Barack Obama: Eight is Enough

Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party on Thursday night with an acceptance speech which should help provide momentum to get him elected in November. He made his case that we must not continue the failed policies of the Republican Party which John McCain has supported for the past eight years. Eight is enough:

This moment, this moment, this election is our chance to keep, in the 21st century, the American promise alive.

Because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third.

And we are here — we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight.

On November 4th, on November 4th, we must stand up and say: Eight is enough.

Now, now, let me — let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and our respect.

And next week, we’ll also hear about those occasions when he’s broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time.

Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but, really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time?

I don’t know about you, but I am not ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives — on health care, and education, and the economy — Senator McCain has been anything but independent.

He said that our economy has made great progress under this president. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

Barack Obama challenged not only John McCain’s policies but his competence to be president when he stated, “Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans; I just think he doesn’t know.”

Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies, but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans?

OBAMA: How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care; it’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.

For over two decades — for over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy: Give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.

In Washington, they call this the “Ownership Society,” but what it really means is that you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck, you’re on your own. No health care? The market will fix it. You’re on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots. You are on your own.

Well, it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America. And that’s why I’m running for president of the United States.

This was not merely a speech with fancy rhetoric. Obama discussed the measures he will take if elected president:

So — so let me — let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am president.

Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

You know, unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I’ll eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will — listen now — I will cut taxes — cut taxes — for 95 percent of all working families, because, in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

We will do this. Washington — Washington has been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years. And, by the way, John McCain has been there for 26 of them.

Obama provided several more examples, but it wasn’t a speech from a stereotypical tax and spend Democrat:

Now, many of these plans will cost money, which is why I’ve laid out how I’ll pay for every dime: by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens that don’t help America grow.

But I will also go through the federal budget line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less, because we cannot meet 21st-century challenges with a 20th-century bureaucracy.

Obama showed he is ready to take on McCain about foreign policy as well as domestic policy:

If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to serve as the next commander-in-chief, that’s a debate I’m ready to have.

For — for while — while Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats that we face.

When John McCain said we could just muddle through in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights.

You know, John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell, but he won’t even follow him to the cave where he lives.

And today, today, as my call for a timeframe to remove our troops from Iraq has been echoed by the Iraqi government and even the Bush administration, even after we learned that Iraq has $79 billion in surplus while we are wallowing in deficit, John McCain stands alone in his stubborn refusal to end a misguided war.

That’s not the judgment we need; that won’t keep America safe. We need a president who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past.

You don’t defeat — you don’t defeat a terrorist network that operates in 80 countries by occupying Iraq. You don’t protect Israel and deter Iran just by talking tough in Washington. You can’t truly stand up for Georgia when you’ve strained our oldest alliances.

If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice, but that is not the change that America needs.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe.

The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As commander-in-chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly and finish the fight against Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts, but I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression.

I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty and genocide, climate change and disease.

And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

The full transcript is below the fold.


McCain Comes Up With A Second Answer

For the past couple of weeks it has seemed that John McCain’s answer to every question was to discuss how he was a POW. In an interview with Time Magazine he has come up with a second answer: “Read my books.” Here is an excerpt of an interview which Time describes as prickly:

There’s a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?
Read it in my books.

I’ve read your books.
No, I’m not going to define it.

But honor in politics?
I defined it in five books. Read my books.

This might be a new answer to interview questions from John McCain. He still has no coherent answers to any of the problems faced by the country.

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Cindy McCain’s Half Sister Backs Obama

US Magazine reports that Cindy McCain’s half-sister is supporting Barack Obama:

“I’m not voting for McCain,” Kathleen Hensley Portalski tells Us. “I have a different political standpoint.

“I’m voting for Obama,” the Phoenix resident says. “I think his proposals to improve the country are more positive and I’m not a big war believer.”

Libertarians on Obama

While Barack Obama, winner of the Democratic Party’s nomination, would never win the nomination of the Libertarian Party, there are many libertarians who do back Obama. Others at least are finally seeing through the Republican propaganda which claims that they are pro-freedom and Democrats are universal supporters of big government and even socialism. Steve Chapman is not likely to be thrilled by any Democratic nominee writing, “Anyone partial to free markets, restrained government, fiscal discipline and light taxation approaches a Democratic nominee’s economic platform with trepidation, expecting one fright after another.” Still he finds several reasons to “hope he will be less bad than most.”

He’s liberal, but not that liberal. Contrary to the famous National Journal ranking that put him most leftward in the entire Senate, another study found he is really the 11th-most liberal. In the primaries, when Democratic candidates are under the most pressure to veer left, he insisted on hewing closer to the economic center than Hillary Clinton or John Edwards—even when it exposed him to charges that he didn’t support the holy grail of universal health care.

Obama did pander to the left’s phobia about globalization by villainizing the North American Free Trade Agreement. But as soon as he had the nomination locked up, he confessed to Fortune magazine that his NAFTA rhetoric had been “overheated and amplified.”

Organized labor howled about “corporate influence” when Obama hired Jason Furman as his chief economic adviser. Among Furman’s sins is his longtime association with Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who pushed President Clinton to emphasize deficit reduction rather than big new spending programs.

He’s open to evidence. The New York Times recently reported that Obama “likes experts, and his choice of advisers stems in part from his interest in empirical research.” Nobel laureate economist James Heckman of the University of Chicago, who was asked for input on education policy by Obama’s advisers, told the Times, “I’ve never worked with a campaign that was more interested in what the research shows.”

That would be a change not only from more doctrinaire liberals but also from the Bush administration, which has never been exactly obsessed with real-world data. If Obama were a true believer, he wouldn’t care so much about evidence.

Boston College political scientist Alan Wolfe says, “Ideologues don’t need that information, or want it, because they know what they want to do.” Ask yourself: Is there any conceivable evidence that would cause George W. Bush to question the wisdom of tax cuts?

He’s not enchanted with the big-government model. On health care, Obama opposed Clinton’s proposal to require every American to buy health insurance, preferring to offer subsidies and then let individuals decide. He balked when she said all adjustable mortgage rates should be frozen for five years—with Obama’s campaign quoting an expert who said, accurately, that it would be “disastrous.”

He’s far less suspicious of the operations of markets than most people in his party. And when was the last time a Democratic nominee openly worried about corporate tax burdens? Furman has said that if some loopholes can be closed, Obama “would like to cut the corporate tax rate.”

Doug Mataconis responds:

Chapman does raise some good points, and some of the dire predictions coming from Republicans these days about Obama remind me of the things that were said about Bill Clinton when he was running for President in 1992. Yes, things looked bad at the beginning when he tried to ram Hillary-care down our throats, but once that failed he moderated significantly and actually became the Democratic Leadership Council-type President that some thought he would be. For the most part, the Clinton years weren’t any worse than the last eight years of George W. Bush, and there’s some reason to argue that, for liberty, the Bush years have actually been worse.

Will the same thing happen with Obama ?

As Bill Clinton said during the primary race, voting for Obama is a gamble. My bet is that Obama will not only be better than George Bush but will also be  better than Bill Clinton, both from a liberal and a libertarian perspective. This assumes that by liberal one does not mean old-style big-government liberals as obviously Obama cannot please both Hillary Clinton-style Nanny State liberals and libertarians simultaneously.

The McCain Campaign’s Solution To Increasing Number of Uninsured

Evidence that the McCain campaign has absolutely no answer to the health care crisis can be seen in this report in The Dallas Morning News in which a McCain adviser attempts to dispute the significance of statistics showing a jump in the number of uninsured in Texas:

But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain’s health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

“So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime,” Mr. Goodman said. “The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

“So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved.”

This is wrong on so many levels. It is true that an Emergency Room cannot turn anyone away. That does not mean that those utilizing an Emergency Room in this manner will not be charged. ER’s are far more expensive than other out-patient facilities, and those who are already forced to pay for their insurance out of their own pocket will have even larger bills.

Often such charges wind up going uncollected and ultimately result in the government paying more. The taxpayers wind up covering the uninsured, but in an inefficient and more costly manner. Rather than allowing such cost shifting to increase the costs of Medicare and Medicaid, it would be more efficient to apply the funds towards less costly out-patient care.

Even if there was no problem in paying for such use of the Emergency Room, this would be a poor substitute for health insurance. While ER’s do wind up providing more primary care than they should, they are not prepared to provide long term care of chronic disease or to provided preventative care. Receiving treatment from an Emergency Room is no substitute for having insurance coverage. You cannot make the problem of the uninsured go away by ordering the census bureau to stop counting them.

Update: Steve Benen points out similar problems with the McCain plan, but unfortunately makes the mistake made by many liberal bloggers with the counter-example he provides:

Of course, if we take McCain’s policy advisor at his word, and build a “socialized medicine” system around public hospitals, there’s a perfectly good model to follow: it’s called the VA system.

The McCain campaign looks very foolish for proposing ER’s as a solution for the uninsured. Unfortunately liberal bloggers who repeatedly link to this study risk looking almost as foolish. Studies of health care quality are very primitive at this point and mainly measure the ability of a health care system to input data into a computer system while revealing little of substance about actual care. The VA comes out looking good here due to its computer system, not due to the care they provide.

The risk here is that those who are aware of the very serious flaws in the VA system will realize that this is a poor model for health care nationally. If liberal bloggers who have no first hand knowledge of health care promote the VA as a model they run the risk of increasing opposition to Democratic plans among those who are aware of the VA’s deficiencies.

Neither ER’s or the VA provide a good model of either of what is desirable for a national health care policy or what is advocated by Democrats such as Obama.

Video of Kerry’s Speech


I now have the video for the excellent speech given by John Kerry at the convention last night (with transcript previously posted here.) It turns out that, according to Josh Marshall, Kerry wrote the speech himself.

During the 2004 campaign I sometimes felt that Kerry was being harmed by taking the advice of political advisers who thought they knew how to run a presidential campaign. I recall writing more than once, “Let Kerry be Kerry.” If there is any question as to what Kerry would have sounded like if he was himself, just watch the speech he wrote and imagine him taking on George Bush as he takes on John McCain.

Jake Tapper On John McCain’s Dishonest Ad Strategy

With John Kerry attacking John McCain for using Rove-style smears, John McCain has again displayed his dishonesty in yet another dishonest attack ad. Jake Tapper reveals that there are two layers to McCain’s dishonesty. McCain has been releasing several ads which are being covered by the media as news while not actually running the ads. If this wasn’t dishonest enough, the ads he runs frequently contain untrue statements, as in the example discussed here:

We, in the media, have given a lot of airtime to the TV ads of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., this week, starring, as they do, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

There’s been evidence emerging that McCain’s campaign isn’t really running these ads anywhere, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.

“These were basically video press releases,” CMAG’s Evan Tracey tells the Wall Street Journal.

OK, so that’s kind of dishonest of the McCain campaign.

Today’s new McCain ad — “Tiny,” which you can watch HERE — crosses a new line into dishonesty, however, beyond whether or not it’s actually airing anywhere.

The script reads: “Iran. Radical Islamic government. Known sponsors of terrorism. Developing nuclear capabilities to ‘generate power’ but threatening to eliminate Israel.

“Obama says Iran is a ‘tiny’ country, ‘doesn’t pose a serious threat,'” the ad continues. “Terrorism, destroying Israel, those aren’t ‘serious threats’? Obama — dangerously unprepared to be president.”

This is a dishonest representation of Obama’s words.

On May 18, in Pendelton, Ore., Obama said that “strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That’s what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That’s what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That’s what Nixon did with Mao. I mean, think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny, compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us. And yet, we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union at the time when they were saying, ‘We’re going to wipe you off the planet.’

“And ultimately, that direct engagement led to a series of measures that helped prevent nuclear war, and over time, allowed the kind of opening that brought down the Berlin Wall,” Obama continued. “Now, that has to be the kind of approach that we take. You know, Iran, they spend one-one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance. And we should use that position of strength that we have, to be bold enough to go ahead and listen. That doesn’t mean we agree with them on everything. We might not compromise on any issues, but at least we should find out other areas of potential common interest, and we can reduce some of the tensions that has caused us so many problems around the world.”

Watch HERE.

That is not even close to Obama saying Iran is a “tiny” country that “doesn’t pose a serious threat.”

Not even close

In an update Tapper does ad that the McCain campaign is saying that they are running the ads. I wonder if they might be airing some of the ads in limited markets so they can continue to have the media cover them now that their tactics have been exposed.

John Kerry Exposes The Flip-Flops of Candidate McCain

One of the better speeches at the convention took place when many of the networks where covering their talking heads as opposed to the convention floor. John Kerry gave one of the strongest speeches of the convention, with the video available at Huffington Post, and the transcript posted under the fold.

Kerry gave an excellent speech, doing the opposite of what he had others do at his convention. While Kerry’s many excellent speeches attacking the policies of George Bush are often forgotten, he did make a mistake in not attacking Bush when he had national attention at his convention. This time Kerry went after the opposing candidate saying, “To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let’s compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain.” Kerry proceeded to show how candidate McCain is taking a number of positions different from those held by Senator McCain. One might even say that John Kerry showed the degree to which John McCain is the true flip-flopper. Another listing of McCain’s flip-flops can be seen here.

Kerry responded to the dishonest smears against himself as a flip-flopper, and then addressed the manner in which McCain has adopted the same smear tactics as practiced by Karl Rove:

Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain’s own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding? Talk about being for it before you’re against it.

Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself. And what’s more, Senator McCain, who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target, has morphed into candidate McCain who is using the same “Rove” tactics and the same “Rove” staff to repeat the same old politics of fear and smear. Well, not this year, not this time. The Rove-McCain tactics are old and outworn, and America will reject them in 2008.

After establishing that candidate McCain is no maverick and no moderate, John Kerry repeatedly asked the question, “So who can we trust to keep America safe?” He gave many reasons why the policies of Barack Obama, not John McCain and George Bush, are the policies which will keep America safe.

Four years ago John Kerry stressed the period in which he served in the military but tried to ignore another important part of his history–his patriotic protest of an unjust war. By failing to discuss the facts of this period he made it easier for the Republicans to practice their usual tactics of distortion. This time Kerry had an answer for those who questioned why he protested against the Vietnam war, providing an answer which might resonate better in 2008 than 2004 as more understand the follies of engaging in a policy which is wrong:

Years ago when we protested a war, people would weigh in against us saying, “My country right or wrong.” Our answer? Absolutely, my country right or wrong. When right, keep it right. When wrong, make it right. Sometimes loving your country demands you must tell the truth to power.


Barack Obama Wins Democratic Nomination

Barack Obama has been declared the Democratic nomination for President of the United States by acclimation following a motion by Senator Hillary Clinton in a show of party unity. Congratulations to Barack Obama, the next President of the United States.

Jazz Time

As has been the case each year at this time since before the birth of Liberal Values, this is time to head up to our northern Michigan offices. Liberal Values will once again be coming from the Jazz Weekend at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. (OK, so I’m heading up a couple days early. They will still be playing jazz in some of the bars). Unfortunately I’m a couple days too late for the Mackinac Island for Obama fund raiser at The Gate House. I will make sure to work in Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday night, and Michigan’s opening game on Saturday. (We won’t talk about what happened the last time Michigan opened the season while I was at Grand Hotel).

This means that for the next several days posting might be down from usual. I’m certain to be on line from time to time. Our suite has a desk along a circular stretch of windows which gives a panoramic view of Mackinac Island and the Straits of Mackinac. Sitting there and blogging from time to time is certainly not a hardship. To appreciate the atmosphere in which the blog will be written, I do recommend that readers put on a jazz CD while reading the blog–and sipping a glass of wine might not be a bad idea.

And yes, this is elitist. If any PUMA members object while I’m drinking wine or cocktails at the nightly receptions on Grand Hotel’s porch with everything from cheese and crackers to shrimp, you are welcome to sit on your porch with a can of beer and some Cheese Whiz. Do you think that is how Bill and Hillary will be spending their weekend?