They Elected To Receive
They Elected To Receive


I caught just a hint of this picture in the video at Get Some and thought it deserved a closer inspection.

Taken from: American Partisan where you can see an even larger version.

A history of the picture. It dates from 21 Sept 2001.

posted by Simon at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)



Testing my limits

A comment Glenn Reynolds made the other day reminded me that everyone has their limit:

Bill Quick begs to differ. Hey, for everybody there's a point at which they'd rather take their marbles and go home. For me it would be Huckabee. For some Democrats it was Gore in 2000 and they voted Nader instead. For some Republicans it was GHW Bush in 1992 and they voted Perot.
This reminded me of a discussion in an earlier post's comments between me and Bill Quick, in which he asked me how I would feel about Romney had he hired Goebbels as an advisor.

While Goebbels is of course an extreme hypothetical, these are good questions.

And lest anyone get the misimpression that I don't have my limit, I do.

I'm tempted to say it's Alan Keyes, who, by running against Barack Obama, caused me to support the latter in the Senate race (in a fit of pique, I even purchased RepublicansforObama.com and let it lapse). If the GOP somehow selected Keyes as the nominee, the truth is that I simply, absolutely, could not vote for him. (No, I would not vote for Hillary, but I might very well think about leaving the country to avoid the coming civil war.)

But Keyes isn't my only limit; Pat Buchanan would probably do it for me to. And so would David Duke (who ran in the 1992 GOP primary, believe it or not).

So, I have my limits, and I think everyone does.

I'd be a hypocrite not to understand the refusal of people to vote for McCain if the man so violates their sense of principles, and I'd be the last to demand that anyone pull the lever in such a way as to violate his sense of conscience.

But just because I understand, that does not mean I agree.

And just because I disagree does not mean I am being condescending.

MORE: In the first sentence, I should have said that "everyone has his limit," which would be grammatically correct. But that's so politically incorrect that the standard usage in ordinary conversation has changed. It's now politically correct to be grammatically incorrect.

(And I should probably say "incorrect grammatically," but some things carry the Culture War too far....)

posted by Eric at 11:33 AM | Comments (7)



Get Some


The opening music is not my favorite. It gets better towards the end, for a while. Lyrics in parts NSFW. The video is just excellent. A nice rejoinder to the Bezerkeleyites.

posted by Simon at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)



Where Marines are unwelcome (but Communists are welcome)

Via Glenn Reynolds, another horrible (thought not unsurprising) story about more anti-military bigotry -- this time from Berkeley:

...The Berkeley City Council [] voted 8-1 Tuesday night to tell the U.S. Marines that its Shattuck Avenue recruiting station "is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders."

In addition, the council voted to explore enforcing its law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against the Marines because of the military's don't ask, don't tell policy. And it officially encouraged the women's peace group Code Pink to impede the work of the Marines in the city by protesting in front of the station.

In a separate item, the council voted 8-1 to give Code Pink a designated parking space in front of the recruiting station once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week from noon to 4 p.m.

Councilman Gordon Wozniak opposed both items.

The Marines have been in Berkeley for a little more than a year, having moved from Alameda in December of 2006. For about the past four months, Code Pink has been protesting in front of the station.

"I believe in the Code Pink cause. The Marines don't belong here, they shouldn't have come here, and they should leave," said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates after votes were cast.

Tom Bates and his crew are the same activists who have run that poor town for years, and run it into the ground.

Parenthetically, I'd note that Shattuck Avenue, where the recruiting office is, has the highest vacancy rate in history, and little wonder. Berkeley's hostility to businesses is second only to their hostility to the military.

While I don't know Gordon Wozniak, I'm sure he's had to endure more than his share of insults and ad hominem invective. When I had the misfortune of serving on the Berkeley Police Review Commission I certainly did, so for that I admire him.

Interestingly, there are people in Berkeley who agree with Wozniak, but they're afraid to speak up:

Even though the council items passed, not everyone is happy with the work of Code Pink. Some employees and owners of businesses near the Marines office have had enough of the group and its protests.

"My husband's business is right upstairs, and this (protesting) is bordering on harassment," Dori Schmidt told the council. "I hope this stops."

An employee of a nearby business who asked not to be identified said Wednesday the elderly Code Pink protesters are aggressive, take up parking spaces, block the sidewalk with their yoga moves, smoke in the doorways, and are noisy.

"Most of the people around here think they're a joke," the woman said.

Wozniak said he was opposed to giving Code Pink a parking space because it favors free speech rights of one group over another.

"There's a line between protesting and harassing, and that concerns me," Wozniak said. "It looks like we are showing favoritism. We have to respect the other side, and not abuse their rights. This is not good policy."

I don't blame the woman for asking not to be identifed. If you speak up and they know who you are, things can happen. (If you're lucky, it'll only be your car.)

Sickening.

But as I explained previously, things like this are but another reminder of what drives the Democratic "base."

No matter how much Hillary talks the talk, her party continues to walk the walk.
Berkeley has been run for decades by the Dellums-Bates-BCA machine, with Oakland Mayor Dellums (National Chair of Hillary Clinton's Urban Policy Committee) being very much the senior figurehead. More on Bates here.

Never mind BCA's historically well-known (and even ongoing) Marxist and Communist proclivities. For for that matter, never mind Hillary's. Some questions can't be asked:

Barbara Olson reported, "Hillary has never repudiated her connection with the Communist movement in America or explained her relationship with two of its leading adherents. Of course, no one has pursued these questions with Hillary. She has shown she will not answer hard questions about her past, and she has learned that she does not need to-remarkable in an age when political figures are allowed such little privacy."
But it's "red baiting" to ask questions about Communists. Besides, red-baiting is anti-Communist bigotry, and backward.

And anti-military bigotry is progressive, and forward!

UPDATE: It turns out that this was all a false alarm, and all that let's-be-thoughtless-and-cruel-to-the-Marines stuff was a Karl Rove prank.

My apologies for taking it seriously.

posted by Eric at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)



Keeping Score

My Pet Jawa has a report up on the cyber war between the Taliban and the Jawas.

To: Taliban Shura Council
CC: Propaganda Dept.; Cyberwarfare; Planning;
BCC: Adil 'Murchal' Watanmal; Qari Muhammad 'Ahmadi' Yussuf; Zabihullah Mujahid

From: Rusty Shackleford, The Jawa Report, & Sandcrawler Crew
Date: 01/25/2008
Subject: Cyberattack Failure

Nice try. Your cyberattacks are even more pathetic than your actual attacks on NATO forces, all of which are easily repelled. Next time you should probably hire someone who is not a total retard to manage your webspace and cyberattacks.

Let's tally the score Adil:

Taliban websites successfully attacked by Jawas over past week: 41
Jawa websites successfully attacked by Taliban in the past week: 0

I hope Rusty will forgive me for putting the whole thing up. It was just too delicious. Visit The Jawa Report if you feel guilty. I did.

This may not be exactly the private war A. Jacksonian had in mind, but it will have to do until something better comes along.

HT linearthinker via e-mail

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:57 AM | Comments (1)



Forgive me if I hold my gangrenous nose once more...

I keep taking flak for saying that I'm willing to hold my nose and vote for McCain, even though that's hardly an endorsement of the man. I admit, I like his position on Iraq, and national defense.

As to McCain-Feingold, I don't think I could count the number of angry, even rabid posts I wrote on the subject.

This one's typical:

I get really discouraged sometimes, and it's almost always over intractable human stupidity.

McCain Feingold is the worst disaster that ever befell the First Amendment, and yet the damned fools who passed it illegally sit idly by while the mischief grows.

The idea of assigning a monetary value to speech so that it can be regulated as a "contribution" is so utterly repugnant to our tradition that it's just mind boggling.

Boy that stopped 'em cold, didn't it?

And if that one didn't, then surely my writing to the FEC must have brought the McCain regime to its knees.

Or my angry pledge that I'd go to prison rather than comply:

While I can't speak for others, I'd go to prison before I'd comply with such nonsense.

This is the biggest threat to free speech I have seen in my 50 years living in the United States. It's one of those "we must hang together or we'll all hang separately" things that everyone -- old media, new media, bloggers, MSM journalists, Republicans, Democrats, Neocons, religious conservatives, socialists, gun nuts, Marxists, Homocons, you name it -- should resolutely oppose.

The point is that I resolutely, in the strongest possible language, opposed McCain-Feingold in post after post, going all the way back to my first analysis of the law in 2003.

I don't mean to beat this issue to death (or bore anyone with a long litany), but I can't assume that everyone who reads a post like this has read this blog for years and knows how strongly I feel about free speech, or how deeply distrustful this makes me of McCain. The only reason I'm not still gnashing my teeth over it as much as I was is not only because the FEC temporarily seemed to back down, but because Bush had signed it, the Supreme Court upheld it, and even my favorite candidate Fred Thompson supported it (as a pesky commenter just had to gloatingly point out). So how much could my teeth-gnashing possibly accomplish?

Yes, I realize that politics is a dirty, even filthy, business.

But the fact remains that assaulting the First Amendment is McCain's Sin Number One. I have not forgiven him for it, and I will not, unless he admits it was a mistake.

That does not mean I would prefer Hillary Clinton, who has advocated Internet gateways and government control of talk radio.

The second big problem with McCain is over immigration. There's no question that he is, from a conservative standpoint, weak on that issue. But is he weaker than Bush? I'm at a loss to understand how his position is all that different, and many of the people slamming McCain on immigration voted for Bush, so I'm not quite sure what's going on. In a comment earlier, I asked whether immigration is the new defining issue of the conservative base.

And I do mean new.

Via The Anchoress, here's are words uttered in 1988 from the man McCain likes to claim as his mentor:

Our goal must be a day when the free flow of trade -- from the tip of Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic Circle -- unites the people of the Western Hemisphere in a bond of mutually beneficial exchange; when all borders become what the U.S.-Canadian border so long has been -- a meeting place, rather than a dividing line.
It gets worse. Here's the same guy:
The idea of a North American accord has been mine for many, many years. I have seen presidents, both Democrat and Republican, approach our neighbors with pre-concocted plans in which their only input is to vote "yes."

Some months before I declared, I asked for a meeting and crossed the border to meet with the president of Mexico. ... I went, as I said in my announcement address, to ask him his ideas -- how we could make the border something other than a locale for a nine-foot fence.

OK that was Ronald Reagan. Don't expect McCain to quote him, though. If the anti-immigration "base" had their way, the above words would be erased from human memory, and stricken from the record.

The way people talk, you'd think McCain started this sinister conspiracy to erase the border.

FWIW, I think the border is out of control, and I have written post after post about that too. Long and thoughtful posts, as if anyone cared. I even worried that this might lead to another Civil War, as if I could prevent such a thing.

And of course, I couldn't help wondering how the issue appeared virtually out of nowhere to suddenly emerge as an impeachment issue on the right:

What's especially remarkable is that even though immigration has been out of control for many years, it wasn't even a blip on the political horizon during the 2004 election. CNN's voter exit polls didn't even list it as a concern.

And now it's an impeachment issue?

Who'da thunk it?

As for me, I still want to get rid of big government statism, preserve the Constitution, reverse the course towards socialism, legalize drugs, and end bureaucratic tyranny.

The president is not doing any of these things, either. And often I forget to complain. I'm probably too old.

If conservatism means not changing things too fast, what accounts for such a sudden emergence of immigration as a third rail issue? I don't trust McCain on immigration any more than I trust him on First Amendment issues, but what explains the highly emotional way he is being painted as someone who is trying to destroy United States sovereignty?

It's like, I held my nose and voted for Bush, and for years I got it from the left. My friends on the left castigated me regularly as a Bush supporter, and over and over I had to correct them and say that I was really voting against Al Gore and John Kerry. Naturally, no one believed me.

And so now I'm poised to hold my nose and vote against Hillary, and I'm getting it again, only it's not from the left.

Irony provides small comfort.

UPDATE: Rick Moran takes a long look at McCain's popularity, and wonders whether conservatives are redefining themselves:

A breakdown of the conservative vote shows that McCain bested Romney by 35%-32% among those who identify themselves as "somewhat conservative" while dominating among "moderates" by a 2-1 margin over Romney. The significance is that while Romney creamed McCain among those who identified themselves as "very conservative," there were much fewer of those voters than moderates and lesser conservatives. Those two groups made up a majority (55%) of the GOP vote and McCain won both groups with ease.

It could very well be that what we are seeing in the Republican party is a redefining - or perhaps more accurately, a "readjustment" - in how people identify themselves as conservatives.

Read it all.

Taking the long view of all this, I think the immigration argument may go to the heart of the redefinition of conservatism. If conservatism was redefined in the last few years, might there be an ongoing (still-unresolved) redefinition of the redefinition?

posted by Eric at 09:11 AM | Comments (2)



War is not the issue?

Iraq.

That's what I woke up thinking about today. McCain seems to be the only candidate who's really comfortable talking about it. Hell, he seems to almost want to talk about it.

And while it was a a tad disingenuous the way he spun Romney's timetable talk last night, I think McCain did have a point. From an ABC News report from last March:

When asked a similar question on CBS's "Early Show," Romney responded, "Well, I wouldn't publish [a timetable] for my adversaries to see," advocating instead "a series of milestones, timetables as well, to measure how well they're doing."

"But," Romney said, "that's not something you publish for the enemy to understand, because of course they could just lay in the weeds until the time that you're gone. So these are the kinds of things you do privately, not necessarily publicly."

While Romney's Tuesday call for "milestones" is nothing new, he has mostly shied away in the past from employing the more politically charged terminology of "timetables."

When asked if Romney's Tuesday morning show comments represented something new for the Republican presidential hopeful, Romney spokesman Kevin Madden described them as "consistent with his previous statements about milestones and metrics towards success in Iraq."

The argument really isn't over timetables, but whether they should be kept in the closet, and I think McCain's point is that Romney had been acting ashamed of the war. As ABC put it, he was trying to create distance between himself and Bush:
While Romney's embrace of timetable terminology seemed to put some distance between himself and Bush, the former Massachusetts governor also made it clear that he does not support efforts on the part of the Democratic Congress to establish a public timetable.
I think he also made it clear that he's not all that comfortable with the war. Not that I blame him. I'm not a war blogger, and while I support the war I don't write about it as much as I should.

I am sick and tried of the contentiousness, though, and what I'm really sick of is the way the Democrats have been yelling and screaming about Iraq all these years. This has caused many Republicans to act guilty, and avoid talking about the war. (The deer caught in the headlights syndrome. Say what you will about McCain, but he's no deer caught in the headlights.)

I'm not sure McCain takes Iraq off the table, but if he's the GOP candidate, the Democrats are most likely going to want to find something else to talk about.

I'm sure they'll think of something, but what?

Immigration, perhaps? I doubt it.

Maybe they're hoping for a recession.

posted by Eric at 07:27 AM | Comments (0)




Issues of control

A larger question than whether Romney or McCain did a better job at tonight's debate is whether we should elect a president who "Says She Can Control Her Husband."

Now, I don't mean to sound sexist, but how would it look if a man running for president promised to control his wife?

posted by Eric at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)



The two man race. (Um plus Huckabee and Paul)

Some "two man race" this turned out to be!

I just turned on CNN to watch the debate, and what do I see?

Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, that's who.

I hope I have the patience for this. I wouldn't mind so much if everyone hadn't been screaming that the race had finally been narrowed down to two.

MORE: This debate is fit only for drunkblogging.

Fortunately, Stephen Green has that part covered (he just accused McCain of sounding "sensible on the environment, almost Instapundit-ish"), so I can spare my fingers and my liver.

AND MORE: I'm looking at the candidates' appearance, and Romney wins lots of points on hair and attire. Tanned and rested-looking, there's no question that he's the most attractive candidate. (By contrast Ron Paul looks like he needs a touch up from the embalmer.)

The thing is, Glenn Reynolds quotes a poll from Megan McArdle which says "the gay Republican vote is apparently going for McCain, with a margin of error of 100%."

What's that supposed to mean? That they're 100% wrong because Romney is obviously more attractive?

Right now McCain and Romney are trying to claim the Reagan mantle.

Uh oh, now it's immigration.

Reagan was against that, right?

MORE: Romney says illegal immigration has to stop and that he wants to deport all recent illegal immigrants. McCain says he will secure the border first and says he can, and he will not support the bill that the American people rejected.

8:48: Now it's right to life.

Huckabee is asked about Reagan's appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor ("Was she the right choice?"), and he ducks the question. Says he is pro-life.

I think Ron Paul said he didn't like O'Connor for some reason.

McCain says he likes O'Connor and won't second guess Reagan, that he also likes Roberts and Alito. Romney won't touch the O'Connor question and says he likes Roberts and Alito.

I'm glad we're getting a referendum on Justice O'Connor.

It's like, the number one issue, you know...

MORE: When Romney talks, McCain sits there with a look on his face which is almost impish and sage like at the same time. It's as if he's an indulgent parent letting junior have enough rope to hang himself. If I were Romney, I'd be mussing up my hair.

Instead, he just said McCain's remarks were "reprehensible." (To great cheers.)

That's a strong word, but it didn't phase McCain. He's haggling with Romney about the "timetable" charge and it's getting nasty.

McCain flippantly said Romney mentioned "timetables and milestones" and "waiting in the weeds until we leave" remark, but either he's quoted Romney out of context or I don't understand McCain's meaning. Anyway, the Romney folks are cheering.

Stephen Green said, "I still don't like or trust Romney, but on this one he's been wronged."

McCain keeps repeating that "timetables were the buzzword," and Romney should have said no.

Right now, Ron Paul is being weird, and his contingent is cheering.

MORE: McCain might be wrong in his accusation against Romney, but he's really sticking to his guns on "no timetables." (I think the crowd prefers Romney.)

And now Putin. (Known affectionately to Bush as "Pooty Poot" which sounds dirty.)

Huckabee says he can't read Putin's soul. (And I'm reminded of Reagan's "trust but verify.") Peace through strength. Romney and McCain both smirk. Romney is talking about the world, and China, and al Qaeda. Strengthen our friends so our kinds won't know war. Now McCain smirks.

MORE (09:21): Now McCain is badgering Romney with the T-word "timetables" again. He's being a pit bull and talking about his POW experience and following Reagan's tradition. (There's no denying that he's walked the walk.)

Romney is talking about his business experience, which is good. But much of the world is not corporate; they respect and fear not takeovers, but military force.

He regrets his lack of military experience.

McCain is about as unflappable as they come, and whether he's right or wrong, he's calm under fire. I have to say, I think that's a good quality in a president. (Enemies will get nowhere with him.)

MORE: My thanks to Stephen Green for the link.

MORE (09:29 p.m.): Huckabee says he likes the 10th Amendment, which is great, as it needs fans. But does he really mean it. (Or might I have mis-heard "Commandment"?)

MORE: (9:30 p.m.) Would Ronald Reagan endorse you?

Romney says he would. Ticks off his list and says Reagan would agree with it. (Strong applause.)

McCain says Reagan would not like people whose positions change. Says he knows he stuck with his principles. Hopes that Reagan would be proud of him as a former footsoldier.

Ron Paul says Reagan campaigned for him in 1978 and wanted to bring back the gold standard.

Huckabee says it would be presumptuous to say Reagan would endorse him, and praises Reagan. Has the right answer, but he had the last word.

I don't know who won this. I suspect it depends on whom you support.

Personality-wise, McCain came a bit closer to winning me over, but I still have serious ideological problems with him. (He's a tough and very pleasant son of a bitch, if I can say that, and I think that if he made up his mind on something, he'd exasperate whoever crossed him. Which would be good in the case of our enemies as well as those who'd like to bamboozle American leaders).

McCain likes a fight, he sparkles when he gets one, and he won't back down. He's turned Romney's Iraq "timetable" remark from a war over the words into something resembling a fistfight he provoked. Romney thinks it's about the words, but I think it's more along the lines of a duel.

Much as I hate to use the overwrought "pit bull" analogy, I know the breed well, and just this once I'll use it. McCain reminds me of a pit bull whose tail is wagging because an aggressive (but clueless) non-pit bull was dumb enough to accept a challenge. This is not fair, but fairness is irrelevant in the case of aggressive combatants. (McCain is no angel, but Romney is no innocent choir boy.)

MORE: In two posts tonight, Glenn Reynolds noticed that McCain had a distinct anti-business tone, and on CNN I heard Bill Bennett criticize McCain for saying "when I went abroad, it was for patriotism, not profit." (As if there's something wrong with profit.)

Not good. McCain would do well to leave the business-bashing to Hillary.

posted by Eric at 08:09 PM | Comments (2)



Al Qaeda In Iraq

The US Military has put out a slide show about Al Qaeda In Iraq [pdf]. The first few slides are innocuous enough. After that it gets pretty graphic. Pictures of wounds on torture victims. Mass graves. And other such vileness.

After looking at the presentation it is no wonder the Iraqis hate Al Qaeda and all it stands for.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:14 AM | Comments (3)



"McCain talking points"

I'm sick of hearing the phrase, but I have a feeling it's only going to get louder and shriller in the next few weeks.

No I don't mean the talking points themselves (whatever they are). I'm not a McCain supporter, although I would certainly vote for him over Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Rather, I am hearing the "McCain Talking Points" charge (and other similar charges) being used as a cudgel to impugn the motivations people who are not all that enthusiastic about McCain, but are realists who've seen the various polls and have concluded that he's the best chance the GOP has to defeat the Democrats.

I'm seeing this ugliness emerging in the blogosphere, and I hear it on talk radio. Earlier I heard Bill Bennett (and if he's not a conservative who is?) being lambasted by an irate listener who considers his preference of McCain to Romney some form of treason, and who accused him of being a McCain shill, whose views are not his, but are instead "McCain Talking Points."

There's a lot of screaming going on, and this election is causing turmoil on talk radio:

conservative talk radio and blogger colleagues are beside themselves at the prospect that one of the Republican contenders they deemed to be "not conservative" might be nominated. As Mike Huckabee won Iowa, John McCain took South Carolina and Fred Thompson bestirred himself to draft a note withdrawing from the race, the fretting has intensified. How could the voters reject their advice?
I don't agree with all of the analysis, as I think a growing number of Republicans are realizing that if it is possible for McCain to actually beat Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama), then the Republican Party will have won in spite of itself, because the consensus for months has been that the party was in hopeless disarray and incapable of victory. If the GOP can pull off a victory after a two-term, unpopular president, an unpopular war, and scandal after scandal, it will seem a little bit like winning the lottery. So my theory is that a number of GOP voters are a bit more cynical than they're commonly given credit for being, and they're fully capable of thinking along the lines of, "Hell, even if I can't stand McCain, if he can win this one for the dysfunctional GOP, let him try!"

That comes pretty close to my thinking, and I hardly think it's fair to call it "McCain Talking Points."

I will say a few kind words about McCain though. He's not Satan. He's not Hitler. And while numerous netizens disagree, he's also not a "traitor."

I am still extremely sore over McCain-Feingold. I don't like his obvious sympathy for illegal alien amnesty, and I don't care what he calls it. But I do think that overall he's been more honest than Romney, and as I said before, I prefer McCain slightly. The main reason is that I am vehemently anti-Clinton, and I think the Clintons would clearly prefer to run against Romney.

It's not an endorsement, and these observations are hardly "McCain talking points." I can hold my nose in the same Machiavellian manner I've been holding it all these years, and vote for him.

I'm also a bit of a contrarian with a long memory, and the more McCain is subjected to paranoid attacks, the more I'm reminded of what was done to him in the 2000 campaign.

Here's what arch liberal Jonah Goldberg said at the time:

I have not been terribly supportive of the McCain campaign. National Review magazine has been positively brutal. But the sort of moronic, venal, cowardly, and immoral stuff being thrown at McCain from certain segments of the loony Right is sending me his way. At the risk of e-mail-box overflow, I think these people are revealing themselves as fools and they are hurting the conservative movement.
I remember it well -- the Manchurian candidate smear, the "Vietnamese agent" charge, cries of "traitor" and (my personal favorite) the "fag candidate." I didn't like it, and it was one of the reasons I had to hold my nose to vote for Bush -- the man who has done so much for the "conservative movement" that it's almost impossible to define what it is anymore. For now at least, McCain's opponents are more civil than they were in 2000, and of course there are many things wrong with McCain, so I can't fault them for speaking up.

I just wish they'd be more polite. Not everyone who thinks McCain might be able to beat the Clintons is a sellout or a shill.


EDITORIAL NOTICE: This post (and many like it) was edited in my typical "20 minute" manner. As I don't have WYSIWYG capacity, I really can't see what my posts look like until they're published and I can view them in the blog. It is at that point that I proofread and edit them. So, please bear in mind that I typically change and rearrange words any way I see fit -- and I try to adhere to a twenty minute rule. What that means that for the first twenty minutes after a post is up, my spelling, grammar, word choice, and ways of phrasing things are all fair game and subject to my revision without any notice. This can even extend to factual data I get wrong; for example if I say "Iraq" and I meant "Iran," if I say "Bush" reflexively when I meant to type "Bubba," if I omit words that should have been there (such as "not" which can convey the complete opposite meaning), I'll change them to conform to what I meant to say.

What I do not revise -- even in the first twenty minutes -- are my opinions. If I change my mind, or if it turns out that I was factually wrong about a topic of importance, I'll admit my mistake in an update. But once the dust has settled and post has been up there, the only errors I correct are obvious spelling errors. With maybe two exceptions in four years, I almost never delete posts, and I only very, very rarely delete comments, or names of people. (Although I have on a couple of occasions deleted things which were specifically requested by people who wanted to preserve their privacy.) On such rare occasions, there will be an explanation in an update or a new post.

UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, here's Roger L. Simon has a great post about "McCain Derangement Syndrome."

....Welcome to McCain Derangement Syndrome - it's happening before he's even elected!

I heard two examples of it this evening - one from my friend Hugh Hewitt, whose rage against McCain today on Wolf Blitzer's CNN show made the hair curl on my bald head and later, on the Larry Elder Show, I listened in as a woman caller excoriated McCain as no war hero even though she knew the Senator had spent five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, was tortured, had his bones broken yet stayed with the other troops when offered a chance to leave, etc. Even Elder was appalled at the woman, though Larry is no McCain supporter.

Noting that Romney's years of being to McCain's left while McCain was a centrist, Roger finds himself unable to explain MDS:
I am amazed by all these conservatives who totally and almost slavishly believe this is the real Romney yet equally assuredly distrust McCain when he repeatedly says he would build a security fence. It reminds me of that old shrink's thing about the "need to be right," how it always trips us up. I have seen it happen to me a lot. Anyway, I'm not sure McCain Derangement Syndrome has a cure. People love their anger. It's a security blanket.
A pity, really. Especially for those in love with their anger.

And, yes, even their hatred.

Aren't they're forgetting that they have a traditional outlet?

(This really should have been an update to my previous post on McCain Derangement Syndrome, but few people read updates to old posts, so it goes here.)

posted by Eric at 09:12 AM | Comments (11)




Bubba does Florida GOP?

Thank God that Stephen Green is drunkblogging tonight's results!

Having spent the entire day with MCLE courses, I'm just not up to doing anything resembling serious blogging tonight.

Anyway, via Glenn Reynolds, Stephen is going at it, and I couldn't help notice what he said about Bubba:

...just in case you thought I hadn't noticed, what are we talking about during a primary election day that matters to Republicans more than Democrats? Yes, we're still talking about Bill Clinton.

Earlier Bill Bradley (also linked by Glenn) said this about Clinton:

Remember that Bill Clinton statement at the end of last week about how McCain and Hillary are supposedly such close friends and would conduct a milquetoast campaign against one another? The recording of Clinton saying that is featured in a robocall from the Romney campaign attacking McCain. You know the machiavellian former president, out to make mischief on the Republican side with conservatives predisposed to do the opposite of what he says, is anything but surprised by that.
Well, by the standards being promulgated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bill Clinton ought to be facing criminal charges. I'm still not a McCain supporter, but Clinton's charge was a thoughtless and cruel thing to say.

Whether the trickery worked or not, I don't know. Drudge earlier was showing Romney as ahead, but we'll see.

MORE: Right now McCain and Romney are in a virtual tie (34-33% respectively), with Giuliani a distant third, at 15%. (A shame, as I was a Giuliani supporter.)

Hillary is beating Obama by a hefty margin, and she has been projected the winner.

MORE (09:12 p.m.): AP and Fox have called the race for McCain, who is now ahead 35% to 31% with 54% of the vote counted.

And Giuliani is reported as ready to drop out and endorse McCain.

MORE: I watched Giuliani's concession speech. The man has a good, self-deprecating sense of humor. I also watched Romney's speech. He's a likeable guy, and I'd vote for him. But can he beat Hillary?

My hope is that this doesn't turn into acrimonious Republican Party infighting.

MORE: I heard Hillary mention "principles" to Chris Wallace while saying she wants the Florida delegates counted.

Then I read that it all depends on what the definition of "pledge" is. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

pledge.jpg

Aaaahhhh, Hsu!

(Sorry, but my allergies are flaring as a result of this dust-up.)

MORE: Predicting a surge in McCain/Giuliani bumperstickers, Stephen Green says,

It's a safe bet that if you think Rudy is just fine as a Republican, then you probably don't have much trouble with McCain.
"Just fine" never described my feelings about Rudy. I supported him initially but I never liked his position on gun control, and was glad when Fred Thompson ran because I could genuinely get behind him. Now that he's out, it's whoever can beat Hillary.

I'm afraid this race is going to be a long nose-hold.

posted by Eric at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)



No lawyer left behind!

Blogging is going to be lighter than usual for the next few days, as I have to complete my 25 hours of mandatory Continuing Legal Education.

Wow.

I see that I have been blogging so long that this is the second time my continuing education has interfered with my blogging.

Hearing about recent legal developments has a way of upsetting me, though (as it did two years ago to hear about California employment law).

Yesterday, one of the courses dealt with religious discrimination, and among the subjects was the nature of what it is that constitutes a bona fide religion.

I couldn't stop thinking about the "church" of Scientology. I don't think it is a religion, but legally, it either is or is not. If it is, there's something I find disturbing about the idea that if I ran a business I might have to hire a Scientologist if one applied.

Why is it that you can discriminate in employment against people who have political opinions that offend you, but not views of the unknown which offend you?

While the First Amendment would seem to protect political and opinions equally, it is silent on matters of discrimination, which we have fetishized beyond belief.

Anyway, my education continues. At the expense of my blogging!

MORE: Readers searching for views of the unknown (and who hate mortality) might want to read this "guest post from the long dead" which I copied and pasted the last time I faced execution by legal education.

posted by Eric at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)



Be a victim! Or else!

Bruce Bawer looks at the Islamization of Europe and sees the rise of gay bashing by Muslim youths as a barometer:

As the number of Muslims in Europe grows, and as the proportion of those Muslims who were born and bred in Europe also grows, many Muslim men are more inclined to see Europe as a part of the umma (or Muslim world), to believe that they have the right and duty to enforce sharia law in the cities where they live, and to recognize that any aggression on their part will likely go unpunished. Such men need not be actively religious in order to feel that they have carte blanche to assault openly gay men and non-submissive women, whose freedom to live their lives as they wish is among the most conspicuous symbols of the West's defiance of holy law.

Multiculturalists can't face all this. So it is that even when there are brutal gay-bashings, few journalists write about them; of those who do, few mention that the perpetrators are Muslims; and those who do mention it take the line that these perpetrators are lashing out in desperate response to their own oppression.

Right. As Bawer points out, Muslim immigrants are better off in Europe than in their own countries.

But such relative affluence has not prevented Muslim anti-gay violence, which has gone largely unchallenged and pretty well reversed Western Europe's climate of tolerance:

....for a while there, in much of Western Europe, homosexuality was on its way to being a non-issue. In Amsterdam in the late 1990s, I was delightfully surprised to discover that when groups of straight teenage boys passed gay couples in the streets, they just walked past without any reaction whatsoever. The sight of gay people didn't upset, threaten, amuse, or confuse them; the familiar, insecure urge to respond to open homosexuality with some kind of distancing, disdainful word or gesture - and thereby affirm to one another, and to themselves, their own heterosexual credentials - was simply not part of those kids' makeup. For me, it was a remarkable experience. Amsterdam then seemed to me the leading edge of a new wave in the progress of human civilization.
Now it's just the opposite, with Muslim youths leading the way. They're of course not seen as the bullies they are, but as "victims" lashing out against oppression.

Well, I suppose it could be worse. At least they're not being defended as upholding traditional Islamic values.

From a leftist standpoint of course, gay self defense would constitute "oppression." I think the gays should arm themselves, but of course this is pacifist Europe, where not only are guns illegal, but self defense is increasingly seen as a crime.

Read the whole thing and see what a sickening and sordid spectacle Europe has become. (Again.) I see the Anne Frank house as a reminder of what happened all over Europe to the Jews. While today's Anne Frank will be more likely to be a victim of an "honor killing," the cowardly Europeans will do just about as much to save her.

Bawer's conclusion is ominous.

Europe is on its way down the road of Islamization, and it's reached a point along that road at which gay people's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is being directly challenged, both by knife-wielding bullies on the street and by taxpayer-funded thugs whose organizations already enjoy quasi-governmental authority. Sharia law may still be an alien concept to some Westerners, but it's staring gay Europeans right in the face - and pointing toward a chilling future for all free people. Pim Fortuyn saw all this coming years ago; most of today's European leaders still refuse to see it even though it's right before their eyes.
Pim Fortuyn was right to see it coming. He was murdered by animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf,
who confessed in court to murdering Fortuyn to stop him exploiting Muslims as "scapegoats" and targeting "the weak parts of society to score points" in seeking political power.
The assassination makes lefties very uncomfortable, and there's been little talk of Fortuyn since. His assassin only drew an 18 year term, and there's even less talk about him, much less the suspicious circumstances surrounding him and the case.

It's sad to contemplate that even England -- which once proudly stood defiantly against Hitler -- won't even stand up for the classic childrens' story of the Three Little Pigs, even absent a demand from Muslims.

What would Porky say?

PorkyAllah.jpg

Meanwhile, in this country, the feminists who publish Ms. magazine refuse to allow images of successful and tough Israeli women to be published, and Americans who have no problem with bashing Christianity admit that they fear criticizing Islam. (Little wonder that Muslim gay bashing is ignored by the left and swept under the rug.)

Better to give the bullies whatever they want, yield to their demands, apologize profusely, and tell them they're victims.

And if that doesn't work, help them go after the people who dare stand up to them.

It might sound like the madness, but there's a certain logic to it. If we are all victims (especially the bullies), then it stands to reason that those who refuse to be victims are the enemy.

UPDATE: History professor and Pulitzer Prize winning author David Levering Lewis has written a new book -- God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215, a revisionist history which promotes the idea that it would have been better had Islam conquered Europe long ago.

Fortunately, Lewis's book received an unfavorable review in the New Yorker:

Lewis's book is part of that revision. The Muslims came to Europe, he writes, as "the forward wave of civilization that was, by comparison with that of its enemies, an organic marvel of coordinated kingdoms, cultures, and technologies in service of a politico-cultural agenda incomparably superior" to that of the primitive people they encountered there. They did Europe a favor by invading. This is not a new idea, but Lewis takes it further: he clearly regrets that the Arabs did not go on to conquer the rest of Europe. The halting of their advance was instrumental, he writes, in creating "an economically retarded, balkanized, and fratricidal Europe that . . . made virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, persecutory religious intolerance, cultural particularism, and perpetual war." It was "one of the most significant losses in world history and certainly the most consequential since the fall of the Roman Empire." This is a bold hypothesis.
A bit understated, perhaps, but hey, it beats glowing praise!

(I guess it's Glenn's fault that I found the book review, because he linked these Amazon reviews, and my curiosity made my fingers do the clicking.)

MORE: In a great discussion of the "Three Little Pigs" ban,
Pam Meister notes that this cowardly mentality has led (in England) to not teaching students about the Holocaust:

Better to ignore history than to offend a handful of Holocaust deniers.

Bending over backwards to keep from offending certain groups of people doesn't appease them. They begin to feel entitled and start demanding more, like the ACLU, Greenpeace, and the Anti-Smoking league. Sure, condemning a book about fictional pigs isn't such a big deal... until the books are banned outright because sensitive eyes might see them... or pork is banned from restaurants because some customers may feel offended by its presence on the menu... or pork is banned from supermarkets because seeing it in the refrigerated case causes the vapors - putting hog farmers out of business and depriving food lovers everywhere of bacon, sausage, ham, and other tasty morsels.
Tolerance of intolerance emboldens the intolerant, and if they get their way, intolerance will become official policy.
posted by Eric at 09:58 AM | Comments (3)




Rhetorical question of the day

Are parents and taxpayers' hard-earned dollars being used in ways that ensure the highest quality education at the lowest possible cost?

Asked at Phi Beta Cons. (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

It's undignified to answer rhetorical questions.

posted by Eric at 11:03 PM | Comments (1)



The enemy of my enemy is my outreach

John McCain has expressed opposition to gays serving in the military, and he appears to have given considerable thought to the subject:

In an April 16 letter to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, McCain said, "I believe polarization of personnel and breakdown of unit effectiveness is too high a price to pay for well-intentioned but misguided efforts to elevate the interests of a minority of homosexual service members above those of their units.

"Most importantly, the national security of the United States, not to mention the lives of our men and women in uniform, are put at grave risk by policies detrimental to the good order and discipline which so distinguish America's armed services."

McCain, who voted in favor of "don't ask, don't tell" when it was enacted in 1993, concluded that "I remain opposed to the open expression of homosexuality in the U.S. military."

OK, for what it's worth (which is not much), I disagree with McCain on this issue.

Furthermore, I am not a McCain supporter, although I have grudgingly allowed that I would prefer him -- slightly -- to Mitt Romney. But let's hypothesize for a moment. Suppose that the McCain campaign decided that it needed to do "gay outreach" in states with large urban gay populations where the race was close. How would he do this? Most likely, he would hire someone to do what is called "outreach" to what is inexplicably called the lesbian gay bisexual transgendered "community."

Politics being what it is, it would be very tough for him to find any openly gay outreach coordinator with any political experience who agreed with his position on gays in the military. It might even be impossible.

For that matter, McCain has gone on record as being against gay marriage, and he has even supported Arizona's anti-gay-marriage initiative. I think it would also be extremely difficult for him to find a gay outreach coordinator who agreed with his position on that. But let's assume he found a gay political organizer willing to help his campaign anyway. It's not impossible; Bush got 25% of the gay vote, and there are gays who think defeating Sharia-supporting Islamofascists is more important than marriage licenses or open service in the military. Most of that 25% consisted of people who voted for Bush despite disagreements. Any gay outreach coordinator hired by McCain would most likely be running around trying to wrangle these votes, and it is almost a certainty that he or she would not be in agreement with McCain on the gay issues.

Does that mean that McCain could be said to hold the views of his gay outreach coordinator?

According to the logic of the people who are irate about McCain's hispanic outreach coordinator, apparently the answer is yes.

The question is posed thusly:

If John McCain supports securing the border, why does he embrace a campaign Hispanic outreach director who doesn't believe in borders....
Let's try rephrasing the question for the hypothetical gay outreach coordinator:
If John McCain supports healthy families and a strong military, why does he embrace a campaign homosexual outreach director who doesn't believe in these things, and who supports gay marriage and gays in the military....
The answer is that the coordinator's views are not necessarily those of McCain.

This is not to say that they might not be. It is perfectly legitimate to ask McCain about those views. Some open border critics seem satisfied that McCain's positions are not the same as his Hispanic outreach coordinator, and Victor Davis Hanson is an example:

I take McCain at his word that--once chastised on immigration--he will close the border. Ending illegal immigration, restoring fiscal sanity, cutting spending, and insisting on victory in the war are the essential issues, and on all he is far preferable to Hillary. There really is a difference between "suspension of disbelief" and "no substitute for victory." That is why a number of conservatives have and will continue to hold their noses and endorse McCain.
Mickey Kaus isn't so sure. He takes a very critical look at this Hernandez character (who looks terrible in the videos, btw), and says,
Imagine if Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama) had an aide who ran around saying such things. Would it cause a controversy? Ask Lani Guinier!
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

They might also want to ask Raul Yzaguirre. The former President of La Raza, the man is a real extremist I've criticized repeatedly, who likens the US English group to the Ku Klux Klan. No mere outreach coordinator, Yzaguirre is the Co-Chair of Hillary Clinton's campaign.

This is not to defend Hernandez, but Yzaguirre's views are way more extreme. And no one seems to be asking Hillary about him. (In that respect, I'd also note that Newsmax commentator Dick Morris is listed as a co-author of Hernandez's book, and no one seems to care about holding the supposedly anti-open-borders Newsmax accountable for that.)

Overall, I'm skeptical of guilt by association arguments. It's a bit like saying a blogger is responsible for viewpoints expressed by other blogger he might have linked, or even commenters. Especially in politics, and more especially in the case of political "outreach."

What is fair is to ask Hernandez what he thinks, and then ask McCain whether he agrees.

posted by Eric at 10:27 AM | Comments (9)



A new first?

I'm having conceptual difficulty analyzing Toni Morrison's endorsement of Barack Obama for president, but whatever:

ABC News' Rick Klein Reports: Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison -- who famously declared Bill Clinton to be the nation's "first black president" -- is endorsing Barack Obama for president today, an Obama campaign source tells ABC News.

This comes as Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., also announces his support for Obama on Monday, at a rally in Washington.

I'm not especially impressed with Ted Kennedy's endorsement, as I agree with Roger L. Simon that royal families are a thing that should be discouraged:
....We are a democracy. As I wrote yesterday in the comments section, it's time to end the Divine Right of Kings in this country. That means no more Bushes, Clintons, Kennedys, Roosevelts, etc. I don't even want to hear from Kennedys for their recommendations. Enough of this monarchical crap and these over-blown, over-important political families. We might as well bring back the Romanoffs.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Family values are one thing, but royal family values are un-American!

Back to Morrison, who famously introduced into the national consciousness the notion that Bubba was the first black president:

In an October 1998 essay in The New Yorker, Morrison wrote: "Years ago, in the middle of the Whitewater investigation, one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime."
Obama's candidacy proves Morrison was wrong about the latter, as he's clearly electable.

The problem is that the first first lady of our first black president won't let him try, because she thinks her royal family prerogative comes first.

The solution, obviously, is to amend the Constitution to either ban dynastic governments and presidential nepotism, or at least ensure that first ladies have to run for office and be elected just like everyone else.

Otherwise, what would stop first ladies from having as many terms as they want? There's absolutely nothing in the Constitution to stop Hillary from divorcing Bill and remarrying another presidential candidate, or even a president, is there? In light of all the shameless Clinton shenanigans, it could happen.

Actually, I spoke too fast there. It's not a First "Lady" Amendment we need, but a First Person Limitation Amendment, and I think we have to make it fair to both presidents and first people.

Something like this:

"No person having already served two terms as first person shall be eligible to serve for any later term as first person, nor shall any person having served two terms as president be eligible to subsequently to serve as first person."

Have to start somewhere.

posted by Eric at 09:24 AM | Comments (1)




a reinjiggerating peekaboo

What am I to do when I see a headline that says "WILL HILL CHILL BILL?"

hillchillbill.JPG

Here's the story-in-brief:

Hillary's campaign will try to 'shift former President Bill Clinton back into positive, supportive-spouse role' he played before her loss in Iowa... Developing...
And as if that isn't bad enough, there's now legitimate speculation which can be summarized as

WILL ILL BILL CHILL HILL?

Sorry, but things have gone too far. I was trying to chill out a little bit from blogging tonight, but really...

In light of the earlier commotion over Time Magazine's rejiggering extravaganza, the word games just became too much to ignore, and regular readers know that if I am sufficiently provoked, I just can't let well enough alone.

So, I thought the least I could do would be to rejigger "Hillary Rodham Clinton," and I managed to come up with this:

Halt Old Horny Criminal
Hey, it's late Sunday night, and I used anagram software, but it's the best I can do.

(It has more stopping power than than "Old Horny Maniac Thrill," although that does at least rhyme with the question of the day, which seems to be "WILL HILL CHILL BILL, OR WILL ILL BILL CHILL HILL?")

UPDATE: This stuff might rhyme, but I think it is really, seriously inappropriate and borders on deranged.

Dave Winer needs to chill, and big time.

(Considering what I've seen of him in the past, though, I can't say I'm surprised.)

posted by Eric at 11:11 PM | Comments (4)



Stretch Them To The Breaking Point

Stretch them to the breaking point and then increase the pressure. Collapse will follow. In the early days of the siege of Richmond, Lee admitted that if Grant had been able to bring one or two more brigades to bear he would have been crushed as he had no reserves left.

It appears that this is what Bush has done in Iraq according to the Weekly Standard. It appears that Bush made one of the most audacious moves in civilian control of the Military since Lincoln appointed Relentless Grant to lead the Union Armies.

In September, Rumsfeld had rejected the idea of a surge when retired general Jack Keane, a former vice chief of staff of the Army and a member of the advisory Defense Policy Review Board, met with him and Pace. Keane insisted the "train and leave" strategy, as Bush referred to it, was failing. He proposed a counterinsurgency strategy, the addition of five to eight Army brigades, and a primary focus on taking back Baghdad. Rumsfeld was unconvinced. But now, with Bush favoring a strategy nearly identical to Keane's, he didn't object. "Rumsfeld was never a lose guy," a Bush adviser said. "He always wanted to win."

With Bush's connivance, Cheney asked the chiefs a series of questions designed to ease their qualms about a surge. What would be the consequences of losing in Iraq? Was the Iraqi army capable of quelling the sectarian violence without substantial help from American troops?

The chiefs had real grievances to air, and they didn't hold back. Schoomaker cited the stress on combat forces from repeated tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. That, Bush told me, was "the main thing I remember from that meeting. That was clearly a factor in some of the people around the table's thinking .  .  . if you sustain our level, much less increase the level, you could, Mr. President, strain the force, which is an important consideration."

Bush agreed that strain was a problem. Then he delivered a sharp rejoinder, touching on a theme he returned to in nearly every meeting on Iraq. "The biggest strain on the force would be a defeat in Iraq," he said. Winning trumped strain. To alleviate the strain, the president committed to enlarging the Army by two divisions and increasing the size of the Marine Corps. The chiefs had two more complaints. The military, practically alone, was carrying the load in Iraq. Where were the civilians from the State Department and other agencies? Again, Bush agreed with their point. He promised to assign more civilians to Iraq. (The number of provincial reconstruction teams was soon doubled.)

Their final problem was the unreliability of Iraq's Shia government and army. Would Iraqi forces show up and do their part in the surge? And would they act in a non-sectarian manner, treating Sunnis the same as Shia? Bush said he'd get a public commitment on both counts from Maliki before making a final decision on the surge. And he did.

The article goes into General Petraeus' call for more brigades. The initial plan called for a one or two brigade surge. Petraeus asked for 5 brigades and got them.

On top of that Congress voted to increase the size of the military. The Democrat controlled Congress. Obviously it is never wise to come up short of divisions in wartime. It could adversely affect re-election prospects. Even of Democrats.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 02:42 PM | Comments (2)



"Make your dog an eager eater!"

Of Purina Dog Chow, of course -- as seen on "Leave it to Beaver":

As I've kvetched, the number one reason I hate television is that I cannot stand commercials. They do not fit in at all with the programming. Far from it; they're as invasive as a SWAT team serving a no-knock warrant, and my response is to reach for the remote and open fire in self defense.

Commercials like the above -- routine in the golden days of television -- were much better because they were less invasive. They fit -- as if they were part of the show. I'm sure there are many legitimate reasons why today's commercials have to be ugly and invasive, but I won't watch them.

But I wouldn't turn off a commercial if it seemed like part of the show.

Why, the old commercials from the golden days of TV are so good that this calls for another Purina commercial from Leave it to Beaver!

Of course, even though they fit in with the show, the Purina commercials would be lost on some, because not everyone has a dog.

However, everyone eats, and most of us eat breakfast. Which meant that if you were a Beverly Hillbillies fan as I was, the following commercial might incline you to be an eager eater -- of Kellogg's Corn Flakes!

And what do you do after you've fed your dog, and eaten your Corn Flakes?

Why, if you're an "I Love Lucy" fan, you go out and buy a new Ford.

The above convertible is "a revolution made possible by Ford's advanced engineering!"

If Lucy can make the thing work, anyone can!

UPDATE: Second YouTube link corrected.

posted by Eric at 09:56 AM | Comments (1)




Surprise in South Carolina?

I can't believe it, but I'm watching the returns trickle in, and Obama is winning by a much larger margin than I expected.

As of right now, with 56% of the vote in, Obama is ahead 54% to Hillary's 27%.

And Bill is red faced and ranting in a Missouri speech -- as if he's running for president.

Naturally, the Clintons will spin this as a vote along racial lines. Michael Graham outlines how:

No matter what happens in South Carolina today - even if Obama wins a plurality among white voters - the Clintons and their media stooges have turned South Carolina into "the black primary."

In fact, the bigger his win, the more it reinforces the campaign-killing message that Barack Obama is "their" candidate.

If tomorrow's headlines read "Obama Crushes Clinton, Wins 80 percent of African-American Vote," every non-black voter will get the message that Obama is somebody else's candidate, not theirs.

(Via PJM, and Glenn Reynolds.)

However, the vote is so lopsided that Obama might be getting more support from white voters than the Clintons counted on. Considerable animosity was expressed by white voters in exit polls:

74% of African-American voters think that Clinton unfairly attacked Obama. But when we look at the same question among white voters, a comparable number thought Clinton unfairly attacked Obama -- 68%.

Also worth mentioning, a majority of the voters -- 56% -- said that Bill Clinton's campaigning was important to their vote today.
But as to the overall white vote for Obama I don't know the actual numbers.

I do know that the pundits predicted a 13 point spread, and this is more than twice that.

MORE (09:26 p.m.): Just finished watching Obama's speech. Once again, I have to say that he is a great orator, a speaker with the ability to inspire. The best rhetorician I have seen (my B.A. is in Rhetoric and I say this as a compliment) since Ronald Reagan. His appeal is wide ranging, and his sincerity is obvious. While I am skeptical that he can overcome the entrenched Clinton machine, anything is possible.

I'm very impressed at his ability to go for the jugular in a respectful manner. He nailed the Clintons on their bullshit, and their racializing, yet he did so without a hint of an ad hominem attack.

MORE: CNN just showed Hillary delivering a speech in Nashville. That faux Southern accent again! Her performance reminded me of Zelig, and I half expected her to break out in the refrain of "Stand By Your Man." (Fortunately, she didn't.)

AND MORE: Via CNN, the white vote for Obama:

South Carolina White Vote for Obama

college educated 32%
no college 17%
18-29 50%
30-59 24%
60+ 15%

obama total 24%

jesse jackson white total 7%

Again, the age gap!

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, for the quote, and for the kind words about the "jugular" remark. Welcome all!

Hmmm... I know about the adage about catching more flies with honey, but is there a corollary that jugulars are best approached with respect?

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has a great roundup of reactions including Dave Kopel who, while diametrically opposed to Obama politically, nonetheless gives him a high score:

A citizen can disagree with governmental policy proposals of Barack Obama, just as a citizen could disagree with the the policies of Ronald Reagan. But there is no reasonable doubt that Reagan did an excellent job in his role as Head of State. A patriotic American can appreciate the good work of a President as Head of State, even while disliking much of the President's work as Head of Government. Senator Obama's victory speech in South Carolina suggests that he too might be an outstanding Head of State.
More ominously for Hillary, Mark Steyn calls Obama "Kennedyesque."

And some Democrats are wising up about the Clintons; Captain Ed is not surprised!

Overall, I think Barack Obama has shown remarkable humility. Considering the nature of American politics, that's refreshing in itself.

posted by Eric at 08:35 PM | Comments (12)



Arms are man's best friend! (You can hug them too.)

No this is not a satire post about gun huggers, or a proposal for a bumpersticker showing a man hugging an AK-47 captioned "ARMS ARE FOR HUGGING!"

Much as I'd love to have time for such gun-lovin' antics, this post is an attempt to examine something I've been thinking about for some time and finally got around to writing.

What shamed me into this was to read Clayton Cramer's carefully researched and wonderfully thought-provoking law review article -- What Does "Bear Arms" Imply? -- which looks at the history behind the two words.

Usually the debate is about what is meant by "bearing" arms, but most people take it for granted what "arms" means. In fact, to most modern Americans, "bearing arms" means carrying a firearm.

But the Second Amendment says nothing about guns. Not even firearms. It's just been assumed that firearms were obviously what the founders had in mind. Obviously, they did, but is there any logical reason why the Second Amendment should be limited to guns? Could the government ban, say, pikes, crossbows, and edged weapons consistent with the Second Amendment? Considering that swords and pikes were very much in use as weapons then, and knives are still used now, a ban on knives would be no more constitutional than a ban on guns.

Cramer's article notes the history of knives, swords and other weapons as arms ("any Bill, Long-bow, Cross-bow, Hand-gun, Sword, Staff, Dagger, Halberd, Morespike, Spear, or any other manner of Weapon....") and cites cases involving knives.

Interestingly, the constitutionality of knife laws arises in a discussion of the DC gun case -- "The Parker Decision - Should Knife Owners Celebrate?":

...in addition to some of the strictest gun restrictions in the nation, Washington, D.C., also is home to draconian knife laws, none of which have yet been ruled unconstitutional. For example, D.C. prohibits carry "on or about the person, whether open or concealed, of any deadly or dangerous weapon. Period. Even in your own home."5 Carry of any such weapon in public is a felony....
Anyone who doesn't think a knife has a military purpose, think again. (Knives were standard issue in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and knife fighting was taught routinely as part of hand to hand combat.) This is not to argue that the Second Amenment is limited to arms with military purposes, but people sometimes claim that it is, and I think that argument would be unavailing.

In short, arms are weapons. Things used in self defense. Including but not limited to guns.

The word "arms" predates the invention of guns (which, as firearms are only one form of arms), and indeed goes all the way back to the Romans:

From Middle English armes, weapons, from Old French, pl. of arme, weapon, from Latin arma, weapons; see ar- in Indo-European roots. V., from Middle English armen, from Old French armer, from Latin armre, from arma.
Think "Coat of Arms" and the many different forms of weapons emblazoned on them come to mind -- not the least of which are numerous dogs -- especially dogs of war.

I like this guy:

Wappen_Zuettlingen.png

While Benjamin Franklin wanted dogs in the colonial militia, and I assume they had dogs like any other soldiers, I haven't searched the record in detail.

However, I did find a Bisexual Militia Dog T-Shirt.

militiadog.jpg

(A steal at $13.99!)

In short, arms are weapons, and dogs -- especially dogs capable of being used for defense purposes -- can be considered arms.

In fact, in New York and other places, there are serious attempts to get dogs classified as weapons.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Shotgun. Switchblade. Blackjack. Dog?

A dangerous canine would be defined as a "deadly weapon" under a bill before the New York Legislature.

"Some of these dogs are killing machines," said Assemblyman Patrick Manning, whose proposal also would allow towns to ban certain breeds.

The bill is among a pack of legislative solutions being offered nationwide to address the problem of vicious dogs, which Manning said are becoming "the weapon of choice for drug dealers or gangbangers."

Get that? Criminals use dogs!

Sound familiar?

Lest anyone think this is an isolated idea, PETA (the major animal "rights" organization) has famously argued for selective dog banning in a famous piece titled ominously, "Some Dogs are Weapons - Ban Them."

My inquiry is whether banning dogs kept and trained for purposes of self defense would violate the Second Amendment.

While most people are so locked into modern stereotypes that it would never occur to them that dogs are in fact a form of arms, I think banning dogs would violate the Second Amendment, because dogs are weapons, or at least they certainly can be. Not only have dogs have been used in warfare since ancient times, but they have been used militarily in virtually every war, and still are.

Parenthetically, the most decorated war dog in U.S. history was a pit bull named "Stubby." Yeah, my bias is showing there. I admit it.

Certainly, to the extent that any legislation seeks to ban dogs because of their status as being weapons, the Second Amendment is clearly implicated, as the long history of dogs being used for self defense is beyond debate. Taking away someone's dog is every bit as much taking away his right to self defense as is taking away his gun.

Both are forms of disarmament.

If I had the hypothetical choice of either only a dog or only a gun to defend my home, I'd take the dog. I have to sleep, but Coco is always on duty, and she hears and smells what I cannot. A gun can't watch, listen and warn you, nor does it protect your home while you're away.

It is no accident that dogs are used by drug dealers for protection against SWAT teams, just as it's no accident that they're used by honest homeowners to protect their homes and families, by police to go after bad guys, and by the military to go after enemies. Nor is it an accident that power-crazed bureaucrats might see them as arms to be take them away just as they want to take away guns. (Dogs are a serious impediment to police state apparatchiks.)

Disarmament is disarmament. It is not limited to gun control. Nor is the Second Amendment limited to guns.

I think a good case can be made that it applies to dogs kept for self defense.

UPDATE: As Clayton Cramer reminds me, dog control is not new. In "The Racist Roots of Gun Control," it was made clear that dog ownership by slaves was prohibited in certain states.

What's new is the way it is packaged.

posted by Eric at 06:43 PM | Comments (5)



RINOs and MDS

No, I am not talking about a struggle involving physicians in the Republican Party; I'm talking about the McCain Republican third rail phenomenon which is being called McCain Derangement Syndrome.

While I supported Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani before that (and I guess I would have to be considered a Giuliani supporter as long as he lasts), I have not supported John McCain in this election, and the primary reason is that I am still sore over McCain-Feingold. I also don't like McCain's immigration policies, although I do not think that he's a traitor to the country, hell-bent on annihilating national sovereignty and destroying Western civilization the way some people do. (No, I am not naming names as I don't mean to single people out.)

But the issue of irrational "McCain Derangement Syndrome" (read it, and more here) forces me to ask an obvious question: what is it that makes McCain so infinitely worse than Giuliani or Romney? He's not a real conservative? Please. I know he's taken some less than palatable positions on the gun issue, but compare that to Giuliani's. There's a legitimate beef with him over the immigration issue, but his views are not much different than those of George Bush. Yet many of the same people who consider McCain to be anathema voted for Bush. What gives?

FWIW, if you look at them and their overall positions and records over the past five years, I don't think there's a dime's worth of difference between McCain, Romney, and Giuliani. It's just that Romney and Giuliani have "adjusted" their views in order to please the so-called "base" and McCain, like him or not, has tended to just keep being McCain and let the chips fall. (From a "pure" social conservative perspective, all three are arguably "RINOs," but McCain is the least hypocritical RINO.)

For this, McCain engenders the visceral, passionate kind of hatred which can be analogized to BDS, except it's on the right. Some of it is downright paranoid, and it reminds me of the way McCain was attacked in the 2000 primary as a Manchurian candidate, a traitor whose sympathies were with North Vietnam, a homo lover (shudder), and the "fag candidate."

Fortunately, most of the recent stuff is nowhere near that bad, and I certainly hope it doesn't get that bad.

David Brooks notes the phenomenon too:

Many professional conservatives do not regard Mike Huckabee or John McCain as true conservatives. "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party," Rush Limbaugh said recently on his radio show. "It's going to change it forever, be the end of it."

Some of the contributors to The National Review's highly influential blog, The Corner, look to Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney to save the conservative movement. Their hatred of McCain is so strong, it's earned its own name: McCain Derangement Syndrome.

Yet a funny thing has happened this primary season. Conservative voters have not followed their conservative leaders. Conservative voters are much more diverse than the image you'd get from conservative officialdom.

They may be diverse, but such "diversity" has done little to prevent McCain Derangement Syndrome from setting in.

I'm forced to ask: isn't this about beating the Clintons?

The GOP ranks are thinning, and as I say, now that Fred Thompson is out, I'm back to supporting Giuliani, who is not exciting at all. But if he drops out, it will be a race between McCain and Romney, and I have to say that I slightly (with emphasis on slightly) prefer McCain to Romney. Mainly because I like McCain on military matters and I think he'd be a better president to head the armed forces right now. Better than the Romney, and better than Bush. (Um, we are still at war with radical Islamism, are we not?)

But I have to stress that I would vote for Romney if he is the candidate. (Hell, as I think I made clear already, I'd even vote for Huckabee.) This is not to defend McCain's politics, but there seems to be more antipathy towards McCain among some Republicans, though, than there is even towards Hillary. I think it's bizarre. It's as if they'd rather have Hillary as president.

This strikes me as insane.

But I admit, I may be clouded by my biases, so let me admit them again. I'm still an ABC (Anyone But Clinton) guy, so I am influenced by the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. (Better Obama than Hillary, better Giuliani than Hillary, better McCain than Hillary.....)

For awhile, though, I was hopeful about Fred Thompson. I have been holding my nose while I vote for so long it's second nature. Most libertarian types are used to holding their nose and voting for various communitarian types, whether social conservatives or Big Government pork barrel "conservatives" or both.

What annoys the hell out of me is this: I am so damned used to holding my nose and being a good boy, and voting for these people, that I tend to see it as part of being a Republican. You just vote for whoever the party serves up. Otherwise, you're not a real Republican. Yet these irate -- and I mean the really irate social conservatives, the WND wing of the party -- they act like holding their nose is treason. As if their stuff is infinitely more important than my stuff. That's annoying enough, but not only do they make a huge spectacle out of refusing to hold their nose, they then turn around and accuse the nose-holding voters of being RINOs. Imagine! I'm a RINO for voting for the Republican candidate. And the people who sit it out and let Hillary win are "real Republicans."

It's almost too surreal for me to process, but for me that's a primary purpose of blog posts, so I'll try to explain why I disagree with the philosophy of letting Hillary win in order to preserve the purity of conservatism.

I'm in no way accusing these people of being pro-Hillary. Far from it. I suspect that behind the thinking is the idea that if the country is ruined by intensifying the pace of socialism, open border policies, multiculturalist rot, draconian gun control, terrible schools, etc., that the voters will finally "wake up" and realize that the only answer is to be found in far-right conservatism. Left wing tyranny will bring about a backlash resulting in sudden majority support for far-right politics.

This reminds me of a political debate on the left in the late 1960s -- a time when Weather Underground types and their supporters believed in radicalizing everyone -- and their violent tactics were intended to do just that. More mainstream leftists, while agreeing with the general Marxist philosophy, believed that such tactics might very well cause Richard Nixon to put America under martial law and bring about a fascist state. To this the far left replied that "If it takes fascism, then bring it on!" They believed that if America went fascist, the great middle would suddenly see the light and become Marxist. Now I am not comparing today's conservative right to the 1960s far left; for starters the right wing's tactics are not violent. I mean to highlight the logical fallacy involved in thinking that helping to bring about an abhorrent government will cause ordinary people to "see the light." Ordinary people not being activists, they don't see the light in this way; they hope only that they will be left alone. Thus, assuming the Clintons return to power, this does not mean voters would suddenly be more likely to vote for a far right conservative. To the contrary, they'd be more likely to vote Hillary into a second term. And, while the party purists in the GOP might wring their hands in despair of what has happened to this once wonderful country, they'll be stuck agreeing with each other, and blaming the RINOs for their loss.

This brings to mind another reason for sitting it out and letting Hillary win. McCain -- and the "RINOs" -- can then be blamed for Republican defeat, and the right wing can then have their "turn" at running against Hillary. I'll vote for them, of course. And they'll probably say that the reason they didn't win is because of the RINOs. But winning isn't everything; it's about party principles.

I have principles too, and I don't expect them to prevail.

(I mean really. Stop socialism, legalize drugs, defeat Islamofascism? Come on! What's next? "End the Culture War"?)

But that's why I hold my nose and vote. What I still can't figure out is why holding my nose and voting for what I don't especially like makes me less than a "real Republican."

Real Republicans don't vote. (?)

I'm surprised someone hasn't come up with a bumpersticker.

posted by Eric at 11:16 AM | Comments (14)




Nutter in legal wonderland

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, whose fresh approach seemed like a welcome change from the corruption-riddled administration of John Street, is not off to a great start if his plan to enforce illegal and unconstitutional laws is any indication:

Nutter: Enforce Phila.'s gun laws

The mayor is setting up a legal showdown with the state Supreme Court, which banned such city ordinances.

First of all, the headline is misleading, but more on that later. The report continues:
Mayor Nutter yesterday said he would enforce new city gun-control laws even without state authorization to do so - setting up a possible legal and political showdown between the state and the new mayor.

At the first regular meeting of the new City Council yesterday, Council members Darrell L. Clarke and Donna Reed Miller introduced the same package of gun-control measures that languished last year while the state legislature refused to authorize them.

But these bills have a new wrinkle - they don't call for state-enabling legislation. The previous bills were conditional on companion state laws in recognition of a 1996 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that said cities could not enforce their own gun laws.

It is well settled that Philadelphia does not have the legal authority to enforce gun laws that contravene state law. It is called "preemption." The Philadelphia laws are a legal nullity and unconstitutional. Any Philadelphia police officer who attempts to enforce them could be sued. Moreover, all police officers in Pennsylvania are sworn to uphold state law, so the nonsense that Nutter threatens would only cause absolute chaos for Philadelphia (assuming he follows through).

I love this response by Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell:

Go ahead Mayor Nutter. Enforce them against me. Please. I could use the money I'll make from the giant lawsuit I promise I'll slap the city with. Pennsylvania needs to reconsider its preemption statue if Mayor Nutter is serious about crossing this Rubicon. Not to weaken it, but to impose penalties on cities and local municipalities who violate it. We have the power to do this in the legislature, and I really hope that City Council does not really want to bring this issue to a head.
And here's Jeff Soyer, who corrects the Inquirer on a point of law:
Once again, it's "punish the law abiding gun owners" rather than the criminals and if that means violating the Pennsylvania Constitution or state law, so be it.

This seems to be a common thread of late where activist mayors around the country violate their states' laws, such as "marrying" same sex couples or passing (in SF) gun bans. Apparently the only laws they want to obey are the ones they pass themselves!

As I say, Jeff is a more thorough legal researcher than the Inquirer. Note that he said "state law."

State preemption of local gun laws was not just a "1996 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling" as the Inquirer claims, because the Supreme court simply followed existing state law -- Pennsylvania 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6120(a) -- a 1994 statute which provides as follows:

§ 6120. Limitation on municipal regulation of firearms and ammunition.

(a) General rule.--No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

Not that state law matters to Nutter any more than the legal details matter to the Inquirer. The story continues, as if this is just the way things are supposed to be done in our fair city:
"If these bills pass and if I sign them, then I expect to enforce them," Nutter said. "If you believe we can have a safer city by putting these measures in place, I think as good public servants we are compelled to take some type of action in the face of no relief coming from anywhere else."

Clarke said only that the new bills are "part of a legal strategy."

The bills would force owners to immediately report stolen guns; set monthly limits for firearms purchases; require vendors to report ammunition sales; and prohibit gun sales to anyone who is the subject of an order of protection.

Temple University law professor David Kairys, a gun-control advocate, said "that's what our City Council and mayor should be doing - they're dealing with an urgent problem."

Kairys said the city's action could set up a test of a new Supreme Court, now under Chief Justice Ronald Castille, the former Philadelphia district attorney who promised to depoliticize the court.

"If there's really going to be a new day in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, this would be a fine place to start," Kairys said.

A "test of a new Supreme Court"? To test what? Whether it will throw out a state law specifically preempting local laws because a local law is written to defy the state law intended to preempt it?

On an anti-gun law professor's say-so?

Castille may be a "former Philadelphia district attorney who promised to depoliticize the court" but I think if he goes along with Philadelphia's Alice in Wonderland legal strategy, he'll be doing precisely the opposite.

I'm already disappointed in Mayor Nutter, and he hasn't been mayor for three weeks!

posted by Eric at 09:03 PM | Comments (4)



They Cancel Out

Unfortunately John McCain got Time's endorsement.

Fortunately he did get the New York Time's endorsement.

I say they cancel out.

McCain.

More at Gateway Pundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:28 PM | Comments (1)



The Enemy Of Little Pigs


This song is brought to you by the enemies of The Three Little Pigs.


HT Instapundit

posted by Simon at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)



When repugnance competes, competition is repugnant!

Harvard Economics professor Alvin Roth has a thought-provoking paper titled "Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets" (that's an SSRN download; PDF file here).

He begins with a look at California's horse meat laws, which forbid the sale of horse meat as human food despite the lack of any legitimate public health concern, and there's extended discussion of laws forbidding human kidney sales. Nothing logical about that; it's just that some people find eating horses repugnant.

As someone who finds the eating of dogs repugnant, I can understand. But I admit there's nothing especially logical about it. I see dogs as "man's best friend" and as having voluntarily domesticated themselves in a manner unlike animals raised for meat, and thus I see eating them as a betrayal of sorts. Again, this is a feeling thing, and not especially logical.

To give repugnance historical perspective, Professor Roth has compiled a table of "Markets In Which Some Transactions Are, or Were Once, Repugnant":

Human remains
Cadavers for anatomical study, organ donation,
bone and tissue
Live donor organs (kidneys, livers)

Labor
Indentured servitude, slavery
Volunteer army, mercenary soldiers
Discrimination based on race, gender,
handicap, marital status, etc.

Reproduction and sex
Adoption
Surrogate mothers, egg and sperm donation,
abortion, birth control
Prostitution, pornography
Brideprice, dowry
Polygamy, gay marriage, incest

Words, ideas, and art
Obscenity, profanity, and blasphemy
Cultural treasures, art, and antiquities

Risk
Life insurance for adults, children, and
strangers
Gambling
Prediction markets

Finance
Short selling, currency speculation
Interest on loans
Pollution markets
Tradable emissions entitlements
Dirty industries in less developed countries
"Price gouging"
After natural disasters
Ticket scalping

Religion/Sports
Sale of indulgences and ecclesiastical
offices ("simony")
Endorsements/payments for amateur
versus pro athletes

Drugs and sports
Food, drink, and drugs
Horse and dog meat
Alcohol (Prohibition)
Marijuana and narcotics
Vote selling and bribery
Dwarf-tossing

It's fascinating to see a list displaying all the things which have been regulated because of feelings of repugnance, and bear in mind that as an economist, Roth's concerns are with market-related activities. (Needless to say, a myriad of repugnance-based laws exist -- so many that it would be impossible to list them.)

What really drove home for me the emotional nature of repugnance was the realization (in the kidney market discussion) that repugnance overrides the preservation of human life itself. Apparently, it is considered better for kidney seekers to die than for them to pay donors for their kidneys, because the latter is seen as "exploitation" -- which (assuming there is such a thing) is apparently more repugnant than people dying who could be saved:

All parties agree it is urgently desirable to cure patients with end stage renal disease, and that the best current treatment is organ transplantation, particularly from live donors, and otherwise from deceased donors. The current situation in the United States involves long wait times for deceased donor kidneys by tens of thousands of patients without a live donor, difficult and costly palliative treatment by dialysis, and thousands of deaths annually while waiting. But opponents of organ sales find the prospect of a market for organs so repugnant as to be apparently worse than the current situation. Proponents of markets are correspondingly frustrated at the failure to adopt what they see as a feasible solution that could be implemented quickly.
Better thousands die than one person be "exploited." If there is such a wisdom as the "wisdom of repugance," I think this carries the concept too far.

But I want to be fair to the other side, so I should start by asking a basic question.

What is exploitation?

Obviously, starving fathers in impoverished third world countries, mental defectives who do not know what they are doing, drug addicts who need money, or chronic gamblers in debt to the Mob -- such people might be expected to sell their kidneys at bargain basement prices. Market forces being what they are, it would not be unreasonable to assume that with thousands of kidney buyers worldwide, if the market were completely unregulated some of these people would be willing to be taken advantage of, and prices would fall accordingly.

But at the other extreme, what if a very wealthy man needs a kidney, and he's willing to pay anything for it? I don't especially want to donate one of my kidneys to a total stranger for a number of reasons -- not the least of which is life is riskier with one kidney. You rupture your one kidney in a car wreck, and then you become one of the thousands of prohibited buyers waiting in line. If the recipient were a friend, I'd be altruistic enough to consider it. (In that respect I admire Virginia Postrel for donating hers; it's not an easy thing to do).

But suppose the wealthy man offered me a million dollars. That's just a figure off the top of my head, but I'd want some assurance that I'd have money in reserve to cover the possibility of having to get another kidney, if the good one went kaput.

I might just take the million. It would be hard to make the case that I was being "exploited." Suppose further that the rich man tracked me down because he had information that I was a uniquely compatible match with his immune system, and that there was no way a kidney from me would be rejected. It could be argued that I had the advantage over him, and that in fact he was the one being exploited. I mean, I'd arguably have the power of life and death over him, which means I could squeeze him to pay far more than the normal market rate. Can millionaires be exploited too? Or is this something that can only be done to the poor?

I suppose it could be argued that I have just demonstrated the immorality of not just the kidney market, but of market economics generally, for if we examine any transaction, we might be able to find evidence of duress on one side or the other. But does this make the transactions immoral? Why? Most people want to live longer lives and will pay whatever they can afford to increase their odds. Many will pay huge amounts of money in their quest for happiness, and this could mean anything from drugs to sex to gambling thrills to power to fame to the latest BMW. How much someone is willing to pay depends on the level of the individual's interest, or obsession.

The fact that we do not all share the same desires and tastes complicates any analysis. I have no interest in gambling, so I find it hard to identify with the idea that a guy who mortgages his house for one final night at the high roller table is being exploited. I consider him merely a fool. Ditto people buying new cars they can't afford; I've never bought a new car in my life and I find it hard to sympathize with people who go into unaffordable debt that way. Or with poor people who bankrupt themselves on consumer items I can do without. Or people who eat junk food no one makes them eat. (Seriously, I had a huge argument once with someone who told me McDonalds exploits the poor. If I had to live on a pittance, I'd buy beans and rice. Why was I told I was "cruel and insensitive" for not sympathizing with people who won't economize?)

Anyway, repugnance is at the core of the definition of "exploitation." But some people are more repulsed than others, and by different things. I tend to see people dying because they're not allowed to buy kidneys as more repulsive than the idea of someone selling a kidney under duress. I also see a socialist super nanny state as more repugnant than the spectacle of poor people throwing their money away on junk food and things they don't need.

Like it or not, what we have seems to be a system of competing repugnancies. Libertarians like me can yell all we want about the moral virtue of an unregulated market, but the fact is that the market is going to be regulated, and a major reason is that people find certain things repugnant. That's why we had Prohibition of alcohol, why we are approaching a new prohibition with tobacco, and why we are rapidly approaching an American state which can be called genuinely socialist.

I think there's a principle of the squeaky wheel at work. Whoever yells the loudest wins. With dueling repugnancies, the squeaking wheels involve competing moral claims. Thus, people whose moral claim is that homosexuality is repugnant are locked in a struggle against people who claim that not only don't they find homosexuality repugnant, but they find "bigotry" morally repugnant.

But kidney sales are not a culture war issue. Compromise might take the form of lessening the regulations to allow sales according to a system of guidelines to prevent the sales of kidneys by people under duress. These could be court-supervised or professionally-mediated, but no system would be perfect. I mean, just as I feel sorry for impoverished Third World peasants, I feel sorry for the rich guy willing to pay anything for the compatible donor, and I also feel sorry for the guy who's going to have all the teeth knocked out of his mouth, his legs broken, or worse, because he can't pay a gambling debt. In the latter case, the kidney sale might save two lives, but it would still be exploitation. Which begs the question of why it is wrong for the Third World peasant to permanently advance his family's situation by selling a kidney. It's not clear to me where the greater immorality lies, or why.

I often like to imagine a world ruled by logic and not emotion, a world in which laws would not be passed because of "repugnance." Yet I can't really say that I am always repulsed by repugnance, for there are many things I find repugnant.

The most that can be hoped for is that people admit to and acknowledge their feelings of repugnance, for at least that way discussions and arguments can proceed in a more or less honest manner. It is when people confuse their feelings of repugnance as facts, as logical objections, or as independent objective truths, that problems develop.

I'm a bit too tall to be a dwarf, but I'm a fairly athletic person, and were I a foot or two shorter, who's to say that I shouldn't enjoy being tossed around for money? Obviously, those who think it's disgusting, that's who. The political process gives them the power to do that, and if the dwarves don't like it, they can band together and fight it. I might wish they opponents of dwarf-tossing would spare me the claim that their objections were grounded in eternal truths, because that only makes me want to counter them with alternative truths, and the truth process is distorted.

I think that what gets called "truth" is often based on what people like, and what they dislike. But to many people that thought is itself repugnant.

They should bear in mind that this is only my repugnant opinion. I refuse to lay claim to any repugnant truths.

posted by Eric at 11:46 AM | Comments (5)



This is rich

Well maybe not as rich as Marc Rich, but rich nonetheless.

Drudge posts this picture of the Clintons with Tony Rezko.

rezkobillary.jpg

That's of course the same guy that Hillary (during Monday night's debate) accused Obama of representing while she was busy fighting wicked Republican ideas.

Maybe she needs to revise her accusation:

I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.
Hell, I'm feeling charitable today, so I'll do it for her:
When you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago, Bill and I were meeting with him!
That ought to teach the upstart name-dropper a lesson or two.

Normally I'd say "unbelievable!"

But these are the Clintons.

UPDATE: There's a heated dispute going on over material at Rezko's Wiki page.

I can't help wondering out loud whether Rezko was ever a Clinton contributor.

Think about it. Either the president's time is valuable or it is not. Isn't having a formal portait taken with the president and the first lady a fairly big deal, regardless of who's in the White House?

I mean, if I just call the White House and say I want my picture taken with George and Laura, would it be reasonable to expect them to pose with me?

(Maybe Peter Paul knows the Clintons' going rate.)

UPDATE: According to this post at the New York Times blog, the photo was most likely taken at

"...a 1997 fund-raiser in Chicago for former United States Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, political insiders say.

Mr. Rezko, who was once a major fund-raiser for Senator Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton's top rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has never donated money to either President Clinton or Mrs. Clinton, records show.

Mosely-Braun got $10,000, however:
According to the 1997 story in the Chicago Tribune, both Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton attended the fund-raiser for Senator Moseley-Braun on June 25, 1997. And the next day, records show, one of Mr. Rezko's companies donated $10,000 to a state Democratic party organization that was supporting Ms. Moseley-Braun, records show.
If we take the Times blog at its word, the lesson is that $10,000 buys a nice photo op.

UPDATE (01/28/08): Just days after the picture of Rezko and the Clintons discovered and circulated, Rezko's bail is revoked. The article Glenn Reynolds links also features a picture of Rosalyn Carter and John Wayne Gacy.

Seems like someone's heavyhanded way of making a simple point.

posted by Eric at 10:09 AM | Comments (2)



A Shout Is As Good As A Whisper


It looks like Romney is getting some help in the debate in Florida. It is too bad he didn't ask the audience for a clue. What we need in the "debates" is more audience participation. You know. To make it more real.

posted by Simon at 08:10 AM | Comments (0)




Slick Willie's long march back

A lot of people are discussing the way the Clintons have deliberately, slyly injected race into the campaign:

DILLON, S.C. (AP) - He's not on the ballot but Bill Clinton seemed to dominate the South Carolina presidential campaign, disparaging Barack Obama and journalists and predicting that many voters will be guided mainly by gender and race loyalties.

The former president suggested that his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, may lose Saturday's Democratic primary because many black voters will side with Obama. The unusually direct comment on the possible role of race in the election was in keeping with the Clintons' bid to portray Obama as the clear favorite, thereby lessening the potential fallout if it proves true.

Voting for president along racial and gender lines "is understandable, because people are proud when someone who they identify with emerges for the first time," the former president told a Charleston audience Wednesday while campaigning for his wife, a role he has played all week.

While the immediate effect of portraying Obama as "the black candidate" is to defeat Obama, I think it can also be seen as very shrewd deep strategy. The Clintons and most of their baby boom supporters in the Democratic Party have been saying that racism is right wing (and therefore Republican) for so long that they actually believe it. The conventional wisdom is that the Democratic candidates have to run to the left to win the primary, and then later are forced to run to the middle to win over the mainstream voters. By painting this as "Obama's race war," the Clintons are defying this conventional wisdom and in terms of public perceptions, they seem to be running to the right of Obama (even as they claim to be running to the left) Note that they don't really have to run to the right or the left in terms of actual political positions (which mean little to the unprincipled); all they need to do is lie about Obama and make him out to be a racializer.

It's a fake Sister Souljah move -- a sleight of hand controlled by the Clintons, for having framed Obama as the racializer, they can say that he "goes too far," "now is not the time," "I'd love to vote for him someday," etc.

I am sure they believe that they are setting themselves up to be seen as moderates by middle America, and no doubt they will portray Obama as having been far to the left of them even though they're also attacking him now as being on the "right" by lying about the Reagan quote.

Bill didn't get the name "Slick Willie" for nothing.

MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, a reminder that today is the 10th anniversary of the famous "I did not have sex with that woman" lie, and a link to this video.

One good video deserves another:

Bout time for another cigar.

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all!

posted by Eric at 03:37 PM | Comments (2)



The Proud - The Few - The Marines


This is going around. I got it from Gateway Pundit who has more.


posted by Simon at 11:43 AM | Comments (2)



The great tag team two-on-one championship!

William Greider is a leftie journalist who writes for The Nation, and he recalls vintage Clinton tactics in a piece titled "Slick Willie Rides Again." While they're not yet back in the White House, their tactics are already make him "queasy":

The recent roughing-up of Barack Obama was in the trademark style of the Clinton years in the White House. High-minded and self-important on the surface, smarmily duplicitous underneath, meanwhile jabbing hard to the groin area. They are a slippery pair and come as a package. The nation is at fair risk of getting them back in the White House for four more years. The thought makes me queasy.
I'm on the opposite side of the fence from Mr. Greider, but it makes me queasy too.

The worst aspect about Bill Clinton's role in this is that he is running for president. It is no exaggeration to say that he is virtually campaigning for the presidency again. From the perspective of Barack Obama (who has completely lost whatever chance he might have had to stop them, IMO), this forces him to do two things:

1. He has to run against two opponents, one of whom is largely unaccountable.

2. The latter happens to be a very popular former president with the power to draw crowds and headlines wherever he goes, the power of a virtual incumbency behind him, and with absolutely zero sense of shame or dignity.

Needless to say (as the ill-fated Republican candidate will soon discover) the Clintons will have perfected this double campaign/incumbency technique, and I think they'll be an unbeatable combination. That this never would never have happened in the days of the unwritten rule that former presidents should minimize crass displays of partisan politics and behave with a sense of dignity and decorum is irrelevant. No one has the moral authority to call the Clintons on their primary offense.

Bill Clinton is campaigning for the presidency again.

I said no one has the "moral authority" because his is a moral offense, and not a technical, legal offense. The 22nd Amendment merely prohibits being "elected to the office office of the President more than twice." This means that Bill Clinton can legally campaign for the presidency; he just can't be elected to it. The authors of the Amendment never envisioned that blatantly Peronist tactics would come to their enlightened democracy so soon. (And just wait for the new improved Peronist Homeland Security!)

Analyzing the mechanics of their one-two style, Greider analogizes them to low-life street fighters:

The one-two style of Clintons, however, is as informative as low-life street fighters. Mr. Bill punches Obama in the kidney and from the rear. When Obama whirls around to strike back, there stands Mrs. Clinton, looking like a prim Sunday School teacher and citing goody-goody lessons she learned from her 135 years in government.
Have to admit, it's as effective as it is brilliant. Obama is already toast, and the Republicans were toast even before the Clintons finished off Obama. Obama's good but no one can beat two superb opponents at once.

In fighting terms, he's no punching bag, for he's done very well, and forced his more experienced opponents to hone and sharpen their fighting skills. I'm almost tempted to say that Obama reminds me of Jerry Quarry, a tough fighter who never became champion but had to be beaten by the guys on their way up, but that's not a fair comparison, as boxing is a fair, one-on-one sport. In boxing terms, what's happening here is almost grotesque. Bill Clinton is like a veteran champion returning to reclaim his belt, but who, through a perversion of the rules, is allowed to fight tag-team style, climbing in and out of the ring at will -- so long as the "title" is officially held by his "partner."

(But we all know who really won it, don't we? Fair and square be damned!)

Alas, politics is not boxing.

Noting Bill Clinton's megalomania, Greider continues:

The style is very familiar to official Washington, not just among the Clintons' partisan adversaries, but among their supporters. The man lied to his friends. All the time. They got used to it. They came expect it. I observe a good many old hands among the Senate Democrats are getting behind Obama. It would be good to know more about why they declined to make the more obvious choice of endorsing the power couple.

We are sure to see more of Mr. Bill's intrusions because the former president is pathological about preserving his own place in the spotlight. He can't stand it when he is not the story and, one way or another, he will make himself the story. I used to be sympathetic toward Mrs. Clinton on this point. No longer.

While it's reassuring to see Greider (and so many political insiders) pointing out that what's happening is not fair, I think they'll end up getting behind the winner(s). And the champion(s).

Greider concludes with a rhetorical question.

Evidently, many of the mainstream party faithful want the Clinton team as their presidential nominee. It's their choice, of course. But does the rest of the country really deserve this?
At this point I'm less concerned with whether the country deserves the Clintons than whether the Clintons deserve to regain the White House by such fundamentally unfair, fundamentally immoral tactics.

Morality aside, I think the tag team approach is a great way to defeat not only all comers, but the intent of the 22nd Amendment.

This is starting to sound downright maudlin, so I'll spare the readers all that "support, protect, and defend," oath-of-office crap.

I did get a chuckle out of the "SHAME ON YOU" remark, though...

heavyweightchampr.jpg

Shame?

He has that?

posted by Eric at 10:59 AM | Comments (1)




"Gender." If it ain't fixed, let's break it!

I'm having a serious logical problem, and I hate it when this happens, because I get stuck, and the frustrated little wheels inside my mind go in circles, spinning around and around like a broken hard drive.

There's a fairly new law in California, SB 777, which adds "sexual orientation" and "gender" to classes protected against discrimination in the schools. It has created quite an uproar among people who say it will prohibit the use of words like "mom" and "dad" in the classroom, as well as require schools to teach that homosexuality is good. I've written about it a couple of times because the claims are exaggerated and based not on what the law says, but on certain analysts' opinions of what the courts might say.

The latest focus is on the word "gender," which (so it is alleged by radio talk show host Rick Amato) will create a mandatory "third sex" and allow anyone to decide his or her sex regardless of biological markers:

A new law requiring California public schools to, among other things, allow students to 'choose their own gender' when deciding whether to use the boys or girls restroom and locker room is a glaring example of the cultural assault taking place in America. At stake are the minds, values and ideals of the children who parents send off to school each morning. The law went into effect on Jan. 11.
First thing I did was check the law. It is silent about locker rooms or restrooms. And it does not mention much less add a third gender. (Although it may arguably eliminate gender entirely.) Basically, it prohibits discrimination against -- and forbids instruction, programs, activities and teaching materials from reflecting adversely upon -- persons because of their "disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code." (The latter adds "association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.")

I don't know whether a restroom or a locker room would reflect adversely on anyone or not, but I'm having trouble understanding how. If I am reading the piece correctly, what I think has people upset is that schools might be required to allow transgendered people to use whatever facilities they think pertains to their desired sex.

SB 777 as it is known, claims to be about creating safe schools, and prohibiting discrimination against students based upon gender. Instead it is another example of how the influence which special interest groups hold over our lawmakers results in poor legislation that is out of touch and unrepresentative of the values of the American people. The law alters the definition of the word "sex" as being biological in nature and replaces it with the word "gender" in California's Education Code. It further defines "gender" as "sex" based upon a person's gender identity or gender-related appearance and behavior, and not upon their natural sex at birth.
OK, that's a mouthful. Slow down.

Here's the definition:

210.7. "Gender" means sex, and includes a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth.

SEC. 5. Section 212 of the Education Code is repealed.

212. "Sex" means the biological condition or quality of being a
male or female human being.

OK, so I think it is fair to say that because of the overstrike, gender is not limited to male and female. In other words, schools would not be allowed to discriminate against or reflect adversely anyone because of the status of being, um, well, I was going to say male or female, (because "'Gender' means sex'), but apparently that's not right, because sex is no longer limited as being male and female. It can mean apparently any "gender identity and gender related appearance or behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth" with the word "gender" meaning "sex," but that's not right because sex no longer means being male or female. I think that's a bit vague, because there is nothing to put me on notice of what gender is. The definition goes in circles.

And I am going in circles. True, I am not horrified or freaked out as SB 777's opponents are, but I am having trouble understanding this law, and I think Amato raises a valid point.

A supporter of the new legislation, Debbie Look of the California State PTA, told me, "We believe in the right to provide a safe school environment for all students. A 2001-2002 survey indicated that 7.5 percent of students reported being harassed based upon sexual orientation, which in turn leads to poor grades, skipped school days and worse."

But Jim Kelly -- one of four Board members of the Grossmont Unified High School School District in San Diego who is currently suing the state of California over SB 777 -- had this to say, "No one is arguing against anti-discrimination. There are current laws ... which protect students against the harmful effects of discrimination." But "what they have done here, however, is turn a disorder into a civil right. Gender identity issues are classified as a disorder by The American Psychiatric Association. This law makes it a civil right."

OK, if we assume he is right about gender identity disorder (which according to my reading of the DSM-IV he is), then gender identity disorder might very fall into another protected category -- disability.

From SB 777:

210.1. "Disability" includes mental and physical disability.
And unless this analysis is wrong, gender identity disorder is a disability:
...in California, under the Poppink Act [see Cal. Gov't Code § 1296(i)(5))& (k)(6) - effective in January 1, 2001] the State's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) was amended and the definition of disability was modified to include transgender and gender identity. Currently, persons who are transgender are medically construed to have gender identity disorder[3] so are covered under the disability definition and, hence, are entitled to protection against discrimination during employment.
That would appear to comport with Section 422.55:
(b) "Disability" includes mental disability and physical disability as defined in Section 12926 of the Government Code.
So it would appear that the argument -- that gender identity disorder is a disorder and therefore not a civil right -- becomes legally specious. Discriminating against these people is either gender discrimination or disability discrimination, or quite possibly both.

Amato has a good point in his claim that the law is vague, though, because I have been reading and rereading it, and the more I look at it, the more I am unable to determine what gender is. Something about striking out the male and female part makes me wonder. It is one thing for a man to change his sex to a woman or vice-versa, but is there in fact a newly created, newly protected category of "neither"?

And under what circumstances might an individual claim that he or she belonged to another sex? The law is silent, and I am stumped.

So are many people, according to Amato:

He added: "Furthermore the guidelines are vaguely written. Who enforces whether or not a 16-year-old teenage boy is permitted into the girls locker room? The teachers? The teachers I have spoken with want no part of this. How do we know when someone has selected their gender? Do they give us written notice, verbal notice, same day notice, what?"
In a post I wrote some time ago called "Straightening Out Gender Confusion," I tried to grapple with this confusing topic. I thought that I was being funny, but I guess I should have realized that trapped inside my humor was my inner seriousness:
...what I'm wondering right now is why I can't be a pre-post-operative female-to-male transsexual trapped in the body of a man, but who, because of pure luck, has no need to go through with the surgery, because I already have male anatomical features (i.e., a woman who wants to become a man but who is by accident of birth already trapped in the body of a man). It would be a terrible hardship (a cruel travesty, even) to make me surgically become a man trapped in the body of a woman who wants to become a man because the man is trapped in her body, if I can shortcircuit the entire process and merely accept the fact that I am already where I would be after surgery back and forth.

I mean, if there can be such a thing as a "male lesbian," why stop there? If a woman can go from female to male (and can be called a man before the surgery) then why require the male lesbian (once s/he really reaches a deeper understanding of him/herself) to go through one surgery to become female and another to become male? Can't the process be an internal one?

Hey don't laugh. I might be a male-to-female-to-male transgendered person without having had the surgery, despite my relatively conventional male appearance.

I mean, if I feel that way who's to say that I am not how I feel?

This leads to another, much more disturbing question. If I can be whatever gender I want without regard to my present anatomy, the anatomy of my birth, or my biological sex, then why do these biological limitations apply only to sex?

What about race? Is that determined biologically, or by birth? Or can that be a state of mind too?

Well?

Ward Churchill said he was Indian, didn't he? And didn't Toni Morrison say Bill Clinton was black?

(Well, perhaps she meant that he was a black man trapped in a white man's body; but in light of the "gender" rules, how much of a distinction is that?)

If it is unfair to say that gender is determined by birth, then why is it fair to say that race is? Are race and gender being treated equally? Why shouldn't they be?

If I can change my gender, why can't I change my race? What's the theory here? That gender is a mental construct, but race is biologically determined?

No, that can't be right, because according to scientists, race is not biological:

``The concept of race is a social and cultural construction. . . . Race simply cannot be tested or proven scientifically,'' according to a policy statement by the American Anthropological Association. ``It is clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. The concept of `race' has no validity . . . in the human species.''
Well, by allowing people to decide their gender for themselves, SB 777 certainly seems to recognize that the concept of "sex" has no validity. And even though people are angry about that, perhaps it's a small step towards allowing people to decide their race for themselves -- the goal being the recognition that race has no validity.

For the time being, I'm still having trouble figuring out whether it is "racist" to treat race differently from sex or "sexist" to treat sex differently from race.

Who said life was fair?

MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, a transgendered pro-war libertarian candidate I can get behind.

More properly I should say "a transgendered pro-war libertarian candidate whose candidacy I can get behind." But why is that more proper? Because someone might insinuate that I might have been insinuating? Does everything have to be about sex? Even gender?

MORE: Errors (including quote to previous post) have been fixed.

Perhaps I should be more careful. After all, doesn't the word also means "neuter"?

AND MORE: The comments below remind me that there is considerable disagreement over the extent to which race is biological, and the word "scientists" above should probably have been in quotes (although anthropologists consider themselves scientists; just ask one!)

However, even if we assume that race is biological, certainly the differences between the races as not as biologically profound in nature as are the differences between the sexes. Which would mean my question would become, if the greater biological differences between the sexes can be disregarded, then why not the lesser biological differences between the races?

If we reconcile the law, it would like this:

"Race" includes a person's racial identity and race related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned race at birth.

"Race" does not mean the biological condition or quality of being a white, black, Asian or Hispanic or other.

MORE: What exactly does it mean to "reflect adversely upon" an individual or a group as SB 777 prohibits? In a post titled Don't Say This, I Won't Tell You What, Eugene Volokh highlights the problem posed by vague anti-discriminatory regulations which fail to define exactly what is meant. Brandeis prohibited "racial harassment" and the professor may have used the term "wetback" in a historical context, or then again he may have made "flippant remarks."

Now the Brandeis administration obviously thinks that what Hindley said was impermissible, and indeed "racial harassment." It thinks that professors shouldn't say such things. But what is it that they shouldn't say?

[...]

how on earth is a professor to know what he shouldn't be saying when the University doesn't even reveal what led to this high-profile discipline? And how are faculty members -- and students and alumni and others -- to know whether the University's action invades academic freedom, promotes good teaching, or whatever else without knowing what it is that Hindley supposedly said?

Maybe they idea is that they're not to know.

And maybe their not knowing (and not being able to know) will put the fear of God fear of "whims of unaccountable bureaucrats" into them.

With SB 777's circular un-definition of "gender," I can see plenty of potential for whimsical bureaucratic unaccountability.

posted by Eric at 07:19 PM | Comments (11)



"Support the troops" (If only we could make them disappear!)

Via Glenn Reynolds, Donald Sensing highlights the latest chapter in moronic anti-military bigotry in San Francisco (aptly described as "San Francisco: the Few, the Proud, the Morons."), in which the Marine Corps was denied permission to film a commercial depicting Marines in San Francisco, thus forcing the filmmakers to superimpose Marines into the film later.

Once again, shame on San Francisco.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new to that hotbed of anti-military bigotry. In October, I discussed the Oakland incident in which Marines were treated in a very degrading manner by airport officials. While Mayor Dellums and the airport issued an apology, it was never made clear why Marines -- who are fighting for this country -- were not trusted in the Oakland airport.

Here's what I said at the time:

The people who run these cities believe in things like "Peace Studies." And "conflict resolution."

If they had their way, there would be no military, no Department of Defense, and self defense would be forbidden.

No wonder so people vote Republican -- even if (like me) they don't like the Republican Party. They're not really voting for the Republicans so much as they're voting against the left.

No matter how much Hillary talks the talk, her party continues to walk the walk.

It's easy to say that San Francisco and Oakland governments are aberrations. The trouble is, they are by no means aberrational within the Democratic Party.

Aberrations?

Then why did Hillary single out Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums for praise in Monday night's debate?

Not only that, she has named Dellums the National Chair of her campaign's Urban Policy Committee (a move which does not seem to be going over very well in Dellums' own backyard).

As most political junkies are well aware, Ron Dellums was the most far left member of Congress in recent history. What can you say about a guy who admires Castro -- reportedly "more than anyone in public life"? I realize he's the Mayor of Oakland and he endorsed Hillary for president, but he's an admitted socialist who is undoubtedly proud of his anti-military voting record. One of Dellums' more notorious statements was that "we should totally dismantle every intelligence agency in this country piece by piece, brick by brick, nail by nail":

Dellums' attitude towards America's intelligence services reflected his consistent support for America's international enemies. Just before the 1980 presidential election, with Soviet invasion forces flooding into Afghanistan, with the American embassy held hostage by the new radical Islamic regime in Iran, and with crowds chanting "Death to America" in the streets of Tehran, Dellums told the same Berkeley rally: "We should totally dismantle every intelligence agency in this country piece by piece, nail by nail, brick by brick."

Yet, despite these views, Dellums was no marginalized backbencher in the Democratic House. With the full approval of the Democratic Party leadership and its House caucus, Dellums was made a member of the Armed Services Committee on which he served throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In the midst of a hot war with Central American Communists seeking to establish a Soviet military base in the Western hemisphere, Democrats made Dellums Chairman of the House Subcommittee on U.S. Military Installations worldwide, where he enjoyed top security clearance. This was done with the specific imprimatur of the Democratic chair of the Armed Services Committee, Les Aspin.

(Emphasis added.)

Now that Dellums is helping to run Hillary's campaign, I think it's fair to wonder what talk Hillary talks, and what walk she walks.

Perhaps she's trying to talk both talks and walk both walks.

(And perhaps the military should keep its fingers crossed.)

posted by Eric at 12:25 PM | Comments (8)



Taking sexism seriously

That title was easy enough to write, but it looks sexist.

Of course, would also have appeared sexist had the title been "Not taking sexism seriously..." Forgive the irony, but I often feel I can't win, whether I try to be serious or try to be humorous.

Anyway, in a column titled "Sexism is candidate Clinton's primary opponent," former Knight-Ridder White House correspondent Jodi Enda argues that much (if not nearly all) criticism of Hillary Clinton is sexist, and that the male candidates are not subjected to the same scrutiny. She begins with a list, and I think the assertions are worth addressing:

No one has called Barack Obama a witch.
Well, it would be a bit silly to call him a "witch," as the term applies to females. However the male equivalent would be a wizard, a Wiccan or a Pagan. And as it turns out (at least according to the anti-Fox News web site) an attempt was made to tar Barack Obama as way-out Pagan-Wiccan type, if not by direct accusation, at least by insinuation.

Then there's a direct assertion here:

Obama is wiccan. He worships trees and he also speaks to them. They speak to him.
OK, that critic does not rank as high on the pecking order as Rush Limbaugh. But Ms. Enda said "no one," didn't she?

No one has suggested John McCain is too ambitious.
Really? Perhaps Ms. Enda missed Matt Welch's "Be Afraid of President McCain -- The frightening mind of an authoritarian maverick", which cited McCain's history as an "ambitious pol-to-be working the rubber chicken circuit as a famous ex-POW."

But this is so silly that I don't think it warrants a comprehensive search. "Ambitious" is a pretty generic word, and I doubt there is any politician anywhere to whom the word hasn't been applied at one time or another.

No one has disparaged Mitt Romney for misting up.
First of all, what happened? Have I missed the misting? I've mentioned the holy underwear meme, but did he cry? Lemme look. Yes, he did cry (at least he said he cried way back when the Mormon Church reversed its former racist position), and he was criticized for being phony. In a piece titled "Cry me a river, Mitt":
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is also following a formula designed to warm up her image. She, too, is running ads that play up her softer side. So far, the Clinton strategy involves the candidate's mother, daughter, and girlfriends; public tears are not yet on display. Indeed, it's interesting to contemplate how the voting public would react if a female candidate who is often criticized for masking her emotion misted up on the campaign trail. It could be the ultimate disqualifier.

It's different for Romney. Real men can tear up, although uncontrollable sobbing might be a problem.

[...]

When voters see him cry, they should turn their Mitt detector way up high.

As it turned out, Hillary's tears were not the ultimate disqualifier. They worked. Whether Romney's tears were real or not (or whether Hillary's tears were real), it's no surprise that both came under scrutiny.

Back to Enda.

No one has accused John Edwards of faking emotions.
OK, to that I not only take personal exception, but the charge of insincerity is one of the main criticisms of the man. So much so that Daily Kos defended him against the charge, and in a Salon article his wife claimed that "the accusations of insincerity against her husband were politically motivated."

There's even a poll here titled "Does John Edwards' personal wealth make him seem insincere in his commitment to end poverty?"

No one has depicted Mike Huckabee as calculating.
To that I can only say one word.

Please.

"Huckster," anyone? I haven't called him that, but it's such a common smear tactic that if I were working on his campaign I'd want him to change his name.

Finally, we reach the end of Enda's protected male characteristics list:

No one has critiqued the pitch of Rudy Giuliani's voice.
I don't know whether they've slammed him for improper pitch, but he's certainly been criticized for a lisp. From a Yahoo discussion titled "Does Giuliani's voice bother you?"
I can't even listen to the man. Does his strange lisp drive you crazy. I feel like he'd soak you with spit if you stood in front of him. Why didn't he spend some of his fortune to invest in a good speech therapist?
The point of all this is that all the candidates have had their personal characteristics analyzed and criticized, and the closer they get to the number one job in the free world, the worse it will get.

While it may not be logical to have strong feelings about a candidate's personal characteristics, it's certainly not sexism.

Unless, of course, the candidate is Hillary Clinton.

Worse yet, the emerging rule seems to be that it's sexism to criticize her not merely for her personal characteristics, but for almost anything. Again, Jodi Enda:

When she doesn't show emotion, she's cold. When she does, she's - what? - feminine? Soft? Un-commander-in-chief-like? Unless, of course, she's faking it, in which case she's calculating. When she's serious, she's humorless; if she laughs, she cackles. If she attacks, she's partisan. If she plays nice, she's acting. If she wears pantsuits, she's manly. If she shows a millimeter of cleavage, she's flirty.
Let's dress the passage in drag, and try on a male pronoun:
When he doesn't show emotion, he's cold. When he does, he's - what? - masculine? Hard? Un-commander-in-chief-like? Unless, of course, he's faking it, in which case he's calculating. When he's serious, he's humorless; if he laughs, he cackles. If he attacks, he's partisan. If he plays nice, he's acting. If he wears pants, he's manly. If he shows a millimeter of cleavage, he's flirty.
The reason that looks so ridiculous is that no man (save a ganster rapper or wannabe) can get away with anything resembling "cleavage."

Hell, as I made clear (or hope I made clear) in a previous post, men aspiring to the presidency can't even show their legs. Shorts -- especially shorts worn by grown men in a professional context -- are not serious. (And the fact that Giuliani once worn a dress as a joke is taken very seriously in some quarters -- both right and left. Women can wear men's clothing -- even in a serious manner -- with near-total impunity.)

As to the "cleavage" charge, Ann Althouse saw fit to address it, and said this:

Breasts that are conspicuous in the political sphere warrant commentary. A woman speaking in front of the Senate or at a political lunch with an ex-President, unless she is utterly incompetent, has thought about how she wants her breasts to appear. Visible cleavage doesn't just happen. Nor does a clingy sweater. Every woman who is competent enought to play a significant political role knows how to change to a top with a higher neckline or put a jacket over a sweater. So how she has chosen to appear means something and it is a fair subject for political commentary. I will not be pushed back from this subject.
Althouse (who is a woman) also frowns on shorts worn by grown men (for pretty much the same reasons I do).

In fact, with many of these things, there is a double standard -- and it is a double standard in women's favor. They can dress seriously or not -- which means that Hillary can get away with wearing things -- and colors -- that no man ever could. This picture is typical:

DebateQueenSM.jpg

Men seeking high office are often criticized for being cold and emotionless, just as they are slammed for inappropriate displays of emotion. Anyone remember the "Dean Scream" which did in Howard Dean's candidacy?

Had Hillary done the same thing and let out with a wild "YEEEHAH!" I'm not sure it would have had the same consequences. Sure, she'd have faced ridicule, but it wouldn't have ended her campaign. A lot of people would have thought she was just hamming it up, maybe making fun of male stupidity. As to the famous cackle, I don't think any man aspiring to the presidency could make it with a laugh like that. Far from being a victim of sexism, Hillary in fact has many special privileges which men do not have. To that extent, the men could just as legitimately claim that they are victims of reverse sexism, but I doubt they would not do it.

It is undignified.

Whether her supporters like it or not, Hillary is running for a very serious job which will require her to deal with very serious, very dangerous people -- mostly men. Many of them have attitudes toward women which the word "sexist" does not even begin to describe, and their regimes degrade women and treat them like second class citizens.

But this is America, and it should be expected that many of Hillary's supporters will see all criticism of Hillary as sexism (or at least they'll claim they do).

The downside of all of this for Hillary is that the louder the charges of "sexism" grow, the less seriously people going to take her.

posted by Eric at 10:23 AM | Comments (2)




There went the best

It hurts to read that Fred Thompson dropped out of the race. After South Carolina, I knew it was inevitable, but it just plain hurts.

FWIW, I favored his candidacy back in March, and I was defending him when people were making fun of him because I thought he could be a great president.

Those interested in reading what happened from the standpoint of insider should read Patrick Cox's post. It especially pained me to read this:

Most of the leading candidates were working behind the scenes for years, making unofficial deals with the people in every state who know how to wield influence and mobilize the rank and file. Fred, on the other hand, honestly never lusted for the power of the presidency. He agreed, upon significant urging, to run because he believed it was the right thing to do for his children and the country. Politics, however, apparently requires more.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Those who most want to be president are those who least deserve to be elected. The best presidents are those who are forced or persuaded by others into accepting the job.

All the more reason he would have been a great president.

Don't expect me to throw my support to anyone right now. (Not that it would make much difference.) Before I supported Fred I supported Guiliani and I guess I can do that again, but that's not the point of this post.

The whole thing is just a damned shame.

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link and the quote. A warm welcome to all.

posted by Eric at 10:03 PM | Comments (15)



The guy who wasn't in last night's debate (but might as well have been....)

I'm talking about Bill Clinton, of course.

He might as well have been in last night's debate. Really and truly, it's almost as if he was there.

Anyway, even if he wasn't there, his strategic emotion certainly was:

...while large swaths of the American opinion elite suffer from Clinton fatigue, the Democratic primary electorate does not. Reading the New Hampshire primary exit poll, we find that 83 percent of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters had a favorable opinion of President Clinton, and that Senator Clinton beat Senator Obama among these voters by 10 points. By contrast, among the 16 percent of Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire who held an unfavorable view of President Clinton, Senator Obama won 50 percent to 13 percent. Another exit poll question asked voters whether they would vote for Bill Clinton if he were eligible and on the ballot. Most voters said no, they would vote for the candidate whom they supported anyway -- and Obama won these voters handily. But 37 percent of respondents said yes, they would vote for Bill Clinton if he were on the ballot -- and Senator Clinton won these voters by 34 points. It was understood among New Hampshire Democrats that, whatever Senator Clinton's qualifications and talents, a vote for her is, in a way, another vote for her husband.

It's been said that Mr. Clinton's recent feistiness has revealed a side of him previously unknown to most Americans. But this is incorrect: he is rather a master of what one might call "strategic emotion," the use of tears or anger to comfort voters or intimidate the press.

Matthew Continetti goes on to describe the mechanism of the controlled outbursts, and how they work strategically:
the former president's "outbursts" serve a dual purpose: they lend the impression that Senator Clinton is the insurgent running against the media-supported Obama, while also creating the illusion that it is the former president, not his wife, who is actually the candidate for the Democratic nomination. Far from hurting Senator Clinton -- who also understands how to deploy strategic emotion, as we saw before the New Hampshire Democratic primary -- former President Clinton effectively has rallied a coalition of Democrats to her cause.
As to how the strategic emotion played out last night, the issues became muddled as Obama tried to debate Hillary, only to find that he was really debating Bill.

It shows in the transcript:

CLINTON: You did. You gave a great speech in 2002 opposing the war in Iraq. That was not what the point of our criticism was.
Not "her" criticism. "Our" criticism.

Then, a bit later:

The facts are that he has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote.

[...]

CLINTON: Now, I just -- I just want to be clear about this. In an editorial board with the Reno newspaper, you said two different things, because I have read the transcript. You talked about Ronald Reagan being a transformative political leader. I did not mention his name.

OBAMA: Your husband did.

CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not. And...

OBAMA: OK. Well, I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, you know, I think we both have very passionate and committed spouses who stand up for us. And I'm proud of that.

But you also talked about the Republicans having ideas over the last 10 to 15 years.

Under the circumstances, I think the use of the word "we" and "the last 10 to 15 years" constitute clear references to Bill, and the implied interchangeabilty of the two. Furthermore, Obama never said he liked the ideas of the Republicans over the past 10-15 years. This were read into Obama's Reagan remark by the Clintons, who (apparently in their mutual megalomania) believe Obama's simple observation about Ronald Reagan is an attack on "their" (and I use the term loosely) later admininstration.

I think this mutual megalomania (which I've called "comegalomania") was the driving force behind much of Hillary's attack in last night's debate, placing Obama on trial for his arrogance in having dared to question the Clinton legacy:

Obama's candidacy not only threatens to obliterate the dream of a Clinton Restoration. It also fundamentally calls into question the Bill Clinton legacy by making it seem ... not really such a big deal.

That, I believe, is the unforgivable insult. The Clintons picked up on this slight well before Obama made it explicit with his observation that Ronald Reagan had "changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not."

Let's take a moment to consider that remark. Whether or not it was advisable for Obama to play the role of presidential historian in the midst of a no-holds-barred contest for the Democratic nomination, it's hard to argue with what he said. I think Bill Clinton was a good president, at times very good. And I wouldn't have voted for Reagan if you'd held a gun to my head. But even I have to recognize that Reagan -- like Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union -- was a transformational figure, for better or worse.

Author Eugene Robinson argues that Obama's real debate is with the Clinton legacy, and that this is seen as intolerable arrogance:
...implicit in [Obama's] campaign is a promise, or a threat, to eclipse Clinton's accomplishments. Obama doesn't just want to piece together a 50-plus-1 coalition, he wants to forge a new post-partisan consensus that includes "Obama Republicans" -- the equivalent of the Gipper's "Reagan Democrats." You can call that overly ambitious or even naive, but you can't call it timid. Or deferential.

Both Clintons have trouble hiding their annoyance at Obama's impertinence. Bill, especially, gives the impression that Obama has gotten under his skin. His frequent allegations of media bias in Obama's favor recall the everybody-against-us feeling of the impeachment drama, when the meaning of the word "is" had to be carefully parsed and the Clinton White House was under siege.

Obama hit back in an interview that aired Monday on "Good Morning America," saying the former president "has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling" and promising to "directly confront Bill Clinton when he's not making statements that are factually accurate."

Ah, but it's not his wife that Bill is defending; it's also his legacy.

Like it or not, Bill Clinton was an integral part of last night's debate, and a major reason the sparks flew. Obama's admission that it was hard to tell whether he was debating Bill or Hillary was very telling.

That there was clearly a joint attempt to put words in Obama's mouth only heightens the confusion.

I see no easy way to resolve the problem. Clearly, Bill Clinton has become part of the debate. Perhaps it would be more fair to let him participate directly. It would certainly be more honest. If Obama is in fact calling the Clinton legacy into question, then the two of them should debate. I realize I said that Bill Clinton might as well have been there last night, but it's unfair to pronounce him the might-as-well winner under might-as-well circumstances.

So, enough with the "might-as-wells" already!

Rather than continue the fiction, I'd like to see a real Obama-Clinton debate.

How would it be done? Should Obama challenge him directly? (Surely, Bill would not refuse a chance to defend his legacy...)

Any ideas?

posted by Eric at 02:32 PM | Comments (2)



Hillary the Cruel does Obama the Kind

I was up late with last night's debate, and my full report is now posted at Pajamas Media. This was my third debate report for PJM, and I am very grateful to them for thinking highly enough of my stuff to invite me to join the fun.

And I do mean fun (even if it requires a dark sense of humor...)

I have to say, I was a bit surprised that the debate was not more focused on identity politics, because that's where the competing campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been mired. I think Balidlocks correctly described this campaign as "the Great Identity Politics War," for that's what it is. I guess it would have been too crassly obvious for the candidates themselves to focus on what Michael Weiss called "ovaries and melanin" -- but they didn't need to really. Thanks to identity politics, such irrelevant personal characteristics are the bread and butter of the Democratic Party, and were doubtless on the minds of everyone in the audience.

However, even without resort to crass identity politics, things got personal last night. Very personal. Once again, I was reminded that there is a vast difference in the two major candidates which goes to what most people would call style.

Here's an excerpt from my report:

Style does matter, and I think one of the things people forget is that there's a huge gulf between "Obama the Kind" and "Hillary the Cruel."

It really came through in the health care debate.

Hillary nearly shrieked when she said "I am not running for president to put bandaids on our problems! I want UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE!"

Shrill, braying, and grating. At least Obama sounds reassuring, even if his policies aren't.

This may be irrational, but if I am going to have to endure socialism, can't I at least get it with a more calming and soothing voice?

While I'm not alone in that assessment, I'm still struggling with the question of whether this difference is superficial (as in the sense of a personal characteristic) or whether it sheds light on the candidates' respective character.

Last night Glenn Reynolds linked John Podhoretz's very perceptive "Disney Villainess" remark:
Because Barack Obama dared make reference to Hillary Clinton's husband -- who has been taking a rather startlingly front-and-center role in her campaign -- she called Obama a mouthpiece for a slumlord. It was not a good moment for her, to put it mildly. Angry and condescending in the same instant, not to mention proudly triumphant, she looked like a Disney villainess at the second she finished her attack.
This hits the nail right on the head (although as I'll explain, I think Mr. Podhoretz is being too kind). Hillary is not one of those people who is just stuck being shrill and condescending as if by accident of birth. She does it deliberately, reactively, when she's angry or when she wants to drive home a point. Now, had she been reacting to an unwarranted attack on her doting husband, the outburst would be understandable, if not entirely excusable, but as I remember it, what set Hillary off was not merely Obama's criticism of Bill Clinton's role, but his remark about her serving on the board of Wal-Mart.
...while I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.
This was led Hillary to slam Obama for the Rezko connection -- a well known mini-scandal involving campaign finance irregularities that has been haunting his campaign.
I was fighting against those ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, [Tony] Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner-city Chicago.
I can only conclude that she believes sitting on the Wal-Mart is the moral equivalent of a campaign finance scandal.

Aside from the obvious question of who is Hillary to complain about campaign finance scandals, what does it suggest about the woman's character that to her it's all the same? Serving on the Wal-Mart board, working for a slumlord who helps your campaign, and (presumably) the Norman Hsu affair, this is just the way the world works. Does this sound like someone with the conscience she claims to have? I don't think so. The icy shrillness may be just the tip of the iceberg.

I was -- and I still am -- quite put off by the way Hillary shrieked about mandatory state-imposed healthcare:

"I am not running for president to put bandaids on our problems! I want UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE!"
Sheesh. It's not only Disneylike, it's almost Baby Jane Hudson:
I don't care! I want an ice cream!
Bad enough in a spoiled brat, but in a president? I'm used to people claiming that health care is an entitlement, but her tone made it sound as if it's her entitlement. The contrast was striking in that Obama sounded as if he wanted to help people, while Hillary sounded as if she wants to grind them down under her heel (which she deems synonymous with the heel of the state.)

So, I'm not at all sure that Hillary's shrillness is an irrelevant personal characteristic. Millions would, I'm afraid. No doubt they'll be saying that attacks on her for being shrill are grounded in sexism. Sorry, but I've known too many shrill men and unshrill women to accept that. While this is my blog and I can say what I think, many are afraid to remark the obvious. (Such fear is understandable, but it's another example of how identity politics poisons not only interpersonal dialogue, but the national dialogue. It also encourages and enables the malignant behavior.)

Seen in old fashioned, politically incorrect terms, Obama is polite, and Hillary is rude.

But you can't say that.

No, really. If you think about it in identity politics terms, you can't say those things comfortably about either. Say Obama is polite, and you can be accused of implying that he's a rare exception, that the others in his identity group are rude. Say Hillary is rude, and you're "stereotyping women!" It's bad enough that such nonsense is promoted in nearly every college in the country. I hate to see it working its way into the highest offices of the land.

So, at the risk of being a racist pig, I'll say once again that Obama comes across as nice, while at the risk of being a sexist pig, I'll say once again that Hillary comes across as rude.

At the rate things are going, it will be considered racist -- and sexist -- to judge individuals by the content of their character.

MORE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking the PJM post!

MORE: Steve Boriss has a thoughtful analysis of identity politics and the Old Media's role in perpetuating it.

AND MORE: If this report is accurate, Obama is hardly the shiftless legislator who simply votes "present" which Hillary has accused him of being. (And a lesser man would have invoked the Law of Identity Politics and accused her of racist stereotyping...)

(Via Mickey Kaus.)

posted by Eric at 09:20 AM | Comments (8)




Flailing Each Other With Ovaries And Melanin

The title is a paraphrase of an astute comment at Althouse

HT Instapundit

posted by Simon at 11:31 PM | Comments (3)



Clinton machine stifles dissent?

In a remarkable speech delivered yesterday at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (Martin Luther King's church), Barack Obama called for unity, and while he did not single out identity politics by name, his attacks on divisiveness speak for themselves:

For most of this country's history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man's inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays - on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others - all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face - war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

It's a hell of a good speech, and while of course there are the usual attacks on big business, he zeroes in on what is wrong with the Democratic Party (and very cleverly positions himself as a voice of dissent). He was of course subtle enough to avoid all mention of the Clintons, much less their skillful playing of the Latino card.

Who knows? I've been ready to count Obama out, but.... If he can get the voters to see the Clintons as having manipulated identity politics and crushed dissent, Obama might just be able to regain some of the momentum he lost.

MORE: Kevin Drum seems to be arguing that Obama is sounding too conservative:

Obama has clearly chosen his course, and there's really no way for him to give a wink and a nudge to folks like Matt and me to let us know that he's just kidding about all this kumbaya stuff. After all, it's part of his whole appeal to both independents and moderate conservatives, and his candidacy depends on that. So if you're a liberal in Obama's camp, you just have to cross your fingers and trust him.

Because in the end, this is what it all comes down to. Is Obama kidding or not? Does he really believe that he can enact a progressive agenda by reaching out to Republicans and bridging the red-blue divide, or is he just saying this as a way of shaping public opinion and winning an election? And if he does believe it, is he right?

Paul Krugman is also after him.

MORE: Fred Barnes thinks Bill Clinton gives Hillary a huge advantage:

As an ex-president he can command extensive media attention. What he says gets widespread coverage. In effect, he has a megaphone as big as his wife's, maybe bigger. No other presidential candidate has a surrogate like Bill Clinton. Obama certainly doesn't.

When every candidate except Hillary wants to put out unfavorable information about an opponent and be sure to draw heavy press coverage, the candidate himself must handle the task. And there's a downside: the candidate is deplored for "going negative." But if an aide or supporter is assigned the task, the media is likely to yawn and the information the candidate wants to
trumpet gets far less coverage.

But not in Bill Clinton's case. He's the one supporter of a candidate whose words are reported to the world under blazing headlines. Thus when he criticizes Obama on Iraq and other issues, as he did in New Hampshire, we hear about it. And when he scolds the press for giving Obama a free ride, we not only hear about it but the press takes the criticism seriously.

I think Michelle Obama should demand equal time!

posted by Eric at 06:05 PM | Comments (2)



ITER Is Big

I wanted to post this video done in 2000 to help people to get a feel for just how big the ITER Fusion Test Reactor is. The Bussard Reactor is about 1/100th that size.

Here is another ITER video. In the beginning it shows something called the Central Solenoid. A Bussard Reactor producing 100 MW of fusion power would be on the order of that size. Now continue watching the video and you will get an idea of just how huge ITER is. When they are done building it (2020) another 10 to 15 years of experiments will take place at the 500 MW power level. Then (they hope) construction of an actual power reactor will start with power delivery expected (if it works) around 2050 or so.




Welcome Punditeers

posted by Simon at 12:53 PM | Comments (19)



Smash! Crash! Woof! Boom!

What are you supposed to do if you are in your home at night, and suddenly hear the sound of your door being smashed open?

The normal response of an armed person would be to grab a gun and shoot at the invader before the invader has a chance to get inside and kill you. In my case, I'm fortunate enough to have Coco, who in addition to being a loving companion is a highly vigilant watchdog. Any invader would have to get past her first, and it wouldn't be easy, as they'd have to shoot her. Few invaders would do that, as like most predators, they're looking for easy marks. Hearing a determined dog barking, they'd most likely leave. However, if we assume I was asleep when an invader broke down the door, the commotion from the confrontation with Coco probably would, especially if the invader shot her. I realize a home invasion is very unlikely, but I have a rule of thumb: when someone breaks into my house and shoots my dog, that means I am in dire danger of being killed, so I must get a gun and defend myself lest I be killed.

As I say, this is my standard rule of thumb for such a worst case scenario.

Increasingly, I see the possibility of an alternative scenario which is utterly terrifying to contemplate.

Suppose that the invader is not a criminal, but a police officer?

Can they just show up at night without any notice to me, and suddenly break down my door and shoot my dog?

Apparently so. All they need is a "no knock" search warrant. If they have that, then I get no notice, no knocking, no nothing. I'd just be fast asleep and hear the sound of the door being broken down, Coco barking, and it could all be over for poor little me.

I don't like to think that this could happen in the United States of America, but I keep reading about incidents like this:

Officer Jarrod Shivers was shot and killed while executing a search warrant in Cheseapeake, Virginia Thursday night.

The suspect had no criminal record (at least in the state of Virginia). And he says in an interview from jail he had no idea the undercover cops breaking into his home were police. The suspect, 28-year-old Ryan David Frederick, also says a burglar had broken into his home earlier this week.

Thought the raid was apparently part of a drug investigation, police aren't saying what if any drugs were found. They won't even confirm that police had the correct address. But they have arrested Frederick and charged him with first-degree murder.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I Googled for more details, and sure enough, this took place at night, and the resident says he was in bed:

Redstart Avenue, a street that dead-ends at a church, still was reeling Friday after a police officer was fatally shot there the night before. The residents say they are in disbelief after realizing that a 28-year-old neighbor is a suspect.

"It shocked me to death," said Mavis Cosner, who has lived on the street since 1960. "I'm still a little nervous."

Shivers, a 34-year-old father, was shot as was trying to enter at the house in the street's 900 block around 8:30 p.m. He and several other officers were there with a search warrant as part of a drug investigation, police said.

Shivers was pronounced dead at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. He left behind a wife and three children - ages 2, 8 and 14.

After the shooting, detectives on scene retreated for their safety. The home, which sits in the middle of the block, remained surrounded until the SWAT team arrived and entered.

Police arrested 28-year-old Ryan David Frederick, who lived at the home, and charged him with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being held in the Chesapeake City Jail.

Frederick said in a jailhouse interview Friday he had no idea a police officer was on the other side of the door when he opened fire.

"No, sir," he told WAVY-TV. "I just wish I knew who they were," he said. "I didn't want any trouble."

Frederick said he was in bed when he heard someone trying to come into the home.

"I thought it was the person who had broken into my house the other day," he said.

Frederick said his home had been burglarized two or three days earlier.

The man had no record, and none of the reports indicate whether any drugs were found. (Another news report here.)

I guess the theory is that if you have illegal drugs, then you ought to just live with the possibility of a "no knock" search warrant being executed against you at night, by heavily armed police who will sure as hell shoot your dog first. (The only upside to the latter is that the shooting of your dog at least allows a certain interval of time to determine what the hell is going on.)

While it's bad enough that police can break in and deploy massive lethal firepower to enforce a search warrant based on a victimless crime, but what if they have the wrong address? If my neighbor is selling dope out of his house and some bureaucrat who can't be fired for having dyslexia can't enter the numbers right and enters my address (or if an "informant" was mistaken or malevolent), what is to put me on notice that the people bashing in my door are in fact police and not criminals?

Incidents keep happening, and the only remedy I can see is to get rid of night time no knock warrants.

Otherwise, if they keep doing this, it will become another argument in favor of gun control.

No, seriously. Police will claim they "don't feel safe" executing these no knock warrants, so to "avoid more such tragedies," all citizens (beginning with those in "at risk neighborhoods") should be disarmed.

Don't laugh. It's already a major unstated reason for dog control, especially "pit bull control." The best protection you can buy against a home invasion SWAT team is being called the "number one dog of choice for drug dealers." Sure, there's a "loophole"; convicted criminals can still legally own dogs. So can ordinary citizens.

(I don't know what it will take before it dawns on the latter that the war on drugs is incompatible with freedom. The latter even includes the right to self defense!)

MORE: There seems to be some confusion about "no knock" theory, with commenter Darleen Click saying that they shouldn't be used in drug cases.

Unfortunately, drug cases are the raison d'etre for the existence of no knock warrants:

In the US, a no knock warrant is a warrant issued by a judge that allows law enforcement officers to enter a property without knocking and without identifying themselves as police. It is issued under the belief that any evidence they hope to find can be destroyed during the time that police identify themselves and the time they secure the area.
The use of this tactic has increased more than tenfold:
The number of no-knock raids has increased from 3,000 in 1981 to more than 50,000 last year, according to Peter Kraska, a criminologist at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. Raids that lead to deaths of innocents are relatively rare, but since the early 1980s, 40 bystanders have been killed, according to the Cato Institute in Washington, DC.
And how many dogs have been killed? Hmm.... I'm wondering whether it's a coincidence that pit bulls have become "the number one dog of choice of drug dealers" during that same period.

One thing I can state confidently is that dogs hear and smell people coming way before their owners can. Even before the break-ins occur, dogs ruin the element of surprise.

MORE: In the aftermath of a Minneapolis no knock/wrong house raid in which a man who spoke no English defended himself Ed Morrissey called for a conversation in every state and city:

....the use of the no-knock raid heightens some risks even while it might lower others, and it makes mistakes like the one at Khang's house deadly affairs. Obviously the Minneapolis police did not do their homework before busting down the door of Vang Khang, and the SWAT raid on a law-abiding resident put everyone's lives at risk for no good reason.

We need to have a conversation in every state and city about the wisdom of no-knock raids. In cases of national security and imminent violence, one might see room for such an approach, but otherwise police should announce themselves before entering private property. It seems to me that the Constitution takes that approach in the Fourth Amendment, and as Khang can attest, it does so for good reason. At least Khang is alive to attest to it.

Interesting discussion in the comments, too.

posted by Eric at 10:15 AM | Comments (9)



Sharpening the knives of identity politics

It looks like Hillary Clinton knew what she was doing when she made a former La Raza President Raul Yzaguirre her campaign co-chair. (Yzaguirre, BTW, has likened the "US English" organization to the Ku Klux Klan.)

Analyzing the Nevada results, Bill Bradley sees a serious problem for Obama with the Latino vote -- a fact which bodes ill for his chances in California:

Clinton beat Obama by nearly 3 to 1 among Latinos. Which was quite interesting, in that Obama was backed by two potent unions with many Latino members, the culinary workers and the service employees. But the turnout at the at-large caucus sites, casinos along the Las Vegas Strip, which were set up to allow lower-income casino workers to participate while working a busy holiday weekend -- this is Martin Luther King Day weekend in Vegas, a big-time holiday there -- was less than expected. And Clinton confounded expectations, essentially matching Obama along the Vegas Strip and sweeping to a big win in the Las Vegas metropolitan area.

This more than matched Obama's wins in most of Nevada's other counties. Hillary's ability to win big among Latinos, even when many of their leaders, such as in the unions I mentioned, went with Obama, raises very interesting questions about the internal racial politics of the Democratic Party as the first very serious black candidate for president continues his closely fought contest with the former first lady. Reports from around the state indicate that the big labor forces backing Obama found it tough to deliver for him. At issue, Latino workers pushed to vote for an African American. And so the race issue reared its head in yet another way this year.

If Obama can't do much better with Latino voters, he won't be able to win the California primary, the biggest prize on February 5th. Hillary leads here and has a strong organization, but independents voters -- who generally favor Obama -- are shut out of the Republican primary and could give him a big boost.

Obama is dealing with identity politics pros.

As I keep saying, Barack Obama is a dire threat to identity politics.

The evidence is accumulating that the champions of identity politics are also a dire threat to him.

MORE: Commenting on Barack Obama's decision to target the more powerful Bill The Man instead of Hillary The Victim, Baldilocks has hit the nail right on the head:

it changes the nature of this war--a war called the 2008 Democrat nomination process, but is one that may be dubbed the Great Identity Politics War when we look back on it.

Obama has--wisely--changed to a more vulnerable target. No longer does the battle pit Man against Woman--one in which the woman is perceived to be the underdog even if the man is black and the woman is white. Now it's Black Man against White Man--and you know who the alleged underdog is in this battle.

Just remember the nature of Identity Politics Wars; the "weaker" opponent is always the victor.

(Via Glenn Reynolds, whose remark about "buttering the popcorn" could probably be construed as offensive by someone, although I just don't have time for a lengthy postmodernist explanation right now.)

posted by Eric at 08:45 AM | Comments (2)




Government Men Can't Dance


Instapundit

posted by Simon at 08:11 PM | Comments (1)



The Democrat's Gramscian Problem

There is a long discussion going on at Gates of Vienna about the divisions in our society. The Left seems intent on multiplying those differences in a divide and conquer strategy. One of the participants said that the answer to what the left is doing is for people of European ancestry to band together to form a countervailing pressure group. The participant cites a number of race and ethnic blogs to prove his point. I have an answer for that.

I have no doubt that what you say exists and it has always existed. I was fortunate to live in MLKs "I have a dream" America growing up.

All the things you decry, what a friend of mine called "Angry Studies", are part and parcel and in total Gramscian Marxism/Socialism. The idea was to destroy social cohesion so that Marxists could rule.

It is apparent that even if you are not a Marxist that they have won you over. It follows the Stalinist line of dividing the country along ethnic lines to make rule easier.

Fortunately some of us are not so easily fooled.

As I keep saying - the core of the problem is socialism and it is the socialists who are pushing this crap.

Here is a place to start Gramscian Marxism.

You are following the Marxist script. You are a dupe.

You really need to educate yourself. The Church was a unifying force because it was based on the brotherhood of all men in Christ. The first object of the Gramscians was the destruction of the Church. Not that they cared about religion much one way or the other. It was the brotherhood of man that was the critical element. To destroy that they went after the particulars of the Church. Their real aim was the brotherhood of man. Divide and conquer.

I will not be divided. I refuse to join in.

I wish to celebrate American Multiculturalism in which all men are brothers and destroy Gramscian Multiculturalism where all men are enemies.

I refuse to be divided. I refuse to be conquered.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:52 PM | Comments (9)



Edward Teller


HT Lubos Motl

posted by Simon at 12:42 PM | Comments (3)



"In heaven, everything is fine"

(Sorry for the "Eraserhead" reference, but this is one post I'd rather not write. But the theme is about erasure anyway, so what the hell.)

Ron Rosenbaum has a fascinating piece which documents the Mormon practice of baptising dead non-Mormons (something I'd only heard about vaguely).

I take a broad general view of religions and I try to be tolerant of quirky practices. However, reading some of the details, it occurs to me that (if Mitt Romney is the candidate), the Democrats or their proxies will have a field day with this stuff:

The practice, sometimes known as "Temple work" involves a Mormon "standing in" for a dead person to allow said dead one to be baptized as a Mormon and enter Mormon heaven. It became an issue when it turned out that many Mormons were retrospectively baptizing Holocaust victims such as Anne Frank and other dead Jews including Einstein and Freud as Mormons in this way. Not only that, some Mormons had baptized less savory figures in history including Stalin, Mao, Ivan the Terrible--and even Hitler himself (along with Eva Braun so they could share Mormon heaven together).

While the Church did not encourage the baptism of Nazis, the doctrine was not changed until 1995 by which time Eichman, Himmler and Heydrich joined the Furher among the baptized. I know: this sounds too strange and offensive to be true, but Mormons are big on conversions and it's a lot easier to convert the compliant dead than the living.

Well, I'm glad to hear they stopped the practice, but surely there ought to be a way to remove Hitler, Stalin, and Mao from heaven. Maybe there's some way to retroactively unmeddle in Anne Frank's eternity too. Isn't she entitled to a say in whether or not she's a Mormon?

Rosenbaum asks why Romney hasn't been asked about the strange practice:

We know that Mitt Romney didn't speak up publicly against his church's second class citizenship for people of color, although he claimed to have wept with joy in 1978 (when he was 31) and this doctrine was discarded. Did he speak up at all against the shameful posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims? Of Hitler? How does he feel about it now? Why has no one raised the issue during the campaign?
Why? Maybe because no one wants to be accused of anti-Mormon bigotry?

Might the potential losers to Romney prefer that Hillary do the dirty work later?

Nah, that sounds too much like a conspiracy theory.

posted by Eric at 09:48 AM | Comments (10)



The biggest threat to affirmative action?

Today's Philadelphia Inquirer ran a report by Stephanie Simon of the LA Times about Ward Connerly's national campaign against affirmative action.

DENVER - Intent on dismantling affirmative action, activists in five states have launched a coordinated drive to cut off tax dollars for programs that offer preferential treatment based on race or gender.

The campaign aims to put affirmative-action bans on the November ballots in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The effort is being organized by California consultant Ward Connerly, who has successfully promoted similar measures in California, Michigan and Washington.

Supporters of affirmative action say the initiatives will be difficult to block, given that Connerly has a proven ability to raise funds and persuade voters, even in more liberal states.

"They've targeted states where there's a white majority electorate and a vocal, if small, extreme anti-immigrant right wing," said Shanta Driver, cochairwoman and national spokeswoman of By Any Means Necessary, a coalition that defends affirmative action. In such states, she said, "it's extremely difficult for us to win."

Connerly's campaign - which he has called "Super Tuesday for Equality" - also could get a boost if the presidential ballot includes a black person or a woman. That would help him make the case, he said, that the playing field is level and minorities no longer need a hand up.

[Emphasis added.]

Minorities? What does that mean? I realize that according to official theory, women are considered a minority, but they're in the majority so it doesn't make much sense. Considering the enormous progress women have made, affirmative action for women is nowhere near the hot-button topic that affirmative action for minorities is. Voicing opposition to affirmative action will cause one to run afoul of what Charles Krauthammer recently called
...a decades-long campaign of enforced political correctness by an alliance of white liberals and the black civil rights establishment intended to delegitimize and marginalize as racist any criticism of their post-civil-rights-era agenda.

Anyone who has ever made a principled argument against affirmative action, only to be accused of racism, knows exactly how these tactics work.

Yes, but people who raise principled arguments against affirmative action are much less likely to be called sexist -- especially by the alliance Krauthammer describes.

Not too many people realize it (or if they do they're not willing to admit it), but the biggest threat right now to affirmative action -- and the fraudulent establishment that goes with it -- is Barack Obama. Ward Connerly understands this phenomenon inside and out.

Affirmative action is part and parcel of the phony leftist narrative and the house of race cards on which the modern Democratic Party is built. Regardless of what position he takes on the issue (and I'm sure he's for it), Obama's very ethos undercuts the racist assumption that black people need help in order to succeed, and that only the condescending white liberal baby boomers can give it to them.

So it's yet another reason that Obama threatens the narrative. I think the left understands what Ward Connerly understands, and they're wising up to the Obama threat.

(Even if they don't dare admit it. What? You expect them to admit they think Obama is an aberration? A man who's "not really black" and who raises false hopes? Fat chance.)

AFTERTHOUGHT: If McCain were to win the nomination and could reach across party lines to tap Obama as a running mate once the dust settles, I think Hillary would really be screwed. But that's just ideological utopian treason -- the sort of thing that can only find voice in the science fiction novels I don't read.

Besides, who says that thoughts about defeating Hillary constitute utopian thinking?

posted by Eric at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)




Ruining the narrative

What might be the biggest unspoken liberal objection to Barack Obama is only being voiced by foreign leftists:

In Europe, one senses a quiet shame. The left, which loves to criticize the Unites States for its imperial foreign policy and its discrimination against blacks and Hispanics, is not really saluting Obama. There have been few gushing articles in Italy' La Repubblica or France's Le Monde. And by sending the message that it might be ready to elect an African-American, a part of mainstream America is showing the industrialized world a more open-minded attitude than the United States usually gets credit for.

This is particularly embarrassing in socialist Europe. Contrast the attitude of those white Americans who are ready for a President Obama with the conditions that have led France's North African immigrants to riot on the outskirts of Paris. And have the Scandinavian countries ever generated anything comparable to Obama among the minorities who are tended to so generously as long as they don't make too much noise?

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Ditto the Latin American left:

The Latin American left, sensing that the story of racial mobility implicit in Obama's personal story is too good an ad for American society, has chosen to moderate its embrace of the black American senator.
Unfortunately for Obama, the piece also points out that foreign conservatives generally seem to like him.

It's obvious why. He's the real deal, so he ruins the leftist narrative.

Leftists in this country desparately need the narrative of black people as victims in need of help as opposed to independent achievers. But unlike their European counterparts, they won't admit it.

It's a crying shame that Obama isn't a Republican. Of course, if he was, he'd be attacked in the same way that Condi Rice and Colin Powell are attacked, and his candidacy would be denounced as tokenism.

The irony is that the Democratic powers that be (in the form of the Clinton machine) hate him because he's not a token.

It's a sickening spectacle that few notice, and fewer admit, but I think it's why the left (especially the aging baby boomer left) and the Clintons will ultimately unite to destroy Barack Obama's candidacy.

posted by Eric at 11:05 PM | Comments (4)



"Oprah is a traitor"

That's what an angry core of feminist activists is saying about Oprah Winfrey:

AMERICA'S favourite television presenter is paying a painful price for her intervention in the US presidential campaign last month. Oprah Winfrey has been dubbed a "traitor" by some of her female fans for supporting Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton.

Winfrey's website, Oprah.com, has been flooded with a barrage of abuse since the queen of daytime chat shows joined Obama on a tour of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in mid-December.

Her intervention was widely credited with broadening Obama's national appeal - especially among women - and with helping him to an upset victory over Clinton in the first vote of the election year in Iowa.

When in the course of identity politics events it becomes necesary for..

Oh never mind. Here's how an anonymous commenter started the "treason" charge:

In the original post, a reader called austaz68 said she "cannot believe that women all over this country are not up in arms over Oprah's backing of Obama. For the first time in history we actually have a shot at putting a woman in the White House and Oprah backs the black MAN. She's choosing her race over her gender."
If you think that's bad, read Ishmael Reed's analysis on the historical tension between the feminist movement and the movement for racial equality.
Having been educated at elite schools where studying The War of the Roses was more important than studying Reconstruction, the under educated white male punditry and their token white women, failed to detect the racial code phrases that both Clintons and their surrogates sent out- codes that, judging from their responses, infuriated blacks caught immediately. Blacks have been deciphering these hidden messages for four hundred years. They had to, in order to survive.

Gloria Steinem perhaps attended the same schools. Her remark that black men received the vote "fifty years before women," in a Times Op-Ed (Jan.8) which some say contributed to Obama's defeat in New Hampshire, ignores the fact that black men were met by white terrorism, including massacres, and economic retaliation when attempting to exercise the franchise. She and her followers, who've spent thousands of hours in graduate school, must have gotten all of their information about Reconstruction from Gone With The Wind, where moviegoers are asked to sympathize with a proto-feminist, Scarlett O'Hara, who finally has to fend for herself after years of being doted upon by the unpaid household help.

Read it all. (Trust me, it gets worse. And it gets into feminist history.)

posted by Eric at 09:55 PM | Comments (1)



South Carolina

I'm watching the South Carolina results roll in and I'm sorry that Fred Thompson didn't win this one. (Right now he's in third place, which is at least better than he'd done elsewhere.)

With 22% of the vote in, it appears that McCain has it -- winning by an eight point margin over Huckabee. (36% to 28%) Too early to call, but I think it's unlikely Huckabee being able to turn that kind of lead around.

OTOH, Fox is saying that the race appears dead even based on exit polls.

On CNN, I saw an interesting analysis by Bill Schneider, who waved big charts -- one listing the evangelical vote as follows:

55% Huckabee

27% McCain

12% Romney

Now, if it is true that McCain with all his baggage comes in second behind Huckabee and Romney is third, it confirms my theory that anti-Mormon prejudice is driving the Huckabee phenomenon. That's because Romney is more of a social conservative than McCain, and closer to the evangelical point of view. That Romney would be third, IMO, reveals anti-Mormon bias.

They're still saying it's too close to call.

(Meanwhile in Nevada, Hillary won. I'm not enjoying her inevitability one bit.)

MORE: Here's an ominous warning from Victor Davis Hanson, who thinks that if McCain gets it, the social conservatives will sit it out, and Hillary will win:

I think those who might prefer a McCain or Giuliani will be perfectly happy to vote for the ticket should a Romney or Thompson be the standard bearer. But from the recent rhetoric, it almost seems the inverse is not true. And if that is the case, then a President Clinton seems to me a sure thing--which of course may be the desire-- in the fashion that 1964 purists thought their loss logically led to recovery in 1968 or 1976 had to transpire to get to the promised land of 1980. I would remind conservatives, however, that we are in a war, and that sitting out 2008 might mean allowing a candidate to win (pick any of the three Democrats) who has promised to withdraw all troops in 2009, regardless of the battlefield landscape (perhaps versus a McCain Presidency who surely won't do that).
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Some people are more willing to hold their nose and vote than others. Which means that those who refuse to hold their nose get to decide for the nose-holders.

If you don't like it, try holding your nose in the other party!

MORE (08:40 p.m.): With 46% of the vote in, it's getting closer, with 33% McCain to 29% Huckabee.

MORE: Stephen Green is drunkblogging the results and he points out that the evangelical vote is just starting to report in, so the results could change:

Another thing to watch is, the Bible Belt's own Bible Belt is just starting to report in, which could put Huckabee over the top.
(Via Glenn Reynolds, who appears to be quite sober.)

Hmm...

If I get drunk, might that affect the results?

MORE: With 61% in, Fox News' Britt Hume is saying "Somewhere there must be a very large cache of Huckabee votes."

They keep talking about exit polls showing McCain and Huckabee are even.

MORE (09:04 p.m.): With 67% of the vote in, it's 34 to 29 and they're still saying it's too close to call.

The Horry county results are missing, and according to Michael Barone it's 5% of the state.

Again, they're wondering why the results don't match the exit polls.

(History shows there's nothing new about such an anomaly.)

MORE (09:06 p.m.): With 72% in and Greenville (a heavily evangelical area) now reported as coming in for McCain, Hume is saying "something has to give."

Carl Cameron just reported that McCain is getting ready for his victory speech.

There seems to be some tension between the results and Fox's reluctance to accept them.

MORE (09:17 p.m.): With 82% in, it's now 33% to 29%. Thompson is still in 3rd place.

9:18 p.m.

It's over

AP has called it for McCain, and Fox now agrees.

MORE: Stephen Green makes what I think is a painfully truthful remark about Fred Thompson.

After tonight, Fred Thompson's campaign is over. (Reminder to self: Don't endorse candidates you like, you jinx.) And Mike Huckabee has peaked. As Bill Kristol said on Fox a moment ago, if Huckabee can't get 50% of the South Carolina evangelical vote, then tonight is the highwater mark of his campaign.

Which leaves the Republicans with McCain, Romney, and Giulliani. And if Giulliani doesn't win -- and win convincingly -- in Florida, then he's out, too.

I'm sorry to see Thompson not do better. What I found most interesting about toniight was McCain's surprising strength among evangelicals.

Stephen Green has more about the Democratic race, but I won't spoil it. (Hint: there will be blood.)

MORE (10:04 p.m.) I'm watching McCain speak, and I have to say, while he gets a lot of criticism for his age, he seems incredibly tough and vibrant.

It may be an awful thing to say, but being tortured all those years in a North Vietnam POW camp might have made him far stronger than most men his age. (Or younger.)

But then it might be in the genes. He just thanked his mother, who is is standing right there. How old might she be?

Really, the age factor alone is almost inspiring.

The guy really comes through.

I have to say, it's a really good speech. McCain at his finest.

(Bear in mind that I speak as a cynical asshole who's very hard to impress, much less inspire.)

In a word, it was moving. There's more to this than positions on issues.

MORE: It's Saturday night and people are busy with other things, but I think McCain really connected in a way that I can only describe as moving to the emotions.

Talk about comebacks; the guy was all but written off!

AND MORE (01/20/08): I'm happy to see that I'm not alone in my positive assessment of McCain's speech. Here's Lawrence Kudlow:

Sen. John McCain capped off his big win in the South Carolina primary with the single best victory speech of anyone in the campaign season so far.
Via Glenn Reynolds, who also links the Pajamas Media roundup, as well as these observations by TigerHawk:
Watching McCain's victory speech, I agree with my co-blogger CardinalPark -- the Republicans have a pretty good field. So far, I could support all of McCain, Romney, Giuliani, and Thompson in the general election. I would have a hard time forcing myself to the polls if Mike Huckabee were the Republican candidate (given our likely choices on the other side), but if he cannot win in South Carolina, where can he win?
That's the best encapsulation I've seen so far. (All the more so because I agree with TigerHawk.)

MORE: Glenn also links Bill Kristol's observation that "You fight an election with the politicians you have," and I agree.

Many do not. I have lost count of the number of Republicans who are on record as saying that they will never, ever, vote for McCain. (Some are making public pledges, and I will not name names.)

While I may be reading him wrong, Kristol seems to frown on overly robust criticism of GOP candidates ("conservative commentariat should take a deep breath, be a bit less judgmental").

Actually, I think robust criticism is a good thing -- especially in the primary, where the job is to test the candidates' mettle, and weed out the losers now, lest they lose to the Democrats later.

What I don't think is a good idea is to get locked into a chorus of "I WILL NEVER EVER" thinking.

I know I'm far from perfect in the "never-ever" department, but as the old saying goes, two weeks is a long time in politics.

Too many never-evers, and you can end up looking foolish.

Or, worse, having to eat your words...

MORE: Looked at another way, it's one thing to get all hot under the collar, and to vent freely. But when what might have been heated hyperbole is ratcheted up to the level of a solemn and unbreakable pledge, people can become prisoners of what is no longer rhetoric.

MORE: Let me illustrate by way of example. There is no serious GOP candidate whose politics I abhor more than Mike Huckabee, and of course I'm on record as being against him. But if I solemnly pledged that "I will never ever vote for Mike Huckabee," I've written off all future hope that he might be persuaded to change his positions on anything. Why would he waste his time arguing with anti-Huckabee pledgers? It would be illogical for me to make such a public pledge -- even if in my heart I knew I could never vote for him. (Even there, I'm reminded that there is always the remote possibility of what is called "a change of heart.")

posted by Eric at 08:27 PM | Comments (3)



"But ya are in that chair!"

Here's Boys on Wheels -- a disabled Norwegian group singing a song about how glad they are that they're not gay.

This came from a friend who said in the email,

Hysterical, but as you see, we are STILL the only ones on whom it will always be open season for ridicule!
Exactly how serious the video is I am not sure. The lead singer, Jesper Olderberg, is a comedian with cerebral palsy.

For all I know, he might be glad he is not gay. But my friend has a point. If we take a look the lyrics with an eye towards playing identity politics substitution games, there are problems:

"I'm rolling away

Because my legs.. are not OK

I think every day

There are guys with bigger problems

Happy today

At least I'm not gay

I'm not gay

I'm not gay

Gay I'm not

I've been straight

All my life"

If they had said "black" instead of gay -- or if a gay group substituted "disabled" or "a cerebral palsy victim" -- I don't think it would have gone over very well.

I'm not even sure this is in good taste anymore.

But I'm not making any judgments here.

Just reflecting on apparent realities.

MORE: A fascinating comment left on another post points out something I had not realized before:

I didn't realize until Eric blog about the Norwegian comedians that this site is for gay republican's. Rest assured I will not be masturbating here in the future.

Now go back to your circle jerk you queer little douchebag.

I didn't realize it either! Although the above came in an email from a gay reader, it amused me not because of that but because I enjoy analyzing identity politics collisions. While it's nice to know what readers think, I'm now confused.

What I want to know is why the hell this blog (which is on record as opposing gay identity politics and has long taken issue with the conventional dichotomy over human sexuality) is not listed as a gay Republican blog!

Should I demand equal time?

posted by Eric at 07:41 PM | Comments (1)



Cyber Attacks On Power Generation

Back when Power and Control was new (Dec '004) I put up a post called Internet Security, where I discussed the problems of controlling critical infrastructure with the Internet, wireless, or worse yet wireless Internet. George Tenent then head of the CIA said we had a problem. Let me quote a bit to give you the flavor:

What George is saying is that the Inherent Design of the internet is not compatible with infrastructure security. Duh.

What we actually need is less stupidity.

What we need to do is to provide more security for our networked systems. The Internent is not the answer to infrastructure control problems. It is inherently insecure. As a controls engineer I have been arguing this point for at least five years. Well before 9/11.

Wiring up a factory to use the Internet Protocol (IP) for in factory and inter factory control is a stupid idea. Since the IP is well understood using it to destroy a facility would be rather easy. Nothing new to learn except the control settings of the individual factory or company.

Worse is controlling a factory with wireless internet. With that kind of setup you don't have any fire wall between your operations and the outside world. In fact you don't even need to know IP or wireless protocols to cause trouble. All you need is a jammer to bring a factory to its knees. And the jammer need not be on continuously. An intermittent jammer could wreak havoc with sensitive factory processes.

Well it has started. According to the CIA
The CIA on Friday admitted that cyberattacks have caused at least one power outage affecting multiple cities outside the United States.

Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, said that CIA senior analyst Tom Donahue confirmed that online attackers had caused at least one blackout. The disclosure was made at a New Orleans security conference Friday attended by international government officials, engineers, and security managers from North American energy companies and utilities.

Paller said that Donahue presented him with a written statement that read, "We have information, from multiple regions outside the United States, of cyber intrusions into utilities, followed by extortion demands. We suspect, but cannot confirm, that some of these attackers had the benefit of inside knowledge. We have information that cyberattacks have been used to disrupt power equipment in several regions outside the United States. In at least one case, the disruption caused a power outage affecting multiple cities. We do not know who executed these attacks or why, but all involved intrusions through the Internet."

Let me tell you that as long as I am designing plants no controls or critical infrastructure will use the Internet protocols or the Internet. Ever. As long as I am designing plants no controls or critical infrastructure will use wireless. Ever. To do is inviting trouble. I will use wires. Coax. Shielded twisted pairs. Fiber. Preferably in conduit except for nodes. All with custom protocols. No easy access, except locally. There is nothing wrong with using encoded data over the internet to report plant operation. There will be no possibility of plant control remotely. Ever.

To do so would be stupid. I wasn't born yesterday.

Yes. It raises the capital costs and the time required to connect everything together. What is one plant outage worth? What is meeting one extortion demand worth? Once you pay the Danegeld, how do you get rid of the Dane?

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:06 PM | Comments (5)



noose that's fit to print?

I'm getting tired of what can only be called noose hysteria. I think reactions to images of nooses are leading people to lose all sense of perspective, and allow themselves to be manipulated by what is, after all, only an image. I've complained about "imageism" before, and I think that's precisely what is going on here. It's profoundly illogical, and makes about as much sense as punishing children for drawing stick figures with guns. What's next?

Suspending children for playing "HANGMAN" in school?

(Maybe I shouldn't give educrats any ideas. Fortunately, they don't read libertarianish blogs, so I need not worry.)

golfweek.jpg A recent example of noose hysteria is the uproar over the cover of Golfweek Magazine:

The editor of Golfweek magazine said he was overwhelmed by negative reaction to the photo of a noose on the cover of this week's issue, illustrating a story about the suspension of a Golf Channel anchor for using the word "lynch" in an on-air discussion about how to beat Tiger Woods.

"We knew that image would grab attention, but I didn't anticipate the enormity of it," Dave Seanor, vice president and editor of the weekly magazine, said from the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla.

"There's been a huge, negative reaction," he said. "I've gotten so many e-mails. It's a little overwhelming."

Among the critics was PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who said he found the imagery to be "outrageous and irresponsible."

The mere image of a noose is outrageous and irresponsible? Even when the picture was trying to illustrate a story?

It doesn't matter what the reason is. Depiction is the offense, and the policy is one of zero tolerance.

That's because in the argument which seems to be emerging (according to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center), the noose has replaced the burning cross as a symbol of racial intimidation:

Potok says the noose, which is seen as an icon of racially-based lynching, has replaced the burning cross as the dominant symbol of racial intimidation in the nation.

The image has even worked its way into the world of golf: A television commentator's remark that Tiger Woods' competitors may want to "lynch" him led Golfweek magazine to put a noose on the cover of its current issue.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes nationwide, finds fewer than a dozen noose reports in a typical year. But in the last four months, the center says, there have been between 60 and 70, including incidents at a Home Depot in New Jersey, a factory in Houston and at Columbia University in New York, where a noose was found hanging on the door of an African-American professor's office.

Many trace the increase to events in Jena, La., where a noose display preceded the beating of a white student by black classmates. The incident led to criminal cases against six black students, which touched off a national outcry.

Though the local U.S. attorney has since said that the noose was not directly related to the altercation, there are calls for the passage of anti-noose laws.

Some, such as Potok, question whether those measures, which hinge on intangibles such as context and intent, can be effective. "I don't believe for a second that hate crime penalty enhancement laws have reduced hate crime," Potok said.

Even so, a proposal now in the Missouri Senate would establish criminal penalties for displaying a noose with the "intent to intimidate any person or group." In New York state, a similar bill would make drawing or painting a noose criminal harassment in some circumstances.

Even the ACLU seems to be getting reeducated:
Cynthia Boersma, the legislative director of ACLU, compared hanging a noose to terrorism.

Both recent incidents in Maryland sparked public outcry, though the noose found in the city firehouse later proved a hoax.

Lawmakers estimated 40 incidents involving a noose nationwide since three white high school students in Jena, La., hung a noose from a tree in 2006, sparking a spate of racially charged incidents in the town.

Other lawmakers said applying the change to weapons could have unintended consequences. Del. Michael Smigiel, an Eastern Shore Republican, said the proposal "stops you from thinking."

"I get beat up all the time because I say you have a right to burn the flag," Smigiel said. "I am a U.S. Marine and I hate the thought of burning the flag, but I'll defend your right to do it."

I'm 100% with the Marine.

Perhaps it's a sign of my age, but I vividly remember when the ACLU defended the right of uniformed Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois, a community largely populated by elderly Jews (many of whom had survived the Holocaust). I see a serious free speech issue involved here, and not a whole lot of people daring to speak up. It's one thing to specifically target and harass someone, but the idea of a image alone being harassment just strikes me as ridiculous.

If a noose image is harassment, then why not handcuffs? Pistol targets? The latter is a good example, actually; if someone posted a target on someone's door, that could well be a threat of some sort which should be investigated as harassment. But the point is not the target as an image; it's what is being done with it. If an image itself is considered to be harassment of a group of people then why is image of the swastika or the hammer and sickle not banned? Because we have a thing called the First Amendment. This allows us to put toothbrush mustaches on Bush, and swastikas of hammers and sickles on covers of magazines. So why the sudden upheaval over a piece of rope tied in a particular knot?

And I do mean sudden. It is only quite recently that I have seen the noose transformed into a specific symbol of lynching directed only against blacks. True, it was always a dark and morbid symbol, because it meant hanging, gallows, capitol punishment. Yes, it certainly conjured up images of lynching, but even that was never a phenomenon exclusively targeting black people -- especially during the pre-Reconstruction era. Some statistics:

....According to the Tuskegee Institute figures, between the years 1882 and 1951, 4,730 people were lynched in the United States: 3,437 Negro and 1,293 white.3 The largest number of lynchings occurred in 1892. Of the 230 persons lynched that year, 161 were Negroes and sixty-nine whites.

Contrary to present-day popular conception, lynching was not a crime committed exclusively against Black people. During the nineteenth century a significant minority of the lynching victims were white. Between the 1830s and the 1850s the majority of those lynched in the United States were whites. Although a substantial number of white people were victims of this crime, the vast majority of those lynched, by the 1890s and after the turn of the century, were Black people. Actually, the pattern of almost exclusive lynching of Negroes was set during the Reconstruction period. According to the Tuskegee Institute statistics for the period covered in this study, the total number of Black lynching victims was more than two and one-half times as many as the number of whites put to death by lynching.

What I find most annoying about the current lynching meme is the way it fits in with rhetorical campaign to label racism as "right wing" and thus "Republican."

I kid you not. The Republican Party is described in posts like this as the "Party of Lynching."

What is being forgotten is history. One of the founding goals of the Ku Klux Klan was literally to terrorize Republicans. It worked too!

Most Klan action was designed to intimidate black voters and white supporters of the Republican Party. Klansmen might parade on horseback at night dressed in outlandish costumes, or they might threaten specific Republican leaders with violence. Increasingly during 1868 these actions became violent, ranging from whippings of black women perceived as insolent to the assassination of Republican leaders. It is impossible to untangle local vigilante violence from political terrorism by the organized Klan, but it is clear that attacks on blacks became common during 1868. Freedmen's Bureau agents reported 336 cases of murder or assault with intent to kill on freedmen across the state from January 1 through November 15 of 1868.

The political terrorism was effective. While Republican gubernatorial candidate Rufus B. Bullock carried the state in April 1868 elections, by November Democratic presidential candidate Horatio Seymour was in the lead. In some counties the contrast was incredible. In John Reed's Oglethorpe County, 1,144 people had voted Republican in April, while only 116 dared to vote Republican in November when Reed's armed Klansmen surrounded the polls. In Columbia County armed Klansmen not only intimidated voters but even cowed federal soldiers sent to guard the polling place. Not surprisingly, while 1,222 votes had been cast in Columbia County for Republican governor Rufus Bullock in April, only one vote was cast for Republican presidential candidate Ulysses Grant in November 1868.

I don't know whether anyone has looked into the voter registration of lynching victims (black and white) in the South, but common sense would suggest that to the extent they were registered to vote, Republican lynching victims would have outnumbered Democrats.

Moreover, the vast majority of lynching perpetrators (as well as defenders of the practice) were Southern whites whose voting registration would have been overwhelmingly Democratic.

Lest anyone think that only Southern Democrats were soft on lynching, here's a historical tidbit that might surprise many: a Democratic president still hailed as a hero today actually opposed anti-lynching legislation:

Robert F. Wagner and Edward Costigan agreed to draft an anti-lynching bill. The legislation proposed federal trials for any law enforcement officers who failed to exercise their responsibilities during a lynching incident.

In 1935 attempts were made to persuade Roosevelt to support the Costigan-Wagner bill. However, Roosevelt refused to speak out in favour of the bill. He argued that the white voters in the South would never forgive him if he supported the bill and he would therefore lose the next election.

Even the appearance in the newspapers of the lynching of Rubin Stacy failed to change Roosevelt's mind on the subject. Six deputies were escorting Stacy to Dade County jail in Miami on 19th July, 1935, when he was taken by a white mob and hanged by the side of the home of Marion Jones, the woman who had made the original complaint against him. The New York Times later revealed that "subsequent investigation revealed that Stacy, a homeless tenant farmer, had gone to the house to ask for food; the woman became frightened and screamed when she saw Stacy's face."

The Costian-Wagner Act received support from many members of Congress but the Southern opposition managed to defeat it. However, the national debate that took place over the issue helped to bring attention to the crime of lynching.

What is often forgotten is that the worst aspects of racism in our history were associated not with Republicans, but with Democrats. From Eric Foner's A Short History of Reconstruction.
In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired the restoration of white supremacy. It aimed to destroy the Republican party's infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.
The book details the killings of Republicans by Democrats.

The historical connections between the Democratic Party and the Klan were by no means limited to the Reconstruction period. As recently as 1924, the Democratic National Convention was so full of Klan sympathizers that it was referred to as the "Klanbake convention":

the 1924 election indicates the extent to which the Klan was entangled with the progressives. For that was the year of the Democrats' infamous "klanbake" convention, when Klansmen participated heavily as delegates and blocked a platform plank that would have condemned their order. They also entered the presidential race, mostly to oppose the candidacy of Al Smith, who as an anti-prohibitionist and a Catholic was anathema to the group, but also to back a candidate of their own. There was a southern conservative in the race, Sen. Oscar Underwood of Alabama, but he was a critic of the Klan. Instead they endorsed the Californian William McAdoo, son-in-law to the late President Wilson. The convention was deadlocked, and the Democrats wound up picking a compromise candidate, John Davis, whose other claim to fame would be to argue the segregationist side in Brown v. Board of Education three decades later.
I realize that lynchings and close Democratic Party ties to the Klan are all in the past, but today's game of "noose association" is of recent origin, and calling the GOP the "Party of Lynching" is a typical example.

Recently David Neiwert wrote a whale of a piece titled "Jonah and the Klan." (My apologies for any unwanted appearance of an insinuating nature...) As part of a very determined effort to attack Goldberg's bestseller "Liberal Fascism," Neiwert takes Goldberg to task for neglecting to mention Jewish Klan lynching victim Leo Frank and for failing to call the Klan right wing:

...just as [Goldberg] has managed to trivialize a genuinely destructive and monstrous ideology such as fascism, so does he whitewash and minimize the horrendously poisonous history of real American fascists like the Ku Klux Klan. Indeed, it seems as if Goldberg is almost poised to declare the Klan "liberal" or yet another "progressive" offspring; but surely even that must give a pseudo-thinker like Goldberg pause. If the Klan is just another "phenomenon of the Left," then the word no longer has any meaning.
I don't mean to pick nits with someone who knows more about the Klan than I do, but since we're complaining about omissions here, why didn't Neiwert mention Woodrow Wilson and the important role he played in encouraging the rebirth of the Klan?

Wilson's sympathies for the Klan were so well known that they made it into Birth of a Nation (the major silent film of its day, which did much for the rise of the Klan). From the Wiki Entry:

The Birth of a Nation includes extensive quotations from Woodrow Wilson's History of the American People,[40] for example, "The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation ... until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country." Wilson, on seeing the film in a special White House screening on February 18, 1915, exclaimed, "It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true."[41]

Given the film's strong Democratic partisan message and Wilson's documented views on race and the Klan, his statement was seen as supporting the Klan, and the word "regret" as referring to the film's depiction of Radical Republican Reconstruction. Later correspondence with Griffith, the film's director, confirms Wilson's enthusiasm about the film. Wilson's remarks were widely reported and immediately became controversial. Wilson tried to remain aloof from the controversy, but finally, on April 30, he issued a non-denial denial.[42] His endorsement of the film greatly enhanced its popularity and influence, and helped Griffith to defend it against legal attack by the NAACP. The film, in turn, was a major factor leading to the creation of the second Klan in the same year.

And here's how the quote looked in the film:

Wilson-quote-in-birth-of-a-nation.jpg

The recruiting power of a statement like that from the president of the United States cannot be underestimated. (And how about Hollywood? Any responsibility there?) The revived Klan grew by leaps and bounds. Neiwert calls the Klan a form of American fascism, and I'm inclined to agree with that. But it's hardly fair to call it Republican fascism, and I think overall, Goldberg's point is well taken, even if he didn't mention one of the Klan's famous white victims.

But what about the image of the noose?

Are ordinary nooses and gallows humor no longer allowed? Even if in a non-racial context?

I'm wondering what the current status would be of images like the following:

From The Ox-Bow Incident, a book on my 7th grade summer reading list and the subject of the famous film starring Henry Fonda:

oxbow.gif

oxbow2.jpg

From the film "Goin South" starring Jack Nicholson:

goinsouth.jpg


From "The Nanny" starring Bette Davis playing a nanny tormented by a troubled child with reasons for tormenting her:

the nanny 320x240.jpg

In Placerville, California a hanging man recalls the town's historic name of "Hangtown"

hangmanPville.jpg

A local group features this noose on their patch:

512logo.gif

Should it be banned as "racially insensitive"? Why?

Apparently, you can even get your pennies flattened there too!

ca_placerville3.jpg

CAPTION:

"Hangtown California" At one time, Placerville was called "Hangtown." On the main street, there's still a gallows with a dummy hanging from it. It's nice.

Nice?

How can the image of a noose ever be nice????

Maybe the "HANGMAN" game should be banned. I mean, we can't have children thinking about images like this, can we?

hangmangame.gif

And for sickos who really want to make, um, "light" of this whole issue, there's even a Hanging Harry Light pull!

hangharry1.jpg

People forget that a noose can be used for good or bad purposes. Used legally, nooses have executed some very evil people. The Nazis tried and condemned at Nuremburg were (with the exception of Goering, who committed suicide) executed by hanging, and the nooses were left on their necks for the world to see.

Here's Arthur Seyss-Inquart

seyss.jpg

And Julius Streicher:

streicher.jpg

And who could forget this image of Saddam Hussein?

Saddam-Execution.jpg

Well, I suppose it could be argued the evil Bush was ultimately the force behind that hanging, that Saddam Hussein had "brown skin" and was the legitimate ruler of Iraq, so this was in fact a Republican racist lynching. If so, I'll just have to face my complicity in the crime, as I think Saddam Hussein's execution was overall a good thing.

There's an interesting history of hanging here, and I think it is worth noting parenthetically that the purpose of the long knot is to break the neck of the condemned to cause death as quickly as possible. Many lynching victims were simply strung up by haphazardly knotted ropes and strangled while alive, so the hangman's noose is not even a 100% accurate depiction of the Klan's terror lynchings. Few people alive today have ever seen an actual lynching, and the image is largely a media-fueled one, driven on by popular hysteria.

What about the noose as a form of satire or political protest? Let's return to Goldberg's book. As Glenn Reynolds noted yesterday, leftist attacks on it like Neiwert's did a lot to catapult it to #1 on Amazon:

JONAH GOLDBERG IS CURRENTLY #1 on Amazon. I hope he sends a nice thank-you note to all the lefty bloggers who have been savaging him. I don't think he could have done it without them!

Whether Goldberg has thanked Neiwert, I do not know. However, I think the way they've been treating the book resembles a sort of left-wing lynch mob. (Well, maybe just a pseudo lynch mob. For now!)

They don't like Liberal Fascism, so they are lynching it. (Today Glenn links this report indicating that the booksellers may be in sympathy with the mob and engaging in an eliminationist strategy. If they are, shame on them! But their loss is Amazon's gain.)

Anyway, while Neiwert and the gang may not agree with my spin on the image, I'm seeing a liberal noose!

liberallynching.jpg

Having a go at auto-asphyxiation, eh?

If that's too inflammatory, how about "nooses for peace"?

nooseP.jpg

Why not nooses into peaces?

posted by Eric at 02:51 PM | Comments (2)



I Blame The Ludicrats

John Leo at Minding the Campus discusses affirmative diversity counseling at Yale.

Yale's burgeoning diversity program has another announcement: it wants to "incorporate the role of ethnic counselor into that of freshman counselor, who will become responsible for providing enhanced community support for cultural affairs on campus," according to the Yale Daily News.

What does that mean? Well, according to the News, which neglected to supply an English-language version of the plan, "students would become increasingly aware of extant cultural resources on campus, along with gaining knowledge of new support to be rolled out under the restructure."

Okay, that clears it all up.

Commenter Peg C. gives her take:
I work for a 3 letter household global corp. and annual Diversity training is mandatory. It has devolved into ludicracy and even the libs despise and joke about it.

Fortunately it's all online now and easy to complete without actually taking any of it in. That stuff rots the brain, you know.

Yep.

Lucky for us the Democrats are running at least two ludicrats. With more waiting in the wings in case America is not diversity enough. It is enough to make a grown man cry. Or make up some words and use others ungrammatically. Original sin for a writer you know. (Hi LT :-) ) I can tell you this for sure - I need some action. And that is an affirmative.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 12:40 PM | Comments (3)




The Judge Was A Marine

Black Five has an update on the Jay Grodner case that I reported on in A Marine Needs Help. The best stuff is in the comments so I'll give you those.

From Mike the Marine yesterday:

[Sgt] McNulty might derive some comfort from the fact that the presiding judge is a former Marine. Circuit Court Judge William O'Malley was a lance corporal in the early 1960s and is known around the Chicago Courthouse for wearing a Marine Corps pin on his lapel and celebrating the Corps' birthday each November.

Ooorahhhh...

Posted by: Lands'nGrooves | January 17, 2008 at 02:41 PM

This is excellent. Not necessarily for Mr. Jay.
The case was called at 13:33, and the Defendant did not show up. There were 2 heavy hitter State's Attorneys here to handle it. The Judge increased his bond to $20,000.00 or 10 percent cash, and put out a warrant for his arrest.

The Defendant called at 13:40 to say that he will be a half an hout late and was waiting for the media to leave. The Judge said in open court that if he does shows up he will be taken into custody, and if he doesn't he is fair game for any law enforcement agency that wants to pick him up. Will report further developments as warranted.

Posted by: wp91 | January 18, 2008 at 01:54 PM

Uh. Oh. Mr. Jay does not like publicity. Must be bad for business or something. If he has any business left that is.
The update: At 1400 hours the defendant showed up, and was told that he was half an hour late. The Judge stated on the record that the defendant had done the same thing during the previous court date, and he said that the defendant called and said that wanted to wait for the media to leave. The Judge said "That is not the way I run my courtroom." He increased the bail and took him into custody and told him to try and work out a deal with the State. About 25-35 Marines and assorted military were there.

The case was recalled at 14:22, and the State said that the defendant had asked for permission to put his belt and such back on. The Judge said, "Treat him like all the other prisoners." The defendant was brought out and the plea deal that they had worked out was entered into the record.

The Judge asked him if he had committed the specific acts he was accused of. The defendant hemmed and hawed, and the Judge raised his voice to make him say yes or no. The defendant agreed, and the Judge read the facts into the record. Several times, the Judge said if there were no deal, he would be given a court date just like any other defendant, and he could try and make bail soon.

The deal: 1 year Social Service Supervision, restitution of 600 dollars to be paid to Social Services and which would go to the Injured Marine Semper Fi fund, to be paid by February 25th, 2008, and $50/month in supervision fees.

The Judge then, in as angry a voice as I have ever heard him use, scolded the defendant, saying that the Marine license plates the complaining witness had were not vanity plates or about ego, but the proceeds go toward the Marine and Navy scholarship fund for the children of fallen soldiers, sailors and marines. These Marines protect his very existence "so people like you can enjoy their freedom." He further said that the reason there were so many in the courtroom and so much public interest is that the Marines have a tradition since 1775 that "No Marine gets left behind." Several Hoorahs in the courtroom.

And then the deal was done, and he was taken away by the sheriffs to be released later.

If there are any questions, I can try and answer them...

Posted by: wp91 | January 18, 2008 at 03:36 PM

Hoorah.

Black Five has a good warm up (no Marine Left Behind) that you should read, but basically the case is concluded. Plus now that Jay R. Grodner has admitted his crime the Marine's insurance company can go after Jay for restitution. Hoorah.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)



"Demeaning anachronism"

That's how Charles Krauthammer characterizes Hillary's LBJ analogy, and the Clintons' view that only Hillary is qualified to lead black people:

In my view, the real problem with Clinton's statement was the implied historical analogy -- that the subordinate position King held in relation to Johnson, a function of the discrimination and disenfranchisement of the time, somehow needs recapitulation today when none of those conditions apply.

The analogy Clinton was implying was obvious: I'm Lyndon Johnson, unlovely doer; he's Martin Luther King, charismatic dreamer. Vote for me if you want results.

Forty years ago, that arrangement -- white president enacting African American dreams -- was necessary because discrimination denied blacks their own autonomous political options. Today, that arrangement -- white liberals acting as tribune for blacks in return for their political loyalty -- is a demeaning anachronism. That's what the fury at Hillary was all about, although no one was willing to say so explicitly.

Krauthammer savors the irony of liberals being "singed in the blowback" that they created. A must-read.

(The blowback couldn't be more deserved, although I still think the Clintons will win this, as they have all the advantages afforded by the corrupt political machinery in their control.)

posted by Eric at 11:55 AM | Comments (1)



The best of the worst of all possible realities

Has there ever been a time in American political history when both major parties were as fragmented as they are now?

Maybe there has been, but I don't remember ever seeing anything quite like this. True, I have seen unpopular presidents and many scandals come and go. LBJ was much hated by the left because of the war, and this led to the ascendancy of McGovern Democrats -- ultimately fueling the rise of the supposedly dead Richard Nixon, who in turn was much hated, and ultimately nailed by the people who hated him. Having a president resign in the face of certain impeachment could be expected to send his party into a tailspin, and there was dissension and a struggle between the moderate wing and the conservative wing. The former lost to Jimmy Carter, while the latter bided its time while Ronald Reagan waited in the wings and did what he called the "mashed potato circuit."

But throughout these periods, there was always a sense -- in both parties -- of not so much agreeing, but at least knowing. Knowing who the candidates were supposed to be, and where each party stood.

So far in this election cycle, the only feature which both parties have in common is fragmentation. Because of the sheer number of candidates (none of whom has a lock on anything), it's worse in the GOP. Occcasionally I'll flip through the radio dial to hear the various conservative talk shows, in the hope of getting a fix on just where the party is here and now. There is no "fix" to get. Every show host, every caller, has a completely different view of not only who the candidate should be, but what the GOP should be. If there's a heart and soul -- a "base," whatever you might call it -- within the GOP, I'm not clear on what it is. I'm not even sure the idea of smaller government is a given any more, much less leaving people alone in their personal lives. There's everything from free market conservatives to radical isolationists, Christian conservatives, anti-Mormon paranoids, pro-war and anti-war factions, pro-Bush, anti-Bush, and more. (In an unfortunate blow to political surrealists, the Laura Bush for President campaign -- announced here -- never got off the ground....)

Worst of all -- and what renders rational analysis next to impossible -- is the psychological split between Defeat Strategists and Victory Strategists. The former tend to believe (whether they acknowledge it or not) that it's the GOP's turn to lose, while the latter believe that the Democrats will be easy to beat. That this makes rational consideration of which candidate to support fraught with obvious difficulties is an understatement, and that is because it is contaminated not only by thoughts of who you want to lose to on the Democratic side, but by who you think should be offered up as the GOP sacrificial victim.

If, for example, you're a social conservative, you might want a more liberal Republican on Hillary's chopping block. But wait! What if it's Obama's chopping block? Who do we most/least want to see holding the high office? A cold shrewish feminist woman? Or a black man who's being painted as a race-baiting, stealth Muslim candidate? So "who do you want to win" -- and all thoughts about "the base," the "heart and soul" etc. -- are contaminated by "who do you want to lose?" and "to whom?" And who will triangulate the triangulators?

No wonder it's a mess. I can't even begin to figure it out.

Until Obama came along, I'd have said that the Democrats were unified as never before, but Obama has done more than rallied the party's left; he has touched a nerve. The more Hillary screams about "change," the more she highlights the fact that she represents exactly the opposite. So she has had to resort to crying and race baiting by proxy in order to get her way. Whether her turnaround will last remains to be seen. The question on the minds of many is which of the two leading candidates would most be able to appeal to middle America. Hillary would have seemed to have that covered, but playing the race card is a dangerous move, because people are sick of it, and they might be disinclined to support a candidate who did it.

Meanwhile, Obama is too smart to get pulled under. Quite the opposite; he's shrewd enough to know that he can even triangulate Ronald Reagan and get away with it. Hillary, of course, is stuck having to invoke the moral authority of LBJ.

It a word, it's pure chaos, though the Republicans have the purer version of chaos right now, because they don't have anything close to approximating an agreement on ideology and what they're about. (The Democrats, while in a nasty fight, do at least agree on principles.)

The only thing I can predict with any confidence is that someone will be elected president in November. And unless Bush does what Ted Rall and the crazies predicted, he or she will be sworn in.

But the swearing in ceremony is still a year away.

Anything will happen. (And I'm still clinging to my precious denial.)

I have to say, though, it would help if I could figure out what I'm in denial about.

Surely there's reality out there somewhere in search of triangulation.

posted by Eric at 08:55 AM | Comments (4)



It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

Dr. Nebel, who is working on the Bussard Fusion Project has taken some time out of his busy schedule to thank the bloggers supporting the WB-7 Project.

Also, I would like to thank M Simon, TallDave and their fellow bloggers for their continued interest in this technology. We appreciate that a great deal, but as you might imagine we have been a little too busy to communicate very much with the on-line people.
This is the head of the current research project. Everyone who has supported this in any way, including just reading the articles, can take a bow.

Special thanks go to my friend Eric and his pal Justin at Classical Values for getting me started on this. Also I am very grateful to Tom Ligon for being patient with me while he helped me learn the ropes. We have been manning the anchor capstan. Soon the anchor will be secured, the sails hoisted, and the ship under way. May the Maker Bless us all.

If any one wants to help man the rigging may I suggest reading this short post and using the urls provided in it to contact your Congress Critter. We need a gale to get us where we want to go in the shortest time possible. As they like to say in another Navy that is yet to be. Warp speed Mr. Sulu.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 01:31 AM | Comments (0)




Coffee, Tea, or Gravitas?

Newsmax.com sent me this, and I really don't know what to make of it.


The title is "Hillary Plays Flight Attendant"

Up next, Obama as a, um...oh, forget it!

posted by Eric at 11:06 PM | Comments (1)



I'll be 96. But how old will my robot be?

I don't talk about sex as much as I should.

For someone who'd probably be lumped in with the "hedonist" group because of my opinions, I'm surprisingly square. To the extent that I appear hedonistic, it's mostly because I defend hedonists. Occasionally I'll get into sexual issues, but my approach is usually rather clinical.

But I'd better get on the ball, because before you know it, sex with robots will be the rage, and unless I change with the times, I'll still be asking heated rhetorical questions about why people care what people do with each other in the privacy of their bedroom.

It's happening sooner than you think. By 2050, it'll be a done deal and the hot bots will be putting out:

If you're younger than 35, you'll probably live long enough to put David Levy's prediction to the test. Levy says that by 2050 we'll be creating robots so lifelike, so imbued with human-seeming intelligence and emotions, as to be nearly indistinguishable from real people. And we'll have sex with these robots. Some of us will even marry them. And it will all be good.

Levy lays out his vision of a Brave New Carnal World in Love and Sex With Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, which, despite its extended riffs on sex toys through the ages, is a snigger-free book. Levy's no Al Goldstein. Rather he's a 62-year-old British chess master turned artificial-intelligence expert persuaded that robot sex can brighten the lives of many, many unhappy people. "Great sex on tap for everyone, 24/7,'' he writes on the final page of the book. What's not to like?

I'll tell you what's not to like.

In 2050 I'll be 96!

Far from wanting a sex robot, at that age (if I'm alive) I'd most likely want a nurse robot. To give me backrubs, roll me over, push my wheelchair, and fetch hot water bottles. Hardly 24/7 sex.

Of course, there'll probably be drugs I could take to make me want to have sex with my robot nurse as well as physically capable.

But at that age, I might ask "Why?"

This is not to say that I oppose sex with robots in any way, shape, or form. (Hmmm, do I mean that literally?)

I can see the moralists getting just as bent out of shape over sex with robots as they do over sex with humans, though. They already get bent out of shape with virtual pornography, even though it isn't human, so why not robots?

Besides, how are we to determine the age of these robots?

Appearance?

Does that mean I'd be a dirty old man if my robot looks 16?

I won't care. ("Just roll me over and gimme that shot!")

In any case, I better defend sex with robots now, because I know I'll never get any.

MORE: I know this is all theory, but I'm wondering whether it might be possible for us to actually become the sex robots and have sex remotely with their partners. Like, I control your robot, and you control mine. More interactive than a mere machine, and there'd still be the human element. Nah, that's no good, because someone at the controls might be charged with rape. Or he or she might be raped by someone else's robot.

Probably not a good idea to give someone remote control over "your" robot. Why, think about what else might happen.

I guess I should be glad I don't read science fiction, because some twisted writer has probably thought this out in incredible detail.

(I need my denial like everybody else.)

MORE: Tall Dave says he doesn't see the big deal, as "women have been using vibrators for decades" but sees a problem for men along the following lines:

The problem for men is that physcially simulating what gives us pleasure is much more difficult. Besides the vexing issue of fabricating something similar enough to a woman's sexual orifices, for men visual stimuli is very important and it's very hard to make an object that looks and moves enough like a woman to fool our hindbrain without triggering trigger the "hey that's creepy not sexy" response. We have exquisitely sensitive and detailed specifications for what a healthy, fertile woman needs to look like to provoke a sexual response, and beyond that to signal our status-monitoring centers that we are indeed nailing a hottie.

So, yes, there will be sexbots that look like 16-year-old cheerleaders, once the technology is there, and they will make life a lot better for men. Women will not like it, because it will upset the paradigm of sex being a scarce resource that men want more than women, giving women a certain power over men. I expect there will be efforts to outlaw realistic sexbots, but ultimately it will happen somewhere.

I think he's right. This also raises the question of whether robots can truly be considered to have "sexual preferences." While humans attach the greatest moral importance to such notions, to a robot it's simply a question of following the program or obeying orders. No real "choice" is involved, nor is anything innate (although I suppose if they're "made that way" it could be argued that they were "born that way.") Can robots even be thought of as "male" and "female" (much less "gay" or "straight")? If so, why? Suppose a used robot were purchased and "reprogrammed" according to the desires of its new owner. Will there be groups of zealots on one side to deem it immoral (against "Natural Law") for a robot to go one way, with a corresponding "Ex Gay Robot Watch" movement on the other? Who gets to be in charge of robot morality?

posted by Eric at 02:46 PM | Comments (12)



the race to play cards

Via the G. Gordon Liddy Show (hardly part of the Obama network), I learned about an interesting column titled "Why the Clintons Play the Race Card":

They want to nudge--even provoke--Barack Obama into becoming the "black" candidate rather than the healing, unity candidate. They want black supporters to raise their voices on his behalf--preferably the Al Sharpton types who will shrilly cry "racism" and thus exacerbate the divide.

That's why Billary changed the conversation in New Hampshire, risking some anger against them in the black communities--anger they know would be assuaged in a general election. Okay, let him carry South Carolina, as long as he is tagged with Afrocentrism.

As I pointed out yesterday, the Democratic Party is so steeped in race-based politics that the Clintons don't need to do more than give this process a slight nudge and it takes on a life all its own.

Why, they can even deny that this has anything to do with race. Quite the contrary. The Clintons are actually the ones who are able to "transcend" race. It's Obama who's obsessed. (I mean, come on, he's the one with the black skin, right? And you know how obsessed we all are about race! Maybe it's not time for all this racial disharmony yet. Not while we still have Hillary to save us from it.)

They're not really racists--they just want to stress that Obama hasn't really transcended race--and that a person of color may not be electable. Think about it folks. Over and over again.

You don't want to "roll the dice"--in Bill's quaint phrase--for a guy who might turn out to be a captive of Al Sharpton or even Jesse Jackson, do you? Maybe you'll switch, just like some of those white New Hampshireites apparently did.

If you don't get the message today, they'll find a new way to say it tomorrow.

No doubt they will.

But speaking of tomorrow, I'd like to know who's playing the Ross Perot card.

MORE: Here's Margaret Carlson on Al Sharpton "helping" Barack Obama:

Sharpton has done things to redeem himself in recent years, but his presence is a one-way ticket back to Tawana Brawley, boycotts, shakedowns and good old-fashioned, in-your-face confrontational race-based politics. Seeing him in that box on TV, I realized that the Clintons had done what they needed to do to stop Obama's historic surge in its tracks.

From the start of his career, Obama wanted, and needed, to remove the race card from the political deck. While it isn't clear from whose sleeve the card was pulled, it is likely it wasn't from the person with the most to lose.

posted by Eric at 01:08 PM | Comments (1)



Getting Tuned Up

Eric says he never reads Science Fiction. Tom Ligon, one of the Premier Science Fiction Authors of our time is a friend of mine. He gave me permission to publish a piece he did a while back. I published it at Power and Control last July. It is one I like a lot as it deals with the difficulties of introducing new ideas in technology. It starts off with a discussion of a new kind of aircraft engine as a lead in to his piece. So without further ado:

==

I was reading this article about the revival of the Wankel engine for use in aircraft. However, this is not just any Wankel. It can burn kerosene.

There's nothing wrong in sticking with what works but those motors require 70 to 80 moving parts and still use 100-octane low-leaded (100 LL) fuel that has long been displaced by kerosene for commercial aircraft. There are some new advances in combustion chamber design and electronic management systems that are making it possible to develop a reliable rotary engine for small planes running on standard kerosene jet fuel.

The effort is called EUREKA project E! 2743 KERO and it came into being because Mistral Engines saw the demand for a safer, more reliable motor that could be easily adapted to any model of light aircraft and able to run on industry standard fuel.

Safety and reliability most important in aviation. Advantages of the design include excellent reliability as there are few moving parts, a high power-to-weight ratio, compactness and smooth running compared with conventional piston-engine designs. Moreover, the engine will run on widely available standard commercial aviation fuels.

The Wankel engine has a rotor instead of reciprocating pistons, doing away with any need for crankshafts, pistons and springs and reducing the number of moving parts to only two or three. Modern electronics has now made it possible to overcome timing and injection control complications, resulting also in similar fuel consumption figures to piston engines.

Reading that reminded me that my friend Tom Ligon gave me permission to post something he had sent me in an e-mail. He said Dr. Bussard had seen it and liked it.

==

Inertial Electrodynamic Fusion and the Internal Combustion Engine
By Tom Ligon
17 June, 2007

Copyright 2007. This article may be copied and used freely to promote Inertial Electrodynamic Fusion. Please attribute the source.

Introduction

The internet is all abuzz about the fusion experiments of the Energy Matter Conversion Corporation, conducted in the fall of 2005, which Dr. Robert W. Bussard claims demonstrate "proof of concept" of a new way to produce fusion, which he believes will lead to workable powerplants.

A few critics of this approach have used various arguments to either claim that the method won't work, or that the experiment itself did not produce meaningful results. This article will attempt to show, by analogies to an earlier and well-known technology, just where I believe Inertial Electrodynamic Fusion (IEF) now stands, and what some of the misunderstandings are that limit the critics appreciation of IEF.

At least some of the technical criticisms of the approach are the result of misunderstandings of how the device works. The IEF approach, while it is a "hot fusion" method, is a vast departure from mainstream "thermonuclear" (Maxwellian heat-based) methods. The closest relative to IEF is Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusion, typified by the Hirsch-Farnsworth fusor. The physics of IEC and IEF devices are so different from the heat-based approaches that the critics often simply make the mistake of applying the same assumptions and analysis to IEF machines that they would to a tokamak.

Four test runs of a device called WB6 were run in November of 2005. Each of these produced short but intense bursts of deuterium-deuterium fusion. Each test produced only a few neutron counts. The final test attempt burned out one of the magnets that control electron confinement, ending the experiments. So one of the main questions is, are test results, each well less than a millisecond in duration, and producing only a few counts, truly significant?

The WB6 experiments were conducted as the last of the available funds were running out. EMC2 was forced to close its doors. At present, a non-profit organization, EMC2 Fusion Development Corporation, is attempting to gather funds to re-start the research.

Very early in my involvement with IEF research, I recognized a parallel with internal combustion engines, and could imagine that the earliest developers of that technology might have faced similar criticism from critics who misunderstood their engines. This little parable uses the internal combustion engine to illustrate where IEF is, and what needs to happen to overcome the objections.

The following account is pure fiction, but one can imagine that it could have happened that way.

Dr. Heinrich Klauss greeted his visitors as they entered the dingy industrial building that served as his offices and laboratory.

"Greetings, mein herrs", he said. "Please, this way to the demonstration room. Refreshments await you. Please, make yourselves comfortable."

John Bullock sniffed haughtily. "I certainly hope this is not as great a waste of time as I expect. At the very least, I hope you serve decent tea."

Continue reading "Getting Tuned Up"

posted by Simon at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)



Fighting illiteracy starts at home with the TV set!

The front page of today's Inquirer highlights the very unpleasant fact that public schools are cranking out illiterates:

Tens of thousands of Pennsylvania high school seniors who failed state math and reading tests got "empty diplomas" last year because they had not learned basic skills, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak says.

Statewide, 45 percent of the 127,000 seniors failed the tests, leading Zahorchak to lament that diplomas were awarded to many who "show up and shut up."

Naturally, many are complaining, with some blaming "No Child Left Behind," others for attaching so much importance to tests, and others saying it's "unfair" not to allow a student to graduate after having gone to all the trouble to attend school.
Asked about the proposed requirements, Philadelphia and suburban students didn't like them.

Jamillah Hannibal, a college-bound senior and student activist at the the Kensington International School of Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship, said she had not passed her math PSSA. "I'm not educationally challenged. I can do the work, but tests are not my strong point," she said. "I've worked my four years so hard to graduate, and [under the proposed regulations] I couldn't see my diploma because of one test? That's wrong."

Yes, but would she be able place the apostrophe after the word "that"? (More later; a test is coming, so be prepared!)
At the West Chester Area School District's Henderson High School, senior Sanjay Kataria said no "empty diplomas" were granted there. "Teachers will make sure that if students are to graduate, they deserve it," even if a student can't pass a state test, he said.

About 30 percent of the district's graduates failed 2006 math or reading tests, state data show.

Classmate Deanna Talbot agreed: "Graduation should be a completion of everything you've learned. . . . Not being able to graduate because of some number [on a state test] is probably one of the most horrible things that could happen to a student."

Many employers have a different view. Tracee Hunt, vice president for human resources at the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and a member of the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board, a government-chartered organization that studies employment issues, said she "wholeheartedly" favored the tests. "You end up hiring individuals who have a high school diploma, and when you start to go through the training process, you find out that they will not be able to handle the job, based on their competency levels," she said.

Many students entering college also lack skills. Only 21 percent of students applying to four-year institutions nationally are college-ready in all areas, Edna Baehre, the president of Harrisburg Area Community College, told the state Board of Education last week.

At this rate, pretty soon it will be considered "discrimination" for employers to refuse to hire functional illiterates.

If I were an employer and thought I could get away with it, I might have applicants take the PSSA test that has the educrats in such a tizzy. Sample tests are available here, and I thought I'd share one question from the 11th grade reading proficiency section. First the passage:

1 Although the octopus is often viewed as a vicious monster, it is actually a gentle and intelligent creature with many interesting characteristics. 2 While some octopuses in the extreme depths of the ocean reach gigantic proportions, most are three feet or less in diameter. 3 Many could fit on the tip of a persons thumb. 4 Large or small, an octopus has the ability to camouflage itself by changing colors to match its surroundings. 5 This talent is not confined to a single color either; an octopus can match color patterns and even mimic surface textures. 6 Imagine a polka-dotted octopus!

7 Another fascinating physical ability of these animals is that they can flatten themselves and "ooze" like jelly through small cracks; octopuses as large as three feet across can slip through a crack 1/8-inch thick!

8 Furthermore, these animals are easily trained. 9 In one trial, a scientist continuously prodded an octopus in an attempt to elicit color changes. 10 The octopus refused to cooperate and was finally lifted from the tank. 11 As soon as the irritated invertebrate was in position to take a direct shot, it sprayed ink all over the scientist who had been annoying it. 12 There was no doubt about the octopus's intentions as it only sprayed one person. 13 Even though other team members were within close range.

OK, now come the questions and answers, so you can test yourselves at home:
1. Which word should contain an apostrophe?

A. persons in sentence 3
B. its in sentence 4
C. textures in sentence 5
D. animals in sentence 8

2. Which sentence would best conclude this passage?

A. In the Pacific Northwest, there is an octopus that spends most of its life in trees.
B. There are similarities between a squid and an octopus, but they are very different creatures.
C. Octopuses are intelligent and fascinating creatures and undeserving of their false reputation.
D. The man who was sprayed is Dr. Thomas Cerny, an expert on octopuses and squids.

3. In sentence 8, the word Furthermore could be replaced with which transitional expression without changing the meaning of the sentence?

A. In other words
B. In addition
C. On the other hand
D. As a result

4. Which is an incomplete sentence?

A. sentence 5
B. sentence 6
C. sentence 11
D. sentence 13

While the answers are all as obvious to me as they would be to readers of this blog, I think they would also be obvious to many sixth graders. I cannot imagine the suffering of having to endure being in school day in and day out with people who are destined (for whatever reason) to never be able to write a simple English sentence, but whose teachers are required to devote years trying to persuade them to learn the purpose and mechanics of an apostrophe. I'd go crazy, and act out, drop out, whatever. One Size Fits All solutions fail to help the chronically illiterate while punishing the already literate.

There's plenty of irony in my argument, though. Because, while I may be literally literate, in many ways I am a cultural illiterate.

I don't mean to sound like a snob here. Far from it. I have pointed out a number of times that I never read science fiction. Many of my friends not only read it, but over the years when I've gotten together with them, I've noticed that they can engage in long conversations comparing what they've read, urging each other to read this novel and that novel, or this writer and that writer, and expressing occasional surprise on learning what someone or other has actually dared to not read. (I can always beat them to the punch on that one. They might as well be talking about obscure Sanscrit texts.) Whether they are better for being scifi literate -- or I am worse for being scifi illiterate -- is not the point; it's simply a statement of fact. (I'm well-read in history, trained in the law, and know all about pit bull pedigrees, though.)

If you think science fiction illiteracy is bad, there's another area where my cultural literacy is shockingly bad. (And it is sometimes embarrassing.)

Television. My problem is that I hate it. I find most of the people on it annoying, I don't like having my mind led by others, and I just don't have the patience that is required to get past the loud and annoying commercials. Occasionally I'll turn something on, but the first commercial makes me turn it off. My television set is there so when duty calls I can always tune in and watch important breaking news or political debates (much as I hate the latter), but for entertainment purposes, it's either Turner Classic Movies or DVD rentals. The one exception was that I used to watch the Sopranos (I'm a Godfather fan, and when a friend found out I'd never seen the show, he came over and gave me his collection of tapes, and kept bugging me to watch them until one day I was snowed in with nothing to do, and I spent two days falling in love with the series. Best of all, it had no commercials!) That aside, there's no TV in my life.

Now for the embarrassing part. Whether I like it or not, because this culture is largely a TV-based one, I am regularly reminded that I don't have any idea what people are talking about. There was a show called "Friends" that was on for quite some time. I used to sit there cluelessly when people talked about it, for I never watched a single episode. That seems to have died down, and I think "Friends" is off the air, because I think I read about it in the newspaper. (I just checked, and yes, I did. So that part of my cultural illiteracy is fading away as fewer and fewer people discuss the show....)

But there are plenty of times I am in situations where people take it for granted that I, a reasonably informed and apparently intelligent person will understand what they're talking about, and I just plain don't.

I have never watched American Idol. My knowledge of the show consists of tidbits I've heard about and read about. It's apparently a listener-interactive amateur contest consisting of awful singing. I'd never turn something like that on, even if there weren't commercials (which I'm sure there are), because I can't stand hearing stuff like that.

So yesterday I read this:

...no one pays me to blog "American Idol."
So says Ann Althouse (a blogger I greatly respect) about her decision to stop blogging about the show.

While I certainly understand the feeling of obligation (or "blogligation"), it warms my heart that there is such diversity, because I don't think I could blog about American Idol. Having never watched the show, how could I? This is part and parcel of my cultural illiteracy, and it is a fact of life. The only way I can change it is to turn on the TV.

As if I needed another reminder, Glenn Reynolds recently linked a very interesting post about the pitfalls of excessive irony.

The ironic man, whom Mr. Purdy personifies as the sitcom character Jerry Seinfeld . . . is an outright menace. With his ''style of speech and behavior that avoids all appearance of naivete -- of naive devotion, belief, or hope,'' the individual armored in the irony . . . has withdrawn from the political arena just when it needs him most.
Geez, a menace? Shouldn't I be Googling this Seinfeld guy right now? As to "avoiding all appearance of naivete," in this instance I am not only admitting my naivite, I am confessing it, admitting it, even advertising it. Yet the sense of creeping irony is overwhelming. (Shouldn't I be more ashamed?) Later in the post, there's even a discussion of "unwanted overtones" -- a classic damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't that I often go to great lengths to analyze or eradicate without success!

See what I mean?

Regular readers know that irony is not normally an alien topic to me, but here it was. Now I have to worry that an important irony may have been largely lost on me because the discussion assumed fluency with Seinfeld -- a show that (probably ironically) I do not watch.

Yes, here I go again.

I have never watched an episode of Seinfeld.

I've had an occasional glimpse while flipping through the channels (or seeing a YouTube segment), and along with hundreds of thousands of people, I know he uttered the famous "Not that there's anything wrong with that" about homosexuality (which doesn't matter or something), but beyond that, I'm incapable of understanding the nuances of serious Seinfeld discussions. (Hell, another time Glenn compared Scalia to Seinfeld -- and I'm sure there's not anything wrong with that.) I could always turn to Wikipedia, and I'm sure there are bulletin boards discussing the show, but would that really make me literate? I mean, in the TV context, isn't watching required? Wouldn't I "only be cheating myself" if I relied on the Wikipedia entry to understand the nuances of Seinfeldian irony without even watching an episode? Isn't that a little like reading CliffsNotes (or even Classics Illustrated) instead of the literature itself?

Much irony is probably lost on a self-cheating cultural illiterate like me.

And that's tragic, isn't it?

(It better be, or there goes my moral equivalency argument!)

posted by Eric at 09:32 AM | Comments (13)



Contact Your Congress Critter

It is election season again. The time when the Congress Critters are most responsive to citizens. As most of you know by now Dr. Bussard's latest Fusion Power experiment, WB-7 First Plasma, is so far showing encouraging results.

It is time to get Congress and the President thinking about this so that if final results are positive (I expect they will be) Congress will be ready to belly up to the bar and make a power producing reactor happen as fast as possible. Now you can contact them by e-mail, fax, letter, or phone. Phone is best for the initial contact because it insures a human response. Tell them if they get with the program we can have a working fusion reactor in as little as three years. To do that they are going to have to Manhattanize the project. A full up scientific and industrial effort.

Here is contact info for the government:

House of Representatives

The Senate

The President

Light up their tails.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:36 AM | Comments (0)




Ron Paul Is A Communist

Ron is a Communist when it comes to American foreign policy.

Withdraw America from everywhere was their marching song.

I should know. I was a Communist in my youth.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 10:55 PM | Comments (4)



Can a small "l" get smaller?

I hadn't realized the true extent of Ron Paul's nuttiness until I read this:

The newsletters' obsession with blacks and gays was of a piece with a conscious political strategy adopted at that same time by Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard. After breaking with the Libertarian Party following the 1988 presidential election, Rockwell and Rothbard formed a schismatic "paleolibertarian" movement, which rejected what they saw as the social libertinism and leftist tendencies of mainstream libertarians. In 1990, they launched the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, where they crafted a plan they hoped would midwife a broad new "paleo" coalition.

Rockwell explained the thrust of the idea in a 1990 Liberty essay entitled "The Case for Paleo-Libertarianism." To Rockwell, the LP was a "party of the stoned," a halfway house for libertines that had to be "de-loused." To grow, the movement had to embrace older conservative values. "State-enforced segregation," Rockwell wrote, "was wrong, but so is State-enforced integration. State-enforced segregation was not wrong because separateness is wrong, however. Wishing to associate with members of one's own race, nationality, religion, class, sex, or even political party is a natural and normal human impulse."

The most detailed description of the strategy came in an essay Rothbard wrote for the January 1992 Rothbard-Rockwell Report, titled "Right-Wing Populism: A Strategy for the Paleo Movement." Lamenting that mainstream intellectuals and opinion leaders were too invested in the status quo to be brought around to a libertarian view, Rothbard pointed to David Duke and Joseph McCarthy as models for an "Outreach to the Rednecks," which would fashion a broad libertarian/paleoconservative coalition by targeting the disaffected working and middle classes. (Duke, a former Klansman, was discussed in strikingly similar terms in a 1990 Ron Paul Political Report.) These groups could be mobilized to oppose an expansive state, Rothbard posited, by exposing an "unholy alliance of 'corporate liberal' Big Business and media elites, who, through big government, have privileged and caused to rise up a parasitic Underclass, who, among them all, are looting and oppressing the bulk of the middle and working classes in America."

Read it all. Author Julian Sanchez believes it is important to discuss this stuff because of its tendency to discredit libertarianism:
...[Paul's] new supporters, many of whom are first encountering libertarian ideas through the Ron Paul Revolution, deserve a far more frank explanation than the campaign has as yet provided of how their candidate's name ended up atop so many ugly words. Ron Paul may not be a racist, but he became complicit in a strategy of pandering to racists--and taking "moral responsibility" for that now means more than just uttering the phrase. It means openly grappling with his own past--acknowledging who said what, and why. Otherwise he risks damaging not only his own reputation, but that of the philosophy to which he has committed his life.
Linking the above, Roger L. Simon observes that it is scary that Paul continues to do so well:
I find it quite scary that Ron Paul continues to do relatively well at the polls, despite the numerous revelations about him and his cohorts. Paul is quite clearly a liar, but this continues to be ignored for the most part by the mainstream media - who give Paul a pass and have not really confronted him at any of the debates - and clearly by many of his adherents, who either choose to ignore or not just not hear the allegations against him. This even though the author of the racist and sexist newsletters that went out under the Congressman's name is evidently one of Paul's oldest and closest supporters.
Paul has of course denied writing what went out under his name. But even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, what kind of judgment does he have letting a group of crackpots say anything they want and put his name on it? Here's Roger in an earlier post:
[If] Paul paid no attention to these people actually writing and publishing under his name for years, he is a remarkably slapdash leader. The idea someone like that would be President of the United States is ludicrous.

If I were a libertarian, I would stay as far from him as possible. In fact, I'd do my best to excommunicate him from the movement.

I can't excommunicate him from a movement because the "l" in my libertarianism is pretty small. To the extent Paul represents libertarianism, he makes my small "l" smaller than ever.

I didn't even address the virulently anti-gay remarks attributed to Paul, but plenty of others have.

Of course, I never supported him. I had this kooky unprovable theory of my own that he was just there to discredit classical liberalism and in general make libertarians look bad. (They wouldn't do something like that, would they?)

I'll just keep on thinking what I think, and if I have to, I guess I can start calling myself a teensy "l" libertarian.

posted by Eric at 05:46 PM | Comments (10)



Fred Phelps explained, finally!

Apparently because gays caused a heterosexual rape murder or something, Fred Phelps and his crowd are now protesting the Marine Corps. From the group's news release:

God Hates the U.S. Marines.

The wonderful, spit-and-polish Marine is over eight months pregnant and she says another wonderful Marine raped her, and now on the eve of his court martial where she is the star witness against him, she turns up dead, and he is a fugitive from justice.

Wonderful. The few. The proud. Based on our extensive experience with Marines for over a decade, we can testify that these are typical Marines. WBC will picket the filthy, lawless Marine Corps - at noon next Sat., Jan. 19 - at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; in religious protest and warning: "Be not "'deceived; God is not mocked." Gal. 6:7. God Hates Fags! & FagEnablers.

Ergo, God hates the Marines.

The Marine Corps is saturated with vile fags and dykes...

Well, that must explain why so many of the Ivy League schools won't allow them to recruit.

I'm a bit slow on the uptake, because for years I thought Phelps and his followers were simple agents provocateur. It turns out I had it all wrong.

Fortunately for everyone, Frank J. has figured out what drives this bizarre group.

They follow an obscure Gospel of Barnabas in which God stated the following:

...If I could convince man away from one sin, it would not be murder or lying; it would be dude on dude action. All the other sins hardly matter in comparison. Actually, forget the rest of my message about love and virtue; only focus on stopping dudes from doing other dudes. It just bothers Me, and thus it should be all you ever talk about. Go into the streets, my child, and proclaim as loudly as you can how much you don't like dudes giving it to dudes. Even interrupt events that have absolutely nothing to do with dudes doing dudes to spread My message of totally not liking that. They may hate you for it, but they will never mistake you for a dude-doer....
Well that makes a lot of sense.

It also explains Ace's theory. ("Pansexual snowballing" is the kindest thing he says about them.)

posted by Eric at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)



Why I Am Against Machine Voting

Here is a bit I posted on Nov 6th 2004 at Power and Control titled Why I Am Against Machine Voting. The AP link no longer works. The sentiment is worth repeating:

In Ohio AP reports that Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes.

This is why I think paper ballots are essential. They leave a paper trail not dependent solely on bits in memory. Actual people can count the ballots if there is a dispute.

It is time to get rid of voting machines, punch card ballots, electronic voting and any other method that does not leave a reliable verifiable paper trail.

Paper ballots, computerized counting.

Works for me.

==

Here is a bit I did in August 2006 called Electronic Voting which has a link to a discussion at Winds of Change..

posted by Simon at 04:51 PM | Comments (1)



All The Rest Is Obfuscation

Gun control is to prevent self defense.

Drug control is to prevent self medication.

All the rest is obfuscation.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 04:26 PM | Comments (45)



A threat to a long Democratic tradition?

How did Hillary Clinton's simple observation (that "another part of the civil rights revolution was Lyndon B. Johnson's masterful stewardship of the relevant legislation through Congress") manage to hit a political Third Rail?

John McWhorter has an interesting take on Hillary Clinton's supposed "attack" on Martin Luther King -- it's hypersensitivity bordering on paranoia:

To be able to hold in one's mind the notion that Mrs. Clinton would attack King suggests a bone-deep hypersensitivity that overrides sequential reasoning. "We have to be very, very careful how we speak about that era," Rep. Clyburn explains.

But why so very, very careful? What effect does it have on anyone's life if that era is occasionally discussed in less than perfectly genuflective phraseology? Is the Klan waiting behind a hill? Will a black man working at an insurance company in Cleveland have a breakdown because someone didn't give King precisely enough credit in a quick statement?

There is a willful frailty, a lack of self-confidence, in this kind of thinking. It suggests someone almost searching for things to claim injury about, donning the mantle of the noble victim in order to assuage a bruised ego.

There's a simple explanation. Political hardball.
Of course, there is a less depressing interpretation of the current uproar: Mrs. Clinton's critics are playing political hardball. You know, let's get blacks to vote for Mr. Obama by playing the race card to pretend Mrs. Clinton is dumping on King. John Edwards, for example, is obviously not mouthing agreement with these people out of insecurity about his blackness.
Interestingly, McWhorter does not think Obama has played the race card. Rather, it has been very condescendingly played by people claiming to act on his behalf:
In the name of speaking for Mr. Obama, the people throwing these tantrums are presenting a parochial, cynical face, rather than the thoughtful, cosmopolitan one that the candidate himself is trying to show.

Overall, Mr. Obama has not run a "black" campaign. The past few days suggest that if he did, many would consider it a favor to him to churn up 10 more months of dustups over phrases carefully lifted out of context and held up as evidence of racism. Hopefully Mr. Obama is too smart, and too much a man of the world, to succumb to this twisted rendition of black identity.

Unfortunately, this stuff takes on a life of its own in a world dominated by identity politics. The Democrats in general have been using race as a sword for so long that it never occurred to them that they might fall on it.

The problem for Obama is that his image as a "refreshing new candidate who happens to be black" violates a cardinal rule of identity politics and sets him up for the charge of being "not black enough." If he consistently refuses to take the bait, he'll be defying a long Democratic Party tradition. But the problem for him is that while he may not need this tradition, the party depends on it.

The question is this: will Obama be able to move his party past this paranoid, condescending race-obsessed nonsense?

Not if the people who consider it their bread and butter can stop him.

posted by Eric at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)



Plan 9

In the discussion here Eric has a clip from one of the worst movies ever made. Well I took that as a challenge and present you with what is most likely the worst movie ever made. Any movie that describes a flying saucer as being shaped like a cigar has got to have some serious problems. So for your cultural edification may I present the best (worst) parts from Plan 9 From Outer Space. Roll the film.




posted by Simon at 09:57 AM | Comments (3)



Gun Control - Stuck On Stupid

Jeff Soyer is discussing the Democrat's position on gun control. And of course the Dems want to reduce gun deaths by gun control but it is politically impossible.

If they wanted to reduce gun deaths why not eliminate Drug Prohibition? The elephant in the closet.

It worked for alcohol prohibition.

I note it is never mentioned by pro gun folks either.

Why is every one stuck on stupid? Must be a national disease.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 09:47 AM | Comments (17)



Meanwhile, in Republicanland....

Rick Moran argues that the GOP race is a mess, and it's certainly tough to disagree with that. It is entirely possible that there will be five primaries with five different winners, and a "small but not impossible chance" that they could enter their convention without a nominee.

A Thompson win in South Carolina would help Giuliani in Florida as it would weaken his two main rivals in the state McCain and Romney. Thus, the unthinkable prospect of 5 different GOP candidates winning one of 5 early races would come true and all 5 would move on to Super Tuesday on February 5, laying claim to some legitimacy as a potential nominee.

But it is an eternity to Super Tuesday and between now and then, you will witness the spectacle of Republicans playing with the tag "frontrunner" as it were a hot potato.

Well, it's been an eternity since the campaign started (whenever that was), so I guess I can wait another eternity or two.

Short of going into a coma, is there any way to just postpone all elections permanently? (Actually, there is, and Ted Rall and many on the left predicted it would happen. I'm beginning to think that my counter prediction will come true -- and that Bush will actually step down next January and his replacement will be sworn in.)

Rick's analysis alerted me to something I'd frankly rather not have heard about, and that is the Huckabee plan to amend the Constitution to make it conform to what he calls "God's standards":

...The idea that the Constitution should be amended to reflect the religious beliefs of any group is so far beyond the pale that it may very well drive most secular Republicans and even some evangelicals away from his candidacy. This is the price Huckabee is paying for pandering to evangelicals and setting himself up as a "Christian leader." Eventually, he was going to go too far in order to excite his base. Well, his base may be pleased but he very well could have lost most of the rest of the party then and there.
I'm thinking that eventually some Christians might come along and ask why some of Republicans are trying to claim the exclusive right not only to divine "God's standards," but to define Christian. The word "Christian" is increasingly being used as a synonym for fundamentalist Christians on the right, and few complain.

I don't know how I feel about Romney's victory yesterday, for the simple reason that I cannot get a fix on Romney. McCain makes me uneasy, and I continue to support Fred Thompson. Frankly what bothers me the most about last night is not so much that Fred didn't win, but that that Ron Paul outpolled him.

But I guess that's life in the activist-dominated primary system.

I worry that the primary system leads people to think along the lines of "If you don't like it, don't vote!" because participating in activities you don't like does not tend to make them go away.

As that Texas cook said, "There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it."

Maybe I should take more pleasure in complaining!

MORE: Ann Althouse looks at Romney's plasticity:

...he might be closer to what I thought than he appeared or at least pragmatic and accommodating on the social issues.
Interesting. I find myself warming to him a bit more reading that.

posted by Eric at 09:04 AM | Comments (1)



Nevada Yucky Haiku

I watched the Democratic debate last night and I wasn't at the computer, so there was no live blogging.

IMO, there was no clear winner. But by mutual consensus, it was agreed that race was not an issue. Whether sex is an issue I do not know. Hillary clearly wants to be a minority of some sort, and spends a great deal of time looking at Obama. She also seems to have spent a great deal of time trying to avoid giving him what others have called "the look." But I think she's trying too hard. Straining. She looks as if she wants to throw up, but is trying to appear normal. Very disconcerting to watch.

Issues aside, for me Hillary's insurmountable problem is an esthetic one. No matter what she does, she's still just... grating. It's also a constant source of aggravation to consider her baggage. A huge carcass like a rotting elephant in the room that no one notices.

"Travelgate, Filegate, Pardongate, Hsu.

Change and experience!

Boo hoo hoo!"

They did find something to disagree on which occupied the attention of Chris Matthews and the other commentators. Radioactive waste! Yucca Mountain.

Hillary was seen as scoring big points simply by stating, "I have been consistently against Yucca Mountain."

Here here!

I don't know whether I'm against the mountain or whether Obama is for it, but immediately thought of "The Beast of Yucca Flats," (radioactivity transforms man into monster) and here's a quick clip showing the great Tor Johnson doing what I wanted to do to my TV set.

Yeah, so it's one of the worst movies ever made.

Whatever.

UPDATE: Unbeknownst to me, the gun issue came up -- at 10:43 p.m. apparently. Via Glenn Reynolds, Jeff Soyer transcribed it and summarizes their position thusly:

...what Hillary and Barack are saying is that while they support licensing and registering all guns, they don't think they can get it done but if they could, they would.
Jeff notes that all support the "assault weapons" ban, and Obama is on record as supporting "a complete ban on semi-automatics by civilians." Jeff isn't voting for any of them, and of course neither am I, but I'm sorry to have missed the excitement.

I don't know whether I was asleep or in the bathroom, but reading what they said about guns, that really brings out the "beast" in me!

Tor Johnson got it right.

No really. Watch it again!

MORE: Regarding Haiku, this reminder from Sean Kinsell seems in order:

...please don't say things in haiku that are better said in normal prose. Please. If you've had some kind of epiphanic experience in nature and feel stirred to write a haiku, fine.
In my defense, I didn't do any of the above.

posted by Eric at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)



Hillary And The Diebold Effect

American Digest has a post up about Hillary's Diebold effect.

It seems that in areas where the Diebold machines are used Hillary's vote totals are up about 5% over other areas even when confounding factors like race, gender, and economics are taken into account. The math whizzes on the problem calculate the odds that it is a chance happening at 1 in 1,000.

The guy who did the analysis has a post explaining his work. Here is a pdf of the study done on the New Hampshire results. The pdf seems to show that Romney and Clinton had the biggest statistical variance. With Romney up 7% and Clinton up 5%.

In the good old days (Chicago, November 1960) you used to have to have operatives on the ground "lose" and then "find" the ballot boxes. Labor and organization intensive. Now a days all you need is a couple of computer geeks and a bank of modems.

Of course it could be just random chance. Such things do happen. Occasionally.

Election Defense Alliance has hand count vs machine count results. They appear to mirror the statistical analysis. Hmmmmmmmm. A full recount will take place starting 16 Jan. Dennis Kucinich is paying for the Dem recount. I wonder who will pay for the R recount?

Update: I have been doing some checking and it appears that Romney, who got a 7% Diebold boost in NH, would be the easiest Republican for Hillary to beat. Make of that what you will.

H/T linearthinker

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:26 AM | Comments (7)




Armed And Dangerous


H/T Karridine

posted by Simon at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)



the great subprime majority

Pat Buchanan thinks things are bad. Basically, the economy is ruined, and we are hopelessly in debt, on the verge of economic collapse, and there is no hope:

With the dollar sinking, oil surging to $100 a barrel, the Dow having its worst January in memory, foreclosures mounting, credit card debt going rotten, and consumers and businesses unable or unwilling to borrow, we appear headed into recession.
Sounds like Hillary Clinton, except instead of offering socialism while denying it's socialism, Buchanan thinks the enemy is globalism, and how dare anyone call him an isolationist!
We borrow from the nations we defend so that we may continue to defend them. To question this is an unpardonable heresy called "isolationism."

And the chickens of globalism are coming home to roost.

Not if we can work together and throw enough rocks through corporate windows in Seattle!

It's all the fault of a self-indulgent generation which is hopelessly in debt:

This self-indulgent generation has borrowed itself into unpayable debt. Now the folks from whom we borrowed to buy all that oil and all those cars, electronics and clothes are coming to buy the country we inherited. We are prodigal sons, and the day of reckoning approaches.
We?

An entire generation has borrowed itself into unpayable debt? Well, the piece is called "Subprime Nation," so apparently that's his argument.

Let's start with the definition of subprime mortage:

A subprime mortgage, is a type of loan that is offered at a rate above prime to individuals who do not qualify for prime rate loans due to less-than-perfect credit history. Lenders charge a higher interest rate to compensate for potential losses from customers who may run into trouble or default.

Subprime mortgages are designed for borrowers with credit scores under 620. Most consumer have a credit score in the 600s and 700s. Someone who is constantly late paying bills, especially by 30 or 60 or 90 days or more, will have a lower credit score. If the FICO score falls below 620, that consumer is in subprime mortgage territory.

OK, so for starters, the loans which are especially plagued by the high foreclosure rates were not made to an entire generation, but to people with bad credit.

There is no denying that foreclosures are at record highs. But I wonder how many of the people who read Buchanan's condemnation of an entire generation know the actual percentages of foreclosures. This has become such a political football that it might surprise people to know that most homes are not in fact facing foreclosure. Far from it. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the new foreclosure rate is slightly over a half of one percent:

New foreclosures for prime and subprime borrowers combined hit record highs. They rose to 0.58 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, compared with 0.54 percent in the previous quarter and 0.41 percent a year earlier.

The high translates into about 254,591 mortgages, or one in 172 loans, the association said.

The problems weren't uniformly spread around the country. Doug Duncan, chief economist for the mortgage bankers group, said the rate of new foreclosures would have dropped had it not been for big jumps in California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona. He said high rates in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana also drove up the overall percentage of loans in foreclosure.

An accompanying chart illustrates:

foreclosurerates.jpg

USA Today looked at the total percentage of loans in foreclosure:

The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process rose to 1.69% of loans outstanding, up 0.29 percentage point from the prior quarter and up 0.64 from a year earlier.

About 994,000 U.S. households are in the process of foreclosure, said Doug Duncan, the MBA's chief economist.

"Not all of them will lose their house, but that's how many are currently at serious risk of losing their house," he said.

The rate of loans entering the foreclosure process rose to a seasonally adjusted 0.78% in the third quarter, up 0.13 percentage point from the prior quarter and up 0.32 point from a year earlier.

Don't read me wrong. I am not denying the seriousness of the problem. An increase in the foreclosure rate is bad, and I think it was highly irresponsible to make the subprime loans that have turned out to be the worst offenders.

Clearly, there were a lot of irresponsible loans made to irresponsible people. I'd even go along with Buchanan that such people are self-indulgent as he claims.

But since when does a self-indulgent 2% become a generation?

Don't the other 98% count?

Sigh.

(I guess I should be glad Buchanan didn't apply his communitarian math to human sexuality, or he'd say we've all become subprime homos.)

posted by Eric at 07:53 PM | Comments (4)



Keeping honesty and principles in the closet?

In today's New York Times, Dean Barnett gives an honest assessment of the Mitt Romney has has known, worked for, and admired for years. After laying this out, he turns to why so many people (including me) don't like Romney:

The Mitt Romney I got to know was warm and likable. He had an electric intelligence. He was unfailingly decent. He was totally committed to his family. He treated everyone with respect and kindness.

If you're like most politically attuned Americans, you probably don't agree with my description of Mr. Romney. You may consider him to be the personification of political ambition. You possibly believe he will say anything to get elected president. You might even consider him one of the least honorable politicians in the country.

Check. Check. Check. I just don't trust the guy. Although I have to say that I am somewhat sympathetic to him because of the relentless nature of the anti-Mormon bigotry I discussed in this post.

Barnett blames Romney's campaign for the current negative perception:

Early in the presidential race, Mr. Romney perceived a tactical advantage in becoming the campaign's social conservative. Religious conservatives and other Republicans with socially conservative views found the two early front-runners, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, unacceptable. As someone who shares the beliefs of social conservatives, Mr. Romney saw an opportunity that he could exploit. He made social issues the heart of his candidacy.

This tack rang false with the public because it was false. The problem wasn't so much the perception of widespread "flip-flopping" on issues like abortion. The public allows its politicians a measure of flexibility. But the public correctly sensed something disingenuous about Mr. Romney's campaign.

Voters perceived the cynicism of a campaign that tried to exploit wedge issues rather than focus on the issues that in truth most interested the candidate. They sensed phoniness. As a consequence, many have grown to feel that Mitt Romney can't be trusted. This lack of trust is now the dominant and perhaps insurmountable obstacle that the Romney campaign faces.

Well, I have to admit, I'm disinclined to vote for social conservatives -- whether they're honest about their social conservativism or dishonest about their social conservatism, because in a pinch the result is likely to be the same.

What bothers me the most about Romney was the gleeful way he said he'd be "delighted" to sign a congressional bill outlawing abortion, despite the fact that Congress lacks the constitutional power to enact such legislation. The right way to do this would be a constitutional amendment. Fred Thompson knows this, but Romney either doesn't know (unlikely, as he's a bright enough guy) or else he doesn't care. I could be wrong, but Romney just struck me as completely unprincipled at the time. And in the worst possible way; I can forgive a lot of unprincipled behavior, but a president being unprincipled about the Constitution? That goes to the heart of his entire purpose. (Hmm... Maybe he doesn't really mean it.)

Barnett has a lot more, and it was obviously painful for him as a former Romney guy to write, because it's so damning to Romney:

The real value of a Romney presidency would lie in the talents, honed in the business world, that he would bring to the White House.

Because Mr. Romney chose to make this argument a secondary matter compared to his stands on social issues, he mounted a campaign that was, at its most basic level, insincere. Now, parts of the voting public have come to view everything Mr. Romney says through jaundiced eyes. This past weekend, Romney-distrusting portions of the conservative blogosphere kicked up a fuss over seven words Mr. Romney said to volunteers who were dialing for dollars at a fund-raising event last week: "Make all the promises you have to."

Without knowing the context, it's impossible to know precisely what Mr. Romney meant. But given the public setting, it was almost certainly something benign. Most likely, he was reminding his volunteers to reassure potential contributors that in spite of his recent setbacks in Iowa and New Hampshire, he is committed to staying in the presidential race. But for voters who have learned to distrust Mr. Romney, the comment probably sounded a lot like, "Tell whatever lies are necessary."

Precisely the problem, and it's precisely the public perception. Barnett, though, says that hopes the public gets to see the real Mitt Romney."
Mr. Romney's 1994 campaign, errors included, reflected the candidate's character. His 2008 campaign has not.

I hope Mr. Romney does well enough in Michigan today that he gets the opportunity to introduce the public to the real Mitt Romney. He is a wonderful and gifted guy. It would be nice if he and his campaign allowed the voters in on that secret.

Yes, it would be. If Barnett is right (and I hope he is), then Romney is keeping his inner decency in the closet.

Maybe someone should ask Romney whether Barnett's allegations are true.

People need to know.

Until Romney comes clean about his inner decency, I still think the best thing to do is to donate to Fred Thompson's campaign. (As I explained here, you don't even have to be a Thompson supporter.)

posted by Eric at 05:03 PM | Comments (0)



Dousing a fire with the gasoline that started it?

Now that MRSA (methicillin resistant staphococcus aureus) is reported to be spreading among gay men (the Inquirer had this, and Glenn Reynolds linked the Times version) I'm sure that one demagogue or another will claim it's time to round up the homos, and quarantine them.

Why? Because they are more likely to have it, that's why. From the Times:

A separate part of the study found that gay men in San Francisco were about 13 times more likely to be infected than other people in the city.

The San Francisco researchers suggested that scrubbing with soap and water might be the most effective way to stop skin-to-skin transmission, particularly after sexual activities.

MRSA, for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was once spread chiefly in hospitals. But in recent years, a number of healthy people have acquired it outside hospitals.

Nearly 19,000 people died in the United States from MRSA infections in 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.

Demagogic remarks about quarantining people with HIV got presidential aspirant Mike Huckabee in trouble in 1992, and while he has revised his thinking, they still haunt him. Or do they? Might they account for at least some of his support? Is there really any way to know?

Unlike AIDS, which is blood-borne, the problem with trying to contain a disease like MRSA in such a manner is that it's already well-established in the general population. The culprit is the overuse of antibiotics, plus the natural evolution of an organism that will simply do what it can to survive.

From the Wiki entry:

A 2007 report in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimated that the number of MRSA infections treated in hospitals doubled nationwide, from approximately 127,000 in 1999 to 278,000 in 2005, while at the same time deaths increased from 11,000 to more than 17,000.[3] Another study led by the CDC and published in the October 17, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that MRSA would have been responsible for 94,360 serious infections and associated with 18,650 hospital stay-related deaths in the United States in 2005.[4][5] These figures suggest that MRSA infections are responsible for more deaths in the U.S. each year than AIDS.
It's evolution, and it will not stop.

Ron Bailey speculated about using quarantines back in 2003:

Infectious diseases like SARS and MRSA raise the question of how to balance public health and individual liberty. Prior to the advent of modern medicine, coercion was often used to stop the spread of disease. During the Black Death, city officials would often wall up houses in which an infected person was found, trapping healthy family members with them. In the wake of the Black Death, Venice invented quarantine, designed to protect the city from plagues by requiring ships to anchor offshore for 40 days before their crews were allowed to land. It may well have been in the individual interest of each sailor to get off his ship as soon as possible, especially if some shipmates were infected, but it was in the community's interest to protect itself against infectious disease.

Today the United States still runs a quarantine service and has the power to detain persons suspected of carrying dangerous communicable diseases. Throughout history people resisted quarantine, but hopefully today people are more likely to go along with it because they realize that they will have access to the benefits of modern medicine.

Quarantine may become more relevant if a serious bioterror attack occurs or if a highly infectious disease for which there is no good treatment emerges naturally. Protecting the majority from death and disease can and should override a person's right to freedom of movement.

Yes, but whose freedom of movement?

Let's play the Machiavellian game and assume that a fascist superstate has the power to simply round up "at risk" populations in order to protect those who are not deemed at risk. Yes, I know that sounds like circular reasoning, but let's try. Who is at risk? Obviously, people with compromised immune systems are going to be the first to get sick. That includes those with HIV, the elderly and infirm, those who have been taking a lot of antibiotics. These resistant organisms evolved in hospitals, where there are a lot of sick people on antibiotics, so I suppose that hospitals could also be locked down, and no one allowed to leave unless certified "MRSA-free." (As if such a designation would prevent them from just getting sick again from the bacteria still lying around.)

But there's another culprit: the healthy carrier. Because this is a family of bacteria which spreads invisibly, there are doubtless innumerable silent cases which are not "cases" at all, but simply people whose strong immune systems keep the staph at bay. Their bodies may have it, but it never manages to get a toehold, and they never take antibiotics because they are not sick. Before antibiotics, that was why some people got sick while others didn't. Yet these strong healthy carriers are fully capable of spreading the disease to the less healthy (the weak).

Warns the Mayo Clinic web site:

If you have staph on your skin or in your nose but aren't sick, you are said to be "colonized" but not infected with MRSA. Healthy people can be colonized with MRSA and have no ill effects. However, they can pass the germ to others.
The idea (which I'm sure will be proposed) of quarantining those with weaker immune systems is little more than a feelgood approach, which will do nothing in terms of the long term evolution of MRSA.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that massive treatment programs would work either. They'd only be helping MRSA evolve into SUPER MRSA.

One doctor argues that quarantine measures don't work, because MRSA is caused by exposure to antibiotics!

....our worse fears are true, it is in the water. Quarantine measures can be expected to be useless against MRSA. This has been borne out by observation. The hospitals in Syracuse, where I used to practice Medicine, immediately instituted quarantine measures to limit the spread of MRSA. The quarantine wards got larger and larger. This method was not effective. While hand washing is nice, it can backfire. The doctor who is vigorously washing their hands between patients will develop breaks in his skin where bacteria can enter and infect him. Further, this infection is spread by the presence of the antibiotic, not by the transfer of organisms.

To make it very clear: Normal bacteria that are present on the skin convert to MRSA when exposed to antibiotics. Put another way, people who do not have MRSA develop MRSA by being exposed to antibiotics.

If she is right, then quarantining and treating MRSA patients might cause evolution to accelerate, and thus make the problem worse.

Not that such concerns would matter to a bureaucracy that loves unsolvable problems, or demagogues who enjoy pitting people against each other.

My advice would be to avoid antibiotics, bureaucrats and demagogues like the plague.

MORE: Not to give fascist superstaters any ideas, but it occurred to me that if the theory is that antibiotic treatment helps MRSA, then draconian restrictions on the use of antibiotics would be the most effective way to slow or stop the spread of the bug. At the risk of sounding darkly utopian and hysterically dramatic, to really play this out, those sick with MRSA would have to be denied all antibiotic treatment. (Fortunately or not, few doctors would cooperate in refusing to treat sick people -- even if told it was in the overall interests of public health.)

AND MORE: I think it needs to be stressed that Staphylococcus aureus is a very common bacteria -- so much so that 25% to 30% of the population is considered "colonized" (that is, they have staph, but they're not infected.) According to the CDC, "approximately 1% is colonized with MRSA." In order to determine whether a given individual is colonized with MRSA, he'd have to first be found to have staph, then that would have to be further tested to determine whether it is antibiotic-resistant.

I don't see any practical way to identify healthy colonized people. Furthermore, any testing is only going to be a snapshot of what that individual has at that point in time, and at the swabbed location. You might test negative today, then visit someone in the hospital and get it on you tomorrow, and become "colonized" without knowing it.

And even if colonized healthy carriers could be identified, would it really make sense to "treat" them with antibiotics for a disease they do not have?

UPDATE (01/16/08): Well that didn't take long for my prediction to come true. As if on cue, regular emailer Matt Barber sprang into action, blaming homosexuality -- and liberal "promotion" thereof -- for MRSA:

"The human body is quite callous in how it handles mistreatment and the perversion of its natural functions. When two men mimic the act of heterosexual intercourse with one another, they create an environment, a biological counterfeit, wherein disease can thrive. Unnatural behaviors beget natural consequences.
Skin-to-skin transmission does not require sexual intercourse, whether of the natural or "unnatural" varieties! (But maybe I shouldn't say that, lest Barber read it and refuse to shake hands with homos. Heaven forfend!)
"In recent years our culture has adopted a laissez faire attitude toward sexual deviancy. Television shows like Will and Grace glorify the homosexual lifestyle while our children are taught in schools that homosexuality is a perfectly healthy, alternative sexual 'orientation.' 'Stay out of our bedrooms!' we're often commanded by militant 'gay' activists.

"Well, now the dangerous and possibly deadly consequence of what occurs in those bedrooms is spilling over into the general population. It's not only frightening, it's infuriating.

"Citizens, especially parents, need to stand up and say, 'No More! We will no longer sit idly by while politically correct cultural elites endanger our children and larger communities through propagandist promotion of this demonstrably deadly lifestyle.'

"Why does it take a potentially deadly Staph epidemic for people to acknowledge reality? Will that even do it? Enough is enough!" concluded Barber"

The assumption seems to be that gays caused the bacteria to "break out" into the "general population." In reality, HIV infected people are more vulnerable to MRSA, which has existed for years, but continues to evolve as it grows ever more resistant to treatment.

For years the general population was overmedicated with antibiotics, MRSA developed, elderly patients and the chronically ill sickened and died from MRSA, and no one claimed it was their fault. But now that gays are discovered getting it from having sex (or skin-to-skin contact), suddenly they become responsible not just for their own illnesses, but for the disease "spilling over into the general population."

You'd almost think MRSA -- and staph -- had suddenly became a STD, and therefore evil.

Do they know that the common cold can be sexually transmitted?

posted by Eric at 10:24 AM | Comments (2)



Give me more atrocities!

Via Sean Kinsell, I learned that Jeff Percifield of Beautiful Atrocities (who's incidentally now back after a too-long hiatus from blogging) has a letter to Camille Paglia published in her Salon.com column. Excerpt:

Longtime fan here. As a Reaganite homo, couldn't disagree with you more on politics, but who cares? Surely a drag aficionado like yourself has heard of Verka Serduchka, the Ukrainian Cinderella and Dame Edna of the Ukraine? She's the alter ego of comic Andriy Mykhailovych Danylko, very famous in Russia for her hit songs and brilliant videos.

Verka is a parody of a loud, pushy, bourgeois Ukrainian matron, always accompanied by her doddering lush of a mother. To the horror of Ukrainian nationalists, her song Danzing Lasha Tumbai placed second in this year's typically trashy Eurovision contest and later crashed the British Top 30 and French Top 10! Her videos are comic gems in which Almodovar meets Warhol, and she even ran for Parliament in September's elections.

I'm behind the times, as I'd never heard of Verka Serduchka. As a public service, though, I thought it my duty to link the YouTube video.

Go Ukrainian drag queens!

Hey, anything that upsets Russian hegemonists (who complain that Verka Serduchka is "a direct assault by a wayward neighbour on Moscow itself") is fine with me.

Amazingly Verka is even running for office! (At 2% she's outpolling Alan Keyes.)

I don't know what to make over the fact that the band wears outfits suspiciously evocative of the new Brooks Brothers look that I proposed for John Edwards:

Ukraineeurovision2007.jpg

But I guess that's just a coincidence. The above is probably too militaristic for Brooks Brothers. Or Edwards.

posted by Eric at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)



Jeri Thompson Speaks

Link: sevenload.com


Jeri talks about the campaign and the Huckabee vs Thompson fight. The question of the moment is: where is the Reagan Coalition? The smaller government is better government people. Is the heart of the Republican Party left/populist or right/libertarian?

HT Instapundit

posted by Simon at 02:32 AM | Comments (2)




Coloreds Only

Brendan Loy is discussing the eruption of a mini race war in the Democrat party over some recent remarks by the Clintons.

One commenter had some nice things to say about this comment I made:

It is time for Obama to have a Sistah Soljah moment.

Let him denounce the race hustlers like Al Sharpton that he embraced (not just metaphorically but actually). Let him say that Louis Farrakan - who his church honored - does not represent his views. That such views - that whites are not human - are not his.

Let him denounce all racism - black or white. Let him speak out loud about the Jew hatred that infects the black community.

If we are going to banish race as an issue - we have to speak honestly. The truth. That white racism does not excuse black racism.

It is past time he had his MLK moment. It is time to acknowledge that Jews were the core supporters of blacks before it became the general view that Jim Crow was wrong.

That the Battle Hymn of the Republic was a "white" song. Written by a white woman. Juulia W. Howe. That the abolitionists were mainly white men.

Here is a version (wait for it) by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Battle Hymn of the Republic

After praising my comment he went on to say that I was the first in the comments to point out that a lot of white men worked hard against slavery and Jim Crow. As we all know a lot of whites worked and died to end slavery. They were called abolitionists. It seems like these days that fact is an embarrassment to the Democrats and liberals who would like to brand whites as inherently racist for political advantage. This was my response to the kudos:
Thanks for that. I think I should give a little history of myself to illustrate how this Republican (I came to it late in life) has always thought.

I lived in the South when I was 5. One day I saw a "Coloreds Only" sign on a water fountain and thought that was wrong. I went to the fountain and got a drink of water. My mom let me drink for a moment then pulled me away. However, I could tell she was proud of me. I have never had a racist bone in my body and resent to the MAX the idea that "white men" are inherently racist.

Which is why Obama's affinity for people with such views torques me off.

It is a steaming pile and I will not stand for it any more than I would stand for "Coloreds Only" water fountains.

It is time to end the "victimhood confers political advantage" crap. It is time people give up their resents for what happened in the past. As one commenter in a different blog commenting on the same subject said:

When the only thing in your intellectual toolkit is a bludgeon, everything looks like a skull. - pst314

Nice turn of phrase that.

HT Instapundit

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)



Starship

This is dedicated to the crazies at talk.polywell who are working on technology, that if it pans out, will take us to Jupiter and beyond.

posted by Simon at 10:41 AM | Comments (3)



"Congrats, senator, you've just lost a supporter."

That's what Brendan Loy says about Barack Obama's deliberate decision not to take the high road, and instead "let this racial stew fester":

At a conference call with reporters this morning, somebody asked Barack Obama about the Clintons' recent controversial remarks and Hillary Clinton's response to the kerfuffle. Thus, Obama had a golden opportunity to make clear that he does not believe the Clintons' remarks were racist or racially insensitive -- and he chose not to do so. Instead, he said a bunch of other stuff that I have no problem with, but failed to do the one thing he needs to do, which is to unambiguously disassociate himself from this race-baiting nonsense.
Via Glenn Reynolds, who adds,
The last thing we need is a President who encourages festering racial controversies.
Middle Americans who support Obama do so under the belief that he is as refreshing as he looks, and that he can heal America's racial disharmony. (Guilt also plays a strong role.) Having just demonstrated that he is not as refreshing as he looks, Obama has done precisely the type of thing which, if it does not cost him the Democratic nomination, will cause him to lose in November.

I have to say that I'm disappointed. I can't really call myself a disapointed supporter of Obama (even though I did support him over Alan Keyes).

Mainstream Americans don't like race hustlers and cheap demagoguery. If Obama doesn't do something -- and fast -- he'll have no chance of winning them over.

I'm tempted to say "Congrats, senator, you've just lost an election."

MORE: Brendan Loy reports that Obama has disavowed the race card nonsense:

Mr. Obama urged Democratic voters not to become embroiled in racially-charged or motivated discussions.

"If I hear my own supporters engaging in talk that I think is ungenerous or misleading or in some way is unfair, I will speak out forcefully against it," he said. "I hope the other campaigns take the same approach."

(Via Glenn Reynolds, who credits Brendan Loy.)

If the Democrats are perceived as hopelessly hobbled by the race issue, it won't matter who wins the nomination.

posted by Eric at 10:31 AM | Comments (3)



McCain -- worth another look?

Despite the fact that I was a McCain supporter in 2000, I haven't written much about John McCain, largely because I long ago wrote him off after the disastrous and unconstitutional McCain Feingold bill.

(Well, there was one exception; when James Wolcott went out of his way to call McCain an "insatiable warrior," and a "seething nest of proto-fascist impulses," I warmed to him a little. To McCain, that is. I already loved James Wolcott....)

I think it should be remembered that a lot of people supported McCain's Campaign Reform atrocity (including Fred Thompson, whom I support). President Bush signed it, and the Supreme Court upheld it. Still, from this blogger's perspective it remains McCain's Sin Number One, and his name is indelibly on it. Such callused trifling with the First Amendment is very tough for me to forgive and forget.

But this election is not about me or what I think, and it is not even necessarily about what the small-l-libertarian blogosphere thinks; it's about winning. Right now, I'm supporting Fred Thompson, but I can't ignore possible future realities. The fact is, I would vote for McCain over Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or John Edwards, and so would a lot of people.

In a look at recent developments in the race by PJM's William Bradley, McCain stands out as the one Republican who might be able to beat any Democratic opponent:

The new CNN national poll shows the two Democratic frontrunners, Clinton and Obama, the current easy choice over all Republicans except John McCain. McCain is in a statistical dead heat with both Obama and Clinton.


The CNN poll has more:

The poll contained some worrying news for Romney: 62 percent of those surveyed say they will definitely not vote for the former Massachusetts governor in the general election, compared with just 13 percent who say they will definitely support him -- the worst showing of any of the major candidates.

The poll also suggests that two of his GOP primary opponents might also face an uphill climb this fall, with more than half of those polled saying they would definitely not vote for either man in November: 55 percent said they would not consider backing Giuliani, and 52 percent said the same of Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas.

Just one other candidate in the race, McCain, competes with Obama in both categories, with a favorability rating of 54 percent and an unfavorability rating of 29 percent. McCain is the only Republican included in the poll with a favorability rating of greater than 50 percent.

Here's ABC News:
McCain's victory in New Hampshire has sharply boosted views of his qualifications and abilities alike: His rating within his party as its most electable contender has tripled; as strongest leader, it's doubled; and he's scored double-digit gains in trust to handle Iraq and terrorism. He's climbed into the lead in overall vote preference for the first time in ABC News/Washington Post polls in the 2008 campaign.

Those who distrust CNN and ABC can see confirmation at Real Clear Politics, where the combined polls show McCain beating Hillary by four points, and in a statistical tie with Obama.

McCain has serious problems within the GOP. A lot of Republicans don't like him, and South Carolina is even being described as a "civil war." Romney is ahead -- only by a hair -- in Michigan, and the GOP race is wide-open.

So, just because he can win in November does not mean he'll be in a position to do that.

Whether special interests within the GOP can swallow their pride and vote for a man like McCain remains to be seen. I know there's a lot of antipathy towards him, but the same is true about Giuliani, and for different reasons, most of the bunch. I have to say, notwithstanding my reservations about McCain, I do prefer him to Romney, and I way prefer him to Huckabee.

Victor Davis Hanson -- a solid conservative if ever there was one -- took a suprisingly sympathetic look at McCain on January 3, before the current hoopla generated by New Hampshire. Acknowledging the antipathy to him by liberals, conservatives, libertarians, and the Christian right, Hanson nonetheless thinks McCain's most telling asset is the fact that he's an "Old Warhorse":

McCain has the most diverse experience of any of the candidates in either party. Sens. Obama and Hillary Clinton (D., N.Y.), may bicker over whether being first lady or growing up in Indonesia constitutes the better foreign-policy background. But no one would question McCain's far greater breadth of service: carrier aviator, combat pilot, wounded veteran, tortured while a prisoner of war for five and a half years, U.S. congressman and senator for a combined quarter-century, 2000 presidential candidate. And the list only goes on.

Third, we are still in a war on several fronts -- as we were reminded recently by the assassination, likely by al-Qaeda, of pro-American Pakistani Benazir Bhutto. Many of the other inexperienced candidates fumbled in their initial reactions to Bhutto's murder.

Obama ludicrously associated her death with the Iraq war. Huckabee, in Jimmy Carter fashion, apologized to Pakistan for the assassination -- although he did not explain why. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson demanded that Gen. Musharraf step down -- as if we can snap our fingers and choose nuclear Pakistan's leaders.

McCain in contrast kept his cool. He candidly admitted that the tragic loss of Bhutto was a setback to American democratic objectives, while reminding us that a nuclear Islamist Pakistan is unstable and doesn't present America with any good choices. In this war, having a veteran fighter and savvy old statesman as commander-in-chief makes a lot of sense.

I don't know whether plain-speaking John McCain will win the presidency. But so far he's proved the most experienced of the candidates, and he's run the most principled and honest of the campaigns. Other candidates may be younger, better financed, and more charismatic; none has more earned America's trust.

I'm used to holding my nose when I vote, and there are important issues over which I disagree with John McCain. To a certain extent, I have to hold my nose a little bit no matter whom I vote for.

Despite my reservations, I have to say that McCain's character makes it a little easier. I'd rather vote for an old warhorse with whom I disagree than a smart talking politician with perfect hair with whom I disagree, and I think a lot of Americans would.

Another aspect of McCain that I like is his amazing persistence. I'll never forget the image of him carrying his own bags around, talking to rooms which weren't even a quarter full, when his campaign was broke. And the guy simply refused to give up. A display like that makes him either a bit of a nut, a bit of a pit bull, or a bit of a Churchill. Any of the three is fine with me.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links the latest Rasmussen poll, which has some very interesting implications for John McCain vis-a-vis Fred Thompson:

Over the past several days, the only real movement in South Carolina's Republican Presidential Primary has been a four-point gain for Fred Thompson and a five-point decline for Mike Huckabee.

The big winner from that trade-off is John McCain.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows McCain at 28%, Huckabee at 19%, Mitt Romney at 17%, and Fred Thompson at 16%. Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul are tied with 5% support. Giuliani is betting his entire campaign on a strong showing in Florida, where he is now tied for the lead with three others.

What this means is that for potential McCain supporters, there is absolutely no contradiction between helping Fred Thompson right now and eventually supporting John McCain. Fred Thompson is eating into Romney and Huckabee -- which is as it should be, because Thompson is a true conservative, while Romney and Huckabee are highly questionable.

As regular readers know, I've been repeatedly urging them to go donate to Fred Thompson.

So what are you waiting for?

There are many reasons to support Fred Thompson. And, at the risk of sounding counterintuitive, you don't even have to be a Fred Thompson supporter to support Fred Thompson.

No really. I am absolutely serious.

If you're simply against Romney and/or Huckabee, you should donate to Fred Thompson. If you think might later favor McCain but aren't sure now, then you should donate to Fred Thompson. And finally, if you just want to break up the MSM logjam, you should donate to Fred Thompson.

MORE: I should add that I just did. Again.

posted by Eric at 09:30 AM | Comments (3)



His Position Is Very Clear


posted by Simon at 07:36 AM | Comments (1)



Oscar Levant On The Piano


When I was going to ET school in the Navy on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, I had a girlfriend, Nancy, whose parents owned a victrola similar to this machine as well as a number of other music makers from the 1870s to 1920s. One kind they were especially fond of was a music box type of contraption that used punched iron discs about a foot and a half across. If you wanted a different tune from your music box you just changed discs. For some reason they really enjoyed my company and I stayed over night at their house on numerous liberties. We also went to numerous concerts in the Stern Grove. We would bring a picnic basket and a bottle of wine and enjoy some culture. One of my favorites was a production of The Bat. Or Die Fledermaus in the original German. I had a crush on Nancy. She just liked me. Ah. Well. The memories are still wonderful.

posted by Simon at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)



Fred, Federalism, and Medical Marijuana


Fred gave the right non-answer to the question. However, he looked pained. I think he knows more than he is letting on. If my reading of his expressions is any good.

Which is going to lead next to some rampant speculation.

Fred and Hillary were both Watergate lawyers. This is a fact.

Here is an interesting Youtube on Watergate that asks what did the Mafia get out of its alleged connections to the White House?

Here is my theory. If the Mafia had connections to the Whitehouse perhaps the drug war got ramped up as a favor to them. When the drug war ramped up the country went dry for about 6 months after Nixon "closed the borders" and then Thai Stick flooded in for about a decade or more afterwards.

IMO we are screwed no matter who wins. Things are not what they seem.

In any case I still like Fred on most issues. However, I think he knows where the skeletons are buried and because of his Watergate connections would be a formidable opponent to Hillary. Bill ran his campaign in '92 as a "nod, wink" anti-drug war guy and then ramped up the drug war to heights even staunch Republican's couldn't have imagined. There was something fishy there. Very fishy.

posted by Simon at 12:04 AM | Comments (2)




Doomed and Damned

Yes we are.

But not all doom is equal.

Scott Wickstein compares the state religion of modern environmentalism to the rise of the early Christian Roman state, and says he feels like a Pagan:

I am not sure what will really qualify as comparable milestones in the rise of environmentalism as the official faith of the West, but for those of us of a skeptical nature, I think it does rather have a feel of being like a Pagan in 4th Century Rome.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I think it should be borne in mind that early Christians shared an important feature in common with modern environmentalists, in that they believed the End of The World was at hand. (This would have been a hard sell to the Pagans of the period whose multiple gods ran around doing pretty much what they wanted, which made it tough to run as a state religion until the Emperor was included among the gods. But this only heightened skepticism, and few Romans truly believed the official Pagan nonsense. Once it was officially gone, few were left to defend it.)

Everyone has a right to hold whatever beliefs he might want about the end of the word (whether religious or otherwise), but as Scott Wickstein's post reminds, all beliefs were not treated equally in ancient Rome, nor are they treated equally now.

As Bert Prelutsky demonstrates, even purely religious beliefs are not treated equally. How they are treated depends not on what they are or how irrational they are, but who holds them:

....[W]hen the candidates are Republicans, you might get the idea that the members of the MSM were boning up for their theology exams. Is Huckabee too Christian? Does he actually believe the universe was created in six days? When he was a governor, did he go out of his way to commute the sentences of felons because he was a sucker for anyone who announced in the slammer that he'd found Christ? Is Giuliani, who contributed to pro-choice organizations, flying under false colors as a Catholic? Does Romney really believe that Satan and Jesus are brothers, or at least third cousins, once removed?

Why is it, I wonder, that nobody is asking Barack Obama about his religious convictions? From what I've gathered, they're far more fascinating than Mitt Romney's.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I think it's obvious why they're not. There's a double standard.

Some religious beliefs (and views of the doomed and the damned) are more equal than others.

I looked at the church of Obama in an earlier post (as M. Simon did repeatedly), and concluded that while its liberationist theology was kooky, they at least allow white members, so in that respect it's not as kooky as the Nation of Islam (or segregated churches of the past).

But the point is not how it rates on the kook scale, but why it gets a free pass in most of the MSM, while the religious views of GOP candidates are scrutinized.

What I'd really like to know is why the Democrats always get a pass on apocalyptic doom. In this respect, Wickstein really hits on something in analogizing between environmentalism and early Roman Christianity.

For the record, I think people who believe the end of the world is at hand are kooks, OK?

But for some reason, there's a rule that people who believe the end is at hand are only kooky if their "end times" beliefs are based on the Christian faith. If they are based on environmentalism, they will not be called kooky, no matter how dire the predictions. (Quite the contrary; the skeptics are the ones who will be called kooky.)

Ridiculous scare advertisements depict vast floods and show skyscrapers sticking up out of water aim at winning converts to environmentalist end times belief systems. Far from being condemned in the way an "irresponsible" Rapture group's claim would be, they are seen as "wake up calls" by people who care.

From "The Great Tribulation":

All the icecaps and glaciers will melt and the oceans may literally boil.
OK, most reasonable people would agree that's kooky.

But the predictions of NASA scientist James Hansen are reported as dire truths, and even headlined as "We'll wait 'til Arctic waters boil":

....as Greenland and West Antarctic ice is softened and lubricated by meltwater ... the balance will tip toward the rapid disintegration of ice sheets. Earth's history suggests that with warming of two to three degrees, the new sea level will include not only most of the ice from Greenland and West Antarctica, but a portion of East Antarctica, raising the sea level by 25 metres, or 80 feet.

Hansen's prediction was famously illustrated in a Vanity Fair article, which (I hasten to add) not only failed to poke fun at Hansen's wild claims, but sang hosannas of praise.

And featured this picture of the Great Flood:

Great_NY_Flood.jpg

Never mind that Hansen has been discredited as a quasi-religious crank whose bugged algorithms produced erroneous figures.

Some doom is more equal.

This makes life tough for a skeptic. You're supposed to spend your life listening to end of the world predictions which you'll never live to see, and you're only allowed to be critical of some of them, depending on the whims of the people in power.

How easy it is to pity the skeptics of ancient times. But the Romans were ruled by a tyrannical imperial system and we have the First Amendment.

So why do so many skeptics cower?

posted by Eric at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)



The Uniters

Obama - Sharpton

Larry Elder has Sharpton's rap sheet. The music is not pretty.

Capitalism Magazine says the Rev. Al. is The Democrat's David Duke.

Networks of the Left looks at Al's connections to the left side of American politics.

Rich Lowry on Sharpton's business. Race hustling. Rich thinks Al would like to be #1 in the business.

Power Line says Al is a defender of rapists.

Conservative African Americans are not happy with the Rev. Al. Not Happy at all.

The Village Voice says Reverend Al Sharpton, apologized for calling Harari "a white interloper". Nice of the Rev. to acknowledge a mistake.

The Wall Street Journal calls Sharpton an 'Impresario of Hatred'. Swell just swell.

Jay Nordlinger says Al is a power Democrat.

Is it any wonder the top three Democrats in the race for the Presidency are very chummy with Al?

And lest you think this is all a fluke for Obama take a look at Obama's Church.

You know, it appears more and more that the Democrat's cries of racism re:Republicans is a form of projection. David Duke is denounced in mainstream Republican circles for his racism. Those same mainstream Republicans pushed Pat Buchanan out of the Party for a whiff of anti-Semitism. Or look at the heat Ron Paul is getting from Republicans. Why do the Democrats give their race baiters and anti-Semites (often one in the same) a pass?

Could it be they can't win elections without them?


Welcome Punditeers

posted by Simon at 02:15 PM | Comments (6)



Move over PeeWee! This calls for for real boy men!

While I didn't have any time to think it over yesterday, I did notice Glenn's link to the seemingly horrendous development in men's fashion now being promoted at Brooks Brothers.

If you think the one Glenn linked was bad, by all means check out these other outfits. (The last one is a real killer if you're a boyish Oscar Wilde, or just want to look like one!)

While I'm much too old (and probably too dignified) to dress that way, I have to say that it doesn't necessarily represent the end of WASP culture -- because, as I explained in this post, similar looks used to be mandatory in various boys' schools and still are in some countries. Moreover, grown men in Bermuda have had a penchant for dressing that way for generations and still do. It might not meet my standards (and Ann Althouse has long frowned on men wearing shorts, so have I), but it's not really the death of WASP culture; the argument might even be made that it's a way of rolling back the clock.

This is not to say that there aren't guys who might look "cute" that way. This morning Glenn Reynolds was nice enough to link my earlier suggestion that the PeeWee Herman look might be a fashion "go" for Glenn Greenwald. (Maybe even as good as it gets in Greenwald's case.)

But as to the knickers and the shorts, well, it is my considered opinion that because the new Brooks Brothers look is basically a revival of private boys school attire, it's logical to think that it would look better on boyish men -- especially attractive boyish men.

Now, I don't mean to insult anyone here, but while both PeeWee Herman and Glenn Greenwald could be called boyish, neither would be a fit as the type of model Brooks Brothers has in mind. After all, Brooks Brothers is a men's store, and they know that most men (especially those who aspire to the category of "real men") aren't going to suddenly start running around sporting a schoolboy look that was abandoned in the U.S. in the 1960s -- especially if it is being promoted by a PeeWee Herman "type."

However, some of the more boyish men might -- but they need reassurance that real men can dress for success that way.

So, it is my considered opinion that these new outfits cry out for a model who not only looks boyish, but in an attractive way, and in a way suggestive of the power elite. I'm not running Brooks Brothers' marketing department, but I have come up with a suggestion for a possible model.

Fortunately, today's technology allowed me to try out the various "vintage boys look outfits" on him. Here's the one Glenn linked yesterday:

Bbros1Ecb.jpg

And if that doesn't quite send my male readers who want to be vintage boys straight down to your nearest Brooks Brothers, just wait! Because, here's another stunning outfit!

BBros2Ecb.jpg OK, now that's obviously a summer outfit. And the one with the knickers is clearly a fall outfit.

Still, just as private school boys used to wear shorts in all seasons, there's no reason that real men who want to recreate the look can't do the same. So do not despair.

Here are the winter outfits for when the weather gets cold, in places like icy Iowa....

bbros3Ecb.jpgbbros4Ecb.jpg

Good for year 'round campaigning, eh?

I don't mean to totally knock Brooks Brothers, as I try to dress well and I've bought clothes there for years. (This was one reason I avoided using Greenwald as a Brooks Brothers model. Some things go too far.) And in Brooks Brothers' defense, I have to say that most of the outfits which are pictured aren't Little Lord Fauntleroy, but are vintage early 1960s looks -- this being a perfect example of what was once standard attire for young college age men. If they think they can bring stuff like that back, more power to them, because I think college age kids generally look awful.

However, shorts worn with coats and ties are too much of a stretch for most men. This is why I think they need to enlist a serious boyish man.

(If only I could figure out how much of this post was satire....)

MORE: Anyone who thinks Brooks Brothers is responsible for the "shorts with sport coats trend" should read the Wall Street Journal's piece on the subject from last September:

Reluctant to admit they are following a trend, many American designers insist the collective emergence of shorts this week is mainly just a coincidence. John Bartlett, who showed three models with shorts wearing dress shirts and ties, says he had the idea at least six months ago, before the European shows. "It seems really hot right now," he says. "There's something very old Connecticut, very Bermuda about that look."

The idea actually is at least five decades old. Bermuda shorts were a '50s fad, and some men wore them in the summer with sport jackets, ties and long socks. Andy Gilchrist, a California fashion consultant who has written a book on men's clothes, notes that the look was often seen in fashion magazines of the time.

Narciso Rodriguez, who planned this week to present elastic-waist shorts with a silver wool suit jacket, says he has always just liked wearing shorts, even in winter.

Mr. Lim, the designer, says he is showing shorts because he likes wearing them himself and wore a lot of cutoffs this summer. The fact that most of his colleagues are doing the same thing does strike Mr. Lim as odd. "I always find it funny. How does everyone know? Did they all have a meeting or a design summit or something?" Mr. Lim asks. "I just did it because I like shorts."

Some of their fans aren't on the same wavelength. "Shorts with a suit jacket would make me feel a little too Little Lord Fauntleroy," says Tony Green, a 41-year-old Chicago management consultant, who tries to keep up with the latest styles.

That is why the dressy shorts trend could flop, says John Mincarelli, a men's costume historian and professor of merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. "No grown men are going to wear that seriously," he says.

I certainly won't, but Brooks Brothers may merely be reinventing something for a market that's already there.

Is this a question of "POOF goes the culture"?

(As I said, the POOF is in the putting.)

AND MORE: Commenter Papertiger thinks I may be helping John Edwards:

Johnny actually pulls this look off rather well. You getting him votes. It gives him an edgy rough and tumble look that those of us who are in the know, would never ascribe to Mr. Edwards.
Hmmm... I really didn't intend to help or hurt Edwards' campaign. But hey, if the new look that I am proposing actually gets him votes, I'll be delighted to take the credit for it! (And I'd appreciate a thank you from Edwards himself -- especially considering that his campaign blogmistress called me a "sociopath" merely for making fair and balanced fashion comparisons of a purely bipartisan nature.

MORE: Glenn Reynolds' response to one of the winter outfits was "Ugh."

Ah, but had John Edwards been the model, I think Glenn's reaction would have been quite different!

MORE: Thank you, Glenn Reynolds for linking this post! Welcome all!

However, with my gratitude comes an apology. I am sorry that Glenn is sorry.

On the bright side, if we all work together, we can stop the rise of this new form of fashionism dressed up in little boys' shorts.

Or should I say we can redefeat fashionism?

(What? Do I need to point out that shorts were worn by the Hitler Youth, or would that violate Godwin's Law?)

MORE: Regarding that last remark, the answer is that it would not.

UPDATE: My thanks to Gerard van der Leun for the link -- and especially for the very generous observation about my sanity!

posted by Eric at 09:51 AM | Comments (22)



It Speaks For Itself


video two

video three

video four


Transcript of Ezra Levant's opening statement. He has a donate button at Ezra Levant. Brit blog Samizdata comments. Instapundit has more links.

posted by Simon at 06:51 AM | Comments (3)



7 And 7 Is Love


posted by Simon at 05:11 AM | Comments (0)



Lenny Bruce


I saw Lenny Bruce live at the Gate of Horn in Chicago a day or two before he got busted. I went with my girlfriend Joan who I met at the University of Chicago campus radio station. Before the gig we hung out in front of the Playboy Club and after we went to eat at some restaurant a few blocks away and who should sit down a few tables away from us but Joan Baez. I can't help it if I'm lucky.

posted by Simon at 04:56 AM | Comments (0)



Words Of The Prophets


posted by Simon at 04:38 AM | Comments (0)



The End of Divisivness And Corruption

Senator Obama is the New Hope from Chicago, Illinois. A uniter, not a divider.

Obama's dealings with Nation of Islam member Tony Rezko are above reproach. Fortunately Tony was involved with the top cadre of politicians in Illinois. All of whom are under investigation. I don't think such investigations will have any effect though. They are just a cheap Republican trick.

The end of divisiveness and corruption in American politics is within sight if Obama gets elected.

He is nothing like those Clinton folks from Arkansas. Illinois is known far and wide as one of the least corrupt states in the nation. The city of Chicago is particularly exemplary. Let me tell you that you can trust Chicago politicians. And you can take that to the bank. In small unmarked bills.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 03:37 AM | Comments (0)




Thanks From Fred - South Carolina

From the Fred '08 Campaign:

I can't even begin to thank you enough for your support of our Red Truck Challenge 2.

Thanks to you we have funded Fred's entire South Carolina media campaign and have gone on to start funding critical voter contact programs that will complement our excellent ground game and give Fred the extra push he needs to win in the state.

So, thanks to you, Fred is poised for success.

Fred's dominating performance in the Thursday debate on Fox is serving as a catalyst for people to take a second look and reconsider their support. Also, there are still loads of undecided voters in the state who are taking their first look at him.

This is important because voters will realize that Fred is the clear conservative choice in this race that has held consistent conservative positions and will:

* Fight amnesty and benefits for illegal aliens.
* Cut your taxes and fight to keep a prosperous economy.
* Protect our security against Islamic radicals.
* Be 100% pro-life

Fred is continuing to make this case to South Carolina voters on his bus tour, and is being received by enthusiastic crowds at every stop.

What's really amazing is that the mainstream media is actually starting to notice and give him credit! Read this story from today's New York Times.

Fred is able to do this because of you--you have been a terrific friend and he will always be appreciative for your support.

So will I. Thanks for all you've done. Let's keep it up...we've got lots of miles to go!

Sincerely,

Bill

William B. Lacy
Campaign Manager

posted by Simon at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)



Karl Rove's Great White Hope?

It just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

Well it does:

It was clear from the op-ed that Rove wrote a few weeks ago that the Republicans, whose own candidates run the gamut from the ridiculous (Fred Thompson) to the psychopathic (Rudolph Giuliani) and the theocratic (Huckabee) have already begun to see finagling the Democratic primary race as their only chance. If O'Donnell happens to be a Democrat and he buys into this strategy, then the infamy is his.

But I thank him for one thing -- he persuaded me to send a nice fat donation to John Edwards.

(Via Glenn Reynolds, and as I'm on my way out the door for a long drive, I might have missed the link had M. Simon not alerted me.)

While the above leftie screed accuses Larry O'Donnell of being Rove-inspired for urging Edwards to get out of the race (and the writer supports Edwards), I think they're forgetting the clever, truly diabolical (and, as we all know, Dieboldian) nature of the Rove strategy. Treacherous as all of this was when Rove was officially employed by Bush, now that he's on his own he can be depended to operate without any oversight or scruples whatsoever! To quote from a famous military source:

He's out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct.
Considering that reverse, double-reverse, and even triple-reverse psychology are standard tactics in the Rove arsenal, I think it's reasonable to believe that he secretly wants an Edwards candidacy, and so by creating the appearance that he's working against him (a simple task for anyone who knows how to push the predictable leftist paranoia buttons), he will actually help him.

I'd send some money to Edwards in furtherance of the plan, but cheapskate Rove never paid me a cent, and he must owe me millions by now.

Sigh.

I guess I should have realized that something funny was going on when things were still in the "Operation Poof" phase....

Live and learn.

posted by Eric at 07:27 AM | Comments (11)



Hillary The Movie


This is a trailer number two for Hillary the Movie. It is for sale. You can see more trailers and advertising clips and buy the movie here. If it comes down to it that we are going to elect a Socialist from the Democrat Party I'd prefer Obama or Edwards. They don't screech.

Welcome Punditeers may I suggest a look at my post on Bucky Fuller. Politics is not the only way out of our current mess.

posted by Simon at 03:00 AM | Comments (12)




Let there be blood (and there was)
"The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label."

-- Upton Sinclair

Truer words were never spoken, and the above are from the author of the book on which a great film I saw last night was based.

I see a lot of films, but I don't usually write reviews of them. However, it isn't every day that Glenn Reynolds links to reviews of films I've seen, as he did today with this review of There Will Be Blood:

"I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"

If you've seen Paul Thomas Anderson's new American epic, There Will Be Blood (loosely based on Upton Sinclair's Oil!) you've no doubt left the theater with this brilliant line, delivered maniacally by Daniel Day Lewis as oil baron Daniel Plainview, still ringing in your ears. On the pop-culture front it's promising to enter the lexicon along with "I see dead people," "Say hello to my little friend!" and "It's not personal, it's business."

I saw the film last night, and while the leftie, anti-robber-baron theme is undeniable, it's fantastic entertainment.

Of course, if I were to reveal why I liked certain parts of it as much as I did, it'd not only spoil the film, but people might think less of me. (And we can't have that, can we? Heavens, no!)

I don't know how he did it, but Daniel Day Lewis managed to channel Sean Connery and John Carradine at the same time. He was, in a word, astounding. So was the rest of the cast -- especially Paul Dano, whose interactions with Lewis were, well, far beyond the call of any human duty that might be expected from an actor. Their faces, expressions, and overall looks were so authentic that if a black and white photographer from the period (turn of the last century, mostly) had set up a camera and taken pictures, they'd look like the real thing.

It's a rare treat.

The best part is, you don't even have to be a leftie to enjoy it.

posted by Eric at 06:57 PM | Comments (1)



Validate your identity at the polls!

Via Dr. Helen, Jonah Goldberg explains how the culture war drives politics:

What Americans really want when they look into a politician's eyes is to see their own images reflected back, like in Narcissus' pool. The presidency in particular has become the highest ground in the culture war. Americans want a candidate who validates them personally. "I'm voting for him because he's a hunter like me." "I'm backing her because she's a woman too." "I'm for that guy because he's angry like me." Such sentiments have colored the presidential contest for so long, they've saturated it like stain into wood.
The culture war has become a fetid swampland of competing versions of identity politics. While identity politics may have started with things like race, sex, and sexuality, it spread like a cancer to include even more irrelevant things like diets (vegans) attitudes, and lifestyles. The common thread is the (IMO) childish notion that because your group does something or thinks something, that other people must not merely tolerate that, but affirm and embrace it. This leads to absurd situations. Gays who demand affirmance of their lifestyle see those who believe their lifestyle is sinful in much the same way those who believe their lifestyle in sinful see gays.

If you disagree with me, you are oppressing me! That this is irrational (as well as a long term threat to free speech) does not prevent the idea from being emotionally attractive, so it grows. As one group becomes entitled, another group will spring up and demand the same "rights." If homosexuality is a lifestyle that has to be "validated," then religious opposition to homosexuality must also be "validated."

That's because if you disagree with me, you're discriminating!

Well, you are. Disagreeing with anyone on anything constitutes an exercise in discrimination. (But because several generations have been educated and trained to believe that discrimination is a synonym for evil, disagreement is increasingly seen as an inherently wicked thing. Unless, of course, you're surrounded by like-minded types and you can claim you're all being mutually oppressed by those who disagree. Victims are still allowed to disagree with their oppressors.)

Illogical as this stuff is, it certainly should have nothing to do with how presidents are selected. As Dr. Helen concludes,

Choosing understanding and false empathy over policy and hard decisions is not the way to choose a president.
But that's the way it's being done. (In both parties, unfortunately.)

I worry that identity politics will be our undoing.

Hmm...

Maybe I should form a new identity group consisting of people opposed to identity politics. That way, the new "group" could accuse all the rest of discrimination, and demand the right to be left alone in peace.

(Nah, I guess that would be too much of a utopia....)

posted by Eric at 01:30 PM | Comments (8)



And the 60 million have no groceries within 5 miles!

I don't know whether this makes me a chronic complainer or some kind of crank, but if there's one thing I hate more than being lied to online, it's being lied to in the newspapers. Especially when they're blatant. One of the reasons that so many cranks like me take up blogging is because we get sick of a steady stream of lies, shoddy statistics, and made up facts.

This happens routinely on the national level; a perfect example was a recent LA Times headline screaming about 60 million Americans being forced to live on $7.00 a day. This did not pass Annie Jacobsen's smell test, so she checked it out and found it to be wrong. Laughably wrong. (Does that mean they won't do it again?)

Anyway, what irritated me was to see a local example, by way of the following claim:

At sonic speed, it seems, we're already almost midway through January. How are those resolutions coming?

Let me guess: lose weight/eat healthier/stop smoking/feed your spirit/read more/lift up your community. You know, the usual.

Easier said than done.

But if you're Dicie Gilmore, the climb is even steeper.

The 52-year-old Gilmore - "Pastor Dicie" to the neighborhood folk in Logan - is no different than plenty of Philadelphians living on fixed incomes, stuck in neighborhoods where basic services like grocery stores are nowhere to be found within a five-mile radius.

Kind of makes eating healthier tough. (Emphasis added.)

No grocery stores within a five mile radius?

Sorry, but it just irritated the hell out of me to read that. Maybe it was too early in the morning to swallow a blatant lie, but I knew it was wrong, and I just couldn't take it. Yes, I know thousands would, but I don't have to swallow all common sense and accept a false statistic like that. And after all, I do have this blog.

So, while I know this is going to be a bit painful and tedious, it's time for some basic fact checking.

First, Philadelphia is a city with an area of 142 square miles.

A circle with a five mile radius has an area of 78.5 square miles -- more than half the total area of the city of Philadelphia. (I could superimpose a giant circle and place it on a map of Philadelphia, but I think my readers are bright enough that I can spare them that.)

The point, simply, is that there is no place in the city of Philadelphia without a grocery store in a five mile radius.

I guess that means the columnist is using bad statistics for rhetorical effect, to hammer down her point -- which is that there are no grocery stores near the home of her source. The address is not given, but the article narrows it down to the neighborhood of the Logan Elementary School:

Getting to fresh vegetables usually comes through a long, grueling trek on SEPTA.

"I either have to catch the bus, hope I can get a ride or get a hack," Gilmore says. "And that gets expensive."

The sign on her neighborhood corner bodega promises fresh vegetables, along with phone cards. "Ain't no fresh vegetables in there," she scoffs.

What the bodega does offer is its own smoking-reduction program. Kind of.

Can't afford $5 a pack? The deli sells single cigarette "loosies" for a small fraction of a pack. Just for you.

Good thing kicking the smoking habit isn't on Gilmore's list - "I haven't smoked since cigarettes were $2.75 a pack," she says, with a hint of pride.

We got our legs moving a bit on a brisk day, walking through the main thoroughfare, Belfield Avenue, past Logan Elementary, down Lindley, back into her block down Smedley, a mix of striving and struggling blocks.

Gilmore's block was once a tree-lined gem in North Philly, but seems to be clinging these days to uprooted dreams and tiny shreds of hope.

Wanting to be sure, I Googled the address of the school, and here are "Results 1-10 of about 3,578 for supermarket near Philadelphia Community School District: Logan Elementary School"

A Supremo Supermarket - more info » 4424 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 457-1171 - 0.7 mi S

B Nicetown Food Center - more info »
4222 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 457-8148 - 0.9 mi S

C RL Supermarket - more info »
4222 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 457-8148 - 0.9 mi S

D Torres Supermarket - more info »
1901 Brunner St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 329-3137 - 1.0 mi S

E Cho's Supermarket - more info »
4010 Old York Rd, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 324-3385 - 1.2 mi S

F Progressive Supermarket Inc - more info »
5348 Wayne Ave, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 849-9121 - 1.2 mi W

G Shop Rite Supermarket - more info »
101 E Olney Ave, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 224-7500 - 1.6 mi E

H Cousin's Supermarket - more info »
4037 N 5th St, Philadelphia, PA
(215) 223-4000 - 1.5 mi SE

OK, I don't know much about what all of the above stores sell, but I do know that Shop Rite is a large grocery store chain, and I have been to several of them. They are huge stores, and they all sell fresh vegetables. (Googling "groceries" yielded 7,562 hits, but I took into account the Inquirer's claim that grocery stores falsely advertise fresh vegetables, so I relied only on the word "supermarket.")

I realize that wild claims by journalists are made all the time, so I guess this really isn't that big of a deal. Certainly it's not as big a deal as saying that 60 million Americans live on $7.00 a day. And both claims are made for a good cause, right?

Hmmm...

Perhaps this means that only a bad person would engage in fact-checking.

MORE: For the record, I live twice as far from the nearest grocery store as the woman in the article. And there is no public transportation from here to there unless I hired a cab. Without a car, I'd be SOL.

This touches on an important point. There are many people all across America who do in fact live in areas where "basic services like grocery stores are nowhere to be found within a five-mile radius." You know, rural areas?

Whose fault is that?

MORE: Commenter Larry Sheldon asks,

Is there a point to all of this, besides the "main stream media and other charlatans lie" angle?
The point seems to be that it's bad when grocery stores are too far away. (At least in cities.) A legitimate point too -- but it could have been made without resort to a patently false claim.

I am not unsympathetic to the plight of pedestrians having to walk long distances or take public transportation to grocery stores, so I found myself wondering whether any of the supermarkets deliver groceries.

I called the ShopRite on Olney. They deliver for $4.95 on orders under $100.00. For orders over $100.00, they deliver free of charge. For most people, that's at least a week's worth of groceries.

But it doesn't quite fit the narrative of villainous grocers lying about produce and selling individual cigarettes at extortionate prices, and 78 square-mile-areas with no grocery stores.

MORE: This post has generated some very interesting responses, like this one:

Is there any doubt whatsoever, that Roberts is the same kind of partisan hack judge that allowed Hitler to legalize his brand of depravity?
Roberts is worse, I'd say. Even Hitler never forced people to drive to Shop-Rite. And the Nazis never imposed Wal-Mart.

posted by Eric at 09:52 AM | Comments (40)



Virgins For Iranians


If you like Fred's attitude Send Fred Some Money
.
posted by Simon at 02:44 AM | Comments (8)



Werewolves of London


posted by Simon at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)



Poor, Poor, Pitiful, Me


posted by Simon at 12:35 AM | Comments (1)




Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science
An interview with R. Buckminster Fuller - Bucky to his friends


I had the honor of meeting Bucky at a number of his lectures and the supreme honor of living in his dome home in Carbondale for two weeks around 1974.This was after he sold it to Mike Mitchell who I worked with on a number of projects for about a year and a half.

Carbondale Dome Exterior
Carbondale Dome Exterior


Carbondale Dome Exterior
Carbondale Dome Exterior - Recent History


Carbondale Dome Exterior
Carbondale Dome Exterior


Carbondale Dome Interior


Update: Here is the wiki on Louis Kelso that discusses further the idea of people owning the means of production. Interestingly with things like the Individual Retirement Account over half of all Americans own stock, which is an interest in the means of production. So what Bucky and Kelso anticipated is slowly coming into being. As wealth multiplies the retirement age will decline over time and all that accumulated talent will be put to use for what each individual deems he can best contribute to his own and other's welfare.

In my own case I am retired on an exceedingly meager income, I do barely manage with a little help from my friends. So what have I done with my spare time? I have been working on increasing the energy supplies to all humans: Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion. I have been fortunate to be able to devote a year of my life so far to the study of Bussard Fusion. I think more and more people will devote themselves to such pursuits as time goes on. I expect as more and more people retire early the rate of wealth generation will accelerate. There really is not much point in idle retirement and in any case why waste the accumulated talent? The truth is that there will come a time when people don't need jobs. What they will need is work and they will be in the fortunate condition of being free to choose. As Bucky once put it: it will be an honor to be on the production team.

posted by Simon at 08:10 PM | Comments (2)



Don't make me burst into tears! Join the blogburst!

This is the second time I've linked Rick Moran's Fred Thompson Blogburst (which Glenn Reynolds linked earlier today), and I'm linking it again because I feel strongly that Fred Thompson -- while not perfect -- is the best all-around Republican candidate for people with views similar to mine.

As I stressed the last time, I don't ask readers for much. Hell, I'm not asking readers for anything. Only that they consider donating to Fred Thompson's campaign.

Once again, I remind readers that I do not have a tip jar. Instead, I occasionally ask people to donate to one worthy cause or another.

I suppose some will say that considering his poor performance in New Hampshire, Fred Thompson is a lost cause. To that I'd say that in this insane race in which no one is truly ahead, no cause can be said to be lost yet. But even if you think it's a lost cause, I'd point to history, which is replete with "lost causes" which turned out not to be lost. England was said to be a "lost cause" after Hitler attacked. (Ask Churchill about lost causes.) And in his last blogburst, Rick Moran analogized to Washington's crossing. (Another nearly lost cause, but a retreat led to later victory.)

Remember, this time it's not New Hampshire; it's South Carolina.

Thompson desperately needs to win in South Carolina in order to continue to be a viable candidate. And there are several factors at play in the Palmetto State that makes a Thompson win a realistic goal:

1. Romney has dropped out of the running in SC, having pulled his ads and is transferring staff in order to ambush John McCain in Michigan.

2. That leaves only three candidates with a realistic shot at winning in SC; Huckabee, McCain, and Thompson. Amazingly, none of the three candidates will have an overwhelming advantage when it comes to financing. This levels the playing field considerably.

If Thompson can win South Carolina, he has a shot at the nomination. Remember, right now there is no clear winner, and it's still up for grabs.

As a member of the unorganized and unorganizable group of nonconformists who could be called "small 'l' libertarian bloggers who support the war," I sincerely believe that no other candidate comes closer to being a political match for this group than Fred Thompson. If you fit into that category, you owe it to yourself to donate now to Fred Thompson's campaign.

Hell, I feel so strongly about this that I'd be willing to cry like Hillary (or even like this guy) if I thought it might work.

Hmmm...

Tell you what. I'll spare the tears if you go donate now!

posted by Eric at 04:52 PM | Comments (3)



Holy morula! (But how many souls does a morula contain?)

Quick question. Does anyone understand the ethics of "separation and reaggregation of blastomeres of cleavage-stage embryos"?

Because that or something similar is what I (a hopeless layperson) suspect is going on with this breakthrough development:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A company that devised a way to make embryonic stem cells using a technique it said does not harm human embryos reported on Thursday it has grown five batches of cells using this method and urged President George W. Bush to endorse it.

Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology has been working with a method sometimes used to test embryos for severe genetic diseases. Called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, it involves taking a single cell from an embryo when it contains only eight or so cells.

The method usually does not harm the embryo, which is frozen for possible future implantation into the mother's womb. The ACT team also froze the embryos and used the single cell that was removed as a source of human embryonic stem cells.

Dr. Robert Lanza, ACT's scientific director, said it provides a way to create mass quantities of embryonic stem cells without harming a human embryo. Current stem cell technologies require the embryo's destruction.

"This is a working technology that exists here and now. It could be used to increase the number of stem cell lines available to federal researchers immediately," Lanza said by e-mail. "We could send these cells out to researchers tomorrow."

What I want to know is when the embryo "contains only eight or so cells" isn't it so that at that stage of development that each one of those eight could still (at least in theory) become an octuplet?

How would we ever know? I mean, just because the other six or seven might not separate into septuplets or sextuplets, can we really be sure?

I'm sure that there are those who would consider the destruction of a possible octuplet to be the destruction of a human being. I think it only highlights the illogic of the argument. For, if you don't know how many people an "embryo" might in theory become, then who knows how many souls would have been lost? If we see potential souls as real souls, the possibilities are limited only by the imagination.

At some point in October of 1953, a sperm cell from my father managed to penetrate one of my mom's eggs, and a blastomere was formed. That blastomere divided repeatedly, soon becoming group of cells called a morula, then a blastocyst and eventually these cells united into the fetus that became the infant me. Here's what "I" looked like when I was a morula:

Morula.jpg

For reasons of honesty, I had to put the word "I" in quotes, because "I" was not yet me, and "I" might have been more than one me.

Suppose some scientist had stolen one of "my" cells and left the rest to continue to divide and unite (yeah, I know that's a mouthful of contradictions, but this is a contradictory process). I'd still be me, right? When scientists bisect blastocysts, they can theoretically create as many as they want:

The blastocysts were bisected symmetrically so as to leave a cellular bridge between the sister half-embryos after the softening of zonae followed by or without the trypsin/EDTA treatment. Transfer of 47 monozygotic (MZ) pairs of half-blastocysts to nine recipients resulted in four pregnancies. A litter of nine fetuses was obtained from seven MZ pairs of half-blastocysts, demonstrating that at least two pairs of MZ twin fetuses were produced. It is thought that the procedure for bisecting blastocysts developed in this study is one of the potential methods of producing porcine MZ twins.
Fertility specialists who implant human blastocysts are well aware of the potential for unwanted twinning, tripletting, or quadrupletting, and take pains to guard against it.

But how do we know that because of some quirky sort of hegemonic behavior at the cellular level, some of my cells at the morula or blastocyst stage stopped what would have been my twin (or even triplets) from developing? Might "I" have been complicit in this murder of one of my "cell" mates before I was born? Might I have even cannibalized my potential brothers, and forced them to become part of that human monster that I call me?

Perhaps original sin starts before birth after all.

posted by Eric at 02:47 PM | Comments (2)



Fueling Obamamania with Obamaphobia?
(A modest proposal...)

I've been a bit upset by some of the vituperative attacks on Obama coming from the right, because they tend to cloud intelligent discussion of the man's many serious shortcomings. Worst of all, to the extent that they become full-blown irrational Obamaphobia -- this email I received earlier today being a perfect example -- they invite a countercharge of racism.

While it is not racist to make the false claim that Obama is a covert Muslim agent or the (IMO) dubious claim that he does things like work with secret Kenyan "Muslim" relatives to establish Sharia law, I can understand why such attacks would encourage people who like to level false charges of racism. After all, if John Edwards were threatening to upset Hillary's lead in the same way, it's highly doubtful he would be subjected to these kinds of accusations, and the fact that Obama is black makes it all too easy to label all attacks on him as racist.

What I'm so far seeing in this election is a lot of irrational behavior by a lot of people (myself included). Earlier Glenn Reynolds linked a very cogent analysis by Dr. Sanity:

The left and the Democrats are now equally astounded to discover that the Clintons are the Clintons! And that they would use the usual Clinton tactics against them!

Just as Hillary had a neurotic and "forgetful" moment regarding the antics of her husband; what we are witnessing is a supremely neurotic moment on the part of the left, who willy-nilly have jumped the Clinton ship and climbed aboard the Obama "vessel of hope". They are astounded that the antics of the Clintons (which for years they have rationalized and excused) are being used against them. Their idealization the Clintons had worn thin and, just in the nick of time, along comes a younger, prettier face that can help them shore up those tired, old "progressive" ideas, and delude them into believing they actually are supporting something fresh and innovative.

I hate to tell them, but Obama is just another socialist hack. For sure, he's fresh and young and articulate. But his ideas are no fresher than Hillary's and quite a bit more rigid and uncompromising. Hillary and Bill never believed in anything but themselves. Obama comes across as selfless as Mother Theresa, promising to lead us to his utopian wonderland.

I agree with that analysis of the Clintons and their (erstwhile) supporters, and I also agree that Obama is little more than a socialist hack. (If a very likeable, even lovable one.)

But in the interests of my modest proposal, let me go further and admit that I am an anti-Hillary hack! Yes, I am an ABC (Anyone But Clinton) man all the way. I don't want to get into the details of why I don't want them back in the White House, as it would involve several lengthy essays, but suffice it to say that regardless of what I think about anyone's politics, if that person has a viable shot at stopping the Clintons, then that person represents hope. Thus, Obama becomes the Great Black Hope, while Edwards (were he in a similar position) would be the Great White Hope.

Looking at the backlash angle from a sexist standpoint, either Obama or Edwards could be called the Great Male Hope.

The San Francisco Chronicle is very sensitive to issues involving sexism, and one recent political analysis there concluded that Hillary's abrupt last minute turnaround was in fact a backlash by women voters against male sexism:

Garry South, a California Democratic political consultant, said that women - who proved crucial to Clinton's big win in New Hampshire - might simply have said "enough is enough" as they watched a parade of cable TV pundits, mostly male, all but pronounce Clinton's White House bid over in the final 48 hours of the campaign.

After the New York senator delivered a rare, emotional statement at a weekend campaign event, her voice nearly breaking, commentators began virtually nonstop analysis, suggesting that Clinton either was in the throes of a near-nervous breakdown or was making a shrewd bid for sympathy, he said.

"I think this is not totally a sisterhood kind of campaign, but women - whether they vill vote for her or not - know (her campaign) is a very historic thing," South said. "And to have her treated in that kind of dismissive way by a bunch of white male buffoon talking heads had women ticked off. My gut feeling is ... they stormed to the polls. Something happened here."

After barely losing the women's vote in Iowa last week, Clinton reclaimed it big-time in New Hampshire, 46 to 34 percent over Obama. Women make up more than half those who vote for Democrats across the country.

The whole thing is an interesting read, whether you agree or not.

The point here is that backlash has become an important standard operating principle of American politics. Hillary played the female version like the virtuoso that she is.

So, in this context, I feel obligated to engage in some darkly counterintuitive backlash strategizing. I'm wondering if the best way to counter Hillary would be massive, paranoid Obama-bashing. Manufacture as much Obamaphobia as possible in order to create sympathy for him and guarantee cries of racism by leftie bloggers.

Simultaneously, Hillary should be constantly portrayed as the best of the Democratic alternatives. That this argument might even be true makes it all the more persuasive. There is nothing wrong with using the truth as an argument --even if the goal is duplicitous or demagogic.

With any luck, right wing attacks on Obama coupled with grudging praise for Hillary will both help Obama and hurt Hillary.

So why don't I just shut up and put my money where my mouth is, then? Why am I not bashing Obama and praising Hillary?

Because this is just theory, that's why. Personally, I have a problem with floating dubious information even for a good cause.

(The caveat is that I freely admit that such squeamishness is a good way to lose in politics.)

MORE: No doubt striking back at the Clinton machine for his defeat, John Kerry is endorsing Obama!

I'm sure there are plenty of principles involved there.

Political principles, that is....

MORE: Speaking of Obama's shortcomings, Glenn Reynolds links a report on the Rezko affair, as well as this criticism of Obama by Andrew Cuomo, which, according to the prevailing double standard, would have been racist had come from a Republican.

As Glenn notes regarding the Kerry endorsement, "those Clintons are subtle . . . ."

Not to disagree with Glenn, but I see the sinister hand of Karl Rove at work here.

(Hey, Rove still hasn't paid me, so this is my payback.)

MORE: Here's Dick Morris:

...the theme of Hillary's attack will be that Obama cannot win, that he's not "electable."

By that, she will mean, but never say, that a black man cannot be elected president in middle America. As surely as Bill used the race card by attacking rap singer Sister Souljah in 1992, Hillary will use race to win in 2008.

Yes, but will Glenn Greenwald accuse her of racism for it? Or will he just accuse Glenn Reynolds of racism for noticing irony?

posted by Eric at 11:44 AM | Comments (1)



Not Their Business!

If this isn't the outrage of the day, I don't know what is:

Citi Merchant Services and First Data Corp has decided to implement their own form of gun control, refusing to process credit card transactions between firearms retailers, distributors, and manufacturers, according to a press release issued by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry (h/t Hot Air).
(Via Glenn Reynolds.) Not only are they misrepresenting the law, but they are deeming themselves in the law enforcement business.
At worst, this is an attempt at backdoor gun control, preventing manufacturers from shipping firearms to distributors, and from distributors to retailers. In doing so, Citi Merchant Services and First Data Corp seem to assert that it is their responsibility to enforce laws, which is a patently absurd position. They are not the FBI nor the BATF, the two federal agencies tasked with enforcing these laws.
Considering the communitarian bent of ever-growing numbers of people, I suppose it's possible that "Citi Merchant" sees this as a quasi-political marketing tool. M. Simon's earlier post touches on a telemarketing scam targeting social conservatives by playing anti-porn and anti-gay messages to induce them into switching their long distance carriers to "family friendly" providers.

I remember when "Working Assets" started way back when I was initially attracted to the concept -- till I found out that they were contributing to anti-gun groups.

I think mixing of politics into business is a stupid idea. A credit card is supposed to be a way of simply moving your money -- which is yours -- from your account to another. Barring credit card fraud or a bona fide legal investigation, t is simply not the business of the service provider who is paying whom, or for what. If I go and charge a "massage" or pay for an "escort," is it the credit card company's business what might go on in private? And, if they're going to get involved in the morality of my spending habits, why stop with guns and sex? If these companies really care about other people and how they're allegedly ruining their lives or making the world a worse place, then why not prohibit credit cards from being used in casinos, bars, liquor stores, or known junk food providers?

For that matter, many credit card purchases are bad for the earth! Not only do credit cards help facilitate the sale of deadly fossil fuels and air travel -- which cause Global Warming, but they are often used to pay for meat, which is even more deadly. Or the extremely evil genetically engineered food! Countless items are still allowed to be manufactured and sold without regard to their environmental impact or carbon footprint. Shouldn't credit card companies get involved in that? Shouldn't they at least offer "environmentally sensitive" credit cards which automatically debit a carbon offset to counterbalance every environmentally insensitive purchase?

The shocking thing about this is that I could imagine a market for it. Hell, I could even see gas stations having a button you could push at the pump. Now that God has been replaced by Guilt, all these clueless communitarian spirituality seekers in search of the religious high that goes with the human condition are looking for relief everywhere. (I'm tempted to say "there's a sucker born every minute," but that would be insensitive of me....)

The problem is, there's an excess of people who for various reasons want to make the business of other people their business, and they don't want to stop with merely offering choices. Offering choices are only a step towards making things mandatory. Activists who pressure guilty credit card executives to get involved in gun purchases also pressure pediatricians and teachers to ask people whether there are guns in the home. (Or fill in your favorite blank; activists would want to know whether there are aliens or deadbeat dads cutting the grass in your yard, dirty talk on your satellite radio, dogs in your house whose testicles haven't been cut off... All these things and more are targets of the ever-tightening collectivist noose, which has been called "Democratic totalitarianism.")

The mechanism is simple. The more people become beaten down and pressured into going along with restrictions voluntarily, the quicker they are to invoke the "fairness" principle. Natural resentment plays a major role in this; if you are giving up something, you tend to resent those who are not "doing their part," and more inclined to support legislation.

So, while my first reaction may be, "It's not your business," that's pretty lame in the face of people who say "YES IT IS!"

(How much easier life would be if such people were only to be found in the Democratic Party.)

MORE: Speaking of things that ought to be Not Their Business, via Justin I learned about a mandatory plan in California (where else?) which would literally put the nanny state behind the controls of your thermostat:

The rule, set to be adopted January 30th, doesn't give you a choice. It's mandatory. In a section on "Programmable Communicating Thermostats" found on page 64 of this document, it states:

"Upon receiving an emergency signal, the PCT (your thermostat) shall respond to commands contained in the emergency signal, including changing the setpoint by any number of degrees or to a specific temperature setpoint. The PCT shall not allow customer changes to thermostat settings during emergency events."Consumer advocates say the utilities have let the rule be proposed and have not opposed it and it could actually be adopted.

My Pet Jawa correctly notes the religious angle:
A preview of the Brave New World promised by Algore and the Fundamentalist Church of Gaia.

California is on track to become the first state completely destroyed by it's liberal nanny-state government. No wonder long-time residents are fleeing.

Darleen at Protein Wisdom has more:
I'm still fuming over the banning of the incandescent light bulb … done, no doubt, because we lowly peoples just can’t be trusted to act in our own interest … regardless of all the real problems with CFL’s, including inducing migraines and causing skin cancer. Now comes word of a proposed change to California Title 24, “236 pages of state-mandated standards for building energy efficiency"
I'm fuming too.

And I'll continue to fume -- right up until the moment they turn off my electricity to stop me from blogging save the environment!

posted by Eric at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)



Some day, this campaign will end....

Earlier I was thinking about how contentious things are getting, but then I reminded myself how in just a year there will be a new president, and whoever it is will have just been sworn in! Unless the election was another ballot-counting cliffhanger, in theory that would mean that the election will be completely behind us, and everyone can get started on the business of attacking the president.

In other words, things will get back to normal.

posted by Eric at 07:56 AM | Comments (2)




WB-7 First Plasma

MSNBC Reports first plasma on the WB-7 Reactor.

Bussard's mantle has been picked up by a small team led by Richard Nebel, who has taken a leave from Los Alamos National Laboratory to head up Bussard's EMC2 Fusion Development Corp. Backed by a Navy contract, Nebel's five-person team is trying to pick up the technology where Bussard left it.

"What's there is interesting, OK?" Nebel told me today. "And the bottom line of it is, what we've been charged to do is reproduce that. Find out if it's real. Find out if or if not all this stuff is what it seems to be."

EMC2 Fusion has built an upgraded model of Bussard's last experimental plasma containment device, which was known as WB-6. (The WB stands for Wiffle Ball, a whimsical reference to the structure of the device.) "We got first plasma yesterday," Nebel said - but he and his colleagues in Santa Fe, N.M., still have a long way to get the WB-7 experiment up to the power levels Bussard was working with.

"We're not out trying to make a big splash on any of this stuff at this point," Nebel said. But he said he's hoping to find out by this spring whether or not Bussard's concept is worth pursuing with a larger demonstration project.

The initial analysis showed that Bussard's data on energy yields were consistent with expectations, Nebel said.

"We don't know for sure whether all that's right," he said, "but it'd be horrible for Mother Nature to give you what you expect to see, and have it all be bogus."

If you want to learn more about this technology may I suggest:

Bussard Fusion Reactor
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

If you want to get deeper into the technology visit:

IEC Fusion Technology blog

Start with the sidebar which has links to tutorials and other stuff.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 11:14 PM | Comments (1)



Morals And Values

I just got a call from the Campaign to Restore Morals and Values 1-877-266-6277. They were asking me if I knew about all the sex offenders living in the neighborhood. Then some one came on the line and asked me what my first name was and as soon as I began to give it they hung up.

I suspect it was some kind of push poll. Here is the only link I could find on the outfit and they are talking about receiving calls as well.

Any one else have any skinny on them?

Update:

I called the number and it seems like some kind of scam to get you to change your long distance provider. The name of the company is United American Technologies. They gave me a couple of urls www.uatnow.com and www.thencsp.com.

A friend of mine just called me and said they are scammers. I'm going to call my phone company and make sure I don't get jacked around. If they call you do not answer any questions in the affirmative. If you get your service through cable you likely have what is called a change freeze on the account. If you get your service through normal providers you need to call them and have a change freeze put on your account. That should keep them at bay.

Let me add that the lady who called gave her name as Charlotte and she seemed so nice. A sweet Southern voice. My friend says that the Southern States refuse to police these scammers. I would think the fact that they are doing this across state lines should make it a Federal Offense. I wonder why they are not getting shut down.

Wiki has a page on them. Very interesting.

Also it seems North Carolina had a fraud action against the company in 2006.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon at 07:54 PM | Comments (3)



For the girl who has everything....

Via, Justin (who directed me to Tim Blair's link), I found a wonderful new accessory.

I'm told that Coco wants one.

UPDATE: In light of Sean Kinsell's post, I'm thinking the above might be the perfect weapon for "the vanguard of the Army of Fatal Cuteness poised to attack."

posted by Eric at 04:46 PM | Comments (1)



Balls

Hillary is considered to be a woman who has 'em. She's rough, she's tough, she'll stand up to the right wing attack machine, and she stopped the "unstoppable" Obama right in his tracks.

Right?

Was it all balls? Or might it have been something else?

....Clinton's voice quavered at one point when asked how she coped with the rigors of the campaign. That unexpected moment of emotion became the talk of the final 24 hours of the campaign.

Clinton's performance came as a surprise even to her own inner circle.

I think the crying worked in New Hampshire. It's really not for me to say whether it was sincere or not, as there's no way to know.

But there's more than one way to look at the crying, or whatever you might call Hillary's display of emotion. If it was sincere, it means that Hillary necessarily lost (or, lacks) something in the balls department. Whether this partial emasculation is real or not depends on whether the emotion was genuine. Those who believe in the traditional view that a president needs balls ought to hope that Hillary was putting on an act, and that if there were tears, they were Machiavellian crocodile tears.

I knew a leftist politician in Berkeley who could turn the tears on and off at will. She was a Communist, but a mom, and could talk the mom talk like you wouldn't believe. One time she wanted me to vote a certain way at a commission hearing, so she went into a spiel how she was up all night washing the clothes and taking care of the kids and had to take them to school and as she talked faster and faster she looked up towards the ceiling, and actually started to cry... I was shocked (and I have to admit that I felt guilty), but I told her I had already made up my mind how I would vote -- and it was not her way. As soon as she realized the tears were wasted on me, she instantly switched gears, and gave me a cold-as-ice look. The look that said in no uncertain terms, "OK, pig. Your attitude has been noted for the record."

I thought this was a little chilling, but then, I've known truly dangerous psychopaths, so I'm hard to shock. (Ordinary people do not understand this stuff, and they are clueless when they serve on political commissions in places like Berkeley.)

Anyway, the ability to turn the tears on or off is what we need in a president.

For the country's sake, I hope Hillary's tears reflected her balls, and not her heart. I mean, she'll be dealing not only with the right wing attack machine, but if she's elected, she'll be up against guys like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who's probably not moved by tears -- not even from women sentenced to be stoned to death for dating.

Of course, if he thinks Hillary's just an emotional woman when she's really not, so much the better for our national security.

So, at the risk of sounding like an insensitive sexist pig, I hope for the country that Hillary was putting on an act.

What's less clear is whether I should hope for the Republicans that she was not.

posted by Eric at 09:50 AM | Comments (8)



McCain -- the last hope of a hopeless party?

Now that the dust has settled a little, it seems pretty clear what had been pretty clear before the outburst of Obamamania -- the Clintons are consummate professionals who can handle whatever is thrown their way.

The Republicans would do well to remember that.

Will Hillary be easier to beat than Obama? M. Simon thinks so, and last night we had an email exchange over the issue, but I'm not convinced. The fact is, Obama's a novice, and Hillary is not. The Democratic voters in New Hampshire -- at least those who weren't bamboozled by tears or voting purely according to gender -- surely recognized this. I think that most Americans would have recognized it sooner or later too. Assuming a competent GOP opponent, Obama would have eventually been seen as a naif. This is why I thought Huckabee would have been the ideal opponent from Obama's perspective....

But none of that theorizing matters now. What matters is who can beat Hillary.

I keep looking at the grim numbers, and only McCain seems up to the task.

  • Giuliani vs. Hillary:

    45.2% 47.0%

  • Huckabee vs. Hillary:

    43.5% 48.3%

  • Romney vs. Hillary:

    44.2% 49.0%

  • McCain vs. Hillary:

    48.8% 43.8%

  • Thompson vs. Hillary:

    41.5% 49.0%

  • Of course, the above numbers don't guarantee a McCain victory. Americans are tired of the GOP, and the GOP seems tired of itself.

    Hillary has the ability to endlessly reinvent herself, and right now she's looking like the brand new Hillary. The sincere Hillary. The feeling Hillary. The Obama-juggernaut-stopping Hillary.

    I don't think she's going to be easy to beat -- not even for McCain.

    But who says McCain will be the nominee, anyway?

    UPDATE: Bridget Johnson worries that the GOP race is becoming "a foreign policy wasteland" and, noting some especially embarrassing lapses by Huckabee and Romney, concludes,

    Let's just hope that, from here on out, GOP voters put foreign policy on the front burner. Otherwise, how do you say "doh!" in Urdu?
    And lest anyone think last night means McCain is a sure thing, consider how few delegates he actually won:
    McCain won seven Republican delegates to four for Romney and one for Huckabee. New Hampshire originally had 24 Republican delegates, but the national party stripped half as punishment because the state broke party rules by scheduling its primary so early.

    In the overall race for the GOP nomination, Huckabee leads with 31 delegates, followed by Romney with 19 and McCain with seven.


    posted by Eric at 08:29 AM | Comments (3)



    Hardly live blogging

    Now that tonight's live blogging is over, how about a little Dead blogging?

    Not quite the Dead, but Dead light -- Jerry Garcia, making a comeback of sorts.

    Not just because Garcia has been completely dead these twelve years, but considering that the last time I linked this video it disappeared, I'm delighted to have found it again, so here it is (as long as it lasts).

    "Lay Down Sally" from 1991.

    As I said in the earlier post,

    While it's from 1991 (and it's tough to believe that Jerry was still in his 40s as he looks pretty old), it's a remarkable musical picture of the man's range and style. I doubt he was doing it intentionally, but in retrospect, he left a perfect showcase. The nonchalant, unassuming, humorous attitude, the nearly inaudible voice, that appearance of just casually screwing around on the guitar. But if you watch it, you'll notice he playfully runs circles around just about every note, chord, octave and progession in his reportoire. (Just about everything except the kitchen sink.)

    The charm of the man's genius is that he seems almost blissfully unaware of it. He's not playing one of his songs, but Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally."

    No responsibility. Just having fun.

    Working, of course. At the kind of work which Mark Twain didn't consider work at all!

    posted by Eric at 12:45 AM | Comments (2)




    no more spark?

    ngk4.jpg

    Confused?

    Click below to see what it once looked like.

    Continue reading "no more spark?"

    posted by Eric at 10:30 PM | Comments (4)



    New Hampshire

    Hillary is ahead 38% to 36%.

    McCain leads Romney 37% to 28%.

    Fox projects that McCain is the winner.

    MORE: Good for McCain, I'd say; he's the only Republican who can beat either Hillary or Obama.

    MORE: Regarding Edwards, while he has no chance of winning, he's poised to be the kingmaker. (I imagine he knows it, too.)
    I still want to know whether Hillary lost as Fox had earlier predicted from the exit polls.

    MORE: Glenn was helpful enough to link ABC real time results (which beats Drudge's flashing police light). Here's where they stand now:

    Clinton 16,739 40% 0

    Obama 14,829 36% 0

    It's trending for Hillary. (as of 8:24 p.m.)

    MORE: At 8:31 p.m.

    Clinton 17,385 40% 0

    Obama 15,565 36% 0

    MORE: At 8:48, with 21% of the vote in, there's no change:

    Clinton 22,468 40% 0
    Obama 20,193 36% 0
    I'm inclined to call it for Hillary at this point.

    (I'm probably biased because I've been predicting her inevitability for years....)

    MORE: Two minutes later, and Obama's now down a point:


    Clinton 23,309 40% 0
    Obama 20,802 35% 0
    Not much of a cliffhanger, but I'll hand anyway FWIW....

    AND MORE: (Er, I should say, "AND LESS" because Obama is sinking further....)


    Clinton 24,762 40% 0
    Obama 21,089 34% 0

    MORE: Romney just delivered what seemed like a victory speech. (I also heard he hired Bush people to do South Carolina the right way.)

    MORE: This looks more cliffhangerish, but I'm not inclined to retract my call (if only because I'd love to be wrong):


    Clinton 26,356 39% 0
    Obama 23,860 36% 0

    MORE: Via Glenn Reynolds, here's Ann Althouse:

    Can it be that Hillary and her crying turned things around? Did people see how much Bill Clinton wanted to keep going and feel sympathy? Or is it a case of: New Hampshire voters not wanting to be told what to do? But when I read of the huge turnout, I assumed a big Obama victory. I guess her collapse was quite odd, and the news that it wasn't real makes sense.
    I was just saying earlier that crying worked.

    MORE: I have to say, I am really sorry to see Fred Thompson getting only 1%.

    Why? Because I think he'd be a great president, and I wanted him to win, that's why. New Hampshire disagrees, but life is never fair.

    MORE: McCain is speaking now. He radiates something too rare in politics. Whether you like his politics or not, he's an optimist, a brave man, and an American original.

    MORE: It's sad to think what's inevitably in store for McCain in South Carolina. Romney will probably repeat Bush's tactics. I hope McCain puts up a good scrap.

    AND MORE: With 42% in, the Hillary Obama race is tightening slightly:


    Clinton 40,331 39% 0
    Obama 38,223 37% 0
    I doubt he'll make up the difference though.

    MORE (09:49 p.m.): It's now 39-37 Hillary, the closest yet. And earlier, John Podhoretz opined that

    ...Barack Obama is likely to bury Hillary Clinton in an avalanche when the tallies are completed tonight..."
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Maybe it will be closer than I thought, but I think the Clintons know what they're doing.

    The crying (and the threat of withdrawal) was a very slick move.

    MORE: Glenn Reynolds predicts accurately,

    whatever happens it'll be close enough to keep them both going.
    I'm plenty exhausted, although it was exciting for awhile to imagine I might be proven to have been wrong for years about Hillary.

    Anyway, just after ten, it looks like this:


    Clinton 57,872 39% 0
    Obama 54,310 37% 0

    MORE: Ann Althouse asks a good question:

    Did people just get disgusted with the hype?
    Possibly. I suppose they might also have felt condescended to.

    Hillary's crying may have introduced the appearance of reality.

    MORE: Stephen Green weighs in, God bless him:

    Hillary is ahead of Obama? By four points? I’m telling you, you’ve got to run a stake through the heart, separate the head from the body, burn the remains and scatter the ashes in heavy winds if you want to put a Clinton down for good.
    And just as I read that, I heard (on CNN) that AP has called it for Hillary.

    MORE: Now that it's officially "over," I'm delighted to see that Glenn Reynolds has linked my post -- actually calling it live-blogging. My thanks, and a warm welcome to all.

    Please feel free to chime in.

    Technically, I don't know whether this can be called live blogging, and I'm not yet drunk enough for it to be called drunk blogging.

    Hmmm....

    MORE: FWIW, the AP called it right. With 70% of the vote in, Hillary's lead is insurmountable:


    Clinton 75,128 40% 8
    Obama 68,232 36% 8

    MORE (10:46 p.m:): On Fox News, Terry McAulliffe just said this Chris Wallace:

    "They saw her at a human moment."
    It certainly appeared that way.

    MORE: And Obama is now making his New Hampshire concession speech.

    MORE: Far from looking beaten, Obama appears to be enjoying his moment immensely.

    Crowd is very worked up, chanting "WE WANT CHANGE!"

    Very eloquent and rousing speech. Even a cross-party appeal.

    Inspiring, well delivered lines like, "No problem we cannot solve. No destiny we cannot fulfill."

    Little wonder that (as Glenn linked earlier) Hollywood is getting behind this guy.

    I think Obama is learning on the job, and fast. He's a first class rhetorician, and I say this as someone who majored in rhetoric.

    This is not an endorsement of his politics, but I appreciate quality when I see it.

    In a word, formidable.

    MORE (11:00 p.m.): I'm listening to Obama's "Yes we can" speech. It's a classic. All politics aside, it's quality entertainment, and I don't think Hillary's voice can match it either in tone or in rhetorical quality.

    Sometimes it takes tears to win.

    MORE (11:06 p.m.): And now it's her turn. Wild cheering. An emotional moment.

    "Very full heart."

    "I want especially to thank New Hampshire... I listened to you, and in the process, I found my own voice."

    MORE: "Let's give America the kind of comeback that New Hampshire has just given me."

    It can't be an accident that she's surrounded herself with young people, can it?

    "We're going to rally on and make our case. We are in it for the long run!"

    "We are in it for the American people."

    "Know what's really at stake."

    "Of the people by the people and for the people, not just the privileged few."

    "End the war in Iraq the right way."

    "If you join in this call for greatness, we will, together, answer. So tomorrow, we will roll up our sleeves and keep going."

    "I invite you to join us at HillaryClinton.com."

    "We came back tonight because we spoke loudly and clearly."

    Thank Bill and Chelsea, her entire family, her mother, "the extraordinary team in New Hampshire, that never faltered,"

    "I want to thank the young people across New Hampshire who came out. They voted their hearts and minds, and I appreciate it." (Says she appreciates Democratic candidates, including Obama.)

    I guess that means the rumors that she's going away have turned out to be unfounded.

    On Fox News, Frank Luntz looks happy that she won.

    I think many Republicans prefer her to Obama.

    But will they feel the same way when she's president?

    MORE: Dick Morris is now predicting that Hillary will win. Says the Clinton attack machine will now go full throttle against Obama. Hillary's strength is found in single women, who voted (and will vote) overwhelmingly in her favor. Does not think Romney has what it takes to beat her. (I agree.)

    AND MORE: Clinton strategist (and Hillary's former law school classmate) Lanny Davis, on Hannity and Colmes, describes the change in voter perception as having shifted along the following lines,

    "I was for Obama. Now it's time to be serious."
    I'm not surprised by Hillary's strength.

    The outburst of Obamamania not only failed to kill her, it may have made her stronger!

    MORE: Glenn's links ought to serve as a reminder that she was already strong.

    With that, I'm ending the live blogging lest it become drunk blogging.

    posted by Eric at 08:09 PM | Comments (9)



    Obamarama

    Here is a round up of the skeletons in Obama's closet. I will be adding links as I find them. Check back at Power and Control.

    Obama goes to Church.

    Obama timeline

    Obama does Kenya

    Islamic coup attempt in Keyna

    Jihad in Kenya

    Obama Backs Taliban Supporter

    Obama exploits grievances

    posted by Simon at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)



    A "big fairy tale!" And don't you believe it, you bad bad children!

    A fuming Bill Clinton delivered an angry lecture ("rant" would be a better word for it) to a group of Dartmouth students, and in a hectoring tone, he warned them about fairy tales and the big bad media.

    "Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen." Mr. Clinton's answer came in response to a questioner who challenged Senator Clinton's pollster and chief strategist, Mark Penn, for being unduly negative in a memo he sent out Saturday claiming Mr. Obama got no bounce out of Iowa. He has since picked up about 10% in several polls.

    "The bounce always occurs on the second day not the first day," Mr. Clinton said, conceding the mistake before turning the table on the questioner and the Obama camp. "What did you think about the Obama thing calling Hillary the senator from Punjab? Did you like that? Or what about the Obama handout that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook. Scouring me--scathing criticism over my financial reports. Ken Starr spent $70 million to find out that I wouldn't take a nickel to see the cow jump over the moon."
    "So you can take a shot at Mark Penn if you want. It wasn't his best day. He was hurt. He felt badly we didn't do better in Iowa," Mr. Clinton explained during the forum. "But the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media doesn't mean the facts aren't out there." At that point, Mr. Clinton seemed to realize he had launched into a bit of a finger-wagging tirade. "Otherwise, I don't have any strong feelings about that subject," he joked, before turning to another question. While speaking passionately about why his wife is the best choice for voters, Mr. Clinton sounded glum and downbeat her chances in New Hampshire. "It was really an unfortunate development for her that New Hampshire moved its election to five days after Iowa," he said. "There's just only so much you can do against a tidal wave." The criticism of Mr. Obama and the press appeared to be the sharpest Mr. Clinton has offered publicly since his interview with Charlie Rose last month.

    What can I say? Obviously, it's the vast media conspiracy.

    Here's the video:

    Wonderful stuff, although I have to disagree with Bill. The media have bent over backwards to accommodate Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that she has been more hostile to them than Richard Nixon ever was. Blaming the media sounds like desperation. You'd almost think the Clintons felt entitled to simply win the nomination without really having to run. (Well, who else are they going to blame? Obama? Themselves?)

    It also strikes me as a mark of desperation for the Clintons to be showing such signs of obvious anger towards younger voters who seem to be rejecting Hillary in favor of a more youthful opponent. Hillary has a serious, serious problem with young voters -- something the baby boomers who run the Clinton campaign surely know. Yet, instead of reaching out to them in the spirit of mutual respect, they inexplicably take on the tone of elders who know what's best -- scolding the youth for their naivitee.

    Margaret Carlson astutely picks up on this:

    Like parents who know better, they have to convince voters that the guy they've fallen in love with isn't good for them.

    [...]

    ...Clinton needed to keep her head above water and pump some joy back into her campaign. She talks about hope yet still makes a grim case that what America needs is a leader already parboiled by experience who's tough and hardened enough to handle anything the Republican hate machine can spew out.

    Neither succeeded on Saturday. Obama continued to serve dessert; Clinton dished up spinach. He still lacks specificity and she still fails to inspire. He can correct his problem with position papers. Hers are more difficult to fix.

    Eat your spinach! Stop listening to fairy tales!

    While they probably think that only they can save the youth from the right wing hate machine, Carlson calls them on that, too:

    The Clinton playbook of demonizing your adversary doesn't work as well if your adversary is Obama rather than Newt Gingrich, Ken Starr, or the vast right-wing conspiracy.
    Obviously, Obama is today's Newt Gingrich. And the media are the new Ken Starr.

    And don't you believe in any more fairy tales unless we tell them to you!

    MORE: Glenn Reynolds links Yuval Levin on Bill Clinton's anger:

    ....to see him more or less explicitly argue that voting against his wife is an act of ingratitude to him, is just an amazing laying bare of the petty egoism and dark delusions at the heart of the Clinton story. I just wonder: Does he actually think this could be effective in getting voters to support Hillary?
    Well, if it doesn't work, I half expect them to say something like "You won't have the Clintons to kick around anymore!"

    MORE: "They're cornered; and when they're cornered, they lash out," says Andrew Sullivan:

    If you have followed the [Clintons] closely over the years, you wouldn't bet on their restraint. The one thing they care about is their own power. The ugliness may have just begun.

    posted by Eric at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)



    Some Tubular Music


    World's smallest home made cathode ray tube


    If you liked that I have an even better one. An absolutely fascinating video that revives the mostly lost art of vacuum tube construction. It has a nice sound track. The titles are in French, but it doesn't matter. About 17 minutes of absolutely no politics.

    HT hanelyp at talk.polywell

    posted by Simon at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)



    Some Election Music Maestro


    posted by Simon at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)



    Romney Push Polls?

    Today is the big day for New Hampshire. As usual there are shenanigans. Could Romney be behind some of them? Upper Left Coast has some dirt on Romney.

    The New Hampshire attorney general is going after a Portland polling firm to determine who launched the anti-Mitt Romney push polling that asked Granite state voters if Romney's Mormonism would cause them not to support him.

    We already knew that the polls were conducted Utah firm Western Wats, causing some to speculate that Romney was secretly behind the whole thing. But the NH AG today said that Moore Information of Portland was responsible for hiring Western Wats, as well as developing the wording and schedule for the poll.

    Working with the Multnomah County attorney, New Hamshire officials filed subpeonas to force Moore Information to reveal the name of its customer, but Moore declined, and a hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 16 to give New Hampshire the chance to show why they should have that info.

    Upper Left Coast has a follow up on that bit.
    The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes reported yesterday afternoon that Bob Moore, the head of Moore Information in Portland (which is being investigated by New Hampshire officials regarding the anti-Mormon push-polling that occurred there in November), is himself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    I've been resistant to the idea that Mitt Romney has been behind those push-polls; it just didn't seem consistent with his character. But there are so many links to the Romney campaign -- Moore hired Western Wats, a Mormon-owned firm in Utah which employs several financial supporters of Romney, to conduct the polls -- that that the idea will not die.

    If Mitt Romney thinks his finish in Iowa was damaging, that will be nothing compared to the damage he will suffer if it's revealed he ordered those push-polls against himself.

    Wow. Just wow. A candidate attacks himself based on suspicions about his religion to get the sympathy vote?

    We are definitely into election season madness. I'm doing my part. I have been looking at Obama's Church. It is not a pretty picture.

    The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan received the "Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright,Jr. Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer" Award at the 2007 Trumpet Gala at the the United Church of Christ.
    If that gains traction I don't think Obama is going to get the Jewish vote. Or worse Jewish money.

    I haven't seen such an ugly Presidential election season since? Well, since the last one. Put your favorite beverage in the frig and start popping the popcorn. And have extras on hand. We have 10 more months of this.

    HT linearthinker who alerted me to the comments at Oregon Guy's place.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)



    race out of the church?
    (Or would that be "church out of the race"?)

    M. Simon has an interesting post which raises a good question -- whether Barack Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ (and its minister, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright) is racist.

    The place certainly seems to be dedicated to a nutty left wing liberationist theology, and there are a variety of troubling connections (among other things, between Wright and Muammar Kaddafi.)

    I had read about the racist allegation in Newsmax, and I am not 100% percent convinced that it is as true as is claimed. I suppose, however, if this becomes an established meme, the backlash will cause similar scrutiny to be focused on some of the the crackpot views of Romney's and or Huckabee's churches and ministers. (No, I have not looked. But I don't doubt there's some fertile stuff there. Maybe something a little "race-ier" than Romney's underwear.)

    Quite parenthetically, from Obama's standpoint, I do think Huckabee is the perfect opponent, because Obama's main weakness lies in a lack of foreign policy expertise. Huckabee takes that issue off the table!

    As to the TUCC, they proudly proclaim that they're "Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian" -- but my initial question is simply, do they allow white members?

    For example, in San Francisco there are churches which might proclaim themselves "Unashamedly Gay and Unapologetically Christian," but I'd want to know whether they refused to accept straight parishioners before I'd consider them, um, "homosexist."

    Apparently, TUCC does have some white members:

    "Despite the rich history from which the value system emerged, despite the xplanations provided by the Tribune and the church itself, rumors that the church was a black supremacist movement sprouted like algae in the Chicago River. Imagine how surprised Trinity's white members must have been."
    I'd also note that even Newsmax seems to concede there are a few:
    "....only a handful of white men -- aside from a few members of Obama's Secret Service detail -- were present among a congregation of approximately 2,500 people."
    Oprah Winfrey is a member, and also (unlike many black churches) they do "outreach to gay and lesbian singles."

    Plus, the controversial Jeremiah Wright is described as resigning soon. Coincidence?

    Certainly, no white candidate would get away with belonging to a church which proclaimed itself "Unashamedly White and Unapologetically Christian." But this touches on the whole identity politics issue, which sees racism as only possible among members of the dominant group. ("Unashamedly Gay and Unapologetically Christian" would not be seen as "homosexist," but "Unashamedly Straight and Unapologetically Christian" would be seen as "heterosexist.")

    But don't look at me. I'm "Unashamedly Pagan and Unapologetically Christian."

    posted by Eric at 10:00 AM | Comments (2)




    The straight scoop from Romney's favorite Foxhole?

    I'm not enough of a political junkie to know all the details about Frank Luntz and his background. However he certainly seems to like Mitt Romney. A lot. So much so that in a post yesterday I questioned Fox's claim that he's a professional and objective pollster:

    I thought Fox was shamelessly plugging Romney (the Luntz stuff with the charts was especially irritating), and I didn't hear Romney say anything new at all.
    What bothered me last night was his enthusiastic exclamation that Romney had hit a "home run" with the debate, and when he cited his "exclusive Fox overlay" meter (lines and numbers in the air), I grew suspicious.

    Anyway I think I may have stumbled onto something, because tonight I found a video of him doing the same thing in August. Same "overlay," same enthusiasm, same candidate:

    (In short, another Romney plug.)

    While I had assumed Luntz was an independent pollster hired by Fox, last night there was something about his "focus group" of "undecided voters" and the way it suddenly switched to overwhelming support for Romney that aroused my suspicions.

    Looking around, I see that Luntz is accused of doing campaign commercials for Mitt Romney on Fox, and although the source is an anti-Fox, presumably left wing site, they seem to have done their homework.

    Luntz has been caught red-handed using the same kind of tactics for which I and many others condemned CNN. As it turns out, one of last night's "independent" undecided voters" is the same guy Luntz used in another panel of undecided voters on September 5.

    Check it out.

    The video describes the man as a paid actor. More details in this YouTube video.

    OK, so maybe that's just one guy on this independent focus panel. But if they're blatant enough to get caught passing off the same guy twice, what does that suggest about the "independence" of the other "ordinary voters" in the "focus" group?

    I'd say the whole thing is tainted.

    In fairness, Frank Luntz has every right to plug Romney and use his techniques to influence voters on Romney's behalf. That's what campaigns are for, and that's why they hire guys like Luntz.

    This stuff wouldn't bother me except that it's supremely dishonest for Fox News to do it and try to pass it off as objective journalism. Biased polls, sock puppets, professional actors posing as ordinary people...

    Once again, I have to ask, "Who in the hell does Fox News think they are, anyway? CNN of the right?"

    MORFE: Another Luntz-awarded "home run" for Romney last month (same setup, of course):

    This is so repetitive it's getting tedious... I'm wondering about something, though.

    Is the Romney campaign at least being forced to pay for it?

    Of course, what's new to me is quite old.

    Penn and Teller debunk Luntz's methodology here:

    posted by Eric at 11:21 PM | Comments (2)



    Don't cry for me?

    If I shed tears, most people don't care, nor would I expect them to care. (I have wasted a lot of time crying over losses, and I can assure everyone that crying has never brought anyone or anything back to life.)

    Of course, I'm not crying in New Hampshire.

    When Ed Muskie cried in New Hampshire (at least, the press thought he did), his presidential campaign collapsed.

    Have times changed? Hillary Clinton reportedly fought back tears:

    Exhausted and facing the prospect of losing the second test of her primary campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton fought back tears as her voice broke at the close of a sedate event in a Portsmouth coffee shop.

    She expressed the sheer difficulty of heading out to the trail each day -- "It's not easy," she said -- and suggested she faced "pretty difficult odds."

    And with audible frustration and disbelief, she drew the contrast between her experience and Sen. Barack Obama's that suggests that her campaign's current message -- the question of who is ready -- matches her profound sense that she alone is ready for the job.

    "Some of us know what we are going to do on day one, and some of us haven't thought that through enough," she said.

    The question was innocuous:

    "As a woman, I know it's hard to get out of the house and get ready," said Marianne Pernold, a local freelance photographer. "Who does your hair?"

    Clinton began by talking about her hair -- she has some help -- but moved to talk more generally about the campaign.

    "It's not easy, it's not easy, and I couldn't do it if I just didn't passionately believe it was the right thing to do," she said.

    "I have so many opportunities for this country. I don't want to see us all fall back," she said, her voice breaking in the last phrase.

    "This is very personal for me," she said to supportive applause from the small gathering, at which she'd been discussing policy around a table for an hour. "It's not just political, it's not just public -- I see what's happening. We have to reverse it."

    Reading this made Stephen Bainbridge feel sorry for Hillary:
    Oddly enough, I find myself feeling a bit sorry for her. To have strived for the brass ring all those years, just to have it snatched away when it seemed to finally be in her grasp must be wrenching.
    Via Glenn Reynolds, who seems to be having far too much fun at the CES conference to weigh in on Hillary's tears.

    I don't like to see anyone in pain, either physical or emotional. But this is politics, and what matters in politics are appearances. The more real the appearance, the more likely it is to be believed. Hillary Clinton, regardless of what anyone thinks of her, is perceived as a cold and calculating political animal, not given over to feelings, much less spontaneous outbursts of crying.

    That she was reported crying in New Hampshire is highly significant as a political development. That a political enemy like Stephen Bainbridge was moved by her tears is also significant.

    In politics, it does not matter whether the tears are real, but whether people are moved by them. Note that in Ed Muskie's case, he might not have actually cried; the tears could have been melting snowflakes. But what mattered was the appearance of crying. The appearance of tears finished him off, because in those days, real men did not cry. As the BBC put it,

    Democrat Senator Ed Muskie was immensely frustrated by a number of nasty remarks published about his wife, and, speaking outside the office of the offending newspaper in 1972, allegedly shed a few tears. Whether he did or not is ultimately irrelevant. The press decided he had - and the impression that stuck was of a weak man unfit for office.
    I'm wondering.

    Just because real men could not cry in 1972, does that mean real women -- even presidential women -- can't cry in 2008?

    Whether the tears are real or not, they represent feelings. The idea of heartless Hillary having feelings is a new one.

    It might be just what the doctor ordered.

    I'll have to work on how I feel about that.

    MORE: Newsweek has the video here, accompanying a piece titled "A Muskie moment, or a helpful glimpse of 'the real Hillary'?"

    I watched it, and frankly, I didn't see tears.

    AND MORE: According to this report, the tears were not only there, they were effective:

    The response to her emotion was very positive.

    "She definitely teared up. I believe her," said Elizabeth Holcomb, from Exeter, who sat close to Clinton. "I believe that what she says comes from her heart."

    What people believe is what counts.

    MORE: What about what people want to believe?

    AND MORE: Wow! I missed this, but Mickey Kaus points out that The Anchoress predicted that Hillary would cry.

    What I dread most in this political season is the "genuine" moment - and it is coming, soon, sometime between today and tomorrow, or tomorrow and New Hampshire - when Mrs. Clinton, in her ongoing effort to turn herself into whatever the polls says she must be, cries in public. It's going to be genuinely ghastly.
    What that means is that either The Anchoress is clairvoyant, or Hillary is predictable.

    posted by Eric at 05:51 PM | Comments (6)



    war on terror -- 2 interviews

    In contrast to some of the people running for president, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain have experience, background and specific ideas about how to best conduct the war on terror.

    Both were interviewed by Pajamas Media's Claudia Rosett and Roger L. Simon -- Rudy Giuliani here, and John McCain here.

    Excellent interviews, not full of the usual glib sound bytes of the sort necessitated by the TV debates.

    Watch them, and remind yourself of what's at stake.

    UPDATE: A reminder from Glenn Reynolds, who also linked the videos:

    ...if you're not into video, there are transcripts at the links, too.
    So if you hate to watch, go read them!

    posted by Eric at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)



    Premature withdrawal syndrome?

    Matt Drudge sometimes pushes sensationalized stories, and I can think of few stories more likely to cause a sensation among political junkies than this:

    TALK OF HILLARY EXIT ENGULFS CAMPAIGNS
    Mon Jan 07 2008 09:46:28 ET

    Facing a double-digit defeat in New Hampshire, a sudden collapse in national polls and an expected fund-raising drought, Senator Hillary Clinton is preparing for a tough decision: Does she get out of the race? And when?!

    "She can't take multiple double-digit losses in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada," laments one top campaign insider to the DRUDGE REPORT. "If she gets too badly embarrassed, it will really harm her. She doesn't want the Clinton brand to be damaged with back-to-back-to-back defeats."

    Why would a "top campaign insider" be even talking to Drudge about such a sensitive thing?

    There's more, and another "top" source from the Edwards campaign:

    Meanwhile, Democrat hopeful John Edwards has confided to senior staff that he is staying in the race because Hillary "could soon be out."

    "Her money is going to dry up," Edwards confided, a top source said Monday morning.

    MORE

    Key players in Clinton's inner circle are said to be split. James Carville is urging her to fight it out through at least February and Super Tuesday, where she has a shot at thwarting Barack Obama in a big state. But others close to the former first lady now see no possible road to victory, sources claim.

    Developing...

    I don't know how well developed it is. But quitting after a lousy result in the Iowa caucuses sounds a bit premature, so color me skeptical.

    But what if it turns out to be true? It seems so out of character for Hillary to be acting like this. What on earth might be going on?

    I'm thinking that if Hillary is considering an early exit, this might confirm Roger L. Simon's theory (via Glenn Reynolds) that Bill does not want Hillary to win.

    The Anchoress looked at this in considerable detail, and I have to say I never entertained seriously the possibility that Bill Clinton might not want Hillary to win. I always assumed he wanted nothing more than to get back into the White House, and that the Hillary candidacy represented a Wallace-Peronist strategy to do an end-run around the 22nd Amendment.

    Hmm....

    Is it possible that Bill may have certain unconscious impulses?

    MORE: According to this report, "there is acrimony between Hillary's advisers and her husband Bill's team."

    AND MORE: Barack Obama's Secret Service protection has been beefed up (as it should be):

    MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Secret Service presence has increased for Sen. Barack Obama since his dramatic win in Iowa, amid fears over the safety of the man seeking to become America's first black president.

    The Illinois senator's security now rivals that of President Bush, with a dozen Secret Service agents wearing dark suits and earpieces leading bomb-sniffing dogs through event venues, sweeping all equipment brought by journalists and flanking the candidate as he plunges into crowds of supporters.

    "For many black supporters, there is a lot of anxiety that he will be killed, and it is on people's minds," said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a Princeton University professor of political science and contemporary black culture.

    I worried about this last month but few readers shared my concern.

    I'm glad the Secret Service is stepping up security.

    MORE: Writes the New York Times's Sarah Wheaton:

    Today, in Dover, Francine Torge, a former John Edwards supporter, said this while introducing Mrs. Clinton: "Some people compare one of the other candidates to John F. Kennedy. But he was assassinated. And Lyndon Baines Johnson was the one who actually" passed the civil rights legislation.

    The comment, an apparent reference to Senator Barack Obama, is particularly striking given documented fears among blacks that Mr. Obama will be assassinated if elected.

    Phil Singer, a Clinton spokesman said: "We were not aware that this person was going to make those comments and disapprove of them completely. They were totally inappropriate."

    Mrs. Clinton's expression did not change noticeably when Ms. Torge made the comment.

    You'd think they'd know better than to make statements which could be taken as insinuations.

    MORE: Editor and Publisher questions the responsibility of discussing the assassination factor, but only in the context of the Washington Times:

    With Barack Obama suddenly the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination -- and drawing comparisons to John and Robert Kennedy -- concern has climbed about the issue of candidate vulnerability in crowds, especially this candidate. The Washington Times took a long look at it today, but some may wonder if this kind of attention -- mentioning that "Obama assassinate" already gets 2000 Google links -- may only increase the threat.
    2000 links? I get 285,000. (Substitute Bush and the number is well over a half a million.) Maybe they mean Google News.

    Anyway, why single out the Washington Times for blame?

    MORE: Newsbusters links a Huffington Post writer who believes that if Obama is elected, "members of Blackwater security services or Haliburton would somehow decide to assassinate him."

    Why did Editor and Publisher ignore that?

    And the British Telegraph quotes a New Hampshire voter's fear that "a Southern racist might shoot him."

    (While that's possible, I think the public's assassination memories may be fading, because I distinctly remember that JFK was shot by a Communist, RFK was shot by a disgruntled Palestinian, Malcolm X was shot by Nation of Islam members, and Martin Luther King by a white man born in Illinois.)

    UPDATE: Pajamas Media has a nice roundup of links on the rumors of Hillary quitting.

    AllahPundit thinks it's a ploy, and James Joyner is extremely skeptical:

    Even aside from the fact that this is on the Drudge report, this strikes me as wildly implausible. Unlike earlier reports that Fred Thompson would drop out after poor finishes in the early states, there's just no reason for Clinton to quit. As noted in the previous post, she's got more cash on hand than Obama and Edwards combined. And she's got huge leads in several big states.

    If, as looks increasingly likely, she loses badly tomorrow in New Hampshire, she's going to feel as if the wind has been knocked out of her. She expected to win these two easily and then march on to a coronation. But the idea that she can't afford to stay in the race through February 5th is just silly.

    I'm wondering whether there's a relationship between the rumors of quitting and the hints of tears.

    posted by Eric at 11:24 AM | Comments (2)



    unraveling unhinged segments

    Quite lamely (in my view), Glenn Greenwald charges Glenn Reynolds with racism based on the latter's link to Jonah Goldberg in this post. Whether Greenwald read the rest of the post or the links I do not know. But I think Glenn (Reynolds) made it abundantly clear that he was not talking about race.

    While I hesitate to put words in people's mouths, I'm not even sure Jonah Goldberg was referring to or limiting his thoughts to race. Here's the "damning" Goldberg quote:

    Imagine the media invests as heavily in him as I think we all know they will if he's the nominee -- and then imagine he loses. I seriously think certain segments of American political life will become completely unhinged. I can imagine the fear of this social unraveling actually aiding Obama enormously in 2008. Forget Hillary's inevitability. Obama has a rendezvous with destiny, or so we will be told. And if he's denied it, teeth shall be gnashed, clothes rent and prices paid.
    When I read that I didn't see it as especially race oriented. For starters, Obama is having a tough time lining up the black vote (Philadelphia Mayors Nutter and Street are perfect examples of the knee-jerk support for Hillary Clinton by many black political leaders).

    Maybe I lived in riot-torn Berkeley, California too long, but the first image that entered my mind when I read the phrase "social unraveling" was not black skin, but black clothing. The type worn by the spoiled white brats who imagine themselves to be virtuous as they break windows, throw rocks, attack SUV drivers, assault police, key cars, fight against civilization, and in general show the world their infinite moral superiority.

    Never mind any of that. Greenwald, having made a "connection" that isn't there, works himself into a frenzy, and throws in Rush Limbaugh's race-based Obama parody titled "Barack the Magic Negro."

    What, pray tell, is the connection to Glenn Reynolds?

    Why, none at all. But to a true demagogue, any connection can be made by the tried and true method of simply throwing people together in a list:

    The kind of subtle bile pouring forth from Limbaugh, and from Goldberg and Reynolds last night, is just a tiny preview of what is to come.
    You see? It's not just Goldberg and Reynolds; it's now Limbaugh, Goldberg, and Reynolds!

    Had Greenwald read the allegedly "racist" post in question, it might have occurred to him that among the "unhinged segments" was a clear reference to Bush Derangement Syndrome:

    UPDATE: Bill Quick: "If Huckabee beats Obama, everything you've seen during the past eight years of Bush Derangement Syndrome will become nothing more than a mild neurosis. Bottom line, though, is that the real threat of a Huckabee candidacy is not that he'll defeat Obama, but that he'll destroy the GOP coalition in trying."
    I agree. Does that mean I'm a racist too? Odd, because all these years I've been witnessing BDS, I never made the association with black people. Or is there a Limbaugh, Goldberg, Reynolds, Quick Axis of Imputed Racism lurking even in the phrase "Bush Derangement Syndrome"?

    But even if Greenwald assumed BDS has now become sneaky racist code language, I'm wondering how he managed to ignore this:

    ANOTHER UPDATE: Ryan Hartman thinks this is about urban riots. I'm thinking more an extended chattering-class hissy fit. Yes, it's hard to believe that people could get more deranged than they've been since the 2000 elections, but I think they've got it in them.
    When I read that, I could have sworn that Glenn specifically meant to distinguish "urban riots" from "extended chattering-class hissy fit."

    But to Greenwald, it's all Reynolds racism. The "extended chattering-class hissy fit" must somehow be Rush Limbaugh's way of condemning.... I don't know. The NAACP leadership, perhaps? Help me out. There must be some way to make this fit the Limbaugh Reynolds Axis of Racism.

    What I find most remarkable of all, is that for support of his Reynolds-is-racist thesis, Greenwald quotes from this racially-obsessed post which speculates about how ugly things will become if Obama is the nominee:

    [EMPHASIS IN ORIGINAL]

    If Obama continues and becomes the presumptive Democratic nominee (and his chances got a lot better last night) it is going to get ugly. Real ugly. Racism is alive and well in America. We are ready to elect a black man President and if Obama wins the nomination we will elect him but his campaign, and everyone else on the Democratic side, is going to have to be ready to win a race war. Us white folks are mean sons of bitches when someone threatens OUR power.

    I'm not talking about the KKK or Stormfront obvious nutcases but mainstream Mom and Pop white folks that don't think of themselves as racist but really don't want those people living in their neighborhoods or dating their daughters. The ones that live in towns across America that are 88% white and 12% other and really don't have much if any association with black society.

    And make no mistake, electing a black man threatens white power, control, and dominance. Note also that Obama is a black man despite being 50% white. We have never claimed half-whites as white. They are black. We don't claim them as even half white. They are black.

    He even uses the phrase "race war":
    The Obama campaign itself needs to steel itself... and I do mean steel... and be prepared for the attacks. The have to respond and they have to respond well. They cannot ignore it. At the same time they need to stay above them and keep their campaign about a positive vision for Americas future. They can't allow themselves to get bogged down and lost in a race war.

    The rest of the Democratic community needs to be prepared to do the ugly, trench work on this one. We need to talk race and we need to talk it openly and honestly. Preferably not angrily. I'm thinking a passive-aggressive approach may well be best....

    I guess I should be grateful to him for thinking that a passive aggressive approach may be best.

    Wouldn't want the certain segments to become completely unhinged, would we?

    UPDATE: Thank you, Glenn Reynolds for linking this post!

    "a dirty job, but someone's got to do it?"

    Well yes, but then, I am pleasantly reminded of a famous Texas saying:

    "There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it."
    Welcome all!

    UPDATE: Via Glenn Reynolds, Tom Maguire says "it was perfectly plain to me, and to Bill Quick, that the topic of discussion was the Nutroots, parts of the media, and the Bush Derangement Syndrome sufferers (yes, those groups overlap extensively.)"

    Maguire also thinks Greenwald missed Glenn's subtlety:

    Glenn quite sensibly distinguished between "Obama supporters" and "black voters", since polls indicate the two groups don't strongly overlap. Too subtle for Greenwald.
    Either that or he's just determined to call Glenn a racist no matter what.

    posted by Eric at 09:56 AM | Comments (70)




    And now two Sunday debates

    I guess two debates two nights in a row is the sort of thing we have to get used to over the next few months. I watched the Republican debate on Fox, and now I'm watching the Democrats on CNN.

    I thought Fox was shamelessly plugging Romney (the Luntz stuff with the charts was especially irritating), and I didn't hear Romney say anything new at all. I liked just about everything Fred Thompson said, but I think Chris Wallace didn't ask him much. (Nor was Giuliani asked as many questions.) The whole thing seemed slanted in favor of Romney, who clearly is Fox's Annointed. So much so that I would put my money on him winning the nomination at this point.

    It's not quite as clear who CNN is plugging. I have a feeling they prefer Hillary ,but they're not being as blatant about it. Obama is still doing well, and Hillary keeps giving him "the look." Edwards continues to look so smarmy it's embarrassing, while Richardson looks repetitive and lost.

    I guess if CNN used Fox's "viable candidate" standard, they'd cut the cord on Richardson.

    posted by Eric at 10:54 PM | Comments (4)



    Who's Afraid?


    Jimmy Smith on the organ.


    posted by Simon at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)



    A pox on Fox!

    Here's something that I think ought to concern everyone, regardless of political perspective: Fox News has banned Ron Paul from tonight's Republican debate:

    When Fox News hosts its Republican candidates forum Sunday night, one of the leading candidates won't be invited.

    The Fox debate is excluding Texas Congressman Ron Paul, even though he polls higher in New Hampshire, has raised significantly more money, and is campaigning more in New Hampshire than Fred Thompson -- who is invited.

    The censorship of Paul has infuriated his loyal supporters, who note that he pulled 10 percent of the vote in Iowa, well ahead of Rudy Giuliani, who pulled just over 3 percent. Giuliani has also been invited to the Fox forum.

    Paul is also setting records in GOP fundraising, raking in $20 million in the last quarter alone.

    New Hampshire Republicans are apparently not happy with Fox's arbitrary decision to exclude Paul.

    I'm not happy with it either, and I have no intention of voting for Ron Paul (although I agree with him on a lot more issues than some of the other candidates). But whether anyone agrees with him or not, the point is, he has as much right to be there as any other candidate. It's part of the process.

    Who in the hell does Fox News think they are, anyway? CNN of the right? No, really; I didn't like CNN's sleazy tactics (attempting to pass off activists as randomly selected ordinary voters) and I don't like this.

    Apparently, Fox just doesn't like Paul -- and the feeling seems mutual:

    ...."Fight Fox," a new Web site organized by Paul backers, tells readers: "We need to send a message to Fox's Rupert Murdoch & his fellow Neocon buddies that he is not Musharraf and the US is not Pakistan, yet! Fox News cannot just stifle public opinion. debate and impact a primary election by excluding Ron Paul just because they don't like his message of freedom and liberty."

    Paul seems to share that view. According to a report in the Boston Globe, he called Fox News a "propagandist" for the Iraq war.

    Despite the hoopla, Fox is sticking to its guns: no Ron Paul.

    "We look forward to presenting a substantive forum which will serve as the first program of its kind this election season," David Rhodes, vice president of Fox News, said in a statement.

    The irony is that Fox's move will probably help Ron Paul more than it will hurt him. His supporters certainly aren't going to bolt because of this. They'll just scream bloody murder, and they'll be quite right in doing so.

    I can't think of a better way to generate a backlash in Paul's favor, and a noisy one at that.

    You'd almost think Fox was deliberately creating rancor.

    MORE: I watched the debate and I didn't find Fox's statement (that the debate only included the "viable" candidates) persuasive as a reason for excluding Ron Paul. The debate clearly favored Romney.

    posted by Eric at 04:58 PM | Comments (11)



    A Cool Cat


    Jimmy Smith on the organ


    posted by Simon at 03:15 PM | Comments (2)



    Choosing Our Masters

    I notice from a recent blog post by Eric that there is too much politics here these days. I have to agree and I'm probably as much to blame (probably more) than any one else.

    However, election season is when we get to reopen the culture wars and choose our masters. It is my opinion that the well informed will choose more wisely. OK.

    I'm going to get a Youtube and put it in the next available space. After all what is a culture war without some culture?

    posted by Simon at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)



    Regulation

    West Hawk is discussing oil and geopolitics and asks "Could the U.S. walk away from the Persian Gulf?"

    It seems as if American society has finally reached a political consensus on the urgency of energy security. December's energy bill that President Bush signed into law contained a government mandate to sharply increase the fuel mileage requirement for new cars and light trucks sold in the country. Today, this new mandate seems uncontroversial. Yet for several decades previously its adoption was prevented by free-market arguments from the political right and opposition from Michigan-based labor unions and supporting politicians on the left. All such objections have now been swept away.
    Yep. Those pesky free marketeers have been vanquished. People will have to start doing what is good for them. Unquestioned obedience to the government mandates will be required. Comply or else.

    What needs to be done is the nationalization of the oil, steel, car, computer, and all other industries, plus all the citizens. But we don't have to nationalize them by ownership. It can be done by regulation. The National Socialist way.

    Sound familiar? Bueller? Any one?

    H/T Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)



    Avoiding fun on Saturday night

    It's not often I find myself annoyed by politics, but this two debates on Saturday night shit is just too much.

    Haven't I written enough about politics? Already, people are complaining that my blog (which is supposed to be eclectic) is too focused on politics, and for the last three days I've written about politics. Candidates. Political paranoia. conspiracy theories. Ugh! And Ick!

    So I thought that I'd take it easy and take a little break last night. No one told me there was a debate, much less two debates. I'm sick of debates, OK? I never liked debates! Why does this process not slow down a bit? Instead, now that I'm tired, it seems to be speeding up.

    Precisely the idea. Fortunately (and once again), it's Stephen Green to the rescue, with much-needed humor:

    But the candidates (not to mention the pundits) are just plain tired. Yet, after an impossibly long warm-up period, we're at long last getting into the most wide-open race since 1928. Fasten your seat belts, because we're finally due for some fun.
    OK, let's have fun. I could use some for a change. Between the moron activists on both sides who dominate these primaries are anything but fun.

    Well, at least Hillary looks as tired as she is.

    Clinton needed to knock down Barack Obama and administer a killing blow to John Edwards. She accomplished neither.
    That's fun.

    Well, Obama may have learned how to look presidential, but hey. Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that Hillary has mastered (should that be "mistressed"?) "the look." What look?

    ....the "look" every husband has seen a million times - and I am happily married. I showed it to my wife and she agreed. That may not help her with votes from men.
    But just as Hillary is mastering the disgruntled wife look, Obama is mastering the presidential look! (On the latter there is considerable agreement; Green and others have commented on it, and I noticed in his Iowa victory speech.)

    This all provides lots of fun for people who enjoy nice performances. (That people should be more interested in performance in office seems irrelevant to voters right now.)

    And things on the Republican side look so bleak that it's fun if you enjoy looking on the dark side. Here's Stephen Green:

    The Republican side looks messier than a ten-car pile-up in the parking lot of a health clinic for hemophiliacs. The Iowa winner, Huckabee, is probably a sure loser in New Hampshire. Fred Thompson desperately needs a win anywhere, but it's difficult to see where that win will come. I mean, would even a miracle second-place finish in NH boost him to first place in South Carolina, Nevada, or Michigan? Unlikely. John McCain seems poised to take New Hampshire, and big. But South Carolina was the end of him eight years ago, and doesn't seem ready to propel him to the nomination this time around, either. Rudy Giuliani is counting on Florida to give him the momentum to sweep the big states on Super Duper Tuesday, but the string of losses he's sure to suffer between now and then might just make him into yet another Forgotten Frontrunner. And Romney? As former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, NH voters should know Mitt well. And if they won't go for him, who will? And as Iowa proved, Romney can't buy his way to victory, not even with all his millions. Ron Paul, the guy who has the least chance of winning anywhere for anything, looks set to place a solid third in New Hampshire -- thus muddying the waters even more.
    I feel less guilty about taking a break last night.

    I can't figure out whether I went AWOL last night or whether I was just MIA, but I didn't know about the debate until this morning.

    Fortunately, there are plenty of others whose television watching is not limited to Turner Movie Classics, and Glenn Reynolds has a great roundup here.

    Finally, God bless Ann Althouse for once again making me feel less guilty:

    Sorry not to liveblog. I forgot it was on...
    I'm worse, though. Because I didn't forget. I didn't even know.

    posted by Eric at 12:34 PM | Comments (1)



    Meanwhile Out West

    It is starting to look more and more like Fred is every one's second choice. The candidate that everyone can compromise on. The Washington Post reports that Fred came in second in Wyoming picking up 3 delegates out of 12 up for grabs.

    By the time the votes were counted, Romney had won eight delegates while Thompson picked up three and Hunter netted one. Twelve delegates were selected today, while another two will be apportioned in May at a statewide convention.

    The Republican National Committee cut Wyoming's number of national convention delegates in half, to 14, in retaliation for its early voting, but Laramie County GOP Chairman Jerry Zellars said the decision to accelerate its caucuses still paid off.

    In other election news it looks like McCain is surging in New Hampshire.
    MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) -- John McCain overtook Mitt Romney for the New Hampshire lead in a new poll released Saturday, three days before the nation's first primary.

    Taken in the two days following the Iowa caucuses, the poll shows Romney losing ground after the former Massachusetts governor's disappointing second-place showing in the leadoff state; McCain continued his steady climb since the Arizona senator's campaign hit a low point last summer.

    Mike Huckabee, the Iowa victor, didn't get a bounce in the survey from his Iowa triumph, meaning the race in New Hampshire has become a two-man fight.

    McCain, who won New Hampshire's primary in his first bid eight years ago and wants a repeat, had 33 percent to Romney's 27 percent in the poll. All others trailed by double-digits; Rudy Giuliani had 14 percent while Mike Huckabee had 11 and Ron Paul had 9 in the CNN-WMUR poll.

    It looks like Fred is not even in the running in New Hampshire. He is planning to spend a couple of days in the state before the election. If he gets around 5% I think that would be a fair showing for the effort. If he gets 10% or above that would be spectacular. Below 3% would be a disappointment. Still he will be going on to North Carolina.

    Speaking of which. Fred looks to do good there. In a mock election in Langston Focus School in Danville Fred did real well.

    "This was a chance for students to learn about who is running for president," said Jared Coleman, a 12th-grader at Langston Focus School.

    Obama beat Thompson, an actor best known for his role as District Attorney Arthur Branch on "Law & Order," by a tally of 82 to 13. Republican Mitt Romney got a few write-in votes.

    In the primary, Obama beat New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton with 50 votes to 25. Thompson beat U.S. Sen. John McCain in the GOP primary with 33 votes to 26. Students and faculty could vote in both primaries.

    Coleman and fellow students Jeffrey Keene and Shonteca Henry canvassed voters in each classroom. They would make a brief presentation on behalf of each candidate and the voting took a matter of minutes.

    Of course this is not a real election. Still, kids have a tendency to strongly reflect their parent's views. So Thompson did well in the "primary" and got skunked in the "general". I think that is OK for now.

    And just for fun: the Paulites who were expected to do well in Wyoming, got zero convention votes. They are crying in their beer. If a Libertarian can't do well in Wyoming, what are the odds?

    Update: Well it looks like I screwed the pooch. North Carolina is not going to vote until May. It is South Carolina in January. You can't tell the players without a score card giving the dates of all the primaries.

    So what about South Carolina? Glad you asked. Jim Geraghty of National Review has a puff piece by a Thompson operative and some words of caution.

    My only note of skepticism in this thinking is that there's not just New Hampshire before South Carolina, but Michigan as well. Thompson has gone to a midwestern state of Iowa and did, meh, okay I guess. He won't do well in New Hampshire, and might be in asterisk territory, as Suffolk and Zogby have him at 2 percent. There isn't a ton of polling on Michigan, but what there is doesn't have Thompson making much of a splash. So it may be a long stretch before Thompson is back on friendly territory in South Carolina.

    But the potential secret weapon? Wyoming, this Saturday. The Thompson Associate tells me, "Fred has actually spent time there. And don't forget Liz Cheney is working with us."

    Well Fred did OK in Wyoming. The rest is for the future. Which is hard to predict.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 02:52 AM | Comments (0)




    Reagan Coalition

    Here is the essence of the Reagan Coalition.

    "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

    If you believe that you are a member of the Reagan Coalition. If that is not your foundational principle you are not.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:11 PM | Comments (1)



    I'll Support The Socialist

    I have thought for a long time that we needed a more libertarian oriented party in America. Huckabee's Republican socialism just doesn't cut it for me.

    I have been flirting with the idea of voting Dem in the general election. Especially if Clinton gets the nod. I like her evil underhandedness. I figure she will be as hard on America's enemies as she will be on us.

    Then I got to reading around the blogosphere. I'm looking at Backyard Conservative and Power Line and Town Hall and Politico and Yahoo News and Outside Report and World Net Daily and Right Thinking from the Left Coast. They all seem to agree that Huckabee is splitting the Republican coalition. I agree.

    So I have decided that if the nominee is Huckabee over my favorite Fred Thompson then I'm going to give Huck my support. I think it will be better to have a split coalition (in the hopes of a Reformation) than to keep going on the way things are going with the party. And my campaign theme for the Huckester? Support the Republican Socialist. That should help don't you think?

    If that sort of scenario doesn't appeal to you might I suggest: send Fred Thompson some money. Fred of course is quite popular among the blogging set. He is not a one issue candidate. Based on his positions, he could have socon support, Federalist support, neocon support and fisc-con support. In other words every ones (outside a the blogging cons) second choice. So if you don't wish to see the Republican coalition break up (just yet), may I suggest giving Fred a hand and some money.

    And if the above doesn't put the fear of God (har) in you, consider Obama vs Keyes '004. The Dems wrote the book on defeating a big name socon.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 03:57 PM | Comments (12)



    Another paranoid conspiracy theory (so I hope)

    In a must-view interview by Richard Miniter I mentioned in the last post, Tom DeLay weighs in on the various GOP candidates, and while I was initially drawn to an observation about Huckabee ("it's obvious to me that Huckabee understands truth"), DeLay was quite critical of all the candidates. He expressed doubt that Romney truly believes in what he's saying, questioned Fred Thompson's leadership abilities ("wasn't exactly a leader in the Senate"), dismissed Giuliani as hopelessly moderate, and characterized McCain as someone who "doesn't have a philosophy," and "should run as an independent."

    As to the future of the race, DeLay says he "can't say," and it's "so wide open anything can happen." In language which sounded to me as if he has someone in mind, DeLay opined that "it's not about change, it's about leadership," and that the ideal candidate would be someone starts talking about where the country should be in 20-30 years.

    My immediate reaction was that this might have been a thinly disguised reference to Newt Gingrich, except there's been some very bad blood between the two, and I haven't read about them burying the hatchet.

    But consider this. Newt Gingrich has gone green on Global Warming (incurring the wrath of John Stossel), and he has gone out of his way to come up with a health care plan. Moreover, his web sites, books, and emails constantly portray him as the go-to guy for the future -- of America, of conservatism, and (of course) the GOP.

    On top of that, there's this little-noticed Townhall piece by Duane Patterson, titled What Is Newt's Angle In The Primaries?:


    Very quietly, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is meddling in the GOP primary field. A couple of weeks ago, there was a press release that indicated Rick Tyler, long time communications director for Gingrich, was taking a leave of absence from his day job, and helping out the communications effort for Mike Huckabee.

    Mark Levin over on The Corner writes today that Newt and Dick Morris are both helping the Arkansas populist former governor, Newt behind the scenes, Morris publicly. The question is why is Newt doing this?

    Excellent question.

    Might Huckabee be a stalking horse for Gingrich without knowing it? According to last week's theory, "Newt still envisions himself running for the presidency, but didn't think this cycle was the right time to run because of the aura of invincibility of Hillary Clinton." Therefore (so the theory went):

    ....Newt would then benefit by helping out the perceived weakest of the GOP candidates, ensuring that come January '09, the Republicans would begin their four year wandering through the desert. This would set up Newt as the White Knight in 2012, riding to the rescue after President Hillary screwed things up in her first term.
    And here's the new theory:
    But after Iowa last night, another theory is beginning to develop. Hillary's aura of invincibility is no longer there. Barack Obama is now the frontrunner, and although very charismatic, he's an empty suit, especially when it comes to foreign policy. Newt may now be thinking that there's a window of opportunity this cycle. All that needs to take place is for Huckabee to take a couple of the early states, Rudy take a couple of the big states, McCain maybe taking a state here or there, and Romney to take a couple, and you have yourself a brokered convention. If the Republicans can't decide on a clear frontrunner by the convention, could we potentially see the White Knight riding in a little earlier than expected into Minneapolis/St. Paul this September?
    Might backing Huckabee now be Newt's way of surreptitiously entering the race? If Huckabee is facing the inevitable campaign crackup that many pundits are saying he is, Newt would be well positioned to step in.

    Please, dear God, let this be another idle conspiracy theory that fizzles.

    UPDATE: Considering that the source of some of the Gingrich speculation was Mark Levin's post about Gingrich helping Huckabee, I don't know whether to consider his latest pronouncement reassuring or not.

    Relax.

    Huckabee will not be the Republican nominee.

    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    Good news, right?

    (I hope I just doused the conspiracy flames with water and not gasoline....)

    posted by Eric at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)



    You can't fight a "culture war" with alternate truths!

    In today's WSJ, Peggy Noonan looks at Mike Huckabee and declares that the culture war is what drives his followers:

    ...the thing really pushing his supporters, is that they believe that what ails America and threatens its continued existence is not economic collapse or jihad, it is our culture.

    They have been bruised and offended by the rigid, almost militant secularism and multiculturalism of the public schools; they reject those schools' squalor, in all senses of the word. They believe in God and family and America. They are populist: They don't admire billionaire CEOs, they admire husbands with two jobs who hold the family together for the sake of the kids; they don't need to see the triumph of supply-side thinking, they want to see that suffering woman down the street get the help she needs.

    They believe that Mr. Huckabee, the minister who speaks their language, shares, down to the bone, their anxieties, concerns and beliefs. They fear that the other Republican candidates are caught up in a million smaller issues -- taxing, spending, the global economy, Sunnis and Shia -- and missing the central issue: again, our culture. They are populists who vote Republican, and as I have read their letters, I have felt nothing but respect.

    But there are two problems. One is that while the presidency, as an office, can actually make real changes in the areas of economic and foreign policy, the federal government has a limited ability to change the culture of America. That is something conservatives used to know. Second, I'm sorry to say it is my sense that Mr. Huckabee is not so much leading a movement as riding a wave. One senses he brilliantly discerned and pursued an underserved part of the voting demographic, and went for it. Clever fellow. To me, the tipoff was "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

    That was also the tipoff for Ann Althouse last month.

    And it should have been the tipoff for me. It was only last week that I realized that Huckabee's real source of strength derives not so much from his religious conservatism or his stance against the "Culture War" (an unfortunate but persistent meme, by no means original to Huckabee), but by his deliberate pandering to Mormonphobia.

    Or is that a word?

    I don't know, but even if it is, I might be off a bit, because I don't think it's really Mormonphobia so much as it is fear of dilution of the definition of Christianity itself. It can't be overstressed that the type of religious diversity on the right that Romney represents is a dagger in the heart of fundamentalist Christians. They know that if Mormons are to be considered Christians, then fundamentalism becomes not the Christian truth, but a Christian truth. Alternative Christianity means all ways to Jesus are valid, including the Jesus who ran around with Native Americans in alien texts that might as well (from the fundamentalist point of view) have been scripted by L. Ron Hubbard.

    Because I'm not threatened by alternative views of the Christian message, I didn't feel especially threatened by Romney on that level, so I missed the implications.

    But to those who believe Christian social conservatism rises and falls with Biblical inerrancy (and only one Bible), we just can't have alternative Christianity in a Republican White House. I think that's a more powerful impetus than the position of Huckabee on the various social issues (which are not that different from other candidates).

    That Huckabee has flipflopped on these social issues only highlights that his real appeal is to unite Christian fundamentalists over their core identity issue.

    Larry Sabato looks at history, and draws a parallel between the Huckabee Iowa victory and Pat Robertson's 1988 surprise (which ultimately fizzled). He also compares Huckabee to Bill Clinton:

    With his ardent band of socially conservative supporters, Robertson ran quite well in 1988 in the caucus states, where a few votes can go a long way. He won first-round caucus action in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington, and finished a strong second in Iowa with 25 percent of the vote. Of Iowa's 99 counties, Robertson carried 14, a mix of rural Republican counties and Democratic-oriented ones along the Mississippi River from Lee (Keokuk) north to Dubuque.

    But Robertson bombed in the primaries, where turnouts are much larger. He not only failed to carry a single primary state, but did not come close to winning any of them. In New Hampshire (which votes next Tuesday, Jan. 8), Robertson drew only 9 percent of the Republican primary vote; in Florida (which holds a primary Jan. 29), he received just 11 percent. Even in South Carolina, arguably part of the Southern "Bible Belt," he won just 19 percent. (South Carolina's Republican primary this year is on Jan. 19.)

    Exit polls for the 1988 Iowa Republican caucuses showed that roughly two-thirds of Robertson's support came from evangelicals. The challenge for Huckabee in Iowa and the contests beyond will be to hold a large share of the evangelical vote while building on this base to include a large array of non-evangelical voters as well. His ability to do so will determine whether Huckabee is the latest incarnation of Pat Robertson, or the second president in a decade to hail from "a place called Hope."

    Hope not.

    There's plenty of irony to go around here. As someone sick of the damned culture war and its endless perpetuation of identity politics, I have mixed feelings about the Romney-Huckabee religious purity battle. On one level, I welcome the broadening of religious diversity in the Republican Party that Romney represents. On the other hand, the potential for enormous disruption could possibly cause the circling of the fundamentalist Christian wagons to intensify, catapulting Huckabee the anti-Romney to number one place on the ticket. This would, I believe, result in a Republican loss, no matter who wins the Democratic nomination.

    The best thing Romney could do for the GOP would be to exit the race now. Whether he realizes it or not, he's upsetting the apple cart, and I'm not sure that either he or most analysts understand the implications. He's an ideological threat to the backbone of the Culture War itself.

    Which means I of all people should support him.

    Oh the irony!

    UPDATE: In a must-view interview by Richard Miniter, Tom DeLay weighs in on the various GOP candidates, and I couldn't help noticing one of his observations about Huckabee:

    ...it's obvious to me that Huckabee understands truth...
    Does he mean truth with a capital "T"?

    posted by Eric at 02:36 AM | Comments (4)



    Winter Is Here - Its Hockey Time
    posted by Simon at 01:50 AM | Comments (0)



    Plant Food
    posted by Simon at 01:41 AM | Comments (0)




    Another Great One Has Fallen

    I just read on Instapundit that Major Andrew Olmsted has died in Iraq.

    Andrew and I had numerous exchanges on Winds of Change. He will be sorely missed.

    Damn. Fuckin damn.

    You can read his final words to us at Obsidian Wings.

    You can also read his blog Andrew Olmsted

    My blog Master Eric has left this comment to the post. He is so right:

    Very sad news. His final post (intended to be published in the event of his death) is deeply moving. Don't miss it.

    posted by Simon at 05:32 PM | Comments (3)



    What Hillary never mentions (and others fail to ask....)

    Ann Althouse brings up an important question about Hillary Clinton which so far hasn't received any attention at all in the campaign -- much less the attention it deserves:

    ...she never mentions her work on the Nixon impeachment inquiry these days either. I wonder why.
    As a Watergate buff, I don't wonder why at all. (I'm also thinking there might be a sarcastic element in Ann Althouse's wonderment, but I don't want to make unwarranted assumptions which aren't all that relevant anyway, as this is an important issue.)

    In 1974, Democrat Jerry Zeifman was chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon, and he recalled (in 1999) that Hillary Rodham had been charged with establishing legal procedures. The procedures she urged the committee to adopt, though, were so ethically flawed that the members refused to adopt most of them:

    Hillary's main duty on our staff has been described by as "establishing the legal procedures to be followed in the course of the inquiry and impeachment." A number of the procedures she recommended were ethically flawed. And I also concluded that she had violated House and committee rules by disclosing confidential information to unauthorized persons.

    Hillary had conferred personally with me regarding procedural rules. I advised her that Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino, House Speaker Carl Albert, Majority Leader Tip O'Neill and I had previously agreed not to advocate anything contrary to the rules already adopted and published for that Congress. I quoted Mr. O'Neill's statement that: "To try to change the rules now would be politically divisive. It would be like trying to change the traditional rules of baseball before a World Series."

    Hillary assured me that she had not drafted and would not advocate any such rules changes. I soon learned that she had lied: She had already drafted changes, and continued to advocate them.

    In one written legal memorandum, she advocated denying President Nixon representation by counsel. This, though in our then-most-recent prior impeachment proceeding, the committee had afforded the right to counsel to Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

    Huh?

    I thought only Bush and Cheney denied people the right to counsel. Of course, it didn't work. The evil Nixon was afforded the same right to counsel as had William O. Douglas during his impeachment.

    Except that according to Zeifman, Hillary tried to prevent the public from seeing the Douglas impeachment files:

    I also informed Hillary that the Douglas impeachment files were available for public inspection in our offices. I later learned that the Douglas files were then removed from our general files without my permission, transferred to the offices of the impeachment inquiry staff, and were no longer accessible to the public.

    The young Ms. Rodham had other bad advice about procedures, arguing that the Judiciary Committee should neither 1) hold any hearings with or take the depositions of any live witnesses, nor 2) conduct any original investigation of atergate, bribery, tax evasion, or any other possible impeachable offense of President Nixon - but to rely instead on prior investigations conducted by other committees and agencies.

    The committee rejected Ms. Rodham's recommendations: It agreed to allow President Nixon to be represented by counsel and to hold hearings with live witnesses. Hillary then advocated that the official rules of the House be amended to deny members of the committee the right to question witnesses. This unfair recommendation was rejected by the full House. (The committee also vetoed her suggestion that it leave the drafting of the articles of impeachment to her and her fellow special staffers.)

    Sounds like the young Hillary was already trying to bite off more than she could chew.

    In her defense, though, she seems to have been doing the dirty work for others:

    The recommendations advocated by Hillary were apparently initiated or approved by Yale Law School professor Burke Marshall - in violation of committee and House rules on confidentiality. They were also advocated by her immediate supervisors, Special Counsel John Doar and Senior Associate Special Counsel Bernard Nussbaum, both of whom had worked under Marshall in the Kennedy Justice Department.

    It was not until two months after Nixon's resignation that I first learned of still another questionable role of Ms. Rodham. On Sept. 26, 1974, Rep. Charles Wiggins, a Republican member of the committee, wrote to ask Chairman Rodino to look into a troubling set of events. That spring, Wiggins and other committee members had asked "that research should be undertaken so as to furnish a standard against which to test the alleged abusive conduct of Richard Nixon." And, while "no such staff study was made available to the members at any time for their use," Wiggins had just learned that such a study had been conducted - at committee expense - by a team of professors who completed and filed their reports with the impeachment-inquiry staff well in advance of our public hearings.

    The report was not made available to members of Congress. But after the impeachment-inquiry staff was disbanded, it was published commercially and sold in book stores. Wiggins wrote that he was "especially troubled by the possibility that information deemed essential by some of the members in their discharge of their responsibilities may have been intentionally suppressed by the staff during the course our investigation."

    On Oct. 3, Rodino wrote back: "Hillary Rodham of the impeachment-inquiry staff coordinated the work. ... After the staff received the report it was reviewed by Ms. Rodham, briefly by Mr. Labovitz and Mr. Sack, and by Mr. Doar. The staff did not think the manuscript was useful in its present form."

    That's only part of it. There's a more detailed account here, and at at Jerry Zeifman's web site.

    It';s worth noting that Zeifman's allegations were substantially confirmed by former Congressman Wiggins. Zeifman also alleges Hillary's role in suppressing a report on the long history of tolerated presidential misconduct:

    In the end, several members of the committee "revolted" at being kept in the dark, and the staff was ordered to turn over all materials to the committee and to Zeifman, who was the chief counsel, and ultimately Hillary's boss. "When that time came ... Hillary suppressed the report on the long history of tolerated presidential misconduct and did not tell me, did not tell anybody. It is a felony to suppress information from a congressional committee by a nonstaff member; there are no cases that I know of where a staff suppressed information," Zeifman says. Certainly not such vital material.

    Why single out Hillary as the culprit? "It was done by Hillary in particular because she was in charge of [the 'prior misconduct'! project," Zeifman says, adding, "In that particular instance she was personally responsible and not simply acting feloniously at the behest of Bernie Nussbaum." Was she taken to task over her misconduct? "We didn't know about all this," Zeifman explains. But his assessment in retrospect is heavy indeed: "I came to regard Doar, Nussbaum and Rodham as somewhat less than honorable lawyers, unworthy of either public or private trust."

    The report that might have saved Nixon came to light in a peculiar way. Well after Nixon had resigned to avoid a vote on the House floor and a trial in the Senate, Wiggins discovered a book, Responses ofthe Presidents to Charges of Misconduct, in an airport-terminal bookshop that claimed to have been "prepared for John Doar and the Impeachment Staff of the House." The book was published in 1974 with eminent Yale historian C. Vann Woodward given as principal author; the copyright is held by Delacorte Press.

    That's fascinating in itself, for Hillary certainly seems to have known and worked with the late Arkansan C. Vann Woodward; the latter's Yale papers even list a Box 47, file 555 which pertains to Hillary Rodham, in 1974.

    (Hmmm... maybe I shouldn't have mentioned this. Wouldn't want Sandy Berger to go rooting through file 555, now would we?)

    Might Hillary have made money selling the report she suppressed?

    Wiggins, never having seen the material before and aware of what that meant, wrote to committee chairman Peter Rodino -- who did not deny that the study was done. "No investigation was ever conducted; no one has determined whether Hillary illegally profited," Zeifman says, recalling that, obstruction of justice or not, there was by then no interest in reopening any can of worms related to Watergate.
    God forbid that anyone would reopen any can of worms related to Watergate.

    Sigh.

    (And I do mean a long sigh....)

    Anyway, in answer to Ann Althouse, I think it's completely understandable why Hillary never mentions her work on the Nixon impeachment inquiry.

    I also think it's quite understandable why she's never asked.

    (Not that anyone's allowed to ask her about anything these days anyway, but with Hillary, there are a lot of questions that would never be asked even if they could be asked.)

    UPDATE: I should have credited Glenn Reynolds for the Althouse link! (I was so distracted by Watergate nostalgia that I forgot all about the law professor angle, which was the whole point of the Althouse post, and Glenn's link to it.)

    posted by Eric at 05:19 PM | Comments (1)



    Why the loss of common sense makes us all crazy

    "Am I the only person who sees the insanity of pretending that reducing human beings to a condition that we would not allow pets to suffer from is somehow good?"

    So asks Clayton Cramer, in a discussion of a police shooting incident involving a mentally ill young man who was "off his meds" and violent. (I've asked pretty much the same question as Cramer.)

    Such cases involving crazy people off their meds and violent are numbingly common -- to the point where they're not even considered that newsworthy. If you are unfortunate enough to have a mentally ill family member, good luck getting help. Society does in fact have more sympathy for sick dogs.

    I will never forget being present at the scene of a discharge of a psychiatric patient who should not (IMO) have been discharged. The nurse simply gave this hallucinating patient a piece of paper and a prescription, and in a manner I considered extremely callused, simply said, "Take the prescription to a pharmacy and have it filled, and take your medicine as directed."

    Right.

    This person was incapable of keeping track of the fact that she had been given a prescription, much less taking it to a pharmacy and getting it filled. So she couldn't even reach the point of going "off meds" because she'd never get on them. But the bureaucratic powers that be just don't like to keep people in psychiatric facilities, so in the most callused manner, they resort to a well-oiled bureaucratic fiction -- that these people are no different from an ordinary citizen suffering from a physical illness, and therefore handing a prescription for anti-pyschotic medicine to a hallucinatory patient is "just the same" as handing a prescription for penicillin to a patient with a strep throat.

    It is massive fraud, and I have seen it firsthand.

    Try helping one of these people, and you'll be told that they're not allowed to discuss the patient's health because that would constitute a violation of HIPPA rules. Never mind that no one even understands HIPPA. Patient privacy is invoked routinely as a bureaucratic shield.

    It's a cruel joke that mentally ill people are free and independent citizens capable of making rational decisions about themselves. But like many fictions, it keeps the system going.

    Of course, broadening the term "mental illness" to include things like anxiety, codependency and shyness creates a "but for the grace of the bureaucrats, I too could be labeled mentally ill" situation.

    Which means that even people who think the system is messed up are hesitant to support changes which could result in the loss of their own rights. Once again, common sense is lost. Someone who is depressed and grieving over the loss of a spouse is not the same as a paranoid schizophrenic. A guy who is too depressed to get out of bed and go to work is not the same as a guy who sleeps in the subway station and yells obscenities at total strangers. We -- those rare citizens still possessed of a modicum of common sense -- know these things intuitively. Yet, to the touchy-feely bureaucrats who want to rule our lives, all illnesses are equal, because all people are or should be wards of the state. Thus, a depressed person is a shy person is a schizophrenic is a conservative. (I think it has to be recognized that just as people who hate war see "warmongers" as delusional, people who hate guns might tend to see anyone wanting a gun as suffering from mental illness.)

    I see the problem as twofold. First, the bureaucracy is the de facto, unelected ruling class. Second this ruling class now (at least to a large degree) lacks common sense.

    This makes it impossible to come up with a common sense standard to determine what "mental illness" is, much less a standard by which it can be determined which people are so incapable of taking care of themselves that they need to be cared for.

    I'm old enough to remember when "crazy people" were "put away."While psychiatrists had to certify them with a diagnosis, there was a common sense standard involved which is gone.

    Unfortunately, there's no getting certain things back.

    posted by Eric at 10:13 AM | Comments (4)




    Help! The caucusians are winning!

    Here are the Iowa results according to Drudge:

    Obama 36.98; Edwards 30.05; Clinton 29.75
    Huckabee 34; Romney 25; Thompson 14
    More here

    If present trends continue, Bill Quick will be proven right -- despite the fact that I wanted him to be wrong:

    Obama and the young hustler, John Edwards, for the Dems, and Huckabee and Some Sacrificial Lamb for the GOP, with the Donks winning in a landslide.

    It's going to be an ugly four years, folks.

    This is weird. Maybe I should change the channel.

    I prefer some serious Iowa caucus blogging like this:

    7:31 PM: Jesus, what a disaster. The Huckabee people are speaking in tongues and accusing the Romney people of believing in dinosaurs. The McCain people have invited the network news people for their caucus in the garage, and that fucking Tim Russert has his lighting man standing on the hood of Tammy's Civic. I open up the garage door and shut off the garage power at the fuse box, figuring they'll get cold and go away
    (Via Glenn Reynolds.)

    And later:

    8:15 PM: That was weird. I heard the exhaust fan running in the upstairs bathroom so I went up to turn it off. When I opened the door Barack Obama was in there torching a one-hitter. "Hey man, want a hit?" he goes, with a big grin. I'm pretty toasted already so I said no thanks. "That's cool,' he says. Really seems like a nice guy. So then he shakes out some blow on the counter and offers me a line. "No thanks man," I say. "That's cool," he says. "Y'all Chase the Dragon?" he asks, pulling out a spoon, lighter and some rubber tubing. I declined again. I'm not sure how good a president he will be, but he's certainly a lot better house guest than Hillary.
    Now that's more like it!

    posted by Eric at 10:22 PM | Comments (3)



    moralistic vandalism -- the key to understanding

    Aside from its outrageous anti-military nature, the Grodner car keying incident (which Blackfive broke, which Glenn Reynolds posted about twice and which drew some very rude commenters when M. Simon posted about it here) highlights a problem which is not new at all.

    One of Glenn's readers emailed as follows:

    ...Since placing a American flag decal (perhaps 3"x5") on the rear window of my SUV, it's been keyed twice and has had its windows gratuitously smashed several times too. I'm here the city which so prides itself on tolerance....San Francisco....it could be the antiwar crowd or the anti-SUV crowd simply becoming more hostile. Wonder if others have experienced the same thing....
    They certainly have. Last May alone, 60 cars were keyed in South San Francisco.

    Car keying is also a terrible problem in Oregon:

    A hugely underreported yet vicious property crime that happens to thousands of Oregonians is car keying. This form of property damage seems to be either politically motivated, which means some sicko doesn't like the car you drive, or maybe some kid who has nothing better to do so he/she gets some bizarre kick out of incurring property damage to others.

    Preface: This last weekend, I was in Florence for 5 entire minutes at a local business, when my new car was keyed! Police estimated damages amounted to $1,000.00. They are currently looking for anyone who might have witnessed or even participated in this crime. Let me also say this all happened in broad daylight.

    This type of crime at least requires some kind of labeling--ecoterrorism maybe--and its perpetrators should get some kind of required lengthy sentence and be forced to participate in car keying therapy or something.

    Politically, the most common variety (of keying cars belonging to strangers) is probably along ecoterrorist lines, but there are other motivations. In some cases, the motivation is to retaliate against property simply for being property, and of course, in the case of Grodner, it's hatred of the military.

    The bottom line is that it's sociopathic behavior. Terrorism light. As is the case of most forms of terrorism, the culprits imagine that they are morally superior to the people they strike:

    At any rate, it's time to address this type of recurring property crime and shed some media attention on it. It's just not politically cool, people--on the contrary it's completely hateful and antisocial! To the creeps out there who are doing it, all I can say is karma, baby, karma.

    Another interesting issue re this kind of property crime to SUVs is that it focuses attention on the fact that quite often those on the left perpetuate these types of crimes to show their intolerance of others who don't do what they consider to be "politically correct." Yeah right, tolerance is progressive! What gives the libs the right to impose their will on others by committing property crimes against them?

    I'd be willing to bet that Grodner has done it before, and he probably deludes himself into thinking that he is on the side of good, while his targets are evil. All war being inherently evil in his mind, warriors are bad, and he is good.

    Like it or not, that's the way politically motivated car keyers think.

    It's the intentional, premeditated nature of this sort of property violence that bothers me. There is a right to defend one's property, but how far does it go? I suspect that there's a distinction to be drawn between someone attacking your car and someone attacking your house, although I'm not sure why.

    Because of the growing anti-car hysteria, I think there's going to be a lot more car keying done by self-righteously antisocial scolds who think they're saving the planet from Global Warming, but who are really just motivated by hatred of their victims. Nothing is more satisfying to this type of sicko than imagining their hateful acts are virtuous. Why, in their minds, they're as blameless as inquisitors, witch finders, or the Khmer Rouge.

    Key a car and build a better world!

    So much for what motivates these morally righteous people. Is there a high tech solution? A way to key-proof your car?

    I found some ideas on what to do to the car keyer here, but they're assuming that the car keyer actually owns a car. Many of the political car keyers are angry leftists in urban areas who are proud not to own cars, and revel in moralistic vandalism.

    Whether the keyings are the moralistic or the ordinary variety of vandalism, the victims don't like it. A poll here revealed that when asked what they would do if they saw someone keying a car, 64% of the respondents replied that they'd "beat him to a pulp."

    I'm not sure that many of them would do that, because most people realize that it is a crime to beat up a vandal, and most likely one the police would take more seriously than the vandalism. (Especially once the vandals explained they were saving the planet, leaving the selfish pig car owner to argue that he was protecting his right to be a conspicuous consumer!)

    As to solutions, while I'm sure the techies could come up with an electronic anti-keying device (a shrill alarm, maybe cameras, possibly electrical shocks), I think the best way to deter some of these assholes would be to deliberately park a provocative looking car or SUV (with Bush-Cheney, pro-war, or anti-Global Warming stickers) in a neighborhood known to be frequented by leftie activists (or near a demonstration) then just stake it out and make citizens' arrests. Motion detectors that send a remote signal might help too. The problem is that the police might not want to prosecute such cases if they realize they're dealing with moralistic anarchist types, because they'll tie up the process and fight everyone, every inch of the way.

    What I'd like to see is an angry consensus emerge that such activity is wrong, and that mindful vandalism -- committed by activists for a cause -- is actually worse than the mindless, juvenile variety. Grodner, for example (assuming he did it), is ten times worse than the worst juvenile delinquent type of vandal, not because he's older and a lawyer and should know better, but because he thinks his vandalism is right.

    People who are moralistic about their evil are worse -- far worse -- than ordinary criminals. As far as I'm concerned, those who think it is right to vandalize a stranger's car for political reasons have shown themselves to be completely lacking in conscience.

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all!

    Glenn also links Stephen Bainbridge, who has done more digging into Grodner's past, and asks,

    What possess people like Grodner to act out in such ways? I just don't get it. I wonder if the Illinois Bar could go after Grodner's license under a broad catchall like Illinois Rule of Professional Responsibility 8.4(a)(3), which makes it actionable misconduct for a lawyer to "commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects." Probably not, but one can always hope. Anyway, it makes you proud to be a lawyer, doesn't it?

    BTW, I wonder if this is the same Jay Grodner who plead guilty to forging state ballot petition signatures and paid a $1000 fine back in 1978....

    Again, I'm wondering whether vandalism and ballot forgery might be seen as more excusable if they were committed for higher moral purposes than ordinary vandalism or, say, forgery for profit. In the case of ballot forgery, I'm more inclined to be forgiving, but attacking a stranger's car involves conduct worse than dishonesty, because it is violent.

    True, the violence displayed by people like Grodner may not rise to the level of Kristallnacht, but the idea -- that violence against political enemies is justified in the name of morality -- is chilling to the human soul.

    posted by Eric at 07:14 PM | Comments (42)



    Jeri Thompson For First Lady

    Jeri Thompson












    After my most recent bout of depression about Fred's chances in Iowa, I thought it might be a good idea to raise morale a bit. There is nothing like a picture to explain "why we fight".

    For God, for country, for the Constitution, for Jeri. And we get Fred in the bargain. I call that a twofer.














    Thanks to commenter linearthinker who is one of my low bandwidth readers, but asked for the picture anyway.

    posted by Simon at 01:33 PM | Comments (7)



    Choose Your Commissar

    I'm really depressed by the news that Fred Thompson will drop out of the race if he does not come in second in Iowa. In my opinion Fred would have the best chance in the general election. He also best represents my position on the major issues. So maybe I'm biased. Huckabee depresses me. Totally. Almost as bad as Hillary.

    I'm from Illinois and closely followed Obama's '004 Campaign. He is more Marxist than Hillary. It does not bode well for the future of our country.

    At least for the time being we have our choice of Commissars. Obama seems like a nice Commissar.

    Prompted by an e-mail discussion with Eric of Classical Values.

    Commenter LarryD says the rumor about Fred dropping out if he doesn't do well in Iowa is a false one. He cites this Captain's Quarters post which links to Iowahawk. I stand by the rest of my observations.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 11:03 AM | Comments (2)



    It can't happen here, right?

    The idea of "honor killings" of Muslim girls by their fathers for dressing like Westerners or dating boys would strike most Americans as too horrific to contemplate. Certainly not the kind of thing that would happen here, right?

    Think again. Not only is it happening, but it's barely being reported.

    If you're as horrified as I am that even a hint of this sort of thing would happen here, don't miss Phyllis Chesler's "Dead in Dallas: Honor Killings Land on our Shores -- a story about Amina and Sarah Said, who were shot to death, and whose father is being sought by police:

    The blogs and the local Texas media (the Dallas Morning News) were all over this. Hot Air, Atlas Shrugs, Jihad Watch, were too. The only national coverage of this story was contained in the Washington Times. SEE HERE Why did the national and international media so far shy clear of this story? Perhaps they chose to dig deeper first or maybe they were waiting for an arrest to be made. But one also wonders: Were they afraid of being accused of "Islamophobia" if they reported the truth? Did they not want to use the word "Arab" or "Muslim" lest they be attacked as "racists"?

    But these beautiful and now murdered sisters feared for their lives. They told people that their father was threatening them. Their own mother has now led police to the father as the probable murderer.

    They could have been saved if a school or police official had been trained to pre-emptively recognize and rescue all such girls and women in danger of being killed by their families in honor killings.

    My first reaction was to wonder whether this is an isolated incident. Are other such incidents going unreported?

    And what's up with the National Organization of Women? I wondered. Surely, they'd be expressing outrage over this and urging schools to watch for signs of abuse, and identify girls at risk, right?

    Well, not exactly.....

    I couldn't find a thing about the Said girls at NOW's website.

    As of right now, their lead story involves "Stereotyping Toys":

    "Through the world of toys, girls and boys are given separate dreams to follow. Girls are prepared for a future of looking pretty, keeping house and taking care of babies. Boys are pointed toward the outside world of challenge, physical development and achievement...."
    Surely they don't think toys promoting "separate dreams" are more important than honor killings?

    Wanting to be thorough, I entered the girls' names in their search engine, and came up dry.

    What's next? I wonder.

    Yesterday, Glenn Reynolds linked a NY Times story about gay Muslims in Berlin:

    Kader Balcik, a 22-year-old Turk from Hamburg, said: "For us, for Muslims, it's extremely difficult. When you're gay, you're immediately cut off from the family."

    He had recently moved to Berlin not long after being cut off from his mother because he is bisexual. "A mother who wishes death for her son, what kind of mother is that?" he asked, his eyes momentarily filling with tears.

    Hasan, a 21-year-old Arab man, sitting at a table in the club's quieter adjoining cafe, declined to give his last name, saying: "They would kill me. My brothers would kill me." Asked if he meant this figuratively, he responded, "No, I mean they would kill me."

    Yes, but that was in Berlin. Gay American Muslims need not worry about "honor" killings, right?

    Here, everyone lives in freedom.

    I mean, just because Sharia libel law can now be applied in the United States, there's no reason to worry.

    Besides, only an Islamophobe would fear living under sharia.

    UPDATE: Gateway Pundit has more on this, plus a report on another honor killing. (HT M. Simon.)

    posted by Eric at 09:56 AM | Comments (8)




    Aftermath Of An IED Explosion
    Aftermath Of An IED Explosion

    The above picture tells a lot about who the Iraqis trust when things get rough in that country. It also tells a lot about the men and women of our fighting forces. It is from an essay by Bill Whittle. You can read the essay at part 1 and part 2. It is very good.

    H/T Instapundit

    posted by Simon at 03:11 PM | Comments (1)



    Good Hearts - Bad Ideas


    H/T Instapundit

    Commenter Oregon Guy suggested this post. He has a link to a very good Milton Friedman video interview. You should take a look. Also have a look at the Lileks piece he links to. The economic stuff is at the bottom of the Lileks post.

    posted by Simon at 01:37 PM | Comments (4)



    The New Fallujah

    Michael Totten has a piece up on what he saw on his recent trip to Fallujah. He says it is still very third world but nothing like it was a year ago. In fact he has this amazing (to some of our "liberal" friends) quote from a wedding party he saw on the streets.

    Sharply dressed Iraqi men and children got out and walked up to meet us. They were so friendly. An older man in a keffiyeh greeted us so warmly and sincerely it was obvious his affection was real. "Thank you, thank you," he said. We all knew what he meant. Thank you for being here. Thank you for the security.
    Michael has pictures and text. He talks about being a non-combatant in a war zone. One Marine officer asks him if he would pick up a weapon in a fire fight which is illegal for non-combatants. Michael's reply is a classic.
    "Anyway," I always said to Marines who thought I should carry a weapon, "if it gets bad enough out here that you're relying on me in a fight, you're really screwed."
    Go and read the whole thing. He has lots of pictures including what might be an explanation of why electricity supplies in Iraq are so bad.

    H/T Instapundit

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)



    Legal Goliath makes slingshots disappear?

    The constantly changing story about the San Francisco tiger attack (which has resisted my attempts at analysis so far) just keeps getting harder and harder to follow.

    Reports are disappearing. To read this one, I had to resort to the Google cache to find the scubbed version, titled Report: Tiger Victims Were Carrying Slingshots:

    SAN FRANCISCO -- Citing an unnamed source, a published report Tuesday said the two brothers who were mauled by a Siberian tiger at that San Francisco Zoo in a Christmas Day fatal attack were carrying slingshots.

    The New York Post also reported that an empty vodka bottle was found in a car used by Amritpal Dhaliwal, 19, and his brother, Kulbir, 23, on the day of the mauling. Their friend, 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., was killed in the attack.

    The San Francisco police have released scant information about the two men, saying they were not cooperating in the investigation.

    If the report was true, the discovery would seem to strengthen the theory that the three men were taunting the big cat before it began its deadly rampage.

    The brothers were released from the hospital Saturday, leaving through a side door amid a crush of reporters hoping to clear up lingering questions about how the tiger escaped its enclosure Christmas Day and how the attacks occurred. They offered no comment.

    That was the story before the appearance of prominent criminal attorney Mark Geragos.

    Enter Geragos, and now the slingshot allegations vanish:

    SAN FRANCISCO -- The two brothers who survived a Christmas Day tiger attack at the San Francisco Zoo that killed their friend were denied help for at least 30 minutes by zoo security who did not take their claims seriously, the brothers' attorney said Tuesday. A zoo spokesman called the claim "unreliable."

    Attorney Mark Geragos told The Associated Press that Paul Dhaliwal, 19, and Kulbir Dhaliwal, 23, tried to get help for their friend, 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., after unsuccessful attempts at stopping a 350-pound Siberian tiger that had attacked Sousa.

    According to Geragos, the tiger initially attacked Sousa and Paul Dhaliwal at about 4:30 p.m. after escaping from its cage.

    While Sousa was seriously hurt, Paul Dhaliwal escaped, and he and his brother ran 300 yards to a zoo cafe where they had eaten earlier.

    Geragos said the brothers were "denied entry" to the cafe because the zoo was closing. At that point the brothers lost sight of the tiger.

    It's hard to believe that's the same story, but it's the same link (via a simple Google search).

    According to the original account in New York Post, the source for the slingshot allegation is simply "a source":

    SAN FRANCISCO - Two brothers who were injured when a tiger attacked them at the San Francisco Zoo had slingshots on them at the time, a source said.

    An empty vodka bottle was also found in a car used by Amritpal Dhaliwal, 19, and his brother, Kulbir, 23, on the day of the mauling, which left 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. dead, according to the source.

    The discoveries could be an indication that the brothers may have taunted the 350-pound Siberian tiger before it leapt from its grotto.

    San Francisco cops have said since the Christmas Day incident that there was no indication the tiger was provoked.

    The brothers have not commented since they left a hospital Saturday.

    What, precisely, is "a source"?

    Am I allowed to rely on he, she, or it? Or should I be intimidated into silence by the Mark Geragos machine? No really; in this account, Geragos is described as a "pit bull" and he's quoted as calling reports of the trio taunting the tiger "an urban legend." However, Geragos does not yet appear to have specifically commented on the slingshot claim.

    Not that any of this has much to do with the issue of inadequate security in the zoo, because even if we assume criminal mischief by the Dhaliwal brothers, that does not obviate the zoo's duty to ensure that the tiger could not escape. Logically, it wouldn't matter if they'd been shooting at the tiger with a .22, because an escaping tiger is a hazard to everyone, and not just its tormentors.

    The problem is that it's now a week after the attack, and we still don't have the facts. That the zoo director has already been caught lying makes me suspicious of any unnamed "source."

    I don't know what to believe anymore.

    UPDATE (01/03/08): The "pit bull" now faces a "guru" hired by the zoo. Today's San Jose Mercury News says the story is turning into a "circus":

    It happened at the zoo, but the story of the San Francisco tiger attacks is turning into a circus.

    The Christmas Day mauling at the San Francisco Zoo that killed a San Jose teenager and injured his two friends has drawn international media from China to Brazil and sparked headlines in New York City tabloids. Celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos has signed on to represent the two San Jose brothers who survived the attack by Tatiana, the Siberian tiger. And San Francisco crisis-control guru Sam Singer was just brought in to be the zoo's frontman.

    The case against the zoo and the city of San Francisco that funds it - both in court and out of it - is sure to be a doozy.

    The NY Post's story of the slingshots is being called "rumors":
    The case has led to rumors published in the New York Post and elsewhere that one or more of the young men - brothers Paul and Kulbir Dhaliwal and their friend, 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., who was killed - used slingshots to taunt the animal. But police told the Mercury News on Wednesday they had no evidence of either.
    I'm afraid that the facts may be influenced by the huge amount of money that's at stake.

    We may never know the exact details.

    MORE: According to the latest from the New York Post, the allegations of slingshots originated with a San Francisco city official:

    As the mauling investigation continued, cops denied that injured victims Amritpal Dhaliwal, 19, and his brother, Kulbir, 23, had slingshots.

    "A slingshot was not found in their car at the hospital or in the zoo," said Sgt. Steve Mannina.

    A city official with knowledge of the investigation told The Post about the slingshots, and also said an empty vodka bottle was found in their car.

    Cops and zoo officials confirmed they discovered the bottle.

    Mollinedo would not comment yesterday on whether the attack was provoked with a slingshot, but said there was little doubt some outside action incited the animal.

    "All I know is something prompted the tiger to leap out," he said, adding that signs will be posted around the zoo urging visitors to be respectful of the animals.

    Something is not right. Either slingshots were found or they were not. If they were, then why would the police now deny it?

    Who is this "city 'official'"? If he or she worked for the zoo, I'm very skeptical.

    MORE: Via Drudge, a report by an eyewitness at the zoo who earlier saw the Dhaliwal brothers taunting lions:

    (01-02) 22:15 PST San Francisco -- Two victims of a lethal Christmas Day tiger attack were harassing the big cats at the San Francisco Zoo shortly before a 350-pound feline escaped its enclosure and mauled them, a woman told The Chronicle on Wednesday.

    The revelation comes as the zoo reopens today, nine days after a visitor was killed and two of his friends were injured by the Siberian tiger, later shot dead by police.

    Jennifer Miller, who was at the zoo with her husband and two children that ill-fated Christmas afternoon, said she saw four young men at the big-cat grottos - and three of them were teasing the lions a short time before the tiger's bloody rampage that killed 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr.

    "The boys, especially the older one, were roaring at them. He was taunting them," the San Francisco woman said. "They were trying to get that lion's attention. ... The lion was bristling, so I just said, 'Come on, let's get out of here' because my kids were disturbed by it."

    Whether they were teasing the tigers in no way relieves the zoo of its duty to safely confine its animals, but it is helpful to know whether the tiger was provoked into attacking, or whether it just decided to single these people out at random and then pursue them for 300 yards and single them out while others were nearby.

    The public is entitled to know just what happened.

    UPDATE (01/04/08): ABC affiliate KGO claims to have investigated and found there were no slingshots.

    I don't know whether the Post is still standing behind its story.

    MORE: But wait! Here's a later, um, "report":

    San Francisco police said Thursday they found slingshots in the hip pockets of all three victims of the tiger attack. The slaughter was so unnecessary. Those boys would not have had slingshots if San Francisco had not cracked down on handguns.
    Just repeating what I found via Google "News."

    posted by Eric at 12:04 PM | Comments (8)



    Is Huckabee simply the anti-Romney?

    A few weeks ago, I touched on the (in my opinion nutty) view that Mitt Romney is "Satanic."

    Because I think that certain elements of the Republican Party are battling with a deep underlying religious struggle of the sort which cannot readily be acknowledged, I think it's worth another look.

    Sometimes I'm a bit slow on the uptake, but when I speculated about the inexplicable rise of Huckabee, I may have overlooked something which should have been obvious -- antipathy to Romney by fundamentalist Christian Republicans.

    It's all too easy to dismiss antipathy to Romney as driven by "religious bigotry," or anti-Mormon bigotry. But there's something that I think conventional mainstream non-fundamentalist Christians (along with many atheists, agnostics, and assorted secularists) are missing, and what Romney's "Kennedy speech" highlighted.

    Most non-fundamentalists tend to assume that this debate is about the role of religion in the public square, for that was part of the larger focus of Romney's speech. What they are forgetting is that for some fundamentalists (and I cannot say how many), Romney's acknowledged Mormonism -- coupled with the "public square" argument -- represents more than a plea for tolerance of religious advocacy.

    Without getting into a point by point comparison, suffice it to say that there are vast differences between Mormonism (LDS) and fundamentalist Christianity. These differences are more profound than the many differences between, say, Baptists and Episcopalians, because they go to the heart of who Jesus was, where he went, and what he did. As one evangelical Christian puts it:

    ....To a non-Christian you really can't see the difference. Evangelicals hold to the inerrancy of the Scriptures while the Mormon Church deviates from that, adds to that, expands on that. It goes back to the theological issues that divide Mormonism from orthodox, historical Christianity. They are huge.
    I'm not sure I'd agree with his definition of "non-Christian." (There's an unfortunate tendency of fundamentalists and evangelicals to sometimes imply that those who don't agree with them are not Christians.) But then, I devoted a long essay to the question of whether the Episcopalian Church's position on gay rights constitutes "apostasy," so now I'm forced to ask.... if the Episcopalians are apostates, then what does that make the Mormons?

    It's all too easy for a non-fundamentalist like me to think that these differences are silly. I mean, to my fuzzy, paganistic way of viewing Christianity, God or Jesus can appear as God or gods or Jesus anytime he or they want. I'm not hemmed in by concerns that the Trinity might encompass latent paganism, as it does not bother me in the least that God might have had a son, nor does it bother me how he might have been conceived. In terms of theological evolution, this was hardly a new idea introduced by Christianity. Nor do I especially care whether Allah is Jehovah or is or was the "Moon God."

    People are free to be pagans and I am all for religious diversity. (True, I worry about religion that might demand its adherents kill other people, but that's a different issue.)

    My worry with Romney is how his Mormonism might be seen by some fundamentalists. Tolerance for "religion in the public square" is one thing, but how far does it go? How might the kind of people who threw a fit over a Hindu minister saying a few words before Congress see a Mormon president?

    And what about the slippery slope? Might tolerance for Mormonism be seen as tolerance for alternative religions?

    My question is whether there's tension between tolerance for religion, and tolerance for true religious diversity.

    Are there people who might have seen the Romney speech as the moral equivalent of a Hindu calling for freedom of religion in the public square?

    The fact that I don't see this as a problem may be what blinded me to the otherwise inexplicable rise of Huckabee.

    AFTERTHOUGHT: I think it needs to be borne in mind that Mitt Romney isn't just any old Mormon, but enough of an LDS leader to have been a bishop. According to the Mormon terminology, a bishop is analogous to a priest or minister.

    And of course, Mike Huckabee is an ordained minister, which makes him the uniquely "qualified" alternative to the alternative....

    Shame on me for neglecting these issues, but I tend to regard religion as a personal, private matter.

    posted by Eric at 09:32 AM | Comments (3)




    Callipyginous

    A word worth learning.

    Bernie at Planck's Constant explains in words and pictures.

    Enjoy.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 05:14 PM | Comments (1)



    Ephebiphobia on the campaign trail?

    Speaking of polls, the Des Moines Register appears to have done a pretty thorough job of gauging the support of Iowans for the various candidates as they make their way into the final stretch of the caucuses.

    While the poll is mainly attracting attention because it shows Obama pulling ahead of Hillary, something else really caught my attention.

    Hillary has a serious, serious problem with young voters.

    I mean, look at this (which I cropped and highlighted from the original):

    HillaryJugend.jpg

    Only 11 percent of the 18-34 voters support Hillary. That's a shocker, and
    I don't know whether it is limited to Iowa, but there's no reason to expect it is.

    Despite all the various waves of anti-Bush hysteria, I can't remember him ever doing that badly among young people.

    In that regard, perhaps Hillary should take the muzzle off her daughter Chelsea.

    Why would she be afraid of her daughter, anyway?

    I mean, can Chelsea really do more damage than Jenna and Barbara?

    Could it be fear of youth?

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.

    Comments appreciated.

    posted by Eric at 10:23 AM | Comments (19)



    Policy Of Blockade

    A. Jacksonian (A.J.) has an excellent post up tying Iran's natural gas problems with Turkmenistan with its oil problem and its internal economic woes. Let us start with this bit that A.J quotes from Reuters

    Ebadollah Ghanbari, who heads the public relations unit of the national gas company, said Turkmenistan on Saturday slashed exports to Iran by half to 10 million cubic metres, before stopping deliveries completely a day later.

    "In an official letter they said it was due to technical problems," he told state broadcaster IRIB. "Since yesterday evening Turkmenistan has completely cut its gas exports to Iran."

    Despite its massive gas reserves, Iran has been a net importer of gas since 2002.

    A.J. goes on to say:
    Well, if you haven't read my previous stuff on Iran's Oil Problem and its Oil Outlook, now is the time to, because Iran just hit the wall.
    Excellent advice since those articles provide excellent background.
    Iran subsidizes natural gas so as to keep things running and folks happy. They don't use natural gas to rejuvenate their oil fields, which is one of the cheapest ways to do it. Instead, with non-market prices they get steep use and an increase in that use. If an energy source is cheaper than others, it gets over-utilized, just ask the folks in Iraq who don't pay monthly bills for electricity but get the 'all you can eat with a flat tax' deal from the Government. If there were meters, Iraq's power problem would diminish greatly, but that would also stall out the economic recovery so it will wait. Iran, however, is selling the natural gas at a rate cheaper than re-utilizing it for their oil fields. In theory they should have more than enough to export.

    Which brings up the prime question: Why is Iran importing any natural gas?

    And why is 5% of their natural gas supplies coming from imports via Turkmenistan?

    This was supposed to be a money making export, as they had just finished a pipeline deal with India for natural gas. So *what* are they going to put in that pipeline? Right now the answer is NOTHING.

    The folks in Turkmenistan suddenly had a great awakening: they were keeping the Iranian natural gas market afloat and NO ONE ELSE WOULD SELL TO THEM.

    If you were in that position, what would *you* do?

    Can you say: raise the prices?

    A.J. then looks at what the Iranians can do in this situation with respect to natural gas prices.
    Iran can't raise the price without causing a major recession or depression and starting to shut down some sectors of the economy. Plus, if they raise the prices for natural gas, they will be raising the cost of operating gas fired electrical facilities. A 'double-whammy' on the economy.

    Iran might start 'rationing' it, but how they would do that is beyond me. Maybe start closing shut-off valves to certain neighborhoods for half-a-day at a time? That will start to cause some *serious* complaints, not just from college students or government employees, but from everyday folks.

    Iran has only one solution that it tends to use for everything, and that is to shift terror operations. So Turkmenistan can expect to get its own little Hezbollah and meet-ups with the Qods forces. Which will be a blessing for Iraq and a 'holding pattern' in Lebanon. Unless, of course, Turkmenistan is *serious* in which case the next year in Iran is make or break.

    And if Iran has to *pay up* a lot of terrorist cash will suddenly *dry up*.

    Thank you to Turkmenistan!

    I'd like to look a little further into the situation and see what the US has done to help put Iran in its current position.

    A. J.,

    You and I have been on the same page on this for quite some time.

    I covered the Cash Flow Jihad aspect. You have been covering oil.

    America is squeezing Iran by preventing them from earning income from other than oil and cutting off their cash flow from western banks. Iran's own bad policies (as you point out) are squeezing their oil income.

    In other times this would be called the policy of blockade.

    I posited that they had a window of opportunity for their jihad program. They lost the war in Lebanon (intended to weaken Israel - it did not). They needed an unstable Iraq (so they could take Iraqi oil fields once America left Iraq. This was an effort to stave off collapse by the usual methods. Theft.). That didn't work out either.

    They are now between a rock and a very hard place. Afghanistan is their last hope. However, even if they win it they gain a liability, not an asset.

    If they don't get nukes within a year (instability in Pakistan ring a bell?) they are fooked. They are screwed any way. A huge nuclear arsenal didn't save the USSR from economic collapse.

    Let me add that the Iranian regime sells gasoline in Iran for under 50¢ a gallon. About 1/4 the world price.Iran raised gasoline prices by 25% last summer. It was around 34¢ a gallon previously.

    In addition economic genius Ahmanutjob withdrew all the Iranian cash reserves from the world banking system to stave off disaster. It created an inflationary spike and produced nothing as the money was not invested but went to support jihad and stave off internal economic collapse.

    Paying off the Shiites for the disaster in Lebanon must have cost a lot. However, without that payment Iran loses prestige and its proxy Hizbollah.

    Historical precedent - Germany summer of 1918.

    Another point. Perhaps the CIA leak - taking military pressure off Iran - was policy and not a rogue element in the US Government acting without authorization.

    In fact it may have been in Iran's interest because by making a deal re: cutting the funding of the insurgency in Iraq in exchange for a reduction of American military pressure they reduce their cash flow strain.

    My guess is that it will buy time for Iran, but not enough. So it was a good deal for us. If we reckoned that the slide had gone so far as to be irreversible.

    Cross Posted at Power and Control

    posted by Simon at 04:04 AM | Comments (3)



    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    In keeping with a tradition of sorts, we watched the last sunset of the year on the west coast of New Jersey.

    cocosunsetNYE.jpg

    Cape May's Higbee Beach, to be exact. (One of the few places on the East Coast where homesick Californians can actually watch the sun set over the ocean. Not sure Coco understands the significance of the place, but she always has a great time.)

    Happy New Year to all.

    I hope 2008 is a better year all around.

    posted by Eric at 02:05 AM | Comments (1)




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