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Archive for September, 2008

I just got an email from Gabriela Schneider of the Sunlight Foundation. Here’s the text of that email:

Dear Sunlighter,

Today, the Sunlight Foundation is calling on Congress to exercise restraint and increase legislative transparency by posting the next version of the financial bailout legislation online for at least 72 hours before bringing the bill to a vote.

We believe all legislation should posted online for at 72 hours before a vote to give lawmakers and citizens sufficient time to review and debate it, and this bill is no exception.

That’s why we just created a petition http://readthebillfirst.org, that urges Congress to wait at least until 72 hours after the publication of the next version
of this bill, before moving to a vote.

The failure of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 on Monday, September 29, 2008, is a case in point. The bill was posted online late Sunday afternoon, and voted on less than 24 hours later.

This isn’t a bill to rename a few courthouses; this bill is Congress’s biggest intervention in the economy in decades. This important legislation deserved more time for public scrutiny.

Please join us in our call for legislative transparency by signing the petition at http://readthebillfirst.org

You can review and comment on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act on PublicMarkup.org, http://tinyurl.com/4q3zvn, too.

Our Party Time site, http://PoliticalPartyTime.org, is also doing its part to shine a light on how the financial sector is wining and dining the very lawmakers in Congress who are making the decisions about the most massive proposed bailout of
industry in history. Based on the anonymously submitted invitations we’ve received, we now count 357 parties this year planned for or featuring members of the two crucial committees that are the first stops for considering the administration’s
$700 billion bailout request for the financial sector. See the full list of parties here: http://tinyurl.com/3htbev.

And be sure to check out our blog post here, http://tinyurl.com/3lq3d7, about the finance industry’s investment over the past 18 years attempting to influence
Congress. The post includes a very cool interactive graph showing their spending, and a YouTube tutorial video explaining the graph.

Thanks for all that you do,

Gabriela Schneider & the Sunlight team

It’s time that Ms. Pelosi started living up to her promiose that this would be the most ethical, most transparent congress in history. I don’t expect that to happen. I’m actually expecting the opposite. Nonetheless, I strongly encourage this blog’s readers to put pressure on Ms. Pelosi. She’s a miserable failure, easily the most inept Speaker in my lifetime. If there’s ever been a time that we’ve needed the spotlight put on the House, it’s now.

Otherwise, we’ll get stuck with a bureaucratic boondoggle that spends our money without fixing a thing. We can’t afford that, especially right now.

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David Obey is one of the biggest blowhards in the House. Yesterday, Rep. Obey made this assinine statement:

House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) just went off on the GOP in general and Minority Leader John Boehner in particular. “I guess the Republican leadership is so weak, John Boehner couldn’t deliver 50 percent of the votes. I thought these were big boys,” he said.

Obey said Boehner’s explanation “gives hypocracy a bad name to say that anybody else but House Republicans are responsible.” Obey blasted the “absolute fecklessness” of House Republicans who voted against it.

It’s time that I ripped Rep. Obey a new one. He’s whining that John Boehner didn’t deliver more votes for the bailout bill. Why isn’t he whining about the 12 Democrats from Barney Frank’s committee that didn’t vote for the bill? Why isn’t Obey whining about the people from the CBC that didn’t vote for the bill? Why isn’t Rep. Obey whining about Ms. Pelosi’s not whipping the vote? The bill would’ve passed had they gotten 12 additional votes.

This morning, Mitch McConnell took a shot at Nancy Pelosi:

Notwithstanding yesterday’s failure in the House, the Republican Leader McConnell said Congress can “act like grown-ups.”

“We will get the job done. We will get it done this week. It will reassure the American people that Congress can rise to the occasion, act like grown-ups, if you will,” McConnell said.

The clear implication of Sen. McConnell’s statement is that the House Democrats, especially Speaker Pelosi, didn’t act like adults. It’s difficult to argue that.

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Following yesterday’s vote on the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailout, two things should be clear to the American people: Barack Obama is a sideline watcher and Nancy Pelosi cares more about playing hyperpartisan politics than she cares about doing what’s right for the American people.

When John McCain jumped into the mess last week, 4 House Republican were on board with the bailout. When the final tally was counted yesterday, 65 Republicans voted for the bill. John McCain’s jumping into the fray meant another thing: House Republicans got a seat at the table, allowing them to negotiate into the bill some meaningful provisions that would’ve protected taxpayers to a certain extent. John Boehner worked hard to get Republicans on board. That’s the picture of leadership.

By comparison, Barack Obama wanted to stay away in the worst way. He only returned to Washington because President Bush invited him. That isn’t the picture of leadership. The minute the meeting ended, his jet was winging him away from Washington. He didn’t lift a finger over the weekend. Yes, he stayed in touch with Secretary Paulson but he didn’t call House Democrats urging them to vote for this bill.

He essentially voted present again. That’s unacceptable, especially considering the fact that this was supposedly the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. In my opinion, there’s two reasons why he isn’t interjecting himself into this crisis.

I think the main reason is because he isn’t a leader. There’s a reason why he voted present 130 times in the Illinois Senate. I think it’s because he doesn’t have the courage to stake out a firm position on anything. Duane Patterson noticed that, too, in this post:

Senator Obama, on the other hand, showed up to the White House only when invited, spoke in platitudes, left, got beat in the debate Friday night, spent the weekend speaking in more platitudes, and did not lift a finger to dial the phone of any of his Democratic colleagues in the House to try and persuade them to consider supporting a bill Obama was half-heartedly on board with for the good of the country.

Hugh Hewitt interviewed Rudy Giuliani yesterday. This exchange highlights Sen. Obama’s unwillingness to work hard for the American people:

HH: Should Obama be out there right now demanding that this pass on Thursday, Mayor?

RG: Of course. He should be working the phones. That’s what a president…this is what our great presidents do. They work the phones. It just doesn’t all happen because you make a speech and say change. It just doesn’t happen because you have a catch phrase or you happen to be able to have sort of a rock star effect on people. Politicians don’t care about rock star effects on people. They care about are you negotiating with me, what you are going to do for me, how are you going to get it done. I passed a lot of legislation as Mayor of New York City. It didn’t happen because I’m a rock star. It happened because I could negotiate with people, and I could work with them to get it done. John McCain can do that. Remember, when he went to Washington, with all the Democrats attacking him, he took the Republicans from four to 64. When Barack Obama went to Washington, it looks like the Democrats disappeared.

Sen. Obama isn’t the only person who disgraced themself yesterday. Nancy Pelosi took an ‘I don’t give a damn’ approach to passing this bill. Based on her past statements, this bill should’ve been the highest priority since gaining the speakership. Instead, she didn’t even bother having James Clyburn whip the vote. Anyone who wanted a free pass on a tough vote got one.

This was a golden opportunity for her to have a significant accomplishment since claiming the Speaker’s chair. Instead, she chose to play the role of a petty tyrant, which is what she is. Her vitriolic speech on the House floor right before the vote was unprecedented in the history of the Speaker of the House. Yesterday was a time when bringing people together and magnanimity were needed. Instead, she told her members to go their own ways. Instead, she was vitriolic, not gracious.

It isn’t a stretch to think that she wanted this bill to fail. It isn’t a stretch to think that her plan was to let the bill fail, then blame it on Republicans. The problem for Speaker Pelosi is that the American people will find out that she didn’t lift a finger to get this bill passed. She didn’t pressure Democrats to pass the bill.

It’s obvious that Pelosi share at least two traits with Sen. Obama: Both are comfortable voting present when the pressure’s on and both are comfortable not lifting a finger to get important bills passed. That isn’t leadership.

That’s a Jimmy Carter disaster waiting to happen.

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Cross-posted at California Conservative

This article in Politico.com tells quite the story. The story they tell is that we might’ve seen Speaker Pelosi have a vitriolic meltdown on the House floor. Here’s what Politico.com is reporting:

But anyone who looked at the transcript of Pelosi’s speech released by her office might have been puzzled by the complaints.

The transcript seemed relatively tame, with only relatively mild shots at the Republicans in the text.

But a review of the video of Pelosi’s comments shows the speaker deviated substantially from her prepared remarks when she stepped into the well of the House at about 12:20 p.m. Monday afternoon, delivering a series of ad-libbed jabs at President Bush and his party.

Then they list the things Ms. Pelosi actually said that weren’t in her prepared statement:

“When President Bush took office, he inherited President Clinton’s surpluses, four years in a row, budget surpluses, on a trajectory of $5.6 trillion in surplus. And with his reckless economic policies within two years, he had turned that around…and now eight years later the foundation of that fiscal irresponsibility, combined with an anything-goes economic policy, has taken us to where we are today. They claim to be free-market advocates when it’s really an anything-goes mentality, no regulation, no supervision, no discipline….”

“…Democrats believe in a free market…but in this case, in its unbridled form as encouraged, supported by the Republicans, some in the Republican Party, not all, it has created not jobs, not capital, it has created chaos.”

It’s Ms. Pelosi’s right to peddle the myth that the Republicans’ implementation of a system lacking in regulation caused this crisis. As I just wrote, the problem wasn’t a lack of regulation. The problem was that Democrats opposed reforming the problems at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

That 4 minute vitriolic diatribe by Speaker Pelosi showed who she really is: a hateful, bitter woman incapable of graciousness. She let her emotions get the better of her, too. Had she held off on her hateful diatribe, the bill likely would’ve passed. Instead, she indulged in a full-fledged diatribe.

Leaders need to be able to control their tempers. It isn’t that leaders don’t have tempers; it’s that they control their tempers instead of their tempers controlling the person. What’s worse is that she put self-indulgence ahead of doing the nation’s business. That’s inexcusable in a time of crisis.

It’s time to replace that tyrant with a real leader who’s willing to work with principled legislators of all persuasions.

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This AP Article quotes Barney Frank spinning his head off. Here’s what he’s quoted as saying:

That was a remarkable accusation by Republicans against Republicans, said Rep. Barney Frank, (D-MA), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee: “Because somebody hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country.”

Rep. Frank is the one who punished the country. He didn’t punish it today. Instead, he punished it 4 years ago by pretending that Fannie and Freddie didn’t have problems:

Frank was adamant that “these two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis.” When the White House warned of “systemic risk for our financial system” unless the mortgage giants were curbed, Frank complained that the administration was more concerned about financial safety than about housing.

The Bush administration was right to be “more concerned about financial safety than about housing.” I wish Rep. Frank had been “more concerned about financial safety than about housing.” If he’d paid attention, we might’ve reformed these GSE’s and saved taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

It isn’t the least bit unfair to say that this could’ve been averted had Democrats like Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, Greg Meeks, Artur Davis and Lacy Clay paid attention to Christopher Shays, Ed Joyce and Richard Baker way back in 2004. This video highlights the Democrats’ role in this crisis:

It’s time for the Right Blogosphere to highlight Barney Frank’s statements at this 2004 hearing. They’ve been proven wrong in the extreme. I think he knew they were wrong because I think Barney Frank is a smart guy.

These vulnerable Democrats voted no on this bill:

Altmire, Barrow, Boyda, Cazayoux, Childers, Giffords, Gillibrand, Kagen, Lampson, Shuler, Stupak, Mark Udall (CO), Tom Udall (NM), Walz and John Yarmuth.

These committee chairs in safe seats voted no, too:

Conyers, Delahunt, Collin Peterson and Bennie Thompson.

If this was that important, why couldn’t Ms. Pelosi 12 of these 19 Democrats to vote for the bill? It’s time we laid blame where it rightfully belongs: at the Democrats’ doorstep. They ignored the problem when it was a manageable problem, then voted in droves against the bill that supposedly would’ve fixed the crisis.

To say they aren’t to blame is laughable.

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I don’t know how I didn’t spot this last week. ABCNews reported last week that Joe Biden was opposed to coal plants in America. Here’s what Sen. Biden said:

“We’re not supporting clean coal,” Biden said. “Guess what? China is building two every week, two dirty coal plants. And it’s polluting the United States, it’s causing people to die.”

“So will you support wind and solar and alternate technologies?” the woman questioned.

“Absolutely, before anybody did,” came Biden’s reply. “The first guy to introduce a global warming bill was me 22 years ago. The first guy to support solar energy was me 26 years ago. It came out of Delaware.”

“But guess what?,” he continued. “China’s gonna burn 300 years of bad coal unless we figure out how to clean their coal up because it’s gonna ruin your lungs and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

The McCain campaign has put together an ad highlighting Sen. Biden’s comments. Here’s the script for the ad:

Clean Coal – Pennsylvania
Announcer: Clean Coal is important to America. And to Pennsylvania.
For Pennsylvanians, coal means thousands of jobs.
Economic growth.
More affordable electricity.
For America, coal means energy independence.
And clean coal means cleaner air.
But Obama-Biden and their liberal allies oppose clean coal.
Listen to Joe Biden.
Biden: “No coal plants here in America”. “We’re not supporting clean coal”.
Anncr: No coal plants in America?
No jobs in Pennsylvania?
No energy independence for America?
It’s no surprise.
After all, Obama-Biden and their liberal allies opposed off-shore drilling.
Congressional liberals blocked off-shore drilling…
putting special interests, before our interests.
Obama-Biden and their liberal allies.
Too risky for our jobs…our economic future.
Anncr: Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee.
John McCain: I’m John McCain and I approved this message.

I’ll bet that this will change votes in Ohio and Pennsylvania. This might help with their environmentalist fringe base but it won’t sit well with people concerned with rising heating and electric bills. I’m betting that there are more people worried about their electric bills and their jobs than there are people worried about saving the planet.

Here’s why Biden’s statements are big trouble for the Obama-Biden ticket:

No sooner had the video surfaced then Republicans pointed out that Biden’s answer conflicted with Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last month when he proclaimed his ticket’s support for clean coal development.

“As president,” said Obama, “I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.”

And Biden’s remarks also stood in stark contrast to his own comments this weekend at the United Mine Workers of America annual fish fry in Castlewood, Virginia, when he told the miners that “we have enough coal in the United States of America to meet our needs domestically for the better part of the next 100 to 200 years.”

Knowing that they had to respond quickly, the Obama campaign issued this feeble response:

“This is yet another false attack from a dishonorable campaign,” said Biden spokesman David Wade. “Sen. McCain knows that Sen. Obama and Sen. Biden support clean coal technology. Sen. Biden’s point is that China is building coal plants with outdated technology every day, and the United States needs to lead by developing clean coal technologies.”

Mr. Wade’s childish diatribe notwithstanding, the best that can be said is that Sen. McCain originally thought that the Obama-Biden ticket supported clean coal technology but that they aren’t certain following Sen. Biden’s comments. It isn’t like this would be the first time that the Obama campaign had changed their position on an issue.

I’d further suggest that Wade’s claiming that this is “another false attack from a dishonorable campaign” is to disstract people’s attention from Biden’s contradictory statements. That’s shameful. It’s also predictable. Distracting people from a gaffe is Campaign 101.

Joe Biden’s words will remind people that Barack Obama isn’t wholly committed to increasing fossil fuel supplies. Let’s remember this Sen. Obama quote:

“I remain skeptical that new offshore drilling will bring down gas prices in the short-term or significantly reduce our oil dependence in the long-term, though I do welcome the establishment of a process that will allow us to make future drilling decisions based on science and fact.”

Will Sen. Obama fight to increase fossil fuels if he’s elected? Informed people know that that’s fiction.

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Last Thursday, Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit reported that St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch were forming an Obama truth squad:

St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch are threatening to bring libel charges against those who speak out falsely against Barack Obama.

KMOV aired a story last night, that stated that St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, both Obama supporters, are threatening to bring criminal libel charges against anyone who levels what turns out to be false criticisms of their chosen candidate for President.

Now, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is running this quote from Jennifer Joyce about the OTS:

As a citizen, I believe that elections should be about issues. I also have enormous respect for our First Amendment and freedom of speech. My sole purpose in participating in this initiative is about getting truthful information to the voters. This has never been or never will be about prosecuting people.

Clearly there are those who are attempting to twist the purpose of this initiative for their own benefit. This attack is a great example of how the truth is distorted in campaigns and what we’re trying to stand up against.

Ms. Joyce’s line that she has “enormous respect for our First Amendment” is downright laughable. Anyone threatening criminal prosecution of political speech, regardless of whether it’s accurate or not, is intended to have a chilling effect on free speech. In this scenario, Ms. Joyce and Mr. McColloch determine what is or isn’t false. Considering that they’re Obama partisans, why should we think that they’d objectively examine statements? Isn’t it more likely that they’d subjectively read things into statements that aren’t there?

Secondly, Ms. Joyce and Mr. McColloch are public servants. If they’re going to go after statements against Sen. OBama that they believe are lies, it’s only right that they prosecute people who say untruthful things about Sen. McCain. Why isn’t it just as much their responsibility to go after liberals who tell whoppers? Here’s what Ms. Joyce said in an interview with KMOV-TV:

We want to keep this campaign focused on issues. We don’t want people to get distracted, and Missourians don’t want to get distracted, by divisive character attacks. We’re going to respond to any character attacks to set the record straight.

Here’s what Mr. McCulloch told KMOV-TV:

Whether it is directly attributable to the campaign or whether it’s attributable to one of the soft money operations, if they’re not going to tell the truth, then somebody’s gotta step up and say ‘Wait a minute. That’s not the truth. This is the truth.’

Reporter John Mills followed those quotes with this information:

Now the Obama campaign tells News 4 that others, prosecutors and sheriffs, are also part of the team, including some prosecutors from the Kansas City are and rural parts of Missouri. We were also told to expect Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyd to be part of the team.

I refuse to believe that these partisans will be the least bit objective in determining what’s truth or what isn’t. I don’t think that that’s what this is about anyway. It’s my belief that the purpose behind the Truth Squad operation is to tell people that they’ll have an criminal arrest on their record if they speak out against their preferred candidate.

Obama’s tactics go well beyond the norm. Most campaigns have war rooms to refute what they think are the other campaign’s distortions of their record. By bringing law enforcement into this, the Obama campaign is telling people that they’ll be subject to criminal prosecution if they say something they disagree with. That’s the type of tactic that I’d expect from the KGB or other dictatorial thug organization.

That isn’t the way the United States does things. In the United States, we don’t threaten people with whom we disagree with prosecution. It’s time for the Obama campaign to end this thuggish response. It’s time that they proved that they won’t use any available resource to annihilate their political opponents.

It’s impossible to believe in hope and change with a boot pressing down against your throat.

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I just got an email announcing a lit-dropping opportunity in SD-16 and in HD-16B. People are putting a lit drop for Saturday, Oct. 11. If you’re interested in helping Alison Krueger and Mary Kiffmeyer win this November, I strongly urge you to volunteer.

If your candidate is in a tight race, that’s obviously a higher priority. If your candidate isn’t in a tight race, though, Mary and Alison would certainly appreciate your help.

It’s vitally important that we keep the SD-16 seat and the HD-16B seat in GOP control.

If you’re interested in helping these great ladies win, leave a comment at LFR. Make sure you include your email address so I can personally contact you with specifics.

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According to Jeff Jacoby’s column, Barney Frank’s fingerprints are all over the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac crisis. Here’s the money paragraph of the article:

All this was justified as a means of increasing homeownership among minorities and the poor. Affirmative-action policies trumped sound business practices. A manual issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston advised mortgage lenders to disregard financial common sense. “Lack of credit history should not be seen as a negative factor,” the Fed’s guidelines instructed. Lenders were directed to accept welfare payments and unemployment benefits as “valid income sources” to qualify for a mortgage. Failure to comply could mean a lawsuit.

This wasn’t unforseeable:

But it didn’t take a financial whiz to recognize that a day of reckoning would come. “What does it mean when Boston banks start making many more loans to minorities?” I asked in this space in 1995. “Most likely, that they are knowingly approving risky loans in order to get the feds and the activists off their backs…When the coming wave of foreclosures rolls through the inner city, which of today’s self-congratulating bankers, politicians, and regulators plans to take the credit?”

A columnist could see this coming but Barney Frank wouldn’t admit what others could see:

Five years ago, for example, when the Bush administration proposed much tighter regulation of the two companies, Frank was adamant that “these two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis.” When the White House warned of “systemic risk for our financial system” unless the mortgage giants were curbed, Frank complained that the administration was more concerned about financial safety than about housing.

Times have changed and not for the better. What’s worse is that Frank now chairs the House Financial Services Committee, which has oversight responsibility of banks.

Predictably, Frank is denying he’s responsible for this mess. In fact, he’s telling people that it’s proof of the free market’s disfunction. That’s the audacity of an elitist socialist.

Jeff Jacoby isn’t the only columnist taking Rep. Frank to the proverbial woodshed. John Fund delivers this tonguelashing:

We will look back on the failure of Congress to reform the government-sponsored enterprises at the heart of the mortgage meltdown as one of the most expensive derelictions of its duty ever. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used their lobbying clout, political contributions and even charitable largesse to charm or bully anyone demanding reform in their lending practices.

…Rep. Barney Frank, who now vilifies Republican House members for questioning a policy of throwing another $700 billion on the bonfire, insisted to the New York Times during the 2003 accounting scandal: “These two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

Barney Frank knew that there were problems with Fannie and Freddie. His higher priority was to provide more “affordable housing.” Why was that his priority? Shouldn’t Frank have put a higher priority on stabilizing Fannie and Freddie? Certainly, there were ample red flags to warrant investigation. Actually, there was ample justification to warrant reforming everything.

That’s why it’s perfectly legitimate to call this Barney Frank’s quagmire.

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I’ve read a bunch of analyses of who won Friday night’s debate. Most, though not all, reviews had Sen. McCain winning. Saturday, Powerline’s Paul Mirengoff wrote this post about judging victory. Here’s the section that caught my attention:

Yet most of the early polls I saw indicated that the public viewed Obama as the winner. Why the apparent disconnect? Because, I think, while commentators tried to focus on how well the candidates debated their respective positions, the rest of the audience focused, naturally enough, on how much they liked those positions.

And that’s where those headwinds enter the picture. The ones McCain confronts have to do with unhappiness over the Iraq war and over the state of the economy. Thus, McCain may have hammered Obama over his opposition to the surge, but if voters think the decision to invade Iraq was more consequential than the decisions that finally seem to have enabled us to succeed there, then Obama will still have the edge. Similarly, no matter how well McCain debates the economy (and here his performance was not that strong), the justified perception that his economic views are closer than Obama’s to those of President Bush’s represent a built-in disadavntage.

I’d suggest that there’s another way of judging who wins a debate, specifically, who uses his opponent’s words against him. Less than 5 minutes after Friday’s debate, McCain’s campaign had a video out called John Is Right, highlighting the number of times Sen. Obama said that Sen. McCain was right. This is brilliant because it uses Sen. Obama’s words against him.

Before going further, let’s remember the first Kerry-Bush debate in 2004. After the debate, most people agreed that John Kerry had won the debate on what was supposedly President Bush’s strength, foreign policy. It turned out that winning that night wasn’t enough for Sen. Kerry. Towards the end of the debate, Sen. Kerry used the term “global test.” President Bush beat Sen. Kerry over the head with that phrase every day the rest of the campaign.

Here’s something that Sen. McCain can pound Sen. Obama on mercilessly:

OBAMA: My definition…here’s what I can tell the American people: 95 percent of you will get a tax cut. And if you make less than $250,000, less than a quarter-million dollars a year, then you will not see one dime’s worth of tax increase.

I don’t know how 95% of the American people can get tax cuts based on this Treasury Department document:

Taxpayers who rank in the top 50 percent of taxpayers by income pay virtually all individual income taxes. In all years since 1990, taxpayers in this group have paid over 90 percent of all individual income taxes. Since 2000, this group paid over 96 percent of the total. In fact, in 2005 they were paying 96.9 percent of all individual income taxes.

Unless Sen. Obama is planning on cutting payroll taxes on the bottom 50% of wage earners, it isn’t possible for him to give 95% of American income earners a tax cut. How can Sen. Obama give 95% of Americans tax relief when 50% of Americans pay only 3.1% of the taxes? Here’s another exchange that I’d turn into a video:

LEHRER: But if I hear the two of you correctly neither one of you is suggesting any major changes in what you want to do as president as a result of the financial bailout? Is that what you’re saying?
OBAMA: No. As I said before, Jim, there are going to be things that end up having to be …
LEHRER: Like what?
OBAMA: … deferred and delayed. Well, look, I want to make sure that we are investing in energy in order to free ourselves from the dependence on foreign oil. That is a big project. That is a multi-year project.

I’d put together a video of Sen. Obama’s interview with John Harwood where Sen. Obama said that $4 a gallon gas wasn’t the problem, that the problem arose from it getting that high too quickly. I’d also include Sen. Obama’s outlandish claim that filling our tires and “getting regular tune-ups” would save us as much oil as what we’d get from opening the OCS to drilling. I’d have the narrator ask Sen. Obama when he found this fondness for drilling. I just visited his campaign website and it doesn’t mention drilling. Without drilling, there won’t be any short-term relief at the pump or in home heating bills.

The [headwinds] McCain confronts have to do with unhappiness over the Iraq war and over the state of the economy. Thus, McCain may have hammered Obama over his opposition to the surge, but if voters think the decision to invade Iraq was more consequential than the decisions that finally seem to have enabled us to succeed there, then Obama will still have the edge. Similarly, no matter how well McCain debates the economy (and here his performance was not that strong), the justified perception that his economic views are closer than Obama’s to those of President Bush’s represent a built-in disadavntage.

While it’s true that McCain is confronting Iraq headwinds, Paul doesn’t mention that Sen. Obama is facing the oil headwinds. People are justifiably upset with President Bush’s prosecution of the war but the feelings about the Iraq war aren’t as intense as the anger people feel about the price at the pump or their anxiety about how they’ll heat their homes.

In the days to come, we’ll see how things shift as Sen. McCain highlights Obama’s flip-flops in his stump speeches. That’s when we’ll know who the real winner is.

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