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Primetime McCain

He has new friends...and old detractors. Obama's minimum wage pay scale. A Ridge to nowhere. Icy in Georgia. Plus more.

8.19.08

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SADDLED UP AT SADDLEBACK
Re: Philip Klein's McCain's Finest Hour:

Warning to conservatives: this is not the John McLame that I know. Give him a couple of days and he will fully recover from his Reaganesque performance at Saddleback Church and go back to the old conservative-bashing McLame we have all come to despise.

His next poke in our eyes will be his nomination for Vice President. Look for some liberal, "pro-choice" loser.

I am not convinced.
-- Keith Kunzler

Will someone please tell Senator McCain to quit using the term "My friends"? I bet he used it at least dozen times during the Saddleback interview. It sounds so disingenuous, like Richard Nixon's "My fellow Americans." It makes me cringe.
-- Mark Tarnowski

I couldn't agree with Phil Klein more. John McCain's performance at the Saddleback Church was the best I've seen of the man. His responses were solid and straight-on. Obama, on the other hand, in responding to Rick Warren's questions, did more tap-dancing around than Gregory Hines in his prime. It was truly a memorable moment in this year's presidential election process.

Truth be told, I contributed to Sen. McCain's campaign early on (I initially supported Mitt Romney) but became dismayed at many of the things McCain has said and done. Recently, after hearing of his comment that he would consider a "pro-choice" (read "pro-abortion") vice president, I sent the most recent solicitation for funds by the McCain Campaign back to them with a hand-written note from a gift pad of paper that bears the photo of my grandson. I soundly castigated McCain and his campaign for uttering such rubbish. However, Senator John's performance at Saddleback has pretty much calmed my fears and I will be sending in a contribution in the next solicitation that I receive (and they do seem to come 3-4 times a week).
-- Jim Bjaloncik
Stow, Ohio

Yet another fine piece by Philip Klein.

He did leave out one of the most telling Obama flubs, though -- when he failed to answer the question of when life begins. His core evasion (I had originally written "answer") was that the question was "above his pay grade."

Well, let's see if we can explain it to someone in Obama's "pay grade." I'll try to use as many words of one syllable as I can, considering the difficulty of the subject (for some).

First, let's imagine two moments and two bodies frozen in time -- my body a second before I die, and my body a second after. As far as the natural elements are concerned, the bodies are both the same, except that one of the bodies is "dead."

Clearly, something had been working on the elements in the living body to keep them developing and growing, but is missing in the dead body. We call that something "life."

We don't know what "life" is, where it resides in the body, or how it works. We just know that when it's there, our bodies are developing and growing, and when it's absent, they stop.

Now, let's look at conception. An ovum combines with a spermatozoon and the egg begins to develop and grow. Hopefully, it will continue to grow develop and grow through all of the stages of human life.

Here, however, not only do we not know where in that tiny body, measured in cells, life is, or how it works, but now we also don't know how it got there. Probably from the mother, maybe from the mother and father.

Religious people believe it is the body's "soul" and came from God.

No matter what you believe about the origin of that "life" force in that body, it is clear that that tiny new body is not dead. It is clear that it is developing and growing. It is clear that the "life" force is at work and will be at work until it leaves its physical body when it "dies."

Developing and growing and not dead. Alive.

Do you think that is clear enough for someone in Obama's "pay grade"?

Shush, if his "pay grade" isn't high enough to understand that, surely it's not high enough to understand the presidency either.
-- A. C. Santore

I was one of perhaps three or four people who watched the town meeting Saturday.

It came to me as if by divine revelation (though I'm sure it wasn't) that there is an apt comparison to Mr. Obama. He is cotton candy.

With a swirled cone of the spun sugar fibers that comprise cotton candy you have to open your jaws until they ache to get a bite. But once you close them, there is nothing there.
-- Jay Molyneaux
North Carolina

Excellent review of the Smackdown at Saddleback. Just one thing omitted. Mr. Klein did not address the "above my pay grade" weasel words of Obama.

Had I been Pastor Rick I would have said, "Look, Oh, Fatuous One, partial birth abortion is when a viable infant is ready to be born and this event is interrupted by an abortionist who turns the baby in the birth canal, so it will present feet first -- because if the head emerges, oops, there's a live baby and terminating that constitutes murder. But if abortionist invades the sanctuary of the mother's body and stabs the infant's skull and melts its brain with saline solution, then Planned Parenthood calls it Late Term Abortion while others still call it murder. Tell me, in what way is it above your pay grade to render an opinion on the facts as I have stated them, and as you know them to be? Because if it is above your pay grade, you have already risen above the level of your competency and you better be glad you shucked and jived yourself as far as the Senate."

But then I am not Pastor Rick. You have instead, the Gospel according to St. Diane.
-- Diane Smith

You might say that Obama is wet behind the ears -- but then they stick out so far, we'll have to use some other metaphor to explain his thin resume.
-- Gerry Kendall

I guess now we know exactly why Obama has been dodging the Townhalls that McCain proposed and that Obama previously had agreed to do. He pales in comparison to McCain. And the more time they spend in the same room, the more people realize it.
-- Elizabeth Knott

BEGONE TOM
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Pennsylvania Conservatives Say No to Ridge:

Should John McCain win, it is a sure thing that he would be a one-term president (age). Rather than an uninspiring and "wooden" Tom Ridge for VP, McCain should be looking for a fresh face and provide four years of exposure to the public in the development of a solid Republican presidential contender in four year's time. A major part of the allure of Obama is that he is a relatively fresh face; the Republicans would be wise to match a fresh face with a trusted face and attract people who do want a real change, not just a slogan!
-- Bill
Oakton, Virginia

If a Pennsyltuckian is needed, let us not forget Rick Santorum who, despite his Senate loss, remains an attractive conservative--or, for that matter, John Kasich of Ohio, a Pennsylvania native.
-- Richard Donley
New Lyme, Ohio

My instincts at reading political personnae serve me well. When Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas appeared out of nowhere in 1991, I immediately liked him. His work as Justice confirms my first impression.

When the Clintons journeyed from the Little Rock stage into the national arena in 1992, I immediately distrusted them. Their subsequent selfish duplicity and evil deeds do not surprise me.

Considering the presidential candidates, the choice between McCain and Obama is not difficult. Adding Tom Ridge to McCain's ticket makes the decision more difficult. I do not trust Tom Ridge.
-- David Shoup

Here's a straight answer from a conservative voter: NO to pro-abortion Republican candidates. Now, I normally am a pro-life voter -- I used to vote only based on that issue. However, due to the severity of problems we need to deal with, even I have changed a bit. Now, I vote for those who will make conservative decisions on our Judges, stop the obscene spending of our tax money and close our borders and keep America safe. Now Senator McCain, I am sure you can pick a VP who meets all these requirements knowing that most thinking Americans find the above mentioned issues are worth defending, whether it be by Republicans, Independents or Reagan Democrats. Don't try and justify abortion by selecting a Pro Abortion advocate -- instead justify picking a VP who truly wants to bring sanity and a more conservative approach of common sense back to America.
-- Joellen M. Arrabito

Conservatives are not the only voters in Pennsylvania. Remember Rick Santorum (R. Senator-Pa. pro-life) just lost his election. I doubt Tom Ridge would have lost that election had he been running. He is very popular there. And McCain is thinking of Hillary's women, that they might be more inclined to vote for him with Ridge on the ticket. Ridge could produce the winning edge in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

FEEL THE CHILL
Re: George H. Wittman's Refreezing the Cold War:

Russia's invasion of Georgia immediately produced thoughts of the old Soviet Union and its grand plan to bury the West. Of course pundits examined where Russia's grand strategy might be taking it. But as the episode unfolds, it is looking more like Russia has made a strategic mistake that will produce a backlash in the U.S., the Balkans and Caucasus, Europe, Japan and parts of Asia.

Looking at Russia's action in a different light produces a different answer however. Suppose the invasion of Georgia is 80% about the oil and gas pipelines running through Georgia from the Caspian to the Mediterranean Sea. If Russia can establish an economic sphere of influence by establishing a monopoly on energy supplies to Europe and Asia, it can dictate prices and the policies of other countries by controlling the on off valves as it has already demonstrated.

Having such an energy monopoly might enable Russia to boost energy income by 25% for 5 to 7 years. In seven years energy income could triple and gross domestic product could double. Russia needs the money to:

1) equip the military
2) continue their space program
3) satisfy pension and health benefits

One is reminded of the Hong Kong spirit when Great Britain ran it. People came knowing that with hard work they could double their money in five years. But Russia is a wholesale economy not a retail economy like Hong Cong and relies on selling its natural resources. Hong Cong has no natural resources other than its port, fish, and the industry of its inhabitants. This new Russian spirit might be called "Show Me The Money!"

How else to explain the precarious, even silly, military situation Russia has placed itself in. Russia is virtually guaranteeing a Western military influence in their neighborhood and political and financial constraints being placed upon it over a sliver of land acquired by the country with the largest land area in the world.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

The standard criticism of the Bush administration by its foreign policy critics is that US has not worked with its allies and the result has been that coalition building has become an end in itself. When the Russians invaded Georgia they proved beyond a shadow of a doubt just how weak and shallow these coalitions are. If America does not stand by its allies when they are invaded, and Georgia is an ally who has been invaded, then any coalition involving America isn't worth the paper it's written on.

The foreign policy establishment refuses to accept that simple point -- instead there is endless whining about how America is overstretched and can't help, the Georgians are sort of sons-of-bitches anyway and any actions will only upset the Russians more. That may be true, but it's also beside the point. It's as good as saying that allies are expendable and America only shows up for the easy jobs. If that is the intention then trying to build alliances is a complete waste of time. Never has there been such muddle, weakness and confusion shown on such a scale and on such an important issue.

Any complaints about the Russians not keeping their agreements and the French and Germans being gutless and useless, and there will be plenty of these indeed, will fall in a heap unless America puts its own money where its own mouth is and stands by an ally when the chips are down. The Russians have never been trustworthy and the French and Germans have always been gutless and these factors should have been taken into account years ago. Being surprised about them now doesn't indicate either the workings of a gigantic intelligence or the convictions of a great moral force.

The Russians have bought American foreign policy crashing down around the ears of the Bush administration and their response has been so gutless and inept that it is downright horrifying. If Bush and Condi Rice had even a shred of dignity then they would hang their heads in shame over how they have mismanaged this one. They couldn't have done worse if they had tried. Jimmy Carter was never as bad as this and he was only on the job for four years -- Bush and Rice have had eight years to get their game sorted out and they still look like a bunch of pathetic losers who came down in the last shower.

With apologies to Winston Churchill, never in the history of human endeavor have so many owed so little to so few. Unless some very simple fundamental truths are confronted about the value of alliances and the responsibilities that they involve then the free world is in for a very rocky time ahead.
-- Christopher Holland
Canberra, Australia

Mr. Wittman has a very good explanation for the current actions of the Russian in Georgia. They aims are much more grandiose, however.

It is true that the Russians are sending a message to both their former constituent states and to the West. That message is slightly different for both groups. For the states of Georgia, Ukraine, Estonia, et al, it is that they will be re-absorbed into the Russian Empire, aka the Russian Federation. To the West, specifically the United States, it is that the New Russia will not allow U.S. influence in its former client states and satellites.

The invasion of Georgia was done largely to gauge U.S. reaction to forced Russian annexation of former territory. That process is still underway. Moscow, that is Vladimir Putin, is still unsure of exactly how far the U.S. will commit itself to Georgia. If Russian forces begin to withdraw from undisputed Georgian territory then it means that Moscow does not feel comfortable in assuming a minor response from the U.S. If they do not withdraw, then the ball will be in the American's court. Europe is a non-starter in this contest. If the U.S. does not present a strong, determined response including some military muscle, then Russia will continue its efforts to consolidate its former Empirical borders. The signal was clearly sent that Russia intends to stifle U.S. influence in its back yard and to reclaim its former territory.

Now, the Russians are engaged in a dangerous game. They view the U.S. as the principle impediment to their future goals. This may be true, now. But in the long run, they face a much graver danger from their neighbor to the east, the People's Republic of China; which is looking to expand and will very likely find the partial vacuum created in Russia's eastern provinces very attractive. Also, they may have misjudged the response of their former client states, who apparently haven't forgotten Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Russia may find itself facing a far more intractable defensive alliance than NATO.

Look for more Russian activities designed to thwart U.S. interests, including additional military assistance to Iran and others in the Middle East.
-- Michael Tobias

RED RISHAWN
Re: RiShawn Biddle's Justice Daleyed:

RiShawn Biddle says, "Nanny state behavior on the urban level is often tolerated if the streets are clean, neighborhoods are safe, and government is efficient and free of widespread corruption." Translation: government can trample on individual rights as long as it provides a reasonable degree of safety, efficiency, cleanliness and honesty.

Well said, Comrade Biddle.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

FAULTY ASSUMPTIONS
Re: John Samples' Four More Lies:

Point 3 in Mr. Samples' article assumes the man-made globaloney warming is correct. No, it is not correct -- as can be seen from documents signed by over 31,000 scientists and professionals and whose number is growing daily (see Internet for "Oregon Petition" and "Manhattan Declaration"). This largest of all scams in the history of mankind perpetrated upon us should be denounced by all politicians seeking to win the forthcoming elections. The "environmentalists" scam on DDT has so far caused deaths by malaria of over 100 million people -- mostly children and mostly in Africa; that crime surpasses the crimes of each of the 20th century monsters -- Hitler, Stalin, Mao. DDT has been banned now for over 30 years, as being non-biodegradable and killing fish and birds. Research has shown that it is biodegradable and that it has killed no bird and no fish, and that is still the only efficient way to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The globaloney warming scam will probably kill most of us.
-- Marc Jeric
Las Vegas, Nevada

BACK IN MY DAY
RE: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s In Michael Phelps' Skin:

In the '60s I was involved with Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing. This was a mix of MGs, Triumphs, Lotii, Fiats, and various and sundry, Ferraris, Maseratis, Porches. It was a fun time and everyone enjoyed the races and the camaraderie. The rich guys had the Maseratis and the poor guys drove the Austin-Healey Sprites. Since the whole game was divided into classes the competition was fairly balanced and the best drivers won. But pretty soon even the rich guys with Ferraris couldn't win all the time and they got their mechanics to stuff bigger and bigger USA V-8 engines under the hood, and they still couldn't win. The point being that the skillful driver with consistent and fair enforceable rules could beat the dollars and technology.

Eventually the money angle prevailed and the amateurs that drove their car to the track and home again were outweighed with the big buck guys and now amateur racing is almost gone. Roger Penske with oodles of money came in with thinly disguised Grand Prix cars called the Xerox Special as I recall and wiped everybody away. It really isn't the technology that rapes the sport, it's the money.
-- Stu Sammis

THERE, THERE
Re: Frost's letter (under "Pat on the Back") in Reader Mail's Petro Pelosi:

Frost is certainly right (sorry, correct) in his assessment of letters from Bev Gunn, Diane Smith, et al. I don't know if anyone has mentioned this before, but if the Arnold Ahlert who posts here used to write for the NY Post, we can count ourselves lucky. That guy can say more in fewer words than most ink-stained wretches can. Although it is still hard to beat Gertrude Stein's "there is no there there."
-- Dick Lambert
Eagle Rock, Virginia

For today's special Reader Mail section on Ben Stein and John Edwards, click here.

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