Will This Campaign Ever End?

According to the Drudge Report, Barack Obama is in the Virgin Islands, on vacation.

Hillary Clinton is explaining why she misremembered her trip to Bosnia a decade ago. Apparently, there were no bullets whizzing overhead after all.

John McCain laid out a perfectly sensible plan to deal with the mortgage crisis. His first principle seems to be “Don’t do anything really stupid,” which I think is a pretty good principle.

The stock market is in a tug-of-war between bargain-hunters who want to scoop up undervalued stocks and short-sellers who are bad-mouthing every company out there that might be vulnerable. Some Bear Stearns employees are hunting for those short-sellers so they can wring their necks.

The media is still fawning over Obama’s “courageous” speech that he gave as a matter of political necessity. They like to compare it now to Bobby Kennedy’s speech after Martin Luther King was shot.

Medicare is going broke, as is Social Security. House Republicans, including Jim McCrery (La.), pointed out today that we need to do something about this if we don’t want to have a massive tax increase on our hands in a decade or so. House Democrats, who actually want a massive tax increase much sooner than that, have been strangely silent.

The media spent a lot of time talking about the 4,000th American death in our current war. To compare, we lost 4,435 in the American Revolution, 2,260 in the War of 1812, 1,733 in the Mexican-American War, 215,000 in the American Civil War, 53,402 in World War I, 291,557 in World War II, 33,741 in Korea and about 58,000 in Vietnam.

Another comparison: We had 17,000 murders in 2006 in America. We have about 43,000 traffic deaths each year in the U.S. I have seen some estimates that say we lose between 190,000 and 250,000 people each year to medical errors.

Putting this all in perspective is dangerous politically, of course.

The president said all the right things about valuing each person who has fallen in the war. We should honor their sacrifice by winning this damn thing and then getting the hell out of there.

Here is another statistic. According to the Hoover Institution, in “fiscal year 2006, defense expenditures in the United States totaled $528 billion. This amounted to 4.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Although the proportion of spending on defense was higher in 2006 than in recent years, it is still at a historically low level. Defense expenditures as a proportion of GDP were as high as 37.8 percent at the height of World War II in 1944, and averaged 10.0 percent and 8.0 percent of GDP, respectively, during the Korean War (1950–53) and Vietnam War (1959–75). In the late1970s (the post-Vietnam era), defense spending as a proportion of GDP declined, then increased steadily during the 1980s (peaking at 6.2 percent in 1986) and declined during the post–Cold War 1990s. Internationally, the United States ranked 27 out of 172 countries in the percentage of GDP spent on defense in 2006.”

Actually, you can make the case that we aren’t spending enough to win the war against the folks who want to repeat Sept. 11 over and over again here in America. You won’t hear that said much in the media, but you can surely make that argument.
Democrats are going to try to make the case that the war is the reason our economy is so shaky. Actually, it is because just about everybody in America made a risky gamble that home prices would continue to climb about 20 percent a year. In the back of our minds, we knew that was irrational, but we all took out risky loans based on that premise anyway.

When bubbles burst, people get hurt. Our economic woes have very little to do with the war. They have everything to do with the market working itself out.

The dollar has weakened considerably over the last several months. Part of this is because other currencies, like the euro and the yen, have become more competitive. Part of it is concern over spending by the U.S. government. Part of it comes with the vagaries of the marketplace. A weak dollar is good for domestic manufacturing exports (ask Caterpillar) but bad for imports (like oil). Some people see this as the beginning of the end of American dominance. I think that conclusion is premature.

As the Chinese lit the Olympic torch in Greece, they tried to blow out the torch of rebellion in Tibet. Nancy Pelosi met with the Dalai Lama in India to show her support for the rebels. Pressure will be put on the president to boycott the Chinese games. I think boycotts are stupid. We should go to China and win as many medals as possible and spread democracy every chance we get.