considered treason, and punished as such.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Relief over President Obama

I'm starting to actually feel some relief that the Democrats are completely in charge now. I'm so sick of listening to liberals constantly insult and berate a decent man like President Bush, and blame him for every ill, real or perceived, that they see afflicting our country. A President McCain would let them continue this sniping for four more years. Now they are completely in control, and completely responsible, in a time of great consequence, a situation which has not happened in my lifetime .

It has been 40 years since a Democratic president has had to deal with such a serious time. Ronald Reagan inherited double-digit interest rates and inflation and a military that was dwarfed by the Soviet Union, both in conventional and nuclear weapons. He took the Soviets down, beat down inflation and won the cold war. Bush senior presided over the Iraq war and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Bush junior had to deal with 9/11, make hard choices to launch two wars. Pulled us out of the ABM treaty despite the cries that a new arms race was inevitable. For his leadership during these crises, for 7 years free of attacks he is rewarded with a 20% approval rating.

As for the Democratic presidents, the Carter administration speaks for itself. During the Clinton era looked back on so fondly by the left, Clinton reaped the "peace dividend". He slashed our defense spending from 4.8% of GDP in 1992 to 3.0% in 2000. The size of our navy was cut in half. This, combined with taxes pouring in due to the huge tech bubble, led to a balanced budget without much in the way of financial pain. Sure there were terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center, the USS Cole, our African embassies, etc.. but these were all considered"law enforcement" issues. Sure there was the debacle in Somalia and the intervention in Bosnia, but nothing "major." My point is, Clinton got off easy. In fact, he's been known to complain about this, that events (or lack thereof) ensured he could not end up among our greatest presidents.

Now things are different. Around 200,000 troops defend our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other operations around the world protect us from attacks. Annual budget deficits are approaching $1 trillion and the financial crisis shows no sign of letting up. It is time for the sniping from the sidelines to stop. The "Bush lied-people died" signs can go back in the garage. President Obama has his party in control of both houses of Congress. These problems are his. I don't have to listen to my colleagues whine about President Bush. If Obama orders the NSA to stop eavesdropping and a terrorist attack results, the blame rests with him. If he orders a hasty retreat in Iraq and a civil war results, the blame rests with him. If he borrows another $600 billion for "stimulus packages" and the economy keeps sinking, the blame rests with him.

Please don't misinterpret this post. I don't want these things to happen. And I certainly still wish John McCain had won the election. I'm just saying there is a certain relief that, at least for the next two years, I won't have to listen to my left wing colleagues blame everything on Bush and conservatives.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thoughts on the morning after

Well of course the prediction below was wishful thinking, it represents what would have happened had McCain been able to swing this 53-47 defeat into a 51-49 victory. Amid the carnage we still have some good news.
  • Looks like in Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon and Minnesota we beat back potential senate losses, which is good. I'd much rather Mitch McConnell have 45 Senators to fililbuster with than 41. We should be especially thankful that blowhard Al Franken fell 700 some votes short of being Senator Franken.
  • Exit polls show 34% of the voters self-identified conservatives versus 22% self-identified liberals. If we can get the right leaders and stop the big-spending and corruption that infiltrated our ranks, 2010 can be a huge comeback year.
  • Traditional marriage has once again won a clean sweep, with constitutional amendments passing in Florida, Arizona and even California. The anti-affirmative action measure in Colorado is too close to call.
Now to Barack Obama, congratulations! I hope you are ready. The most power you have ever had in your life is over your own campaign and/or office staff. You have always been one vote among many, and have never cast an important tiebreaking vote on anyhing. In other words, your decisions have never carried real consequences for large numbers of people. You have never been a mayor, a military leader, a small-business owner, a governor. In two months you are going to be the most powerful man in the world. Men equally as brilliant as you have flopped upon promotion to department chair!

You are going to inherit a huge array of military and intelligence activities from an administration that have done a truly incredible job of keeping American's safe since 9/11, and that are often secret. You are going to be responsible for a vastly improved situation in Iraq, with American casualties at record lows, in large part due to a surge strategy that you opposed. The decisions you will need to make are going to come fast and furious. Should we maintain this surveillance program? Should we continue this top-secret military operation in country X? What should be due with these terrorists we just caught on the battlefield in Iraq. If you don't have the right answers, our safety will be compromised and you will be responsible. If there is a terrorist attack on American soil, you will be blamed. If the situation in Iraq deteriorates, you will be blamed. Your favorite bogeyman will be clearing brush in Crawford or fishing in Maine.

You will inherit an economy that is in some ways teetering on the brink. When, a few months ago, John McCain said the fundamentals of our economy were strong, he was essentially correct, but may not be for much longer. Unemployment is still low but GDP has officially started shrinking and factory activity has plummeted. It is possible that a year from now the fundamentals will be 9% unemployment, and large contractions in GDP. People who think it is terrible now have never lived through a deep recession. Fairly or not, you and your party will be held responsible. You control the presidency and both houses of Congress.

You come to Washington having made little in the way of campaign promises. For you government is the answer to almost any problem, whether it be providing health care, creating jobs, etc.. However, like Bill Clinton, you have promised tax cuts. Unlike Bill Clinton, you can't arrive in Washington and renege on this promise, claiming surprise at the current situation. You have acknowledged raising taxes is not a good idea in a recession. How are you going to keep your promise on tax cuts? Will you go through with the enormous tax hikes on the wealthy? Remember, any deficit in 2010 is on your watch. You still lead the party of tax and spend. Unfortunately the Republicans became the party of borrow and spend. Still, if you go on a spending binge that leads to triliion-dollar deficits, be ready for backlash in 2010.

Finally, there are many many Americans who consider you the Obamessiah, and you are going to disappoint them, almost by definition. Women like this , who think you will be putting gas in her car and paying her mortgage, are going to be disappointed. Many of your poor supporters are going to be disappointed to see that little has changed in their lives, that a President has little control over their situation. You brought this on yourselves with your lofty claims of stopping the rise of the oceans and "we are the ones we have been waiting for". That balloon will not be easy to deflate.

And what about our new vice president?? I'll save that for another post...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Final Election Prediction: McCain 273 Obama 265

I just put my final election predictions into the electoral college calculator and came up with the number above. In particular I predict the following in the "swing" states:

Obama wins: Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia, Wisconsin

McCain wins: New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida

If McCain were to lose Pennsylvania his other best chance I think is to carry Virginia and Colorado, giving him 274.

In retrospect I have to wonder if Michigan wasn't a lost opportunity. It's not Obama's natural strong state and the state has been run into the ground under complete Democratic control for some time now. Of course if he carries Pennsylvania, the McCain camp will look like geniuses.

Obviously if Florida and Ohio don't come through the race is Obamas.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Down with early voting!

This early voting is really starting to get annoying. As much as possible election day should be an event where everyone comes out to vote together on a single day. Of course some people are unavoidably out of town and need to vote absentee, or are unable to make it to the polls. But having 20+% of the people casting their votes early, merely for convenience, distorts the election. Heck why not just let people vote anytime between the conventions and the election day. I'd much prefer a single campaign ending on a single date where anyone who is able to votes.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Looking like Obama peaked too soon.

With 4 days left it is starting to look like Obama peaked 10 days too soon. 10 days ago polls were showing him up 7-9 points, now the major tracking polls (Gallup, IBD, Rasmussen) have shown the race tightening to around 3-4 points and today's one-day Zogby poll shows McCain AHEAD of Obama 48-47. Meanwhile, with Obama in Iowa and McCain/Palin still hitting Pennsylvania hard, I think the McCain camp is starting to see the road to 270 come into focus.

Also, Obama is really starting to make mistakes. Kicking reporters from major media outlets off your plane because their editorial boards endorsed McCain? Openly discussing that you are putting your cabinet together? Blowing off the usual hotel ballroom to have an outdoor spectacle in Chicago for 1 million plus people, which is essentially planning a huge victory bash a week before the election. Charging reporters thousands of dollars for a place to file their stories from the party. I don't think Americans will take kindly to this kind of presumptuous behavior when they have not even voted yet.

Meanwhile he is disrespecting those who donated money to him by blowing through it at a ridiculous rate while continuing to ask for more. $4 million plus to by multiple networks out on Wed night when one would suffice. $700,000+ for lighting/set for his Berlin spectacular, $1million plus for the "victory" party. Obama blew through more than $110 million in two weeks of October, he is showing no respect for those Americans who sacrificed to donate to his campaign.

I find the idea of a McCain electoral college victory and popular vote defeat to be delicious, I can already hear the howls of outrage from the left. As of today I am standing by my prediction of a McCain victory, although I must unfortunately take Michigan out of the McCain column, I see McCain coming in with around 275 electoral votes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sickening defense of Bill Ayers

I just read the petition to support Bill Ayers, which currently has 4090 academic signatories. It is absolutely sickening. The letter never actually address in any way the horrific violence committed by Ayers and his wife and never disavowed. Instead the only mention is the following:
"The current characterizations of Professor Ayers---“unrepentant terrorist,” “lunatic leftist”---are unrecognizable to those who know or work with him. It’s true that Professor Ayers participated passionately in the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s, as did hundreds of thousands of Americans. His participation in political activity 40 years ago is history..."

Participated passionately? As did hundreds of thousands of Americans? Do these people have any academic honesty? Are they really trying to make a moral equivalence between violent terrorists like Ayers and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who managed to respect our laws while taking part in the movements of the 1960's? This is absolutely sickening. If these people were scholars, they would make their defense of Ayers AFTER acknowledging his violent history, rather than ignoring it. This is just a stark illustration that there is no defense of this man, only obfuscation. I will be personally contacting all the signatories at my institution to ask their opinion on the paragraph above.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Congrats to McCain

For tightening the race back to only 2% lead among Gallup likely voters, despite Obama spending ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLARS in the first TWO WEEKS of October. This while McCain, who unlike Obama kept his promise to take public financing, is limited to only $84 million for the entire general election period. I'm sure Obama made the right strategic decision to break his unequivocal pledge to remain in the public financing system, but that doesn't make it right, he lied plain and simple.

Skip class to work for the Obamessiah!

Barack Obama is asking students to skip class (ask your professors first!) in order to volunteer for him on election day. Just yet another example of a man whose ego seems to know no bounds.

Heck why not skip class!? Consider it an investment in your future. Under the Obama-Biden plan anyone can get a fully refundable $4000 tax credit, i.e. the first $4000 of your tuition every year can be wealth confiscated from someone else and handed to you in the form of a check. Can someone please explain to me, if a college education is supposed to be such a wonderful investment, why liberals think it needs to be so heavily subsidized by the government.

At the state colleges in New York, tuition is $4350 a year, with room and board expect $13,000/year. Even if a student borrows every penny of this money he leaves with a debt of $52,000. For a 10-year loan this works out to around $600/month in payments. Annoying, sure? Affordable for someone with a college degree? Absolutely! Even with a starting salary of only $30K this leaves $23K to live on in the first year, way more than our Ph.D. students are living on and way more than I lived on for 5 years of graduate school. And this assumes the student doesn't work during the year or in the summers, which can easily cut that debt figure in half.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The "Tenured Radical" takes her ball and goes home.

In the spirit of bipartisan discussion I have been posting comments over at the "left-wing professor" blog, otherwise known as the Tenured Radical, Professor Claire B. Potter of the Wesleyan University history department. Today however she announced that she is going to delete all my future comments because they "incite her to argue." That is really too bad, but it is reflective of what goes on in academia all the time. Academics spend their careers surrounded almost entirely by those with left-wing viewpoints, they are not challenged to debate them or explain them. When faced with someone intelligent holding a different worldview, they often buckle under the pressure. I encourage anyone to visit her blog and read some of the discussion in the comments section and decide for yourself if TR was justified in this decision, that is unless she purges all my previous comments from her blog!

I will close with a quote from Professor Potter on her blog, after announcing she will delete my comments:

"I got some scholarship to accomplish." Claire B. Potter, 10/27/2008, 10:24 a.m.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Progressive taxation is not the same as "spread the wealth."

There seems to be a lot of confusion about Obama's "spread the wealth" comment, with pundits arguing that this means nothing more than reflecting a desire for progressive taxation. For instance, we have this editorial out of Socialist Vermont:

John McCain knows full well that the country has always had a progressive tax code: i.e. spreading the wealth around. (For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” according to the New Testament’s Book of St. Luke.)
Our federal government spends roughly $3 TRILLION a year and the population is roughly 300 million, which works out to $10,000 per person per year. With a median family in the US earning around $50,000/year and having 3 members, it is clear that this family can't afford to pay its "fair share" of $30,000/year in taxes. Without a drastic slashing of the federal budget, we are forced into a progressive tax system, where by progressive I simply mean the wealthy pay more in taxes than the not so wealthy. Noone, including McCain, is seriously arguing that taxes should be assessed on a "per person" basis. But this doesn't mean wealth is being spread around, it just means those less wealthy are not paying their fair share of federal taxes.

What Obama is proposing goes much further. He wants to drastically expand the amount of money that the government takes from the rich and, rather than spend it, just writes checks and sends it to other citizens. We already have a little of this, for example the earned income tax credit. What Obama proposes is an enormous increase in this type of wealth transfer, through mutliple "refundable tax credits."

The quickest way to see this is to ask yourself what taxes Obama is planning to cut. He promises tax cuts for 95% of Americans but, if you look at his plan, there aren't any taxes he actually plans to cut. What tax rates will go down under the Obama plan? NONE! Instead he proposes multiple tax credits, which end up being checks for millions of Americans. He's not proposing to lower any of the income tax rates. He's not planning on lowering taxes on capital gains, dividends or corporate taxes. Instead he proposes multiple changes to the tax system which do nothing but redistribute wealth.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obama birth certificate issues

OK I'm going to risk going to the fringe here, but I've been following, for several months, with interest the debate about whether Obama was actually born in Hawaii or, as some suspect, in Kenya. Some time ago Obama released a scanned copy of the front side only of a "Certificate of Live Birth" showing he was born in Hawaii. There is some evidence that the document was forged from the certificate belonging to Obama's sister. Someone has even taken credit for making the forgery. For some reason he has not produced an actual birth certificate, or agreed to let Hawaii release the actual records.

On October 18 a lawsuit was filed in Hawaii seeking a court order to release the actual records. Coincidentally (?) Obama is now racing to Hawaii to visit his sick grandmother (you may recall her as the "typical white person"). The strange thing is she was released from the hospital more than a week ago and the campaign is not saying what is wrong with her now, nor did Obama feel the need to visit her when she was in the hospital. The man who filed the lawsuit claims the grandmother story is a ruse to cover up the real reason for the trip to Hawaii.

Anyhow, there are two facts that are not in dispute:

1. Given his father being from Kenya and all his international travels as a child, living in Indonesia, etc.., it is reasonable to inquire as to whether Obama was born in the United States.

2. Obama has not released his actual birth certificate, nor has he given permission to the proper authorities in Hawaii to release the records.

To me this definitely fails the smell test, something fishy is going on here. It may be something devastating to the Obama campaign, like him not being a US citizen and therefore ineligible to be president. It might be something less devastating like him being listed as Muslim on the birth certificate.

I rate it as a 1 in 5 shot that this will boil over into the mainstream media and end up as Obama's October surprise. If Obama knows he was not born in the US and is covering it up, and ends up being elected, and then it comes out, he should be tried for treason.