Patterico's Pontifications

8/4/2008

Islamists Kill 16 Policemen in China

Filed under: International,Terrorism — DRJ @ 9:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The BBC reports that, just days before the Beijing Olympics begin, Islamists in China’s Xinjiang region attacked and killed 16 policemen and wounded 16 more at a border post:

“Two attackers reportedly drove up to the post in a rubbish truck and threw two grenades, before moving in to attack the policemen with knives.”

Reports state the attackers have been captured.

Xinjiang is described as a Muslim region on the border of Tajikistan, home to the Uighur people who have waged a “low-level separatist campaign” against the Chinese government. Although Xinjiang is 2,500 miles from Beijing, the BBC reporter indicated that “the very fact that it happened, and the fact that it happened this week, will make the organisers of the Beijing Olympics nervous.”

Chinese military officers have previously warned that Islamic separatists are the greatest danger to the Beijing Olympics.

– DRJ

This is up at a lot of places now, but Obama’s comments today on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are a Reversal from his statement less than a month ago.

Filed under: General — WLS @ 6:04 pm

Posted by WLS:

July 7, 2008, in St. Louis, the same day the price of a barrel of oil went above $145 a barrel:

“I do not believe that we should use this strategic oil reserves at this point.  I have said and in fact supported a congressional resolution that said that we should suspend putting more oil into the strategic oil reserve. But the strategic oil reserve I think has to be reserved for a genuine emergency.”

In his speech this morning, with the price of a barrel of oil today dipping below $120:

“We should sell 70 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for less expensive crude, which in the past has lowered gas prices within two weeks.”

Judgement? 

What this really tells you is that Obama’s polling shows that he is going to get killed on this subject – especially with independents – if he didn’t show some willingness to do something to bring down the price of gas, while the GOP is having a field day over it.

This is a stunning 180 degree reversal in only 28 days, that cannot be rationalized away in any fashion.  The only thing that has changed over that 28 days — other than the politics of drilling — is that the price of a barrel of oil has actually declined nearly 17%.  If anything, the policy bases upon which he objected to using the SPR in early July are even stronger now.

This tells me that Obama WILL name his VP tomorrow in order to knock the legs out from under the story-line that he has flip-flopped. 

But the real story is how much trouble the campaign fears its in if the issue of energy prices remains frozen where it has been the last 3 weeks.

Update:  The NYT has this story up on its website, and while it acknowledges that he has changed his position, it doesn’t mention the stunning cynicism shown by the fact that he reversed himself in just 4 weeks.  Nor does it even seem to inquire of the campaign the reasons for his reversal:

Senator Barack Obama altered (???) his position on Monday to call for tapping the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gasoline prices as he outlined an energy plan  … Aides to Mr. Obama said that he now favored releasing light oil from that emergency stockpile.

That’s it.  That’s all the pressure you get from the NYT to explain why this shift took place.

Another Joe Horn-Type Case in Texas

Filed under: Crime,Humor,Law — DRJ @ 6:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Kingsland is a small community located on Lake LBJ, one of a chain of lakes that run through Central Texas. There are many full-time residents but it is also a tourist destination for people who enjoy lake fishing, water sports, and hunting. There are several resorts and residential developments in the area and it is popular with retirees. Kingsland is situated in Llano County, a fairly rural and (I think) conservative county Northwest of Austin and Travis County.

Kingsland is also the site of an incident similar to the facts in the Joe Horn case. This one involves a man who shot and critically wounded a suspected burglar driving away from a neighbor’s property. Like Joe Horn, the man has cooperated with police but, unlike the Horn case, a warrant has been issued for his arrest. There don’t appear to be any neutral witnesses.

The facts are complicated so, if you are interested, please read this Austin American-Statesman article. I know you all remember the applicable laws so it’s time to put on your Texas lawyer hats.

– DRJ

Mary Winkler, Mary Winkler

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 4:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In 2006, Mary Winkler shot her husband as he slept in bed. She was charged with murder and convicted of voluntary manslaughter after claiming her husband was abusive. Winkler was sentenced to 3 years in prison. She served 12 days in jail, was treated for 55 days in a mental health facility, and was released on probation.

Last Friday, Mary Winkler regained full, permanent custody of her 3 daughters (ages 3, 9, and 11) who had been living with her husband’s parents.

I’m not questioning the legality of this decision and I have no personal knowledge about the case other than what I’ve read in the news. I hope this decision is in the best interests of the children. However, I am concerned that a court would return children to the custody of a parent convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the death of the other parent absent extraordinary circumstances, remorse, and prolonged rehabilitation – and those don’t appear to be present here.

In addition, I think it’s questionable to take children away from a home they’ve lived in for almost 3 years, especially where the youngest is only 3. Finally, I think 12 days jail-time is a joke and that it’s strange the community appeared to quickly accept and forgive Mary Winkler’s acts.

Other than that, I’m fine with this.

– DRJ

HuffPo Contributor Makes Pretty Good Case That Indiana Sen. Bayh Will Be Named VP Pick by Obama Wednesday

Filed under: General — WLS @ 2:50 pm

Posted by WLS:

HuffPo contributor Bil Browning (who has his own blog site “The Bilerico Project”  — a little “rico” evny?) has a piece up at HuffPo making a pretty good circumstantial case that Obama will name Bayh as his running mate on Wednesday morning, in advance of the start of the Olympics.

Among his comments are that Obama has a stop planned in Elkhart, Indiana tomorrow afternoon for a campaign event, where he’ll be joined by Bayh.  But the press is being told to plan on staying around until Wed afternoon/early evening even though there is nothing on Obama’s announced calendar in Indiana for later in the day on Wednesday. 

Browning also says that he was just invited by an Obama campaign staffer to attend an event on Wednesday that isn’t even on the calendar, and about which the staffer could provide no information other than to say Browning would want to be there to cover it on his blog.

A leak late in the day on Tueday after Obama and and Bayh attend a rally together would be a nice set-up for a Wednesday morning announcement, which would then dominate all the press coverage through the day on Wednesday, and into Thurs. 

But I’m not sure why Bayh is the pick.  Indiana remains pretty much not in play, even though the Obama campaign is spending money there.  Look at the 3 congressional seats the GOP lost in Indiana in 2006 — every pickup by the Dems was with a conservative Dem candidate.  Bush won this state in 2004 by 500,000 votes out of 2.5 million votes cast.  In 2000 he won it by by 250,000 votes out of 2.1 million cast. 

Those are really big numbers to turn around with a liberal candidate at the top of the ticket no matter who the VP selection is.

But it may be that they are looking for the VP pick who plays best with the midwestern voters in Michigan, Ohio, and Penn.  And Bayh was a strong Hillary supporter, so it may be a play for their support as well.

But it does seem to be more safe than inspiring, and I’m not sure its going to be greeted with anything more than a collective shrug of the shoulders.  It certainly leaves the door open to McCain to make a bolder splash when he makes his choice.

A Punditocracy Debate I Would Like To See — Andrew Sullivan v. Paul Mirengoff (Powerline)

Filed under: General — WLS @ 1:36 pm

Posted by WLS:

Andrew Sullivan returned from a two week vacation yesterday, and very quickly had with this post up, which Dean Barnett had a little fun with here over at the Weekly Standard Blog.  A sample from Sullivan’s post:

Yes, the last couple of weeks of the campaign, even from my remote perch, were pretty uninspiring on the GOP side…. Obama’s fortnight was an objectively miraculous one: Maliki and then (almost) Bush endorsed his withdrawal timetable from Iraq (game, set and match to BO), he conducted himself with foreign leaders flawlessly, burnished his international rep, and proved the force of his soft power potential. (By the way, 200,000 in Berlin was less, it seems to me, about the celebrity of Obama than about the disaster of Bush-Cheney. Obama is the vehicle for the world’s hope for the return of the America they remember.)

You’d hardly know that the guy went from being +9 a week ago to pretty much a statistical tie now.

But this is simply in perfect tune with Sullivan’s entire analysis of the campaign so far.  Sullivan has written dozens of posts over the past few months which have the same basic point — every move or shift on a policy position by Obama reflects a brilliant strategy on his part to close the policy ground between he and McCain so that the ultimate decision facing the electorate is really one the reflects a generational choice between continuing the politics of the country that have been in place for the past 16 years,  or a new beginning of hopienss and changiness.     

Now consider this analysis of the Obama campaign strategy by Paul Mirengoff over at Powerline:

Obama pulled his remarkable upset over Hillary Clinton by running a messianic campaign and by invoking race-based sympathy when the Clintons tried to bring him down to earth. This approach was perfectly tailored to defeating Hillary. To upset the strong presumptive nominee, Obama had to (1) come off as something extra special and (2) win the black vote by huge margins. The “chosen one” theme helped accomplish the first goal; the backlash against the Clintons when they challenged that theme helped accomplish the second. Even so, Obama limped to the finish line, as the messianic theme began to wear thin and Bill Clinton stopped playing into Obama’s hands on race.

Having locked up the nomination, Obama understood that he would need to tack towards the center on substance, and he has done so with breathtaking cynicism. As to his style, however, Obama seemed to believe that no change was called for. The idea (a not entirely implausble one) was that his personal charisma coupled with some moderation on key issues would represent an unbeatable combination.

Recent events, however, have raised serious doubts on this score. Obama’s trip abroad was a good test. The candidate turned on the style and received a bump in the polls. But the backlash against the arrogance and pretentiousness of the enterprise seems to have more than offset the initial boost in popularity. Swing voters apparently aren’t looking for the messiah this year, at least they are not for someone who plays that part on tv.

Moreover, invoking race after being made fun of was plainly a bad idea. Many Democratic primary voters respond like Pavlov’s dogs to claims of victimhood, especially if race is involved. The rest of the population is inclined to weigh the merits. Since McCain has not come close to attacking Obama on racial grounds, Obama’s use of the race card fell flat.

As an outsider and an underdog, Obama could not have won the nomination running as a generic Democrat. But his best bet for winning the general election in this year’s pro-Democrat environment is to present himself as precisely that.

The calculus could hardly be more straightforward. Yet old habits sometimes die hard, especially if those habits emanate from deep within a candidate’s psyche. It’s one thing for Obama to trim on the issues; for him they don’t seem to matter much. It may be prove quite another thing for him to trim on his self image.

Sullivan is continuing to analyze Obama’s campaign tactics as if he’s still trying to persuade DEMOCRATS that he’s the best candidate to be President.  All the hopiness and changiness that they liked so much as an alternative to more Clintonianism is perfectly tailored for him to win the overwhelming support of the loyalists in the Democrat party.

But that’s not where the votes he needs to win are to be found.  His message of victimhood and “dirty politics” aren’t going to win him votes among independents, especially when the charges against McCain are baseless. 

One of the best things about an eventual McCain victory will simply be to read the rationalizations that Sullivan will have to trot out to explain it.

Obama’s Energy Plan

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 12:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Chicago Sun-Times posts the text of Obama’s energy speech today in Lansing MI:

Obama challenges us to end our oil dependence in 10 years by mandating fuel-efficient cars and providing incentives and government mandates to promote development of green/alternative energy sources.

Obama will take money from oil companies as windfall profits and give it to people to pay their gas bills. He also has some advice to oil companies: Drill existing leases before asking for new lands.

[Apparently Obama wants oil companies to drill on lands that may not have oil or accessible oil. I call this Obama's kindergarten plan for oil companies: Not only does he take away their allowance (profits), he also tells them they have to clean their plates before they get dessert.]

Obama wants to cut energy use by 15% in the next 10 years. He points to California’s static energy consumption as proof that it can be done, and he challenges Americans to find a way to change energy sources the same way America met WWII production goals and won the race to the moon.

Obama will release 70 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve, a move he claims will drop oil prices in 2 weeks.

As for drilling offshore where there is oil? That’s a “drawback” but it’s a compromise he will reluctantly allow in a limited manner to show he’s in good faith.

By his own estimate, Obama’s good faith will cost us $150 billion over the next 10 years and billions more in private equity.

Obama’s solutions are weighted toward short-term fixes including the use of emergency oil reserves stored for national security purposes and redistributing money from oil companies to low-income consumers. His long-term government-mandated solutions focus exclusively on expensive and unproven alternative energy sources. Further, his plan intentionally shrinks energy use 15%, a move that will undoubtedly result in a significant economic loss while refusing to anticipate and plan for future needs based on proven oil reserves.

It’s as if Obama wants all of America to plan our economic future the way he and his wife planned theirs: The Obamas had significant debt from their educations but they chose low-paying, community service-oriented jobs that made it hard or impossible for them to pay their debt except with the windfall of his book proceeds. We can’t afford to bet the economic and energy future of our nation on a dream and a windfall, but that’s what Obama offers with this plan.

For those who claim this is all criticism, here’s my solution:

I agree America needs to conserve, become more efficient, and decrease its dependence on oil by transitioning to other energy sources. Instead of walking a tightrope where America deliberately produces the least possible amount of energy during that transition, I want government and private incentives to produce a glut of energy – oil, nuclear, gas, coal, and alternative energy sources – so the economy expands during the process. An expanding economy makes it possible for government, businesses, and individuals to take risks and make mistakes when it comes to finding the best energy solutions.

Obama says he doesn’t want the perfect to be the enemy of the good but that’s exactly what his plan does. He selects mandates and energy sources he likes, discards those he doesn’t, and ends up with a plan that must perform perfectly to succeed. The ultimate irony is that it’s a risk we don’t need to take.

– DRJ

Robert Novak Announces Retirement

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 10:47 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet has this update on a recent story:

Political columnist Robert Evans Novak announced his immediate retirement following diagnosis of a brain tumor. The tentative medical treatment will be radiation and chemotherapy and his prognosis is “dire.”

That’s tough news to hear. I hope he beats the odds.

NOTE: As many of you thought, I was thinking about Evans & Novak and absentmindedly wrote “Robert Evans” instead of “Robert Novak.” I amended the title to avoid confusion but I left the correction in the body. I appreciate the gentle corrections you left in the comments and apologize for the error.

– DRJ

Checking In On The Daily Tracking Polls: McLovin McCain +1

Filed under: General — WLS @ 10:25 am

[Posted By WLS]

Yep — just a little more than a week after Obama’s European Coronation tour had him briefly at +9 in the Gallup tracking poll — he’s +3 today  – but Obama is now -1 in the Rassmusen poll.

Frankly, it doesn’t represent too much of a change in the last 4 days, but what it does show is general  ineffectiveness of Obama’s counter-attack against McCain’s two ads mocking him.

One could say that the fact that Obama has bounced back a little in the Gallup poll shows that McCain’s two ads, and the blowback against them, have hurt McCain.  That might be true to some extent, but consider the fact that Obama got nothing by laudatory coverage for his foreign tour, which ran his numbers up, only to watch the increase disappear as soon as the GOP took aim at him upon his return.

McCain, on the other hand, has been pilloried by the press for 5 days over the Hilton/Spears ad.  Naturally you are going to see a little softening in his numbers.

But the real risk to the Obama campaign now is that the narrative set by those two ads begins to take hold with the electorate.  Some key numbers from the newest presidential daily_presidential_tracking_poll :

A week ago today, Obama had a three-percentage point lead and the candidates were even among unaffiliated voters. Today, McCain leads 52% to 37% among unaffiliateds.
McCain is currently viewed favorably by 55% of the nation’s voters, Obama by 51%. That is the lowest rating for Obama since he wrapped up the nomination. Obama is viewed favorably by 47% of unaffiliated voters. For McCain, the [favorable] numbers are … 61% among unaffiliated voters.

So you have McCain leading 52-37 among independents, but MORE significantly, he has a lead in favorabiity ratings among independents of 61-47.

The cratering of that “favorability” rating is why Obama is running behind the generic ballot advantage of +10 that Dems enjoy — even though I think that is down somewhat over the summer thanks to Reid and Pelosi’s antics.


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